A thought-provoking post on the bigger implications of distributed ledgers and the emerging field of...

A thought-provoking post on the bigger implications of distributed ledgers and the emerging field of…

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A thought-provoking post on the bigger implications of distributed ledgers and the emerging field of crypto-economics. Good stuff. 

HT Ferananda Ibarra 

Attn: Gregory Esau and Rick Heil 

Originally shared by Ferananda Ibarra

How society will be transformed by crypto economics

This is a fabulous vision!

People of the free internet, we now have the opportunity to create a world where we choose to work a 4 hour work week at our whim, collaborating globally with whom we like, freely choosing compensation in currency or equity, frolicking in our hyper-creative and artistic, fractally self-organized fluid work groups, protected from catastrophic risk by a basic income provided by our egalitarian peer to peer protocols.

In this vision the tragedy of the commons is stamped out like polio by a collaborative network of trust and enforced by a consensus-based cryptographic protocol that ensures our aligned incentivization towards the expression of our personal and collective purpose.

Are you in? Ground control to Major Tom?

The best of this vision is the whole article that comes with it.  Go ahead and be part of the crypto economic revolution

#crptoeconomy #bitcoin #blockchain #visions

I think you will love it Gideon Rosenblatt

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  1. Thanks Gideon Rosenblatt indeed a useful review. A lot of change underway and a lot more coming. I was smitten by the phrase the other day describing blockchain as the fifth technology revolution, following the internet and social… the more I ponder that the more apt it is.

    The basic notion of having the ability to have a common, shared, perpetual, perfect account of activity/transactions (via blockchain and associated tech like crypto) is and will be as transformational as the medici’s invention of banking from which followed trade, industry, etc. We are at the same transformational moment.

  2. That’s a good perspective, Rick Heil​. It really does feel like it had the potential to be that disruptive. It wasn’t until this article that I made the connection to the personal data lockers and Doc Searls​’ VRM thinking. It would be a very exciting possibility if blockchain tech could enable these ideas. Totally disruptive.

  3. Thanks for the ping, Gideon Rosenblatt !

    Indeed, the seeds for transformation. 

    I really enjoyed the article (not the least of which because Noah Thorpe touched upon many of my own intellectual and philosophical roots), it covers a lot of necessary ground and context. 

    I wanted to touch on it over in the ‘other’ thread (your B-Corp one), but it fits more here. Vision and Leadership. 

     If this is to be a transformational stepping stone, it will need vision and leadership like no other time in human history. Most people are followers. They will wind up behind whatever dominant form of power that will possibly provide security and income (or the perceived best odds of it).

    If there is a power vacuum, the old power (meet the new boss, same as the old boss) will fill it. Libertarians and free association self organizing advocates never seem to understand this. 

    It’s an interesting paradox. In order to break free of the old power, we need a new source of power, with this new emerging technologically enabled structure that we now hope can limit the extent of that power. 

    It’s going to be a fascinating next 30 years! 

  4. Good point, Gregory Esau​. Human nature is pretty stubborn in that way. Those what has know how to keep that what they got. Important to keep that on mind as we design these systems. In fact, many of these systems will be designed by or for them….

  5. Aye. Power and the human desire to acquire it is a very hard flame to extinguish.

  6. Totally agree… but to add to the interesting parts ‘us’ libertarian free-association types (smile) are extremely enthused and enamoured with the potential of not needing to have a leader/boss, or in other words intermediary, to control our associations with one another – the future (ala blockchain and its kin) may give us a new way of organizing ourselves with both autonomy, freedom and security in our activities – something never before possible and always beholden to some ‘leader’ type to ‘manage’ it all for us. 

    Perhaps, no more 🙂

    Side note: I’m working on some DAO insurance contracts (Term Insurance, Annuity) using a subscription period (to establish reserves needed), pool claim voting method (to verify and pay claims), external event notification (to identify claims) and of course bitcoin to actual pay in/out. It seems to be modeling out very nicely at a FRACTION – think pennies on the dollar- of the necessary costs since there is no DAO overhead costs, pure mortality costs only. Can’t wait until Ethereum launches…. but for this conversation the point is its an insurance contract that needs no people… purely self organizing via the internet/blockchain/dao engine. The only costs other than pure financial(mortality) costs may be some juice (aka ether) to make the contract last/execute indefinitely in the VM.

  7. Count me as very interested in your DAO insurance contracts, Rick Heil !

    For those of us who are libertarian free association types, Rick, this is a godsend. for me, the real fun begins in seeing if I can finally use these technologies to build the type of business and organization I’ve always dreamed of. 

    The key point for this coming together, is the lower point to entry. It’s just an exhilarating convergence of technology, culture and macro trends. Exciting times!!

    but back to the transformative effects, at this point in history, I just really hope we can establish a beachhead in what is possible. If there’s enough working examples, others will be drawn in over time. With a few generations of success, perhaps the old power won’t have enough influence to gain traction they way they once did.  

  8. Fascinating Gideon Rosenblatt. Here’s the psychological problem… I will tell a #megstory to illustrate. Many years ago I had the opportunity to turn the five apartment apartment building I lived in into a condo. I put the deal together, got all the legal elements together and three other renters to go along. I would make the most money, but each of us would make more than a hundred thousand dollars. The fifth guy didn’t like it that I would get more money and refused to sign. I gave in and made everyone equal and he STILL wouldn’t sign.

    In other words, people are not rational. (Economists have been wrong about this since Adam Smith.)

  9. Frustrating, Meg Tufano. 

    Yes, absolutely. That’s why behavioral economics is so powerful. 

  10. Indeed its interesting and saddening how some of our most primal emotions; fear, greed, envy, loathing are so easy to rear and subvert not only communal good but our own good.

    In my mind another benefit of crypto finance will be to perhaps work around these controlling fears and motives by engaging mathematically certain and to a degree pure systems eliminating intermediaries and perhaps reducing the rise of fear, greed, envy by reducing if not eliminate the people party and thus much of the triggers of envy, etc.

    We can hope 🙂

  11. Rick Heil But then we’d cut out the human part, wouldn’t we?  Worrying Gideon Rosenblatt .  I suspect we cannot pull out the downsides without pulling out the up.  

  12. We do cut out the middle man, which often is the source of greed/envy/deceit/control – the fundamental disconnect of having one person control another person’s money/goods for the benefit of another. Way too much temptation for bad.

    Instead we appear to be on the cusp of a new platform of systems that let any two (or more) parties interact in a guaranteed assured manner privately amongst themselves without a middleman. No banker/broker.

    So concepts like hedging, betting, escrow and even pooled investment (notes, bonds, stock) and insurance can be issued directly between parties without intermediaries.

    The impact/import of that is profound and changes 400+ years of history, shifting control significantly. It could logically/potentially eliminate middleman institutions like banks, brokerage, traditional market exchanges replaced with software equivalents that take little to no fee.

    We are just starting to see these coming online now with bitcoin based platforms and the next wave will eschew the limits of bitcoin and used the blockchain directly… hold on to your hats.

  13. Great perspective, Rick Heil. We went through a period of web disintermediation, knocking out the old control hubs, but simply replacing them with new ones (Amazon, for example). This time around there’s a chance that what replaces the new hubs is something that isn’t a hub. That’s the hope. 

    The fear is that whatever it is is bereft of humanity. My concern is how to infuse these new systems with core human values that go deeper than just things like profit maximization or shareholder primacy, etc. 

  14. My sense is it’s simply technology.

    Like all technology before (and until super AI, after). There is no ‘humanity’ that is intrinsic in tech, it’s how we use it that determines is it for good or ill.

    So I worry less about the humanity of the system and more that it is actually in truth free from imposed biases and controls that do impart some intrinsic good or bad – like collecting data unbeknownst to the users.

    But your point is vital. In the uses of this tech, not the tech itself. And indeed there is much to be concerned about. But at the macro level I think it does very simply boil down to the good outweighs the evil (so far, usually). If not we wouldn’t have made it this far. Indeed governments and those who which to have some semblance, or the illusion of, control will freak because a lot of what they perceive as illicit behaviours and acts will become literally invisible and untraceable. Control is an illusion and that illusion is being shattered.

    I take the view that fundamentally we each owe ourselves, and each other, a responsibility for our actions not our words & thoughts… so what we do in private behind crypto invisible to all should be private and of no external consequence. If and when we act on malintent and cause harm to others the consequences of that should be clear, swift and equitably applied – that’s what civil society means, to me at least. It’s not about control, monitoring and pre-cog anticipation avoiding any ill… its freedom to engage with one another however we mutual see fit with society assuring that no one has undue control or influence over another. As long as adults act of their own true, informed free will then no other should interfere – especially central authority. With the crypto-economy emerging this for the first time becoming possible. True autonomy and empowerment of the individual. 

    No doubt about it this will be a profound change altering hundreds of years of history and a fundamental remaking of society – especially its ‘control’ institutions.

    But I’m an optimist. While this will, especially at first, empower some ‘illegal’ and to some ‘immoral’ behaviors it will also unburden us from the intermediary which is no small thing. What this means and how it works out is to be determined and of major consequence. 

    However the emergence of shared networks where information is authenticatable, sourced, attested, renumerated and exchanged -however two or more parties freely desire – will not only produce far more hyper-efficient commerce but I hope/believe/expect a new enlightenment where most the noise & FUD of the late 20th century is removed. As cliche as it is, truly a new dawn.

    Wow do I feel sentimental all of a sudden. Like the end of Divergent, the new dawn awaits. (Oh let us hope). 

    Either that, or as some worry around the Fermi Paradox, we may be at the moment of the great wall where our technical abilities outsmart our good sense and it’s a mess or even The End. 

  15. Great comment, Rick Heil. Great comment. Yeah, I agree that it’s mostly about the application of the technology: the intention behind its usage. Sometimes, the fundamental function of a technology is so tightly connected with a specific application, that it is almost intrinsically tied to a particular intention (good or bad).

    It’s also sometimes hard to distinguish between what’s really good and what’s really bad. Unintended consequences and feedback make that really difficult to untangle sometimes. 

    That said, I do think that there are general principles that could be derived and that could serve as guidelines. Prevention of monopoly power, for example. Freedom of expression, too. 

    In the case of the blockchain, there are a set of principles that seem to be ’embodied’ in the technology, its essence, if you will. Decentralization is one example. When I look at this, and other technologies, I look at what principles its essence points to and map those against the ones I believe are more ‘better for us’ than they are ‘worse for us.’ One of the variables I use in that, as fuzzy as it is, is the degree to which it allows us to be fully, wholly human, and not just extensions of automation. 

    In general, I’m pretty optimistic about this toolset and where it’s pointing. There are real questions about security, crime, terrorism, etc. that I don’t think we can afford to ignore, but as you say, the upside is likely to more than offset these. 

  16. I’m a Christian. That revelation isn’t really all that important to this conversation except for one thing:  evil. I cannot believe that Mr. Heil is an optimist if he does not have a greater sense of concern that this new crypto-economy might lead to “the end,” i.e., death.

    It’s odd (and it took me awhile to get that aspect of appreciating faith) that if you are going to embrace the Christian story as the true story, you have to accept that there are “powers and principalities” that are more in love with death than life. (Yes, that New Testament theme thousands of years old is stated very similarly if not exactly to a recent proclamation in history (a proclamation that made my hair stand on end).) The Christian takes the opposite position, even if it means laying down one’s own life to ensure others live: preserving and protecting human life is the prime directive (with emphasis on “human.”)

    Though mine is not a scientific or economic position on crypto-economics, it is an observable one. When M.Scott Peck had been a psychiatrist a while, he kept discovering the “people of the lie.” It is impossible to explain in a posting, but suffice it to say that there is some kind of strain of a bad spiritual infection that people can catch if they make their fight against human nature instead of against the powers and principalities “in the heavenly realms.” And that evil virus starts with lying to yourself about what you are doing to the point where you have the ‘disease’ and are infected and cannot remember how to get back to the tough job of facing the music (my favorite phrase for describing what self-reflection (soul-searching) entails).

    Generally speaking, evil spirits are found most often in whatever bodies are LIKE people (corporations and bureaucracies, for example) but are not actually people, and not that often found IN people (except under certain strange situations which Peck realized had something to do with that “lying on purpose” habit.) 

    C.S. Lewis (“That Hideous Strength”) does a great job of describing how and why evil likes and needs bureaucracies, organizations, etc. 

    And all this to say, even the proposal to try to pull the human out of the machine as is being suggested as possible would probably lead to something awful; just as I would hate to see a bureaucratic committee create a person in the first place (an event that is almost happening as we speak as a combination of surrogates, lawyers, justice systems and medical systems are creating families for those who cannot reproduce). And they are doing this with a “damn the consequences” for the CHILD’s position (a particularly inhumane element). (The whole project seems to be going on with people who seem not to have met any children (my opinion, obviously).)

    (Children are not interested in all the ways their parents need to be free; they are interested in who are their real parents. And no amount of love and devotion to their welfare seems to be able to interfere with this primal desire.)

    I can say with gusto that one thing the project of having children is not:  it is NOT efficient.

    Back to the project of creating artificial intelligence that is “good.” The entire project of life (again, this is observable, if not scientific) depends upon chance, integrity, love, imagination and (non-super-naturall) faith in the future. As much as I appreciate technology––and yes I agree it is just a tool*––thinking that it could be more “efficient” and less weighed down by human nature, is a project that almost describes how evil prefers to operate. 

    I am not AFRAID of technology or AI in some kind of Luddite way, I just don’t think it is a good thing to do in ways where the people who create the systems MUST become adepts in order to do the work (as is the case in all things regarding complex tech) and is certainly the case in this crypto-economics. My father taught me never to sign anything until I understood it: how many lifetimes would it take to understand the algorithms in these transactions??????

    NOT saying people who try to do this are evil by any stretch! But there were many good scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project who wish to hell they had kept that particular genie in the bottle, but too late. 

    If we look at all attempts at the project of pulling the human out––including “failsafes” for human stupidity and cupidity––we do see those elements we love the most about life and that make life worth living, disappear. Teachers hate teaching; corporate persons hate their work; even judges, a job that one would identify with self-respect and integrity, have “had it” because they are not permitted to use their judgment (Sunday NYT).

    (Why, generally speaking, we do not enjoy bureaucracies or cubicles.)

    And why, as much as I love my tech gear, I would far rather give it up than depend upon an algorithm I cannot understand to survive. 

    Before we dive in to the crypto-economic shiny object, I would suggest we look at some real people in the eye and decide (judge) if this would be good for our flourishing.

    Such judgments are ethically required for those who are trying to think out the future. Just going along because it’s “cool” is frightening as hell to me.


    *technology literally means “knowledge” and “skills.”  The thinggummy (like an iPhone) is NOT the technology, the knowledge and skills in the person or persons IS.

    machine–comes from mach–ine, in Greek, which means “to trick.”


    “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:12

  17. Gideon Rosenblatt Forgot to plus.

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