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Tag: insurance

Blockchain and NAFTA May Have a Lot in Common

nafta-crossingAnyone who was around in the early 1990’s may remember the mantra of modern globalization was that centralized markets were bad and decentralized markets were good. Fast forward to 2016 and blockchain technology: centralized ledgers are bad decentralized ledgers are good.  Does this sound familiar?  Blockchain and NAFTA may have a lot in common. The good news is that perhaps this new world is not quite as uncharted as it now appears.

Coinciding with the end of the Cold War, we can now look back at NAFTA as the Big Bang of modern globalization.  The supporting calculus is credited largely to the ‘theory’ of Comparative Advantage;  an economic thesis referring to the ability of any given economic actor to produce goods and services at a lower opportunity cost than other economic actors. The idea first appeared in 1817 in a book by English economist David Ricardo, “Principles of Political Economy and Taxation”  David Recardo’s ideas still serve as the logical basis of international trade. The efficiency of this economic model were at the time, and still are, indisputable.

Further back, the 15th Century concept of Laissez-Faire is an economic system in which transactions between private parties are free from government interference.  Meanwhile, the “invisible hand” was a term first used by Adam Smith to describe the unintended social benefits of individual actions.  These ideas formed the cornerstones of modern Capitalism – the decentralization movement of a prior era.  Indeed, Capitalism solved a great many human problems while arguably ushering into existence new, and possibly more perilous problems such mass political instability, financial crises, and even climate change.  Now, the advent of bitcoin claims to solve many of these problems.  This begs the question, what new problems will be created after 25 years of blockchain technology?

More importantly, perhaps this connection to a large body of precedence (if we are clever) can guide us to a different set of outcomes than prior decentralization technologies.  This is an important and timely question given the blockchain technology, due to the Network Effect, is exponentially more powerful than the relatively linear Law of Comparative Advantage.

Lessons Learned

I was involved with developing standards for the mutual recognition of engineering professionals between US, Canada, and Mexico back in 1993-1996.  What made NAFTA different, and hence “modern”, was an inclusion of free trade in services sector.  These included financial services like banking and insurance as well as professional service providers from engineers to librarians.  Essentially NAFTA attempted to treat intangible value directly as a tangible object for international trade.  Still a problem yet to be solved.

At the time however, the mutual recognition of professional engineers was controversial and divisive. The US engineers were fearful that they would lose their high paying jobs to cheap Mexican engineers, whose salaries were about 1/10 the US engineering salary.   A “giant sucking sound” was the popular phrase coined by a billionaire presidential candidate at the time.  The fear was made very real for many people, not unlike the immigration debate that continues to rage today.

I saw something different.

In Mexico, I saw an entire nation – an entire continent – that needed everything that US engineers create. Mexico, Central America, and South America needed roads, bridges, structures, water, energy, and every manner of infrastructure upon which free markets utterly depend.  Since NAFTA also liberalized trade in financial services, that meant that economic development could be financed at low cost of capital.  In my youthful idealism, I felt that the opportunities for engineers from all countries was beyond extraordinary – to me, it was specifically the rising tide of basic infrastructure that would float all boats.  Unfortunately, this opportunity was woefully squandered.   Let me explain.

In the US, and many developed countries, the professional engineering licensure laws assure transparency, consensus, and economic incentives that rewards high integrity rather than low integrity among engineers and contractors who carry such licensure.  When the PE stamp is indelibly attached to the project plans, the asset that is described by those plans is held in suspension on the balance sheet during the design and construction phase. This span of time is when the highest monetary risks and technical risks occurs.  Insurance companies depend heavily on engineers to verify the design, materials, processes, components, chronological order and performance of all components of the systems that they insure.  Where risk can be transferred to insurance, the cost of capital can be minimized.

The problem with the NAFTA Mutual Recognition Standards for engineers was that the three negotiating bodies for the US, Canada, and Mexico failed to reach an agreement over reciprocity of the other member’s licensure model and instead defaulted to the highest common denominator which fell far short of practicality while also failing to meet the conditions of insurability, especially for Mexico.  As such, infrastructure projects could not be financed for lack of licensed engineers in the relevant NAFTA jurisdictions. This was not for lack of money because NAFTA also liberated access to financial services – but for lack of insurance. Without a tip-to-toe insurance presence, Latin American economies continue to experience difficulties in bridging the capitalization gap.  Innocent people suffer.

Many trade agreement that followed NAFTA would go on to include free trade in services, and also inherit this flaw capitalization of infrastructure for lack of Global Engineers.  Unfortunately, mutual recognition of engineers would be stopped cold at the borders for lack of insurance.   Many of the problems associated with globalization today, in my opinion, can be attributed to the failure of the NAFTA Mutual Recognition Document for Professional Engineers.  We have an opportunity to correct this flaw and it is imperative that we do so.

To centralize, decentralize, or re-centralize. 

While the economic theories of decentralization are sound, the intended outcome has been elusive.  Instead of converting from centralized serfdom to the invisible hand of freedom, we keep inventing new forms of re-centralization where one centralized system is traded for another under the auspice of decentralization!  The danger is that blockchain technology will not reach its potential of economic freedom for all, rather, it will simply become another form of mechanization that replaces people with machines.  A decentralized solution will require the integration of machines with people.  That means we need to augment human capacity not “surplus” it.

Blockchain technology replaces some – but not all – of the decisions that a human administrator makes.  It will be important to look at bureaucratic processes and accurately discern what can go to a blockchain and what must remain in human judgement.  The current markers of re-centralization include so-called permissioned ledgers to replace back office workers.  Permissioned by whom? A centralized authority? The running joke in the cryptocurrency space is that any effort to control a decentralized system quickly cancels out the advantages of having one in the first place.  Re-centralization is dangerous.

Instead, the integration of humans and blockchains should take a hybrid approach where humans serve as adjudicators to the blockchain machinery pointing smart contracts toward the intended outcome at specific points of risk transfer.  Eventually, a means to decentralize the human adjudicators will be required so that they cannot be corrupted.  One such solution is proposed by The Ingenesist Project.  It is called Curiosumé and it converts a CV to cryptography so that holders can lock contracts to a blockchain quasi-anonymously.

The consortium between engineering and insurance is a critical development in the current evolution in blockchain technology and is required to break the cycle of recentralization by expanding the insurance capacity of our financial system to a fundamental storage of value – public infrastructure.  We need to learn how to convert existing engineering and construction contracts into blockchain adjudicated smart contracts. We need to figure out how to decentralize the adjudicators in a fault tolerant system that cannot be easily corrupted, thus providing for optimal allocation of public and natural resources.  Then we need to expand the adjudication system to all other service professionals who also serve the needs of our human markets.  The resulting cryptocurrency will have intrinsic properties that people will be willing to trade. In this manner, the cost of capital will be lowest for the most proper allocation of resources required by an increasingly crowded planet.

(Adapted from; Insurance: The Highest and Best Use of Blockchain Technology, D.Robles, July 2016 National Center for Insurance Policy and Research / National Association of Insurance Commissioners Newsletter: http://www.naic.org/cipr_newsletter_archive/vol19_blockchain.pdf)

 

The Mechanics of Blockchains

rubrik-fridge The Mechaics of Blockchains

Blockchain technology is like a three-trick pony. It essentially combines three slightly clumsy computer tricks to mimic decisions that a human administrator routinely makes. The difference is that, if done correctly, the computer can perform some of these decisions with great speed, accuracy and scalability. The peril is that, if done incorrectly, the computer can propagate an incorrect outcome with the same stunning efficiency.

1: The Byzantine General’s Dilemma

A scenario first described in 1982 at SRI International models the first trick. This problem simulation refers to a hypothetical group of military generals, each commanding a portion of the Byzantine Army, who have encircled a city that they intend to conquer. They have determined that: 1. They all must attack together, or 2. They all must retreat together. Any other combination would result in annihilation.

The problem is complicated by two conditions: 1. There may be one or more traitors among the leadership, 2. The messengers carrying the votes about whether to attack or retreat are subject to being intercepted. So, for instance, a traitorous general could send a tie-breaking vote in favor of attack to those who support the attack, and a no vote to those who support a retreat, intentionally causing disunity and a rout.

See also: Can Blockchains Be Insured?  

A Byzantine Fault Tolerant system may be achieved with a simple test for unanimity. After the vote is called, each general then “votes on the vote,” verifying that their own vote was registered correctly. The second vote must be unanimous. Any other outcome would trigger a default order to retreat.

Modern examples of Byzantine Fault Tolerant Systems:

The analogy for networks is that computers are the generals and the instruction “packet” is the messenger. To secure the general is to secure the system. Similar strategies are commonplace in engineering applications from aircraft to robotics to any autonomous vehicle where computers vote, and then “vote on the vote.” The Boeing 777 and 787 use byzantine proof algorithms that convert environmental data to movements of, say, a flight control surface. Each is clearly insurable in a highly regulated industry of commercial aviation. So this is good news for blockchains.

2: Multi-Key Cryptography

While the Byzantine Fault Tolerant strategy is useful for securing the nodes in a network (the generals), multi-key cryptography is for securing the packets of information that they exchange. On a decentralized ledger, it is important that the people who are authorized to access information and the people who are authorized to send the information are secured. It is also important that the information cannot be tampered with in transit. Society now expends a great deal of energy in bureaucratic systems that perform these essential functions to prevent theft, fraud, spoofing and malicious attacks. Trick #2 allows this to be done with software.

Assume for a moment that a cryptographic key is like any typical key for opening locks. The computer can fabricate sets of keys that recognize each other. Each party to the transaction has a public key and a private key. The public key may be widely distributed because it is indiscernible by anyone without the related private key.

Suppose that Alice has a secret to share with Bob. She can put the secret in a little digital vault and seal it using her private key + Bob’s public key. She then sends the package to Bob over email. Bob can open the packet with his private key + Alice’s public key. This ensures that the sender and receiver are both authorized and that the package is secured during transit.

3: The Time Keeper

Einstein once said, the only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once. There are several ways to establish order in a set of data. The first is for everyone to synchronize their clocks relative to Greenwich, England, and embed each and every package with dates of creation, access records, revisions, dates of exchange, etc. Then we must try to manage these individual positions, revisions and copies moving through digital space and time.

The other way is to create a moving background (like in the old TV cartoons) and indelibly attach the contracts as the background passes by. To corrupt one package, you would need to hijack the whole train. The theory is that it would be prohibitively expensive, far in excess of the value of the single package, to do so.

Computer software of the blockchain performs the following routine to accomplish the effective equivalent process: Consider for a moment a long line of bank vaults. Inside each vault is the key or combination to the vault immediately to the right. There are only two rules: 1. Each key can only be used once, and 2. No two vaults can be open at the same time. Acting this out physically is a bit of a chore, but security is assured, and there is no way to go backwards to corrupt the earlier frames. The only question now is: Who is going to perform this chore for the benefit of everyone else, and why?

Finally, here is why the coin is valuable

There are several ways to push this train along. Bitcoin uses something called a proof-of-work algorithm. Rather than hiding the combinations inside each vault, a bunch of computers in a worldwide network all compete to guess the combination to the lock by solving a puzzle that is difficult to crack but easy to verify. It’s like solving a Rubik Cube; the task is hard to do, but everyone can easily see a solution – that is sufficient proof that work has been done and therefore the solved block is unique and valid, thereby establishing consensus.

Whoever solves the puzzle is awarded electronic tokens called bitcoin (with a lower case b). This is sort of like those little blue ticket that kids get at the arcade and can be exchanged for fun prizes on the way out. These bitcoins simply act as an incentive for people to run computers that solve puzzles that keep the train rolling.

Bitcoins (all crypto currencies) MUST have value, because, if they did not, their respective blockchain would stop cold.

A stalled blockchain would be the crypto-currency equivalent of bankruptcy. This may account for some amount of hype-fueled speculation surrounding the value of such digital tokens. Not surprisingly, the higher the price, the better the blockchain operates.

While all of this seems a bit confusing, keep in mind that we are describing the thought patterns of a computer, not necessarily a human.

The important thing is that we can analyze the mathematics. From an insurability standpoint, most of the essential ingredients needed to offer blockchain-related insurance products exist as follows.

1. The insurer can identify the risk exposures associated with generals, traitors, locks, vaults, trains and puzzles.

2. The insurer can calculate probability of failure by observing:

  • The degree of Byzantine fault tolerance.
  • The strength of the cryptography
  • The relative value of the coins (digital tokens)

3. The consequences of failure are readily foreseeable by traditional accounting where the physical nature of the value can be assessed, such as a legal contract.

We can therefore conclude that each of the tricks performed by this fine little pony are individually insurable. Therefore, the whole rodeo is also insurable if, and only if, full transparency is provided to all stakeholders and the contract has physical implications.

Markets are most efficient when everyone has equal access to information – the same is essential for blockchains. So much so that any effort to control decentralized networks may, in fact, render the whole blockchain uninsurable. It is fundamentally important that the insurer is vigilant toward the mechanics of the blockchain enterprise that they seek to insure, especially where attempting to apply blockchain to its own internal processes.

Adapted from: Insurance: The Highest and Best Use of Blockchain Technology, July 2016 National Center for Insurance Policy and Research/National Association of Insurance Commissioners Newsletter: http://www.naic.org/cipr_newsletter_archive/vol19_blockchain.pdf

Are Blockchains Insurable?

home-fireAre blockchains insurable?  This question was posed to us as a topic for presentation by the Center of Insurance Policy and Research, a research arm of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (CIPR / NAIC)

The trigger appears to be that some insurance companies are being asked to insure the business operations of blockchain enterprises. This same concern would apply to legacy business operations that may choose to deploy a blockchain – basically, a shared database managed by software.  If one listens to the blockchain activists, this could basically apply to everyone in the near future.

The Ingenesist Project volunteered the following opinion to the question; Are Blockchains Insurable?  The article was published in the July 2016 CIPR Journal

Article available here

This article is comprehensive and staggering in its implications.  It begins by shaping the given landscape of finance and entrepreneurship in terms of insurability.  It follows with, in essence, a mathematical proof that arrives at a conclusion that blockchains are insurable, but business processes using blockchains may not be.   Luckily, the technology offers sufficient mathematical underpinning to calculate and adequately pool risk exposures of its components.  However, the trouble arises where digital assets can neither be treated as money nor property.  This extralegal condition may exist which would be categorically non-insurable in mainstream finance.

“Extralegal” refers to a condition in which something is neither legal nor illegal. Economist Hernando De Soto writes about how the extralegal sector in many parts of the world grossly inhibits economic growth because people are unable to secure “title” to property and businesses that they create.  They are unable to bridge the capitalization gap – that is, the ability to borrow “money” against tangible assets or future returns.

Blockchain technology appears to be languishing in the extralegal domain as courts and governments have little uniform ideas about how and where this tech fits in society.  That is, until something goes wrong like a major hack where important people lose a lot of money.  Then some patchwork of blanket legislation will likely emerge to favor those of one sector over another.  The running joke in crypto-space is that any effort to control blockchain technology would negate any benefits of having it in the first place.

There is a third option.

This article raises the possibility that the pairing of blockchain tech with professional engineers (as the decentralized adjudicators of smart contracts) would achieve a state of insurability and thus bridge the capitalization gap required for mainstream financing of blockchain enterprise.  This arrangement applies primarily to basic infrastructure and derivatives of basic infrastructure which may not actually be a bad thing at all.

Ucritcal pathOn a critical path.

The Earth is an epic case study in deferred maintenance.  There are very real and serious global problems that impact every living creature on Earth that we need to attend to immediately.  Critical path methodology is a technique familiar to all builders as a set of instructions specifying where one action must precede the next in order for subsequent actions to occur.  Millions of business plans that provide basic human needs and protect our natural resources, and that are currently unprofitable, will suddenly become hugely profitable.

These outcomes could be accomplished with the recommendations provided within.  Please read this article and forward it to others who are interested in this technology.  There is very real money to be made in the next economic paradigm that is currently at our fingertips.

Article available here

 

 

 

The Highest and Best Use for Blockchain Technology

earthshot2The hallmark of a great society is the ability to capitalize it’s needs, not it’s arbitrage opportunities.  The Highest and Best Use for Blockchain Technology must be to reduce the cost of capital by decentralizing risk, not necessarily money…yet

Blockchain technology carries a promise of great opportunity, efficiency, and fairness in business operations and governance for an entire struggling planet. If that is true, then Blockchain technology should be integrated broadly and uniformly across society and within as many existing institutions as possible. If that is true, then Blockchain development should not be the exclusive domain of a single sector, such as banking. Nor should Blockchain development reflect priorities of highest ROI from VC start-ups. Likewise, purely Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) may carry the risk of operating in an extralegal sector without legal recourse, thereby increasing net volatility, not decreasing it.

A different track is required.

The primary objective of Blockchain technology must be to reduce the cost of capital by decentralizing risk, not necessarily money. The highest and best use for blockchain technology is therefore insurance, not necessarily banking. In doing so, blockchain innovation can then be applied broadly, evenly, and intentionally across the economy. This makes sense because when building anything complex or important, one logical piece needs to go in front of the next logical piece regardless of it’s individual ROI, because the collective ROI is the true basis of valuation. If people tried to build an airplane in the same manner we are now trying to build decentralized economics, a few may benefit, but an air transportation system, as a whole, would be tragically constrained.

We have seen this before.

Many of the issues currently propping up the narrative to the Blockchain phenomenon were also present during the time of this author’s participation in the NAFTA negotiations. Anyone who was around in the early 1990’s may remember the mantra of modern globalization was that decentralized markets were good and centralized markets were bad. The mathematics supporting the efficiency of free trade models such as the Theory of Comparative Advantage were, and still are, bullet proof. So what happened?

Unfortunately, decentralized markets were administered unevenly, disproportionately, and only partially insurable, at best. The act of trying to control a decentralized market eliminated many of the benefits of having one. Today, we face a similar peril, except we are playing with a far more powerful technology promising exponential efficiency, or exponential deficiency. Don’t let the pundits fool you. It can go either way.

The difference today is that we also have the knowledge, foresight, a technological tool kit, and profound responsibility to get it right this time.

Let’s begin.

The place to start developing blockchain technology is through a consortium of Insurance and Professional Engineering institutions for the creation of relevant infrastructure and the physical derivatives upon which everyone utterly depends. This includes renewable energy, clean air, safe water, transportation systems, health and welfare, housing, building systems, computer networks, etc. After all, bitcoins aren’t worth a whole lot when the power goes down.

Infrastructure projects, and all their beneficiary derivatives, require financial institutions that can bridge the capitalization gap between the inception of a project and revenue from the project. This period of time is rife with peril because the “money and title” precedes the delivery of the physical asset. The cost of capital is directly proportional to the risk associated with project delivery. Wherever the insurance industry is capable of pooling project risks, the cost of capital will fall precipitously. The insurance industry is therefore an imperative component to this objective. Banking is relatively simple, accounts can be cleared with a placeholder currency; a token, if you will.

Herein lie both the challenge and the opportunity facing Insurance and Engineering institutions related to Blockchain Technology:

First, as with all new technology, we need to recognize that society will reorganize itself around Blockchain Technology. We need to provide hundreds of millions of entrepreneurs and citizens the support systems with which to do so.

Second, if each component part of the blockchain system is insurable, so too should the entire system. We need to insure and reinsure each individual components of a blockchain business system(s) in order to lower its cost of capital.

Finally, once insurable, each component part of the new economy will have the same cost of capital as any other part. The relative value of an investment will therefore be ordered in time — the most important and valuable piece is the one that goes next in the critical path. This is how things get built.

Taken together, Insurance and Engineering are sufficiently disintermediated from short-term objectives and are ideally suited for the long game. Together, they can bridge the capitalization gap upon which everyone can then cross. They provide outcomes in the physical world that are essential to everyone. Together, they can deliver the projects that are most important — the ones that come next as we navigate our critical path into the future.

Bitcoin is Already a Derivative

derivativeMany a Bitcoin company executive seeks a way to hedge the balance sheet risk of their business.  It would be useful to have a liquid (ostensibly, dollar backed) futures and options exchange market that would provide hedging opportunities for speculators while providing much needed price stability.  It sounds like Bitcoin is already a derivative.

What is a Derivative:

In the most basic definition, a derivative is something whose value is derived from the value of something else. Derivatives have no intrinsic value in and of themselves. Their value is based on the expected future price movements of the underlying asset.

Bitcoin is Already a Derivative

A bitcoin does not have an intrinsic value in and of itself, rather, the value of a Bitcoin is derived from the value of all the glorious things you can do with Bitcoin which cannot be done without Bitcoin.  Indeed this value is significant: bitcoin adoption promises to eliminate the gatekeepers of banking, insurance, law, and even governance.

Hey wait, Aren’t all those gatekeepers derivatives too!!!

Bankers, insurance brokers, lawyers and politicians do not have any intrinsic value in and of themselves either.  They produce nothing intrinsically edible, healing, nor comforting for anyone.  Like Bitcoin, the value of banks and insurance companies and legislators is derived from all the things that you can do with them which cannot be done with out them. These include capitalizing seed or machinery for growing food, or constructing a home or factory for increasing human productivity, or providing a salary to a teacher or doctor (in the conspicuous absence of a currency not of the gatekeeper’s design).

What isn’t a derivative?

The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the building that keep us warm and dry, the machinery that transports us and makes us healthy and the teachers that show us how to do useful things are NOT derivatives.  They have intrinsic value in and of themselves.

What is an Integral?

In mathematics an integral is the a function of which a given function is the derivative.  Creating an integral is the reverse of creating a derivative. That is the direction we should be headed in.

For example, integral of a teacher may be the school building within which everyone gathers.  As such, the value of the teacher can be derived from the change in value of the building that keeps everyone warm and dry during their lessons.  The integral of the food we eat is the machinery that allows the farmer to be more efficient.  In this case, the value of the food (nutritional) is derived from the quality of the farming practiced that created it.

The Opposite of a Derivative is an Integral.

When all is said and done and we’ve followed the integral to its origin, we will always find an Ingenesist. An Ingenesist is someone who invents, creates, designs, envisions, and brings forward into reality something that supports the health, welfare, and safety of people and environment.  Those are the only intrinsic values that truly exist.  Seriously, what else is there?

So when the financial world is contemplating derivatives of derivatives of derivatives of derivatives, we are contemplating the integrals of the integrals of the integrals.  Bitcoin is already a derivative. Ingenesist is already an integral.

Introduction To Curiosumé

(Editors note:  We are publishing the documentation and tutorial for the Curiosumé application for review and comment)9233187-large

Introduction To Curiosumé

Curiosumé is an open source specification for the analog-to-digital conversion of knowledge asset objects.  Designed as a system to replace the résumé as a means for describing the interests, skills, and abilities of people, things, and ideas —  it functions as a personal digital API for the trade and exchange of actionable knowledge.

Since semantic knowledge assets are machine-readable, they generate matches, proximity measurements, relevance and importance rankings, and predicted probabilities of various outcomes.  As such, the economics of “intangibles” becomes computable and meaningful.

By activating knowledge assets within an economic system, social entrepreneurs may readily trade and exchange intangible assets much as they do with tangible assets.   Curiosumé facilitates trade of intangibles through a unique distributed network of objects and assigned attributes.

  • Ownership of one’s Personal API
  • Anonymity until point of transaction
  • Deploying multiple personas
  • Combining multiple personae
  • Imaginary personae
  • Measuring proxies for economic output, matching, assessing, scenario testing
  • Anonymity and privacy

Use Cases:

The use cases for Curiosumé will be a numerous as the number of entrepreneurs who can articulate the protocol in a market.  Since Curiosumé eliminates “Competition” from the onset,  there is little or no economic incentive to lie, deceive, or cheat.  This allows the market an opportunity to defer vetting mechanisms to downstream applications that can compare (for example) a submitted persona against a control personal as a cryptographic key to unlock a transaction or block chain, etc.  In essence, making cheating too expensive to sustain.

  • Individuals may overlay their own persona on any dataset to visualize and discover adjacencies, paths, and connections.
  • Individuals may interact with the web using a Personal API
  • Protegé and Mentors may find each other in close proximity in community or within an organization.
  • People with special skills can find worthy and productive collaborations in communities or within the organization.
  • Trade in knowledge assets is facilitated through “anonymous until point of transaction” protocol.  People will provide better data knowing that they have complete control over their personal identities.
  • Build Social Currency; multiple personas may combine Curiosumés to establish the knowledge inventory for a team or to discover the probability that a group of friends may produce any mutual affinity efficiently together.
  • Any product or service may be described in Curiosumé format and compared to a community listing to discover customers, partners, and employees.
  • Curiosume data is pre-normalized allowing any user to make predictive assessments about any collection of personas relative to a project, product, event, itinerary,  or interaction with any physical asset.
  • Cryptographic; a personal API may be used as a private key in unlocking smart contracts on the block chain protocol
  • Toll Booth on Big Data; marketers, employers, or data aggregators would pay individuals for access to their persona.
  • Instead of advertising to a demographic, marketers may identify specific knowledge assets and may offset prices based on the social values or proclivities of the persona.
  • Economic development agencies can take a knowledge asset survey of a region to identify what institutions or industries they have a strategic advantage.  Or, they may retrain or import specific knowledge assets in order to grow into new industries – with great precision.
  • Philanthropic  institutions can assess need and impact prior to committing to directed giving by assembling strategic knowledge assets around a specific philanthropic goal.
  • Corporations may assess their ability to enter a develop a new products or enter a new market based on a Curiosumé survey
  • Competitors may assess the ability, and cost to defend against their competition disrupting a new product initiative.
  • Corporations can better tailor their products to what customers actually want to buy rather than trying to “market” what the company already knows how to produce.
  • Corporations can make hiring vs training decisions with better clarity based on a Curiosumé survey.
  • The college “degree” system may evolve in favor of boutique personas designed for innovation in an industry.
  • The financial industry (from the NYSE, Banks to VC) can determine the probability that a company may be able to execute a business plan given their Curiosumé survey
  • The Insurance industry can mitigate risk exposures by assuring that the right collection of knowledge assets are deployed to, say, a construction project.

Game Over

The first law of Gaming: If you can’t win a game playing by the rules, stop playing the game, or change the rules. It would seem that Egyptians would add a corollary “Change the Rulers”.

This is not trivial.

Billions of people are walking the planet Earth with the nagging feeling that they cannot win their game playing by the rules they are given.  If America was once the shining beacon of opportunity where hard work and perseverance were the main ingredients of success, and Americans are feeling that they can’t win playing by the rules, then you can expect two things to happen:  People will stop playing the game, AND the rules will change.

Interactive Entertainment

Looking on the sunny side, we see Gaming companies achieving astonishing valuations in Silicon Valley.  What is even more remarkable is that a similar thing is happening concurrently with Travel, Coupons, and Alternate Currencies.  Many people stand back aghast at the sheer size of some of these bets; $120M for Tripit, $5B worth Zynga, $6B for Groupon, $50B for Facebook.  The Market capitalization of Apple ($320B) is almost 2 times greater GDP of Egypt ($188B).

It would be foolish to underestimate the value the gaming component – now called “Interactive Entertainment” – as enabled by the Internet.  Gaming is an extremely mathematical science where designers predict the probabilities that a player will favor one strategy over another.  The better these prediction become, the more interactive and, ostensibly, the more entertaining a game becomes – at least to some people.

The Calculus of Gaming

It is no coincidence that the calculus of gaming and the knowledge assets deployed to the gaming industry are functionally identical to financial and marketing industries such as banking, insurance and demography.  Banks set the price of money based on the probability that you can pay it back (credit scores).  Insurance companies set the price on premiums based on the probability that you will experience a loss (actuarial data).  And Demographers predict what you will buy and who you will vote for. After all, a Bank is really just a game that bets that you will win and an insurance company bets that you will lose, and demographics keeps the game, well, unfair.  But together, they all hedge each other’s risk, not yours.

Watch The Integration, closely

From prior articles; The Travel industry is a proxy for how and where ideas are spread.  The Coupon Industry influences human behavior to accelerate the disruptive innovation and to create new value simultaneously. The Gaming Industry will define the rules by which the new game will be played and provide the ability to predict when, where, and how to value social capital. When the integrated is complete, the ability to capitalize and securitize a new social currency (next article) will emerge to hedge, and then replace, the dollar.

Game over.

***

(Editor’s note: The above post is #4 in a series [1][2][3][4][5] introducing The Value Game to a new class of business methods.  The first real world application is Social Flights; a collaborative production / consumption game being deployed to the market.  If this works, the new business method class will be generalized throughout the economy to catalyze the convertibility of social currency.  Please join us at The Future of Money and Technology Summit in San Francisco on february 28th 2011 where we will unveil the work to the technology community)

Using Social Currency To Fight Terrorism

conversations2-500x351Given the events of the last several weeks, it’s time to for the aviation industry to get serious with Social Media.   This article demonstrates how an alternate currency can be used to severely reduce or eliminate terrorist risk in commercial aviation.  Think I’m kidding, read on.

Obviously an airline will not let you board an airplane if you don’t have the financial currency sufficient to buy ticket.  Why should an airline let you board an airplane if you do not have social currency sufficient to fulfill your social obligations while in the air?

People with extreme social currency deficiencies are routinely stripped of their rights by a jury of peers and isolated from society for a period of time (where they would not board an airplane anyway).  While there are many systems in place to manage the various degrees of social currency deficiency, none appear to be able to identify a terrorist without also violating the rights of non-terrorists.

Human Writes

However, many people are willing to share information about themselves to associates with whom an economic benefit is shared or exchanged.  This happens a billion times per week on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter – why not among fellow passengers?  After all everyone is already connected by 6 degrees.

What would a terrorist’s Facebook profile say about them?  Do they have a lot of referrals on linkedin?  Do they post great work on Flikr? Is their community orchestra featured on My Space? Are their posts popular on twitter?

Should a social currency credit score become imperative to social transactions as the financial credit score is for financial transactions?

Banks and Insurance companies already rely on a highly invasive “Credit Score” to establish financial risk profile as a means of protecting their selves and their other clients. Why wouldn’t an airline use a social credit score to establish a social risk profile as a means of protecting their selves and the lives of their other clients?

Ruse and lose

Sure, the bad guys can adapt to social media as they have adapted to all other measures.  The problem is that the greater the size and scope of their social media ruse, the more difficult it is to maintain the ruse.  A threshold score could be set to nearly eliminate this possibility.  Those folks can then simply opt into the full body scan.

The Paradigm Shift

As the saying goes, the attacker needs to be successful only once, while the defender needs to be successful every time.   The concept of a Social media credit score flips this paradigm on it’s head. The attacker’s social credit score needs to be successful every time.  The defender needs to be successful only once.

The Fundamental Flaw of NAFTA

Leading into 2010, The Ingenesist Project will release a series of videos that specify the construct of the Next Economic Paradigm.  We begin at the beginning.

The following video discusses the flaw in modern globalization market economics that started with the failure of an obscure sub section of NAFTA – the free trade of services. The objective of the Ingenesist Project is to correct a tiny little flaw in market economics. This simple adjustment will result in dramatic change.

Fattest Cat Bets Against Dollar (and what we can do about it)

In 2006 John Paulson (of no relation to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ) bet that the sub-prime mortgage market would tank and housing prices would fall on a national scale, according to a new book The Greatest Trade Ever by Greg Zuckerman. He cleaned up with 4 billion dollars in personal gains, 20 Billion for his firm.

Wonder where your money went?

“John Paulson took it,” wrote Peter Cohen of BloggingStocks. Want to know what Paulson is buying this year? Gold. Betting against the dollar is his latest ploy and so far seems to be working. Ummmm…this means that the rest of us are basically screwed, again.

Paulson’s investing lessons:

1. Don’t Rely on Experts
2. Bubble Trouble
3. Focus on Debt Markets
4. Master New investments
5. Insurance Pays
6. Experience Counts
7. Don’t Fall In Love
8. Luck Helps

Hey Kids, let’s learn from the master:

1. Don’t rely on Experts: They are the crooks. The Mexican Peso crisis was not caused by foreigners; it was caused by Mexican elite running away from their own currency and sparking a wider run. See Johnny Run….

2. Bubble Trouble: Further evidence is seen in speculative bubbles appearing in mundane fixed assets like land, minerals, and alternate currencies around the world.

3. Focus on Debt: If you have cash, you’ll lose it to inflation. But if you have debt, you’ll lose that too. If you have too much debt and you’ll go bankrupt. If you have too much cash and you’ll become equally broke. The trick is to hold just as much cash as you hold debt and when it’s all over, you’ll be no better or no worse off.

4. Master new investments: In the old system, if I trade a dollar for an apple, I lose the dollar but gain an apple. In the next economic paradigm, I share an idea but I still retain the idea; and currency multiplies – master the new investment!

5. Insurance Pays if you know how to play; if you can identify the peril, you know the probability that it will get you, and you know the consequences of the loss – you can “play” insurance. People must reorganize around an “insurance system” enabled by social networks that can influence these factors.

6. Experience Counts; While corporations are laying off older people, social media is capturing them in a knowledge inventory. We must develop, produce, and access this knowledge inventory.

7. Don’t Fall in Love: This means diversify and don’t be afraid to try new things. Innovation is the art of putting many different ideas, concepts or objects together and yielding new wealth creation. What better mechanism than social media.

8. Luck helps: Social media is like a cloud. Nobody can control and the only way to engage with it is to talk to the cloud. After a while the cloud will deliver rain, and your garden will grow. John Paulson calls this luck, we call it inevitable.

We, the people, need to introduce a new economic paradigm – nobody will do it for us. We may lose the dollar as a currency but we must not lose our personal ability to produce and trade our ideas, plans, and actions for the things that our families need to grow. Wealth is created by sharing. The Next Economic Paradigm shows us how we, as a society, can reorganize ourselves around an economy built upon social media. Sounds far out but it can be done today if we move quickly to understand the power – near absolute – that people can have in social media. If John Paulson were really smart, he would bet on us not against us.

The New Reverse World Order

Bank-of-Wal-Mart-Note--40279The New Reverse Order

If someone can track your spending, they can predict your behavior.  It is also true that if someone can track your behavior, they predict your spending.   The next economic paradigm is simply a higher order of the same.

On the next higher order, if someone knows your “Knowledge Inventory” they can predict how you will manage changing conditions – that is, how you will innovate.  Likewise, tracking how people innovate exposes the development of new knowledge assets (the ‘gold-standard’ of conversational currency).

Everyday some new headline shows that we are getting closer and closer to that point – for better or worse – where humanity learns to manage an innovation economy.

Profound Issues Arise.

The following article about Wal-Mart adopting the debit card (Wal-Mart to Staff: Bye-Bye Paycheck, Hello Debit Card) as a means of issuing paychecks represents a quantum leap in the monetization of knowledge assets.  We expect many more will closely follow in one of the most important financial developments in financial history – virtual currency.  If food stamps can be delivered on a debit card, why not frequent flier miles, Disney Dollars, coupons, rebates, tulip bulbs, beanie babies, or a new global currency such as the Rallod?

A Vetting Zoo

The only questions that remain are related to Vetting.  By all accounts Social Media is developing into the mother of all vetting mechanisms.  Who controls the card? What system is it replacing? Who can pull money off?  Who charges fees to whom and why? Who gets the business intelligence?  What is the PR spin?  Can advertisers interact with the card to apply discounts and rewards?  What types incentives motivate what types of people and can it go on a debit card?

A Steep Departure

Each of these questions, and the companies they spawn, will live or die by Tweet and Blog – this is a steep departure from the past.  For example; 30 years ago, if every American were told that their social security number would be tied to a credits score that is tied to their driving record, employability, insurance premium, health care, mortgage rate, and, yup, their debit card – the cities would have burned in protest.

Nobody could have seen this future except those who designed it.  Today, the designers are you and I – see the future now, see the future here at Conversational Currency.

Trust as a Social Currency

The idea of trust as social currency is appearing in more articles, conferences, and books.  This is all highly consistent with the TIP thesis on Innovation Economics which describes the necessity of a vetting mechanism among the knowledge inventory as a means for the emergence of a currency in a market – that is, a conversational currency.  People need to trust the currency if they are to trade the currency.

Shefaly Yogendra provides some excellent insights below.  Keep in mind that American Culture does not have a monopoly on the definition of trust.  It should not be an American expectation to define the conversational currency in our own image.  Indeed, convertability of such currency will be, and must be, global.

I kept the analysis sparse on this article because it is a valuable exercise to form one’s own perspective on trust prior to diving into someone Else’s opinion.  After all, it’s your currency – you own it.  Good luck.

******************

by Shefaly (please see her Bio here)

Trust is a non-negotiable essential in business. The post linked here refers to web-based business-to-consumer interactions. But as social currency, Trust is the most significant in interactions amongst organisations, customers, employees and regulatory bodies.

Definitions

Wikipedia defines social currency as “information shared which encourages further social encounters“. Social currency is different from social capital which refers to “connections within and between social networks and individuals“.

Social currency – some characteristics

a) No distinction between ‘physical’ and ‘virtual’ worlds

b) No distinction between ‘individuals’ and ‘corporate entities’

c) No distinction between validity of negative or positive normative labels

Determining the value of Trust as social currency

a) Verifiable Identity and antecedents

b) Consistency

c) Reliability

d) Peer recognition

e) Value of the network

f) Individuality and collaborative consciousness

The original article can be found here and it elaborates on each of the points above.

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Social Clipping and the Amazing Disappearing Economy

In the early 1990’s, the NAFTA Mutual Recognition Document (MRD) for engineering professionals was the first modern attempt to treat knowledge like a financial instrument. Unfortunately it failed because of a tiny little flaw that I call ‘social clipping’.

Most trade agreements that followed were modeled after NAFTA and, as such, inherited the clipping flaw.  The flaw is that ‘products’, but not the knowledge assets that created them, are mobile in a global economy.

The MRD handed the knowledge economy to Mexico on a silver platter; but they turned it down.  The government did not want to give their engineers “wings” because they were afraid that they would fly away.  Instead, Mexico chose to sell their extraordinary young engineering talent off cheap to meet quotas promised to Asian, European, and American companies to relocate huge manufacturing plants to the country. Today, Mexico competes with China in a race to the bottom of a manufacturing economy and almost no indigenous design industries.

Two-way street:

Back then, the protesters raged about an influx of cheap foreign engineers to the US.  But many US engineers saw that Mexico needed everything that engineers make – roads, bridges, infrastructure, etc. The needs were endless and the objective was clear; to increase human productivity in Mexico was to create real and sustainable wealth.  Maybe then, the citizens would not need to fly away.

These infrastructure projects could have been funded because the Professional Engineering License behaves like a financial instrument mitigating project risks (so that nothing “disappears”). Only then banks would lend and insurers would insure.  The transfer of knowledge and accountability to Mexico would have been extraordinary; the relationships, profound; their development progress, astonishing.

The Disappearing Economy

But the MRD died by clipping.  Mexican Engineers would have been required to take the same engineering examinations as US engineer.  The government refused citing concern that they could not pass. So, in 1994-1997, this author directed a large comparative education project sending over 250 engineers to the US professional engineering examination (EIT).  The Mexican Pass rate was extraordinary – they were easily comparable to the US pass rate in most subjects and flat-out superior in mathematics.  There was nothing wrong with Mexican engineers, or the culture; there was something wrong with the financial system that keeps them invisible.

Knowledge is Power

As the story goes, Mexico has a family oriented culture where hierarchy is often based on seniority; a common examination may favor recent graduates.  It would be inappropriate for a young engineer to have authority over a more senior engineer.  Dig a little deeper and the real problem was power. In Mexico, power is concentrated among very few people.  It would have been unacceptable for transparency to exist.

We are facing a similar situation in America today.  Power has been steadily consolidating over the years.  A huge and fast stimulus package will enter a financial system with a shortage of vetting institutions. There is a strong pull toward ‘business as usual’ – creating J-O-B-S; not necessarily more entrepreneurs, engineers, or mentors, and certainly not empowering whistle blowers.  In the knowledge economy, Americans salaries are pegged to off-shore outsourcing. This is a game that we can no longer win playing by the rules.

Social clipping

As we have seen with less developed nations; when people are held below a certain economic level, they fail to organize for innovation, social change, entrepreneurship, and value creation because they are too busy trying to pay off debt and feed their families.  Social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital are muted; that’s when the magic of innovation disappears. That’s social clipping.

America must move on to the next level of economic growth.  The Innovation economy is a game we can win playing by new rules. Government must trust the people, empower social media, and not clip our wings with an outdated economic model.

Social Media; An Alternate Universe of Wealth Creation

The Known Universe

The Known Universe

Computer enabled society has been called an “alternate universe“.  If Social Media intends to make serious money, perhaps it should act like one as well.  In finance, Risk is also often called an alternate universe.

Beneath the surface of this little 4 letter word resides a complex network of financial instruments that do far more to channel and direct the flow of money than any commercial trend, marketing campaign, or hot new web app.

Risk is actually a very simple thing to understand.  All you need to do is answer all three of the following simple questions:

1. Can I identify the peril?
2. What is the probability that the peril will get me?
3. If it does get me, what are the consequences?

The Insurance industry is absolutely gigantic – too important to fail – yet it produces nothing that can be held in the palm of one’s hand.  Insurance lives and breathes in an alternate universe of information.  Any place where these three questions cannot be fully and completely managed, you will find an insurance product.  Where there is no insurance product, there is no capitalism.

Here is how it works:  suppose there are 10 identical cabins in the woods.  Each cabin is worth exactly 1000 dollars.  There is a 100 percent probability that 1 of cabins will burn down every year, but nobody knows which.   Therefore, each cabin owner needs to have 1000 dollars sitting in a savings account in case their cabin burns that year.  Together, 10,000 dollars sits in a bank not being invested in productive enterprise.  Along comes an insurance company to reorganize the assets by offering to replace any cabin if all 10 cabins agree to pay 100 dollar per year premium (plus an admin fee). Now each of the cabin owners can pay 100 dollars per year and release 9000 dollars to the economy as productive capital.

Insurance opens the floodgates of wealth creation; bankers lend, investors invest, and entrepreneurs innovate where risks are reduced to zero; all bets are hedged.  But there is a trick; the peril must be identified (fire), the probability must be known (10%), and the consequences must be quantified ($1000).  This only works if the assets are pooled in identical lots that have the same probability of loss and suffer the same fate.  This is valuable information and it’s worth a whole lot of money.

Social Media is poised to open the floodgates of wealth creation in a similar way – by connecting local communities, neighborhoods, peers, and colleagues with computer enabled society.  Today, it is often easier, cheaper, and safer to make friends online than in person, but nothing tangible can really happen until the rubber meets the road;  people need to congregate.   The Ingenesist Project suggests that the 3 dimensions of human capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital can be identified, normalized, quantified and pooled into risk sharing cooperatives through social media as a means of eliminating innovation risk.

The trick is for society to organize itself in a slightly different way – this is where Social Media needs to position itself with the next generation of applications.  If so, the business model for social media will become hugely important to an innovation economy – too important to fail.

That Pesky Little Problem With Market Capitalism

Technological change must always precede economic growth.  We are going about the process of market capitalism as if economic growth can precede technological change.  Somewhere along the line we have gotten the cart in front of the mule.

It seems that this situation can be fairly easily corrected – after all, it’s the same cart and the same mule.  All we need to do is get the same driver to point the same carrot on the same stick in the opposite direction; and the system should turn itself around.  Impossible we ask? Well, maybe not….yet.

The same species…

Economic growth and technological change are the same species; each is represented by human productivity.  If I take a loan to buy a house, the debt is “counted” as economic growth backed by my future productivity.  If I go to work and invent a method that provides a better way for people to accomplish something, that same productivity increases with my innovation.  They should hedge each other much like insurance.  The problem arises when we forget to count the mule.

If A = C and B = C, then A = B

If any two currencies are backed by the same standard, they should be readily convertible.  If Euro’s and Dollars are both backed by Gold, they would be convertible between each other and the market can simply choose to trade one or the other.  Arbitrage opportunities would keep the system balance.

This is the same case with debt and innovation; two currencies represented by the same standard, i.e., productivity.

What if a new currency was introduced and pegged to human productivity?  That currency would also be proportional to the dollar. Arbitrage opportunities between debt and innovation currencies would seek a balance. The two scorecards would hedge each other as they should.

It is going to happen eventually, why wait?

While this may seem odd to talk about one State, two currencies, it is not so odd to talk about what happens if the dollar fails.  People will start trading a different currency.   The Plumber will trade ideas with the lawyer who will trade with the doctor, carpenter, teacher, grocer, laborer, etc.  A computer enabled society will build a knowledge inventory of who knows what.  Reputations will arise thus organizing knowledge in the form of a financial instrument.  This social medium will be the tool that organizes trading schemes and establishing supply and demand.  An Innovation Bank will keep track of who owes what to whom and distribute wealth in the form of tangential innovation.  Venture “capital” will be the cheapest money in town – it’s like money in the bank for an innovation economy. This is in fact, the nature of society and largely the function it has served for thousands of years.

Little carrot on a big stick

The difference between now and any other time in history is that society is computer enabled.  Human knowledge has been held hostage behind the construct of “intangible assets” on a corporate balance sheet for too long.  There is a great deal of energy building up and it can now find a productive outlet through social media.  The best government policy is to accommodate what people will do naturally.  It would be extremely inexpensive to empower society to form an innovation economy to hedge market capitalism. People need a currency that is first and foremost natural for them to trade.   Later, Wall Street can convert and gamble at their peril. But first, point the stick in a different direction and the system will correct itself.

[The Ingenesist Project (http://www.ingenesist.com) has specified three web application which if deployed to social media would allow social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital to become tangible inside social networks.]

Social Media; A Public Innovation System

In order to restructure our financial system; we first need to restructure our innovation system.  ALL of the top ten reasons for business failure are due to a lack of knowledge, not a lack of money.

Top 10 reasons why businesses fail:

1.    Lack of an adequate, viable business plan
2.    Insufficient sales to sustain business
3.    Poor marketing plan: unappealing product, poor customer identification, incorrect pricing and lackluster promotion
4.    Inadequate capital, misuse of capital and poor cost control
5.    Poor management skills: lack of delegation, leadership and/or control
6.    Lack of experience and knowledge
7.    Lack of managerial focus/commitment
8.    Poor customer service
9.    Inadequate human resource management
10.    Failure to properly use professional advice: i.e. accounting, legal, financial, etc.

Lack of a viable business plan is an act of negligence where research, scenarios, and assumptions have not been tested.  Market ignorance is not an excuse nor is the failure to know one’s customer. Death by poor marketing plan is knowledge deficiency related to product appeal, customer identification, pricing structure, and lackluster promotion.  Obviously, one needs to know how to manage a company in order to be focused, let alone correctly estimate capital needs. Lack of customer service knowledge is deadly in the age of social media. Inadequate HR is an oxymoron – if it’s inadequate, it’s not a resource – human or otherwise.  Finally, failure to listen to knowledgeable people is ego driven irrationality.

The financial system is not the only problem; the innovation system is a crucial element. Information, knowledge and innovation, by any definition, are profoundly and inseparably connected.  A failure in one kills the other two.  So, just because an entrepreneur does not have the knowledge, does not mean it the ‘knowledge’ fails to exist – it simply means that entrepreneur failed to find it.

So where is the knowledge? Unfortunately, there is no public knowledge inventory – people do not know what each other knows.  There is no website where that people can go search for all 90th percentile social media experts living in zip code 06776, let alone build a dedicated local management team.  There is no way that anyone can assemble the knowledge needed to execute a business plan with a known probability of success given the information available.  As such, there is no way to finance public innovation.

Insurance companies can tell you the probability that you will die exactly on your 80th birthday, but we cannot estimate the probability that a business will be successful.  Nothing has more variables that human physiology, yet it is predictable and business success probability is not.  Why can’t this be fixed?

If we could identify, integrate, and predict public information, knowledge and innovation, we could diversify risk exposures away.  With risk exposures managed, we could insure start-ups risks.  With start-up risk eliminated, we can sell innovation bonds at, say, 6% to fund the extraordinary rate of public innovation that we need to support our debt and pressing social liabilities.   If the innovation bond returns a modest 20%, human productivity, by definition, has increased by 20%.  A 20% growth in human productivity is a 20% growth in an economy.  Again, financial system is not the only problem; the innovation system – or lack of an innovation system – is the problem.  Perhaps oversimplified, but this is an astonishing omission from the national dialog on the financial crisis.

The emergence of Social Media technology presents an extraordinary opportunity to organize a knowledge inventory outside the construct of a corporation and marry it to the financial system, much like a corporation.  Knowledge tangibility must be the most important “innovation” in the pipeline today if we expect to meet the crushing challenges that await us.  Just because we cannot predict innovation does not mean it cannot be done – it just means that we do not know how… yet. This is not about inventing a new currency, it is about the public taking control of the old one. We, the people, don’t deserve to lose this game; join The Ingenesist Project and help build a sustainable Innovation Economy.

Social Enterprise; Rating Systems

There is an ongoing discussion about the rating system for articles posted to a business oriented social network site that I belong to.  While am not part of the discussion, my one and only post to that site had been rated very low despite the fact that I am recognized internationally in the subject matter of that particular article.  I stopped posting articles to rated sites because the rating systems are flawed at the core of logic – Frankly, it’s too risky.  As the creativity, originality, or controversy of the post increases, the disincentives to sharing it also increases.  I don’t want my customers googling me to see this rating without also being able to google my reviewer.  No sour grapes – I’d wear a D+ from Stephen Hawking as a badge of honor.

The objective of any business/social network in today’s world should be to make human knowledge more tangible outside the construct of the corporation, such that it emulates a financial instrument – at the end of the day, it’s about the money.  Otherwise Social Networking amounts to active recreation – like guitar hero, or tubing; fun but somewhat trivial.

ALL financial instruments, without exception, are described in terms of a quantity and a quality.  ALL quantity and quality measures for financial instruments are statistical in nature – that is, they fall on some kind of “bell curve”.  This is true for EVERYTHING from a stock valuation to credit score to marketing demographics to health/home/life/car/business insurance, baseball players, GPA,  etc. – the bell curve is ubiquitous.  Whoever is not minimally familiar with the simplest basic concepts of a Normal  Distribution, et al, is at a severe and unfortunate disadvantage in the innovation economy. This is how the world of money is organized, this is what money is, this is what Wall Street does – for better or worse, like it or not….it is what is.

One obvious failure of most Social network rating systems is the linear 1-5 “stars”.  If there were 6 stars then at least we could have a leg up on applying the most valuable mathematical tools available from the world of wealth and value creation (hence, Six Sigma).  Second – the bell curve is not linear and the reviewer needs to be aware of this. 6 stars would mean that a post falls (in some measure) between 97%-100% of all similar level posts ever read by the reviewer. 5 stars falls in the 85%-97% range; 4 stars, 50%-85%; 3 stars, 35%-50%; 2 stars, 3%-15%; 1 star 0-3%.

If Calculus isn’t your thing, consider this – the bell curve rating system makes the reviewer really think about who they are in the process, the responsibility they hold in the rating of others, and the implications of their ratings – too high, or too low.  It would be good to know how many articles the reviewer has read and rated, the average of their ratings, as well as their own rating on articles published (is this staring to sound like EBay? – it should, at 25B market cap, they’re not silly people).  Social accountability does wonders for market efficiency and wealth creation.

Social Networks are ideally suited for correctly rating their own knowledge inventories so that when their members go out in the new world trying to make a living, it is known to all that they have been vetted by a respected community.  This increases the value of the member and it increases the value of the community in the market. Communities that empower and release great talent to a market actually empower themselves; Harvard, GE, Frank Zappa.  This has happened at the local level since the stone ages.

What about our competitive instincts? There can only be one winner and the rest are losers, aren’t all good Capitalists supposed to decimate thy neighbor? Always remember, it is all about the perfect combination of average assets, not necessarily the single excessive asset that makes product most valuable in a market.  The market for Toyotas is far greater than the market for Ferraris, yet each are competitive in their respective market.  The studies of ‘beauty’ discovered a collection of perfectly average features – in the eye of the beholder, consistent with balance and harmony.  So we’ll need to drop the win-lose culture on this one and worry about competing with the real threats that lie before us.

Sure, most people will complain about such a system because it is too complicated, too math-ish, not the easy tweet (OMG CUL8R!). But this is the reality of how money is organized – and disorganized (did I mention Wall Street yet?). There is no exception, there is no rational alternative – the world does not care if people agree with the way things are or if they understand the math.

Fortunately, once people learn to roll over this metaphysical speed bump, the rest is real easy as a vast world of possibility for generating extreme wealth in social networks will unfold before our eyes!!  Knowledge tangibility is the Holy Grail of modern finance but Social Networks are at risk of squandering this unique and historical opportunity to paint this empty canvas in their own image.  Act now, please – this chance may never happen again.

The Capitalization of Knowledge – The Virtuous Circle

We have set up a new game for entrepreneurs to play called Innovation Economics. We have defined a currency and an inventory where knowledge is visible outside the construct of the corporation – and resident in social networks. We have also described a way for entrepreneurs to visualize the knowledge asset and the supply and the demand for knowledge assets. We have given them a tool for matching assets for profit. We have described how social networks will keep the game fair. We have outlined the structure of new business plans; the brain storming session, product development cycle, the neural network, and the multiplier effect. Future businesses will be built upon combination of these four structures and whatever else entrepreneurs can dream up.

We have described all of the pieces needed to form a new economy. Now we need to connect with the financial markets so that knowledge is readily convertible to other currencies.

For review;

With the financial bank, the entrepreneur assumes that they have the knowledge to execute a business plan and then they look for the money. The risk is that the entrepreneur does not in fact have enough knowledge.

With the Innovation Bank, we assume that we have the money, and we go to the bank to search for the knowledge. The risk is not having enough money to purchase sufficient expertise.

With both banks acting together – the risks cancel each other out and the innovation economy tends toward a ‘risk free’ cycle; the more knowledge you can assemble, the more money you can borrow. The more money you can assemble, the more knowledge you can assemble.

Now we have a virtuous circle. The more knowledge you have, the more money you can borrow; and the more money you have, the more knowledge you can borrow.

There is no shortage of money circling the globe – only a shortage of risk free places to put the money. The innovation economy is an environment of very high return for a very low risk and will attract a great deal of money to fund innovation enterprise.

Earlier we demonstrated that money represents human productivity. It follows that the places that have the greatest potential for increasing human productivity can create the greatest amount of wealth. Therefore, poor areas and marginalized economies with under utilized knowledge inventories or the injection of specific knowledge inventories, become the highest ROI centers in a risk-free system; a condition the explicitly favors the wealth equalization rather than wealth disparity.

The Knowledge Inventory; Part 3

In American society there is a persistent ideology of winners and losers; there can only be one winner and the rest are losers. We rank things in a very linear way; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. Sports analogies dominate many business expressions; low ball, hail mary pass, ball’s in your court, etc. Our culture is to protect one’s position at all cost, shield away all attackers and decimate our competition. This way of thinking was effective in the industrial economy but today with the emergence of social networks it keeps us from understanding how knowledge actually exists in a community – it lives on a bell curve.

The Bell Curve

The Bell Curve

If I examine a group of people on the streets of Seattle in the area of mathematics – I would get a bell curve. If I examined engineering school students in mathematics, I would still get a bell curve. If I examined engineering professors, I would still get a bell curve.

In the Innovation Economy, there are no winners or losers, only different markets. There is a perfectly legitimate market for a Ferrari and there is a perfectly legitimate market for a KIA – in fact the market for KIAs is bigger than the market for Ferrari, so the idea that we compete with each other may no longer be appropriate. In fact, according to game theory priciples, it may not actually be the best strategy to be number one in a single talent – rather, being slightly above average in many diverse talents, on average, pays more for the majority of people engaged in innovation economics.

This is important. All of the tools, methods, and equations in the world of banking, finance, and insurance use interpretations related to this type curve when they try to figure out the value of an asset in the particular market. This is very important for making knowledge look and behave like money. Again, there are no winners or losers, only different markets.

We will need to come up with a way to sample and normalize knowledge in a community. In some ways we already do: Ebay uses a rating system, we rate comments on blogs, best answers to questions, Google placement, number of contacts, college GPA, credit score, etc. So rating are everywhere – there is nothing new here.

Here is what we need to do to make knowledge tangible in a community: when a local community of practice meets, everyone needs define the knowledge that the community shares, then everyone needs to find their place on the right bell curve. Each specialty and proficiency level is a different market. For example, a photography community there may be some competition for who can operate a camera better – but there is competition anyway. The competition disappears when one photographer is also a musician and nature enthusiast while another is also a baseball player and likes political contests. They would each own a unique market; still life and action respectively – and they can now cooperate instead of compete.

In fact, rather than fighting for first place by beating up your competitors, the best strategy in a market may be to have an average level of expertise in as many subjects as possible rather than being the best at one or two obscure areas. It depends on the market – it always has and it always will.

An entrepreneur will not make a bet without odds. We are giving the entrepreneur the information that they need to create wealth. Again, There are no winners or losers, only different markets.

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