My last post covered the basic context and problems of our current era of surveillance capitalism. This post will propose a solution to this problem, involving multiple cooperative institutions, incentive structures and monetary flows.
Problem: Shortage of feedback on personal actions and transactions. Due to existing incentives for corporations to market predominately part-truths or false information there is a lack of transparency in value chains.
I will have to make some assumptions for a correct setup to give a solution to this problem.
Assumption (0): People want to behave according to their feeling and rationale of what is right and wrong. Bias from uneducated intentions, poor judgement and actions one has no control over, does not change this fact.
Assumption (1): Morality is personal and subjective and is based on personal DNA, biology, social and societal context. Everyone is free to act in their own preferred way and is not forced to adhere to something such as ‘objective’ or ‘consensus based’ morality.
Assumption (2): A person is able to have an ever contemporary concrete set of moral values. A person is able to develop this set of moral values trough a proces of experience and informed guidance, resulting in a set of testable hypotheses. Biases from guidance and experience are identifiable and can be educated against.
Assumption (3): An average consumer can only spend a fixed amount of time and effort on the judgement of their own action. Therefore supply chain data has to be judged based on values of a collective one can subscribe to or follow. Biases from blind trust in and wrong intentions of those collectives can be identified and educated against.
So what are these traits that are currently predominately, immorally so, capitalized?
I would argue that biological, psychological or even social and societal traits that exist in humans can be extrapolated to function for keeping in tact good and bad traits. Or even sustainable and peaceful against unsustainable society.
It is for example our biological and psychological predisposition that we prefer comfort over suffering. This comfort is also in today’s world a ‘selling point’, something that would get marketed to attract consumers. But is this longing for comfort justifiable? Do we really need more comfort, or is this longing of ours fed by the ones that want to capitalize it? And more importantly, is this trait of seeking comfort to such an extend beneficial to our society? Or does it create a system that has little room for moral behaviour and is thus unsustainable? A trap of ever increasing comfort so to say.
In my view it the same biological and psychological, or social and societal predisposition that can act as enactor for sustainability and peace in society. Traits such as empathy or altruism are in my view these enactors, as they stimulate and account for moral behaviour, and thus in the end a sustainable society.
What would happen if we chose to capitalize the traits that stimulate moral behaviour? What if businesses would be rewarded when they stimulate moral behaviour? Would only those enacting parties deserve the right to exist and market their products?
I will propose such a system for you to be critical on, reflect upon and provide feedback on.
Requirements for such a system are:
(1): Clear personal values for every participant in the system.
(2): Guidance and information provision to create clear personal values. This can be provided by cooperative action, so no central party has influence on what is considered as personal values. However guidance will introduce bias, as collective values might not align with personal values.
(3): Quantitative transaction data from value chains & qualitative context data from value chains. This could be provided by every player or node in a chain, hence is receptive to bias related to personal gain conflicting with gain of the system.
(4): Verification and authentication of value chain data provided. This can be also provided by cooperative action and is also receptive to bias related to personal gain conflicting with gain of the system.
(5): Feedback to the consumer on the fit or alignment of their action to the set of clear personal value hypotheses.
(6): Creation of that feedback trough the moral judgment of transactions and accompanied chain data. This would include on one hand testing those clear values against the judgements of chain data from the collaborative you subscribe to. On the other hand this would need to include cooperative moral judgement of chain data based on consensus and disagreement. One would be able to subscribe to or follow a judgement collaborative, a function now often filled in by quality marks or NGO’s. Think of how democracy works in relation to following judgements of collaborative parties. This is however a weak link, as trust on the party you subscribe to is introduced. But this design choice acts to prevent a person from making every judgment regarding the value chains for themselves, as this would be to time consuming.
More interestingly so, this design choice also prevents judgement of the value chain data to be averaged out, as this could mean that your personal values are tested against a consensus based average of what is judged as moral in that value chain. This ultimately creates freedom of choice by design, instead of introducing things as personal guilt when one not adheres to the consensus based average, which could possibly results in trending toward an unwanted normative average of what ought to be moral. Thus trust is introduced to prevent this.
(7): Oversight and assessment of moral value chain judgements and collaborative intentions. This moral judgements of value chains by collaborative and cooperative has to have some form of structured oversight and assessment of those judgements, as it is receptive to bias related to personal gain and objectivity conflicting with gain of the system. This oversight cooperative is of course receptive to the same biasses, so again trust is introduced.
(8): Monetary flow and incentive structures. This is based on capitalizing moral enacting traits and a percentage of value extraction per transaction. Extracted value will have several deposits in the system to keep the system in place.
Monetary flow and incentive structures:
Incentives and reward structures and monetary flow structures must exist to keep the system in place. Those include the following:
(1): Consumer investment. Cost of purchasing a product.
(2): Consumer income from capitalization of moral value set data. After the guidance procedure to create a set of moral values, consumers could be able to sell this data to the cooperation, which in turn uses that data to create profit.
(3): Producers in the value chain have to apriori invest in ethical products and ethical production context.
(4): The cooperative action that guides one in finding a clear set of moral values has to be incentivized to deliver quality and do so striving for objectivity.
(5): The collaborative groups that judge value chain data have to be incentivized to also deliver quality and do so striving for objectivity.
(6): The cooperative value chain data authentication and verification has to be incentivized to deliver quality and do so striving for objectivity.
(7): In store and online feedback mechanisms for the consumers have to be funded.
(8): Consumers will pay some percentage of their initial investment for the use of the system.
(9): This cut will be redistributed to every above point, except for point 3.
Together this post proposes a system that can be generally applied to any value chain. It’s function is, I think, to remove over capitalization of human traits that have little role to play in creating a sustainable society and incentivize capitalization of traits that can foster sustainable society.
If you notice any fault in my thinking or have any other kind of feedback, please feel welcome to leave a comment. You can find me @mykemmer on twitter or Michiel.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.