I'm not going to add much to this. I think it is self-explanatory. You might want to take any instance or scenario to define how this could play out.

The only concern I have to this is how could kindness or gratitude or regard be measured to the same extents as that of money?

Surely we could come up with some possible way where those attributes could be measured I guess.


closed as too broad by Pavel Janicek, a CVn, Renan, Josh King, Thucydides Jul 21 '16 at 14:50

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ i suppose you can make and enforce neurological implants that rank how much you are feeling gratitude or regard and measure the impact of your actions that were considered by others in the network, ranking you. but, well, u know.. then u'd be kind of a monster. $\endgroup$ – Garet Claborn Jul 21 '16 at 8:35
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I am afraid this is far too broad question. Can you please try to narrow it down to what do you care most about this? For example politic or economical aspects of this question. Right now one would have to write a book to provide good answer $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Jul 21 '16 at 9:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes I agree it's broad. All I wanted to know is if we as humans be sustainable in a world where money is literally replaced by the measure of good deeds one does. How you measure it is a different thread. But, if the human era started out with kindness as the currency and not money, for how long would this be sustainable or could it even be sustainable? $\endgroup$ – helloworld Jul 21 '16 at 10:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What happens when you move? Does your gratitude wallet reset? $\endgroup$ – Kys Jul 21 '16 at 13:47

The way to consider this sort of economy is like a barter economy. It works for small traders and individual producers, as long as and only if, everyone is producing something that everyone else needs.

Consider a simple case. I produce eggs and cheese, you produce eggs and really want some cheese. It's the same with favours and gratitude, it breaks down when there's something I can do for you, but nothing you can do for me. This is a major problem.

The way to break out of this would be if everyone contributed to a central pool of kindnesses. I do something for the old lady up the road, that means I have credit in the pool. The old lady up the road has a lifetime of credit in the pool and as such all the neighbours help her even if they weren't born when she gained that credit. In turn when I need something the community's willingness to help is based on how much I have done for other people as a whole rather than what I have done for each individual member of the group.

This works as long as you're within or not much exceeding the monkeysphere limits. In too large a group it breaks down again, but within limits it should help to build a very strong community.

The key though, is not to quantify, but rather to qualify. Bill Gates doesn't consider himself to be one of the great philanthropists because he hasn't given from his own quality of life the way so many do, he's only given time and money, but his own lifestyle remains unaffected. It's the relative quality of what someone gives to a community that matters. The community values the quality of what someone gives over mere value, good teachers and nurses are like gold dust compared to businessmen and traders in ordinary goods.

The great flaw in this system is that people will play games with it. There will be those who only do big obvious things that people see and receive great praise for very little done. There will be those who work quietly away in the background unseen by most. The important factor here is to be seen to do, rather than actually to do. The community sees and gossips and knows, but group knowledge is also easily gamed by those who choose to do so and malicious rumor can destroy an innocent far more easily than in a financial system. How is something valued? As much by how many people see you do it as how big a thing it was you did. And as for those who quietly work hard in the background? Well as everyone knows, the reward for being good at digging is a bigger shovel.

  • $\begingroup$ Im curious about your qualify vs quantify. What about the opposite case to Bill Gates? What if someone gives his all, he tries his hardest to help, sacrificing his lifestyle, risking his very life, but he is so worthless, dumb, clumsy or useless that it's not really useful for anyone? Is that worth anything? $\endgroup$ – xDaizu Jul 21 '16 at 11:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @xDaizu, The community will guide him to what is helpful, that's what communities do with those who try to help. If he really is so useless then he may just be treated as a charity case. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jul 21 '16 at 11:48
  • $\begingroup$ but before that, will his actions be worth something? Or will the community refuse to give any value to it? What if he refuse to change his ways? Note that in my case he is acting in good will, he is just stubborn or honestly thinks he knows better. $\endgroup$ – xDaizu Jul 21 '16 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ @xDaizu, Everyone in a volunteer environment has at some point had to deal with the helpful idiot, each group has their own way of dealing with it, but they are a part of life. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jul 21 '16 at 12:37

You might want to take a look at Bhutan. Instead of (or in addition to, I'm not sure) the national output it has the gross national happiness (a measure for the happiness of the people of Bhutan). It was established by the King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1979.


I'm not sure if this is what Separatrix was trying to say, but you'd have....


The point is, what you are doing to earn money is acts of kindness - either you're giving things to people (goods) or doing things for people (services). Then what they are giving in return is gratitude in a measured form - i.e. money.

You can then use this gratitude to "buy" acts of kindness from other people.

If it is to be measured as you say, and formalised, i.e. I'll give you food but I expect 3 units of gratitude in return, then there's no difference between that and just normal trade.

"Real" kindness as we know it (i.e. doing something for someone without expecting something in return) can't be measured for the very reason that you're expecting either nothing or an arbitrarily low amount of gratitude in return.

Likewise, if someone has an infinite pool of gratitude to give out for people doing them favours, then it can't be measured.

  • $\begingroup$ I carefully didn't quantify which means it isn't money, it's a question of how much people have done for the community. Communities value things as much according to the person as the value of the item. The old granny who babysits is worth as much or more than the rich man who just gives money but someone quantifying wouldn't always agree with that. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jul 21 '16 at 10:30
  • $\begingroup$ If it is a question of "how much", then you are quantifying this. Eventually this will break down much like other schemes and some sort of monetization will take place (much like prisoners use cigarettes as money in prison). $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Jul 21 '16 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix - but the original question asks how to quantify. $\endgroup$ – colmde Jul 21 '16 at 13:19

This has much the same weaknesses as communism and capitalism. If you are paid for being kind and generous, then you need resources with which to be generous (the capitalism problem; the rich get richer). You also are subject to the whims and views of others (the communism problem; no objective measurement of kindness).

The rich get richer

It is much easier to be generous if you have resources with which to be generous. So someone who has currency can generate more currency by giving it away.

No objective measurement

What makes for kindness? In this society, someone would have to evaluate how kind you are. That evaluation will be subjective. So people who are liked will receive more rewards.

In this world, doctors will get rich, as their time is a resource. Politicians will get rich. They can be generous with other people's money, getting them their own money. Entertainers will be rich. People will view them as generous in their entertainment. A lot like the current world.

Tough love

Is it kind to turn down one person for a loan and give it to another person? No one will want to be a loan officer. Is it kind to tell people that they need to control their diet? Is it kind to tell someone they failed a physical? While surgeons get rich, general practitioners will starve. Is it kind to tell someone that they got an F on a test? No one will want to be a teacher. Is it kind to arrest someone? No one will want to be in law enforcement.

Invisible kindness

Is it kind to do cancer research? Or is it invisible?

Is it kind to take someone's trash away? Or would people ignore that? In our world, trash collectors are well paid because it is a nasty job. Will that continue to be so? This might well devolve into capitalism. People won't take the tough jobs unless they get compensated.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.