#1 construction of value

hostartist.network, a digital instrument for the creations of complex social dynamics, in response to a need: specifically at this point through the prism of artistic movement in societal communities, and society as a whole, but also the placing of creative value in creating a dialogue between parties that can tap into a frequency of novelty and not fall back into traditional forms. Now this is also coupled with the extraordinary concentration of resources (and by this I do not only mean economic resources), to corporations, government centralized institutions, and attached structures, at a worldwide scale. The game is levelled to a “do as I say” sort of anecdotic passage.  

Structures: The levelling of arguments to form. That which has become an intrinsic part of our cultural understanding and sharing. Culture is as much an argument of structure as a structure in itself. But structures are the elements that construct our behaviour. Sometimes they shift and move. Sometimes they are a central pilar of our weltanschauung or cosmovision. A structure can be anything from the precipice of economic exchange, how we value things is a structure, but also comfort happens to be, in most western countries a structure in itself.  

Liminality:  first coined by ethnographer Arnold Van Gennep, in his book " the rites of passage” in 1909. 

Comes from latin “limen” which means “threshold” . quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete.  

During a rite's liminal stage, participants "stand at the threshold" between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way (which completing the rite establishes). This concept was later thoroughly studied by anthropologist Victor Turner and taken to a broader definition to a macro scale as that which can affect an entire societal environment as “liminoid”.  

If liminality is regarded as a time and place of withdrawal from normal modes of social action, it potentially can be seen as a period of scrutiny for central values and axioms of the culture where it occurs. — one where normal limits to thought, self-understanding, and behaviour are undone. In such situations, "the very structure of society [is] temporarily suspended". 

Tools vs habitats 

The relationship we are generating to the virtual environment and virtual world, we might say, that is now not a significant part of our structured sense of reality, but a very specific corresponding agent of our human experience as much as the natural world, which conforms our first state of existence, our urban and now metropolitan environment, which addresses a second state, and the virtual, which has perhaps the same significant relationship that the other two.  

These aspects of reality are intrinsic in the construction of our humanity and our human driven world. They are related. The physical world, the body of the earth, nature, the psychic reality, that adheres to the movement of life, and the virtual landscape, which is forming thought, behavioural patterns, and the very way we are “seeing” and thus constructing our reality.  

We have massive amount of power produced through our interactive and virtual tools. We use them daily. We address a level of our understanding through them. We allow our information to be manipulated and be monetized. Our attention to be harvested, and to a very specific point, our thoughts to be directed through desire and temptation, towards leisure and inaction.  

But these virtual tools offer an opportunity. We are on the verge of transforming our humanity, we are living a global liminal moment. Perhaps the very first liminoid moment in such a worldwide scale. And the virtual are also grounds for this process. 

The virtual landscape is redefining the definition of value, through our behaviour. It is perhaps doing so by a sort of emptying of essential values not present in the virtual world. We can’t nourish our bodies in the virtual world, but we can tap into mechanisms that allow us to purchase the food necessary to do so. As the virtual becomes more and more interconnected with our physical world – and paradoxically through the dissociation of them – we are progressively transferring wealth towards the virtual.  

The value of money does not seem to correspond to the actual value of real stuff. For example: the value of a moment’s breath and peace of mind is unaccounted for, yet it is becoming increasingly important. The immaterial sharing of someone’s wellbeing, is no longer taken for granted. Time has a value. Real estate has finally been transferred to the virtual world and Gucci is generating a season specifically for virtual worlds.  

Speculation and currency, seem to be somehow debased.  

What is value? 

How do we generate a relationship of value engrained in physical occurrences and towards the virtual potential? 

 

Value. 

Is value essentially and, by definition, centralised? 

The perpetuation of value, as I like to understand it, say of a given moment, encounter, physical element through the virtual world, a real physical encounter, or now we know, pixels as non-fungible tokens.  

Like currency, blockchain, albeit their ledger technology and technical structure, adhere to a common consensus to a progression of trust in time. Its birth was attached, like most things in the internet, to a revolutionary idea and the decentralisation of value and transactions. In a way, a freer and more “democratic” world. Cryptography would set us free. Beyond the reach of established power structures.  

Distributed ledger technology is a digital system for recording the transaction of assets in which the transactions and their details are recorded in multiple places at the same time. 

web3.0 is an idea for a new iteration of the World Wide Web based on blockchains, which incorporates concepts including decentralization and token-based economics 

 

Ultimately blockchain also works through a set of rules. And who decides what these rules are?  

cryptographer Moxie Marlinspike: “When people talk about blockchains,” he writes, “they talk about distributed trust, leaderless consensus and all the mechanics of how that works, but often gloss over the reality that clients ultimately can’t participate in those mechanics. All the network diagrams are of servers, the trust model is between servers, everything is about servers. Blockchains are designed to be a network of peers, but not designed such that it’s really possible for your mobile device or your browser to be one of those peers.  

(...)

Almost all dApps use either Infura or Alchemy in order to interact with the blockchain. In fact, even when you connect a wallet like MetaMask to a dApp, and the dApp interacts with the blockchain via your wallet, MetaMask is just making calls to Infura! 

So much work, energy, and time has gone into creating a trustless distributed consensus mechanism, but virtually all clients that wish to access it do so by simply trusting the outputs from these two companies without any further verification. 

(…) 

My sense and concern, though, is that the web3 community expects some other outcome than what we’re already seeing.” 

NFTs are still a virtual image data pointed through a URL, created as a token, that can be actually changed.  

So what about changing the speculative aspect of NFT to a relationship with real connotations. Encounters: the actual structure of meeting physical with the virtual? 

Nft’s and cryptocurrency blockchain are not at all decentralized: they are very much centralised through specific platforms: servers (or clients like Ethereum calls them), as simply following specifically designed protocols.  

 

Data as Value. 

Francesco, how does machine learning and neural networks play into all of this? 

Research over the last few decades has allowed us to understand that the human brain makes decisions made on weighing outcome probabilities based on incoming information. But when there are too many competing probabilities for the brain to compute, they might switch to a different strategy: that of the rule of thumb, a simple over the top decision. But the rule of thumb may be clearly different to a stockbrocker than a teenage cryptographer blockchain whizzard or an artist per se.  

 

Interpretability is taking over predictability.  

Laura Spinney's Guardian article, in which she decries the dawn of post-theory science, an oversimplification of reality: 

“Contrast how science is increasingly done today. Facebook’s machine learning tools predict your preferences better than any psychologist. AlphaFold, a program built by DeepMind, has produced the most accurate predictions yet of protein structures based on the amino acids they contain. Both are completely silent on why they work: why you prefer this or that information; why this sequence generates that structure. 

You can’t lift a curtain and peer into the mechanism. They offer up no explanation, no set of rules for converting this into that – no theory, in a word. They just work and do so well.” 

 

Theory as Structure.

“The theories that make sense when you have huge amounts of data look quite different from those that make sense when you have small amounts,” says Tom Griffiths, a psychologist at Princeton University. 

 

So facing AI into it all, what is left for us humans on this side of the mirror?  

Is intuition still and issue? 

Can we define and grasp value based not on what we know, but on what we can generate?

Is the transhumanistic absolutist approach, taken from the rise of industrialisation, that both Nature and man are simply organic machines, the end game? Where does our capacity to feel lie?  

What makes us stewards of this world if we can’t even get the first kick in the field right?

 

Steven Poole, article quote: 

“The more challenging sociological problem is that adoption of algorithm-driven judgments is a tempting means of passing the buck, so that no blame attaches to the humans in charge – be they judges, doctors or tech entrepreneurs. Will robots take all the jobs? That very framing passes the buck because the real question is whether managers will fire all the humans.” 

AI wouldn’t have to be actively malicious to cause catastrophe. This is illustrated by Nick Bostrom’s famous “paperclip problem”. Suppose you tell the AI to make paperclips. What could be more boring? Unfortunately, you forgot to tell it when to stop making paperclips. So it turns all the matter on Earth into paperclips, having first disabled its off switch because allowing itself to be turned off would stop it pursuing its noble goal of making paperclips. 

 

Physicist Max Tegmark, co-founder of the Future of Life Institute, emphasises the problem of “value alignment” – how to ensure the machine’s values line up with ours. This too might be an insoluble problem, given that thousands of years of moral philosophy have not been sufficient for humanity to agree on what “our values” really are. 

How we spend our time contains intrinsic value.  

Somebody may spend their time speculating on financial activity and making a load of money, other can spend their time generating and pulsating our economy through pre-established channels. In the changing landscape of our reality, where does real value, as opposed to nominal and thus speculative value, lie? 

If we continue tapping into the non-localized and discrete physical phenomena of quantum physics for example, we realise that that even physical reality and our relationship to our environments result in the way we think and we generate our thought process, as much as the way we secrete our being around us? 

Can non-economically driven exchange contain economic value? 

Art, meaning that which is not necessarily utilitarian, of translatable in economic terms: that which belongs to the creation and not merely reformulation of matter into says, a building or a highway, but into the most profound aspects of being and relationship.  

And finally, what value carries a person that transcends and works in evolving their own being, sacrificing time, creating and not consuming?  

How does this personal value translate into community value today? 

Taking it back to artist and the value of art as a process, not as commodity. What instruments could we develop to achieve a certain state of activity? 

For conclusion: if we shift money, and place it on the same level as time, health, ecology and life enhancing experiences, evolution of human experience, and provide an empty space for exchange to take place again: what happens? 

 

Let’s push the boundaries further: what if we start placing economic values on the actual process (and not process as cost solving stage but as the actual value), and not in the product (as produce or remnant / residual).  

What if we place value on the empty potential space, and not on structure? On the in-betweens. 

This links to the definition of networks, and organicity of networks: relationships are as important as the actual elements: memory is a living example of this.  

referenced during session

Kate Raworth - doughnut economy

The Brixton Pound

Otto Scharmer - Theory U

Roland Barthes - post structuralism / meta languages

post session references

Wired - The Genius Neuroscientist Who Might Hold the Key to True AI

visual note on discussion

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