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Pondering the true meaning of money (special Monero edition) using the 100-person island.

I originally posted a thought experiment over on /bitcoin regarding how money works on a fundamental level, but realized over the next few days I had made a mistake. In the parable, I likened bitcoins to shiny gems vs. the island standard of paper notes. In reality, bitcoins are more like marks on a large 'sacred rock'. Everyone can see them and they are public. Monero would be the 'shiny gems', or the superior form of money. The corrected version of the thought experiment is as follows:
It's worth noting that we are most assuredly in the top sliver of humanity by even challenging the notion of what money is. I asked my teenage nephew the other day what money was, and the answer he gave, "paper that the government prints", is indicative of the fog that the general population operates under.
If you were the last man on Earth, would money exist? No. Because money is an imaginary concept by humans to keep track of what other humans owe them.
If there were only three survivors on a deserted island, would money exist? Possibly, in a primitive form. Small notes could be used to keep track of IOUs and favors, but one would hardly expect a robust economy to emerge. For the most part, the three people are probably intimately connected in their day-to-day actions so each sees what the other is contributing towards civilization and feels compelled to interact appropriately. A complex separate ledger to keep track of each person's contribution is not necessary. (Consider this: in a marriage do you have a form of money? Probably not, you know what your significant other is contributing or not to your mini-'society')
Now let's say that there are 100 people on the island. Now it's not completely possible to keep track of each member's contribution. A form of currency is needed.
One wise man stands up and says, "Guys, I got this. We will use special notes with my signature as currency. I will issue them to anyone who does me favors, and you can trade them among yourself."
Now initially, these notes carry little value, because who-da-fuck-is-this-guy amirite? And so the issuer finds himself giving out many notes for very little payback. These early "speculators" find themselves turning over real and hard resources for all-but-worthless notes.
But they also tell their friends that this is a superior way of doing things vs. just trusting each member to do their part.
In this way, the early speculators get quite rich, as they have been saving these notes for a while by the time the rest of the population catches on. Bitcoin is a superior form of this money because we don't need the first guy to issue the notes. There is no human point of failure.
What would the 'bitcoin' be in this example? Bitcoin would be a large sacred rock in the center of the island. There is only one, and people transact by making large signatures on the rock, each claiming a portion of it. They can then transfer a part of their claim to others as a form of payment. It is limited, independent, and the signatures on the different regions can be publicly verified. It is also nice that there is no central authority controlling the sacred rock. It exists all on its own. Of course, the 'notes' in our tale are the U.S. Dollar, which is the standard we are currently on.
Let's look at what happens next in our example:
The notes are the dominant form of currency on the island. They circulate wildly and among the 100 survivors, there are eventually 1,000 notes that are being passed back and forth. The value of a note fluctuates slightly, but because the 'issuer' (who has become quite famous by now) has decreed that he won't issue more than 100 new notes a year, the value holds fairly steady as people know they can rely on the power of that promise.
But suddenly a new tribe is discovered across the island. And this tribe has many things that are desired... so a plan is formed. The 'issuer' sells the new tribe on the power of their note, and proceeds to create 5,000 new notes and trade them to the new tribe for their goodies.
The new tribe thinks they are getting a killer deal. The original tribe only has 1,000 notes circulating among it, and they now hold 5,000 of the same? Imagine the servitude that they can invoke by cashing in those notes! The first tribe basically owes the second a vast debt that can be called in at any time.
Meanwhile the "issuer" is attempting to soothe the concerns of the first tribe: "Listen, this is normal. It is healthy for other tribes to hold so many of our notes. We don't have to worry about them cashing them in. You can go ahead and continue valuing your notes as usual."
Now imagine that a third tribe is discovered, and an additional 5,000 notes are written and exchanged for resources.
See where I'm going with this? This is exactly what is happening with the US Dollar right now.
And what is bitcoin? Bitcoin, again, is that sacred rock. A new character, the "miner" declares to not just his tribe, but the entire island: "Guys I have a better idea! Instead of trusting this guy who clearly keeps drawing up new notes, let's just use the sacred rock! We can compete to see who gets to make the initial markings, and we will set up a fair game to distribute the initial claims of the sacred rock. There's clearly only a limited number of places to make markings, and if we run out we can just subdivide our markings into smaller parts."
Don't forget, money is only needed if there is more than one person on the island. Because that's what a "dollar" is, ultimately. It's a measure of what society owes you. You can take your dollar anywhere and exchange it at any time for something from another human. This miner wants to substitute these new markings on the sacred rock for debts.
Initially, the "miner" is met with wide skepticism from those who liked the notes. "No one wants your stupid marks on a rock, you bum. And what's more, if those got popular, you would be rich with them! It's just a scam! Guys, no one trust the miner and his sacred rock. It's fucking dumb."
And this is the key: All money is a scam by that definition. The early adopter will always get rich if they successfully predict that something is a superior form of money that will grow popular.
Getting rich speculating is a necessary evil for the rise of a new form of money. So when they say that cryptocurrency is going to be one of the greatest wealth transfers in history, they are right. The future is about to be a very strange place.
Now, here's where Monero enters the equation.
A third wise man, the gem miner, enters. He says, "I have an even better idea! Instead of using marks on the sacred rock, lets use these shiny gems as money. They are limited, as there are only so many on the island, and they are also private! No one has to know how many gems you own unless you show them."
If the shiny gems truly are limited, it would be difficult to figure out a more effective basis of money for this island. It is clearly superior to both the paper notes and the markings on the sacred rock.
This is why I'm with Monero. It might not be the first blockchain, but it is the first blockchain that has all the necessary features of a true currency.
I really enjoy these thought experiments regarding the n-person island and how the n-persons will transact goods and services. Understanding these metaphors really helps simplify large scale economies for both you and anyone you are teaching about cryptocurrency.
Any additions or comments?
submitted by americanpegasus to Monero [link] [comments]

Deep thoughts on the nature of money... speculation has always been a fundamental aspect regarding new forms of money.

I'm doing a series of thought experiments on the fundamentals of money, and what it actually means to humans.
It's worth noting that we are most assuredly in the top sliver of humanity by even challenging the notion of what money is. I asked my teenage nephew the other day what money was, and the answer he gave, "paper that the government prints", is indicative of the fog that the general population operates under.
If you were the last man on Earth, would money exist? No. Because money is an imaginary concept by humans to keep track of what other human's owe them.
If there were only three survivors on a deserted island, would money exist? Possibly, in a primitive form. Small notes could be used to keep track of IOUs and favors, but one would hardly expect a robust economy to emerge. For the most part, the three people are probably intimately connected in their day-to-day actions so each sees what the other is contributing towards civilization and feels compelled to interact appropriately. A complex separate ledger to keep track of each person's contribution is not necessary. (Consider this: in a marriage do you have a form of money? Probably not, you know what your significant other is contributing or not to your mini-'society')
Now let's say that there are 100 people on the island. Now it's not completely possible to keep track of each member's contribution. A form of currency is needed.
One wise man stands up and says, "Guys, I got this. We will use special notes with my signature as currency. I will issue them to anyone who does me favors, and you can trade them among yourself."
Now initially, these notes carry little value, because who-da-fuck-is-this-guy amirite? And so the issuer finds himself giving out many notes for very little payback. These early "speculators" find themselves turning over real and hard resources for all-but-worthless notes.
But they also tell their friends that this is a superior way of doing things vs. just trusting each member to do their part.
In this way, the early speculators get quite rich, as they have been saving these notes for a while by the time the rest of the population catches on. Bitcoin is a superior form of this money because we don't need the first guy to issue the notes. There is no human point of failure.
In many ways, bitcoin wouldn't be these notes though. Bitcoin would be the shiny rocks of the island, limited in number and independent of human authority to issue. The 'notes' would be the U.S. Dollar, which is the standard we are currently on.
Let's look at what happens next in our example:
The notes circulate wildly and among the 100 survivors, there are eventually 1,000 notes that are being passed back and forth. The value of a note fluctuates slightly, but because the 'issuer' (who has become quite famous by now) has decreed that he won't issue more than 100 new notes a year, the value holds fairly steady as people know they can rely on the power of that promise.
But suddenly a new tribe is discovered across the island. And this tribe has many things that are desired... so a plan is formed. The 'issuer' sells the new tribe on the power of their note, and proceeds to create 5,000 new notes and trade them to the new tribe for their goodies.
The new tribe thinks they are getting a killer deal. The original tribe only has 1,000 notes circulating among it, and they now hold 5,000 of the same? Imagine the servitude that they can invoke by cashing in those notes! The first tribe basically owes the second a vast debt that can be called in at any time.
Meanwhile the "issuer" is attempting to soothe the concerns of the first tribe: "Listen, this is normal. It is healthy for other tribes to hold so many of our notes. We don't have to worry about them cashing them in. You can go ahead and continue valuing your notes as usual."
Now imagine that a third tribe is discovered, and an additional 5,000 notes are written and exchanged for resources.
See where I'm going with this? This is exactly what is happening with the US Dollar right now.
And what is bitcoin? Bitcoin is the shiny rock. A new character, the "miner" declares to not just his tribe, but the entire island: "Guys I have a better idea! Instead of trusting this guy who clearly keeps drawing up new notes, let's just use these shiny rocks! There's clearly only a limited number, and if we run out we can just break them down into smaller pieces."
Don't forget, money is only needed if there is more than one person on the island. Because that's what a "dollar" is, ultimately. It's a measure of what society owes you. You can take your dollar anywhere and exchange it at any time for something from another human.
Initially, the "miner" is met with wide skepticism from those who liked the notes. "No one wants your stupid rocks, you bum. And what's more, if those got popular, you would be rich with them! It's just a scam! Guys, no one trust the miner and his shiny rocks. It's fucking dumb."
And this is the key: All money is a scam by that definition. The early adopter will always get rich if they successfully predict that something is a superior form of money that will grow popular.
Getting rich speculating is a necessary evil for the rise of a new form of money. So when they say that cryptocurrency is going to be one of the greatest wealth transfers in history, they are right. The future is about to be a very strange place.
What other parables and thoughts on the nature of money can you think of to share? I love trying to understand this stuff on a deeper level, because when you remove the emotion from it and view it as just a simple imaginary game that we are playing, usually the correct course of action becomes obvious.
submitted by americanpegasus to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

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