What “In Time” movie teaches us about Blockchain
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” ― Charles Darwin
“In Time” is a thought provoking movie, based on a cutting-edge concept: time replacing money as a universal currency, and being transferable between people. The story is set in a future dystopian Los Angeles, where people is genetically engineered to stop aging when they are 25 years old, being automatically given a one-year countdown digital watch, which runs out of time if not recharged. People are then forced to earn and spend minutes in order to survive longer, and time becomes definitely the unique currency of exchange. This new paradigm could make us think that all the wealth related problems are solved by stopping using money as a mean of trade, but… NO! The film has a dramatic thrilling side, as divisions between classes become more evident on the base of this new currency: time.
Time is being stolen by thieves; minutes are being traded; criminal activities increase; some people own one or more lives time, while others are struggling and rushing to survive a few seconds more. We hope this extreme situation will never take place, but this story teaches us something about the way we consider money.
Money is just a mean we use in exchange for having goods or services. If we change the mean, the result remains the same. What makes some goods expensive and some other cheap is just their availability, in comparison to the market demand. Days, hours, minutes are a convention of digits adopted globally to help setting events. However, time is a sensitive, subjective concept: if you doubt, ask to a marathon runner how he/she feels during the really last seconds of his/her race.
Both Money and Time are countable, but there is a substantial difference: you cannot get back the time you lost (at least with the current state of technology!) This is the mind-blowing concept of this movie: shifting the paradigm from a currency that has no intrinsic value, to one that is precious for human beings.
Does this sound familiar to the crypto family? :)
But what can this movie starred by Justin Timberlake teach us about tokenization of assets?
If we go a little bit further, the pre-Bitcoin-boom movie (2011) anticipates some interesting concepts:
A new asset class: time.
This new asset acquires intrinsic value and becomes the only valuable currency which is influenced by its scarcity. The “Time Total Supply” is fixed by the number of existing human lives (total number of humans x 26) where a lot of them are HODL (until you turn 25 they are not unlocked).
If we think about the “economics” of this class, we can understand how the price of this asset fluctuates and why Time seems to have a such a big manipulated inflation: a coffee goes from 3min-cost to 4min-cost in 24h, which is a 33% in 24h
Centralization vs Decentralization
Spoiler Alert!!!! (Don’t read if you are “time sensitive” 😉) In the Andrew Niccol’s movie, the centralized elite of organizations (Timekeepers) that control and store/release Time are the enemies of our friend Will Salas (Justin). At the end, the whole story is about managing Time supply. When Will decides to redistribute Time stored among the population (aka increase free-float) the system is threatened by a “free market optimum” that could stop the supremacy of the Timekeepers along with their control and longevity.
Couple of takeaways
In Time represents a futuristic society (near-future btw) where value exchange is backed by a limited supply of Time. The movie was released before Bitcoin became famous and before the boost of Altcoins, ICOs and tokens, but it still deals with a lot of current concepts related to alternative value.
Without trying to understand the eventual philosophical implications of such a radical scenario, we can learn a lot of basic concepts related to tokenizing value, the implications of scarcity in a centralized vs decentralized market and even some learnings about tokenomics or even possible attacks that the system can face (hacking accounts, 51% attack, …).
And, about what it’s still to come, what if we could trade our assets by a simple, fast and transparent peer-to-peer transaction, same as Time is transferred from a person to another one in this movie and without backing it with money, another physical commodity or any other asset class?
Can we imagine a system where money is useless?
Furthermore, can we imagine a system where different types of units of account that store value (including money) coexist?
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