The global response to COVID-19 reflects deeply held societal values that blockchain can deliver more effectively
internet platforms, we still lived in the age of networks. The United States of
America, 20th century capitalism, and Western civilizations long
before ours had experimented with political, economic, and social forms of
organization: networks through-and-through.
made networks digital, fast, global, and more valuable from an economic
standpoint. In fact, so much value was created (overnight, in some instances)
that the social benefits easily outweighed the economic interest that any one
of us may have been able to negotiate for ourselves as mere users.
Yet as the
internet shaped not only our social landscape, but also our political and
economic landscape since the 2010s, some of us started to think the internet
could – no SHOULD – offer us more
than free tools. In a sense, we wanted equity for contributing to the network.
feelings emerged at a time when more people sought new ways of understanding
humanity, beyond the norms that accounted more economic inequality during the
2010s than at any other time in history. It just didn’t seem fair at face
COVID-19 has shed light on just how vulnerable to a 100-year shock our legacy economic system is – and how much social and political will we ALL have to sustain “network performance.” We’ve in one fell swoop stopped economic activity and passed a $2.2T bill (over $6k per American) to save the bedrock of all networks: the humanity in each life.
On the other side of this, a more decentralized and coordinated way of measuring network economics for users on the internet will establish a new set of norms that serves everybody’s interests – including businesses, governments, and individuals. That’s what we’re working on at the Tree of Wally.
Arguments against consumers selling their personal data lack historical perspective from labor markets.
The Wall Street Journal published a piece in October featuring Christopher Tonetti, Stanford Associate Professor of Economics. In the article, Tonetti presents an argument in favor of letting consumers sell their own personal data.
He shows that today data is under-shared because companies like Facebook and Google competitively hoard it in silos. This increases corporates’ advantage in the ad-sales market.
Therefore, placing data property rights in hands of consumers spurs innovation by leading to broader access to data. He gives an example how in his research paper from August 2019, Nonrivalry and the Economics of Data:
To put this concretely, suppose doctors use software to help diagnose skin cancer. An algorithm can be trained using images of potential cancers labeled with pathology reports and cancer outcomes. Imagine a world in which hospitals own data and each uses labeled images from all patients in its network to train the algorithm. Now compare that to a situation in which competing algorithms can each use all the images from all patients in the United States, or even the world. The software based on larger samples could help doctors everywhere better treat patients and save lives. The gain to any single hospital from selling its data broadly may not be sufficient to generate the broad use that is beneficial to society… Consumers owning their medical data and selling it to all interested researchers, hospitals, and entrepreneurs may result in a world closer to the social optimum in which such valuable data is used broadly to help many.
What is it about data?
Tonetti observes that data is nonrival – it doesn’t diminish with use. One hundred companies may use your data simultaneously. Given Facebook prefers to silo your data so others cannot compete, the nonrival aspect of data certainly justifies consumers selling their own personal data.
But there are moral justifications too. Personal data is like your fingerprints or a baseball card with stat lists of your most intimate details. You certainly should be in control over that! And control means the right to keep private, share, or sell. It means having dignity.
Comparing two labor markets
In fact, the moral justification is the strongest. My empirical evidence for this draws from labor markets. As with data, we can compare two labor markets. In the first, individuals sell their own labor. In the second, individuals are not in control.
We have historical evidence for both markets. Today in the USA we live in a labor market in which individuals may sell their own labor. Before the Civil War of the 1860s (and for too long afterwards) and in Egypt ~3000 years ago of Moses’ time, blacks and Hebrews were not in control of their own labor.
Clearly, placing moral arguments aside for now, today’s free market labor economy (the one in which individuals gain skills, apply for jobs, and market their own employability) coordinates labor in complex ways efficiently. The “Invisible Hand” works.
But labor IS rival. I cannot work for a construction company and food retailer at the same time. So the rationale between why labor and data markets operate more efficient with individuals in control is something else…
Dignity is the difference
Personal labor and data are dignified expressions of humans. What happens when you place a man’s dignity in the possession of another person? You embarrass him. Ultimately, you decrease his will to live. You see greater levels of addiction and suicide. You have anger and social unrest en masse.
Return her dignity to her, and you restore her sense of self. You may give her wings. You will unleash her godly instincts. You will ring in an era of renewed prosperity for her world. Are you with her? Join the movement here.
Are you surprised Zuckerberg failed to please Congress with his testimony on Libra? It brings up the question, what purpose does Libra serve? How are Wallys different?
Libra currency’s purpose is to turn Facebook into a payments processor like Western Union. When you’re the size of Facebook, and growing that fast, you can’t increase profits by, say, selling T-shirts.
Since Facebook earns in the ballpark of $50B of revenues a year from people’s data, it made sense they decided to enter the trillion dollar payments industry. It’s big enough to make a difference to their bottom line.
So what’s the plan? Zuckerberg wants to help you convert your dollars into Libra tokens, which you could then send across any Facebook app as easily as you message. He wants to make transferring money as easy as texting!
Wallys will be easy to transfer in texts. But the key innovation here is creating a new money for your data. Libra isn’t new money, it tokenizes the money we already have.
The money we have today symbolizes work (aka labor). You can tell an investor you want to dig holes in the ground and they’ll give you money – see here and here.
But tell an investor you want money for scrolling on Facebook and you’ll get slapped. Facebook gets your data, and it’s clearly valuable… Why don’t you get value as you send Facebook data?
That’s where the banks enter the picture. A bank capitalizes a base unit of value into fungible currency. The Federal Reserve capitalizes labor. The Tree of Wally capitalizes data.
Labor and data are both valuable units, but they are different measurement units.
You wouldn’t measure the distance between the Earth and moon in the same units you would the height of a human. But it doesn’t mean that 62 inches are not valuable when compared to 238,000 miles. If you multiply 62 inches by the number of humans on Earth, the cumulative height of all humans is over 6,000,000 miles long!
Today we measure data in miles when it needs to be measured in feet and inches. Tree of Wally is the bank to do that. Libra is not much in comparison.
Try earning a reputation in a low trust world… You can’t!
The Wall Street Journal reports that companies are questioning the ROI of influencer campaigns. As most 15 year olds could tell a middle-aged executive, follower counts are misleading.
Due to dopey accounts, people can easily buy followers in order to boast a stronger audience. You can pay StormLikes.net a low price to enhance your influencer prowess.
Again, most savvy users would advise you to look beyond the follower count and take note of the rate of content engagement. For instance, imagine two influencers with 100,000 followers each. They each post on average 2x per week, but one averages 10,000 likes per post and the other only 1,000 likes per post.
Even then, however, one cannot be sure the likes are real.
It’s well known that social media today suffers from a lack of accountability. Now we see influencers are suffering for it. I’ve explained in this post how fake accounts and anonymity set the stage for a slew of unintended consequences.
Big tech holds our data to profit off of us. A data central bank allows us to profit from our data. Our approach facilitates competition without breaking up big tech!
Best of all, the Tree of Wally mobile app will be a hit with nano- and micro-influencers. They fare worst off in today’s social media landscape. While they’ve invested effort to get to 5,000 or 10,000 followers, they aren’t influential enough to monetize their following (only Facebook platform can do that).
Tree of Wally enables the brand-spanking-new user, nano-, micro-, and mega-influencers to profit from their data! And we don’t need to ask Congress to break up big tech!
You see, the banking sector is stuck in the 1900s and it’s time for a reckoning!
In the 1900s banks lent mostly to manufacturing businesses. They needed money for capital investments and to pay factory workers. Money flowed from banks to businesses to workers.
But the model has changed. Today’s big tech companies need little capital investment and fewer employees.
Instead, data is the new factory oil. And it flows from the users of Google and Facebook directly to the corporations. While everyone agrees we should be paid for our data, even if Facebook shares 10% of their net profits, average US Americans would earn only $5 a year.
A novel data central bank for the economy
The financial security of younger generations globally depends on taking data to the bank.
Tree of Wally gives Wally currency to members only for data based on geography, privacy preferences, and engagement thresholds. Then, in the ecosystem, priced user generated content, sponsored posts or promotions, and ads may only be purchased in Wallys.
Businesses that buy ethical ads accept Wallys as currency. Accepting Wallys improves a corporation’s environment, social, and governance (ESG) metrics – increasingly popular criteria used by investors – while increasing consumers’ disposable income.
We serve a member base as large as Facebook’s and Google’s. If we succeed, Average US members will earn $10k/yr or more.
Obstacles exist to realizing this method of paying people for data. 1) It may never pass through Congress. 2) It only serves US citizens (not “universal” as the title suggests). 3) Americans hate taxes since as far back as the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
Unfortunately, Andrew Yang’s plan is the only solution that pays you a meaningful amount of USD for your data. Because even if Facebook shared 10% of net profits with you directly, average US Americans would only earn about $5 a year.
However, one other solution can work and avoid the pitfalls of the UBI proposal…
A data central bank
A first ever data central bank won’t need to pass any legislature, serves the global citizenry, and requires no new taxes. Like Andrew’s proposal, it delivers $1,000s to US Americans each year – but it doesn’t stop there – and would reward people all around the world for data.
The catch? Well, who wants to receive a new currency in exchange for data? Today, everyone in the US accepts the USD; everyone in Europe accepts the Euro; and so on and so forth. A central bank that creates a new global currency would have to fight for it to be accepted everywhere.
Tree of Wally (TOW) addresses this problem with a Facebook and Patreon crossbreed on top of a data central bank. On TOW, priced user generated content, sponsored posts, promotions, and ads may only be purchased in Wallys, a new data currency.
In some ways, millennials are not worse off. But what is obvious from the chart above is that 30 year olds are financially worse off. They make less money.
We can fix this. You and your time are valuable. Your unique identity and thoughts have value. Today’s big tech systems separate you from that value. They monetize and analyze your data without cutting you in on the rewards of that data.
How we go about solving this problem makes a difference. If Facebook shares with you 10% of their net profits, average US Americans would only earn about $5 a year.
A new central bank for data’s value can preserve big tech’s ad-driven business model and deliver $1,000 to $10,000 of value to you annually.
How? We need a new central bank.
Today, the Federal Reserve System (the current central bank) serves businesses primarily, because businesses are employers. Tomorrow, the Tree of Wally will bank humans directly for their data.
Once humans are in control of their data’s privacy and economics, ‘animal spirits’ will lead to a resurgent savings culture. As demand for Wallys (the data currency required to access data, content, etc.) increases, so will the price of Wallys, leading to tremendous capital creation.