A new year, calls for a renewed vision and direction for BitShares. For too long BitShares has been evolving without any clearly and consistently stated purpose or direction. Today I would to cast my vision for BitShares in 2016 and the years beyond. The most high level vision is to create a well ordered society that is governed in a manner that fully adheres to the Non Aggression Principle (NAP).
Government is a dirty word in the minds of libertarians and anarcho-capitalists. It is a word associated with corruption, violence, and slavery to those who have studied the crimes against humanity that all prior governments have committed. Despite the fact that most people are unhappy with their government, they would still prefer some government to no government or anarchy. Rather than argue about terminology, I propose we create a government that adheres to the NAP. If such a government can be achieved then it should satisfy both the libertarians and the small government minarchists. If we do our job right it should also satisfy the big government socialist folks as well.
A well ordered society is one where legitimate crime such as theft, fraud, and murder are contained and mitigated better than is achieved today. A society where everything from roads, to healthcare, education, defense and pollution are dealt with in ways that are responsible, sensible, and most importantly without the use of violence or threat thereof against person or property.
I believe that a blockchain is the key to creating such a society and that having a grand vision that inspires people to join in is key to the success of any blockchain. The challenge lies in how to define the rules of a blockchain in such a manner that the ultimate vision is realized. This means creating a system with rules that are widely accepted as fair.
Society is constantly changing and the issues involved are complex. A smart contract can only reason about internal information. As much as we may like to welcome our new artificially intelligent smart contract overlords, there are simply too many subjective judgements to be made for any immutable algorithm to perform.
Given that we cannot write an immutable set of blockchain rules for government, we should instead focus on how to use a blockchain with completely mutable rules to create a well ordered, self-governing, society.
Implications for BitShares
BitShares has already been evolving into a self-governing and dynamic blockchain. It has been pitched as a DA-Company, Community, Currency, and Country. Depending upon who you ask emphasis will be placed on different aspects of BitShares. Some people want to focus on the DA-Company aspect with a focus on a service (Exchange) and generating a profit (fees). Others wish to focus on the Currency aspect with a focus eliminating inflation and/or deflation.
For me neither of those two causes resonate. If I wanted to write software for a profitable exchange I would get a job at one of the major exchanges. If I simply wanted a currency I would buy Bitcoin, Litecoin Nxt, XRP, or Peercoin.
I want to get up every morning and feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself. I want to actually help other people. For me I want a Community that can grow to the scale of a Country with a GDP larger than California. Creating a community means giving people a reason to join and participate. A reason that is bigger than mere profit. To be sustainable will still require that people join for self-interest, even if that interest isn’t entirely paper profit.
All communities are bound together by a set of core values. The core values I would like to see upheld by the BitShares community include:
- Don’t do to others what you don’t want others doing to you
- Non Violence
You cannot have a community without human-to-human interaction. We need faces, identities, reputations, and fellowship. We need to put systems in place to help one another in need and facilitate communication. We need to offer the world something in our community that they cannot get anyplace else. Our community is the product we need to sell. We need our community to be something that is both desirable, valuable, and unique.
Mutual Aid Societies
This is why I support the implementation of a mutual aid societies on the blockchain. A mutual aid society provides its members with benefits that cannot be found anywhere else. The product we are selling is the peace of mind knowing that a large community has your back any time you are in need.
BitShares will be the larger community (society) in which many smaller mutual aid societies can exist. Each smaller society will be user-defined and managed allowing those societies to self-govern themselves.
I would like to promote two such societies as a starting point. The first society will be the Samaritan Society. The Samaritan society will help anyone who follows our core values and experiences an unexpected and undeserved expense. Think of this as catch-all insurance. Because this is a mutual society, only those who help others qualify to be helped. This is not a charity.
Human Rights Society
The second society is the Human Rights society which will help anyone who suffers an unexpected violation of their natural rights as defined by the Bill of Rights within the Constitution of the United States or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. These are the highest laws to which all governments and therefore all individuals are held by modern society. This society advocates upholding the law and sharing the burden of injustice suffered by its members anytime these laws are broken.
No where else can you find a large, decentralized community of communities that is able to reliably come to the financial aid of its members. Both of these communities will be very public in their membership and proud of the indisputable and universally accepted moral high ground which they claim.
All communities will have an element of charity toward non-members. This charity helps build relationships between our communities and others outside our community and thus gives us a good reputation and positive PR.
From Mutual Aid to Reputation
Participation in one or more benefit societies is a measure of reputation metric that is of higher quality than how many friends you have or how rich you are. It is a measure of how much you give back to others in support of your community. In time the karma you accrue by participating in these societies can be used as a bond backing your contracts. The identities are real and because karma is non-transferrable they are expensive to create. This makes them the perfect place to attach peer-reviews and feedback.
Lower Fees to Build Community
The existence of FISTBUMP (and similar tokens) and the tip bot does more to build community than almost any other project we have. Small tokens of appreciation communicate far more than the monetary value of the asset given. It is through community that we will grow network effect and loyalty. It is through loyalty that we will grow market cap. BitShares stands to generate more “value” for its stakeholders by growing its community than by charging them money on transfers.
The existence of the Mutual Aid Societies creates an order of magnitude larger revenue stream with which to fund the referral program. These societies provide direct benefit to the users involved who won’t mind paying a 5% fee to participate, 2% of which can end up going to referrers.
Going into 2016 I would like to see a renewed focus on community and vision. Our community is the product we are selling so let’s give people a reason to join our community rather than offering them a service they can pay for like a customer. Lets focus on helping one another and being a place where others would like to be rather than being self-centered individuals complaining about how the breadcrumbs are divided. Let’s adopt an attitude of abundance and love rather than one of scarcity. As our attitude changes so will our community and the value of BTS will grow to give us the abundance our combined society can generate.