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Re: Electronic Banking

Tim and others write with concern about the possible legal consequences of
setting up a model digital economy.  I would like to suggest that there may
be very little to worry about here.  This entire project constitutes a
research exercise which will no doubt be written up for publication (at
least online publication, which makes sense culturally given the nature of
the community of interest).  It's research and education.  The amounts of
"digital money" involved can be utterly miniscule: pennies.  This is a
"token economy" in the same sense as when psychiatric hospital inmates work
on the ward for tokens they can trade in for snacks and so on, or a
highschool economics class does a similar exercise using Monopoly-type play

This is not illegal any more than any other social science project would be
illegal if all the subjects were adults giving informed consent.  Pennies
are not a controlled substance nor are they a weapon (unless dropped on
people from high places... :-).  

By analogy I'm thinking of the laws against bigamy/polygamy, and a group of
adults getting together to study the question of the effects of different
kinds of marital arrangements.  So they have a group where they "pretend" to
carry out different arrangements and then examine the social dynamics
resulting from each.  

It's quite obvious we're all concerned about the larger social impacts of
the possibility of a transition to a cashless economy; and we're
hypothesising possible negative consequences and trying to work out
solutions.  That is entirely admirable, and can be presented as such to
anyone who cares to listen to the case.  

If this needs any further work to develop research angles, I'll gladly come
up with a bunch of surveys and other measures, and we can put them into use
and harvest some nifty statistical results which might be publishable in the
academic literature.