Monday, May 11, 2015

Time Arbitrage and the Gaming Factor

Potential for gaming: that's one of the main reasons I've been slow to configure some specific aspects of time arbitrage, as a workable knowledge use system. Over and over I've asked myself, how is it possible to do a better job of aligning economic incentives and outcomes for groups as a whole? How can individuals plan ongoing activities over time, which also reflect the desired economic intentions of others? These are not easy questions, and so I have struggled with them for more than a decade.

Even though local knowledge use frameworks would need to remain simple, they also have to provide the greatest degree of flexibility possible. They need to remain open to as many infrastructure options and ideas as possible. Not only would the (eventual) results matter at local levels, they would particularly matter at the macroeconomic level. The more freedom that individuals have to align economic time use with their own personal choices, the less need they have to game any system of which they are a part. In order for time arbitrage systems to maintain cohesive integrity, they need as many active participants as possible.

How to think beyond present patterns of services and knowledge use? For one thing, services capacity needs to be understood so that individuals don't have to overthink their actual preferences at any given moment. Just as the "beauty" of any product lies in the eye of the beholder, so too does the subjective value of time use.

By utilizing a single monetary compensation point from which to negotiate, no one need dwell on the supposedly "up" or "down" quality of what they have to offer someone for a specific set of circumstance at a particular moment. How does one know in advance, what other knowledge sets the other participant already accesses for contextual application? Not only would this method free up the focus of individuals and groups, but also the means by which groups can adapt knowledge use and idea formation over time. Plus, the single monetary point can make time residuals and services redistribution unnecessary. Most present system complexity exists because of these factors.

Twentieth century institutions attempted monetary compensation roles as though various relationship structures, knowledge sets and skills capacities were anything but relative. As a result, individuals have had little choice but to accept broad sets of institutional incentives as their own. Unfortunately, those incentives don't always align well, with how one's (lifetime) time use inclinations would otherwise play out. For instance, one's relationship to other family members should not have direct bearing on either monetary reimbursement or skills use potential -  whether from governments or other institutions. Some of the gaming which results from these skewed incentives is quite sad.

Externally defined reimbursement structures are only capable of aligning with individual motivation and incentive up to a point. When that point is passed, there is too much compromise for anyone to remain comfortable with the actual results. Worse, the process either leads individuals to question their own capacity for integrity, or leads to a process of denial as to the rationalization which actually takes place.

While few would want to return to a world before automation when more labor was required for output, there were some advantages to those earlier periods, in terms of one's time use integrity. When time value was more closely aligned with product definition, resource potential and output, individual contributions and commitments were more in keeping with system results. And when people feel more connected, they feel more valued - even if what they are personally responsible for may be somewhat difficult to carry out.

In such circumstance, there is likely less need on the part of anyone to game the system. Knowledge use systems would seek to recapture a similar dynamic - only the alignment would be the more personal nature of time based product from both groups and individuals. On the other hand, much of the earlier connection involved the relation of individuals to specific product formation - which technology now largely provides. A marketplace for time would allow personal integrity to be restored. Only it would be more people oriented on the whole, with less overall need for individual interaction with raw commodities and resources.

Governments can provide much in terms of infrastructure and economic support, but no government should take on the responsibility of substituting time arbitrage on behalf of individuals. People gradually lose the full range of their personal capacity, if they do not have the ability to coordinate and manage their own skills sets and ongoing responsibilities.

Knowledge use systems would seek to maintain the necessary settings for personal and group time use coordination. One way to do this is to aim for the greatest degree of services and production diversity that local groups are capable of providing. Another long term goal of any services system such as this would be to maintain the one to one time match ratio as closely as possible. This would be possible through providing additional educational support, any time that time matching capacity becomes too unbalanced. There is always less to be gamed, so long as personal time value remains a valid component of economic systems as a whole.

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