The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 225, Issue 17–18, pp 3231–3241 | Cite as

A “Social Bitcoin” could sustain a democratic digital world

Open Access
Regular Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Discussion and Debate: Can Economics be a Physical Science?


A multidimensional financial system could provide benefits for individuals, companies, and states. Instead of top-down control, which is destined to eventually fail in a hyperconnected world, a bottom-up creation of value can unleash creative potential and drive innovations. Multiple currency dimensions can represent different externalities and thus enable the design of incentives and feedback mechanisms that foster the ability of complex dynamical systems to self-organize and lead to a more resilient society and sustainable economy. Modern information and communication technologies play a crucial role in this process, as Web 2.0 and online social networks promote cooperation and collaboration on unprecedented scales. Within this contribution, we discuss how one dimension of a multidimensional currency system could represent socio-digital capital (Social Bitcoins) that can be generated in a bottom-up way by individuals who perform search and navigation tasks in a future version of the digital world. The incentive to mine Social Bitcoins could sustain digital diversity, which mitigates the risk of totalitarian control by powerful monopolies of information and can create new business opportunities needed in times where a large fraction of current jobs is estimated to disappear due to computerisation.


  1. 1.
    D. Helbing, Nature 497, 51 (2013)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    S.V. Buldyrev, R. Parshani, G. Paul, H.E. Stanley, S. Havlin, Nature 464, 1025 (2010)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    D. Helbing, Interaction support processor (2015),
  4. 4.
    D. Helbing, Why we need a new economy to survive (2016),
  5. 5.
    D. Helbing, Social Self-Organization (Springer, 2012)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    D. Helbing, The self-organizing society – taking the future in our hands (2015),
  7. 7.
    S.E. Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies (Princeton Univ. Press, 2008)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    J. Arpe, To the Man with a Hammer: Augmenting the Policymaker‗s Toolbox for a Complex World (Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2016)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    D. Helbing, Implementing change in a complex world – responding to complexity in socio-economic systems: How to build a smart and resilient society? (2015),
  10. 10.
    K.K. Kleineberg, M. Boguñá, Sci. Rep. 5, 10268 (2015)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    K.-K. Kleineberg, M. Boguñá, Sci. Rep. 6, 25116 (2016)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    P. Bak, C. Tang, K. Wiesenfeld, Phys. Rev. Lett. 59, 381 (1987)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Reuters. Negative rates for 2-3 years become worry for banks (Apr 7 2016),
  14. 14.
  15. 15.
    Reuters. Ecb‗s credibility at stake if inflation target missed (Apr 7 2016),
  16. 16.
    Reuters. Ecb could give 1,300 euros to bloc‗s citizens, nordea says (Mar 31 2016),
  17. 17.
    M. Lynn, Draghi may have to throw money out of a helicopter (March 2016),
  18. 18.
    Reuters. Fed signals caution on rate hikes, worried by global growth: minutes,
  19. 19.
    D. Helbing, Thinking Ahead – Essays on Big Data, Digital Revolution, and Participatory Market Society (Springer, 2015)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    D. Helbing, From communism 2.0 to capitalism 2.0 (March 2016),
  21. 21.
    D. Helbing, Beyond superintelligence: Mastering future challenges with capitalism 2.0 and democracy 2.0 (2016),
  22. 22.
    D. Helbing, Qualified money: A better financial system for the future (October 2014),
  23. 23.
    D. Helbing, Why we need democracy 2.0 and capitalism 2.0 to survive (2016),
  24. 24.
    S. Nakamoto, Bitcoin: A peer-to-peer electronic cash system. provides a portrait of what bitcoin is and how it would be implemented (2009),
  25. 25.
    R. Epstein, R.E. Robertson, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 112, E4512 (2015)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    R.M. Bond et al., Nature 489, 295 (2012)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
  28. 28.
    D. Helbing, E. Pournaras, Nature 527, 33 (2015)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    J.L. Contreras, J.H. Reichman, Science 350, 1312 (2015)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    isocial: Decentralized online social networks project (2013–2016),
  31. 31.
  32. 32.
    S. Aghaei, M.A. Nematbakhsh, H.K. Farsani, Int. J. Web Semant. Technol. 3, 1 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    K.-K. Kleineberg, M. Boguñá, M. Ángeles Serrano, F. Papadopoulos, Nat. Phys. 12, 1076 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    A. Gulyás, J.J. Bíró, A. Korösi, G. Rétvári, D. Krioukov, Nat. Commun. 6, 7651 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    K.-K. Kleineberg, M. Boguñá, Phys. Rev. X 4, 031046 (2014)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    B. Ribeiro, Modeling and predicting the growth and death of membership-based websites. International World Wide Web Conference (2014)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    A nation of makers (the white house) (2016),
  38. 38.
    E. Hand, Nature 466, 685 (2010)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    D. Helbing, How the internet of things can make the invisible hand work and societies thrive (2016),
  40. 40.
    C.B. Frey et al., The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation? (2013),

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Open Access This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departament de Física Fonamental, Universitat de BarcelonaMartí i Franquès 1, BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Computational Social Science, ETH ZurichCH-8092 ZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations