venerdì 28 marzo 2014

Brett Scott's Interview + Applying the Hacker Ethic to the Financial System @ Moneylab (21March2014)

MoneyLab - Brett Scott - Applying the Hacker Ethic to the Financial System from network cultures on Vimeo.

MoneyLab: Coining Alternatives Session 2: Dismantling Global Finance Brett Scott (UK): Applying the Hacker Ethic to the Financial System Conference Day 1 (21 March 2014) Our perception of high finance frequently bears a resemblance to our perception of high technology. We often view it as a black box that we interact with without really knowing how it works. This in turn disempowers ordinary people relative to financial professionals, disconnects us from the investment process, and contributes to a pervasive sense of alienation from the money we use every day. In this talk Brett Scott will sketch out why hacker philosophy can be a useful framework with which to approach the financial sector, and will share examples from his experience working both within the financial sector and with financial campaign groups.

>> Brett Scott (UK)

Brett Scott is the author of The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money. He has worked with groups like Move Your Money UK, ActionAid and the World Development Movement, and is setting up the London School of Financial Activism. He has written for publications such as The Guardian, The Ecologist, Wired Magazine and Aeon, and has appeared on the BBC, Arte TV and other media outlets. He is also a fellow of the Finance Innovation Lab.

Hacking the Future of Money: An Interview with Brett Scott

  • Obsolete Capitalism: On integral democracy. With regard to the economy field can we define the hacker philosophy an attempt of "full democracy"? If we consider that today the issue of money no longer belongs to the people but to the power of central banks, that is to say the political power, does the action of the hackers in finance mean a new transfer of power to the activists and therefore to the people?

Brett Scott: Hacker philosophy is mostly just an outlook towards complex interconnected systems. It’s an outlook that takes pleasure in exploring such systems, messing around with their connections and attempting to rewire them. It tends to be an empowering outlook because it firstly seeks to break complex systems down into understandable parts, and secondly fosters a rebellious, creative attitude towards experimenting with those parts. In that sense it can have democratic implications, but I don’t claim that this alone would change the whole financial system. In terms of money, commercial banks are the major creators of money, but yes, the hacker ethic encourages people to engage in DIY experimentation with new forms of money.

  • OC: "Hacking the future of money" is the subtitle of your book. Starting from what is already happening, what will the future of money and the main topics or the main actions of hacking be?

BC: Some people think the subtitle just refers to new forms of money, but ‘the future of money’ can also refer to changes to financial instruments, and how we use normal money. I don’t claim to offer a single vision of what that future will be, but I know that people are getting more confident in experimenting with alternatives. I don’t really think in terms of end-states of being, as if the point was to create some final financial system to replace the current system - the point is to be able to adapt and change and build diversity whilst fostering social justice and ecological stability.

  • OC: Do you really believe that ”money alteration" will be possible through the hacker philosophy? And if so, what do you think “altering the currency” could mean ?

BC: As mentioned, hacker philosophy is just an outlook that lends itseld towards rebellious creativity. It’s not really a concrete methodology, so I don’t claim that one needs to adopt the mindset of a hacker to make interesting alterations to money. In terms of what alteration means, you can change the geographic  scale of money (e.g. local vs. global), the speed (e.g. fast vs. slow), the intended use (e.g. gift currencies), the way it is created (e.g. commodity money vs. credit money) and many other factors.

  • OC: The global monetary system is moving towards a greater openness and a clear decentralization, being now a closed system only focused on the hierarchical logic of the market and finance. Is this a positive signal or is it the usual "libertarian-utopian” dream that will break on reality?

BC: I do think technology has opened up possibilities for forms of decentralisation that previously didn’t exist, and that presents interesting opportunities. Just because something is open and decentralised though, doesn’t make it positive and free of politics (that’s where the libertarian-utopian dream always goes wrong), so any technological changes need to be accompanied by political analysis of who benefits and who loses, and how to deal with that process.

  • OC: Much has been talked about Bitcoin (the topic of the day). Some interventions have been very critical including that of Beat Weber, arguing that Bitcoin is the perfect currency of turbo-capitalism because it represents the global currency of a free-nation world as required by neoliberalism. What do you think of Bitcoin and has your judgment partially changed after having listened to the pros and cons of the participants in the debate @ Moneylab?

I’ve always found Bitcoin interesting for how it has opened up people’s awareness to the possibility of creating change. In terms of whether that change is positive or negative is a separate issue. I find elements of the philsophy behind Bitcoin pretty questionable, but I also don’t like to be one of those people that just closes myself down to an innovation because it also happens to attract right-wing libertarians. I retain an active interest in how one can take the Bitcoin concept, alter it and create new and more interesting versions of it.

  • OC: Moneylab, the symposium organised  by Institute of Network Cultures, has just finished: which news, themes or interventions have impressed you most in Amsterdam? Can we start hoping in a "non-monetary" world or future?

I love the intersection between art-technology-economy-philosophy, and MoneyLab was the first symposium where I’ve seen a really coherent mix of those. In terms of a non-monetary future, I’m not sure. I don’t dogmatically assume that a non-monetary world would somehow be better than a monetary one - all systems have tradeoffs built into them, so I’m just interested in continuing to explore those and to learn more about them.

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