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In praise of Freicoin (Essay)

I have wrestled with certain problems pretty much all of my life.

Yet only just now did it occur to me that maybe Freicoin could be just the very kind of tool needed to abstract away one of the big ones that has been massively crippling the whole time.

Maybe even several big ones, depending on how one chooses to segment the problem domain that it addresses.

First let me clarify which problem domain it is that I am thinking it might address, because that might not happen to quite exactly correspond to the problem domain or domains it has hitherto been promulgated as addressing:

Freicoin, I am thinking, might nicely abstract away the ghastly messes that taxation keeps trying to foist off on us. Those are massive problems when you are working in the field of virtual economies.

In the past, attempts to devise workable economics for games (aka virtual worlds) have tended to keep getting “shafted” by the refusal of the tax authorities to actually play the game combined with their insistence upon taxing it.

Lets be clear here, we are talking about entities who refuse to actually exist, entities outside of and alien to the entire universe, wanting to tax a universe in whose existence they do not even believe.

It is as if God kept screwing around with the world trying to strong-arm it into paying tithes. Or something like that.

Within the game, those people are fictitional.

In their world, the one they like to refer to as real, the entire world or universe within the game or depicted by the game is not real.

But just now it occurred to me to wonder whether maybe Freicoin, by abstracting away the departure of value, might offer a usable interface between the worlds.

As I write though I am starting to wonder if maybe this impression is actually coming from my ideas of how to implement a Freicoin, rather than from the specific implementation of a Freicoin that the page at Freicoin might happen at this moment to discuss. Because the usefulness I am thinking of is the fact that you can account a Freicoin currency in terms of how many “epochal Freicoins” you are talking about or in terms of how many “right this moment, taking demurrage into account” Freicoins, or even in terms of how many freicoins that will be in ten years time, after another ten years of demurrage are taken into account.

If a virtual world (aka a game) did its accounting in “epochal Freicoins”, the demurrage would be invisible to the accountants within the game. Yet the taxman could be made the, or a, beneficiary of the demurrage.

The characters, entities, institutions and so forth existing within the game would always see their Freicoins as being still safe and sound, yet the taxman would know how many have really been taken out by demurrage at any given instant in the timeline of ”the planet known as Earth”. They would know in other words, how many Freicoins the “epochal Freicoins” the game does its accounting in are “really there” from point to point (moment to moment) along the timeline of the planet that they live on.

It would be quite clear that over time, as they remove more and more Freicoins to finance whatever it might be that they intended tax to finance, there are less and less Freicoins remaining.

In short it would be very clear that the value of what they are taxing is going down, and will eventually, if they keep on taxing it, reach zero.

No wonder so many virtual worlds do not yet exist! One can see from the outset that any resources one invests into them are in the long term going to vanish, which makes such worlds look like black holes into which one could throw resources forever and still end up - after the taxman is done with them - with nothing! Zip, zilch, nada!

The taxman is totally, utterly, from the get-go, not merely “squelching” creativity and innovation and entrepeneurship but rendering such things utterly, totally devoid of long term value!

Of course if this is true then presumably all the extant games that are raking in fortunes must be doing so due to some kind of ignorance or lack of insight, or by not actually building a really good, rational, workable, realistic economy into the game.

(Have you actually looked at the economies of online games? MUDflation is, typically, rampant.)

Since the key to this inspiration is the difference between epochal Freicoins and the Freicoins displayed to the user after the user has specified what point/moment in time the Freicoins are to be displayed with regard to, maybe I should try to clarify what epochal Freicoins are and how they differ in numerical representation from the numbers various points in time other than the epoch will display them as.

The idea there is that there is some moment in time, known as the epoch, and the Freicoins did not exist before that point in time. Indeed some or all of them might not have come into existence until long after that moment in time. The epoch might, for convenient implementation on Unix type systems, correspond exactly to the Unix epoch.

All the balances in the blockchain would refer to “at that time” (at the epoch) Freicoins. User interfaces would, based upon the moment in time with respect to which the user wishes to know the value of them (the after demurrage value) would simply convert the actual on the blockchain values - the epochal values - into the values at later moments by applying the demurrage formula.

Demurrage, in other words, would be a user-interface thing, which the blockchain need not care about at all.

Of course this also means that any blockchain based currency could be provided with a demurrage-using user-interface; nothing has changed on the blockchain, aka “in the game”; yet users could be shown those epochal coins as having less and less value over time.

Hmm, waitasec, is there a glitch here in the taxman's client if we add, for him, a special extra widget that displays the demurred-away value, the amount by which the total value of the entire collection of coins falls short of the epochal value of the entire collection of coins, as being in some way his “take”, his “tax”?

if you think only as an inhabitant of the planet known as Earth then maybe it might seem, at first blush, so.

Afterall, nowhere on the blockchain does the taxman actually have those evapourated coins. The evapouration exists only on the user-interface side, not on the blockchain itself.

But isn't that exactly correct? If the taxman wants to own coins on the blockchain, then “technically” it should be the taxman's character in the game that runs around in the game trying to tax other characters that exist in the game if the blockchain is to be affected. It seems perfectly correct that of course some taxman on some mythical planet that most people don't even believe exists cannot change the actual real blockchain that exists in the actual real in-game world…

Hmm, maybe I was wrong way up at the start of this essay about the taxman being able to be made a beneficiary of the demurrage. Lets all think about that…

E-Currency


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