While today’s cultural consensus of 9-to-5 jobs is one of stability and security, the exponential threat of technological automation is rapidly eroding that belief. If you work one job, with one job title, at one company; then you’re placing all of your time, income and livelihood “eggs” into one basket.
Even if your employer makes the most intelligent and rational business decisions to avoid competitive disruption, one of those decisions will inevitably include automating your job to cut labor costs.
In a perfect freelance economy, all workers would have an abundance of diverse, interesting and high-paid work matched to their skillsets, with the financial freedom and time to enjoy their lives and pursue their passions.
However the current freelance and gig platforms are inefficient and incapable of transitioning our society to that future economic reality. So if we take a first principles approach to the problem: where are we now, what future do we want, and what are the fundamental elements required to get us there?
Inclusive Freelance & Gig Economy
While freelancing can offer greater freedoms and financial stability, if you’ve ever tried it yourself you’ll be all too aware of the pains and stresses involved. The entire process is chaotic and uncertain, requiring your constant attention and agility to jump on every lead opportunity and juggle multiple projects simultaneously while managing ever-changing client expectations.
Here are just a few of the reasons why freelancing today is a painful endeavor preventing many from reaching financial independence:
- Education: our schools, colleges and universities teach little to absolutely nothing about how to become and operate as a freelancer.
- Unique Skills: must already possess self-taught, technical and creative skills that are unique and high in demand.
- Many Hats: freelancers need to also be salespeople, entrepreneurs, copywriters, marketers, networkers, accountants, bookkeepers and more.
- Finding Work: landing your first client or contract is a huge barrier to entry, often requiring months of networking, bids and self-promotion.
- Competition: the internet has opened opportunities for all, but now you must compete against a large supply pool willing to work for <$5/h.
- Difficult Clients: scope creep, underestimated quotes, communication issues, expectation mismatches and dishonest clients are common.
- Finances: manage your own invoices, billing, accounting, debt recovery, taxation, super, and personal budgeting on an inconsistent income.
- Uncertainty: many large contracts can often be followed with months of zero work, invoices may or may not be paid or paid on time.
Let’s now time travel into a future economy where these problems don’t exist and thus the barrier to entry into freelancing is nil. What could the process look like for an average freelancer with a device and internet access?
- You join any freelance, gig or task platform of your choosing.
- You create an account and join all of the #communities relevant to your diverse skillsets, interests, passions and new skills you’d like to learn.
- Just like Facebook or Reddit, your feed is now filled with links, questions, discussions and other user-posted content from all of those communities.
- For each like, comment or post, you begin to earn $tokens for engaging in those communities (like karma, but cryptocurrency).
- Total $tokens earned = skill level. If mobile UI design is your thing, then you levelup that skill by earning $mobileUI tokens.
- These tokens and all of your data are decentralized, universally recognized and transferable. If you switch platforms, they’re instantly there.
- As you levelup, paid task requests matched to your skill level will begin to be displayed at the top of your feed. Want it? One-click claim. No bidding.
- When you claim a task you’re instantly placed into a live chat with the employer to discuss and complete the task.
- Once the task is complete, you get paid $ and your $skill levels up.
- The higher your skill level, the more advanced the content displayed in your feed, and the higher the paid tasks matched to you.
This is exactly what we’re building at Peerism.
In order to make this future a reality and to scale such a system for a global freelance economy, we need to leverage the latest blockchain technology such as Ethereum to build a decentralized economic protocol.
To achieve this, there are three core challenges to solve:
- Skills: How do we accurately quantify and prove skills?
- Tasks: How do we best match tasks to people?
- Decentral: How do we do this without a central authority?
If we were approaching these challenges from a typical corporate startup mindset, we wouldn’t have any significant or positive impact on the world.
AlphaCo would likely solve the skill quantification problem by building a proprietary examination and testing system whereby freelancers earn badges and levelup by passing each test. Each of these tests would need to be manually written, preventing cheating would be impossible, and the badges earned wouldn’t be transferable to the competing platform run by OmegaCo.
There’s a huge difference between building yet another startup and building an entirely new economy.
OmegaCo would likely solve the task matching problem by first building a proprietary closed database silo. One database table will contain all of the tasks entered into their platform, another table will contain all of the users registered on their platform. They will develop a secret, proprietary AI matching algorithm to match task to user. Tasks posted to AlphaCo are invisible to OmegaCo. Users registered on OmegaCo are unknown to AlphaCo.
Self-Aware Abundance Economy
What we really need is an economy that does most of the heavy lifting so that anyone can immediately become a freelancer regardless of age, country, background or skills. We need a self-aware economy that knows each of our skills, interests and passions and can directly send us interesting paid work.
To solve the skill quantification problem in Peerism, we leverage cryptocurrency to represent not just a financial value, but also a specific skill possessed by that owner. We think in the future you’ll earn $skills not $dollars because it’s the only way we can quantify the infinite and growing diversity of skills and interests of every human.
The beauty of cryptocurrency is that it’s distributed and decentralized, meaning it isn’t stored on a server sitting in some company’s basement. Anyone can buy, sell or trade cryptocurrency freely anywhere in the world and do so without asking for permission or trusting a third party.
As of recently it’s trivial for new cryptocurrencies to be minted with a few lines of code deployed to a public blockchain. Peerism will allow users to create a cryptocurrency for any [a-z0–9] character word that represents a skill, interest, project or passion which is also paired to an open community.
The resume of the future will be a publicly verifiable list of all skill tokens earned, quantified, totaled, and ranked.
For example you may have earned 9000 $design tokens, 7000 $3Dprinting tokens, 3000 $writing tokens and thousands of your other skills and interests.
Another difficult challenge is to prove the unlimited diversity of skills and to determine an individual’s skill level in order to rank them against others. To do so we need a decentralized proof-of-skill protocol to verify skills without a central authority.
In Peerism this means that the total skill tokens earned is reflective of that individual’s quantified skill level. For example if you’ve completed 67 #logo design tasks and earned a total of 583 $logo tokens, then 583 is your skill level for logo design. From there we can easily rank and compare to others.
However it’s not as simple as that because bad actors will always attempt to game any decentralized system. How do we differentiate between tokens bought and tokens earned? How do we prevent or deter users from creating multiple accounts? Do all users start at level zero or can we build a system that enables new users to verify their skills? How do we prevent friends doing fake tasks for each other? There are many challenges to solve.
Task Ledger & Matching
Finally we need a way to accept new task requests, store them and match them to users, then share all data. Again by leveraging blockchain technology we can store all community data, user data, skill token data and task data on an open, public, distributed and secure blockchain file protocol such as IPFS.
Future work and education apps, websites and platforms will be able to freely plugin to the decentralized Peerism protocol without asking for permission. They will then have full access to all skill token communities, public user data and all task requests. Users can switch instantly between these platforms without needing to create a new account or profile. Any task request posted on one app is immediately known and accessible to all others in the economy.
With a list of all specific #skill task requests on one side and a list of all users with total quantified #skill levels on the other, we can employ a model similar to any exchange market with buy and sell orders.
Open matching algorithms match the price of the task to a specific skill level range, then the protocol makes the task available to all users within that range. When a user claims the task, it’s removed from the availability pool. If users within the skill level range fail to claim the task within a certain timeframe, it’s then offered to the users in a lower skill level range.
Combining all of these elements together, the result is a global and self-aware freelance economy which quantifies individual skills to route any request across the economy directly to the perfect person. The beauty of the protocol is that it facilitates both paid and unpaid requests. Peers will be able to utilize the same paid work request system to also connect directly to others with similar interests; to teach, solve problems and share thoughts.
In phase two of the project we’ll be implementing a commons-owned bot marketplace where bots and humans work together to automate tasks. Any profits earned by these bot are shared with the creator and the entire community in the form of a networked basic income.
Freelancing becomes universal and accessible. Work becomes abundant and purposeful. Wealth becomes secondary and shared.
Sound exciting? Want to make this a reality for everyone?