Who needs insurance when they can have a blockchain?
Almost everybody, I guess. Even if it may be a very different kind of insurance.
A few days ago I read a tweet that asked:
“This IoT economy will be in no need of centralized money systems. In fact, it does not need a single currency, it can sustain dozens (bitcoin, freecoin, bartering, swapping…) Who needs insurance when all products are monitored in some way or another?”
My instinctive reply was:
- pretty much everybody. For example:
- people who may be hit by a drunk driver of a car that was 100% blockchain monitored in any step of its production
- the manufacturers of that car, if it is a REALLY driverless one, not the fake ones of today.
- restaurants that unwillingly serve #food contaminated by workers before they realized they were sick
In other words: without some sort of insurance, how would that drunk driver, or restaurant owner the damages, medical costs etc.. if they (willingly or not) hurt others?
“The system pays for that”
The answer to the example above was:
“the system pays for that, as it should as actions and consequences are distributed over the agency of persons, objects and infrastructure, so any consequence is always shared, so as there never is any one party to blame one can only have this smartness in a system perspective”.
“there is no other way for insurance on ‘life’ can not be paid by anyone. China is moving in this direction and the business model for the smart city/gated community is actually to lease everything: food, cas, security… and ask huge flat fee for that”
To this, that day I replied “Not sure it is doable, or that it is a system I would endorse. Need time to think about it”.
I’m still doubtful
The vision in the tweets above leaves me dubious for several reasons. Some are on the emotional/ cultural/ philosophical side:
- I consider “the system pays for that” THE way to deal with stuff that, by and large, is not an individual’s fault. Namely, healthcare.
- having “the system” pay, instead, for individual negligence or carelessness, as in the examples I made above, doesn’t feel right to me
Some other doubts I have come straight from the research done in the DiDIY (“Digital DIY”) project: for more on this, see the sections about product liability in the DiDIY Guidance Manual.
But let’s focus on a more objective issue: the idea itself of an economy that is so completely “IoT-based” that “all products are monitored in some way or another”.
I have very strong concerns that an economy like that is something that we should just avoid, not try to implement. I wonder if there are enough raw materials in the world to build all the devices it would require, but I have no data to back up this feeling (if you do, please tell me). But this is irrelevant: the point is that such an economy would pollute so much to make we long for the good old days when all we had to worry was plastics. Even if, together with “all products” it did not unavoidably monitor, “in some way or another”, also every individual, to an extent that really makes me uncomfortable.
Please, everybody: let’s think some million times more…
before making even more steps towards a world where really “all products are so monitored that there is no need for insurance”. Such a world would very likely be a safer and more efficient place, but not a better one.