Prosocial Incentives

After collecting humanity's shared needs, incentives can be introduced to motivate economic activity. In social systems, incentives are often used to align people’s attention and behaviour towards certain activities, steering the group behaviour.

The profit motive is the main reward construct in the prevailing economic protocol - the DNA from which our group behaviour emerges. Profit arises directly from the system of market-based pricing - wherein suppliers set their own prices and therefore profits as high as possible. The market then requires competition to bring prices and profits back to an equilibrium. Although profit can be earned by improving value to consumers, over time, profit-maximising strategies tend to serve the self-interest of suppliers - ultimately converging on behaviours which are detrimental to people and the planet.

In the proposed design, the self-interested profit motive is replaced with a well-defined incentive to serve one another’s needs. The aggregated information about geo-localised needs can be used as a parameter to steer a reward function, such that higher rewards will be assigned to those who fulfil the most prevalent needs first. In essence, the community publishing their needs are indirectly setting a needs-based incentive. The community is rewarding suppliers who fulfil their needs, instead of suppliers setting their own prices and profits for themselves.

Following these rewards, producers emergently orient their behaviour towards the fulfilment of the community’s needs. This is similar to the way whereby people currently pursue profit, with the key difference being that the reward now encourages prosocial behaviour.

By replacing profit with a prosocial reward, we remove perverse incentives which reward antisocial individual gain, rebalance the power relationship between people and producers, and realign one’s individual incentive with a measure of common good. This simply could not be achieved with the competitive price system and profit motive of the prevailing economy and monetary system.

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