Let's make a mental experiment, they're fun things.
So, let's presume that GPG-contracts as described here earlier are now the norm, and as discussed their enforcement is purely voluntary. Obviously this means records are kept of who did and who did not live up to his word. Admitting for the sake of discussion that these records are perfect in all ways, what'd be the possible evolutions ?
I. All people become strongly acculturated in the GPG-contract mindset. As such, one's word becomes a paramount attribute of the self, guarded with utmost jealousy. People routinely prefer death or even major inconveniencei to breaking their word. The exceptions are rare and don't survive long, which reinforces the outlook.
This would be a sort of society very much reminiscent of traditional Japan, or if looking closer to home something pretty similar to classical times in both Rome and Athens (different time periods, same principle) as well as the various respective Golden Ages in pretty much all European cultures.
II. Some people become strongly acculturated in the GPG-contract mindset ; some others do not. The split may fall along what may appear religious or philosophical divides, but I strongly suspect this may well be just a mask for a much older divide : the Neanderthals versus the Cro-Magnons, if you wish, the settled agrarian tribe versus the migratory hunter-gatherers, the lazy Negro versus the hard working WASP, the thieving gypsies invading complacent Europe, however you may wish to paint it the fact remains there's two sorts of people in this world and only one sort tends to stick to their word.
While a situation of this sort may indeed be stable (if the source of both types resides in the genetic mark-up of the species and the extermination of any group of either persuasion wouldn't be capable of extinguishing their kind), it seems improbable that any sort of stable situation can ever be reached. The future seen through this prism would be endless waxing and waning warfare and agreement, with alternating upper hands and no possibility of any resolution.
III. People are wired to consider the visible and discount the invisible. As such, they are bound to make contracts that imperfectly account of all contingencies. This is a stochastic process, and with the passing of time any arbitrary level of untenable contracts will have been entered into. Once this eventuality actualises, the number of contract-breakers exceeds the number of agents with immaculate reputations, this giving birth to a second community within the group of those shunned by the original community. In time this later may rise to prominence and the original may crumble into dust, but then after a finite time the contingency will revisit again, giving birth to yet another subgroup and so on.
This system is very much akin to how the aristocracy worked in medieval Europe as well as everywhere else where nobility existed as a socially-relevant institution : few of the most respected today could trace their pedigree with any degree of proof more than a few centuries back, at which point their ancestors weren't in the leading ranks, and those in the leading ranks then are nowhere to be found now.
I'm not entirely sure what other alternatives are, if indeed there are any. But, to keep things interesting let's have a little contest, as follows :
- Anyone interested is to write a short story of no less than four and no more than six thousand words, in which to detail one of the three proposed evolutions, or a forth of their own imagination. This is intended as a work of fiction, and all the devices and means of fictions may freely be employed.
- That piece will be published, either on the author's own blog or in the comment section of this article. In the former case, a link to this article should be included so I can see the trackback.
Two weeks from now, that's to say at the end of November the 26thOne month from now, that's December the 12th I will review all submissions and offer four prizes of 5 BTC each : three for the best respective representation of each point detailed above, and a fourth for that representation which best represents a situation that should have been included but it never occured to me in the first place.
- A fifth prize, equal to as many BTC as the count of valid entries participating (but not more than 100 BTC) will be awarded, by the vote of the participants themselves (I'll be paying it, but the people submitting vote who gets it).
- If the participants included a Bitcoin address with their work, the eventual prize will be sent there. If not, they will have to claim their prize by emailing from the same address as either used to leave the comment or originating from the domain their blog is hosted on.
I'm really curious what comes of this.———
- Ha ha only funny. [↩]