“The music is in effect telling us about a future existence in which love and cooperation have placed strife and oppression. Once we have achieved a glimpse of that future state, our present mode of life becomes increasingly intolerable: who could be satisfied with prison after having breathed the sweet air of true freedom?”
Frank Kofsky

Coltrane - The Story of a Sound

Technology and our Experience of Time

n

A short and sweet conversation between Douglas Rushkoff and Alan Burdick about time … the kind that clocks indicate and the kind that we experience.

Imagine that the video is presented here. It isn’t because it was published on Facebook and you have to jump through hoops do display a Facebook video anywhere else because Facebook want everyone to stay in Facebook. Are you still on Facebook?

To listen to the conversation click on this dumb link to another post instead of directly watching the video.

Posted in AltEco, Intake, outside | Tagged , | You are welcome to add your comment

Revisiting Trust in Bitcoin and Blockchain

n

I have mentioned before that I do not believe in bitcoin and blockchain technologies because of their attempt to circumvent trust. I believe in using technology to nourish trust relationships.

This article (via the P2PFoundation) does a good job of demonsrating the issue of trust and how it has already manifested and challenged ongoing blockchain explorations.

… Trust seems to be in short supply these days, although we have no choice but to rely on it. We trust schools and babysitters to look after our children. We trust banks to hold our money and to transfer it safely for us … Sometimes, however, our system of trust fails us …

Imagine a world in which we didn’t exchange currency, but kept track of who had what on a huge public spreadsheet, distributed across the internet. Every 10 minutes, all the transactions that took place in that slice of time are fused together into a single block. Each block includes a chain linking it to previous blocks, hence the term ‘blockchain’. The end result is a universal record book that reliably logs everything that’s ever happened via a (theoretically) tamper-proof algorithm. We don’t need to trust human bankers to tell us who owns what, because we can all see what’s written in the mathematically verified blockchain.

the fact of the matter is that blockchain technology is larded through with trust … First, you need to trust the protocol of the cryptocurrency … some actual human (or humans) wrote the code and hopefully debugged it, and we are at least trusting them to get it right, no? … Second, you have to trust the ‘stakeholders’ (including miners) not to pull the rug out from under you … Third, if you are buying into Ethereum … you are being asked to trust the people who review the algorithm and tell you what it does and whether it’s secure. But those people – computer scientists, say – are hardly incorruptible.

… it ends with other humans. Blockchains don’t offer us a trustless system, but rather a reassignment of trust. Instead of trusting our laws and institutions, we are being asked to trust stakeholders and miners, and programmers, and those who know enough coding to be able to verify the code. We aren’t actually trusting the blockchain technology; we are trusting the people that support the blockchain.

… Why are people so eager to put their faith in blockchain technology and its human supporters, instead of in other social and economic organisations? The upheavals of 2016, from Brexit to Trump, suggest that there is widespread fatigue with traditional institutions. Governments can be bought. Banks are designed to service the wealthy, and to hell with the little guy. ‘The system is rigged’ is a common refrain.

But instead of targeting the moral failures of the system and trying to reform it, the very concept of ‘trust’ has become suspect. Blockchain enthusiasts tend to cast trust as little more than a bug in our network of human interactions. To be sure, one of the weird features of trusting relationships is that, in order to trust someone, there has to be some chance that they will fail you. Trust involves risk – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Trust is what makes all relationships meaningful. Yes, we get burned by people we rely on, and this makes us disinclined to trust others. But when our faith is rewarded, it helps us forge closer relationships with others … Risk is a critical component to this bonding process. In a risk-free world, we wouldn’t find anything resembling intimacy, friendship, solidarity or alliance, because nothing would be at stake … Perhaps we ought to reconsider the desire to expunge trust, and instead focus on what should be done to strengthen it.

… we shouldn’t deceive ourselves with the idea that a technological fix can replace the human dimension of trust. Automation of trust is illusory. Rather than disparaging and cloaking human trust, we should face the brutal truth: we can’t escape the need to rely on other people, as fallible and imperfect as they might be. We need to nurture and nourish trust – not throw it away, like so much debased and worthless currency.”

As I read through this I noticed a recurring pattern (first brought to my attention by Charles Eisenstein): just as money erodes relationship so does blockchain erode trust in whatever traces of relationship we still have. To me that indicates that though blockchain was created as an act of rebellion against systems and institutions (which are demonstrably untrustworthy) it is deeply embedded in a shared (and I believe faulty) understanding of human nature and life. In this sense blockchain technology is giving CONTINUITY to destructive patterns embedded in our existing money systems.

 

 

Posted in Intake, Intellect Run Amok, Money, outside, Tech Stuff | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Emergence: Daniel Schmachtenberger

n

This is my first encounter with Daniel Schmachtenberger from The Emergence Project and it is A LOT to take in … the words are not big but they carry big meanings and no spare words are uttered.

This describes a world I would want to wake up to.

… its coming strong and coming fast … so hang on … attraction creates relationship creates synnergy (which is a more elegant order of complexity) creates emergence which is … magic  🙂

Posted in Expanding, inside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

On Demurrage (negative interest) – Reply to Albert Wenger

n

This post is a long comment on Albert Wenger’s post about Money as Commons (and if both our sites were powered with IndieWeb abilities then I would have been able to comment on his site and have the comment automatically posted in my own site).

Demurrage in Nature – Decay

If I was a grain farmer and I was left with unused / unsold stocks it would be a natural imperative for me to find something to do with the grains because they will eventually spoil. This is the natural state of everything. Plants, animals, people, buildings, societies, radioactive materials, ideas … everything decays.

Flow needs Debt (not money)

If I were that farmer with spare grains, instead of waiting for them to spoil I could, for example, bake breads. But there is only so much bread I can eat, so I could give that bread to my friends and family and sometime in the future, they could repay me with something they have and I need. There would be a standing debt between us.

Modern economics is founded on a story. It says that originally one farmer traded with another farmer 30 chickens for a cow. Introducing money supposedly made that transaction easier because sometimes a cow farmer needed a chicken without having a spare cow to trade.

According to David Graeber in Debt: The First 5000 years, this narrative is false and unsupported by anthropological findings. Ancient transactions, he suggests, were rarely so definite and atomic when I had spare grains (in summer or fall) I gave some to my neighbor to feed his pig and later in the year (in winter) when he butchered the pig he could repay me in meat. A key element in this transaction was the debt that remained. That debt was the foundation of a relationship between the two farmers. Such a constant flow of debts created community.

In our modern times, when I walk into a store, pick up and item and pay a cashier for it, the transaction is completed. I do not owe anybody anything and nobody owes me anything … and we’ve gotten used to that … and we like it. But with that we also lose the social fabric that connects us. We don’t owe anybody anything and nobody owes us anything. We do not need to relate.

It is interesting to note that dominant and popular technologies are in alignment with this trend. If the interaction with a cashier is low on the “relationship” scale then what will an Amazonian future (with no cashier or drones descending with produce out of the sky) look like? It seems that the more standardized/efficient/automated we get the more relationship we drain out of our lives and consciousness.

Money Defies Decay

All money (as we currently know it) is created carrying interest (the interest itself not created!). Interest demand growth. If I get a loan for $1000, it is because who ever is loaning me that money expects me to pay back $1050 … and we have the growth imperative. But more importantly, we have created money that opposes decay … and as money intermediates almost everything … there is an inherent conflict between how money works and how everything else works … and so we find ourselves living in a world where money requires infinite growth from a physically finite world (see climate change).

We’ve been forcing our money ideology onto the world for some time now, but the world seems to be pushing back … and interest rates around the world are hovering around zero (and growth seems to be headed in a similar direction).

Obstacles Preventing Flow

It seems to me that the way negative interest is currently being introduced is as an external force applied to a system that isn’t flowing well. It is like attaching a powerful pump to a o clogged system and hoping that, by sheer force, it will unclog the system and cause flow.

This approach seems to be denying that, if to use the metaphor of flow, there are obstacles that are preventing flow – these obstacles are like entangled and knotted arteries. Their entanglement is locked in tightly because they are holding up against massive pressures already. To enable better flow the obstacles to flow must be removed (or at least improved). Applying more pressure will not remove the obstacles, but force the flow to find other bypasses … or to rupture.

It may very well be that some of the obstacles to good money flow are in our money creation and banking systems. But there are subtle (can be easy to overlook) obstacles embedded inside each and every one of us. It isn’t gong to be enough to change the mechanics of money (such as negative interest). We are also going to have to address personal and social change. If we are to experience flow again we will need to reconnect with each other, to experience relationships, to relearn community.

If we come at this with a forceful mechanistic approach (the illusion that this is a system which we can control by pushing some buttons). If we focus on changing one thing (such as negative interest) we will be doing ourselves a double-injustice. The first is simple and direct – it won’t work, it won’t produce the results we expect it to. The second is is more subtle, more deep and more dangerous … we will falsely conclude that “negative interest” does not work and recovering from that will be even more difficult.

What about Venture Capital

I raise this point as a question/reflection to Albert because I believe that if we are to truly relate to these changes (as more than theoretical ideas) we need to look closely at our own reality and see where they effect our lives, our work, our livelihood, our beliefs.

  • How do the current models of venture capital relate to all this?
  • What aspects of venture capital are aligned with flow and what aspects are aligned with the extractive nature of interest-bearing-money?
  • Can venture capital be of better service and better aligned with economies and societies of flow

 

Posted in AltEco, Business, Community, Intake, Money, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Has the IMF realized austerity doesn’t work?

n

“Sometimes an ideology is so brilliantly propagated that observers might not even notice it’s an ideology. In the corridors of power and in mainstream discussion, it ceases to be questioned. Then it goes catastrophically wrong. And it begins to seen again for the ideology it is. It becomes questioned again. And, if they are smart, leaders hear this and start to self-correct. This is where we’ve got to with neoliberalism, austerity, and rising inequality. Except for the self-correct part. Right now, instead of self-correction, we’re seeing many mainstream politicians unable to shift away from dead economics, and what seems in too many countries like the start of social breakdown. Change is well overdue. Who can prompt leaders to drop the old economic nostrums that are causing so much harm?

Enter the IMF with a sledgehammer … Today the IMF will launch a new report … Packed with detailed quantitative analysis it demonstrates that much of what elites have been advancing as unquestioned economics is demonstrably harmful both to economic growth and to public wellbeing …

Lives and livelihoods are being lost because those who design policies are following a damaging model. And now, in countries around the world, the lack of action in inequality is leading to a resurgence of xenophobic nationalism and the far right. Broken economics is breaking society. But too many leaders still seem trapped in the belief that there is no alternative. So let them know that today the IMF – yes, the IMF – has comprehensively set out why that broken economics must be consigned to the dustbin of history.”

source

Posted in AltEco, Intellect Run Amok, Money, outside | You are welcome to add your comment