The Pretentiousness of Meritocracy
Every system of governance humankind has ever created prides itself on being a perfect Meritocracy. Socialists claim to have power invested in the hands of value creators, Capitalists believe that markets clear the way for the skillful and the industrious, while republican democracy checks and balances the potential party killers. For Hell’s sake, even Aristocracy literally means “Government by the excellent”.
At this point in time it would be fair to say that all of the above, as well-intentioned as they might be, are shamelessly flattering themselves. A quick look at the governing establishments throughout history, political and economic alike, make the claim of those being meritocratic institutions sound like an insult to humanity as whole; And there is a simple reason for that – Meritocracy is not a fancy kind of hierarchy where the talented are on top and the betrampled herd resides downstairs in the cowsheds of oblivion. More than a specific social order, Meritocracy is an attribute of a system that allows for merit and virtue to arise from the interactions between equal individuals with unequal skills, while fairly compensating according to contribution.
What are the dynamics of such a system? Can it be mathematically modeled, built to scale and designed for versatility? We at Backfeed believe that the answer to all of the above is yes, and that we’ve figured out how to do it.
The Backfeed Protocol
The Backfeed Protocol provides a generic consensus discovering engine that uses a unique evaluation method in order to produce alignment around ideas and values while allowing for ever growing diversification and bifurcation. It’s basically an algorithm that determines the perceived skillfulness of every participant in a collective task, and that dynamically distributes authority accordingly. If you have a history of making decisions which are perceived by your peers as good, your impact on the discussion, as well as your compensation for the value created, grow respectively.
This Protocol is the ideal operating system for Decentralized Organisations of all kinds. It can be molded into a management tool, used as an equity sharing mechanism, organize information in vast data networks, auto-moderate discussion forums and function as a decentralized content curation engine. The efficiency of the protocol increases with the number of individuals involved: the more the number of users who participate and the greater the diversity of opinions involved in the process, the better the results the algorithm provides.
At the heart of the protocol lay two dovetailed evaluation and compensation systems: A reputation score and a virtual currency a.k.a. token system, which operate independently and which are relative to specific networks in the system (will get to the network thingy later).
In short, your reputation determines how much you impact the cooking of the pie, Tokens represent the size of the piece of it you can stuff your face with. These are of course interdependent, but they are not the same thing. To understand how they relate, we have to dig a bit deeper:
The Reputation Score is a non-transferable unit of measure that reflects the degree of alignment of a participant within a network of peers. The reputation score determines the influence each user has in the evaluation process of the contributions of other participants. It can grow in two ways: by making a contribution to the network that is perceived as valuable, and by making a useful evaluation of someone else’s contribution.
It is important to understand that a user’s reputation arises out of the total sum of their value-producing interactions with other users in the system. It is not just a measure of their directly perceived prominence by their peers (as it would be in a voting or manual ranking mechanism), but it is also a result of the users evaluation of the actions of others. You’re not just judged by your actions, but also by your judgment of the actions of others.
This evaluation process has a certain responsibility mechanism designed into it: If you’re off the charts relatively to your peers in evaluating the actions of others, your reputation will suffer; if you’re good in setting trends regarding the contributions of others, you’ll be rewarded. That basically means that talking trash about your colleagues might cost you your good name; revealing valuable insights about them, on the other hand, will do the exact opposite. Either way, by adding your two satoshis on a subject or on somebody else’s actions you are sticking your neck out, but if your opinion happens to be useful, you will be compensated for the risk you’ve taken.
A Token is a transferable value-carrying unit that serves as a network-specific currency. Accordingly, tokens are used as an instrument of reward, medium of exchange and means of payment. They can represent the equity of a company or a DAO and can be used as the fuel of a Đapp that carries tangible market value like ether-coin and their like.
Tokens are issued automatically whenever a contribution is recognized as valuable by the majority of reputation in a network, and collected as a fee whenever an action is performed that requires the attention or evaluation of other users. You can use Tokens in order to lure your peers to interact with your contributions and to evaluate them, but you cannot use them in order to bribe positive reputation out of the system.
Both tokens and reputation are specific to a certain network of users. A network is either erected by a user or users who call the first shots until their reputation is diluted by the contribution of others, or forked from an existing one.
If you run an organisation for example, the organisation itself would be a network, while different departments in it might be sub-networks with different reputation- and token-systems that all integrate into a larger whole.
Since the Backfeed protocol is essentially a consensus discovering mechanism, it rewards you for being in alignment with your peers and for influencing them in ways they find productive, but it also encourages you to naturally drift towards other networks you’re more aligned with, or even make your own, with blackjack and hookers. If your new network is regarded as a useful contribution, users will flock to you and interact, if it’s obsolete or even harmful it will just wither away unrecognized.
As a result you get a system of free interacting individuals that delegate authority to each other in order to collaborate and make collective decisions without even noticing. You seize the dynamics of market systems without creating the problematic division between labour and capital, gain the tyranny providing attributes of democracy and on the way get rid of economic exploitation in a way that would make old Marxy visually happy to see you.
The aim of all this is to allow for economic and social activity to emerge freely, as a self organizing network of spontaneously interacting individuals, collaborating and co-creating a world that steadily moves from competition to cooperation. This probably won’t happen without your cooperation, so stay in touch, and in the mean time –
Decentralize and prosper!