Mycrobit - A cryptocurrency for Mycroft developers

DISCLAIMER: I am aware that there are regulatory and legal problems with the idea I’ve outlined below. Obviously we are not going to put the Mycroft project in jeopardy by pursuing this idea without careful vetting, nor are we going to invest precious resources in pursing expensive regulatory approvals. What I’m looking for is a conversation with the Mycroft community to get feedback on this concept. It may be unrealistic or just plain dumb.

As our community already knows, our vision here at Mycroft is to build a strong AI. We are working to achieve this vision by integrating a variety of skills and abilities into a cohesive and comprehensive framework. We’ve had a ton of users, developers and techno-jedis express an interest in helping make this happen, but this approach to AI is resource intensive and is going to take a lot of work on the part of the community. Though the open source community is very generous with its time, we feel the Mycroft project will be more successful if we can compensate developers who make substantial contributions.

The simplest way to handle this would be to offer cash payments to developers. Unfortunately we don’t have enough cash on had for this to be feasible, so we’ve been discussing an alternative solution: Mycrobit.

Mycrobit would be a cryptocurrency backed by a fixed percentage of ownership of the Mycroft corporate entity. We would use Mycrobits to compensate developers who make a significant contribution to the Mycroft development effort. For example a developer who spent 200 hours developing a module that performs facial recognition might receive 5,000 Mycrobits as payment. These Mycrobits would be issued using a blockchain mechanism similar to Bitcoin, but taking into accounts improvements that have been made to the technology.

Contributors to the project could obtain Mycrobits in one of three ways:

  1. Contribute a significant skill or ability to Mycroft
  2. Purchase Mycrobits directly from Mycroft
  3. Purchase Mycrobits from an existing Mycrobit holder

Obviously there would have to be some processes and/or procedures in place for developers to get credit for a skill.

Initially Mycrobits would be backed by a percentage of the business, we are thinking around 5%.

As Mycroft becomes a functioning company, our financial team would look for ways to buy back all of the Mycrobits or exchange them for common stock. In the mean time this mechanism, if we can figure out how to implement it within the SEC’s regulatory framework, will allow us to make our developers into owners of the business.

Of course Mycroft’s source code will be licensed under GPLv3, so in a way the technology behind the company will belong to everyone no matter what. This mechanism simply allows our development community to participate financially in the success of Mycroft the company.

I’d be interested to get feedback from the community, especially from folks who have experience in securities and currency regulation. We don’t want to end up on the wrong side of the SEC, but we do want to provide an incentive for developers who work hard to improve Mycroft’s skills in a significant way.


Kris: This is a fantastic idea if we can make it work. Like you indicated there are going to be some regulatory problems, but I agree that it will help to incentivize development and provide us with an easy way to compensate outside developers for their contributions.

I don’t have much expertise in securities or currency regulation though I do know that IRS treats bitcoin as a security while other parts of government seem to view it as a currency. I am very interested in hearing what the Mycroft community has to say about this.

Hi @krisadair

I found a first issue but a big one. The mistakes here is to consider that FLOSS community is only composed of developers, that is so wrong. It’s more complex.

I’ll talk of experience. I’m not a developer at all, only have basic skills in bash. In FLOSS community, I developed communication skills. I’m an Ubuntu Evangelist, who talk about Ubuntu during showroom, part of the team who organize UbuCon Paris, I do presentation on FLOSS event, some community management… It’s lots of work but nothing to do with development and very hard to quantify. Some friends are specialized in translation, some other have no particular skills but help giving there thoughts, opening bug issues, triaging issues… Ask to Ubuntu Community team, it’s very hard to drive.

That is community. All efforts have to be encouraged if you want a strong community. If you introduce a system that favorite a part of the community but where an other part can’t access, you’ll done wrong and break the trust, the envy to parparticipe

I do not have a magic solutions but if you want to encourage developers to participe, you could do it with a store where devs could sell their “Mycroft’s abilities” for free or not, under FLOSS or non-FLOSS licence, with a possibility to make donation.

And if you really wanted to thanks contributions to Mycroft for the work done by community member, you can organize that work with teams and teams leader that could evaluate the work done, and with coefficient game give some “point”. This point could be used to have promotions on Mycroft’s store (to buy new units, accessories, clothes).

That’s my point of view

Absolutely not
Remember when Valve tried to offer paid mods and internet almost exploded?
I think that store/repo with Mycroft skills is good idea, and option to donate to skill developer is also good idea, but there should not be any mandatory payment. Knowledge should be freely accessible.

@testman - We absolutely want to be inclusive of community members who contribute in ways other than development. How about we change the methods of obtaining Mycrobits from 3 to 4 as follows:

Contributors to the project could obtain Mycrobits in one of three ways:

  1. Contribute a significant skill or ability to Mycroft
  2. Contribute to the Mycroft project in a significant way
  3. Purchase Mycrobits directly from Mycroft
  4. Purchase Mycrobits from an existing Mycrobit holder

That would allow us to reward any contributor with Mycrobits. Folks involved in public relations, promotional activities, community building, and other valuable activities would also be able to end up owning a small piece of the Mycroft pie.


Personally I love Mycrobits, it allows us to encourage people to contribute and get a reward for their efforts (beyond simply feeling good for contributing). Of course we want to encourage engagement in the community through normal volunteer efforts (just giving up abilities and time in return for feeling good about helping the project). But for significant contributions as @Syndrome points out, it would be nice to reward those members.


@krisadair @Syndrome - so far Google+ seems to like this idea.

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There’s several contribution which could easily been taken in account:

  • translations
  • Bugs management
  • development

Coefficients could be applied to this.

But for community things, I think that the trap is some people maybe will just interested by winning Mycrobits. Maybe to have people involved in Mycroft community we could introduce some gamification using all the tools and achievment could come with price in Mycrobits.

For exemple, there’s some non technicien people that could be very engaged on the forum, passionate. So with Discourses Badges, he could win some Mycrobits as well. If you’ll use a stackoverflow system for Q&A there’s a smilar system of badges that could be use to win Mycrobits.

All the rewards attribution have to be discussed between a Community Council and Mycroft AI.

What do you think about it ?

I like the idea of creating a game that motivates developers to contribute and certainly want to take into account contributions other than development @Winael. I really like your ideas.

We are going to take this away and think on it for a while. If we continue to think it is a good idea, we’ll circle back. If we get too busy, or come up with reasons it would be a deal killer, we’ll probably just leave sleeping dogs where they lay.

This sounds really interesting, but other than being a cool thing to do, what does it give you that a spreadsheet doesn’t?

It’s great that you’re thinking of your community and the fact that you’re seriously considering such a system, as well as your FOSS credentials so far, shows that you will be a company worth following. However, I do worry that this may end up being a time sink and too much of a distraction from your core goal.

Such a system would require development time, maintenance, support for users unfamiliar with block-chain technology, and vigilance to prevent abuse. If there’s not an off-the-shelf solution you can just drop in and change the logo of, then I don’t think you should invest your limited resources creating one from scratch. Which is a shame, because if you could get it to work, it could be great. Ideally a large company should be the ones doing this because they have the resources to spare, but ironically, a large company would be the last ones to do it because you’d never get that many ethical minded business people in the same room or get the idea past the lawyers!

Instead, it might be worth looking at how similar altruistic companies have historically tackled such an issue. If you’re serious about it, why not make your company a cooperative and carve it up with you keeping a 95% share and holding the remaining 5% aside. From that 5% you could distribute shares annually based on perceived impact (code or other contributions as mentioned above). The community members could then sell their shares if they prefer a monetary reward.

If you’d prefer something less drastic, maybe look at what Flattr ( does - only try to find a way to implement it in reverse (with the company acting as a single donor and the devs being the creators).

I hate to say it but what it comes down to is: why bother with the mycrobits (or macrobiotics as my predictive text on my phone seems to prefer calling them) at all? Like I said, I love the idea, but I love the idea of Mycroft more and would hate to see it wither on the vine because of a side project spiralling out of control.


Thanks for taking the time to discuss this.

I do like the idea of mycroft developers being encouraged to share their projects with the community instead of just keeping it to themselves though. Maybe we could create a less drastic version of mycrobit that doesn’t involve money, perhaps something similar to StackOverflow’s reputation?

Then the reuptation/mycrobits could be exchanged for some small incentive perhaps. If my SkillHunt idea gets some momentum then that would be one way to use Mycrobits.

If this idea is already dead then sorry for reviving a topic that this forum software so helpfully told me was 192 days old :wink:

But I’m just 12 years old so I have no real experience in this area (yes, yes, I know Google ToS states that you have to be 13 or something to have a google account - but who in the world reads that stuff anyway?)

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