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There is no doubt as the world becomes more productive, we are all entering post-employment societies. This can be terrifying as it appears more and more people will no longer be needed to create goods. Even with this knowledge, I remain optimistic, and I look at my hometown for inspiration. By looking at Detroit's past, I can see its future and proudly suggest the city of Detroit is built to succeed in this new environment. I believe this for two essential reasons: it is a city formed at the intersection of cultures and geography, and the city has long been at the forefront of innovation and responsible capitalism. Detroit Is at the Intersection of Cultures and Geography Few cities anywhere in the world share Detroit’s 315-year history. This city which has been shaped equally by geography as the gateway to the Great Lakes as well by the cultures of the people who called the region home, be it Native Americans, French, British, or Americans. Settled in 1701 by the French, the city was named Le Détroit du Lac Érié, meaning the strait of Lake Erie. On the shores of this strait between now Michigan and Ontario and the Great Lakes of Erie and Huron, the French founded a settlement called Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit. Working this crossroads of land and water, the region developed a lucrative fur trade between the French colonists and Native Americans. During the French and Indian War in North America, British troops gained control of the settlement in 1760 and shortened the name of the city to Detroit. At the war’s conclusion, in defeat, the France ceded its territory in North America east of the Mississippi to Great Britain. Following the American Revolutionary War, Great Britain ceded Detroit to the United States coupled with the Jay Treaty of 1796 established the northern border with Canada. During the War of 1812, Detroit switched between British and American control as each side looked for military advantage to gain control of the Great Lakes. At the war’s conclusion, Detroit was duly incorporated as an American city in 1815 where it remains today. With peace and firm American control, the city expanded. The citizens of Detroit were determined to build a significant and substantial city at this unique intersection of water and land. Even the massive fire in 1805 that engulfed many of the wooden structures of the city couldn’t hold Detroit down. So determined were the citizens of Detroit, a geometric street plan would be built for the modest city based on the layout of the grand boulevards of Paris. So important was this intersection of cultures and geography, even today Detroit’s city flag reflects its French, British, and American heritage.  

The Detroit flag incorporates each country that once controlled the city. The lower left quarter represents France with five gold fleurs-de-lis. The upper right quarter represents Great Britain with three gold lions. The lower right and upper left quarters use 13 red and white stripes and stars respectively to represent the original thirteen colonies of the United States.

As Detroit looks to future, it can draw on its historical formation at the crossroads of cultures and geography for guidance. For cities to succeed going forward, they must develop committed efforts to think globally and maximize the use of their culturally diverse communities to gain the full benefits of global markets. Detroit’s long history of building on numerous cultures as well as taking advantage of its geography make it well positioned to succeed in a new post-employment world. Detroit has long been at the forefront of innovation and responsible capitalism Detroit has been at the cutting edge of engineering and manufacturing innovation for over 100 years. In 1903, Henry Ford famously founded the Ford Motor Company and made exceptional use of the assembly line, unlike anything the world had seen before. In addition to other automotive pioneers such William Durant, the Dodge Brothers, Henry Joy, and Walter Chrysler, Detroit was established as the clear global automotive capital. The growth of the auto industry was felt far beyond Detroit. Businesses around the nation created garages to service vehicles and gas stations to fuel up cars, as well as the building numerous factories to make auto parts, glass windows, and rubber tires. Furthermore, this multi-state, multi-plant ecosystem was a precursor to the complex global supply chains that we all benefit from today. Without the innovations created in Detroit over a century ago, raw commodity products sourced anywhere in the world could not be easily designed into user-friendly jackets, automobiles, smartphones, or jumbo-jets. It is not a stretch to say without Detroit our modern wouldn’t exist and wouldn’t be as efficient. With Detroit’s success as an innovate engineering and manufacturing city, companies were able to take advantage of their economic windfalls and be responsible capitalists. In 1914, Ford announced that it would pay its factory workers a minimum wage of $5 per eight-hour day. The news shocked many in the auto industry as $5 per day was nearly double what the average auto worker made. In 1926 the company went a step further, as the company adopted a five-day, 40-hour work week for workers in its automotive factories. Henry Ford said of the decision: “It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either ‘lost time’ or a class privilege.” Both moves were brilliant management as productivity immediately boosted. These two steps of fair wages and more time off have become ubiquitous globally and now impact every sector of the economy. As the fourth-largest city in the American Midwest and the largest city on the United States–Canada border, Detroit is positioned well for the future. As a standalone economy, Detroit's economy is larger than Chile and would easily be one of the world's fifth largest economies. Today there are over 100 technology startups who call Detroit home. As Recode reports, in 2014, for the first time, there was more venture capital activity in Detroit than Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan. According to national education data analyzed by Anderson Economic Group, 10,000 STEM degrees are awarded annually around the Detroit region, which is more than Silicon Valley and nearly 15 percent of Metro Detroit jobs are already in technology. The city of Detroit is built to succeed in the new post-employment environment because of the city’s history of maximizing cultures and geography as well as building upon its innovation and responsible capitalism leadership. It is not a stretch to say without Detroit our modern wouldn’t exist and wouldn’t be as efficient. So the next time someone tells you Detroit isn’t working, say Detroit is succeeding and impacting their life positively daily. Also, look back to the Detroit flag and note the two Latin mottos. One which reads Speramus Meliora and the other Resurget Cineribus, meaning "We hope for better things" and "It will rise from the ashes.” With these mottos powering the city, I believe Detroit is well positioned to resume its claim as one of the world’s greatest cities. No one should underestimate the energy and the drive which has been unleashed just three years after declaring bankruptcy. Not only is remarkable, but Detroit should be inspiring to other cities who can see a path on how to adjust to new global competitive challenges and opportunities. About the author: Marc A. Ross was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and is a University of Michigan football season ticket holder. Marc is currently the founder of Caracal Global, a full-service communications and public affairs firm, as well as Brigadoon, a yearly gathering of entrepreneurs and thought-leaders. You can follow Marc on Twitter or Instagram @marcaross.  

But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.



And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.



It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.



In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.



Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.



This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?


We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?



Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?



Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.



Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.


These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.