How to build an economy based on kindness powered by blockchain

Is it possible to build an economy based on kindness? In the past this concept would have been considered utopia, and rightfully so. Today, for the first time in history, I believe it’s technically possible to build it and not too far from our reach.

Here I will share my ideas on how it can work, hoping that some minds brighter than mine will find inspiration in my words.

First of all, let’s define what needs to be in place make this innovation possible: an economy running on blockchain and governed by DAOs (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation). All technologies that already exist or are being shaped, which although in their infancy today are destined to prevail. It may take a couple of decades, maybe more, but we will ultimately adopt them for being far more efficient, cost effective, and adecuate for a global interconnected world that runs fast.

In this world of a near future we can expect the job market as we know it to be disrupted by AI and automation, which will steal or devalue our jobs at increasingly fast rate. The singularity, or the point in history in which the intelligence of the machine will be indistinguishable from ours, is forecasted for 2029. Just a decade from now. We can expect to have the majority of humans without a full time employment by the end of this century.

As jobs evaporate, we will be forced to review the old capitalist dogma that wants the right to live our life with dignity dependant on earning an income through our job. This will just become unsustainable, unless we want a future devastated by misery, social unrest, violence, and illiberal regimes. Not very smart to keep this dogma in the most prosperous and rich in opportunities world ever, with machines serving us basically as slaves. Unconditional basic income for all, as birth right, seems to be the most reasonable solution. Possibly the only solution, like it or not.

So, let’s imagine this probable future where most governance is digital, running on blockchain (including the economy), and powered by a very smart AI. A future with widespread unemployment and unconditional basic income granted to all.

It’s likely to be more of a socialist rather than a capitalist world, also because we can’t keep aiming to perpetual growth of production and consumption (heavily unsustainable to the point of threatening life on Earth through climate change and pollution). We are more likely to have in place a system based on efficiency, resource sharing, and community, which the technology of today make very possible.

The socialism I am describing is nothing we should fear like those we experienced in the last century. Blockchain by its nature should eradicate the flaws that made socialism turn evil in the past (centralisation, bureaucracy, corruption, and lack of transparency, meritocracy, and means of self realisation).

Sure, our technology has also the potential to turn our world into a totalitarian nightmare like we never witnessed before given the unprecedented, granular, and automatic control it allows. In the end though we cannot blame technology for the way we decide to use it. Machines are neutral. If people don’t like freedom or are so stupid to trust ignorant populist scum, they will get exactly what they deserve: slavery. Nowadays knowledge is always at the reach of our fingertips, we are free to speak and free to vote (in most places at least): humanity has no excuses. We are no victims. We are the makers of our destiny.

Back to the main point of this article. In this future scenario I described (which I expect to materialise in not less than 20–30 years from now, probably more), I believe we can put in place an economy of kindness to run in parallel with the regular economy. This innovation will be made possible by the flexibility blockchain allows: we can get creative in setting up how a currency works.

My idea is to create a special currency just for this economy of kindness. Let’s call this currency “Kudos”.

Every month, along with their basic income or their income from work, people will receive by default a personal allowance of kudos. The peculiarity of kudos is that you won’t be able to spend them. The kudos you’ll receive by default every month can only be donated to others (who will be able to spend them, with some limitations).

People will give away their kudos to others based on kindness, help, and support they receive from them. When giving kudos away they will need to justify the donation on their device. AI will review the data to prevent frauds.

Examples of actions that can get you kudos: providing assistance to old people even by just spending time with them, supporting those in need (sick, disabled, people with mental health issues etc.), supporting and educating children, volunteering in general, helping your neighbours, or why not helping your own family or just being nice to them (I’d limit the kudos you can give to your family).

The amount of kudos people will receive every month (kudos that can only be donated) will be variable and governed by AI according to these parameters:

  • Age (the older you get the more help you will tend to need. Older people would receive more kudos than young people).
  • Health (those who are sick need more help and support, more kudos for them).
  • Karma (measured according to the kudos you earned in your life. The more you helped others, the more you will get help later in life).

This system will be designed to incentivise the young and the able to help those in need.

What can people do with kudos received from others? These kudos are intended as a gift, a reward for our good deeds, not something to get rich with. To keep it this way, I would impose the following limits to the kudos we are rewarded with:

  • they can’t be given away to others (although you can buy gifts for them, and these gifts can’t be sold — AI would know…)
  • they can’t be used for business
  • you can accumulate them but they need to be spent within a time limit (say, 2 years) or you lose them (they will still count for your karma).

Typically, kudos will be spent on: goods, gifts, food (i.e. a good restaurant), holidays, entertainment. They will be like a bonus to make our life better in a way that basic income won’t allow as it will cover just our basic needs. If you want better food, you have to earn it, either by working (as today) or by being kind to others (a revolution that can make this world a much better place).

As we have been able to build a system that incentivises greed and self interest, we should be able to build a parallel economy that incentivises kindness. Today we finally have the technological means to do it.

That’s all for now. I put it down very simple, I realise life and humans are complex, plenty of adjustments will be needed to make this economy of kindness work and avoid abuses. But let’s not forget that this economy will be governed by an exceptionally smart AI that will reason on parameters similar to the ones I defined, which are all measurable.

If you also believe it’s possible, please start to think about it and share your thoughts! Criticism is also very welcome! This is just version 0.1, all up for debate!

More on my website barabeke.net