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Blood Money - Venkatesh Rao, Refactor Camp 2018


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Talk given at Refactor Camp, May 2018

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Blood Money - Venkatesh Rao, Refactor Camp 2018

  1. 1. Bloodcoin Venkatesh Rao
  2. 2. “From unity, strength” “Existing because of oneself”
  3. 3. “The Blood Debt”
  4. 4. “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” - James Baldwin
  5. 5. There are, however, rules about how blood feuds are to be pursued. The kinsman of a slain Nuer man may go after the perpetrator, and also any of the perpetrator’s close male kin, but has no right to touch the mother’s brother, father’s sister, or mother’s sister, since they are not members of the slayer’s lineage…Parties to a dispute go through elaborate rituals to prevent escalation, such as sending the spear that injured a man to the victim’s village, so that it can be magically treated to prevent the wound from becoming fatal… — Francis Fukuyama, Origins of Political Order
  6. 6. McKay Savage, CC-BY 2.0
  7. 7. Source: Arch Foundation
  8. 8. “Of course it’s right to cure diseases, to prevent hunger and injustice, as the social organism does. But no society can change the nature of existence. We can’t prevent suffering. This pain and that pain, yes, not not Pain. A society can only relieve social suffering, unnecessary suffering. The rest remains. The root, the reality.” — Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
  9. 9. Painchain An impressionistic block explorer Trigger warning: moderately upsetting images
  10. 10. Adam Jones, PhD CC-BY-SA 3.0
  11. 11. From: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R02190 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
  12. 12. DixonD CC-BY-SA 3
  13. 13. From: (orig: Life magazine)
  14. 14. Source: CNN
  15. 15. Source: NPR/Hawes Spencer/WCVE
  16. 16. Source:
  17. 17. Source: India Today
  18. 18. Source: News18
  19. 19. Source: CFR Source: CFR
  20. 20. source:
  21. 21. Forgiveness Promises Loyalty Irreversibility Punishment Blood Economics Memory Amnesia Transgressions Scars Healing Judgment
  22. 22. “In contrast to revenge, which is the natural, automatic reaction to transgression and which because of the irreversibility of the action process can be expected and calculated, the act of forgiving can never be predicted… “It is therefore quite significant, a structural element in the realm of human affairs, that men are unable to forgive what they cannot punish and that they are unable to punish what has turned out to be unforgivable.” — Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
  23. 23. energies in which a narrative is encoded does not get overwritten, but gets applied again over. The energies encoding the narrative of the break and the energies encoding the narratives of a patch are still present. That kind of bandaid is fragile... "Instead, the direct, mindful witness of the pain (that is the source of the wound) brings that back into natural alignment. As such, the { personal | karmic | social | ancestral | transpersonal } memories has their pain dissolved back into the transcendental ground. The memory itself takes on a kind of beauty, but it is natural, not artificial." "Deep forgiveness requires mindfulness of the pain. Someone has to experience be in the intense, burning anger (it feels like the Buddhist Hell Realm, suffering so intense, it feels eternal), and to
  24. 24. Judgement Day Stefan Lochner, Last Judgment, c 1435
  25. 25. The folk ergodic hypothesis “We are all descended from equally long lines of murderers”
  26. 26. The statute of limitations hypothesis The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Numbers 14:18
  27. 27. The naturalistic [fallacy] hypothesis “Darwin is a bitch”
  28. 28. Identity iceberg whataboutism “whatabout the 9/10 invisible or non-social identity markers?”
  29. 29. Whig “Grow it out” hypothesisOut, damned spot! Out, I say!… What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him. … What, will these hands ne'er be clean? … Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, Oh, Oh!
  30. 30. The Socialist-Fascist Approximation Hypothesis (also Thanos)
  31. 31. Bloodcoin Game Rules (finite game, closed world, zero/negative sum) 1. Blood debt is double entry. The victim pays an immediate cost, the transgressor accrues a moral debt. 2. You inherit moral debts in proportion to structural advantages 3. Unredeemed suffering debt accrues interest until it is either paid off 4. If the suffering party goes extinct, the debt turns into a permanent scar in proportion to terminal value, since no balancing is possible 5. Blood debt can exist at all levels from playground bullying to civilizational grievances 6. There is no free lunch, no get-out-of-jail-free card 7. Somebody always has to experience the pain 8. Conservation of history: history cannot be erased. 9. Even if memories are erased, ghost of suffering remains and grows cancerous. 10. You cannot forgive yourself, only the trespassed-against can forgive 11. Your identity IS the sum of all the unredeemed debts you owe and are owed. 12. You cannot “keep your identity small” except by passing the burden on to the next generation.
  32. 32. Bloodcoin++ Game Rules (infinite game, open world, nonzero sum) 1. Time does heal all wounds, but a wound can stay raw longer than your descendants can trace your ancestry 2. Natural fortunes compound or erase both sides of a historical debt to the extent that it is not predictable by history or merit. 3. Rule of appropriation: If somebody wins big by their own merit, then the surplus goes into a commons wealth store, any appropriation from the commons wealth store is a fresh scar against everybody else
  33. 33. Using markets to take “oppression olympics” seriously - Anyone can issue an ISO: Initial Suffering Offering, claiming a historic debt. People who agree with the narrative of the debt, can invest in it, and use it to create a generic economy. FUBU economics basically. - As truth-and-reconciliation events happen naturally and deliberately, people adjust the valuation of the debt - If many people compete, then the market decides who has the most authentic version. - Bloodfutures: anticipatory debt issued in terms of future social costs imposed. - Narcissistic Wound Pitchdecks: You can lay out your sense of debt owed in some weird alternative universe, and issue “debt” against it.
  34. 34. History is the set of permanent scars so far
  35. 35. Bloodcoin White Paper Bloodcoin will mine true freedom by facing both historical pain and anticipated future pain head on, and working through it by actually experiencing it, rather than papering over it selective amnesia narratives. The Bloodcoin Team will build a universal layer one Painchain, equipped with a basic DUKKHA coin. Teams may issue other tokens on top of Painchain through ISOs (Initial Suffering Offerings) representing historic blood debts, future social cost debts, or personal narcissistic wound debts.