Time is money, but is money time?

It might be the lack of sleep talking here and I feel kind of sheepish bringing this up because Darren (Mr. Wormhole) has already bagged me out, but I think I might be on the verge of defining the next big commodity market.

Demand for Time

As a software developer I feel like I am constantly under time pressure to complete projects by a specified dates and the deadlines seem to be getting closer, and the feature set getting larger.

Almost invariably you end up having a discussion with the project manager whether it would help if another developer joined the team – of course everyone (even the project manager) knows that adding people to a late project only adds it later. The bottom line is that you need more time in order to complete the feature set.

Of course, if the project manager had time he (or she) would give it to you, but no amount of money can give you more time – or can it?

Time is a Commodity

For a long time we have understood the relatively simple concept of paying people to do work, or rather paying for them to use their time (people have a finite amount of time).

I would like to see time become a tradable commodity where not only can you pay for someone to use their time, but you can actually buy their time off them outright. For example, Bob could buy five weeks of time from Mary – and in theory Mary’s life span would be reduced by five weeks. Sounds pretty harsh, but we already do things now that reduce our lifespan, so we might as well profit from it🙂

Of course, it is possible that someone might end up with a negative balance. Now they aren’t going to drop dead, but you could say that they are living on borrowed time (literally).

Usage Scenarios

There are a few usage scenarios where I think people could use “time”:

  1. Your project is running late and you want to exchange so of your capital budget for more time in the schedule.
  2. You miss a flight and you trade time with the person you were catching up on dinner with to ensure that you can have that dinner date at some point in the future.
  3. Can you think of any more?

Time Markets, Not Time Machines!

We seem to want to build time machines, but perhaps the key is to build time markets where we can buy and sell time. Suppliers of time are those people that are perhaps at the end of their career and need money to survive – they can sell time based on the “life equity” they have established by having a healthy lifestyle.

The value that someone is prepared to pay for time depends on how valuable the supplier is. If you buy the time and the supplier kicks the bucket then what happens to the time you have purchased? I don’t know – the model definately needs some work – but as we march towards the singularity time (or runtime) will become increasingly more valuable than crude monetary instruments.

OK – I’ll got and stand in the crazy corner now🙂

4 thoughts on “Time is money, but is money time?

  1. Haacked

    But can you already see the black market as people have many babies and sell all their time. Having babies would be a gold mine!

    Seriously though, we sort of do already have a market for time. Instead of cleaning my own house, I could in theory buy those few hours a month by hiring a house cleaner.

  2. David Mackie

    Hmmm sounds like you have already found a “Supplier” Mitch
    Remember don’t lick postage stamps with overly simple graphics and no value printed on them

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