Will Austin Chen (Manifold cofounder) be charged with any felony crime before 2030?

Resolves "Yes" if there is credible reporting, or legal documents, showing that Austin Chen (@Austin, cofounder of Manifold Markets) has been criminally charged with any felony crime.

Resolves "No" if this does not happen by Jan 1st, 2030.

Question is global -- charges in any country count.

Charges count even if they do not lead to a conviction, were settled before a conviction, or if he was found not guilty. As soon as there is an official felony charge, the question resolves "Yes".

Minor misdemeanors do not count, only more serious (i.e. "felony") crimes.

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bought Ṁ0 of NO

Any country, you say? What are your standards for acknowledgement of countries? I was thinking of starting one.

@Joshua I guess we could use the list of sovereign states on Wikipedia:


Let's say a "country" has to be on that page continuously for >1 month, to make tampering infeasible.

Feels hard to justify taking a YES position because Austin being charged with something is likely highly positively correlated with a Manifold shutdown.


@KyleWan On another day I'd buy this back down but today I'm worried about insider info...

@MartinRandall Not worried enough to offload some of your NO position, though?

predicts NO

@Jason I'm the type of hedgehog forecaster who reacts to adverse movements by rolling up into a ball and doing nothing.

bought Ṁ30 of YES

The market seems to price this at 1-in-25. This seems wildly low to me, given that Austin publicly endorses the actions of someone who is going to jail for a long time, "expects" to become a billionaire, and considers theft of customer funds a praiseworthy lack of risk-aversion. (If you think I'm exaggerating, go read the last two sections of https://manifold.markets/post/in-defense-of-sbf )

This puts me at ~50% credence that Austin is the sort of person who would commit a felony (he could just be boasting, or even just not thinking very hard about what he's writing, but in general I endorse "believe someone when they tell you who they are"). I would guess most people in that category don't ever come to the attention of the police, either because they don't quite get around to having the opportunity, or because they simply get away with it. But on the other hand, Austin runs a betting market (something that is highly regulated and easy to get on the bad side of the government doing) and "expects to become a billionaire", so that should substantially increase the odds.

I don't quite know how to balance all the factors, but to me 1-in-14 seems like a much more reasonable price than 1-in-25.

bought Ṁ100 of NO

@PeterBorah I disagree with this description of Austin's post. Different readers may come away with different interpretations, but defending an action as a mistake is different than endorsing it. I believe a more accurate description is that it a) argues that the FTX collapse was likely bad judgement, not fraud, b) defends risk-taking, and c) makes a point that making risky gambles with other people's funds is ethical and right in many situations, and that the lines can be blurry, especially given the bad judgement hypothesis.

I certainly don't agree with everything in Austin's post, but I read it much more charitably, and I believe this market's predictions are far too high.

predicts YES

@jack I honestly have trouble imagining how someone could read section 3 and come to that conclusion. The key section is probably this paragraph:

> Of course, these two stories aren’t exactly the same; betting investor/company money is different than betting money entrusted to you for other purposes. But I can’t help but think that if SBF’s plan had worked, and he was still EA’s rich uncle financing our ventures, we would be applauding him for bravado and wisdom in making that call. It feels like EA is punishing SBF not for being unethical, but for being unlucky.

This pretty explicitly says that if Sam had successfully used his theft of customer funds to paper over losses at FTX/Alameda, we would (and implicitly, should) be praising him for bravado and wisdom.

When I brought this up in the comments, Austin's response was (in part):

> even in the worlds where fraud actually occurred, the backlash I'm seeing is fairly disproportionate.

(The backlash in question being criticism from EA leaders.)

predicts YES

@PeterBorah I agree that Austin also argued that it was probably bad judgment rather than fraud, but people seem to use that much more reasonable argument to avoid the fact that Austin also defends it even if it was fraud.

predicts NO

The job of a startup founder (like Austin) is making risky gambles with other people's funds - that's exactly what they're paying him for. As Austin points out, investor/company money is different than customer money, and I think this is a crucial distinction (much more crucial than Austin's post makes it seem). But in the model of events that Austin argues, where SBF "genuinely believed customers were not leveraged, and that we could pay out all deposits", SBF thought he was gambling the company and not the customer funds if we were to take him at his word (I don't, but that's a separate point).

> even in the worlds where fraud actually occurred, the backlash I'm seeing is fairly disproportionate.

Ok, that I disagree with (I think I said something similar in the previous comments on the post)

predicts YES

Ok, that I disagree with (I think I said something similar in the previous comments on the post)

That was Austin's summary of the point of sections two and three of the post. Your much more reasonable claim that "taking risks isn't bad if you don't think it's fraud" is a misreading, according to Austin.

Here's the direct link to the comment: https://manifold.markets/post/in-defense-of-sbf#26GTnbSNVAwTqHEisWSw

bought Ṁ0 of NO

@PeterBorah "believe someone when they tell you who they are" incentivizes arrogance, dishonesty, and self-deception. It also discriminates against people suffering from depression. I imagine you are aware and act appropriately but I don't like the phrase and wanted to say something.

Back on topic I put m1000 NO at 5%, let me know if you want to bet more than that. The base rate for US adults being convicted of a felony is apparently 8%, but I can't figure a base rate for this specific market so I'm mostly going on gut instinct.

bought Ṁ68 of YES

@MartinRandall I tried to match it, but it mostly didn't? Not sure exactly what happened.

bought Ṁ10,000 of NO

@PeterBorah I needed to bet more to match you at these odds. Done. I'll let someone else match the rest of your limit order though. 😁

predicts YES

@MartinRandall Oh, right, math.

Well that was interesting. @ScottAlexander, there any insider info you wanna share?

predicts YES

@IsaacKing I'm writing a Mantic Monday post on scandal markets, and I wanted to have an example of how they're hard to manipulate. So I spent a lot of money manipulating this one and sure enough you all brought it back to normal really quickly, and now I can use it as an example.

I originally did it with my own market, but I was worried nobody would unmanipulate it because they thought I was going to manipulate it by doing fraud and then collecting my winnings, so I unmanipulated it myself and retried it here. If you're wondering why there was a similar spike in the Scott Alexander scandal market, that's why.

@ScottAlexander I'll note that if you had used an anonymous account (or even better, secretly paid a known trader to do it for you), put in closer to Ṁ10,000, and set a limit order around 60% rather than spend it all at once, I expect the probability would have stayed high for a significant length of time.

Similar things have happened before on other markets, where traders are hesitant to correct a seemingly-wrong probability, because someone confidently betting in that direction implies they know something that everyone else doesn't.

@ScottAlexander FWIW, in your post you say you spent M$1000 manipulating this market but I only see M$200 in the trade history

@ScottAlexander You love to see it! For such markets, I'm sure there will be question formulations that have a relatively higher (risk-info-collection) to (damage-to-innocents) ratio. Naysayers will likely poo-poo such markets if these details aren't already figured out, but I'm just happy to see them experimented on.