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Ideas behind the MetaCurrency Project

Milk & Honey: Tracks In The Snow from alan rosenblith on Vimeo.


A Living Systems Model of Wealth

Most of our work revolves around the desire to build economies which can nurture thriving living systems. Industrial age models of weath and currency are simply inadequate to that task since they not only fail to measure most of the important value in a living system, they actually erode that value by measuring weatlh in only in terms of what can be extracted, subdivided and owned.

We've created this diagram to help illustrate this:

A Living Systems Model of Wealth

For some additional clarification, here is a video of us talking about a Living Systems Model of Wealth at Occupy Wall Street. (Sorry about the audio/shouting, it was a very loud venue.)



The Evolution of Economies and Social Intelligence.

There are phase changes in social evolution that are driven by the advent of new technologies.  The invention of writing enabled the jump from small scale tribal society to large scale urban civilizations.  The invention of the printing press enabled the jump from monarchic to democratic society.  In each of these cases, the technology solved particular problems of the era, but then become a platform for a much larger context of development.  

Modern society is at a pivotal juncture with similar large problems that need solving: environmental destruction; social inequity; continual war; to name a few.  There is the possibility of new technologies, that, like writing and the printing press before them, form the platform from which it is possible to build new kinds of social structures that design away the problem of the previous era, and similarly become a platform for new emergence. The MetaCurrency Platform is an ambitious suite of technology components that we believe could constitute this era's pivotal platform technology.

The MetaCurrency platform design is based on a number of underlying assumptions whose full description is beyond the scope of this paper, but we name them here without supporting argument and in the appendix point to other writings that argue the case for these assumptions.  These are our points of departure:

  • Social groups are like living organism in that their health is the result of highly coordinated flows.
  • Coordination of flows is inherently an embodied informational process.  
  • In modern societies, money is the fundamental informational tool used to coordinate flows of goods and services, in a process most often called "the economy."
  • Money is not the only informational tool used to coordinate flows, in fact, it is one of a whole host of such information systems that make visible and allow the coordination of flows.  It is not widely understood that money is an instance of a broader category.
  • The broader category of such information systems (what we call currencies) are those formal information systems that mark flows, which makes them visible and allow us to interact with and shape them.  Not only material flows, but flows of all types, like flows of social participation and attention.
  • To make this broader category accessible and visible we need a meta-informational capacity, a kind of grammar and syntax, that makes construction of all sorts of currencies possible.

Given the above as points of departure, a meta-information system that fills the requirements necessary to be the expressive enough to allow scalable, wide-spread and easy implementation of currencies of all types will need to address the following technical components:

  • having a way of identifying the agents that comprise the social organism that will transact
  • having a common grammar and syntax in which to express the statements that constitute valid transactions in the various currencies
  • having a medium of transmission for the transactions
  • having a reliable record of the transactions

These components could be designed, (accidentally, or purposefully) to yield concentration of power if any one of them were controlled by a privileged minority.  In many cases it is argued that for the good, or the security a system, or for practical reasons, there needs to be a privileged minority to watch over a particular component.  

For the MetaCurrency Platform, however, we take it as a fundamental design criteria that no such privileged group be necessary for any of the four fundamental components of the system.  We call this design criterion: "unenclosability" in that, by design, none of the core functions of the system can be enclosed for the gain of a minority.  

In that spirit we have named the four components of the system: Open Identity, Open Rules, Open Transport, Open Data.



Open Data



MetaCurrency: Open Data from alan rosenblith on Vimeo.

Open Rules


MetaCurrency: Open Rules from alan rosenblith on Vimeo.



Open Transport


MetaCurrency: Open Transport from alan rosenblith on Vimeo.