Smart money: an Orwellian scenario

What will money be like in a post-human society? It will certainly be smart money.

It had always been among the wonders of the obvious that in the relationship between human and money, the human was the intelligent one and money the neutrally stupid one, kept in the chains of the constrictive functions of store of value, unit of account, and medium of exchange, but in a future dominated by artificial intelligence and biotechnology, the money will be soon provided with all the information about humans, their desires, financial possibilities, wishes of the people and the best way to satisfy them. What will happen then?

The truth known to all the philosophers according to which, as Einstein says: Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted is going to become false. Knowledge that counts is subject to a continuous process of quantification and knowledge that cannot be quantified is progressively stopping to count.

First, by going beyond the traditional function of store of value, smart money will give value to things. It has always been said that time is money (Franklin). But it will soon become clear that money is not just time, but it can be also space, speed, strength, knowledge, work, and feelings.

Then, smart money will calculate the importance that everything will have for individuals and communities, the costs and benefits of each purchase, the spending possibilities, and possible alternative purchases; and according to them, it will attribute a value to everything, concrete or abstract.

As the marketing for each individual will be personalized, the need for everyone will have a different strength, and the price could be different for each individual.

In this scenario, money will have macroeconomic functions of regulation of supply and demand, of inflation control, of arbiter of political and commercial wars.

It will regulate supply through investments as well as demand through the creation of needs and the planned obsolescence of money. If it needs to increase demand, for example, it can tell a consumer that part of his money will stop being usable after a certain deadline.

It might happen that the possessor of money will receive a message in which he will be suggested to buy a certain product otherwise the amount of money with which he could buy it will stop being available.

Money will harmonize the will of the desiring individual with that of the selling community, and since money will be intelligent and will know that unfulfilled desires frustrate the individual, information and advertisements will be aimed at desires that the individual can afford, until everyone will be happy desiring just what they can afford because they will not want anything they cannot afford, as money will block the flow of information that could provoke their desires.

In market wars, smart money could decide the fate of a company by establishing that the money of certain individuals could be used, in a certain percentage or entirely, to buy the product of a certain brand or another.

The social control functions are the most developed, and in China, they are already being tested. The money will be withdrawn or limited in the case of poor discipline, insubordination, adversity to the government, etc.

Smart money could have a repressive and punitive function and as it happens already in China could be blocked in the event that the possessor is guilty of specific (and not specific, when necessary) crimes.

Where money will create a true anthropological change is in its relation to consumption and individual control.

Man is not particularly good at attributing an economic value to things and does not know the desires and preferences of people, even the closest ones.

In a famous experiment, researchers from the University of Cambridge and Stanford tested the Facebook algorithm on more than 17,000 users. In predicting personality traits, with a sufficient amount of data, the algorithm was found to be better than any other participant. With only 10 likes he did better than a colleague, with 70 better than a roommate, with 150 better than a parent or child, and with 300 better than a spouse.

A corollary of this limit of knowledge is the ignorance of the objective value that things have for people.

When  Men faced with a choice they are not able to calculate the subjective impact that it will have on them, the pleasure, the cost, the benefits that it entails, nor the value of the alternatives.

Smart money, with the help of artificial intelligence, will be able to decide the economic value of anything, associating specific behaviors with specific costs. For example, the algorithm might say: if you go out with these friends, in the next three years you will spend x money. If you fall in love with this girl in the next twelve months you will spend Y money. If you enroll in this course of study, in the next twenty years you will earn Z money. Some configurations of money could not only provide a map of expenses associated with feelings and behaviors but also incentivize or block expenses for particular decisions.

If based on the basis of blood pressure, heart rate, hormone reactions, facial expressions, and any biometric data that would receive from a server, smart money will decide that the person you want to date is a ‘not right for you’, depending on the dystopian level reached by the society, it could prevent the appointment, notifying the blocking of the card (or what will replace it).

Depending on the degree of dystopia, if smart money will calculate that going to a certain area of ​​the city will have a low ratio money/satisfaction, it could block the supply or even discourage the access to that area of ​​the city.

If the smart money’s algorithm will be able to calculate the economic value of having certain ideas, in terms of costs and possible earnings associated with them, it will be able to become more or less available depending on the situation.

If, for example, a boy interested in anarchist ideas and these are incompatible in the eyes of the algorithm with his economic possibilities, money could prevent the purchase of a certain course of study, the attendance of certain friendships, buying certain books, watching certain films.

The money can act towards its owner as a parent acts towards a reckless child. If a citizen wants to spend going against his own tastes, his own interests, and the calculation of costs and benefits, smart money will block him.

Up to now, we used the expression ‘possessor of money’, but considering the real power relations, it cannot be said that the post-man will own the money, rather it will be smart money to own the post-man.

In consideration of ownership and control of smart money, we could legitimately call it  Orwellian money.

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