Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Bitcoin: relation between coins, contracts, and law

Nick Szabo lists stages of contracts:
The contractual phases of search, negotiation, commitment, performance, and adjudication constitute the realm of smart contracts
A coin can fall under this. He talks about the contract being an algorithm that is executed, but I'm going to discuss it as if it is a static object. A program is an object, but I want to look at it as simply defining ownership of  "things", where "things" is very general, and how a coin and law relate to them.

A coin is a contract between all users, telling them the coin gives an amount of power to acquire assets, including people's time. All assets that have an owner also have a contract somewhere in the system that defines the owner.  So contract = ownership of an asset(s), including people's time.  So the market place buys and sells contracts with other contracts, such as with a coin. In this generalization, "possession" defines ownership in accordance with a legal contract between society and its individuals.

Individuals do not have to sell their assets (i.e.contracts declaring their ownership) for the coin (barring legal verdicts against them) so the coin may not have the same power to acquire a specific "instance" of a contract as it does a similar "instance" that is in the marketplace. The power to refuse selling the "ownership contract of an asset" at any price is the flip side (the yin of the yang) of being able to buy it in the marketplace at a competitively-low price.

The coin contract allows a measurement of the relative value (in the marketplace) of other contracts.

If it is an intelligent coin that takes measurements of the system and reacts to the measurements, it can help the system of contracts (over which it has control) to become more powerful. The primary if not only goal it should have is to maintain constant value in time and space so that the value and terms of other contracts have a persistent and reliable measure of value. This means that if the system of contracts over which it has control expands, it should expand to keep constant value.

The coin quantity should intelligently expand to promote good contracts and to cull bad contracts. Good and bad should be defined and measured by the coin's semi-rigid protocol who's modification is not subject to unintelligent politics or mere possession of the coin.  A good coin is one that never changes its value. That's its promise to the other contracts. Good contracts are those that, as a group, expand in their ability to acquire energy to move matter to enable more contracts to be created.

A coin might be a measure of a fixed amount of Gibbs free energy (E=U-TS aka available work energy) per mass and each other contract represents ownership of an amount of Gibbs free energy. So the strongest society might be the one that has the most Gibbs free energy under its control. However, the value of a contract in the marketplace depends on speculations about how much Gibbs free energy it will be able to acquire in the future, including its ability to "steal" from other contracts by negative-sum activity.  A different group of contracts should enforce law that restricts marketplace activity to combat this. Law can change contracts and who owns them (including the coin) and it can do this even without the coin. The law can find the coin helpful but does not depend on it.  The coin benefits from the law, but can't help write it. It might be best if the coin protocol can't be changed by law or the marketplace.

An intelligent coin promotes intelligent contracts and intelligent contracts promote an intelligent coin. As the power of contracts expand, the coin must replicate in order to keep constant value.   The mutually-beneficial intelligence between contracts and the coin is what is "good" about both.  The coin's protocol is the source of its intelligence. It takes macroeconomic measures and responds to them.  Law is the source of systemic intelligence in the marketplace. Competition with the help of the coin and under the constraint or help of the law is what gives individual contracts their increasing power and efficiency in acquiring ownership of more and more Gibbs free energy.

So there's the coin, contracts (non-coin asset ownership), and law (marketplace and contract restrictions).  All are contracts (agreements aka requirements) between individuals and the system.

Instead of constant Gibbs free energy per mass (coin) and marketplace-estimated Gibbs free energy (contracts), the quantities being measured might be specific entropy (coin) and entropy.

Expanding coin quantity (by changing production parameters) when success is observed is relatively easy compared to intelligently changing the protocol itself (such as changing the feedback formula itself beyond simple parameters).

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