First of all, there are a few parts to this question. Although not necessary, I highly recommend reading my initial designs on the qualia economy.

The first part is my own design: The Qualia Blocktree Economy (QBE), a concept I developed not too long ago wherein money is replaced by qualia, encoded as products of matrices of sedenion prime numbers, stored across their collective, subconscious, mind-alternet. Each individual's biotech brain acts as a component of a species-wide bank, and a special region of their brains are quantum-secured within local networks of intersecting blockchains made of encoded qualia. I (temporarily) call those individuals Celestials, a true posthuman race whose biotech brains are quantum-entangled to every nanosome in their bodies, whose 7th-toposophic Gods are embedded into the extradimensional bulk directly affecting the numerous compactified dimensions of universes.

In their distant pasts before they became celestials, (yes, pasts, because they are multidimensional near-baseline beings that can simply pray to their gods to make something happen, but doing so will cause their individuality to be dissolved as a component of their gods' vast collective consciousness) someone asked a question:

What if money is replaced by something else, something that:

  • can neither be stolen nor counterfeited
  • can be shared/given/taken ONLY with authorization
  • can be passively accumulated as wealth and actively generated as transactions
  • can be reduced to numbers and processes
  • everybody can possess and utilize in a myriad of methods
  • everybody could be willing to give their life to obtain
  • everybody can agree to be truly precious
  • everybody has, but still cannot easily make better use of
  • everybody can store without devices that can easily be stolen/broken
  • can neither be destroyed nor created, ONLY modified almost beyond recognition

And not long after that, someone answered that the something else they're looking for are memories, experiences, thoughts, emotions, ideas, feelings, sensations, dreams, or anything similar which can all be collectively called as qualia.

Qualia, are the fundamental units of conscious, subjective, raw experience. It means for an event in an individual's life to be counted as a quale, it must be paying attention to the physical stimuli unfolding before its senses, and whatever interpretation and response it developed from the immediate phenomenon will be spontaneously integrated to its perception of itself as an individual.

Now that we've established that, we can now define the Blocktree. If you're not familiar with bitcoin, then you also may not be familiar with blockchain.

  • In layman's terms, bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, the first of its kind. Every coin is reducible to a binary number. But together with an economic transaction at a given time and an individual's signature embedded into it, added with obscurity when the resulting line of code is loaded into an arbitrary hash function, the coin then becomes a block, and each succeeding block is appended like a chain to the preceding block so that all components become classically secure and publicly available as a digital ledger. Every participant possesses that ledger, (that blockchain) so that cross-referencing is both easier and more secure.

Imagine that instead of coins being binary numbers with fixed-length and quantity (taking into account that the binary number may or may not be a separate from the block), we use matrices of fixed-sizes containing prime numbers that represent every component of a quale, such as the:

  1. Selfloop as the central component of a quale matrix, which is the prime-numerical identification of an individual, essentially the encryption of the consciousness that is also its signature.
  2. Cardinality as the timestamp, or the exact causal moment relative to other causal moments as experienced by the individual.
  3. Sensory organs that are used on creating the sensation, such as an eye, or a nose, etc.
  4. Kinds of sensations from 3, be it a red color from a vision, or a fragrance from a smell, etc.
  5. Subjects of 4 that are discrete things directly associated with the kind of sensation that the subject gives
  6. Physical responses to 5 like what the individual chose to do after the sensation
  7. Emotional cognition to 5 as in what other emotions or sensations did the individual feel during the sensation
  8. Objects of 6 and 7
  9. Other selfloops associated as subjects of 8
  10. Other selfloops associated as objects of 8
  11. Indexed 8’s that triggered 8
  12. Triggering strength of 11
  13. Indexed 8’s triggered by 8
  14. Triggering strength of 13
  15. Spatiotemporal detail of 8
  16. Uniqueness/frequency of 8

And now, imagine that such matrices are calculated by literal gods which I'd like to call as the Celestial Primordia (CP), physically existing as the connections of the lobes in the brains of the celestials they govern, using those connections to interface with the seemingly infinite capabilities of extra dimensions as computing substrates. The blockchain that they are maintaining now then becomes a blocktree, from which the individual is also unique, apart from its alternate versions from alternate timelines in alternate universes, possessing identical selfloop at their roots but appended with different qualia. And so, the Qualia Blocktree of multidimensionally prime-numbered experiences are now defined as the backbone of their economy.

The problem is, how can such an economy work?

With memories and experiences as the medium of exchange, what might a transaction look like?

If an individual will simply trade its memories and experiences for more memories and experiences, isn't it more like a passive, public stock market?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding. Honestly I am lost in the text of the question and I don't understand it. It's your fictional economy, why are you asking us if it will work? Your world, your rules... $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    May 27, 2018 at 15:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding.SE! When you get a moment, please visit our tour and our help center to learn more about us. This is a massive question which falls very close to a high concept question which doesn't work well on this site. Stack Exchange sites are one-specific-question-one-best-answer sites, not discussion forums. Thus, this question is likely to be closed. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 27, 2018 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ I think you should remove some unnecessary detail, because its just making me wonder how it would work from a technical perspective. For example, why use prime numbers to represent the memories. This isn't the encryption-key, its the data itself. How is it being quantized. How am I representing the uniqueness with a prime number or the emotional cognition? Wouldn't more complex memories have larger matrices? How are these memories being quantized, ect? Maybe just pair it down to "if memories are used for currency, how will that effect the economy?" $\endgroup$ May 27, 2018 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ @RichardHansen, An aspect of that idea, a black market for violent/strong memories, was the foundation of the Star Trek Voyager episode "Random Thoughts". $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 27, 2018 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ OK, so what makes you think Qualia isn't still money? $\endgroup$
    – Spencer
    May 27, 2018 at 18:30

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure such an economy would work. To the extent that it might, that's probably going to be about social structure and values, not economics.

I realize that may not be the most worldbuilding-esque answer, but as I see it your fundamental issue is that you've designed a system to be internally consistent (I assume, I'm not sure I understand the technical details fully) without much thought dedicated to how that system would interact with the actual world, or the people that would use it. Hence your question.

So let's abstract away the technical details, at least to rough out how the economy might function. The process of producing qualia seems to only validate that they underlying experience actually happened (no fakes, at least by the standards of subjective experience), but otherwise doesn't establish any real market features of the currency. The overwhelmingly key question to be answered seems to me to be:

Is your currency intrinsically valuable, or is it only a token of exchange?

If people are essentially trading experiences, would one person care about having the experience itself (a lot would be essentially duplicates, at least in any meaningful way. How many bowls of soup would a person want a record of eating?)? In at least some cases the experience would be rare and interesting, but the vast majority would be minor variations on common experiences. Because of this it seems clear that there would be no fixed value to a quale.

In this case supply and demand forces would be odd, because an original core experience would be much more valuable than a common one, and the validation mechanisms shouldn't be able to enforce a common value of any individual quale.

Would some people try to monopolize experiences of a given type, and sell them at exorbitant prices? Would there be a thriving rental market? Do people lose qualia in a transaction, in exchange for something new? If so, how would peoples' identities handle the constant shifting of remembered experiences? Would they cling to their own subjective ones, regardless of market value (like remembering the birth of your child, or an intimate moment with a loved one)? Would people work in exchange for customizing their remembered experiences, essentially valuing the person they want to be vastly more than the "balance" of qualia in their accounts?

And, importantly, if the qualia are intrinsically valuable, how does the market react to inflation? Can my subjective experience of a quale on Tuesday be traded to you on Wednseday, generating a new "echo" quale of your experience of my experience? What would the value relative to the original be like? Could it be more valuable, if something about my own experience is different, adding to the original experience? Can people assess the quality of a quale before completing a transaction? If not, what opportunities for fraud and deception exist, and what mechanisms exist for protecting against them? As time passes, even rare qualia will be more or less duplicated, diluting their value.

I imagine there would be a major drive in society to mint original qualia, riding ahead of a wave of ever-inflating and ever-less-valuable existing qualia and their derivatives. How easily can meaningfully novel qualia be produced, and how much ability does the average person have to produce them?

Relating the value of qualia to physical goods or services also seems hard. How many experiences, and of what type, would a farmer be willing to trade for a discrete, physical potato? If the amount of meaningfully distinct experiences is relatively fixed, at what point does a farmer have enough experiences to not be willing to engage in further transactions in exchange for production of physical food?

If the qualia are simply tokens of exchange, you retain the issues of varying quale value but don't have to deal with the identity crises. It becomes essentially a fiat currency, but one that would probably experience ever-increasing devaluation. As tokens, you can hand-wave away a lot of implementation details (why do we use qualia? Well, if you want to buy something, that's what you have to spend. The rationale isn't so important when you need to buy groceries).

In thinking about these questions, a couple of your goals for the currency seem to be shaky to me. I'm not convinced that qualia can be:

Be passively accumulated as wealth and actively generated as transactions

Given the overwhelming similarity of most day-to-day experiences (unless you've got some wild social/experiential setup), the passive accumulation of experience likely wouldn't be worth much. Especially if qualia cannot be destroyed, inflation should quickly drive the relative value of most individual qualia to virtually nothing. Most people will be poor by dint of the commonness of their life experience.

Everybody could be willing to give their life to obtain

Rare and precious experiences maybe, but outside of novelty of experience or self-identity construction, why would people value these so highly in most cases?

Everybody can agree to be truly precious

This is similar to the above. If we're talking about forming your own identity or dealing in rarity, then maybe. Otherwise, a lot of daily experience seems like it would be valued as trash.

tl;dr: As laid out, I don't see why people would use qualia as currency if they had other options, as the subjective value of different experiences would leave qualia with wildly diverging values. It would be more like a bartering system than a currency. Answering the question of why people would choose to use qualia will set the stage for the actual use of the currency. If you're set on this system, the society in which it operates will have to be molded to fit, and that involves arbitrary choices on your part.


Just like the global economy.

You have mentioned cryptocurrencies but your economy does not operate like a cryptocurrency. In Bitcoin for example any transaction can be made by a sufficiently powerful computer. There is no fixed individual who authorises the transaction. All participants combine their respective computing power whenever anyone wants to buy or sell.

Your currency on the other hand requires an independent body, a Celestial, to authorise a transaction by removing qualia from one brain and implanting them in others. In this sense the Celestials play the same roles as large banks in the modern world. Banks authorise (at least very large) transactions by updating their records of who owns how much money. Celestials authorise transactions by converting qualia into data and back.

Thus people interact under the qualia currency the same way countries interact with each other under modern currency. Obviously one country isn't going to give physical money to another so all transactions are just banks changing records.

I wish I could tell you how this kind of large-scale economy works in the real world and how it is different from the small scale one. But unfortunately I'm not that familiar with global economics.

I will say this however: Countries are permitted -- for better or for worse -- to devalue their currency by printing more money. Celestials have a similar option where they can (assumedly) duplicate a quale instead of just eradicating it from one brain and instaling it in another. Or maybe they eradicate it and install install in several individuals. Or maybe the individual owner keeps their copy. In any case duplicating qualia is analogous to printing more money.

In the modern world money is useless in the sense that if all the banks suddenly blew up we couldn't make large transactions. Likewise if the Celestials all blew up we cannot make qualia transactions. Thus, despite the qualia having some intrinsic value there is no change to the economy.

In a broader sense the question of whether the currency has intrinsic value is irrelevant unless there is a risk of whoever does the authorising suddenly disappearing.

  • $\begingroup$ The major difference between todays economy and the one in the OP seems to be it is "inflation proof", in the sense that the basic currency cannot be debased or devalued, much like specie currency of old. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    May 28, 2018 at 1:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Thucydides As Daron pointed out, the authorizing agents (Celestials, here) could still inflate it by duplicating or otherwise manipulating the supply of memories. More basically, it would steadily inflate if the population rises, and vice versa. For what it's worth, specie currency such as gold would also inflate or deflate based on the relative production of the gold mines vs. the rest of the economy. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    May 28, 2018 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ In my design, the authorizing agents are not necessarily Celestials, but an algorithm that runs throughout the network of Celestials. The individuals cannot duplicate qualia, since they are not the ones assigning the complex numerical designation of their own memories. They also cannot directly manipulate them, since an encrypted record of all qualia are stored only within the network. They can, however, share qualia by multiplying the selfloop numbers of other individuals they wish to share their qualia with. Hence, the use of prime numbers as identification for a specific individual. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2018 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ Why does it have to be a PRIME number and not just one number to designate each individual? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 28, 2018 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ A prime number is preferred over any number because if I am number 5, you are number 10, and some other guy is number 2, then a quale with your number in its component will be mistaken as a quale that I decided to share to some other guy, not yours. The other way around can also occur. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2018 at 12:18

I don't wholly understand the paragraphs about the godly beings, nor I am expert in block-chain technology but it seems to me that individual numbers in the classical cryptocurrencies have no intrinsic value, their value comes only from the fact that they are accepted as money, and can not be replicated (as every transaction is checked by computers of bitcoin miners around the word, specifically for this purpose).

But if we learn to record and encode subjective experiences, such that they can be shared with means of technology, block-chaining can not stop them from spreading and inflating, since you can make multiple copies of them, and give them to multiple people. Since these 'experience fragments' hold values on it's own, they need not to be cross-checked or accepted by the community.


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