Update following the New York Volatilities Group/SenseLab meetings in March 2017
Name change: “Adventure Capital” was changed to the “3 Ecologies Process Seed Bank.”
The discussions and brainstorming of the meetings led to our first success in imagining how smart contracts might work with our process. Smart contracts are necessary for the 3E platform to interface and become interoperable with other ECSA economic spaces and the Agoric cryptocurrency providing the general economic environment they share (see ecsa.io for information). We had earlier shied away from smart contracts because they tend to reintroduce the kind of transactional, exchange-based organizational mode that we are trying to move past. ECSA has always maintained that they could be conceived of in much more open and relational ways than might be suggested by the word “contract,” and a part of our task that we hadn’t made much progress on until now was to find ways to implement them that worked for our project.
The proposed smart contracts coming out of New York assume the “magma” principle outlined in Working Paper 2. As suggested in that paper, they operate at the edge or “membrane” of the 3E space. There are three types, two kinds of “entryway” and one we were calling an “endtroduction” (but I think needs a more intuitively understandable name that is specific to it – perhaps “turnstile”?).
The first kind of entryway responds to the need to have a way of inviting people to cross the threshold into our space that conveys something of the ethos of the project, and familiarizes them with some of the activities under way. The usual method of crossing the threshold into a dedicated online space is individualizing and transactional: the person identifies themselves, often accepts formal conditions, and sometimes provides a fee or service in return for gaining entry. Our entryway smart contract, on the other hand, is designed to be relational, and to be part of a gift economy. The presence of the person entering would not immediately be registered in a way that is visible on the platform. They are invited basically to lurk: to look around and see what is going on, and then to “shadow” a part of the process that interests them. Whenever they are ready and feel they have a sense of the process and might have something to contribute, they give a gift to the process. This could be anything: a comment, a proposition, a concept, a poem, an image, a link, a file upload, etc. Once they have made the gift, their passage across the threshold is complete, and their presence is made visible. It would probably be good to have some form of welcoming practice that would kick in at this point.
The second kind of entryway is the same as the first, but with a gift of funds. A person could donate funds, but like their own presence, the donation would not register until they also make a gift of process as outlined above. This rules out uninterested donations (gifts of cash by people who are not in any way involved). Once the gift of process is made, the financial gift is registered and enters the collective pool. At that point, the person donating the funds no longer has any individual ties to it or any power over it. It is a pure gift to the collective.
There are many questions that this proposal raises that bear on how we design the properly economic aspect of our project. Would the funds be donatable in fiat currency? If so, where would they be held, how would they be administered (would 3E have to incorporate to be able to have a bank account), and how would decisions over use of the funds be made? If the 3E space really does interface with the dominant economy, these are problems we will have to resolve one way or the other.
An alternative that avoids the mainstream banking system might be for the funds to be converted into Agoric, and from Agoric into Bitcoin, and then spent as much as possible in Bitcoin. This would have the advantage of supporting the Agoric currency. It would require the 3E project to have an Agoric wallet and a Bitcoin wallet, both of which once again raise governance and decisionmaking issues, for which further smart contracts would have to be invented. A third alternative might for the funds to be converted into Agoric, and then (or perhaps just a portion of them) from Agoric into our cryptocurrency, Occurrency. This would support our currency. It would also open the possibility of having the gift not be a pure gift – the person donating could receive some of the Occurrency for themselves, so that the donation also has an investment side to it. This would move toward making making Occurrency function not only as our resource, but as a money market (giving it the character of “commodity money,” or currency that is itself traded and speculated upon).
The third smart contract will probably have to be a bundle of smart contracts. It would set the operating parameters for Occurrency, under a different aspect than the commodity money aspect just describe. As outlined in “Adventure Capital and the Anarchive, ” the intensities of our creative process would be registered as the process passes thresholds of form-taking. The qualitative intensities of the process would be registered immanently to the process, but also be quantified in a way that spins off value externally, into the surrounding ECSA and mainstream economies. The registering of the processual intensities would periodically “mint” a certain quantity of Occurrency. This would be Occurrency under the aspect of “equity money”: basically, more like a stock than a currency in the familiar sense of a medium of exchange. The creative success of our process would be the equity “backing” the currency and giving it value. Further thinking and consulting with economists will be necessary to ascertain whether Occurrency could function solely as equity money, or whether it needs to have a commodity aspect as well. The issue is convertibility: Occurrency has to be convertible to the ECSA and Agoric currencies in order to participate in the ecology of economic spaces. How is the conversion rate set if there are no market forces at work, given that our “equity” (the surplus-value of life produced by our collective creative practice) is so abstract and fleeting? The “turnstile” smart contract would constitute the protocols of Occurrency’s convertibility and circulation (creating mechanisms for it to be converted into ECSA and Agoric, and perhaps owned and sold by individual investors/speculators in addition to the collective pool owned by 3E project as a whole). It would also have to manage how decisions about spending the collective pool were made and executed.
NOTE: the ECSA currency has been renamed to “Space” and Agoric has been renamed “Gravity”