Episode #125 Regenerative Renaissance: Weaving new worlds with cryptocurrencies based on community, with Rieki Cordon of Seeds. Part 1 of 2
We all know that the ways we share value are skewed so that the super-rich grow richer while the rest of the people and planet suffer. But if we’re to replace the dollar as an international currency, what will work, how will it work, how can we make the transition to a genuinely equitable, regenerative currency? What does a Regenerative Renaissance look like? Rieki Cordon of SEEDS has an answer. First part of two.
Rieki Cordon, one of the facilitators of SEEDS regenerative currency, describes the necessary regenerative renaissance as follows: “We need it (the renaissance) to be regenerative; if not, humanity is not going to be able to continue this experiment called civilization because our planetary ecosystem services will fail. That’s one side. The other side is we can build the most beautiful world and civilization the world has ever known. And why not? Why not make all of our rivers drinkable again? Why not live in forests full of food?”
And why not create a currency that grows out of, through and alongside community so that never again do we enter into the bizarre transactional nightmare of debt and compound interest where, beyond a certain threshold, money is a self-replicating extractor, sucking value and life from people and planet.
SEEDS currency is built on the blockchain, but it’s not Bitcoin: the principles that govern its creation and exchange are built on the values of a genuinely regenerative renaissance.
In this first part of two podcasts, Rieki describes how SEEDS arose and what it can do.
Manda: Hey, people. Welcome to Accidental Gods, to the podcast where we believe that another world is still possible and that together we can make it happen. I’m Manda Scott, your host at this place on the web where art meets activism, politics meets philosophy and science meets spirituality, all in the service of conscious evolution. And increasingly in the service of creating a regenerative renaissance, which are new words I just learned while talking to Rieki Cordon, my guest this week. Rieki calls himself a mapmaker. He’s also one of the people who was around at the start of Seeds, which is a blockchain based cryptocurrency that is at the heart of the regenerative renaissance. We had some issues recording this. The sound, I’m afraid, is not brilliant and not entirely helped by the fact that Rieki lives next door to a military base and there are very large aircraft taking off at a regular basis. We tried to stop when they took off. We didn’t make it with every time, so I apologise for the sound. We also went through a number of quite complex concepts to do with cryptocurrency. So here is my very edited highlight to get you up to speed.
Manda: Cryptocurrencies are currencies based on a code. They’re digital. They’re also called Blockchain, because they are a chain made of blocks of code. The first one was Bitcoin or let’s say the first viable one was Bitcoin, which was proposed by a person or persons, a pseudonymous creation called Satoshi Nakamoto, who has not yet really been identified. Back in 2008. It is now, obviously a tradable concept that is making people a lot of money. But leaving that aside, it solved a number of issues that people wanted to solve, in the creation of currencies that could be trusted. And the first was to create a ledger, a way of noting things down on the Internet that was considered incorruptible. Rieki says it’s not. We’ll discuss that at a later date. But the principle was, it takes an awful lot of computer work to create each block in the chain. We’re talking really serious big computing. An average desktop at the time I was looking into this in 2017, would have taken actual millions of years to do the mathematical computations required to create a block. Therefore people set themselves up as Bitcoin miners, as in mining for gold kinds of miners, and they created the blocks on the chain. It’s a distributed network because the chain is copied to nodes and every node has a complete copy of the existing chain. When somebody creates a new block, every node has to verify that that is an actual block, because the block arises as a mathematical arithmetic product of the previous block. It’s a bit like I have the key, do you have the lock that fits it? Yes. Okay, then that’s the new lock. Let’s create a new one. On the basis of that, it becomes the key for the next lock. I’m not going to go into more detail than that, although I did create a paper that does describe it that I will put in the show notes.
Manda: It’s not a brilliant paper, but it was the best I could do at the time to describe exactly how blockchain works. So provided you have enough nodes and there are literally millions of those, each with a copy of the chain, somebody creates a new block and every node verifies that that is an authentic block. It gets put onto the chain and becomes the seed for the next block, that people are busy trying to figure out exactly what it looks like. This means that the chain, as it grows, becomes a ledger in its own right. If you want to go back and change one of those blocks, you would have to change the entire ledger on every node, absolutely simultaneously. Which is, as I understand it, without quantum computing logistically impossible. Therefore you have an incorruptible ledger, as in a database, of detail. Which is also a distributed autonomous network. That is to say it’s got millions of iterations around the globe, and it would be really hard to shut it down without shutting down every one of those computers simultaneously. Probably not impossible, but they exist in a lot of different jurisdictions, and while we have nation states that would be hard.
Manda: It also solves what’s called the double accounting problem. Which is if I created digital currency, a currency that only exists on the Internet and I want to buy a book from you, and that book costs £5 or $5 or five whatever unit of currency you use, and I pay for it with blockchain, what is there to stop me from simultaneously buying something completely different – A ham sandwich – from somebody else, using the same $5? And because of the Blockchain’s uncorruptible nature, because it’s linear, because it’s checked on all of the nodes simultaneously; if I use blockchain to buy a book from you, then a million nodes around the world go, okay, Person A paid person B £5 worth of this. And they all record it simultaneously and therefore I cannot spend the same £5 somewhere else. So this is an attempt to do what Fiat currencies otherwise do. Fiat is trust. So trusted currencies are currently currencies that have the backing of a central bank that everybody trusts. When there is a run on a central bank, say Britain, if it decides to go completely crazy such that nobody trusts the currency anymore, then pounds stop having value. Because at this moment, the ways that we use of exchanging value; pounds in this country, dollars, euros, whatever; are only worth something because we all agree that they’re worth something. And we all agree mostly what they’re worth. We could go a lot into inflation, devaluing them and how that can change. But let’s leave it at the moment that a fiat currency is one where everybody agrees on its basic fundamental value. One of the problems with our existing forms of economic structure and currency, is that while you and I may earn a certain amount of money per year, inflation is happening. Not necessarily because the central bank is deciding to give money to everybody else, but because the people who have the money have decided that by this extraordinary Ponzi scheme called the stock market, they can set the value of money creation to be whatever they want it to be.
Manda: So you and I are sitting in a small room and I go, Hey, I’ve got this stock of paperclips. I’ve actually got a matchbox full of paperclips. What do you think it’s worth? And you go, Not very much. And I go, No, no, no, no. You don’t understand. Our bonuses depend on it being worth a lot more by the end of the week. How much do you think it’s worth now? And I go, £1,000? Okay, done. Here, you can have it for a thousand. But now I’m £1,000 down and I’ve got a box of paperclips. And you go, No, no, sell it back to me. Okay. What’s it worth now? And then you go £10,000. Okay. I just bought it for a thousand and I’m selling it for 10,000. I made 9000 profit. Therefore, this box of paperclips is obviously worth huge amounts of money. So then I’m going to ask person C, Fred over there. Hey, look, this box of paperclips that went up from 1000 to 10000 overnight, what will you pay for it? And they go, okay, so my bonus depends on this being worth a lot. We go, Yep. £100,000? Done. And by the end of the week, this box of paperclips is worth a million, and everyone who’s traded it back and forth between them gets their bonuses, based on the amount that they were able to ‘make’ by creating this.
Manda: This is how the stock market works. And it would be really good if it didn’t, because while they are busy creating billions out of nothing, the rest of us are trying to create value out of living. Which is essentially what they’re parasitising. That’s the critique of modern economics as fast as I can do it. So what Reiki is trying to do, is to create a system whereby we can have a fair exchange of energy and care and community and create a regenerative system that does not require that everybody is continually devalued. Sorry, that took a while, but I think it’ll make more sense of what comes after. When we look at blockchain technologies that are not Bitcoin, but which have a similar construction of linear blocks, so they are similarly creditable and we can trust them without needing to trust central banks. As is possibly obvious by now, with a topic of this magnitude, Reiki and I spoke for quite a while. So we have decided to split this into two, so that you aren’t glued to your seats for too long. We’ll put them out in the same week, so you should be able to get episode two straight after episode one.
Manda: But here we are, for the first part, people of the podcast, please welcome Rieki Cordon. So, Rieki Cordon, thank you so much for taking time out of the Utah day, to come on to the Accidental Gods podcast. So you’re a mapmaker. And what drew me to you was, was Howard Johns, who is …
Rieki: I Love Howie.
Manda: Who is a hero, I think of regenerative power generation. And I said, I need someone who really gets blockchain.
Rieki: He wrote the book on sustainable energy.
Manda: He really did. Yeah, exactly. So. So, although we may not be creating multiple heroes, Howard is pretty heroic. But I wanted someone who could really engage on the podcast with blockchain technology and its potential for good and for ill, within a new economic system. And he pointed me at Seeds, of which you are a founder member, I would say. You’ve been around since the beginning. And so I really want, as we start off, to drill down into how Seeds arose and why. But before we do that, for people who are completely unfamiliar with what blockchain is, what the technology can do, and how some of its iterations in the outer world are the ones that we hear about, whereas seeds so far we’re going to start hearing about. Can you just unpick a little bit of that for people who, let’s assume, have heard of Bitcoin, but that’s probably as far as it goes.
Rieki: Yeah. So 99.9% of the Bitcoin blockchain crypto narrative is garbage. And if you’re a company, I just despise it. And a lot of that, the movement too, it’s full of scams and nonsense. And, you know, I think even some of that’s intentional to kind of discredit the movement. That’s a very common tactic. So again, I mentioned being in the military, but this is the CIA playbook on how to subvert a movement. It’s infiltrate the movement, pretend to be one of its members, do terrible things, you know, so the movement can be painted for doing terrible things, etc.. This happens all the time where they go to riots and you could find police officers are the ones throwing bricks and starting the riot, you know?
Rieki: So anyway, I’m laughing, but there’s some parts of that… But anyway, most of crypto is nonsense, so I don’t really like necessarily being associated with it because of how the standard narrative is. So we’ll get into why blockchain and crypto are important tools, but I think we have to kind of take a step back and think about the wider narrative that’s happening. Because we’re here for systemic change. We want to create a new type of economy, a new type of civilisation. Like we’re looking at the current tools, our current economic system, organisation systems that are basically feudal kingdoms. Like, why are we still in these old structures that just aren’t serving us? Depression is at all time highs. You know, we could see that society just isn’t working on so many levels. So we’re looking at it and saying, look, society’s kind of broken. We’ve got to build a new one. A book I highly recommend to everyone is The Dawn of Everything and it gets into… David Graeber, Anthropology, you mentioned that before the call and I was like, Yes, we have to talk about this. Like, anthropology is the most important study right now. Couldn’t agree. And it gets into social systems and like how we organise, how we coordinate, how do we go about meeting our needs? You know, and the standard narrative that we’ve been taught and spoon fed is just in a lot of cases completely wrong, subversively made up. You Know, we make up a lot of our history to fit our current narrative and justify why the current narrative is the way it is.
And then we paint history as this like progress of constantly getting better. So we make it look like it was evil before and we hide any evidence of something that could have been better. And so that’s really what crypto is affording us. So I’m going to try to connect it. It’s providing us new tools to build new types of economic systems. You know, Bitcoin is a new type of financial system. It’s one that I believe isn’t really great designed, because it’s designed to concentrate wealth. You know, that’s its end mechanism, and that’s not what we need. But I think it’s a counter-reaction to the other form of concentrating wealth, which is our current financial systems; where we inflate wealth ridiculously. All the money you have becomes less valuable, so all the people who are poor are getting robbed, even poorer. And then that money that’s created goes to all the rich people. We concentrate wealth with the old system. With the Bitcoin system, we have Satoshi, he created 5% that will ever exist, he owns. Or they own, whatever Satoshi is. If Bitcoin succeeds, we would have the first trillionaire group, you know, an individual being the first trillionaire. Congratulations. Extremely concentrated wealth once again, you know. So I think those are both on the extreme ends.
What we need is something in the middle and that’s what the technology affords us, is for us to build anything in between that spectrum. Entirely new spectrums, entirely new economic systems, where the people get to come together and say, Hey, this is what we want to agree to and we could build systems and agree to that. So that’s why it’s completely renaissance, where the technology provides us foundations to build new systems. A lot of the systems being built today are nonsense; Ponzi schemes and ridiculous stuff. So that’s unfortunately how crypto is being painted. It’s just this casino crypto lottery and a lot of it is. But if you really dig deep and you find the right communities and that’s what Seeds has been kind of fostering these last three years, is you find all the re generators and changemakers and really beautiful, compassionate, incredible humans, who get that were part of this renaissance. Who are like, Yep, I see the more beautiful world. They’re deeply connected with nature and each other, they’re talking about hive mind and all these incredible concepts, you know? And this is what we’re like literally building the technology to facilitate. So all of this renaissance is happening within the belly of the beast. But of course, you know, you never really going to get mainstream talking about this, because why do they want to bother? It’s way better to talk about the lottery.
Manda: Yes, so, let’s start to drill down. If we’re going to create a new economic system, in your view, what are the criteria for an economic system that would be regenerative? Using regenerative in its widest sense, that would create the more beautiful world that we know is possible. Or at least be part of the infrastructure that allows flourishing to happen. What are you basing your concepts on as the kind of baseline of what the new economic system needs? And then how does a cryptocurrency fulfil that role? Does that make sense as a question.
Rieki: It absolutely does. Wow, this is right to the heart of it. Let me try to explain this in a way people are going to be able to get. So let’s first paint what is regeneration? We don’t entirely know. So one of the core principles of this economic system is it needs to be evolutionary, it needs to be adaptable, it needs to be able to shift to our changing needs, and it needs to be responsive to our input. So it needs to be governed by the people who are participating in that system. So that’s kind of the first one. It needs to be co directed by the people who are participating. And that’s what’s really interesting about blockchain is this concept of DAO’s, decentralised organisations, direct governance. And how we have governance systems that are fraud resistant. So if you really look at why blockchain is important, it’s all about truth and fraud resistance. Because you can’t have a central database that’s holding everyone’s money, because a hacker can hack into that and be like, Oh, now I’m the trillionaire and I have all the money or I have all the voice, or I’m going to change the votes to this outcome or whatever. If you have a centralised database that can be manipulated, you can’t trust it to do things as important as governance and building new economic systems. So that’s all blockchain really affords, is the ability to have trustless databases, to be able to build economic systems on that can’t be captured by current power structures or new power structures.
Manda: Okay. For people who are not familiar with this technology, we went through a lot of concepts there. Can you unpick as if for people who are new to this technology, how blockchain is different? So I think everyone will get that at the moment banks make money, hoard money, control the money. And if you were able to hack into a central bank, you could influence the flow of money a lot. And I’m sure that happens.
Rieki: You don’t have to hack into it. You could be the director.
Manda: Okay. Yes, you could be the CEO. Yes. All right. Yes. Okay so the banks are controlling the way that money flows. Can you explain without necessarily getting into the real depths of the cryptography that happens in the middle of it, why it is that we can trust blockchain, in so many ways that aren’t just currency? We can trust it as an uncorruptible store of data.
Rieki: So also why it’s important.. So right before 911 in the US, the Department of Treasury; actually I think it was the Department of Defence came out and said, Oops, we lost trillions of dollars. We can’t account for it, we’re going to be looking for it. Right. So we have a financial system where oops, we lost trillions of dollars as our government, exists. That trillions of dollars wasn’t lost on positive, it went to finance black operations or whatever. So that’s that’s why we have a problem. Second reason why we have a problem, is central banks and our current financial system, subsidise oil and gas $5.4 trillion almost each year. And it’s rising. We are making oil and gas cheaper. We are cutting down virgin rainforests and paying loggers to do it. It’s not even profitable. The Tongass, the last remaining virgin rainforest in North America right now, it is not profitable to log it. Subsidies are literally paying to degenerate our land right now. It’s just asinine. And that’s before we get into financing war, bailing out Wall Street, etc., etc.. So we need a new financial system. Is Bitcoin the better one? Absolutely not. What did Bitcoin demonstrate? It said we can create alternative financial systems that are trustless that don’t require a central party to intermediate that we don’t have to trust, you know, that nation states get their crap together, or any of that for it to work.
Rieki: That’s what Bitcoin proved and that’s why it’s completely game changing and phenomenal. And we pay homage to Bitcoin. Fantastic. Where it failed was with proof of work, which requires endless energy consumption, and the idea of a fixed supply. So that’s going to ensure that there’s a concentration of wealth. Finally, it failed on not being able to be nuanced in what’s a contribution. The only thing Bitcoin considers a contribution is burning electricity. But what if we redesign Bitcoin? We spent $10 billion with electricity fees for Bitcoin. Either $10 Billion to Miners, and I think it’s 7 billion in fees. Don’t quote me. Anyway, 7 to $10 billion goes to pay electricity fees each year for bitcoin. Insane. Right. But small tweaks could be made, to say okay instead of 7 to 10 billion paying electricity fees, we do 7 to 10 billion to finance local food systems, that create the economy that’s using this currency. That then gives it a foundation of trust, so that people will accept this new currency, because they could buy local food with it. Small tweak. Decentralised financial system governed by the people using inflation to finance local food movements. Right? That’s possible. And that’s literally what Seeds is building, you know, using this technology. So that’s kind of what I want to elaborate, is it’s what’s possible, rather than what are we doing with it currently.
Manda: I would really be interested in how, and I apologise to people listening of this ends up to geeky, but at the moment bitcoin is a blockchain technology. Satoshi started up the blockchain technology and his fundamental principle was, with Bitcoin, that the proof of work you need to do; fantastically complex mathematical calculations that ordinary computers couldn’t do in 10 million years. You need a lot of computing power, which takes up a lot of actual electricity. And by solving a particular problem, you create a new unit of Bitcoin. If a number of the distributed network, all of the distributed network, accepts that your answer to that problem is correct, then a new unit is created. It’s locked onto a chain, and then it is the seed for the next problem that the next person has to solve, or you have to solve. And so it’s impossible to go back and change anything because each unit of Bitcoin is the progenitor of the next one. And he did it, first of all, so that it was hard to make, so that you couldn’t just turn them out like you would turn out buttons and go, Hey, I’ve got a button, it’s worth £1,000,000. And everyone would go, No, it’s okay. I can make my own button. And also so that in the end he decided that there was going to be a finite number.
And it’s all fine, until the Chinese come in and they’re not libertarians and they work differently. But we don’t need to go there. What I’m interested in is, if you don’t have phenomenal amounts of computing power and quite complex stuff, that’s quite hard to do; as your creation of this currency… Gold is worth stuff because it’s quite hard to get out of the ground, there’s a finite amount of it, but once you’ve got it you can chop it into little pieces, spread it around or melt it all together and make it into one thing. Now we have something that’s only digital. That is guaranteed, once you’ve got it, to be intact and cannot be retrospectively changed. Partly because it’s disseminated across a zillion computers around the web and each one has its own copy, and you’d have to change all of them simultaneously. But if you’re going to create that proof of work so that it isn’t the case that anyone with a pocket calculator can make their own blockchain equivalent, how structurally do you make it happen? How do you actually physically create the blockchain on which everything depends? Does that make sense as a question?
Rieki: It makes sense as a question. I don’t know if it’s the right question. It’s operating off of a story that I don’t necessarily subscribe to anymore. That value comes from work and has to be difficult in order for it to be valuable. So there’s some type of like reverse logic being applied to Bitcoin there. That Bitcoin is valuable because of all the energy we use to create it. It’s like, Hey, no, bitcoin is a digit on a ledger. We can create another one right here and it’s our stories that assign it value. Your story says, because we wasted a bunch of energy, now it’s valuable. But this person’s story could say we don’t need to have that story in order for it to be valuable. We could just say that it’s valuable and it can be just as valuable. So everything is valuable is just based on agreement.
Rieki: So that’s why I’m saying we don’t have to reverse logic to say Bitcoin’s valuable because it’s hard to create. That’s a deeper one. Let me get to a simpler one. Bitcoin does proof of work for security, and security alone. It’s not, you know, there’s a complex problem that needs to be created in order to create a Bitcoin. That’s not the case. The case is it wants to have enough computing power. That you need to have more computing power than that, in order to create a different branch of Bitcoin in order to attack it. So let’s really try to simplify this. The reality is, is we don’t need to get into how the cryptography works or how the nuance works. Just like we don’t need to get into how the swift system works to talk about banking. We don’t need to talk about HTTP to talk about the Internet. So I think if we start talking about the nuances of blockchain and how it actually works..it doesn’t really matter.
But I’ll tell you what matters. This is about security. They want to say, how do we trust Bitcoin? It needs to have strong security. It’s security budget is that $10 I talked about. So it would cost someone $5 billion of electricity, you know, in order to attack the Bitcoin network. But they would also have to buy all these Bitcoin miners, which are impossible to get now, because we’ve been wasting our resources making them and set up these mining factories and etc., etc.. So that’s the story of Bitcoin. Is it’s defence; it is strong because we have all of this computing power backing it. Right?
Manda: But it’s also the case that I can’t sit in my bedroom and make myself a million bitcoin. Because if I could, then and everybody else could do that, it would be the equivalent of counterfeiting.
Rieki: Sure. But you don’t need proof of work. You don’t need proof of work to maintain that agreement. So you can’t make more bitcoin because the protocol says you can’t make more Bitcoin unless you do this. But there is a million different ways you could write that protocol. You could say you can’t make more Bitcoin unless you go and plant a tree. So now we are proof of tree planting and every tree you plant means one new bitcoin. And that’s the only way to do it, because that’s what the protocol says. Like you could do unlimited number of things. So the idea that you can’t make more Bitcoin just because of energy, that’s just how bitcoin is designed.
Manda: Okay, yes, I get you.
Rieki: Probably getting more confusing here.
Manda: We may get more confusing and I will clear it up in the intro in the outro, because I’m really interested in this one. At the moment, Bitcoin has a zillion problems, and I’m not suggesting that Bitcoin is anything other than a very interesting kind of social experiment. But what it has, is an integrity to the chain, partly because of the disseminated network, because all of those miners out there. You would have to change, simultaneously, a very complex piece of maths on every single computer, at the same time in order to corrupt it. And that’s actually, logistically, until quantum computing arrives, that actually cannot be done. And it is in itself its own… It’s not just proof that I spent an enormous amount of money making power to create the Bitcoin, but it is proof that I solved that problem, which is now part and inherent part of the chain and becomes the seed for the next problem and that that exists. Nobody can pretend that didn’t happen. Whereas if I say, okay, planting trees, please don’t do monocultures serried rows of Sitka spruce, which is what’s happening around here, because of course, planting trees is now a good thing. Let’s leave that aside. I could say, Hey, Reiki, I planted a dozen trees. Can I have a dozen bitcoin? There’s nothing integral to the actual code that links it to the tree. How do we create that link?
Rieki: That’s a difficult one. A lot of different groups are actually trying to do something like that, like do something positive, earn a token. I’m not suggesting we build a model that way at all. In fact, we don’t have to have continual issuance. Anyway. So bitcoin was generation one blockchain. After that was generation two, which is like Ethereum and decentralised organisations and smart contracts.
Manda: Okay, you might need to explain that a little bit more. For people who’ve never heard of Ethereum.
Rieki: It’s okay. I’m just giving a concept here. Generation three is where Seeds that we’re building, these are generation three blockchains. So it’s really silly continuing to talk about, in my opinion, Generation one stuff. Because it’s kind of like going back and saying, All right, the Industrial Revolution, you know, what was happening in the factory so we could better understand how to build an app.
Manda: All I ever knew was Generation one. So can you explain to me what the evolutions are? So that I can get my head around where we’re at?
Rieki: At least for people who are listening, I think the more important questions is how can this technology be used to build new social systems for them? How can we coordinate more effectively, and what can we do with this technology to positively impact our lives? And eventually a situation where the US military is not spending millions of dollars flying F-35’s over houses all the time. And to do that we need to build new economic systems. I think that’s kind of the really interesting point, is how do we do that on top of these systems? How do we govern them? Like where do we direct resources? Because that’s what Bitcoin was getting into. So this is why I’ll fold it all together. Bitcoin said we want to spend all of our productive value on our security budget. We’re going to spend $10 Billion a year making a really secure network and that’s all we’re really going to do. So people can trust that we’re going to stay the same, we’re not going to change, and it’s going to cost you a lot of money in order to attack this thing. Bitcoin did that. Fantastic. And if you’re wanting a better alternative than gold, Bitcoin is definitely it. You know, gold and Bitcoin are both ecologically destructive. We don’t actually need them. They’re both just ways to concentrate wealth and speculate. Like, I don’t know if they really play a productive role in a regenerative economic system, but they’re fantastic assets for no transition. When there’s a collapsing economic system, like the current one, you know, you need safe havens for people to run to. And when you design safe havens that people can bring their assets into, that is also an entry into alternative economic systems. That’s where it starts getting really really fascinating, right? So that’s where I think Bitcoin sits at, is that intersection between the old world and bringing people into the new world. But I don’t see Bitcoin really playing a long term role.
Manda: No. I was never suggesting it was. But I am still genuinely extremely curious as to the logistics of how the third generation works. However, I also concede that it’s almost certainly too geeky for almost everybody else alive. So let’s…
Rieki: I can tell you some big parts of it.
Rieki: A big part is better governance. So in Bitcoin, it’s really complex to get into how Bitcoin governance works, but at the end of the day, it’s kind of designed to always be a stalemate. That unless something is really, really wanted, it doesn’t happen. Even if stuff’s like 95% good, still probably won’t happen. But that’s what people want in Bitcoin. They want something unchangeable that they can trust, and that’s exactly what Bitcoin does. But what we needed in generation two and three, is if we’re going to build a new economic system, we need to be adaptive. We need to have governance that could evolve the protocols, and we need to be able to do that in a trustless way. Obviously, that’s a really complex task, which is why the crypto ecosystem has been working on it for the last decade. You know.
Manda: Trustless or trustable?
Rieki: I say trustless as it doesn’t require trust. And that’s what Trustless is about, which actually Trustless systems provide more trust. It sounds interesting, but…
Manda: It’s got inherent trust. It’s impossible not to trust.
Rieki: It means you don’t need to trust because you can find out for yourself.
Manda: Can you say more about that?
Rieki: Like if I can, if I can go outside and look and see that ten is written on the pavement, I don’t have to trust your perspective that it’s ten.
Rieki: Right. But in our current banking system, you don’t get to look out and see that it’s ten. You get some person saying, Yep, it’s ten in there, I promise. You have no idea what number it is, right? So you can’t see it, so you have to trust them. Same thing with our vote, our political system. So you have to trust that the votes were the right way. You don’t get to count them. They have all these elaborate counting systems and stuff, but we have no idea. It would be way easier if there’s just this ledger and you could see. Be like, that’s my private key. Yep. I voted this way. Cool. You know, I know my vote was counted. I don’t have to trust this elaborate counting system anymore. So that’s why there’s trustless; is you do not need to trust someone else in order to coordinate. You don’t need to trust a bank, you don’t need to trust a … You know, etc..
Manda: Okay, so trust is implicit in the system, in that it’s… Because this is one of the things about any blockchain, as I understand it. Is it’s an uncorruptible ledger. It’s actually logistically impossible to corrupt the ledger, provided the ledger that you’re seeing is the actual ledger.
Rieki: That’s not true. Every ecosystem is going to have different guarantees to that. They’re all trying to achieve that, and they all attempt different ways of achieving it. And each one is going to offer a certain level of guarantee that that’s true. Some of these guarantees are like putting a bullet-proof vest on a tank. Like, yeah, you’re adding more security to that, but that actually didn’t really do anything. You know, so there’s some things that are like they just over protect it. And in my case, I think that’s Bitcoin. It’s $10 Billion a year to secure the network. They could be way more intelligent around that. And that’s where generation three also kind of comes in, is new intelligent ways to secure the network. The most efficient way to secure a network is that you’re only using electricity to process transactions. When you’re doing stuff on the chain, you’re just using electricity to do that. And that’s what Generation three has been doing, and which is why they get more throughput. You know, Bitcoin can only do seven transactions a second, 7 to 14 or something like that. But the new chains like the one we’re on, they do 10,000 a second, you know, and transactions happen in 1 second rather than 15 minutes, like with Bitcoin. Because now, you’re not using all your computational power for security.
Rieki: Security comes from something else. And in generation three, some of them are doing delegated security, meaning you vote for different block producers. So this is how it works. If someone sets up the equipment to be able to produce blocks, you know, help make the blockchain. And then they go and say, Hey, we’ve got the equipment running, we would like to be a block producer. Would you vote for us? And then all the people of the network decide, Yeah, we want these 21 people to produce blocks, because we really trust them and they’re good. And then there’s all this game theory around how you keep these 21, you know, honest. So in order to make updates to the network, 15 out of 21 of those block producers that have been voted in by the citizens to uphold their will, right? 15 out of 21 of them have to sign a change to the blockchain, and that’s how updates happen.
Manda: Okay. Thank you.
Rieki: All right. So that’s the technical underpinnings of how it all works, is you’ve got these people who are delegated by the community. So you have an element of direct democracy there, and they’re meant to be knowledgeable of how the network runs, really understand the inner workings of it, be running the technology itself. But these are just those who can produce blocks. Anyone in the world can create a node, and a node is the copy of all the transactions, and that’s what the real security is. So you can have 10 trillion nodes and the node is what says you have all of these tokens. This is the state of our economy. Right? And that’s what makes it incorruptible. Because in order to change the state of the economy, you would have to, one, take over the block producers and create a new block, which is incredibly difficult to do. Or, change all 10 million nodes at the same time or however many there is. Like both are very difficult tasks. So that’s a different way of approaching security. This will do security through game theory and governance rather than brute force, which is how Bitcoin did it. I think it was necessary for Bitcoin to do it brute force because it was simple, it was elegant and got the story across. If we started off with this really elaborate, elegant, direct governance way to do it, it probably wouldn’t have gained traction. So I think it was a necessary evolution to go through these generations.
Manda: So Bitcoin is our proof of concept, but now we’ve moved beyond that. So what I’m hearing is that what generation three, Seeds and those like it are doing, are helping to create communities of trust amongst people so that the whole system becomes another fiat currency, where a fiat currency is a currency that we trust. Because at the moment I have a pound coin and I give it to you and we both trust that it’s got a value, only because that’s an agreement that we all make. So if I’m hearing right, then what we’re creating is a new kind of currency that has equal trust, but it has trust not because the Bank of England or the Fed or whatever, basically, is imposing that trust with the guarantee that we will lock up anybody who makes fake £1 coins. You’re instead creating trust because we have a community of people that we actually trust.
Rieki: Well and that we could start directing our collective resources towards things we choose.
Manda: Yeah, right.
Rieki: I don’t think if the citizens had a direct vote and a nations budget, we’d be spending the trillions we are on warfare each year. We’d probably spend a whole lot more on social services. So this is saying no, the citizens get a direct voice in how our financial system’s actually run. We don’t need to do representative democracy anymore. Representative democracy where we let this person represent us and we don’t get a voice and we have to wait four years to potentially get a chance to change them, or the nonsense that we have. No, I think that was only necessary and it probably still was never necessary, back before the Internet and back before trustless voting systems. Now we can actually, we could do direct democracy and liquid democracy, where at any moment you can have anyone else represent you. So you could be like, You know what, I’m not going to spend the time to look into these bills, but I really trust this person to take the bills on housing. And I could have a different vote for every section of the economy that I’m a part of. So if I want to participate in finance decisions, I can. If I want to delegate all of my food decisions on how we grow local food systems and set those up, and I want to delegate that to Bob the permaculturist, because I trust his decision, I can. But then Bob does something I don’t like, I’m like, Oh, I don’t,trust him anymore. I’m going to give my vote to Susan or I’m going to take it back and keep it myself.
Rieki: These are systems where we have the freedom to actually have our views represented. And it’s not these two party fake systems where you pretend to have a choice, but we really don’t. Everyone knows it’s a scam. So this is just building those alternative systems, where we don’t need their permission. Because if we say, no, this is our economy, this is the token for exchange. I’m going to start putting my goods and services and my energy into this new economy. I’m going to start talking about creating this new economy and stop talking about the old economies and how destructive they are. You know, and we put all of our energy in towards building a new economy. Then we’re just going to be in that new economy. And we can come up with our own new agreements and how value should flow through an economy, what regeneration means. So the question you asked at the beginning: What is regeneration? We need to be making our rivers drinkable again. Our soils need to be more fertile. We need more diversity every year instead of less. Our current economic systems are literally destroying the life giving properties of our planet. Like what the hell? Any alien species would come here and be like, You guys are broken, like you fell off track. Like you guys need to fix this.
Manda: So we talked about liquid democracy. Tangentially we talked about participatory budgeting. I think that for a lot of people listening, those are probably quite new concepts. Can you go back to basics and kind of build up without without necessarily losing the thread? Is that possible? Of just how you think…if we were going to say okay, in the UK because that’s where most of us live. Or the US, we have the technology and we trust the technology works and we trust that Reiki Cordon knows how to make it work. So we’re going to delegate all of the techno stuff to you. And we want to create exactly what you said; a regenerative way of living, where we can trust that how we think, how we feel, what we really want, the regeneration of everything; can be created. What are the steps that we would take, starting from where we are in the midst of the old system, to create the new one?
Rieki: I think it’s a complete abomination that we don’t understand these concepts, because they’re very basic in nature. Like, Okay, I’m part of a system; I have a direct say in how that system runs. Like the fact that that is foreign to us is a little bit weird. The fact that we keep saying, ‘Oh, that’s just the way things are’ or ‘management doesn’t listen to me and that’s okay’. Or ‘I’m just a cog in a machine’, or ‘I’m just doing a job’. We’ve ever allowed ourselves to be literal slaves. That’s where I think it’s broken. I just want to lay that foundation. We’re talking about change to… I again, highly recommend either reading Debt; The first 5000 Years or The Dawn of Everything. Both by David Graeber.
Manda: It’s okay, we mentioned those a lot on the podcast.
Rieki: They’re fantastic. Because it gets into the different social systems that are possible. So again, that’s what we’re creating here. So you said, give me all the authority for the techno stuff, like don’t do that! Because I don’t know either. What we do need to do, is we’re discovering it together. We’re on a learning journey. What we’re saying is it is possible, you know, and that’s all I recommend David Graeber for, because he goes through and says, Look, other cultures did it. You know, because people feel like they need permission, that it is possible. That’s why I’m suggesting that. So we’re coming at this saying it is possible to do this. We’re going to be on a continual learning journey. We’re going to keep experimenting with protocols. When they work, we’re going to capture them and we’re going to mimic them and share them out. And we’re going to create this iterative process, where we’re on a journey to figure out how to better organise ourselves in a more regenerative way. You know, build circular economies in a more regenerative way. Meet all of our needs: food, housing, shelter. So this is how we build villages. And that’s something we’re launching later this year is this concept of a regenerative village offering. And it’s literally a blueprint of how a group of people can come together, raise capital, do governance, you know, deal with conflict resolution.
Rieki: All the initial questions when intentional communities come together and they’re like, Hey, how do we decide? How do we decide what’s valuable? How do we pay each other? All of this needs to be templated, and we have those, so that groups can come in, learn from the successes of others, and then share their successes. Then we can learn together. So that’s the iterative process that we’ve been on for three years. I’ll share with you a link to: It’s our knowledge base and it’s a whole ecosystem of all the resources we’ve been compiling these last three years. So that’s the real value I think we’re putting together is new agreements. We’re saying, okay, well, if we’re building a new economic system, we need a new constitution. What are we here for? What’s our vision? We spent a year and a half, had hundreds of people participate in seven different constitutional assemblies. And these are all game designers, permaculturist, homesteaders, like all the best generators of the world. You know, they’re bringing their wisdom to this document for us to align on, like, why are we here? What are our key values? And what came from that is just incredible and gorgeous. So we took a lot of time to build a very beautiful constitution and actually come up with a shared agreement.
Rieki: So that, I think, is the value we’re bringing to this. And the economic system itself. So there’s The Guide, that we call it, which gets into literally all the governance, economic protocols of how it works. So why do you have a voice? How do you have a voice? How do you ensure that you get to direct vote? You know, how do you delegate your vote to somebody else? How is new money created? Where does that new money go? How do you earn some of this new money? So we have this concept of a contribution score. So very recently since the pandemic, banks made trillions of dollars. Like Over $10 trillion. Where did this money go? You know, I’m a user of a lot of these different currencies. I never got a vote on if we should, one, make this money. I didn’t get any of the new money that was made. Like I didn’t even get to see where it went. So we didn’t get any vote in that. But our protocol itself is how do we make new money? And when we do make new money, where does that new money go? So this is what we call a contribution score.
Is the citizens, we ourselves, we govern what it means to contribute to society. So we can go in and say, hey, it’s a contribution to society if you’re using regenerative practises as a business. We think that’s helpful. If you’re a B Corp, we’re actually going to give you a 1% kickback on every transaction you make. If you’re participating in our economic system, if you’re actually using the seeds currency and exchanging, that’s a contribution to our economy. You’re participating. Thank you. You’re using it. That’s a welcoming sign. And what’s cool is Seeds is free. But if you’re using it, you’re contributing. And if you’re contributing, you get some of the new currency. So Seeds is one of the first better-than-free currencies. But then when we say that, people are like, Oh man, it’s a scam. It’s only a scam because you’re being scammed in the central bank currency systems. Those could be better than free. They could be giving you a kickback every time you use the dollar. But they’re not. And they’ve indoctrinated you and cultured you into believing a scam. So we’re coming and saying, no, you can get paid for participating in an economy. That’s not the scam. The scam is central currencies.
So anyway, that’s always difficult. But we get to say what is a contribution? And I don’t want to get too deep into that, because this is the foundation of what Seeds is. Is we get to rethink consciously what does it mean to contribute to society? And then we get to codify that into our economy. So when people do it, they get paid. That’s something else Bitcoin did phenomenally. It set up a protocol: burn electricity, you can earn bitcoins. And that was so successful that bitcoin started consuming more energy than most nations on the planet. That is fantastic coordination technology. Yeah, it was used for evil in my opinion, but that same coordination technology could be used for regeneration if we got really good at being able to track what is regeneration. And then we could say, just start regenerating your community and you can get paid to do it. Then we create this global decentralised game for citizens to start taking direct action to regenerate their communities. So this is how we started approaching this, we said, okay, what’s the systemic lever where we could try to shift the tide and turn of the regenerating civilisation? We call it the regenerative renaissance. It’s this Cambrian explosion of new concepts that are coming together to rethink society. I’ll stop there because I think that was a lot.
Manda: It’s a huge amount, but it’s really, really inspiring.
And that’s it for this week. The conversation continued for almost another hour, but we felt that this was a good place to have a break. Partly because this is quite complex stuff. And I want you really to have time to reflect on the ways the current system is broken and the fact that some incredibly bright people are working genuinely around the clock, to find ways that we could do things differently, so that the whole of our way of sharing value is not predicated on destroying everything that lives and is decent and good and that we value. So have think about that and we’ll be back next week with the second part of Reiki Cordon.
And in the meantime, enormous thanks to Caro C for wrestling with the sound and generally for being the one person who ever listens to everything that we have ever recorded in-depth and many times over. So thank you, Caro. And thank you also for the amazing music that we play every week at the head and foot. Thanks to Faith Tilleray. I am recording this on the day Thrutopia launches. And I know that Accidental Gods and Thrutopia are not necessarily synonymous. But I do want to take this opportunity to thank Faith for making all of the tech hang together. When we dream these things up. I have no idea of the amount of work that it’s going to take somebody else actually to make it happen. So thank you, Faith. Thank you also to Anne Thomas and Gill Coombes for doing the transcripts. And as ever, an enormous thanks to you for listening. We wouldn’t be here without you. And it is a joy and a pleasure every single week. So we will be back next week with the second part of Reiki. That’s it for now. Thank you and goodbye.
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