Respect currency

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What are the properties of a currency, called onor, that reflects the production, transformation, and accumulation of respect in a social human system, and fulfil the properties defined in the respect theory?

Note! Because this is a very complex question, we'll focus on a specific situation to learn to understand the issue in the first place. Let us focus on freely distributed information and its production. Thus, we avoid the problems about respect related to individuals, physical objects, or deeds. (The deed of info production is indirectly evaluated simply based on the respect of the outcome information.)


--# : Could onors be used to nudge personal behaviour into the direction optimal for the society? For example, if your lifestyle was climate-unfriendly, your onor would be worth less than those of a climate-friendly person. I put the question aside about how we would know who is climate friendly and who is not. But if we knew, would there be a plausible way to affect onors, and more importantly, would it be desirable? A good thing is that personal incentives are strong, but would it be fair? --Jouni 06:25, 2 April 2012 (EEST)

There are two conflicting approaches to respect theory, which contains a more detailed description about them. In brief, ongoing evaluation means that the amount of respect (typically of a freely available information object) is evaluated by the members of the society, and the amount of onors attached to an object may change as the valuation changes. In contrast, the permanent transfer approach sees respect as an amount that is given by someone to someone else, who then possesses it (until its value slowly diminishes).

Ongoing evaluation approach

Instead of looking at onors as something like money that you can store, let's define onors in this way:

Onors measure the current evaluation of the society about how respectful a particular piece of information is. Respect is based on two different aspects: quality and usefulness of the piece of information.

The respect, measured with onors, is some function of quality and usefulness.

As you can see from the definition, onors can change in time and also between societies. The theory (hopefully) applies to all times and all societies, but in practical discussions, we are talking about contemporary western societies unless otherwise stated.

Because the onors of one piece of information (i.e., the current evaluation by the society) can change in time, they cannot be stored in a bank account in a traditional sense. Instead, they are constantly evaluated within an information system where the piece of information is. Therefore, a respect currency system should be seamlessly bound to a social information production system.

Respect by a society is always expressed by individuals. What is the relationship between the respect by a society and by an individual? The difference can be clarified by considering these two questions:

  • How much do I estimate that the contemporary society would give respect to this piece of information?
  • How much do I give respect to this piece of information myself?

Probably most people would agree that if all members of a society would answer the latter question, we would be able to answer the question about social respect by calculating the average or looking at the distribution of individual answers. In effect, we can claim that the individual answers to the latter question are collectively, by definition, the answer to the question about social respect. In addition, if everyone answered both questions and the results would differ a lot, we would probably agree that we should not look at the former question. The reason is that the answers to the former question can be biased if everyone thinks that everyone else thinks in a particular way even if they actually don't.

However, in practice we should ask the former question. There are a few reasons to this.

  • Asking for a population average is statistically more efficient than asking for an individual realisation. Thus, a good estimate of the population average can be obtained with fewer answers.
  • If it is difficult to control for who actually answers the questions, there is an uncontrollable source of bias: answers may come from a small subgroup that does not represent the whole population.
  • The society for which evaluations are made can be explicitly defined beforehand. Otherwise, information should be obtained from the respondents about which society or societies they represent. The analysis would be difficult.

On the other hand, many people find it difficult to answer questions where they should assume the role of a society in general. It would be easier to talk for oneself only.

Transfer of onors to money

How are onors traded to money, if their amount can vary in time depending on how people perceive the information under evaluation?

One possibility is to look at this trading on the individual level with permanent memory. Let's assume that an individual has earned 100 onors based on her work in information production. There is a market price for onors in euros, say each onor is worth 2 euros. The individual may freely trade her onors to euros, earning 200 euros but still keeping all her onors. The system that manages the amounts of onors of individuals also remembers that she has received 200 euros from them. If her work is later found out more valuable than before, the respect may increase to 150 onors. Then, she can trade more euros, because her onors are worth 300 euros but she has only received 200 euros.

However, if the exchange rate of onors falls to 1.2 euros per onor, she cannot trade onors because her onors are worth only 180 euros and she has already received 200 euros. It is noteworthy that she does not need to pay anything back, because what was traded was traded. But if she wants more money, she has to produce information worth so many onors that their monetary value is more than 200 euros (in this case she has to earn 200 € / 1.2 €/o - 150 o = 16.6 onors first, before any additional respect can be traded to money again).

In effect, the society is constantly evaluating the present value of onors from information produced, and the cumulative money traded based on that information. It is possible to develop more complex systems to account for discount of money, but that goes beyond the scope of this presentation.

How is respect measured in practice?

There should be several methods to measure respect, with some kind of functionality to integrate between methods. Some ideas are listed here.

  • In a wiki, the number of times that a page has been read is used as a metric of usefulness. It should not be used linearly, but e.g. Hill's plot could be plausible: onors = max_onors * times_read / (times_read + K), where K is a constant about how fast the onors increase, and max_onors is the largest amount of onors that can be obtained with this metric. A good thing is that this can be used automatically for all pages.
  • In a wiki, the number of page edits is used as a metric of the quality of content. A similar Hill's plot could be used.
  • Rating bar is used to collect feedback from users. Quality and usefulness can be asked separately. There should be a fixed range of onors that can be distributed this way; the range should go higher that the technical metrics mentioned above. Unfortunately, this possibility has been rarely used although this functionality has been available in Opasnet for a year.
  • Peer review with a written evaluation and a quantitative estimate of onors can also be used. It should be possible to give more onors that with rating bars.
  • If a piece of information is a part of a model, sensitivity analysis and VOI analysis can be used to evaluate the importance of that particular piece within the model. The onors can be estimated indirectly based on the onors that the model as a whole has received based on peer review, or the societal impact the topic has.

Permanent transfer approach

The respect currency is called onor in this presentation (from Latin honor). Onor can be implemented using the following rules:

  • Onors can be stored in bank accounts and managed by accredited banks just like money.
  • Each individual in a society is given basic respect, a small amount of onors every month, based on their value as human beings. This forms the basis for respect capital.
  • The respect capital produces interest according to an interest rate.
  • The interest can be given to another individual or group in the society, based on how respectful the owner of the account considers these individuals.
  • The respect interest that is given by others is added to the capital of the recipient.
  • The respect interest coming from the own respect cannot be added to the own capital.
  • The respect capital, and also the respect interest that is not given away, diminishes in time according to a discount rate. Therefore, if an individual does not receive respect from others, his/her capital reduces until there is nothing but the basic respect as human being. In a health society, the interest rate is higher than the discount rate.
  • Respect capital, but not respect interest, can be traded to money using an exchange rate.
  • Groups can possess respect as entities, if they are legal entities (juridical persons). Also, a group can represent a set of identifiable individuals; in this case, the respect is directly distributed equally to its members. For example, if someone wants to respect the work done by single mothers, he/she can give respect to the group that represents single mothers. The group is just a technical way to distribute respect, and the group itself gets no respect in this transaction.
  • The magnitudes of basic respect, interest rate, and discount rate are culturally determined, and free market is used to find out the actual values.
  • Different cultures have different respect currencies and respect markets, because the issues respected, basic respect, interest rate, and discount rate can vary substantially from one culture to another.
  • Different respect currencies can be exchanged based on exchange rates that are determined on the market.

Mathematical expression of respect

There was a mathematical expression of respect in the permanent transfer approach, but it was removed, because it was very complex and not coherent. It can be found here.


Properties of the respect currency in different approaches R↻
Property Ongoing evaluation Permanent transfer
It should show the respect of the giver about an act of the receiver. No Yes
Once given, it should gradually diminish in time, so that the respect should be gained constantly. No Yes
It should be tradable to some material benefits, such as traditional money. Yes Yes
Highly respected people should be able to show more respect (i.e., their respect is valued more by the society). No, impact of an individual depends on her goodness as evaluator No
There should be some kind of accounting, so that the acts worth respect are documented (i.e. it should be difficult to create fake respect by e.g. two people falsely respecting each other more and more and thus accumulating respect currency). Yes Yes
A person doing respectful deeds full-time should be able to live with the respect currency he/she receives and trades for traditional money. Yes Yes


See also