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Thomas Miller of NXT Legal and Holochain Developer on Crypto Clothesline Podcast

On the Clothesline’s ‘Money Season’ this week, we speak with the awesome and generous Tom Miller of NXT Legal who completely re-invents for us what value is, what money is and could be, and what it might look like in a very positive future for humanity… with a view to using Holochain technology to get us there.

Starting off as a biomedical engineer, Tom says he decided to get into financial services and the law after finding it hard as a developer to know the legal parameters surrounding the work he was developing.

“…it’s always been a little bit difficult for a developer to do something without knowing how the law is going to react to it.  It made a lot of sense to actually just work from within a financial services law firm…”

Being fascinated by the internet and web technologies, he discovered ‘the power of smart contracts’ early on and started running Etherium meetups in Brisbane, Australia in 2014.

“I’ve spent the last five to six years educating people about the technology blockchain… We always knew there were going to be better technologies that would become available…  

“I’ve been on the blockchain bandwagon for some time – helping banks get on blockchains – to the point where we’re evolving to the next [level]

“I think it’s going to be a better step change to what blockchain provides.”

Tom was instrumental in getting a bank on the blockchain in the Philippines but regrets the move since he’s witnessed how small regional banks then started to offer more and more loan products to villagers, setting up competition between them for higher and higher debts leading to inevitable emotional pain and family stress.  This is something he did not want or expect, to be part of.

“Each villager is going to be competing against each other on who can get in the biggest loan out of that bank and that just raises the prices of houses and then unaffordability kicks in and they’re constantly working every month just to send a bit of energy off to an authority. The chairman of the bank didn’t want that to happen, but that’s basically where the middle management were taking it.”

“I’ve seen the amount of stress alone that can do to a family and what I was feeling was the [social] impact.  There are going to be lots of arguments in those villages and lots of changes and different power structures where a central authority can repossess the land.”

“The village probably wouldn’t even be aware of that in the first place. And so, it’s the devastation of all the emotional abuse that’s going to happen from that which is where I feel sad about the whole thing.”

Sophia Amat (coming on our show as part of the Money Season next week) wrote an article called Gandhi-nomics, where she talked exactly about worldly economic demise due to the banking system.  (Satoshi Nakamoto and the creation of Bitcoin in 2008 and the mining that started in 2009, being a kickback or response to the collapse of the Lehmann brothers and all of the nasty pasty business that went on in the global financial crisis.)

How Can We Create A Society That’s Fair, Accountable, Transparent, And Easy to Understand?

And…how would you use technology to help other people to create that society?

Tom claims this kind of thinking consumes his mind and it’s his personal goal to create environments where people can use these accountability systems with privacy enabled in any customisable way they want.

“I’m just trying to create the right sort of environment where that can happen and thrive.  I don’t have any one opinion about how it’s meant to happen. I think it’s going to be a sum of everyone’s sort of brains. One of the big things that I do believe in is a holistic accounting and how we can start tracking other forms of value flows.”

What Is Holistic Accounting You Ask?

“Holistic accounting is the practice of considering many aspects of a client’s overall health and performance in order to provide a higher level of client service. Clients are looking beyond paying for compliance and are actively searching for trusted advisers.” (Thanks The Daily CPA)

And What Does This Have To Do With REA?

Resources, events, agents (REA) is a model of how an accounting system can be re-engineered for the computer age. REA was originally proposed in 1982 by William E. McCarthy as a generalised accounting model, and contained the concepts of resources, events and agents (McCarthy 1982).

REA treats the accounting system as a virtual representation of the actual business. In other words, it creates computer objects that directly represent real-world-business objects. In computer science terms, REA is an ontology. The real objects included in the REA model are:

  • goods, services or money, i.e., resources
  • business transactions or agreements that affect resources, i.e., events
  • people or other human agencies (other companies, etc.), i.e., agents

(Thanks Wiki)

Tom refers to this system of REA accounting created in the early eighties, being used in conjunction with Holochain technology…

What The Heck Is Holochain Anyway?

So in trying to decipher in lay(wo)man’s terms, what Holochain actually is and what the big deal is all about, I decided to quote directly from the website itself:

A More Human Internet

“Each of us wants to have control over how and with whom we interact. In order to evolve and thrive, our communities must support everyone’s uniqueness. Yet today, our online relationships are dominated by centralized corporate web sites.

“Holochain enables a distributed web with user autonomy built directly into its architecture and protocols. Data is about remembering our lived and shared experiences. Distributing the storage and processing of that data can change how we coordinate and interact. With digital integration under user control, Holochain liberates our online lives from corporate control over our choices and information.

Especially in light of the Facebook data debacle and the ongoing use and big data abuse of our private information, it makes perfect sense to look at a form of web-based technology which can give us back control of what we share, how we share it and with whom…

Can’t We Just Stick with Blockchain?

Tom speaks of Holochain being the evolution of blockchain, and that its current issues with scalability, speed, transparency and overuse of electrical power make it cumbersome in comparison with what Holochain technology can access.

You can build apps on Holochain just like Ethereum, but unlike blockchain, Holochain doesn’t use global consensus.  It’s able to be run between small groups and communities, so energy and computer power isn’t an issue.

Blockchains are chains of transactions where the transactions are publically viewable. Decentralized blockchains are validated with “global consensus,” meaning all nodes (miners) have to agree on the transactions.

Like Ethereum and other platforms, Holochain allows people to build applications on top of their product, but Holochain is an alternative tech that does not use “global consensus.”

Blockchains struggle with speed. One main culprit is because the whole network must agree on the transactions. Holochain, unlike most blockchains do not require “global consensus,” because its “agent centric,” (Agent Centric – Holochain – Medium) and not “data centric.”

With thanks to Natu Myerson Quora

Karma Banks

Tom asserts that currently we could potentially do a series of crappy things and get paid for it, like robbing a bank for example (not that many of us have done that).  We steal from others, and we get the money and we get away with it or whatever….

But what about payment or tangible rewards for great things we do in society?

It could be helping a neighbour, giving out massages, cleaning the streets – whatever is needed.  We see a need and we react positively to it.  We get rewarded in the form of Karma tokens or something similar… Others can verify our actions, they gather some buzz on social media and we get a reward that we could perhaps redeem for food, or for whatever is on offer in the ecosystem.

Tom sees this as a mix of banking and social media, and just like on socials, when there’s commenting and engagement surrounding an act, or a ‘series of events’ as Tom calls it, then we know it’s not a fake, we know it’s not manufactured news – it’s real because people are discussing it, throwing around opinions and spreading the news.

“We’re looking at all the events that are happening and we’re like not really that good. I think we can do a bit better than that, except we seem to place a lot of importance in Fiat (cash) currency.

“But that’s changing. Two, three years ago people didn’t even know what cryptocurrency was and now people are looking at that as well.

“I think we’re going to move beyond cryptocurrencies and it’s just going to be value tracking of events.

“And are those events we’re going to be having conversations with other.  We will be able to track it with creating all sorts of metrics and numbers. Just like when you go to a website and you see it’s getting a thousand views a day. That’s a bunch of events that have happened. So, it’s just a slightly small tweak on the way we look at reality.”

If we actually look at what money is, you would see it as a sort of a value transaction, but as opposed to it being an exchange in the classic Fiat cash economy, we’re looking at the value of the acts of certain events.

Kindness, Honesty And Sympathy is a Resource That’s Measurable Too

It’s all about whether you’ve acted in a way which is helping your fellow human being or whether you’re acting against them. And there’s transparency which then leads to a reputation, whereby you know you’re getting somehow rewarded for the good acts that you’re doing. Even if that’s not necessarily your intention – to get payment.

“At the moment I can get rewarded with Fiat currency and I can do bad events. I can go and rob and get Fiat currency. You know there’s a lot of bad things I can do.

“But if you start building these events, and systems that generate currency points because that event’s been verified, the only way to earn that currency is through doing these good events that actually heal society and make a difference to the bigger picture.  It’s going to be a different world.

“We can start creating a web of trust that can’t really be faked.

“If someone’s gone out and given a hundred massages, then that can be put against their profile. They can choose to make that public. And that could give them extra perks in society.

“What can be created as a trail of breadcrumb data that you just can’t really fake.

“It’s like when you go to a Facebook profile and you can tell which are the fake ones, and which are the real ones because the real ones have a lot of friend data in there and they are a lot richer.”

What About Getting Paid for Being A Great Parent? 

Most parents work pretty much 24/7 with no pay and certainly no overtime… How can parents get a rewarded for creating a solid family unit and bringing up children who care about and respect others?

“This is where it comes to what I like to call Impact Reporting where you can eventually show the impact of bringing up a good child in society.

“It’s just going to be an easier world and people are not going to optimise on just ripping people off or getting money out of somebody just to and provide the minimum basic service.

“I’m trying to create the right environment for these types of ideas to flourish and for people to customise these holistic accounting systems to exactly what they see is important.

“A holistic way of tracking events because that’s all life’s about. It’s just a bunch of events we get obsessed about: making money or getting rich or…

“What’s really cool is that we just need to be able to track all the events that happened in society in a way that everyone understands instead of educating everyone that they need money in the bank and need to save it.

“That’s just a very one-way view of the reality that we live in.”

Some of the information we present about ourselves is private, and some is public, that depends on our wishes and inclinations.

“We’re basically building a bunch of new agreements for all the scenarios that we’re in and it doesn’t need to be broadcast to the world or on a public chain unless we want it to for really good reasons.

“Like we want to show how ethical we are or want to show how funny we are or there’s a lot of reasons or you you’ve got a shared bank account together and you want to report all your transactions to, maybe you have a bank account for your family and you might have a shared account together.”

Tom completely rocks the (street-wise) boat by suggesting we could adopt family bank accounts, street bank accounts, community and city bank accounts where we are all privy to the information stored there, unlike our current banking model, and we decide, perhaps with the consensus of 5-6 people on our street, what to spend our street funds on: fixing a hole in the road, planting more trees, making the space beautiful for our children, taking care of a neighbour – whatever the agreed need is.

“So maybe there might be 10 houses on the street, four of the houses have to sign for something to happen. And this is what I’m trying to say, like I’m not trying to dictate how it’s meant to be, but I’m just trying to inspire people to make them realise that they can change all the labels and all the knobs on these customisable systems and to make it work for them.

“And I might start off really small where a street’s just testing the water and only puts a few cents in there. All they want is to track activities or events that on that street.

“Maybe it’s all the kids: it can track all the bottles that they’ve cleaned up on the street and they get a reputation from completing all those events on the street or the neighbourhood.”

Tom clarifies that the banks would never take this approach as they’re hugely risk-averse and they’ve got things going pretty well for themselves with the current system. 

“Why would [banks] go transparent with their finances? The idea is that new banks are going to be set up and start doing this.  They’re going to do it because they want to be more competitive and things can change.”


Talks with Real People Helping in Human Crisis Situations In The World Right Here, Right Now

This morning I joined an online collaboration chat with three others including Dr Alison Thompson of Third Wave Volunteers, a medic on the ground working most recently with starving displaced people who’ve walked for thousands of miles in Venezuela.

Tom Miller, this week’s guest, was also there, along with Kieran Mesquita and I (Abheeti Kathryn Pass).

Alison listed some of the challenges she’s experiencing in the field dealing with famine, displacement, lack of medical facilities, lack of funds to be able help out, and general exhaustion of a people starving in a country where the leaders refuse to acknowledge there is even any issues in order to avoid foreign intervention.

Volunteers cleaning the feet of people who’ve walked thousands of miles to get to freedom…

We listened to Tom talk in real time, about technological platforms he’s co-creating which could enable people help each other and get rewarded for it, using many of the ideas and technologies mentioned in this interview you’re reading about. 

This is an exciting and uplifting conversation with Alison, Tom, other developers, and other people from all walks of life.

If you would like to join us from anywhere in the world, so you can learn, help, belong and contribute, you’re very welcome to join our Telegram chat room: Third Wave: Tech 4 Humans Helping Humans.

We welcome anyone wanting to be part of this positive action group created with the intention of moving forward in practical uplifting ways, to Help Humans Help Humans. Touched by Alison’s voluntary work in crisis points all over the world, we’re inspired to volunteer our own time, energy, expertise and whatever else we can give, to further her work, spread love and offer the generosity of the human spirit.

See our upcoming interview with Dr Alison Thompson of Third Wave Volunteers and also Venezuelan journalist Diana Aguilar, speak about the atrocities in this country and how Bitcoin, and technology might just be helping a little…or even a lot.

Show Notes

Find Tom Miller on LinkedIn

Thomas Miller: Holochain Podcast

Thomas Miller: NXT Legal

Thomas Miller: (Project Management System)



Sophie Amat

Telegram Chat Room: Third Wave: Tech 4 Humans Helping Humans



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