Last week was a crazy-busy week here at the Global Research. The Global Research WattStation Software Development Team and I were asked to participate in a process we call Session-T for a couple of businesses within GE. This process introduces Global Research researchers to technologists in the business and asks us to figure out how we can use technology to make GE a better company. To this end, we have been busy planning how we are going to develop software within GE over the next few years and how we at the research center can help these GE businesses. Basically, a week of meeting new people and sharing big ideas! This is not the “I need help” problem, this is the “why I come to work every day” motivation.
The problem is this: I work with an AI Researcher named Ben Beckmann. Ben (like many of us) is competitive… in a friendly way but very competitive. We were sitting around the lunch table recently and I brought up a story I heard on the radio talking about an internet based currency. This is a currency that exists only and is traded only in Cyber Space. We talked about how this currency could be used to encourage smaller transactions while enabling privacy level of somewhere between cash and credit card transactions.
On to the problem. I was excited about the possibility of a “cyber currency” and suggested that this could be big. I made the short sited and offhand comment “I think it will be significant part of internet commerce within the next couple of years”.
“You wanna bet?” was Ben’s reply. Now, for those of you who don’t work with or love someone who is a research scientist, we can sometimes have more ego than is healthy, and I am no exception. “yeah” I said “what are the stakes? “ I should have known better than this, I play poker with Ben sometimes after work and I can tell the twinkle he gets in his eye when he knows he is right. The stakes worked out to be Dinner (an expensive dinner) and I don’t want to have to pay!
My case for Internet currency:
Lots of money changes hands when I use the internet, much of it as a direct result of my behavior (click this link, look at this ad) and I don’t benefit financially from any of it. This doesn’t seem fair to me so I suggested that perhaps I should get a little virtual cash when I click that link or when I trade some part of my privacy for an online game. This will have a couple of effects. First it will inform the public exactly how valuable their behavior is to companies collecting their information, and second, it will legitimize the trade of information and behavior. No more embedded information-steeling code in web-pages. (I can be a bit of an optimist at times, what’s that word they call me… oh yeah ‘Pollyanna’)
My Case Against Internet currency:
Trust. All currency is based only on trust.
I may be in trouble.