Due to increasing inequality, capitalism is pushing marginalized groups to pursue new value creation models. The success of these models suggests we’re transitioning into a new economic system. As seen through the WRLDVW market, artificial value is an effective and virtually free mechanism that enhances human perception of value. Established institutions and brands should harness it to empower people in anticipation of the changing economic paradigm.
This document introduces “artificial value” as a concept that I assert represents the next stage of economic and psychological empowerment for humanity. Artificial value is the automated increase in the value representation of digital assets when specific criteria are met. After running WRLDVW, a market that provided artificial value to over 45,000 users in 2020, I saw the potent effect artificial value had in comprehensively altering human perception of what’s valuable. After introducing artificial value to WRLDVW, user engagement increased by a staggering 4,225% across all mediums. My fundamental insight is that humans are hyper-aware of and obsessed with gains, whether those gains are real or artificial (and even when they know the gains are artificial). I refer to this as the psychological gains theory. In December 2020, WRLDVW closed down due to an inability to raise money. However, after serious reflection, WRLDVW was never meant to be a long-term company. Instead, it was a diagnostic tool—a canary in the coal mine—to assess the world at large. As billions of people lack access to value-accruing assets, people will inevitably seek new models of value creation, no matter how outlandish the models may appear in the eyes of economic logic. With critical mass, these new models will materialize as legitimate value creation engines. As the population of internet users increases, this trend will inevitably accelerate, giving rise to entirely new value creation models (and on a frequent basis). The creation and success of cryptocurrencies and the recent unexpected surges in the stock of underperforming U.S. companies like GameStop and AMC (“meme stocks”) demonstrate this. I argue that cryptocurrencies, meme stocks, and the receptiveness to artificial value within WRLDVW constitute new value creation models that do not fit within capitalism, where businesses are the sole engine of value creation and the perceived performance of a business or stock drives investment decisions. This suggests we’re transitioning into a new economic system. To account for this change, established institutions and brands should adopt an artificial value market for their customer base, providing their customers with potential economic and psychological empowerment opportunities. Each time a customer transacts with the entity, they should receive a digital asset that accrues artificial value. While the digital assets may lack intrinsic value on their own, the continual rise of artificial value alters the human brain to perceive the assets as valuable. Customers within the same market should be able to trade assets with one another. Artificial value as an empowerment tool is inevitable. It follows the same technology empowerment arc as artificial intelligence, where computers help humans move beyond the real world’s limitations. I offer my consultancy on this model ().
WRLDVW was conceived of as a social experiment to understand the nature of value. The original questions of interest included: What is value? How is value created? How does value change over time? How is value distributed? Can anyone capture value? To answer these questions, a new kind of platform was pursued that did not adhere to existing frameworks of economics, product development, marketing, or user experience. The strategy included:
Offering a product that did not exist anywhere else (digital assets in the form of names and locations that accrued artificial value).
Testing out prices that ranged from US$5 to $10,000,000.
Placing ads in various countries and languages to assess how WRLDVW resonated worldwide.
Focusing on the international community to ensure that assets were democratically owned (instead of only launching in one region).
Distributing over 210,000 assets for free.
Several eye-catchers were also utilized as a part of the marketing strategy. Video ads were created to resemble movie trailers instead of the typical startup marketing material. Spelling and grammar errors were occasionally placed in the ads. The source code of the first WRLDVW iteration was publicized. When the platform shut down, refunds were offered to everyone who made purchases. Most of these are tactics that virtually no one would coach a startup to do. But uncovering answers to the original questions meant taking bold moves that strayed away from convention. Similar to this approach, boldness is required to confront the reality of what’s going on.
[21 February 2021 update]
Economic System Bias: The inability of humans to detect the end of an economic system (slavery, feudalism, capitalism, etc.) when that system benefits them.
If you’ve enjoyed WRLDVW, learned something new, or simply would like to support, please consider donating below. Everything is appreciated.