In this talk, I talk about my the notion that our current form of economy (info or platform capitalism) is at a critical point of changing into something else that I call the "Empowerment Economy" - which is about building 21st century capabilities to empower humanity to flourish.
There are three core themes: 1.) New Forms of Finance that "Fund the Unfundable", 2.) New ways of developing/investing in people, 3.) Digital Finance (Fintech and blockchain).
Capitalism is no longer solving our
We have lots of problems, but no
funding to solve them.
Core Problem → How to find solutions?
Capitalism is great when value creation (solving a problem) leads to
value-capture (profit), but many of our biggest problems today aren’t yet able to
Look for areas with disconnects between
value-creation & value capture.
We already have a word for this:
The next system must solve them!
Economies grow by human empowerment
Post-Feudalism: Freedom of Movement/Trade, Broad Markets, Wage labor,
Democracy, Constitutionalism / Rule of Law, Property Rights
Industrial Revolution: Social safety nets, Public Health, Infrastructure / Utilities,
Unions, Public Education
The next system will provide us with the next capabilities
to further unleash the talents of humanity.
What is this next system?
The Empowerment Economy!
1.) Funding the Unfundable: New forms of financing and markets to fund a
broader range of projects.
2.) Human Capital Finance: Methods of funding human development.
3.) Digital Finance: How digitalization accelerates all of this.
How do we fund a broader set of
projects to allow us to solve more of
1.) Funding the Unfundable
• A really risky “futures contract” for a very specific asset (i.e. Smartwatch)
• A marketplace to allow: marketing, authentication, and guaranteeing the
minimum funding be reached to better ensure success.
• A way of turning consumer spending into an angel investment.
Social Impact Bonds
Rebecca: Scientist who needs funding for FDA approval of PTSD vaccine.
Military: Will “pay for success” - i.e. will link pay-out to a specific agreed metric for
Goldman Sachs: Provide Rebecca funding until pay-outs begin.
No one has a direct
incentive to improve
How do we create scalable funding
sources to invest in people’s future
2.) Human Capital Finance
How to we invest in human capital?
- Humans as “Assets”: Selling stock in yourself.
- Perpetual Income Share: Selling share of all future income.
- Income Share Agreements: Loans as % of income → Align incentives.
- Human Capital Contract: Selling stock in yourself, but with limits.
- Many more that haven’t been created yet...
Startups in US Human Capital Services Sector
How would a human capital market work?
• People / Employees: Trade work to employers for money.
• Employers: Trade money to employees for work.
• Educators: Improve the productivity of people.
o Funders: Give people financing (ISAs, HCCs, etc.)
o Packagers: Compile instruments together into assets to spread risk.
o Money Managers: Fund the originators by buying packaged empowerment
assets as normal investments.
o Traders: Try to arbitrage empowerment asset classes, providing liquidity.
• Employment Agencies: Try to get you new/better work in exchange for money
from people, employers, funders, etc.
• Personal Information Services: Assess Risk of People, Assets, etc.
• Government: May take many of these roles to facilitate / regulate the market.
3.) Digital Finance
Where there is risk and computability, there is finance.
The digitalization of everything is improving our
understanding of risk and return, allowing new forms of
finance and accelerating its metabolism.
Methods of Digital Finance
• FinTech: “____ , but on the internet.” (efficiency, speed, service)++
• Prediction Contracts: Allow you to trade on any outcome.
• Blockchain: Building a computable financial infrastructure
• DAOs: Distributed Autonomous Organizations: Companies for computers
Blockchain, Tokens, Smart Contracts, DAOs, etc.
Provide a digital infrastructure for these new forms of
finance and increase their metabolism.
What all this looks like in practice:
- New classes of projects are possible with new funding types.
- A functioning human capital market would continually develop people’s
- Broader range of jobs may emerge because of these new entities doing new
- This would likely lead to better job fit, agency, and happiness overall.
What doesn’t this solve?
Social safety nets: We’ll still need them, but we may be able to better implement
Non Social-Productive Projects: Some arts, research, etc. may still not be
justified as net-positive and will need to rely on patronage, etc.
Government: This doesn’t solve corruption, procurement, etc.
“We solve today’s problems with the ideas lying around.” – Milton Friedman
- Our economies are broken and aren’t solving a broad range of problems.
- New forms of finance are being created to help fund solutions.
- This a harbinger of a future economic system emerging from within our
- They don’t solve everything, just more tools in the box.
- I want to better develop these ideas into a full system. Anyone game?