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Goodbye University Hello Multiversity

by Dan Robles on March 9, 2012

I recently responded to the following Question on a Facebook group:

How could a newly established university be designed today in order to be elite? Which features must be included, and which features can be left out?

Subquestion: “What would you include in all dimensions: desired faculty, desired student body, location, graduation, research and tenure requirements, institutional structure and purpose, among other things, and what features would you exclude that are currently prevalent at “elite” institutions such as the Ivy Leagues?”

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My answer as follows:

Why not go farther, much farther. Teachers would not get paid. Instead, they would hold an equity position the future of their students. Sort of like an inverse pyramid scheme built on knowledge assets – teachers would collect a small % amount from many students and a smaller % amount from their many future students students, and so on (multiplying value instead of dividing value). This would attract a certain type of teacher as well as a certain type of student. It would also favor research and innovation since the promise of stagnant salaries are not attractive in this arrangement.

Why two or three subject minors? How about a 3 platform minors; one in social philosophies, a minor in creative arts, and a minor in sciences. Instead of a “degree” your education would be expressed as a string of code representing each unit of study to form your unique API. Your API would interface with the APIs of your colleagues and teachers such that an algorithm could predict the likelihood that a strategic combination of knowledge assets could execute a particular business plan. Such probabilities would be able to predict and associate future cash flows with such business plans. These cash flows could then be securitized into a financial instrument called an “innovation bond”.

Rich people, corporations, and governments would buy these bonds and the revenues would fund the school. Access to the bonds also provides access to the underlying assets – the world’s knowledge. They would be hugely valuable as a hedge agains a declining fiat currency because, like money, knowledge assets can be deployed to create the things people need. Soon, everyone would become a teacher and everyone will become a student in a new form of capitalism will emerge where factors of production are allocated as social, creative and intellectual capital.

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There were several interesting responses to this question as well as comments to my response.  Admittedly, I was riffing a bit with my response , but I’ll defend it as follows:  

First, let us not mistake “money” for “value” as a so-called “equity position” can be denominated in either. Second, there are many examples in society that demonstrate my conclusion.  Parents take an equity position in the future of their children, executives across America have a cadre of protege from whom they take an equity position in their careers, and Society accepts levies, and taxes, and buy bonds that fund public education so that future productive generations can support the elderly.

The miracle of capitalization and securitization have created extraordinary levels of prosperity on Earth compared to historic social structuring.  The ability to capitalize and securitize knowledge assets (as opposed to classical land, labor, and capital) is likely the next economic paradigm…if not the only sustainable economic paradigm.  I would suggest that current university system is the aberration, not my comment above.

Goodbye Universe, Hello Multiverse

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