The study group will be at the SenseLab, 1pm EST, Thursday June 9. It will be the first of two, and hopefully three, meetings before the end-of-July Oka retreat on the 3 Ecologies Institute (those of you who indicated an active interest in the 3 Ecologies Institute have been receiving messages as part of a separate group – the retreat is full to capacity now, but the discussions will continue – it is just one step along the way).
For this coming Thursday, the proposal to start pragmatically, with materials suggested by the Robin Hood Cooperative, with whom we will be exploring the possibility of inventing new blockchain-based, peer-to-peer financing tools that mimic the most advanced forms of abstract capital, but in a cooperative manner guided by notions of the commons and the undercommons. Robin Hood is also suggesting that the blockchain can be adapted to invent tools for new modes of non-centralized self-organizing of relations and activities. We will begin this Thursday with the Robin Hood suggestions, which includes some outside links as well as links to material Robin Hood itself has produced as part of it moves from Robin Hood Phase 1 (a “parasitic” “activist” hedge fund that spins off funding to anti-capitalist movements) to a new phase of inventing new cooperative peer-to-peer tools. I have cut-and-pasted the Robin Hood suggestions at the bottom of this message for those who didn’t get it as part of the 3 Ecologies Institute list.
After this first meeting, we will move to more theoretical and speculative-philosophy readingson abstract capital. These readings will include an essay by Melinda Cooper suggested by Anna Munster, hopefully an essay by Laura Lotti, and essays from the speculative-realist journal Collapse, no. 8 (Nick Land, Elie Ayache, Suhail Malik, etc.). Remy will present ideas from a Nick Land seminar on the block-chain. (Have I forgotten anything?). We can make a definite plan for which readings when on Thursday. To make the best of these readings, we will have to have a working understanding, coming out of the first meeting, of how the blockchain, derivatives, and securization (credit default swaps and the like) work, and at least a schematic understanding of how Robin Hood is intending to pervert them.
Here are the Robin Hood suggestions again, with some basic explanations of their project. The “Grey Paper” linked-to in Point 4 is especially important. The Robin Hood website is http://robinhoodcoop.org
Below some material, if you have a moment at some point. Some of it is already little old, from a year ago, and written for special audiences… we have since moved into the concrete building and development of the platform and its first actual P2P financial tools – and hope to have the “minimum viable product” ready in June for real use cases.
And I am really happy to tell you more about everything :).
1. Blockchain basics
Blockchain makes it possible to make and record individual actions, relations (like for example asset ownerships or relations) and even more complicated transactions/relations between people upon events (contracts, agreements applied to an event) in a distributed and shared database. This makes possible new kinds of secure, transparent, immediate peer-to-peer interactions and cooperation on a global scale without any central authority, legitimizer or intermediator – just like internet made interpersonal communication possible 20 years ago. But now, blockchains facilitate not only direct interpersonal communication, but also more complex (for example financial) interpersonal & intertemporal interactions and cooperations, without any centralized gatekeeping or intermediation: so basically blockchains add to the possibilities of internet secure p2p relationships between people who don’t need to know/trust/like each other. It is really an organizational innovation.
Our wager is, that in our hands blockchain allows creating a new way to think about economy as a space of co-production and co-creation (VS individuals and companies competing against each other), a new way to think about the economic agency as cooperation, collectives, value networks, movements, flows of trust and connection (and not only as utility maximizing individuals), and a new way to cooperate, own, share, exchange and transact so that many different can operate and create value together without a need for a community, symbiosis or even a common goal.
I mean here exactly the sense that Brian talked about the “common” in the RH interview. As a place of many different together, acting together but without a need become like the other.
We are basically trying to build a place or platform like that, where people can come together to create finance: to share stakes and ownerships, open joint opportunities, risks and speculate together in a way that something new, and ways to act on it, becomes possible.
2. Derivative logic
Here is a beautiful articulation of derivative practice and its connection to dance by Randy Martin, who recently just passed away, but he was one of the key thinkers in the finance theorist group I am working with here:
Derivative logic is something more than just financial technique, it is a new value form…I see Robin Hood, and what we are now building, exactly like he says here, as a derivative, a risk generating practice, a derivative practice which arbitrages, speculates and leverages about being able to act, together, on a certain gap or an opening or an opportunity. You will get this immediately.
We are building a platform for this, we are using finance to reopen the field of possible.
3. NFX Answers (attached)
Our summary application answers to one quite famous Silicon Valley boutique incubator specializing in “networks-effects” and “market-networks” (out of over 2000 applicants we made it to the last round (they take 15), through 3 interviews, but in the end they did not take us….but they fully bought our vision, and the concept, we were just little too odd and risky, kind of didnt fit their format enough…). Anyway it was good practice :). This gives you an ok summary of what we are thinking.
There is also link to a version of our “pitch deck”, question #17.
And some very simple use case diagrams, question #16.2
4. Equity, Options, Assemblage – Robin Hood 2.0
A Robin Hood “grey paper” (from spring 2015, a little outdated now) which laid out the reasons and aims of Robin Hood 2.0. How do we intent to fuse financial and blockchain technologies. And why? What does it mean to produce more equity, more options and more assemblage for our operators, more efficiently, in more dimensions. But there is some good stuff about options, rhizome, blockchain and non-linear economic space
5. Welcome to the wild side of finance
See question #5 here about the potentiality of blockchain. It is a short discussion made after our Milan Office (May 2015).
6. Athens Laboratory
Summary of our first test casing/prototyping in Athens. The idea: Just like Bitcoin broke the taboo of money and showed that money can be engineered, we are now engineering in similar way more (complex, multidimensional) financial instruments. We are developing a series of new P2P financial tools that correspond to the needs of new kind of economic operators, precarious workers, makers, co-creators, peers, collaborators, movements –which are often collective– and simply do not have available means of finance that would correspond to what they want to do, and how and when they want to do it.
7. Financial platforms of the future
Program flier of our London Office (August 2015) where the next steps of Robin Hood were pre-launched and tested. An overview of the problematic with which we were worked then: is the fusion of blockchain technology and finance going to be just an integration of existing financial industry’s business models and political consequences into blockchain – or is it going to be an invention which enables building of new social architecture of finance.