Friday, May 02, 2014

Fragment of a novel found near a time portal

So, how does it work?


Well, you have some sort of weird money substitute here. I have heard of Dogecoin, and there were lots of things like that around, and it seems as if there is some kind of money behind your society. But I don't see any notes, or coins, just touch screens that people do things with. What is going on?

Ah, the screens. Those are available to everyone, but nobody owns them, unless Central does.


The Central Bank of, well whatever. Promises, obligations, it carries out transactions of value, is how I heard an academic describe it once. Look, it's a set of rules on a central computer system, that handles what money turned into.


Yes. The first rule they had was that each identity, each person, has an amount of what you would have called money, or credit, or value. And there was a basic weekly input that was worked out to be enough to provide food and shelter for one person. Each week that gets put into your account. Go shopping, and the value of the shopping is taken out. Simple enough.

And your wages go in there as well, presumably?

Oh yes. If you do some work, you get some value paid in to reward you for it. But it doesn't come from the company or whatever that you work for. Central pays it. That's because companies are not people, workplaces are not people. So they can't have identities, and if there's no identity there can't be owned value at Central.

But you're getting paid for your work?

Somebody tells Central you have done something of a certain value for them, and Central rewards you. But there are no billionaires owning the factories and accumulating huge wealth from them. If you want to start a business, or just need help to do more of something you want to do, that creates value, Central will accept your statement that you are doing it. They'll take your statement that an identity deserves a certain reward, validate it, and put it in your credits.

Why would anyone do that if they can't get rich from it?

That's one of the really funny things. What we used to call businessmen, entrepreneurs, you know them, well, it turns out they just like to do what they do, even if they don't actually become so rich that nobody else has any money. They do it anyway. Sure, they get the basic input every week, and they get the value of the things that are sold.

Then surely, they can become very rich?

No. The rule you need to know about next is what stops that happening. It's quite complex, and is a sort of smoothing. Each week, all accounts are smoothed. If an identity has a lot more value than the average, it is reduced. They don't lose it all, but they can never build up a huge amount either. Crazy overspending doesn't all get repaid, but if you have less than you will need to stay alive it will be partly repaid so you will not starve. Nobody starves any more. We are rather proud of that.

Is there a book of rules?

There must be, somewhere, but mostly there are a lot of computer programs and a rather big database. There are programmers as well, constantly refining the system. I know some of them. Maybe we will go and see a few, soon.

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