The future was meant to involve flying cars and jetpacks. Instead, it involves tokenizing yourself on the blockchain. It was Andy Warhol who famously observed that in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. That fame, it now appears, may come in the form of the ultimate crypto vanity project: tokenizing yourself and selling your time. One audacious entrepreneur, Boris Akimov, is seeking to do precisely that.
Putting the I in ICO
It turns out that peak blockchain didn’t occur when an iced tea company appended the word to its name for no reason. Instead it arrived on February 21, 2018 when Boris Akimov announced that he would be the first entrepreneur to tokenize himself on the Waves platform. It might not be this week’s most ridiculous story (Steven Seagal and “Bitcoiin” is also a contender), but it’s right up there. Explaining his decision to let the market dictate his value, Akimov said:
I have certain skills, knowledge and experience, as well as my time in which I apply them, which is what will be tokenised. Token owners can receive the benefits of this experience for a period of time, depending on how many tokens they have. The more competent my work, the higher the demand for my skills and knowledge, and the higher the value of the tokens…Conversely, the lower the quality of my work, the lower the value of the token.
It takes a bold man to believe the market will want to purchase a stake in their skill set, especially one whose greatest achievements to date are to launch a farm-to-table Russian restaurant and related token called Biocoin. There are ways for “experts” in the crypto space to monetize their time, the most obvious being Earn.com. It’s used by the likes of Jameson Lopp and Tuur Demeester, but Mr Akimov is evidently a man of loftier ambitions.
Hell Is a World Where Everyone Has Their Own Token
The concept of monetizing one’s time is not new; there have already been attempts at launching ICOs that tokenize rising sports stars. While these attempts have been ham-fisted, it is conceivable to envisage a future in which personal development is commodified and assetized. It may be possible, for instance, for a talented student from India or a skilled soccer star in Colombia to sell their human capital, with future earnings deducted via smart contract and paid as a dividend to early investors.
That future mercifully won’t materialize as a vanity ICO on the Waves platform though. Explaining the rationale behind his self-tokenization, Boris Akimov explains: “Let’s take a conservative estimate in which I tokenise two days a week of my time…So that’s 3,328 hours, or 12 million seconds. So the plan is to create 12 million tokens, each of which can be redeemed for a second of my time and skills!”
A world in which spouses could tokenize intimate time with their significant other and friends could tokenize giving relationship advice to their friends – billed by the second – sounds like a hellish dystopia. It also raises serious ethical questions. (Could you buy into your own ICO? Could you short yourself and profit from your own indolence?) As an exercise in headline grabbing, Mr Akimov’s latest venture earns top marks. As the future of entrepreneurship, however, it leaves a lot to be desired.