Should we Gamify Citizenship in the Metaverse?
Four years ago, I analyzed the benefits, downsides, and challenges related to creating a citizenship rating system that would document a person’s value to society. And we further discussed the topic in a recent podcast interview with Shermon Cruz, Chair of the Association of Professional Futurists.
The idea was that since most human beings tend to be motivated by personalized, objective rankings (FICO scores for example), a universal system that “rewards” us for doing the right thing and “penalizes” us for doing harmful things could make the world a more positive place.
One of the challenges we identified at that time was that there wasn’t a reliable way to capture and account for every personal activity in order to assign it a positive or negative point value. Another limitation was that most governing bodies focused on penalizing people for bad or criminal behavior, but they didn’t have a way to incentivize people for good behavior.
The DAO Solution
Today’s DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) provide a model for how we can overcome both of these challenges and accurately quantify a person’s positive citizenship value, so they can be rewarded … or negative citizenship value so they have an incentive to improve.
Much like Santa Claus, DAOs will be able to record if a person has been naughty or nice within that group. And the groups themselves will take the place of traditional governing bodies in many respects, since they replace geography-based communities with metaverse-oriented tribes.
DAO Communities and Governance
Today’s blockchain-enabled DAOs are formed around aspects of social life, community service, hobbies, gaming, investing, entertainment, art, and other areas of shared interests, including ownership of land in the metaverse. Increasingly, we’ll be relating to peers within our chosen DAOs and less with neighbors in the physical world.
Here’s where things get relevant to our topic. Typically, engaging in a DAO requires an upfront entry fee to buy governance tokens that give the user a vote regarding actions taken by the DAO. DAO members often can earn additional governance tokens for actions they take that provide value to their DAO community – participating in meetings, joining and engaging in workgroups, contributing content, and so on. These governance token rewards are tangible incentives for taking positive actions.
Presumably, a DAO could also be structured and maintained to levy fines for users who damage or undermine the venture.
Since a participant’s activities in these DAOs are recorded on the blockchain, there’s really no reason why user activities can’t be recorded in terms of reward or penalty points. For better or worse, our activity in these niches of the metaverse cannot be hidden or slide under the radar.
One Big DAO Metaverse
As the metaverse continues to replicate more and more areas of our physical world, we’ll see DAOs and pieces of the metaverse merge and link to encompass an even greater slice of this alternate life. Games are already seamlessly linking to cryptocurrency finances, for example.
Ultimately, there will be one system and one login to a comprehensive metaverse. And at that point, it will be very easy to assign participants a comprehensive citizenship score or valuation that reflects their contribution or harm within that new world.
This kind of global metaverse will attract a wide range of people – from those who are mildly interested to those deeply involved in every nuance of a virtual world’s DAO.
Early on, some may poke around in it for 20 minutes a day. Others may be involved 10 hours a day. And many will lose themselves in that comprehensive DAO completely, right from the start. If a person wants to remain relevant, though it will be increasingly important that they engage in the metaverse – just as being off the IT grid today can make a person seemingly non-existent.
Our engagement in this metaverse will be monitored, and our true selves will become apparent. As with the physical world, we’ll see all types of personalities: hard workers, observers, innovators, leaders, followers, specialists, givers, takers, criminals, saboteurs, and anarchists.
Our personality types will be recorded and transparent, modified automatically over time as new activities are recorded. On a more immediate basis, our deeds will be rewarded or punished using a point system linked to cryptocurrency. The best metaverse citizens may even be able to make a decent living by being very, very good as resources are shifted to them and away from the penalized participants.
Criteria for Gamifying Citizenship
The standards for an ideal measurement of a person’s contributions to society require that the system it’s based on reflects current realities is objective and is all-knowing. A metaverse-based system meets those criteria.
As I noted in my 2018 column, citizenship algorithms should be adjusted over time, continually redefining what constitutes good and bad behavior based on current needs and situations. Similarly, the relative value of rewards and penalties should be regularly tweaked based on measured supply and demand. The metaverse, with its nearly infinite access to information, can accomplish all this and more.
With regard to the need for objective observation and the transparency of personal actions, blockchain technology will be the “Big Brain” behind the metaverse making all that possible. It will record participants’ activities and interactions and meter out the rankings and the rewards related to that activity.
Citizens of What?
One last thought on the future of citizenship. Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and the Internet itself transcend government-set boundaries. Increasingly each of us will be “living” in one or more DAOs and then ultimately within a comprehensive metaverse.
Our actions in the metaverse will ultimately be as important in evaluating us as a person as anything we do in the physical world today. And the evaluations will be ruthless and not subject to manipulation or coercion, providing a strong incentive to do the right thing among our global peers.
That said, for those who cannot live up to the rigorous demands of an unforgiving rules-based system, we will likely see underground movements and even gorilla groups forming to fight back against the “tyranny of the DAO.”
No, there is no such thing as a perfect system.