Re: The Economy Of Plenty

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Tue, 16 Sep 1997 02:04:29 -0500

Eric Watt Forste wrote:
> Eliezer, I'm curious about why you think that no "most marketable good"
> will emerge in your proposed complex-barter economy. "Most marketable
> goods" are indistinguishable from money. Gold and silver were the most
> marketable goods that emerged from barter economies of the past in the
> Middle East, Europe, China, and elsewhere.

Yes, I anticipated something like that happening. Food, medical supplies,
certain consumer goods, and other things that change hands quickly and rapidly
are likely to become...

"Exchange nexuses."

Such items will probably become the 'units' by which the price of something is
explained. Their existence will greatly simplify the computational work of
cyclic debt cancellation.

But it still isn't a monetary system. Here's another way to look at it:
Before the existence of commodities exchanges, grain got dumped into the
harbor. Now that we have the computing power, futures contracts should be
available to everyone. Once futures contracts are available to everyone,
money is unnecessary and only gets in the way. A lot of futures contracts
will be for 'food'. Many of the complex contracts will have 'food' as one
term. Food will bind the economy together, preventing sections from becoming
isolated. But it will still be possible to trade widgets for hamburgers,
instead of food. It will be possible to get everything you need in exchange
for widgets through a multiplicity of contracts, some of them complex. And
thus it will become possible to increase production without catastrophic price changes.

Another benefit is that if everything is barter, maybe somebody will take a
look at the economy and say: "Hey, these 5 hours a day of paperwork aren't
actually producing anything!" But that's the question of dispensing with the
simplifying, information-losing, stultifying abstractions called
"corporations"... which will wait for another day.

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.