Code as Scripture & Monastic Coordination Technologies
- Spent most of teenage years playing ultima online
- Ran a gold farm aged 15 – 16, made considerable amount of money
- Involved in unspecified fringe groups
- Does not align with Libertarianism
- Interested in the potential of Bitcoin to disrupt institutions
- Hosted Bitcoin meetups in 2010 / 2011 for radical left, academics and Artists, non-technical
- CTO of Serpentine Galleries
What is your primary interest in blockchain technology?
- Read Nick Szabo and found Ethereum more interesting than Bitcoin
- Was excited about new forms of organisation
- Has experimented with organising groups of people in cooperatives & corporations
- Has a tech background but more focussed on the arts
- Interested in history of organising in different ways, like the Bauhaus
- DAO notion interested Ben for practical purposes
- Interested in monastic codes particularly Benedictine rule as precursor to open source software development.
- Benedictine rule is a set of 73 rules about organising people living together
- Interested in the emergence of sovereign orders of different kinds, particularly as contrasted with monastic orders from the 10th – 15th century.
Are there similarities to the way DAOs and religions operate?
- This is a big thing missed in silicon valley and startup culture
- Most prior examples of challenges to state sovereignty involve religion.
- Code can be seen as scripture
- Part of what is scary about autonomous software is the notion of a god/non-human entity making decisions which affect us.
- Through research/experiment has found it is hard to not build an authoritarian organisational structures.
- Interested in testing these systems now
- Concerned that current state-run programs are building platforms that never forget inside institutions that never forgive.
- Imperative to understand these systems before it is too late.
How do we proceed safely down the path of creating these systems?
- Some friends surveyed the blockchain space 12 months prior – 98% vaporware
- This has since changed. Examples given:
- It is important that a plurality of types of organisations adopt tools as soon as possible
- Also important not top simply replicate existing structure in new medium
- Many blockchain music startups erroneously imitate spotify
- When true industry participants begin building platforms to serve their industries we will see real progress made.
- Sees misconceptions about what the art world needs.
- As in permaculture, before beginning work, it is important to observe the environment for a sufficient period of time.
How did you meet Trent McConaghy of BigchainDB?
- Working on a festival called Transmediale
- Trent and Marsha reached out to pitch the Ascribe Platform
- Initially skeptical
- Understood storing of cultural objects over time
- Trent & Marsha saw the potential of neutral museums to support blockchains
- Liked the thinking.
- As they were building out the infrastructure for Ascribe, pivoited to BigchainDB
What do you find exciting about blockchain technology and the way it might interact with Art?
- Wants to see a renaissance in the way cultural practitioners self-organise, a re-exploration of guild-like structures and development of novel structures.
- To escape the commercial side of the art world.
- To break the control of museums over the representation of time and the structure of history.
Could you relate the sale of cryptographic tokens to the sale of art?
- They are totally irrational markets
- It is often forgotten how bizarre this moment is
- The replicability of ethereum and valuable blockchain infrastructure is amazing. Especially in light of the fact that unknown people all over the world are contributing financially to its development.
- It is deeply disruptive to silicon valley.
- ICOs are the opposite of the hard work of silicon valley – put a vague idea out there, collect tons of money, then figure out how to deliver
- This is destructive not purely because of scams.
- It is because most people do the silicon valley thing because they want to get rich. With ICOs the money comes before the work.
- This disrupts the ability to produce things of value.
- There is an opportunity to change the ownership model of art – elites or states own art.
- The ICO model opens the opportunity for crowd ownership of culture.