Soul is Rational: Why we need SBTs
0x3176
June 28th, 2022

The dismal science, also known as Economics, describes behavior as "rational" if maximizes personal satisfaction. Markets are held up as a tool for maximizing everyone’s satisfaction, yet they they inherently anonymize the participants, limiting the “rational” values that can be modeled. Behaviors based on principles or relationships are disregarded - yet non-transactional values that cannot be "bought" are central drivers for behavior in most humans that I care to associate with.

I prefer to deal with people I know and trust, to work on things I care about, to buy products that were made in fair working conditions. I strongly want never to buy things that murderers profited from, yet today I often do so. An anonymized marketplace does not allow me to easily act “rationally” based on my actual values. A richer ecosystem of information would provide much higher utility, than the current common model of anonymized transactions.

In math, the shape of the universe follows from the axioms chosen. An assumption of scalar rationality in which all values are transactional and anonymizable is not wrong mathematically, it simply determines the shape of the universe described.

In science, we try to describe the observed shape of the world. Models and theories are tested by their ability to predict behavior in the real world. Hand-waving away large swaths of human motivation and observed behavior as "irrational" is a religious, not scientific approach.

In engineering, we try to shape the world. What shape do we want? For very clearly, tools that only allow anonymous transactions lead to a world in which everything is for sale.

The exciting thing in our time is not that we can automate markets, but that we can actualize language and intention. SBTs are a good starting point, that allow us to efficiently encode the values and relationships, the specific judgements and experiences that in fact drive our behavior.

I wrote more about this some time back: Can’t Buy Me Love: An Argument for Implementing Illiquidity which discusses encoding trust, changing cooperative structures and using earned tokens for governance, and offers computational models of love and corruption, among other things.

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