The YKarma experiment – TechCrunch


Blockchains are boring now. It’s been ten years since Bitcoin launched, and cryptocurrencies have virtually completely been used to recapitulate current financial methods in barely new types. That is boring. Programmable currencies give us the flexibility to construct entire new classes of economies, ones which reject all conventional assumptions about how worth is generated, transferred, or saved. It’s previous time to begin experimenting with such methods.

Placing my repute the place my mouth is, your (not-so-)humble correspondent has accomplished simply that. Particularly, I’ve created, and open-sourced, an experimental, blockchain-based, non-monetary economic system, one which quantifies repute as a spendable foreign money inside a present economic system.

I’m not doing this within the hopes it would take over the world. I’m doing this within the hopes it is going to be one in all many experimental blockchain-based economies that reject the tenets of conventional financial capitalism, a few of which could truly take root.

Not that I’m against capitalism. (A surprisingly controversial stance, within the Bay Space the place I stay.) It’s nice up to some extent. However there’s no motive to assume that it’s the ultimate system perpetually, the top of all financial historical past, till the warmth demise of the universe. Blockchains give us the primary actual alternative to experiment with, and the primary technological substrate for, new sorts of scalable, quantified, post-capitalist economies … however no person appears to even be attempting.

And so, with out additional ado, I provide the YKarma Manifesto. (Each bizarre thought wants a great manifesto.) The essential idea: to mannequin repute as a spendable foreign money, each individual in a group or group is allotted “karma cash” to distribute every week. These have to be given away to different folks earlier than they can be utilized. The recipients can then spend these cash on numerous rewards — a day without work, a convention ticket, a espresso with somebody notable, and many others and many others and many others.

(Please notice: this can be a repute economic system, i.e. modeling repute as a personal spendable foreign money, not, repeat not, a repute system, i.e. some form of “social credit standing” like China’s. The previous is an fascinating thought worthy of experimentation. The latter is a dystopia ready to occur. The 2 are very totally different.)

If I sound like I’m being too harsh on the blockchain establishment — properly, bear in mind final yr, when the cryptocurrency hype was at a peak, together with the aspirational pleasure? Blockchains had been going to vary all the things, remake entire economies, restructure the Web, exchange VC with ICOs, seize energy from the megacorporations and return it to the folks.

That was then. Now blockchains have settled on precisely one killer utility: a worldwide unregulated permissionless buying and selling marketplace for penny shares cryptocurrencies, which I name the “crypto on line casino.” Oh, they’re often used for transferring cash, and for the odd prediction market or digital collectible, and if Bitcoin’s worth ever stabilized it will make for a fairly good retailer of worth and hedge in opposition to inflation–

— however let’s not child ourselves. Take a tough have a look at how folks truly use blockchains as we speak, and you may’t assist however conclude that mainly all we have now constructed is a on line casino … one which actually has just one sport.

It’s a on line casino with some extraordinarily fascinating tensions, similar to permissionlessness and privateness vs. KYC and AML. It’s a on line casino whose chips are inherently anti-authoritarian, which is not any small factor. It’s a on line casino which can develop right into a full-fledged marketplace for e.g. safety tokens. However even then, it’s nonetheless simply fintech.

True, there are plenty of actually fascinating meta-projects dedicated to new sorts of blockchains (and different decentralized consensus methods), and pan-chain efforts similar to Cosmos and Polkadot, and second-layer initiatives similar to Lightning, and scaling, and privateness, and decentralized storage/chat/id, and so forth and so forth. There are my two favorites, Blockstack and FOAM.

However most of these, and all of these meta-projects, solely matter to folks already within the area. To strange folks, these sorts of initiatives stay as totally meaningless and eye-rollingly irrelevant as, say, Linux’s systemd wars are to Home windows and Mac customers.

So let’s broaden the horizon of our experimentation some, and cease greedily attempting to earn money. Certainly, let’s begin experimenting with methods that are explicitly not about cash; that are the alternative of cash. Let’s begin experimenting with repute economies, or present economies, or by some means quantifying commodity pathways, and even cultural economies.

If that piques any of your curiosity, go check out YKarma. (It appears surprisingly acceptable for me to utilize the social, and arguably cultural, capital of my place as a TechCrunch columnist to exhort you to take action.) What I most hope for shouldn’t be that you just begin utilizing it; it’s that you just fork it, use it as a foundation for constructing your personal new avant-garde post-capitalist financial experiment, and assist make blockchains bizarre once more.


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