Self-ownership: Land

in life •  11 months ago

In previous posts I have argued that blockchain technology enables entirely new concepts of ownership as, for the first time in history, objects have the possibility to factually own something. This enables self-owned machines that are able to participate in our economy. We may move from a human economy into an age of a human-machine economy.

I have argued that machines owned production has several benefits over human owned production and is likely to replace humans in many areas. For more details please see Part I and Part II.

Now I will argue about a slightly different topic, which is ownership of land (including the raw resources included in it). Obviously land does not posses the ability to own itself as it is not able to engage in binding deals. The raw state of land is simply being unowned. In the past humans have claimed this land for themselves, but all functions required to claim and own a piece of land can also be performed by a smart contract. So it would be entirely possible for a smart contract to own, manage and protect land.

This could happen by someone setting up a smart contract and transfer his ownership rights to that contract. The contract will then collect revenue from the land or rent it out for economic use and use the profit to buy more land extending its reach gradually. The questions are if this concept can compete on a free market with human ownership and what are the consequences of non-human owned land.


The advantages of smart owned land are

  • Low maintenance and no desire to extract personal profits
  • Full transparency and security for land usage agreements
  • logic behaviour and not subject to human randomness
  • competition for the most efficient usage of the land

If this is enough to gradually push humans out of land ownership is not clear at all. But there are a few interesting points to be made. As an example lets look at a region which is in danger of tsunamis. Currently, warning and protection measures are hard to realise. If everyone participates it is clear that the value of the land goes up, but once these measures are installed they protect everyone and individuals may try to escape and not contribute to them to get even more profit.
This in many cases prevents the optimum solution to be realised at all.

Smart contracts are by design reliable. If the entire tsunami endangered region is owned by smart contracts, they can and will work together in developing all sorts of project protecting their shared land. Cooperative smart contracts will outperform and dominate the non-cooperative ones. Note that there are no egoistic ones. Even a smart contract that just amasses its wealth is not egoistic as that money is now forever lost, reducing available supply and in this way redirecting its value to everyone else.

A second interesting topic is the waste economy. Smart contracts do always have a long term strategy as they are not subject to human biology forcing us often to think in very short timescales. A smart contract will recognise that any waste deposited in his territory will reduce the value of the land and only accept waste if a big enough payment is made. This will drive the cost of producing waste to the real free market value of storing waste reliably. Without the use of centralised force, pollution now obtains a price and this may give a true boots to green technologies, unlike the current schizophrenic positions centralised governments are taking.

Finally I want to present a philosophical argument. It is evident that we own our bodies. From this it automatically follows that we also own our work. But the natural state of the earth is unowned. I do not have the right to invent imaginary lines and then deny others entry into this area. In most philosophies the idea of work-mixing is used to convert unowned objects into owned ones. But one could also argue that, since nobody worked to create the earth, it's bare value cannot be owned by individuals. And that trying to enforce ownership over certain parts of the world is an aggression against all other humans.

Smart contract ownership or management can be a solution to this dilemma without requiring a central authority. The earth will not be human owned, but managed by competing protocols that assign certain regions to be used by individuals.

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you say profit like it's a bad thing.


where? I dont think it is a bad thing at all. I am just pointing out that a smart contract that does not care about profits will beat an otherwise equally smart human that however wants a profit and therefore gradually pushes humans out of business.