The Language Of Value

The work on money that we started within Critical Thinking and continued with the digital currency global initiative (DCGI) and elsewhere revealed that technology opens up new possibilities to account for the value created by humans, their activities and relationships.

Alex has been making connections with people from the business community who are exploring the shifts in attitudes to money as a result of technological progress and we’ve engaged in exploratory conversations with a few so far. Yesterday we spoke to Virginia Robertson and Jordan Gitterman about Virginia’s book, The Language of Value and the ideas emerging from it. We promised to read the book and revert with some suggestions as to how we may collaborate to foster development of human value accounting systems.

Virginia’s book is so rich in advanced thinking about value and money that having read the first chapter, it is appropriate to comment on this before moving forward. Here are my initial observations on Chapter 1.

As promised, I’ve started to read your book with a view to reverting with some observations and suggestions. Chapter 1 covers so much ground that I feel it important to share my thinking before moving on. You’ve coherently explained the evolution of the trajectory of development and provided perspectives of which many will be unaware. This is an important stepping stone towards a shared understanding of our experienced reality.

Barter. Human interaction is a process of satisfying the needs of both ourselves and each other. Some have capacities to fulfill some needs of some people while others have different capacities to satisfy the needs of some of those people and others. Thus, in a data driven value environment these need not be one to one relationships to create “exchange” value. It is not a process of barter between individuals but a mutual support network within which the trustlines are sufficiently strong to sustain everybody’s needs and their capacities. When all is said and done, that is what money is for. To sustain ourselves and thrive accordingly.

The Money Theory section of the paper on Money Methodology explains Barter in terms of humans adapting to the money environment and then ascribing the attributes of money to a fictional idea of what preceded its invention. Before money, barter was not the means by which humans sustained themselves. Barter may well have happened for good reasons but sustaining life and the community didn’t depend on it. Individuals and communities relied on what we describe as complex money methodology or data driven value.

That same section on Money Theory identifies the division of labour (described by Adam Smith as a beneficial virtue) as exclusion because people’s capacities are parasitically harvested while access to satisfy their needs is conditional. Effectively it is a system of slavery. Thomas Piketty highlights this in his Brief History of Equality but never mentions money [as a possible cause]. Simple exchange money is the means by which the structure exerts control to extract wealth. It is fuel of the machine and banking is the engine and transmission.

Yes we do need a new language or more specifically a common understanding of what we are talking about, hence our work on Taxonomy of Money.

LOOP – Law Of One Price. Question: are we seeking equality or equity? Equality is a one size fits all “value” that applies to all people in all circumstances. Irrespective that local environment or individual circumstances may reflect a very different perception of value. Value isn’t only relative because of the vagaries of different markets, it is also a function of the relative values applied by individuals and communities. Equity is the optimisation of value for every individual and community. Get Alex to explain why it is worth delivering a croissant and champagne to a lone individual in the Arctic.

I’m not going to get into the whole cosmic paradigm shift thing although it is visibly happening.

However, as hinted above, human society is constantly evolving and shifting as is our environment. When thinking about [co-]creating human value systems, we need to recognise that the best judges of value are those who need and have the capacity to create value. They are the most granular, accurate measure of use value. Furthermore, their perceptions of relative value will evolve over time. Consequently, we don’t need algorithms or smart contracts to cleverly compute and share a “common” value to be applied anywhere under all circumstances. What’s required, in terms of infrastructure, are frameworks within which to capture, store and to be available across space and time, value expressed in terms of the needs, capacities and links that comprise the co-creation of value through human activity.

It is the ideal application of big data, not to harvest for systemic exchange purposes but an accessible repository of growing trust and value among humans thus encouraging more people to participate. Why will they participate? Because such an environment is much more appealing than the current paradigm, particularly if you’re struggling to survive, as growing numbers are.

Everything is energy and energy is constantly flowing, Energy pulses, it morphs and it evolves. Our structure for human value systems must be able to accommodate and adapt to our fluid environment and changing needs and capacities.

I loved your idea of oracles. However, oracles can explain or guide on the basis of fundamental truths but they can adapt their guidance to changing circumstances. Oracles need to be founded on fundamental principles but flexible to adapt to the changing actuality of perceived value.

I spotted the word fungible which rang an alarm bell. As we said in the paper,
simple money is the product of simplifying complex methodology to achieve scalability with the introduction of the concepts of exchange of value(s) and trustless relationships.

It is the trust between parties that is important. For that we need the capture and storage of the unique value representing the need expressed and the capacity that satisfied it. Circles of trust will grow from the foundations of individual transactions and overlap and mesh together over time.

Markets are manipulated. The most effective means to police market behaviour are:

  • reliance on caveat emptor (buyer beware)
  • unlimited liability

I wrote an article on this a few years ago:

However, what we’re proposing is not a market but interlocking circles of trust within which and between human relationships and activity are facilitated and encouraged. It becomes a self-organising and self-regulating structure in which there is little incentive or opportunity to game the system, i.e. there is no leverage within the structure and no “exchange value” to be coveted.

I also like your idea of paradigm shifts but would suggest that you’ve conflated [abstracted] some that fit into a broader shift and that we’re arguably talking about three shifts, the biggest one being the internet:

  • The internet created the unprecedented opportunity for one to one communication with anyone in the world and provided unlimited access to information (albeit that the structure has sought to limit access) and an ecosystem of co-created value evolved;
  • Language of value – capture of the value of needs, capacities and links by a few organisations – colonising parts of the ecosystem;
  • The internet gave birth to many building blocks for distributed, human value systems based on trust between individuals within circles of trust. The internet spawned free, open source software that forms the foundations of the ubiquitous technology we have today and created the essential tools for open, human value systems. Value discovery via the internet has created the opportunity to explore ways to capture and store value. In turn, these technologies and their use has evolved into tokenisation that opens up the vista of data driven, human value systems. The embrace by the art world of NFTs has actualised the theoretical concept of data driven money.

I won’t go any further until I’ve read more of your book other than to say I’m thinking that Item Banc may be a bridge to what is described.

Undoubtedly, your book has opened up a topic that is close to our hearts, data driven value and I’ll probably post an article on it. Where does one obtain the book?

Virginia’s book is an important introduction to the language of value and is available from Amazon and Business Expert Press.

The language of value relates to Needs, Capacities and Links