By far the most popular article I’ve ever penned is “Why Everyone Missed the Most Mind Blowing Feature of Cryptocurrency”. Every day it’s tweeted hundreds of times. It gets debated on social media, podcasts and more. It brought an avalanche of people pouring into DecStack, my virtual co-working spot for cryptocurrency and distributed application projects.
At the risk of spoiling the punch line it all boils down to one essential idea:
Gamifying the distribution of money.
But I left out one critical piece of the puzzle:
How do we do it?
That’s what I’m going to talk about here.
You might be wondering why I didn’t just spell it out in the last article already? That was by design.
First, there are number of ways to do it. This is just one of the ways. I didn’t want to limit people’s thinking.
Second, I was working with a team of folks to bring the vision to life and I wanted to keep it to myself. But now my thinking has changed for one very specific reason:
I see the work of gamifying the delivery of money as a race against time.
If we don’t move fast, centralized cryptocurrencies will take the lead and crush any hope we have for taking back our rights and our privacy.
The same systems that can free us can enslave us.
Centralized powers are already hard at work building digital money that will track every single thing you ever do in life.
What do those powers want to build? The same damn broken system we already have but upgraded with terrifying new features.
Think Equifax’s security and hoarding of your personal data ported to the blockchain. Think currency control slowly strangling the human race. Think tracking systems and vast spy networks of panopticon money in every person’s pocket in the world.
Japan is building their own crypto. So is China. India has outlawed all paper money and will phase it out over the coming years. Already their centralized biometric based ID system is tracking everyone’s money and spending habits, even though publicly they pinkie-swear its not doing that at all.
Imagine if history’s greatest monsters like Stalin had blockchain.
What fresh horrors could they reap?
You could remotely starve a population just by turning off their money like turning out a light and blocking all commerce by GPS geography.
Don’t think that someone, somewhere isn’t already thinking about it.
As a society we can’t let that happen.
Decentralized currencies must win. Centralized, government issued currencies will exist and many of them will be excellent. That’s fine. Don’t for a second think that centralized currencies will somehow go away. Not happening. But mostly they will prove too tempting to people who want to control every aspect of our lives and so they stand a big chance of getting corrupted fast.
Decentralized cryptos will balance out centralized currencies with their strong, privacy protecting focus, which will provide a powerful set of checks and balances on the excesses of centralized crypto.
But only if they become mainstream before the centralized versions take off.
That’s where gamifying the distribution of money comes into the picture.
By gamifying money distribution, we spread it far and wide across the playing field, as fast as possible, and guarantee that the system becomes viable. We bootstrap the system from banana republic to global powerhouse. That will bring powerful economic players into the system, who will then be incentivized to protect it and expand it.
If we move swiftly, we can unleash the true power of the blockchain to unlock the frozen reserves of human potential, rise from the ashes of our crumbling political systems and rocket into a whole new level of economic potential and development.
One last bit before I get to the actual mechanics of making this a reality.
Every day people come to me wanting to help with my ideas. They want to give me their time or money or advice but the problem is increasingly that I’m the bottleneck.
I can’t read all the emails, join every chat server on the planet and get everyone moving forward fast enough. I can’t keep everyone organized and going in the same direction. I can’t run it all and I frankly, I don’t want to. I’m an author, a man of ideas, not a logistics person.
I’m working hard to disconnect from the Matrix so I can focus all of my time and energy on research, writing and speaking but even that’s not enough. If I had a thousand lifetimes I could never do everything I want to do in life.
That’s why I’ve decided to take my hand off the tiller.
Once again, there’s only one answer:
I’m open-sourcing my ideas for anyone to steal and put in motion.
Take them for your own projects. Look at them. See them. Understand them and bring them to life. Or say they’re crazy and ignore them. It’s up to you. I don’t care. Do what you want with them.
I’m not here to debate anyone. I don’t care if you think you’ve found some perceived flaw in what I’ve written.
What I’ve given you is a metapattern.
It’s pattern of patterns. See that clearly and you will understand.
Doing the work of coding and bringing it to fruition will solve any perceived problems. If there’s a major flaw, someone will find a way to mitigate it. That’s how it works. There’s no progress without doing the work.
I’ve carried the rock this far. Now you’re called to adventure. It’s up to you to pick up the rock and carry it up the hill, if you want to answer the call.
As a species, we’re more effective when hundreds or thousands of end nodes spawn their own versions of an idea and we all have to compete. That’s all DNA is, a program to iterate on a central idea, the idea of life! We’re nothing but a series of random toggle switches, born to challenge each other and compete.
You don’t need me. I’m giving you my insight free of charge. I don’t want anything in return except to see the ideas spring up like green shoots all over the world.
So let’s do it.
How the heck do we gamify the delivery of money?
If you’re focused on amassing the biggest pile of coins in the world, or how everyone on the project is going to get paid, you’re focused on the wrong things.
If you do this right, everyone gets rich. So don’t sweat the details too much. Keep it simple and straightforward. Divy up a small portion of founder’s tokens and then move on. Don’t get crazy with it.
Focus on making the entire system richer and you will get rich right along with it.
Grow the pie for everyone and you grow the total value of the system.
Right off the bat, you need to raise money. To do it, you’ll want to spawn an ICO, but not just any ICO. You need one that’s radically different from every other ICO out there.
The first key is to have a simple core idea, and a working prototype and then ICO. Nobody has that now. They have a white paper, a semi-slick website, and a bunch of ideas that will take three years to implement.
But by then it will be too late. The central powers will have build their own corrupt versions of blockchains that choke the world.
You’re probably thinking about the coin you will create to make your system run. Screw your coin. The coin is secondary.
It starts with a killer app NOT the coin.
I’ll say it again: the coin is secondary.
The coin is nothing but the engine that makes it run. It’s the “gas” or “fuel” as Ethereum so sagely saw from the jump.
Now focus on your app. You want something simple that is pluggable and dramatically expandable.
It started as nothing but a chat app and then they added thousands of different applications on top of it. Now 800 million people use it. A decentralized version of that, if done right, will ripple across the world.
What you’re really building is one app that will become a platform.
The platform is key. You want to envision all the little plugins and secondary apps that others can build on top of your system. The more universal the platform the better. It doesn’t have to be chat. That is just an example.
Now comes the fun part.
To build a loyalty collation for your ICO you first do the hard work of figuring out a budget for everything you would need to deliver on your vision, marketing people, programmers, project managers, QA testers, SaaS software, the cloud, whatever.
Then you triple it because nobody ever figures that stuff out correctly. We always underestimate all the little slip-ups, screw-ups and set-backs.
Let’s say that comes to $25 million.
Now you go out and identify all of the wonderful open source projects out there, like the decentralized server system called Matrix, or whatever else you find that you would love ported to your platform or that would make your platform even stronger if that other project was more fully realized.
Once you ID them you call them up and you tell them that for every dollar you raise above $25 million you’re giving their project x percentage. It could be $100k or $1 million dollars.
Why the hell would you do that?
Because now you have projects practically tripping over themselves to give you their support. They’ll lend you their logo, give you a glowing statement to slap on your website and pound their mailing list with glee to promote you. Your marketing budget is now zero.
You’ve gamified marketing.
You’ve splashed influencers across your website with ease and now the masses will rush to give you their Ether and Bitcoin when it’s time to pony up at ICO time.
There’s zero risk for them and the explosive potential for major reward.
Any project that wouldn’t help is basically insane.
You don’t want to overtly gamify the delivery of money. That’s how your app turns into decentralized Candy Crush, an ugly Las Vegas style system that’s gaudy and hideous.
Nobody wants that.
You want subtlety and elegance and simplicity.
What you want is stealth gamification.
Imagine you’re using your little WeChat app and you’re like my wife and her sister who talk in stickers with occasional text. Emoji. Sticker. Sticker. Sticker. Text.
My wife loves Viber.
Viber is all about stickers. For instance, you get free cat stickers and you can buy paid cat stickers.
Now think of your sister or wife using the app. She is getting a reward token for doing things in the app, just every day usage, but she’s not really paying attention to it. It’s just a blinky light in the corner that occasionally notifies her very quietly.
Now maybe she gets a special, elite cat sticker as a reward. This one is more noticeable. It flairs up on the screen and makes a big deal of itself before fading into the background. Suddenly she wants to know more.
She notices the blinky light and clicks it. It takes her to her reward wallet. She realizes she’s built up a store of reward tokens.
And there’s a market place for all kinds of stickers.
But she can’t buy them with USD and other fiat, only with reward tokens.
To her the reward tokens are essentially free. So there’s no reason not to buy up a whole bunch of elite cat stickers and then keep right on using the app happily until she can get more.
Congratulations, you’ve just built a killer app.
Next you’ll focus on designing a universal reward coin that will pay everyone on the network as quickly as possible and incentivize them to do what’s best for the network instead of what’s best for themselves alone.
A reward token is utterly worthless if it only works on your system. Think of all the stinking crap cards you have from a hundred different stores in your wallet or purse. There’s one for Marshall’s and Target and the pet store and the grocery store and every other store.
You might still be thinking how you can maximize your own reward with the reward coin. Ignore that impulse. Greed will kill the system. In fact, don’t think about your reward at all.
What you want to think about is how you give your reward away.
You will give your reward coins away to as many people as possible, as fast as possible.
Giving away all the money will make system growth exponential and quickly allow it to upend the entire world.
Let’s fast forward in time. You had a successful ICO. You’ve given money away to other projects. You have an app up and running and doing its thing. It’s working.
Now it’s time to expand.
The projects you paid to support now start to work for you. You build them a super-slick API and plugin management system and they get to work, porting their wonderful apps to your platform.
Suddenly you have a dozen fresh new features to offer customers.
Those customers are bringing their own groups of customers. So now you deliver your next product:
An API that delivers universal reward tokens to their plugins.
The decision about who gets to use that API is semi-centralized at first, chosen from a curated list of major projects and platforms that already exist. But at the same time you’re actively working on how to decentralize the process by building a web of trust with a council of elders who can deal with disputes. You don’t want to be a centralized choke point.
The API includes a connection to a security blockchain, that contains updating rules to protect against abuse and cheaters. For example, an app can’t simply give away every universal reward coin to one wallet all at once. To figure out all the ways to cheat the system you will need a team of security researchers looking to break it every which way from Sunday. Once you know all the ways to destroy the system, you can design ways to protect it.
Some exploits will be inevitable but you use the power of the blockchain to issue a new set of rules that crush the exploit in record time.
Now you give projects and companies keys to use the API. The keys also determine the number of tokens they get to give out. It should be directly proportional to the size of their network effect. How many people can they bring to the platform? The process should be automated. It should not be someone handing out keys or updating a spreadsheet to figure out that a company brought more people to the table.
Consider building an externalized Reputation Bank as well, as a hedge against cheating but that is for another article. See my designs for a universal ID in the Cicada project for details.
Remember this and you will do well in crypto and in life:
Every person who adds to your network, adds to your value.
Do what is best for the network and the network thrives.
Do only what is good for yourself and the network dies.
Balance is best. Make sure there is something in it for you but more in it for everyone else. The bigger the pie grows, the bigger your piece of the pie.
What you want to design is this: The token rewards people for benefiting the system and punishes them for exploiting it.
Suddenly you have a dozen apps all using the same reward coin. It’s now a universal reward coin.
It starts to have its own value. Some folks will realize they can take the coin out and trade it on an exchange, or they can take it across applications to use for buying free tickets to a show or to get grocery delivery from their local connected chain.
Now people will be coming to you to build apps to use your platform and get your reward token.
You’ve taken the system to the next level.
Now you’re ready to build your own blockchain. Up until then you were just using another blockchain, like Ethereum and issuing your own tokens as needed in a constant stream to feed the network.
Now it’s time to take it to the next level. You want to build a DAO. But not just any DAO.
You’re going to build an organization with deeply decentralized governance and all kinds of templates for forming sub-structures. The more universal the better. This will take careful planning and consideration and cannot be rushed.
A DAO is not just a smart contract.
It’s governance and SaaS systems and ways of organizing people at a distance, just like a massive, sprawling open source project. Design that right and you design the next-gen template for the businesses of tomorrow.
You’re also going to design your blockchain to take a tiny fraction of a cut of all the mining rewards and transaction fees on the network. As the network grows a constant stream of money will pour into the DAO’s coffers, via smart contract.
As more and more of the world’s wealth pours out of crumbling fiat and into crypto, your DAO will grow in power.
Congratulations, you’re now Visa 2.0.
But unlike Visa you’re not going to hoard all the money for the benefit of just your own selfish aims. You’re going to sponsor other DAOs and all of those projects that you helped with your ICO money.
Your DAO will create true trickle down economics, not the fake one of our current crippled system.
Those sub-DAOs will get a constant stream of income via smart contract which will have an amazing effect.
You’ll break the cycle of the quarterly result forever.
And that will be truly revolutionary.
Now teams won’t have to decide between building a truly breakthrough feature or a crap feature that they know will sell. They will focus on quality and delivering features that help people instead of predatory features just to turn a quick buck.
Predatory feature developers get their contracts pulled by votes in the system. This must be carefully designed so as not to create a tyranny of the majority and the stupid which suspends money for ideological nonsense. The rules must be firm and clear and algorithmic, not subject to the whims and emotions of people and their broken belief systems and petty blood feuds.
Now comes the truly amazing part.
You expand your blockchain with two new tokens.
One is a saver token and one is a spender token.
The saver token is deflationary, like Bitcoin or gold, so it slowly rises in value. The idea is for people to save them, so that they can buy something special one day. The value in this coin is not in spending them constantly but in holding them, even hoarding them. They are meant to increase in value over time, benefiting savers and rewarding them for their foresight and planning.
With properly saved fortunes, people can return to buying houses and cars and everything else with money instead of credit, which will slowly deflate the mega-debt bubble in the world economy, instead of popping it all at once and crashing the world.
The next token is a spender token.
This is the paired opposite of the saver token. It is slightly inflationary and pegged to other currencies or another stable unit of value, like time. The key is that it must remain stable. Stability in the store of value makes it so that money will move and that’s what you want. It’s for day to day use for buying Snickers and bus tickets and cat stickers too.
Money is energy.
It pools and flows.
Both are necessary.
The faster the spender token moves in the world economy, the more the economy is churning. The more people save, the more resilient the system from sudden shock.
When you design your blockchain you make everyone a client and a miner. Everyone is randomly drafted into pools to secure the blockchain with a proof of work. Then people are just walking along, using the app, and their phone wakes up to do a little work for five or ten minutes and goes back to sleep.
This creates a distributed proof of work. It spreads it out across the system and makes it impossible to crush.
We don’t need to do better than proof of work, we just need to make it distributed and more energy efficient. So you make sure the system can run on cell phones and that adding a bunch of new systems doesn’t get you that much of a better chance of reward.
Now you can begin to distribute the money to everyone on the network.
You will not use an all at once air-drop.
You will constantly drip out all your tokens to everyone who uses the system over time.
Send out the reward tokens and the spender tokens. Then as a special reward, to make people even more incentivized to keep the app running you can dish out the much more scarce saver token.
All of this adds up to a Universal Basic Income but because it’s not an airdrop it does not devalue the currencies by issuing them out all at once. Also, because you have multiple currencies, with different purposes, you harness the power of multiple economic philosophies to keep the value of that money steady or rising.
And to be clear, lest some idiot somehow decides this is some kind of crypto-communism:
Nobody is limited to just the money they receive from the UBI. This is not a limited system.
It is the beginning of an abundance economic system.
The UBI is but the baseline.
Everyone is free to set up businesses and create their own additional value so they can earn more money.
That’s it. Six “simple” steps.
That’s all you need to change the whole game for everyone on the planet for the better.
But it’s not easy.
Each step is fraught with uncertainty and you can fail to see the true purpose of what you’re doing. If you get greedy or try to control the system and fill it with loopholes to enrich yourself and your clan you become just another jaded, corrupt and hollow central power that everyone hates.
But if you can stay clear and focused on the big picture, all while working to give away your value to grow the system, you’ll have built an unstoppable economic machine to power the world for generations.
And it won’t just be your house that prospers, but all houses everywhere.
It will be a distributed system, the commonwealth of the whole world.
But you better move quickly. Right now our system is heading towards disaster. Our debt bubble is massive. The weapons technology we possess can smash the Earth like an egg thousands of times over. We have weapons way too big for our tiny battlefield.
If the system goes down this time, it won’t be like anything we’ve ever seen. When civilizations collapsed in the past they were smaller and more localized and the damage was confined to their sphere of influence.
In the past, the Earth was more decentralized. Each society was its own test bed for how to run the world.
But today we have a global society, even if we don’t believe it and want to turn back the clock. It’s not happening. Nobody is turning back the clock. Protectionism will not work.
The only solution is to make our global society Anti-Fragile.
Today we have a house of glass. Everything is intricately and infinitely connected. Our economics make us relentlessly focused on the short term. We sell out the future for a quick buck today.
We’re speeding right into a brick wall at a thousand miles an hour.
If we don’t fix this soon, we’ll end up living out Einstein’s famous warning:
“I know not what weapons World War III will be fought with, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Or we can wake up.
We can change before it’s too late and build a better world for everyone.
And that’s really your job if you heed the call. You must stay true to a golden vision, a true vision.
Become a greedy bastard who tries to control everything, strangling the system with centralized choke points to keep all the money for yourself, you’ll accelerate the collapse and break the world. Your crimes will live forever in infamy.
But if you can resist the urge to dominate, to control, to horde every resource, you can unlock the vast hidden potential of the world.
All you need to do is trust the vision and stay on target.
Do that and your deeds will echo in the halls of eternity.
And you just might save the world.
If you love my work you might consider visiting my Patreon page because that’s how we change the future together. Help me disconnect from the Matrix and I’ll repay your generosity a hundred fold by focusing all my time and energy on writing, research and delivering amazing content for you and world.
A bit about me: I’m an author, engineer and serial entrepreneur. During the last two decades, I’ve covered a broad range of tech from Linux to virtualization and containers.
You can check out my latest novel,an epic Chinese sci-fi civil war saga where China throws off the chains of communism and becomes the world’s first direct democracy, running a highly advanced, artificially intelligent decentralized app platform with no leaders.