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Why futurist Mark Pesce wants you to buy 15 minutes of his time on the blockchain

Dominic Powell /

Mark Pesce

Mark Pesce. Source: Supplied

A penny for your thoughts? How about a token for your time?

That’s what Australian-American futurist Mark Pesce is hoping to offer punters through his latest project, the ‘Professional Attention Token’ — also known as the Mark Pesce Token.

Similar to digital currencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum (though he stresses he is not calling them a currency), the tokens will be created through a smart contract blockchain platform and issued to interested parties through a private sale.

Pesce will be minting 7200 of these tokens, with each token representing 15 minutes of his time. Punters will be able to purchase them for $125 a piece or obtain one through various marketing giveaways the futurist and innovator intends to carry out.

So, just to make this clear, Pesce is selling a digital token (like Bitcoin, but not intended as a currency) to whoever wants to purchase one for $125. Those who purchase a token will be able to redeem it through a smart contract for 15 minutes of Pesce’s professional services.

What a time to be alive.

Speaking to StartupSmart, Pesce says the idea came to him after Mark Jeffery, an author and close friend of Pesce’s, made a tongue-in-cheek tweet in August last year, which read: “By the year 2018, 4 out of 5 Americans had their own personal cryptocurrency”.

“After I read it, the penny dropped and I called him the next day and said, ‘this is not a joke’, and explained what I meant,” Pesce says.

He was also in part inspired by Mozilla founder Brendan Eich’s Basic Attention Token, which is designed to “unfuck” (his words) internet advertising through rewarding both users and publishers with tokens by ditching all the complex audience segmentation and cross device tracking involved in modern-day advertising and valuing an audience’s attention equally.

And while there might be different costs per thousand impressions depending on the audience and demographic, Pesce says the Basic Attention Token’s ethos is that “all eyeballs are the same to an advertiser”.

“That generic level of attention can be valued in a similar way if you’re asking me a question about your startup, or about the future of work. That is my area of expertise, and you would be leveraging my professional attention,” Pesce says.

“So my idea is that it’s possible to frame that in the same way. Think of it as another kind of attention — not basic attention, but professional attention being backed up by my skills.

“We do this all the time and we even employ professionals to do this for us. Look at doctors, and lawyers.”

Consumer law a stumbling block

Pesce is still in the midst of developing the actual token and smart contract, tossing up if the Ethereum or EOS blockchain would be the most suitable for the project. He’s also been battling through the legal aspects of the smart contract, which is currently written in plain English on his website.

While smart contracts are able to fulfil most of the same purpose as a standard contract, issuing those contracts through a consumer-facing token means Pesce’s professional services become subject to Australian Consumer Law, something which he didn’t anticipate.

“So this means my token can’t violate the restrictions of consumer law, and in this country, you have a whole bunch of rights as a consumer,” he says.

“For example, if someone I don’t want to work with buys one of the tokens, under the consumer contract I can’t refuse to sell them my token, just like how bakers can’t refuse to make a gay wedding cake.”

“But why would someone I don’t like employ me? It doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to spend their money that way.”

After announcing his plans on Twitter yesterday, a number of users began to speculate on the possibility of buying all of Pesce’s tokens (approximately five days worth of time) and use them for various means, such as forcing him to watch YouTube viral video “Epic Sax Guy” on loop.

“On the smart contract page there are plain English definitions of what constitutes professional services and what doesn’t, and how we define that through the smart contract is something we’re learning,” Pesce says in response.

“Could someone force me to watch the Epic Sax Guy and define it as professional services? Well, that’s something we’ll need to work out.”

And while Pesce says tokens of this nature could be thought about as a currency, he stresses the Mark Pesce Token should not be considered as such.

“What people do with the tokens in the aftermarket is out of my control,” he says.

NOW READ: Is Bitcoin a bubble? We don’t even know how to value it properly

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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