Stone Transactions Are Hard

This page is about transactions in a "StoneSociety." (See that page for a description of what a StoneSociety is.)

If you were thinking of TransactionProcessing, TwoPhaseCommit, or other automated tracking of "units of work," this is not the right page.


Four apparent problems of transactions are:

  1. Relative weight of Stones

  2. Expiration of stones

  3. Stones map to people, not resources.

  4. Six degrees of separation.

Relative weight of Stones

There are two ways that stones have value. Either they are a relative amount of the value of the originating society, or, in the case of sub or contextual societies, the value of their stones is determined by the stones that have been allocated to the Auction that generated it.

Therefore if you are trying to figure out the weight of a given stone, you must value the originating society or, worse, you have to calculate the relative value of any parent societies' originating auctions to determine the fractional value of a contextual or sub societies stones.

Stones are similar to action potentials in nerves. What's the value of an action potential? Well, that depends on what else is going on in other nerves. In fact APs are being fired (like Stones being bid) all the time. It's the ratios, rates, and cumulative effects of these things that produce coordinated behavior.

APs can only transmit sensation. Instrumenting and arranging an organism so that these sensations are robustly advantageous is a multi-billion-year problem for nature. Nevertheless, such problems are faced daily by boards of directors of companies - how do we price our stock, how much do we issue, in what ratios, and so on. Intelligent deployment of Stones requires ... well, intelligence.

Expiration of Stones

Every stone society gets to choose when their term expires. If I am accepting stones from another society for any purpose, how far away the expiration date is affects the value of those stones. Furthermore, if a transaction or auction bid by an Officer includes stones from different societies, then the relative weight of that bid is dependant on the value of each stone, and how soon each stone will be recycled.

A stone can't expire out of sync with its society's term. So you need only value it for the period of the current term. Relative valuation then is actually less complex than the valuation of farm produce, which expires within some well known period. But which is messier to dispose of.

Stones map to People, not resources

Stones are originated according to whatever formula a stone society chooses, are given to Officers, and only regenerate upon the expiration of the Term. Therefore there are no stones that map to assets that may be naturally or artificially scarce.

Because stones map to people, the exchange of resources is not possible: No sane society would give up control of resources in exchange for expiring tokens.

Therefore, the only way that resources can be exchanged is by making it a lease or a (time limited) service. This works on many levels but it would be very difficult to make it work "all the way down".

Stones assume a relative absence of private property, such as exists within a corporation where employees need to figure out how to collaborate in their use of shared corporate resources. If you're concerned with establishing irrevocable ownership of private property, then Stones aren't a sensible mechanism to employ. This isn't to say that a government could not be established on the basis of Stones ... but that such a government wouldn't respect the private property rights of its citizens, and so might be considered undesirable. At least I sure wouldn't desire it.

Six degrees of separation

The further away a stone travels from its originating society, the more challenging it becomes to determine its value. If I have a stone because I am giving a service to Sloth Society and then I use it to aquire a service from the Indolence Society and, in turn, they use it in an auction with the Aggressive Society to form the Greed Contextual Society, determining the value of that stone in that auction requires tracing it back to the originating Sloth Society and then figuring out its value. If every stone, then, is stamped both with its originating society and its expiration date, we solve some of these problems.

So on to the Greed Society. The value of a contextual society can only be construed to be relative to the value of the stones used to create it. If this set of stones is heterogenous- as it must be in any Contextual society- the value of the society diminishes as the stones "evaporate" due to recycling. Presumably some of these stones will be given to the Contextual Society again, as the originating societies want it to stick around, but those stones which have been aquired in the course of trades will evaporate permanently, i.e. the Sloth Community has little interest in continuing the Greed Society.

Now, if traded stones can't be used in auctions, this problem largely goes away, but it further diminishes the already limited value of such stones.

This is a general problem that affects present day interest-rate swap and foreign exchange markets. Some people lose their shirts in those markets. Others profit. Is that fair? I don't know, but it happens.


In summary, I believe that making stones transactional tokens in addition to voting ones is not viable.

I'm afraid I don't see how you draw this conclusion from the above. Could you elaborate?

A StoneExchange would have to be a fiendishly complex place where the relative weight of stones is calculated in real time. Stones themselves might require parentage or tracking information in order to simplify these calculations. All transactions would require making reference to the StoneExchange.

For StoneExchange transactions, sure.

No permanent resource exchanges would be possible, or if they were, it would require a tremendous quantity of stones in order to compensate for their time-limited value.

Any society can include an auction to determine whether and how to release its control of resources, so if a society releases large quantities of Stones into a Stone Exchange, it may indeed lose control of its resources to other societies. No "tremendous quantities" necessary for this - losing control of a Resource in an Auction might come down to just a single bid stone. This is a risk all traders experience in all markets.

Any Auction, like one to create a contextual society, would have to be hooked into the StoneExchange as well. A contextual societies charter would be bound by the shortest term of the participating societies. --EthanFremen

Control of longer-term contextual Stones would be determined by one or more Auctions of the shorter-term Stones, but I don't see how that limits the longer contextual term length.

In general, thanks for some excellent questions here, Ethan. I've been too swept up in other kinds of weirdness at OmnigonInternational to think about Stones for quite some time, but it's really nice to revisit them. I only wish I had time to spend actively on them ... all those poor folk watching the skies must have burned out their retinas by now :-) --PeterMerel

EditText of this page (last edited July 20, 2001) or FindPage with title or text search