In brief

  • Erasure Bay is a marketplace for information.
  • You can sell any sort of information you want on it.
  • Buyers can destroy the funds of sellers, should they so wish.

Prepared to put your money where your mouth is? Now’s your chance: market predictions startup Numerai today launched a new marketplace for information, Erasure Bay

The main point of the marketplace is to combat fake news. The incentives for producing reliable information don’t cut it, Numerai says, so it’s created a new market that it thinks will produce more accurate information. 

On Erasure Bay, anyone can sell information—sellers just have to be prepared to back up their claims with money. That’s due to Erasure Bay’s built in feature, “griefing.” If someone sells information the buyer doesn’t like, then the buyer can indiscriminately, er, destroy the seller’s money. Forever. 

“In order to punish, the requester must burn a proportional amount of money according to the selected punishment ratio,” Natasha-Jade Chandler, vice president of communications at Numerai, told Decrypt

Any information can be sold, but speculators, meme-lords and whistleblowers will find a home there, says Chandler. 

Even lowly reporters, she said, can find utility. Imagine: “You’ve been tipped off about some bad actor behaviour but you don’t have evidence. Your tips inbox is flooded with spam, old news and memes. You have no opportunity for recourse against people wasting your time.

Is there a way to find out what's really true? Image: Numerai.

“You get a few good tip-offs, but you have no opportunity for recourse if someone sends you false information.

“You turn to Erasure Bay and request some specific information that requires a stake. You don’t have to trust the person who fulfills that request. You never have to meet them. They either send you what you want (you return their stake) or they don’t (you probably burn their stake).” 

For now, Numerai’s listing all of the griefs on the Twitter page of its Erasure Bay Twitter bot. Most of the sales are between Numerai developers. Engineer Jason Paryani sold "A conversation between young Satoshi and God,” to Stephane Gosselin, another engineer, for $50.  

And data scientist Michael Phillips is paying $10 for a link to a viral video in which a “girl tries to hold a guy's hand but he's playing video games so she holds the dog's paw instead.” True innovation.

Erasure Bay is built on Numerai’s Erasure protocol. The protocol’s mainnet went live on the Ethereum blockchain in August, 2019. 

Future releases will include the ability to post things other than requests. “In that scenario, anyone could post a file to Erasure Bay with some encrypted information and public title/description, set their price and stake on it,” said Chandler.

Branching out

San Francisco-based Numerai, which was founded in 2015, also makes products targeted at global equity hedge funds. 

It launched a data science tournament where anyone in the world can download their encrypted dataset, predict upon it and submit those predictions—with some staked cryptocurrency—back to Numerai’s hedge fund. Numerai rewards those with good predictions and burns the stakes attached to bad predictions.

Before staking was introduced, data scientists would overfit on the data to make a quick buck, said Chandler. “With the new payout scheme including staking, Numerai receives much higher quality signal from the crowd,” she added. The data science tournament has paid out over $12 million to date.

Decrypt will give $10 to whomever can prove they’re Satoshi.