WIDE-SCALE EXPERIMENT WITH ALTERNATIVE ECONOMIC STRUCTURES
Capitalism needs a reset, says the Financial Times, accompanied by the CEOs of digital platform giants. But no-one knows how to proceed after such a reboot. We may be on our way to fundamental changes in the structure of our economy.
Peer-to-peer technologies, such as Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs, including blockchains) are providing completely new opportunities to organise our society. However, technologies are just enablers. We must set a direction for these developments. We must proactively conduct large scale experiments with alternative economic structures. The future of our society must rely not solely on ideologies, but on solid experiments and data.
Our Generalised Merits (GMeRitS) endeavour aims to tackle this huge predicament by taking baby steps towards wide scale experiments with alternative economic structures. In particular, our aim is to try and evaluate various anti-rival compensation and governance structures.
Our vision is based on intimate interconnection of three themes: money and debt shaping our collective thinking, market failures especially in the data markets, and the invention of DLTs.
- Money and debt, as we know them today, are arguably among the most important social innovationswithin the last 5000 years. According to some scholars, those innovations have even shaped the way we perceive ourselves as individuals and how we relate to each other. The innovation in these domains has not stopped: on the contrary, it is accelerating with a rapid pace.
- There is early but growing evidence that the current forms of ownership and payment are insufficient to efficiently clear new kinds of markets our society is increasingly based on, especially those related with information and data. We are evidencing structural market failures, evidenced by the birth of the giant data monopolies and the accumulation of “knowledge silos.”
- Industrial revolution continues, and DLTs are one of its latest manifestations. DLTsmay be considered as the most potential accounting innovation since the 15th century, when double entry bookkeeping became commonplace. However, DLTs are not economic solutions themselves. Although DLTs enable governance decentralisation, tamper proofness, censor-resistance and resilience, the technology is still free to be exploited almost to whatever ideological and political purpose one wants.
We surmise that these themes – including societal pressures and technological possibilities – will lead to a very fundamental change in the way we perceive the economy and even ourselves. Careful institutional experiments and design is needed to set a direction for these developments. GMeRitS is carrying out these experiments.
Currently, GMeRitS consists of three empirical cases – REC currency, Mesensei community empowerment framework, and Merits rewarding system – and a continuously updated design toolkit to be used by anyone willing to develop their own frameworks based on our principles. Together these components form the fundamental building blocks of our economic, technological, and conceptual experiments.
Using DLT based infrastructure and mobile apps, based on already ongoing community experiments of REC, Mesensei and Merits, and gradually expanding thereof, we are experimenting and systematically studying collaborative economic structures, contributing to financial inclusion.