Reshaping Rewards for Maximizing Human Potential and Joy
Jan. 16, 2023.
9 min. read. Interactions
David Ring argues our current value systems are systemically corrupted and are doomed templates for living happily. He thinks blockchain and similar emerging technologies can help us redefine them.
Reshaping Rewards For Maximizing Human Potential & Joy
I’m going to go out on a limb and state that the point of life isn’t to make the most money. It isn’t to buy material things or to achieve hedonistic pursuits. Studies and personal experience can testify to that. Yet these fallacies are systemic, reaching across the globe and misinforming mankind with a doomed template for living happily. The paragraphs that follow will attempt to outline that this has been a theme that has existed, at the very least, since the founding of the United States, that the current state of affairs makes it very difficult to change, and that blockchain is a way to disrupt this and send mankind on a more focused path to greater well being and growth.
The United States was once deemed a land of opportunity, but this opportunity wasn’t merely about financial gain—it went well beyond that. The American Dream was about escaping repression and fully realizing ourselves as human beings. In The Epic of America, in which the phrase ‘the American Dream’ originated, James Truslow Adams, staring down at the changes being wrought by the great depression, wrote:
If… the things already listed are all we had had to contribute, America would have made no distinctive and unique gift to mankind. But there has also been the AMERICAN DREAM, the dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement… It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position… the American dream that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of merely material plenty, though that has doubtless counted heavily… It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class. And that dream has been realized more fully in actual life here than anywhere else, though very imperfectly even among ourselves.
James Truslow Adams
Almost 100 years later, we are still hampered. We live in a sea of disinformation surrounded by armies of advertisers whose job is to make us feel less whole and to believe that their product will fix us. Disillusioned, we imprison ourselves with our own mental barriers. So many people pretend to be something they are not because they fear being seen for who they truly are or because they believe this false sense of self is the pathway to success. We present ourselves in inauthentic ways not allowing deeper connection and growth. For us to step into our next level of evolution, we must put an end to this hampering. An end to the wool cast over our eyes. We must create a pathway for those who are ready to step into a deeper way of existing.
I believe we are meant to experience joy in this life and that each person’s joy need not be at the cost of another’s. Life is a journey, and in this journey we are led to shed layers of ignorance that prevent us from flowing with life—to being life. What this looks like for each person changes greatly, as we are each carrying a different set of karma meant to be worked out. For one person, it may mean starting a tech company and building a successful medical-managing software package. For another, it may mean living on a farm. Either way, it will involve confronting our pain instead of running from it and stepping into life’s challenges as she presents them.
If this assumption is correct — that society’s template for happiness is faulty — then it would behoove mankind to restructure society. A house built on a bad foundation is at risk of collapse. A game with an incorrect instruction manual will hinder its players to achieve victory. To change behavior on this scale we could change the rules of the game. Instead of valuing wealth and rewarding financial metrics, we create rewards that lead to the betterment of ourselves, humanity, and the world based on a deeper understanding of human nature.
However, change is difficult on all levels. Have you ever tried to change someone’s opinion? Some people will block out reason when it goes against their beliefs. And, on a different level, competing with enormous businesses like Facebook and Amazon is nearly impossible. It’s a modern-day David vs Goliath.
Companies are, in general, only motivated to make us happier if it improves their financial standing. The same goes for the environment, which has been decimated. I don’t think it is ideal that the environment and the happiness of mankind be sacrificed for the sake of a few individual’s stock portfolio. So what, what does a better system look like and how do we implement it?
This system, at its maturation, would allow for all of us to give our gifts at their fullest and to be in unity; to be aligned with a path that brings joy into our life without hindering another’s enjoyment. It would allow for guidance and support of our fellow man and the nurturing of the fellow creatures of this planet. For honesty and openness even when—or especially when—it is the most difficult.
For this to happen, we need decisions and policies and utilities not to be governed by the few—especially if those few are mostly concerned about monetary gain. Limiting centralization of power will limit corruption. We need lifestyles that reflect a modernized understanding of human nature and entities that encourage it. It no longer serves us to have social media that promotes quantity versus quality, zoned-out scrolling of feeds and false news that divide humanity. There needs to be options, as each individual is—individual. Certainly, if Facebook were to say Christ was the only way to salvation, there would be many completely enthralled by this—but also many more who would be adamantly opposed. So, clearly there must be options and paths for each being to select and give feedback on.
For powerful, online entities, web3 provides a solution. It allows for decentralization of power, individualized financial rewards and incentives, and mechanisms that allow for greater realization of everyone’s human potential. It also has the power to create organizations that can compete with existing Goliaths. More concretely, this would mean a change in the financial and control structure of organizations. Each user would be able to make decisions that were aligned with them.
Let’s consider an example.
Despite studies showing the negative impacts on physical and mental health, social media usage is on the rise, and internet users are spending over 1/8 of their waking hours on it. Money is flowing into social media, yet the quality of life isn’t increasing – it’s decreasing.
Facebook feeds are designed to make Facebook money. You are the product. Posts and groups that may be more beneficial to you fall to the wayside as you are fattened with information that better serves the interests of the company. Imagine if there was no financial incentive. The option to have no more ads. Algorithms were created to serve you and your needs based off of your reported suggestions and successful models that have served others. The type of programming that caused you to zone out and scroll unconsciously was removed—or at least came with a warning. Implement AI algorithms that serve users, spot out scams and bullies, and highlight content and suggestions that will improve users’ well being even at the cost of losing revenue. Total transparency at how the company is affecting the world—people, animals, oceans, forests, elections, et cetera.
But how does it get paid for? There would be a cost for users—pay for your happiness. Users would also be able to opt in for ads, but there would be choice in the types of ads as well. And, opting in for ads means a payout for the user. If the company generates a profit, or has a discretionary budget, users can vote on where those funds go. Maybe it goes to building parks in a city, solar panels to run the servers, or personalized phone calls to check up on those who seem down.
This is just one example of how web3 and a better understanding of human nature can serve us. Adamss warned that in our struggle to make a living we were neglecting to live. If we are to set our aim high at the possibilities of web3, let it be to create an infrastructure guiding us back to truly being alive.
Just as long as wealth and power are our sole badges of success, so long will ambitious men strive to attain them. The prospect is discouraging today, but not hopeless. As we compare America today with the America of 1912 it seems as though we had slipped a long way backwards. But that period is short, after all… There are not a few signs now of promise now in the sky, signs that the peoples themselves are beginning once again to crave something more than is vouchsafed to them in the toils and toys of the mass-production age. They are beginning to realize that, because a man is born with a particular knack for gathering in vast aggregates of money and power for himself, he may not on that account be the wisest leader to follow nor the best fitted to propound a sane philosophy of life. We have a long and arduous road to travel if we are to realize our American dream in the life of our nation, but if we fail, there is nothing left but the old eternal round. The alternative is the failure of self-government, the failure of the common man to rise to full stature, the failure of all that the American dream has held of hope and promise for mankind.
James Truslow Adams