May 5, 2019

Erik Bordeleau talks fabulation, finance and cryptophilosophy at Economic Space Agency

HOW TO SHORT CAPITALISM:

THE CRYPTO-POLITICAL ECONOMY OF ECSA

Economic Space Agency (ECSA) is building the next generation network infrastructure for programmable economies. Most blockchain and distributed ledger technologies applications are oriented toward the creation of distributed markets, reinforcing rather than disrupting oligarchic concentration of wealth over time and questioning what “value” is actually traded. ECSA offers something different: a fully integrated, commons-oriented approach to cryptoeconomy.

Economic Space + Cryptophilosophy + Post-Capitalism + Speculative Economy + Fabulation

I met with Erik Bordeleau at the ECSA 'Economic Space Design Program' in the Haus der Statistik Werkstatt in Berlin to find out exactly what is 'Economic Space' and how we can claim agency. The readings and notes come from the subsequent 'Token Logic Design' seminar series with Erik at the School of Disobedience, Art and the Blockchain.

Edited transcript:

JR: Can you tell me what exactly the Economic Space Agency is? I imagine intergalatic cryptocurrencies…

EB: As it exists now comes from an initiative called ‘Robin Hood Hedge Fund Coop’ making captures on the actual financial markets. We were able to gather some money and redistribute it to projects that we found interesting. Commons-oriented projects essentially. And then blockchain and distributed ledger technologies came in. We were being Robin Hoods of the traditional markets, which can only go up to a certain point.

Then with distributed ledger technologies, you can start to imagine creating new markets or new financial stratas that you can start operating with. The way I understand it is the opportunity to create a thousand financial plateaus, from which you can start deterritorializing finance as it exists, and start making value a little bit more multi-dimensional. One of the things we used to say at ECSA is that we are stuck in a mono economy, where everything gets valued within a very narrow set of coordinates, which we call capitalism. Which generates as all we know tremendous externalities. The way forward towards a post-capitalist economy needs to be towards recognising all these values that are considered external to our economic system.

JR: What is fabulation?

EB: Fabulation is a way of saying that you can't think of the 'real' economy, as opposed to the speculative economy. The economy is always speculative, all the way down. That's not something to judge, or it's not something to deplore. It's something to accept, to deal with, so we need to accept that we are also part of self-fulfilling prophecies or processes. We are part of that.

We're a little bit lunatic at times, we are entertaining ideas that seem completely incredible. But it's part of the game. The economic game is fuelled with dreams, and fabulation is a term to name the passage from the virtual to the actual.

As one philosopher I really like says 'Only people who are dreaming can modify someone else's dream'. You can't just go up to someone and make them change their minds. You have to be meeting people in the space where they dream, they're also dreaming of something... So, the open office was organised here at Haus der Statistik which is a dream itself. But a dream with a fantastic reality..

I would like to have this collective adventure keep on going, and grow organically. So there's a mix of fantasy, craziness, crazy ambition that we express collectively, but I also want other types of intelligences that are more grounded, closer to the granular aspects of all the relationality of our lives. I want that to be more and more part of our process. Because that's how something sustainable, organic will sustain in the future. That's really important.

We're coming in with quite radical ideas but they need to be translated, converted into practices of different kinds, and that's what I envision for the future. A very multi-dimensional proliferating set of practices that share some sort of common financial or alter-financial understanding, so that we can federate when necessary for a common agenda, but otherwise most of the time developing these practices for their own sake.

Economic Space Agency is a group of radical economists, software architects, finance theorists, game designers, critical thinkers and artists, coming together to reimagine the future of the economy.

Our crew in Berlin includes, among others: Akseli Virtanen, Pekko Koskinen, Jackie Vu, James Foley, Jon Beller, Joel E. Mason, Erik Bordeleau, Fabian Bruder, Emma Stenström, Emanuele Braga, Tirdad Zolghadr, Matthias Einhoff and more.

***

Erik Bordeleau

Erik Bordeleau is researcher at the SenseLab (Concordia University, Montreal), fugitive finance planner at the Economic Space Agency (ECSA) and affiliated researcher at the Center for Arts, Business & Culture of the Stockholm School of Economics. His work articulates at the intersection of political philosophy, media and financial theory, contemporary art and cinema studies, with a marked interest for the speculative turn and the renewal of the question of the possible in contemporary thinking.

He recently taught a seminar series in critical cryptoeconomics at the School of Disobedience at Volksbühne (Berlin) and is currently working on the creation of an MA program in Cryptoeconomics at the Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS). With Saloranta & De Vylder, he is developing The Sphere, a p2p community platform for self-organization in the performing arts, which is also part of ABC’s research projects. He is based in Berlin.

Erik Bordeleau PhD ECSA on Medium

 

EconomicSpaceAgency_LOGO.png
 

Economic Space Agency (ECSA)

ECSA STACK

Gravity:: Distributed Runtime

Gravity provides secure computational containment, serialization, persistence, networking, and hardware interfaces to be utilized upwards throughout the ECSA stack.

  • Gravity Protocol
  • The Gravity protocol provides event ordering, scaling, strong security, fail recovery and high availability. It ensures network wide consistency, and enables distributed atomic transactions.

Space:: Organizational Expression

Space is a grammar for the creation of programmable organizations which can seamlessly combine models of governance and economy. It provides Gravity with an organizational programming environment, utilizing Gravity's implementation of object capabilities.

  • Space Protocol:: Organizational Interoperability
  • The Space Protocol allows the organizational forms of Space to interoperate, regardless of their implementation substrate, establishing fully organizable economic networks.

Economic Space:: Value Expression

ECSA's offer:: networked value production, distribution and measurement through a new economic abstraction:: The Economic Space.

  • Economic Space Protocols:: Economic Interoperability
  • Protocols and models such as distributed exchange, trading units, synthetic indexing and network derivatives enable the creation of organizational forms with a shared economic grammar.

Economic Space Agency (Medium.com)

Gravity_ECSA.jpg

Video: After Scarcity

"A compelling economic sci-fi is mathematic disguised in a well-crafted storyline."

  • SCREENING + DISCUSSION around "After Scarcity"
  • (Bahar Noorizadeh, 2019) with Stefan Heidenreich and Economic Space Agency.
  • Haus der Statistik, Monday 6th May, 19:30 to 22:00 pm 

For many of us, computer technology seems almost inseparable from the corporate hypercapitalism of Silicon Valley. In "After Scarcity", Bahar Noorizadeh explores the soviet cybernetic past in search of our possible post-neoliberal future. "How might we use computation to get us out of our current state of digital feudalism and towards new possible utopias? After all, what would Vladimir "socialism is electricity plus statistic" Lenin have to say about blockchain?"

This fascinating 30 min. sci-fi essay film will act as a free indirect entry point for a wider discussion around the disruptive potential of crypto- and cyber-economies. Including: Stefan Heidenreich's recent work around a non-money economy partly based on algorithmic matching formulas, and ECSA's general proposal to build a financial and computational infrastructure for post-hayekian economy.

“Flying through swarms of floating dots outlining monasteries and city streets, After Scarcity flashes through decades of history to propose the ways contingent pasts can make fictive futures realer, showing us that digital socialism was inbred into the communist revolution and that computation doesn’t mean we’re condemned to today’s tyranny of total financialization.”

Complementary readings

Imagine there's no money: dialogue between Stefan Heidenreich & Geert Lovink 

Geert Lovink: German media theorist Stefan Heidenreich has produced a concise proposal for a ‘non-monetary economy’. The book is entitled */Money/* and came out late 2017 with Merve Verlag in Berlin. Excerpts in English can be found at the Transmediale website. There we find the following description of Heidenreich’s project: ‘Given complex information infrastructures that have already been developed for documenting transactions, tying consumer habits to identities, and accurately predicting future exchanges, the substructure of a new kind of economy is now in place.’ March 2018

In the fifties, Soviet economic growth made it seem that the USSR might still win on the front of delivering material abundance to the masses: ‘Moscow would out-glitter Manhattan, and every Lada would be better engineered than a Porsche’... The heroes of Spufford’s Soviet dream are an entire generation of peasants brutally torn off the land and propelled on an astonishing ascent in the breakneck process of Soviet industrialisation.

Dictionary of Now #9 | Philip Mirowski

Markets as Computer Programs in a Theory of Markets

Video introduction to Mirowski's work on Hayek

MONEYLAB

Resources

A constantly-updated resourceful collection of theories, media discourse, creative projects and events focused on alternative revenue models. Of central importance to this project is the formation of a collaborative network of researchers, artists, developers, engineers, and others interested in sharing, coining, critiquing, and ushering in alternative network economies. We are always looking for radical submissions that closely reflect the stated aim of the MoneyLab: Economies of Dissent project.

BITCOIN AND BLOCKCHAIN 

3. COMMUNITY AND ART PLATFORMS

 

 Aragon-logo.jpg

Aragon

The Aragon project is a community with the mission to empower freedom by creating tools for decentralized organizations to thrive. Aragon lets you freely organize and collaborate without borders or intermediaries. Create global, bureaucracy-free organizations, companies, and communities. 

The world’s first digital jurisdiction

Aragon organizations are not only great because they are decentralized, global and unstoppable. They will also benefit from the Aragon Network, the world’s first digital jurisdiction. Decentralized organizations change the way we think about organizations. The Aragon Network will change the way you think about jurisdictions and governments.

Aragon_DigitalJurisdiction.jpg

Aragon, The Film

We are building Aragon because we believe decentralized organizations can solve the world’s worst problems.

Pando Network

Pando Network: infrastructure for distributed creation

What is Pando?

Pando is a fully distributed and immutable VCS based on top of IPFS, aragonOS and the ethereum blockchain. Developed by the Ryhope Network’s team, it intends to become a community-driven standard. Its goal is to provide content creators, and mostly software developers, with a universal open-source versioning, cooperation and archiving layer.

Pando has been crafted with the intent to be faithful to git’s philosophy while creating a bridge towards blockchain’s and ethereum’s rationale: a common good providing one more brick towards the decentralization of societies and the empowerment of human beings. That’s why we are building pando as an open source and standalone tool. No token, no ICO: just a medium to provide the blockchain community with a way to self-organize its development and its growth — though the Ryhope Network will use an homemade token to offer an income to free and open contents.

Decentralized Autonomous Literary Organization: a decentralization of literature

Pando Network, by inaugurating both a protocol and an interface capable of hosting and organizing collaborative creation, also opens great perspectives for literature. More broadly, should we not consider the possibilities opened up by the Ethereum blockchain, Aragon and Pando on the decentralization of literature, understood both as a historical mode for the valorization, diffusion and distribution of works, and as writing activities that govern these works?

Pando_Literary_blockchain.png

 

CIRCLES

A self-issuance based cryptocurrency basic income

Circles is an electronic cryptocurrency with the aim to create and distribute a globally accessible Universal Basic Income. In traditional debt-based currencies one sells goods, borrows money, or invests working power to receive money. With Circles, one receives money unconditionally to engage with their community, creating value through offering goods or services.

Cryptoeconomics Is Hard

Aleksandr Bulkin 

We are not used to designing economic structures. This is a wholly new territory. This article is an attempt to illustrate some very subtle problems people encounter on this road, often well after fixing them stops being easy or even possible.

Economics is hard in general. The reason is that economics studies interactions in a very large group of people and people are not something you can model mathematically very well. But traditional economics works because it studies behaviors in a long-established system which changes very slowly. The way mainstream economic structures work is a product of years of research, governance, and social dynamics. In some sense you can say it was designed but a better way to look at it is that it was partly designed, partly discovered, and partly evolved on its own.

So cryptoeconomics is harder, precisely because the economics of every single cryptoasset is designed from inception. This includes supply, inflation, rewards, fines, and so on. Cryptoeconomics of a token is a hybrid between rules programmatically implemented on a blockchain and the entire world of interactions real human beings have with it. Designing good rules necessarily entails understanding the way humans will interact with them.

Talking token

The full guide for understanding a token role in a token-enabled ecosystem 

Today seeing a yet another blockchain-powered project promising to change how the old world works is not a news. None of such projects fail to emphasize that “token is an essential part of the ecosystem”. Yet, a rare project convincingly explains “why it needs a token in the first place.” Often times a seemingly simple answer leads to countless nuances and triggers a lot of consequences.

A token is a tool that ignites and powers a “digital cooperative” around some activity. The incentives it carries determine whether the cooperative outlives its creators (the token issuers) or becomes a facade for speculative activities with no one giving a damn what the token is needed for.

Measuring Value in the Commons-Based Ecosystem

  • Bridging the Gap Between the Commons and the Market
  • Primavera De Filippi and Samer Hassan
  • (MoneyLab reader #1) Lovink, G., Tkacz, N. (eds.)
  • The MoneyLab Reader. Institute of Network Cultures, University of Warwick, 2015 
  • January 31, 2015

Commons-based peer-production (CBPP) constitutes today an important driver for innovation and cultural development, both online and offline. This led to the establishment of an alternative, Commons-based ecosystem,based on peer-production and collaboration of peers contributing to a common good. Yet, to the extent that this operates outside of the market economy, we cannot rely on traditional market mechanisms (such as pricing) to estimate the value of CBPP. We present here a system - which we will name Sabir - that can resolve some of the most recurrent problems encountered within CBPP communities. The Sabir system is composed of three layers that will help us: (1) Understanding the social value - as opposed to market value - of different CBPP communities, so as to compare them to one another. (2) Identifying the value generated by individuals contributing to the Commons and evaluating it through a common denominator of value. (3) Creating an interface between the market and the CBPP ecosystem so that the two can interact, and benefit from each other.

Keywords: commons-based peer-production, alternative economies

SELF-CAPITAL (1, 2, 3)

Self-capital is an ongoing video series by Melanie Gilligan.

Smart art tv series to learn to see and feel like Capital. First shown Sept. 2009.

POPULAR UNREST

Popular Unrest is a multi-episode drama set in a future much like the present. Here, however, all exchange transactions and social interactions are overseen by a system called ‘the Spirit’. A rash of unexplained killings have broken out across the globe. They often take place in public but witnesses never see an assailant. Just as mysteriously, groups of unrelated people are suddenly coming together everywhere, amassing new members rapidly. Unaccountably, they feel a deep and persistent sense of connection to one another.

The film explores a world in which the self is reduced to physical biology, directly subject to the needs of capital. Hotels offer bed-warming servants with every room, people are fined for not preventing foreseeable illness, weight watching foods eat the digester from the inside and the unemployed repay their debt to society in physical energy. If on the one hand this suggests the complete domination of life by exchange value do the groupings offer a way out?

Global Center for Advanced Studies

Crypto-Economics Department

GCAS College Dublin is partnering with the Economic Space Agency (ECSA), a collective of radical economists, software engineers, artists, game designers, social theorist and crypto-technologists working together to warp economic spacetime.

As part of the collaboration between GCAS and Economic Space Agency (ECSA), Erik Bordeleau will be in charge of creating an MA in cryptoeconomics at GCAS with fellow ECSA agent and GCAS faculty member, Tere Vadén.

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