In Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Cory Doctorow wrote about the concept of Whuffie, which is basically a universal reputation currency. Everywhere one goes, they’re displaying their wuffie on them, and others are free to view it.
The idea (or part of it at least) is that knowing your treatment by others will be based on it, it encourages you to do things that will raise it–thus leading to a better society.
I was thinking about the possibility of getting a Tesla as my next car last week when I came across the idea of wireless power transfer on the freeway.
Wireless power is already something of a reality, but it’s still in early stages. But imagine if one could exchange power freely on the major roads with other drivers. They could display or “broadcast” that they’re in need of power (they’re all electric, you understand), and cars could then offer X amount of their reserves to them as they drove by.
This would require that it only take a few seconds to perform the transfer, but this isn’t inconceivable at this point.
There would also be power stations periodically on the road that powered up those that need it (or paid for it) as you drive by, but between those you’d rely on other drivers to share when you’re in a bind.
So you could display or broadcast something like your Whuffie as you drive, and when you make a request for energy one could see whether you’re a reciprocator or a taker, and decide to help you accordingly.
The idea of Karma as currency is just brilliant in general, and all the various ways one could exchange this currency in the future is fascinating.
There was also a news story recently on completely wireless power, which is really where this will end up. Plugging the car in will be considered a last resort, when you’re out in the woods somewhere. Elsewhere, you’ll be in the range of the national infrastructure’s wireless power grid.
So as long as you have a good signal you can get plenty of power to get where you need to go. And if you absorb and sell back power that you collect (via a solar array or something), then you’ll either pay much less or perhaps even get money back. So imagine every vehicle being covered in solar panels, generating their own power, and constantly consuming and/or reselling/offering a portion of it to those that need it.
Basically, power generation and consumption becomes a peer to peer commodity, with wireless as the medium and Whuffie as the currency.