A world where machines can own money

artificial intelligence May 18, 2022

Businesses work for people. They build products and services for people for a price. We live in a world where the more money you have the more important you are to these businesses.

A US citizen spends more than an Indian citizen. So we have more products and services built for Americans even though there are 4 times more Indians.

Our modern world revolves around giving people, with spendable money, what they want so we can get a share of their money. We rarely build anything for people with less money. That is generally something that falls under volunteer work, or activism. But the general direction this civilization moves is build for people with money.

but what if machines could also spend money?

We don't have to go into machines being conscious yet. They can have a limited set programmed features that rely on spending money. Money is just yet another resource.

Would that mean we would have more products and services built for machines?

We already have products for machines. No human is going to need lubricants to avoid being rusty. These products are for machines owned by humans. And its humans who spend their money to take care of their machines.

Perhaps an AI can use money as a fitness function in some reinforcement learning dynamic where they use the least amount of money (cost function) to achieve something. The environment would be the real world.

But if machines could take automated decisions, automatically connect to the internet and decide what to spend money on. I imagine we'll have a lot more products and services built specifically for machine needs.

Removing humans from commerce

If we remove humans from the picture of trade, commerce itself will become much more scaled. When we removed humans from the concept of communication by replacing letters with the internet, we also ended building systems of communication that only happen between computers.

For example,  APIs, web protocols, IoT protocols are all ways of communications that happen between computers. The scale at which "communication" happens is on another level compared to before the internet. This has enabled us to innovate and built this modern society.

If we do the same with money, we'd have more avenues of business. Scaling the concept of "trading" to a level that resembles society before and after the internet.


Currently machines cannot own money. Or at least, they cannot own national currencies. Although they can own bitcoin. Bitcoin doesn't require any authority. All it takes is a computer to scramble some numbers and they'll have a bitcoin wallet that can partake in a global economy without anyone's permission. Perhaps with Bitcoin enabled with Lightning Network we could have a world where computers can own their money and spend it as they wish.

This computer can optionally be designed to be out of anyone's control. Perhaps running on some obscure server on the cloud (or even decentralized cloud) where its silently running and spending its bitcoin. What would that program spend its bitcoin on? Maybe its cloud hosting costs? What more business avenues can we think of?



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