(This is part 6 of a series of posts that will be bundled in apaper on crypto-currencies at Red Planet Dust. See for Part 1)

We need to understand our “ability to collaborate” before we can understand how developments in money/currency – reflecting “value” – and payments – as the logistics of handing over the value – will improve (or potentially disrupt!) our ability to collaborate.

We as social creatures have been dividing tasks amongst the members of the group from the beginning. Our ability to collaborate, as it is embedded in our genes through evolution, is a prerequisite for the development of our complex societies, as we know them today. To me, this ability to collaborate is the essential characteristic of our human species (“Homo Sapiens”) and core to our success in evolutionary terms (and hence the complexity of our society). I will be referring to “Homo Collaborans” (“the collaborating man”) in this regard.

Specialising in tasks makes the members of a group more dependent on each other while being able to create better chances to survive and enhance living conditions as a group and as an individual or for our offspring. Specialisation does not only mean that the task at hand can be done more efficiently and effectively but also prompts – continuous – improvements.

Crucial in this development was the introduction of mechanisms that would allow collaboration between groups and their members (and inter-group collaboration) without the need to constantly tune what we do with (all) the others. For the lack of a better word I have called this “implicit collaboration”.

Examples of these mechanisms are: Culture, Trust, Law and Standards. Money is an applied mechanism for collaboration and is being founded on the 4 before mentioned mechanisms.

We tend to internalise these types of mechanisms very successfully, both socially as a group and psychologically as individuals. To an extend that we in general do not even see them as mechanisms and that most of us take the outcome of these mechanisms as absolute truths.

Implicit collaboration is commonly used unilaterally, even unconsciously most of the time. Parties adhere even without realising they are, and by obeying to it, are creating an environment that all others can easily “link” to, even parties that they will never do business with directly or even will ever know of their existence. This network effect that has a direct effect on the ability for all to collaborate will be referred to at Red Planet Dust as “collaborability”.

Money is a key ingredient to human collaboration. Actually, it is one of mans most powerful inventions ever and has laid the foundation for the incredibly complex world we live in. The more efficient the form of money (and payments as the logistics part of money) to our disposal the better we are able to collaborate and create more prosperity for more people. Without money we would not have been able to create the incredible level of division of labour or ownership for instance, which forms the basis of our economies today.

Money is one of mankind’s most important and far reaching conceptions to facilitate collaboration. Our conception of money has been developing over time. Today we see new technologies and new concepts like Bitcoin emerging and rapidly proliferate that have an impact on our conceptions on currencies and payments. If the properties of money change it will have a major impact on our ability to collaborate.

For more on Bitcoin at Red Planet Dust:
The RPD Bitcoin files