While it may not feel like it in our day-to-day lives, we’re actually living through the most profound epoch ever experienced in human history. Technological progress is exponential and accelerating which leads futurist Ray Kurzweil to suggest “we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century, it will be more like 20,000 years”.
In 2010 there were 400 million of us on the internet. Today 3.7 billion of us are connected into a super-collective network, where the daily reality of transmitting thoughts across the Earth at (near) the speed of light is taken for granted. It’s likely that number will reach all 7.5 billion humans by 2020 with the help of plans like SpaceX’s 4,425 satellite constellation.
The internet is increasingly powering our global economy with digital payments such as contact-less debit cards growing at 10% per year. Given the exponential growth of the cryptocurrency market and serious interest from central banks, it appears inevitable that most transactions in the future economy will involve behind-the-scenes cryptocurrency.
The Economy is a Human Network
A fascinating approach to analyzing any economy is to picture it as a single networked super-organism comprised of millions or billions of humans, making transactions to trade goods and services.
The behaviors and actions of each individual node within a network produce complex and emergent phenomena. This is true of the neurons and neural pathways in your brain that result in “you”. It’s true of the servers, routers, laptops, smartphones and devices that result in the “internet”. And it’s true of the businesses, organizations, supply chains, trade routes and payment transactions that result in the “economy”.
- Variation: 100 billion neurons (fixed)
- Selection: synapses, action potentials and neurotransmission
- Heredity: memory via neural pathways
Within your brain the networks are physical, can be imaged with the right equipment and strengthen or weaken depending on neurotransmission.
- Variation: 8.4 billion devices (rapidly growing)
- Selection: TCP/IP and communication suite
- Heredity: silo database logs of everything
Within the internet the networks are also physical, can be mapped via IP addresses and information can flow freely across those connections.
- Variation: 3.7 billion people (online) to 7.5 billion
- Selection: currency and human needs/wants
- Heredity: no history (cash) and some hidden history (banks, cards)
Within the economy, the networks are not all present. Digital banking or card transactions do create transaction history networks, but these are stored in secret databases known only to the banks. Cash transactions are untraceable and leave zero pathways within the environment for a network to form.
An economy without a network is like computers without the internet; an untapped resource waiting to be awoken.
Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency restructure the economy 3.0 to identify and grow these networks, enabling emergent potential such as Johan Nygren’s swarm-distributed basic income and Vince Meen’s amazing ideas.
Qualitative vs Quantitative Signals
Another interesting approach is to compare the network of our current economy to that of a social network such as Facebook with 2 billion users. Both are human networks with people forming one-way, two-way and other complex connections between other people and organisations.
Without asking any them questions, what could you learn from two randoms plucked from the global economy compared to two randoms from Facebook?
- Unknown #1: $1
- Unknown #2: $1,000
Person #1 has $1 in their wallet along with some other cards whose details you can’t access. Person #2 has $1,000 in their wallet. Nothing else is known.
- Mary Jane: 829 friends, engaged, studied French at UCB, works at Acme Marketing in San Francisco, posted 7 status updates in the past 3 days etc
- Karl Smith: 427 friends, single, current student at USYD, likes economics and photography, follows 271 organization pages etc
It’s clear that Facebook as a human network supersedes the global economy by recording far more granular data on the individuals, the network pathways between them and the strength of those connections.
The problem with using Facebook as the basis for an economy is that the data is stored in private databases, and it’s also qualitative, not quantitative. Comparing a user who likes pizza to a user who likes fashion, is in some ways similar to the barter economy of comparing the value of X chickens to Y goats.
That $20 in your pocket tells the global economy little to absolutely nothing about you. It has no self-awareness of your individual skills, passions and interests because the only protocol it has to work from is a uniform, non-representative and homogeneous currency (USD, AUD, BTC, ETH etc).
Where money was a method to quantify trade, skill currencies are a method to quantify people: their skills, skill levels, interests, likes and passions.
If we merged the granular qualitative data of networks like Facebook with the quantitative data of networks like the economy, we could upgrade the global economic system to achieve truly amazing and emergent phenomena.
Skill CryptoCurrency Tokens
If we can quantify the skillsets, skill levels, likes, interests and passions of people, then a new self-aware economy can facilitate the comparison, connection and trading of those qualitative entities. Out of that network can emerge an economic protocol with compassion for human concerns.
To do this we need to quantify skills across a decentralized and distributed marketplace. The major flaws of the traditional education system and also online education platforms (MOOCs) is that degrees, qualifications and badges are non-transferable. A degree earned in India isn’t recognized in the US. A badge earned on Udemy isn’t recognized on KhanAcademy.
The solution is peerism: user-created skill cryptocurrency tokens paired with a decentralized proof-of-skill protocol.
How It Works
- Anyone can create a new $skill currency (a-z0–9 character word)
- Creating a $skill is as easy as writing a #hashtag
- Each $skill is paired to an open decentralized online community
- Earn $skill by posting, commenting and liking content
- Earn more $skill by doing paid tasks auto-matched to your level
Instead of earning a baseless currency like USD, AUD, BTC or ETH, you earn a $skill currency related to whichever skill you wish to improve. If you have a passion for #photography, you can take photos for people and earn $photography. If #maths is your thing, you can tutor people and earn $maths.
Just like leveling-up your experience (XP) in a video game, the more of a $skill currency you earn, the higher your level. If you’ve earned 9,021 $photography, then that is your #photography level. If you want to learn a new skill, simply join that community on any platform, engage and levelup.
Work & Education in Economy 3.0
Quantifying skill currencies is a first principles strategy; the first initial step required to build the foundation for Economy 3.0. For Facebook to develop the AI algorithm that powers your personalized newsfeed, they first needed to know what their users liked and didn’t like. They had to build both a profile on users and a social graph that networked their interactions.
If we begin with an open and growing network which has quantified and ranked the tremendous diversity of skills and interests for every individual, we can build some amazing emergence within that networked economy:
- End 9–5 jobs: any paid task, problem or request entered into the economy from any input node (person, app, device) can be instantly routed to anyone’s feed with the right skill and skill level. If they accept the task, a line of live communication can be opened to solve the problem quickly.
- Automation resilience: with a vast diversity of quantified skillsets, a global workforce can emerge that is resilient to automation. If one skill is automated, they may have a thousand others to instantly fallback to.
- Free P2P education: to start learning any new skill, simply join that community, learn from others and immediately begin receiving tasks matched to your skill level. You earn as you learn. No slow degrees.
- Micro-economies: there are many human skills and interests which the current economy doesn’t value. As each $skill is a floating cryptocurrency, the potential exists to start and grow the #FidgetSpinner community to the point where you and others can make a living earning $FidgetSpinner by helping others in that community or outsiders who require your skills.
- Commons-owned automation: with tasks being fed automatically into these #skill or #interest communities, we can then introduce a commons-owned bot marketplace. Anyone can create a bot to solve a repeat task. When future tasks are received they can be fed to the bots. If a bot solves it, some of the profits go to the creator, while the majority are returned to the community as a form of basic income. Tasks not solved by the bots are sent to the humans, thus creating a symbiotic and mutually beneficial bot+human hybrid economy.