Re: Money vs. capitalism

From: David Hart (
Date: Tue Jan 06 2004 - 11:57:27 MST

Randall Randall wrote:

> On Monday, January 5, 2004, at 01:35 AM, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
>> Randall Randall wrote:
>>> Right, but the monetary system works for both kinds of entity, so why
>>> not use it? To use a non-monetary system, it seems you'd have to make
>>> selfishness nonexistent, but to use a monetary system, you don't have
>>> to make altruism nonexistent. Money is more general.
>> Money is an imaginary artifact of the current system that highly
>> complicates it, producing all sorts of illusions and emergent
>> effects. The conditions for emergent capitalism lie not in money but
>> in transferable resources persistently controlled, voluntary actions,
>> reciprocity, differences in entities' relative valuation of
>> resources, and transformative labor. Note that I do not say
>> "transactions" because I consider a transaction to be a special case
>> of voluntary action and reciprocal voluntary action where both
>> voluntary actions are carried out simultaneously. I certainly don't
>> say money, because computer-controlled complex barter with cyclic
>> debt cancellation would IMO work better. And needless to say it
>> would not be possible to uncautiously generalize from today's highly
>> peculiar case of capitalism to capitalism under other conditions.
> I'm not at all disagreeing that complex barter would work better, at
> least for most things. However, to make the system manageable,
> I'd expect there to be a need for a unit which all the others are
> measured in, and you might as well call that unit "money". Money
> could be ounces of gold, or "US Dollars", or pinto beans. These have
> different characteristics, of course, and some may have better
> long term usefulness than others...

Along similar lines, it should be noted that currency (the general
definition, not the one that means Dollars and Euros) is a more abstract
notion than money and exists in many places where money is not
prominent, including the open source community, even if only a currency
of recognition in some cases. Much has been written about the
fundamental nature of currency within free society (people will always
need/want to exchange skills/goods, and a currency is simply a
normalizing factor); I don't see how it would or could be any different
for a free society of SIs or SIs/humans.

David Hart

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