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

  • Kaj-Kolja KleinebergEmail author
  • Dirk HelbingEmail author
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.


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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

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