10 results for “Alternative Currencies”

The Economy of Ecology

Lewis Just
January 6th 2017
What if we could redesign the system to work for humanity and the planet we call home? What would the economy of ecology look like?

Your Data Is Worth More Than You Think

Lewis Just
November 19th 2016
How valuable are your data?

Solar Energy: the Hottest New Currency

Lewis Just
September 22nd 2016
Energy-backed money could help transition humanity to a more sustainable world, both environmentally and economically.

Time Is a Universal Currency

Lewis Just
July 1st 2016
The principle behind a time based currency is usually very simple: one hour of work equals a unit of time.

Legally Stealing $60Million of Cryptocurrency

Lewis Just
June 25th 2016
All it takes to steal $60million worth of cryptocurreny is to create a child DAO. Sounds too good to be true...

Rating the Reputation Economy

Lewis Just
May 17th 2016
Our online reputation is becoming a valuable currency that is hard to earn and easy to lose.

A Cryptocurrency Helping to Cure Cancer

Lewis Just
May 4th 2016
Part two of a ten part series exploring the design of an invisible technology: money.

How Rare Is Virtual Gold?

Lewis Just
April 26th 2016
Part one of a ten part series exploring the design of an invisible technology: money.
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Unfortunately our economy is constructed in a way that is simply incompatible with our ecology. You could say that the system, and all of its moving parts, have been poorly designed. What if we could redesign the system to work for humanity and this planet we call home? How can we truly value our biosphere before we lose it forever? And how would a currency for the environment work?For decades, economists have argued that prosperity requires growth, with environmental damage as the regrettable but unavoidable consequence. Though new voices are emerging, it seems like we have been listening to the same story for some time now: keep shareholders and owners happy by maximising profits at all costs, often planning in the short term and ignoring long term consequences. Lucky for companies, they never have to pay the full price of their business thanks to a thing called external costs or externalities. That is, they are external to the cost of business and can be negative or positive but work in favour of the business and affect a third party (e.g. citizens). For example a negative externality is the creation of air pollution through burning fossil fuels. A positive externality on the other hand is carbon sequestration by trees. This is where trees take carbon out of the atmosphere and store it for a long time.If you think about it, our environment is like an angel investor in the global economy, secretly supporting many industries. For instance, the global pharmaceuticals industry is worth billions of euros but few know that up to 50% of this market is based on the genetic diversity of wild species. Forests are another great example of nature's secret investment into humanity. Not only do forests store carbon, they also provide medicine and food for us to consume, can protect our cities from natural disasters and are home to thousands of other creatures, many not even discovered. And yet we only value the forest within our economic system when it is cut down and turned into a raw material.There are bureaucratic ideas to value our environment but these have some considerable drawbacks. Ecosystem services is a framework built upon the idea of "natural capital" whereby every service provided by our environment is given an economic value in euros and cents. However there has been strong resistance to this commodification and price tagging of nature. How do you work out the value of an inspiring walk through the forest or the sound of birds tweeting? There is also a bigger danger that the price of the ecosystem will be superseded and so replaced: the lake is worth €10 million, but if we replace the lake with a road that has a value of €11million then goodbye lake, goodbye fish, insects and biodiversity and goodbye environment. Carbon trading, another idea to protect the environment, is in effect a way to cap and trade pollution with the goal to reduce the amount of emissions in the coming year. The idea has good intensions but at best can be bureaucratic and slow to enforce and at worst simply moves the problem elsewhere. Both these solutions are top down and designed in a way to limit damage. They are there to negatively reinforce people to not do bad. But what if we flipped that idea on its head and instead positively incentivised people to do good? If you can make money cutting down a tree why can't you make money planting one?There are many ways in which we can incentivise behaviour, probably the most powerful and ubiquitous is money. Our fiat currencies, such as pounds euros and dollars, incentivise billions of people around the world every day. It seems then only logical that we should design a new currency to both value and reward environmental action. Here at Next Nature Network we're doing exactly that. We call it the ECO coin.The ECO coin is designed to be a community led positive solution that rewards humans anywhere actively contributing to a more sustainable world. It works on both a community and global level. Communities can decide what behaviours and actions they reward with ECO coins to make the currency context specific. For instance, if a community wants to encourage more people to ride a bike they can pay all bike riders ECO coins. These can then be spent at the local market to buy organic vegetables. Or you could earn ECOs at a music festival by recycling plastic cups which you could spend on a yoga workshop. You could even build a well needed bee hotel, earn ECOs and spend them on downloading the latest Bee-yonce song. The more ECO coins in use the more powerful and useful the currency becomes. In the future the ECO coin will use blockchain technology to make the currency scalable, decentralized and as fair as possible. The goal is to value and reward environmental action. This is how we design an economy of ecology.This concludes the Alternative Currencies, Alternative Realities series. To find out more about the ECO coin please visit ecocoin.com. [post_title] => The Economy of Ecology [post_excerpt] => What if we could redesign the system to work for humanity and the planet we call home? What would the economy of ecology look like? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-economy-of-ecology [to_ping] => [pinged] => http://www.teebweb.org/resources/ecosystem-services/ http://www.verticalveg.org.uk/how-to-make-a-bee-hotel-that-really-works/ [post_modified] => 2017-07-12 16:08:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-12 14:08:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=69597 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 68649 [post_author] => 871 [post_date] => 2016-11-19 15:29:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-11-19 14:29:36 [post_content] => A study by Cambridge and Stanford Universities found that Facebook can understand you better than your closest friend based only on a handful of likes. We are what we like. This is the power of artificial intelligence combined with the value of data. Personal data comes in all shapes and sizes: from the data we generate online, to the data captured by our smartphones as we go about our daily lives. Data is a currency that we use almost every day to buy services. We don’t pay to use Facebook with money. Instead, we give away our data (every click, scroll and like) in exchange for using the platform. This seems like a good deal right? But how valuable is your data?To answer this question we first need to understand what this data is used for. Facebook, along with other techno giants like Google and Amazon, use your data to try and provide a better and more personalised experience for you. Your information along with millions of others lets Google finish your sentences, Amazon predict what you want to buy before you even know you wanted it and fills your Facebook timeline with content that you will find pleasing, leading to the much discussed echo chamber effect.This personalisation is achieved in part because companies sell your data to advertisers who can use this information to target their products often with pinpoint accuracy. Broken up with your significant other? You write an email to a friend telling them how upset you are and the next minute a pop up advert suggests that you might want to think about purchasing a pillow girlfriend or boyfriend to keep you warm at night. It’s not a coincidence. It’s data.In his book Who Owns the Future?, computer scientist Jaron Lanier argues that the harvesting of personal browsing data without paying people for its use is unfair and allows companies to accumulate massive datasets that they can harness to make more and more money. He proposes instead that everyone should be compensated through a system of micro-payments. If you read anything online then you should pay and if you post something that others read, you should get paid.There are now companies that help you get paid for the use of your personal data. Datacoup claims to be the world’s first personal data marketplace, while Citizenme allows for the comparison of your data to others, it also makes you earn money through your data. It also lets you choose to donate it. Of course with all this data and money about, you will need somewhere to store them. Getdigime works like a centralized vault for your data or you could opt for Datawallet which is, well you guessed it, a wallet for your data.These companies will show you the exact monetary value in euros, pounds and dollars of your data but they miss an important question. Should we be monetising our data in the traditional sense? What if we used them instead for common good? What happens when we gift our personal data to a cause that might improve society? Take healthcare for example. There are now numerous devices that are tracking people’s health, from their heart rate to their sleeping patterns. If all these personal datasets are brought together in one place, artificial intelligence can quickly find patterns that could help prevent or even cure diseases. Google’s Flu Trends monitoring service launched in 2008. It used peoples search engine enquiries to successfully predict outbreaks of the flu.amsterdam-mode2If healthcare is too personal, you can always share how you get from A to B. Although the image above looks like a map of Amsterdam, it is in fact a data visualization of where people bike in the city. This map along with maps of walkers, runners and transport are open source and have the potential to help the government better plan its transport infrastructure so they can encourage citizens to be more sustainable.When it comes to data, there are of course concerns of privacy and security. We are still figuring out who owns what, who has access to it and how it should be used, but one thing is clear: if we see data as a currency, then it is most useful when it flows. It benefits our economy and our society when a currency of any kind moves from one person to another and another and keeps flowing.Our personal data can be monetised, used to make us consume more through hyper personalised advertising, or potentially improve our lives and the communities where we live in. This can make us healthier, our cities safer and maybe one day make us more sustainable. We are quickly becoming rich in data. We should spend it wisely.Image: Cities HumanRead the whole Alternative Currencies, Alternative Realities series. [post_title] => Your Data Is Worth More Than You Think [post_excerpt] => How valuable are your data? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => data-worth-think [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-11-29 10:43:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-11-29 09:43:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=68649 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 67023 [post_author] => 871 [post_date] => 2016-09-22 16:00:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-22 14:00:36 [post_content] => Energy is everywhere and everything. This is a central idea of Albert Einstein's famous e=mc2 equation. In the very near future it is possible to imagine that most surfaces on our planet will be able to capture this abundance of energy that we find ourselves surrounded by and made up of. All living creatures on Earth, including humans and their new robotic associates, demand energy to survive. Thanks to newly designed green technologies, energy is starting to be safely and sustainably captured. The huge demand for energy and potentially sustainable supply makes it a very strong candidate for a commodity-based currency. An energy credit if you will.If the 20th century was defined by the industrial revolution, powered by fossil fuel extraction, the 21st century is gearing up to use our natural surroundings in a much smarter way. There are already pioneers creating a new green movement by looking to abundant and renewable energy sources to power our next nature. Pavegen’s floor technology can capture energy from foot fall that can be used around cities and perhaps one day in wildlife areas. There are new biofuels produced from algae and jellyfish that could hold the key to us growing our next fuel sources. Elon Musk’s solar panel roof tiles and Solarwindow’s electricity generating windows are showing us that solar capture can be easily integrated into our existing manufactured landscape. These examples illuminate a tiny fraction of what the future holds for energy.One of the most interesting elements of solar energy is that it is democratising and decentralising the way in which our energy is generated. It is becoming exponentially more affordable for people to own solar panels and run their lives “off grid”. People and communities have already started to do this and many are now producing excess energy that they want to sell to others. One neighbourhood in Australia is trialling just that, using blockchain technology to record all the energy-backed transactions. We can think of energy-backed money as the now outdated gold-backed money of the past with a couple of key differences: energy is valuable to all and has universal functionality.Solar power initiatives are not just happening in the global North either. It is estimated that 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity. Many companies and organisations now look to solar power as a way to leap frog the old, dirtier forms of power production and empower people to make and trade their own energy. This is happening both on an industrial scale and on a micro localised level with generally very positive outcomes. There is even an ambitious and somewhat controversial project named Desertec that is working on delivering energy to the entire world using a few major solar farms. There is of course a cryptocurrency that is also focusing on solar electricity generation called SolarCoin. It runs as a global rewards system and so far has rewarded people with over three billion dollars to generate energy through solar panels.Energy of any kind - thermal, electrical, chemical, or even nuclear - can not be created or destroyed. It can only take a different form. To explain this take this simple example. Everytime humans work, we spend energy. If we make a car, which is a physically tiring work, we transfer our energy to the finished product. We are then compensated with money for this work. This money can be spent on food, which will buy the human body more energy to work again the next day. Energy is transferred between systems, giving power to one system while taking it away from another. Money can be seen as nothing more than a way to record (buying and selling) this movement of energy.If we see energy as everything (the sun, coal, forests, humans, animals, robots) it starts to become easier to make a stronger link between what we value and our physical reality (the biosphere). It is also easier to distance ourselves from the virtual wealth created by complicated financial tools, like future derivatives, Stock Market speculations and the idea of debt-based money. These tools create little value in our daily lives, making the economy and our debts grow and grow until they don't and recession happens.Our new green technologies have created a world in which all can produce clean energy. This energy can be the basis of a new money that can be created by anyone and spent anywhere in the world. Would demand for energy decrease if it were to become such an abundant resource? Perhaps. But then perhaps we should look at this currency as a transitional money, one that will not be around forever but will let us get to a future of abundant energy in a faster, cleaner and greener way.Read the whole Alternative Currencies, Alternative Realities series. [post_title] => Solar Energy: the Hottest New Currency [post_excerpt] => Energy-backed money could help transition humanity to a more sustainable world, both environmentally and economically. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => solar-energy-hottest-new-currency [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-10-20 12:59:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-10-20 10:59:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=65844 [menu_order] => 28 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 64725 [post_author] => 871 [post_date] => 2016-07-01 15:36:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-01 13:36:12 [post_content] => In 2169 people will have perfect health and appearance. Every member of the human race will have a digital clock installed on his or her forearm by a bioengineer (once called biohackers). When people turn 25 they stop ageing and their clock begins counting down from one year. When the clock reaches zero, that person "times out" and dies instantly. The poor work in factories to gain more time credits, envying the rich who can live for centuries in closed off communities, slowly buying whatever their hearts desire. Time has become the universal currency.This is the dystopian world of the 2011 film In Time. This idea is not a new one though, as time has been used as an exchangeable currency since as far back as the Industrial Revolution. In 1827, the American anarchist Josiah Warren opened a Time Store in Cincinnati where products were offered in exchange for the amount of time that it took to produce them. In 1832 the Welsh social reformer Robert Owen issued Labor Notes which were comparable to bank notes representing 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 40, and 80 hours of labor. Jumping to the 20th century, in 1983 a Canadian named Michael Linton created the concept of a Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) whereby members of a LETS advertise their skills and services and exchange these with other members in return for time credits. Linton designed a computer program that allowed community members to easily log and share their offers and wants, as well as record transactions between them.The principle behind a time based currency is usually very simple: one hour of work equals a unit of time. This time can then be spent within the timebank system. This form of community currency recognizes the value of activities neglected by the mainstream economy. It also encourages members of the community to take part in the local economy and can gives isolated or economically excluded individuals the opportunity to ‘buy’ services they would otherwise be unable to afford. It can also give people a feeling that their own skills are valued and needed by others.These grassroots currencies, launched by individuals and small groups of concerned citizens, can now be seen around the world. The ‘trueque’ currency in Argentina helped support up to ten million people following their national economic downturn in 2001 and a weakening of their fiat currency. Time banks and time credits are also used across Europe like the TEM in Greece, the Timebank.cc across The Netherlands and Spice Credits in Wales. The impact of Spice Credits has been studied and the results are one of overall positivity. More than half of citizens using the credit are volunteering in their communities for the first time and the vast majority say they will continue to do so. This increased level of community participation is having a positive effect on individuals too: 66% of users says that Spice Time Credits have helped improve their quality of life; 71% has made new friends; 49% feels less isolated; 45% feels healthier since they started using the currency.It’s actually pretty amazing to see that a well designed currency can not only bring communities closer together, but can also make individual citizens healthier and happier. For all these successes, time based currencies are not without their flaws. Time credits are usually service based so people cannot buy products with them. Supply and demand of certain services may not always be found within the community or certain services may dominate the system. The governance (those running the timebank) is often not financially sustainable or relies on volunteers. Finally and most importantly, time banks take away the markets ability to price different skills at different levels. Does one person’s time and skills directly equate to another? Is an hour with an IT specialist debugging a computer the same as an hour of a decorator painting a wall?Perhaps on a philosophical level it is. As it stands, we all experience time in the same way as a finite resource. Though some speculate that we may achieve immorality within our lifetimes, most believe that our clocks will one day reach zero and that everyone will eventually “time out”. Time is a great equalizer in that sense. For time, the great axiom goes, is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time. [post_title] => Time Is a Universal Currency [post_excerpt] => The principle behind a time based currency is usually very simple: one hour of work equals a unit of time. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => time-universal-currency [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-10-20 12:58:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-10-20 10:58:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=64725 [menu_order] => 178 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 64463 [post_author] => 871 [post_date] => 2016-06-25 10:10:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-06-25 08:10:46 [post_content] => If $60million were stolen from a high street bank, we would probably never read about it in the news. Not because its not a story worth writing about, but because banks don’t want the public to know about a huge security breach. When an attack like this happens to a cryptocurrency everybody knows, because transactions are all recorded openly on the Blockchain. That's what happened on June 17th 2016 to the DAO. The Distributed Autonomous Organisation.Firstly, perhaps we should explain what the Distributed Autonomous Organisation is and how it came to be. In 2013, a 19-year-old Russian programmer by the name of Vitalik Buterin proposed a next generation cryptocurrency that would run a decentralised application platform called Ethereum. These decentralised applications were to be based on “smart contracts”, which according to Vitalik Buterin are "computer programs that directly control digital assets". Ethereum was launched in August 2014 and every since developers have been writing smart contracts to do some pretty interesting things.For instance, a smart contract can create a “trustless” crowdfunding campaign (think Kickstarter without the fees), let anyone issue their own cryptocurrencies or build a decentralised organisation that has no CEO, no CFO, no management of any kind. The organisation can be managed by a smart contract. A simple algorithm that is controlled by all members of the organisation collectively through voting. This means no single person can change the rules of how the organisation operates. Welcome to a future where your new boss is a piece of code and the employees get to tell it what to do. This is the basis of the DAO, the largest and most well known Ethereum project to date. So where does the money come in?Unlike other Bitcoin 2.0 projects (like Stroj, Counterparty and numerous others), Ethereum has its own Blockchain and its own currency called Ether. Ether powers these decentralised applications and so was used to fund the DAO. The project ended up raising more than $120million worth of Ether, which is the biggest crowdfunding campaign in the world so far. So now we have an organisation directed by a smart contract, which is holding $120 million worth of Ether for its members who collectively and proportionally (more money invested means more voting power) decide what to do as an organisation with the funds. Then along comes a “hacker” and simply takes $60 million. This should be impossible, as funds cannot move without the consent of at least 51% of the DAO members. So how did all this money disappear?The person claiming to be behind the attack wrote an open letter to the Ethereum community declaring that what they had done was not illegal. In fact, the smart contract supposedly enabled them to create a “child DAO” by splitting the code and taking half of the Ether (worth $60million) with the child. This all sounds like a messy A.I. divorce that we hopefully don’t see too many more of in the future.So actually, stolen may not be the right term to use in this situation. But the money is gone and now the Ethereum community and larger Bitcoin/crypto community are waiting to see what will happen next. Everyone has agreed that the DAO smart contract needs fixing. The lines of code that allowed the hacker to take the money need to be rewritten so that this problem never happens again. Some are leaning towards a soft fork in the code, meaning it will still be backwards compatible (like when a new games console is released but you can play old games on it), whilst others are pushing for a hard fork which is not forward compatible (so everyone needs to convert to the new system and the old system slowly dies).Whatever they decide, some expensive lessons have been learned from this experience. There is still a lot of work to be done to put A.I. in charge of an organisation, it's probably best to test new cryptocurrency innovations with less money at stake and of course when signing (smart) contracts, always read the small print. [post_title] => Legally Stealing $60Million of Cryptocurrency [post_excerpt] => All it takes to steal $60million worth of cryptocurreny is to create a child DAO. Sounds too good to be true... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => legally-steal-60milion-cryptocurrency [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-10-20 12:58:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-10-20 10:58:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=64463 [menu_order] => 191 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 63592 [post_author] => 871 [post_date] => 2016-05-17 16:00:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-17 14:00:15 [post_content] => A ten part series exploring the design of an invisible technology: money.Our online reputation permeates throughout our digital world. With every website we visit, comment we leave, person we "friend", spammer we flag or badge we earn, we leave a trail of how well we can or can not be trusted. Though it may not seem like it, our reputation is becoming a valuable currency that is hard to earn and easy to lose.In recent years, this reputational currency has manifested itself through the Silicon Valley backed sharing economy, also referred to as platform capitalism by some critics. Companies like Airbnb and Uber rely on trust, reputation and peer reviews in order for their marketplaces to self regulate. The way users are rated by others on the platform has a direct correlation to how much money they can make from their apartments, or how many people demand them as a driver. A five star review is fast becoming the next hundred-dollar bill, a new symbol of reputational wealth.Since the dawn of credit (and debt), the reputation of a person has been used as a measure of their trustworthiness. This is an indicator to the creditor (usually a bank) of how likely a person is to pay back the debt they owe, usually plus interest. Credit scores are a calculation of a persons credit "worthiness". Your credit score can be a very important measurement in life. It can decide whether or not you can buy a house with a mortgage, it can be the difference between you getting a job or not and it can affect your ability to find your one true love. That's right, your credit score could hold you back from finding Mr or Mrs right. How? With a new Chinese system called the Sesame Credit.By 2020, the Chinese government is planning to implement a countrywide “social credit” score, which will rate every citizen’s “trustworthiness”. So far the government is letting companies run pilot projects, the largest one being the Sesame Credit from the giant online retailer Alibaba. It is unknown how Sesame Credit ratings are calculated, but the system takes into account a person’s Internet usage and consumption behaviour: what they buy, where they buy it, if they reviewed it and if the transaction was positive or negative. For example, a person who buys lots of video games and spends ten hours a day playing them would be considered an idle citizen, whereas someone buying baby diapers would most likely be considered a parent and so be more responsible. Citizens are encouraged to be very public about their rating and it is starting to work. Some citizens are using the Sesame Credit score to promote themselves to partners. One online dating website displays people with good Sesame Credit scores above others.This all sounds very Big Brother and somewhat terrifying: all your digital data is being collected and algorithms work out your societal worth. This system could control your entire life. If you have a low score, you might not be able to apply for certain jobs, you might loose your friends as their scores would be dragged down by your score, you might never be able to marry and have kids because nobody wants to be associated with you. This dystopic nightmare of state controlled everything is a very telling example of how a currency system can be designed for good or evil. It comes down to the mechanics of the system and some tried and tested gamification techniques.Not all systems need to be designed in such a way. In fact, systems could be designed for a more utopian outcome. An outcome that might bring technology, biology and society together. What that looks like has yet to be fully realised. Currency, whether reputational or not, is simply a tool. It can be used as a force for good or a force for evil. It is in its design that we get to decide.Read the whole Alternative Currencies, Alternative Realities series. [post_title] => Rating the Reputation Economy [post_excerpt] => Our online reputation is becoming a valuable currency that is hard to earn and easy to lose. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => rating-reputation-economy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-10-20 12:57:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-10-20 10:57:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=63592 [menu_order] => 240 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 63387 [post_author] => 871 [post_date] => 2016-05-04 15:47:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-04 13:47:43 [post_content] => A ten part series exploring the design of an invisible technology: money.1969. The historical year humanity first walked on the moon. This incredible event took years of engineering, billions of dollars and relied heavily upon state of the art computers. The Goddard Space Flight centre in the US was the epicenter of all these computers. Flight technicians used the IBM mainframe computer to maintain communication between Earth and the astronauts. This computer could perform several hundred thousand operations per second. Fast-forward almost 50 years and now a simple USB stick has more computational power than the computers used for the moon landing.In fact, a modern iPhone 6 can calculate 3.36 billion instructions per second. That's 32.600 times faster than the best Apollo era computer. This incredible technological evolution is well observed in Moore’s law, which states that computer processing power, doubles every two years. Our computers have moved from a niche product to a truly global technology and an integral part of our daily lives. Computers are our portals to communicate with others, they are our trusty workhorses, our private cinemas and our banks. They have become naturalized. They are part of our next nature.So what does all this computational power have to do with alternative currencies? It comes down to how cryptocurrencies are created. In traditional fiat (government backed) monetary systems, commercial banks simply offer people a loan. This is how 97% of money is created. Only a tiny fraction of fiat money is printed into banknotes. But in Bitcoin, money isn’t printed; it is discovered through mining.In a nutshell, mining is the term used for running a series of calculations on a computer to verify the transactions that take place in the Bitcoin network. About every ten minutes, a new block of transaction data is created and the miners who created the block are rewarded with bitcoins. This serves the Bitcoin network both as a system to verify transactions and as a system for fairly distributing new Bitcoins. (If you want to know a bit more about the process, here is a great description of how mining works). Mining was intentionally designed to be resource-intensive and its difficulty to get harder over time. When Bitcoins first came into existence anyone could mine them from a laptop, but now specialized "mining farms" tend to do the majority of the mining.Instead of housing animals, these 21st century farms house computers. Thousands upon thousands of specialised mining computers are used, which demand an enormous amount of electricity to power fans to keep the machines from overheating. Some farms have moved to colder climates to try to reduce their energy consumption.[caption id="attachment_63396" align="aligncenter" width="740"]bitcoin farm mining rigs KnCMiner’s farm is located near the Arctic Circle to keep its 45,000 mining computers from overheating.[/caption]Many have criticized this energy intensive mining process and have tried to find other solutions. For example cryptocurrencies like Litecoin and Auroracoin are pre-mined, meaning that most of the hard computational algorithms are already solved. Foldingcoin goes one step further by taking advantage of the unused computational power of the general public to help Stanford University researchers find cures for some of the worlds worst diseases. By mining Foldingcoin you are directly contributing to scientific breakthroughs for diseases like Alzheimer, many forms of cancer and Aids. On top of this you are getting paid to do it.The Stanford researchers are trying to grow this network: "The problems we are trying to solve require so many calculations, we ask people to donate their unused computer power to crunch some of the numbers. Donate your computer to over 107,000 others around the world outputting  20,000 teraflops of computing power to form the world's largest distributed supercomputer".The way money comes into existence is entirely designable. The form that it takes, whether physical or digital still takes energy and resources to make and so the way we create money should not simply be a means to an end, but should help our biosphere, technosphere and society flourish. With great computational power, comes great responsibility.Source: Foldingcoin. Image: KnCMinerRead the whole Alternative Currencies, Alternative Realities series. [post_title] => A Cryptocurrency Helping to Cure Cancer [post_excerpt] => Part two of a ten part series exploring the design of an invisible technology: money. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => cryptocurrency-helping-cure-cancer [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-10-20 12:56:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-10-20 10:56:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=63387 [menu_order] => 257 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 62862 [post_author] => 871 [post_date] => 2016-04-26 15:00:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-04-26 13:00:08 [post_content] => A ten part series exploring the design of an invisible technology: money.The (in)famous American economist Alan Greenspan once said that “in the absence of the gold standard, there is no safe store of value”. The gold standard is a monetary system where a country’s currency or paper money has a value directly linked to gold. The system is no longer used, with America being the last major country to renounce it in 1971. Yet gold bullion, also known as gold bar, still holds its allure to investors as a safe store of value. In recent years, a new store of value has arisen in the form of a virtual precious metal cryptocurrency called Crypto Bullion.To understand Crypto Bullion also known as CBX, you first need to understand the basics of Bitcoin, the most common cryptocurrency around today. Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer technology that operates with no central authority. A network of Bitcoin users manage transactions and the issuance of Bitcoin collectively. Bitcoin is earned through a process called mining, where miners use computational power to solve complex algorithms that secure the network and are rewarded with Bitcoin. The value of Bitcoin is not pegged (tied) to any fiat (government backed) currency and so its value is derived from the faith or trust that people place in it. This led to a massive fluctuation in the currency's price in the early days with Bitcoin enthusiasts still waiting for the currency to stabilize. Money has become an invisible technology that requires our collective faith to function. Crypto Bullion is similar to Bitcoin but also claims to emulate the properties and supply of gold, as there are less than one million CBX coins in circulation today. This leads to an interesting question: can the properties of a precious metal really be emulated in a virtual world?Precious metals are defined by their rarity in the biosphere. We speak ubiquitously about rarity in the physical world: the critically endangered snow leopard is rare, the corpse flower and its somewhat pungent smell is rare and the Italian white truffle which can sell for more than $300,000 a kilogram is rare. Rarity often equates to high value. Virtual rarity, which is found in the new technosphere, is less well understood. What is both rare and virtual?
Money has become an invisible technology that requires our collective faith to function.
Lets leave the world of cryptocurrencies for a minute and talk about American hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan. More specifically their 2015 album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. When it came time to share their six years of secret recordings, the Wu-Tang Clan decided to do something special: release only one singly copy of the album on a CD. They destroyed every other digital and physical copy they had of the work. The CD was auctioned off to the highest bidder, with the legal stipulation that the purchaser is not allowed to commercially exploit the music until 2103, although it can be released for free. To the dismay of many Wu-Tang fans, Martin Shkreli, a globally vilified pharmaceutical executive, purchased the album for $2 million. In an even stranger turn of events, there was allegedly a clause in the purchase contract of the album that would allow members of Wu-Tang and/or Bill Murray to steal the album back with no legal repercussions. At any rate, the physical music stored on the CD is extremely rare but if it ever makes it into the virtual world and is uploaded to the Internet, there is a chance that it could be shared for all of humanity to enjoy, making its rarity and monetary value next to nothing.Just like the Wu Tang Clan album and Crypto Bullion, gold is a rare commodity but with two main differences: gold cannot be digitally created or replicated and gold is a physical element found on the periodic table. It is a resource that can be sculpted and formed to create new and powerful products. If you are reading this article on a computer then it's highly likely that gold has been used in the construction of the computer. Money is not on the periodic table. It is an abstract idea.The Native American proverb summarises this dilemma well: "When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realise that one cannot eat money". This unfortunately includes Bitcoin, Crypto Bullion and a myriad of other new and alternative currencies. Rarity can exist both in the physical world and the virtual world, but we must understand that physical rarities will always trump that of the virtual. If we run out of resources in the biosphere they are gone forever. If we run out of virtual resources, we can always program some more.Source: CryptoBullion. Image: ScluzayRead the whole Alternative Currencies, Alternative Realities series. [post_title] => How Rare Is Virtual Gold? [post_excerpt] => Part one of a ten part series exploring the design of an invisible technology: money. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => rare-virtual-gold [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-10-20 12:56:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-10-20 10:56:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=62862 [menu_order] => 263 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 ))[post_count] => 8 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 69597 [post_author] => 871 [post_date] => 2017-01-06 10:04:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-06 09:04:21 [post_content] => We live in an unprecedented time where our economy seems to take the center stage of in our lives. Unfortunately our economy is constructed in a way that is simply incompatible with our ecology. You could say that the system, and all of its moving parts, have been poorly designed. What if we could redesign the system to work for humanity and this planet we call home? How can we truly value our biosphere before we lose it forever? And how would a currency for the environment work?For decades, economists have argued that prosperity requires growth, with environmental damage as the regrettable but unavoidable consequence. Though new voices are emerging, it seems like we have been listening to the same story for some time now: keep shareholders and owners happy by maximising profits at all costs, often planning in the short term and ignoring long term consequences. Lucky for companies, they never have to pay the full price of their business thanks to a thing called external costs or externalities. That is, they are external to the cost of business and can be negative or positive but work in favour of the business and affect a third party (e.g. citizens). For example a negative externality is the creation of air pollution through burning fossil fuels. A positive externality on the other hand is carbon sequestration by trees. This is where trees take carbon out of the atmosphere and store it for a long time.If you think about it, our environment is like an angel investor in the global economy, secretly supporting many industries. For instance, the global pharmaceuticals industry is worth billions of euros but few know that up to 50% of this market is based on the genetic diversity of wild species. Forests are another great example of nature's secret investment into humanity. Not only do forests store carbon, they also provide medicine and food for us to consume, can protect our cities from natural disasters and are home to thousands of other creatures, many not even discovered. And yet we only value the forest within our economic system when it is cut down and turned into a raw material.There are bureaucratic ideas to value our environment but these have some considerable drawbacks. Ecosystem services is a framework built upon the idea of "natural capital" whereby every service provided by our environment is given an economic value in euros and cents. However there has been strong resistance to this commodification and price tagging of nature. How do you work out the value of an inspiring walk through the forest or the sound of birds tweeting? There is also a bigger danger that the price of the ecosystem will be superseded and so replaced: the lake is worth €10 million, but if we replace the lake with a road that has a value of €11million then goodbye lake, goodbye fish, insects and biodiversity and goodbye environment. Carbon trading, another idea to protect the environment, is in effect a way to cap and trade pollution with the goal to reduce the amount of emissions in the coming year. The idea has good intensions but at best can be bureaucratic and slow to enforce and at worst simply moves the problem elsewhere. Both these solutions are top down and designed in a way to limit damage. They are there to negatively reinforce people to not do bad. But what if we flipped that idea on its head and instead positively incentivised people to do good? If you can make money cutting down a tree why can't you make money planting one?There are many ways in which we can incentivise behaviour, probably the most powerful and ubiquitous is money. Our fiat currencies, such as pounds euros and dollars, incentivise billions of people around the world every day. It seems then only logical that we should design a new currency to both value and reward environmental action. Here at Next Nature Network we're doing exactly that. We call it the ECO coin.The ECO coin is designed to be a community led positive solution that rewards humans anywhere actively contributing to a more sustainable world. It works on both a community and global level. Communities can decide what behaviours and actions they reward with ECO coins to make the currency context specific. For instance, if a community wants to encourage more people to ride a bike they can pay all bike riders ECO coins. These can then be spent at the local market to buy organic vegetables. Or you could earn ECOs at a music festival by recycling plastic cups which you could spend on a yoga workshop. You could even build a well needed bee hotel, earn ECOs and spend them on downloading the latest Bee-yonce song. The more ECO coins in use the more powerful and useful the currency becomes. In the future the ECO coin will use blockchain technology to make the currency scalable, decentralized and as fair as possible. The goal is to value and reward environmental action. This is how we design an economy of ecology.This concludes the Alternative Currencies, Alternative Realities series. To find out more about the ECO coin please visit ecocoin.com. [post_title] => The Economy of Ecology [post_excerpt] => What if we could redesign the system to work for humanity and the planet we call home? What would the economy of ecology look like? 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