Martín Nadal & César Escudero Andaluz –The Research in the Age of the Cryptocene: War, Economy, Knowledge, Rights.

“Classical ciphers” are the ones that can be solved with pen and paper, this fact changed on 1970 when IBM developed The Data Encryption Standard (DES), a symmetric-key algorithm for the encryption of electronic data. In this moment cryptography focused on new algorithms and computers, It is what is known as “strong cryptography”. In 1975 the american cryptographer Whitfield Diffie developed “public-key” cryptography. In the late 1980s, the vision of protecting privacy and anonymity denoted into an activist movement called Cypherpunk. A cypherpunk is an activist movement aimed to achieve privacy and security by software, protocols and cryptography to invoke social and political change. The Crypto-anarchism refers to politics founded on cryptographic methods, in 1988 the Crypto-anarchist manifesto written by Timothy C appeared as a premonitory text in which cryptography reshapes the realm of possibility and redefines power structures within society, especially those between individuals and governments. Phil Zimmermann developed in 1991  Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) used for signing, encrypting, and decrypting texts, e-mails, files, directories, and whole disk partitions and to increase the security of e-mail communications.  Eric Hughes in A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto 1993, makes an analogy between privacy and secrecy to defend the open society rights pointing out that privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.

“Cryptography is the ultimate form of non-violent direct action.” (Assange 2013)

DeCSS was one of the first free computer programs capable of decrypting content on a commercially produced DVD video disc. DeCSS was conceived by three people, two of whom remain anonymous. The program was first released on 6th October 1999 when Johansen posted an announcement of DeCSS 1.1b whose home was raided in 2000 by Norwegian police. He was put on trial for violating Norwegian Criminal Code section 145. May be that Cryptography is the ultimate form of non-violent direct action, but behind cryptography there are companies and governments encrypting devices with unknown keywords and spying users. Digital rights management (DRM) is a set of access control technologies for restricting the use of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works. Worldwide, many laws have been created which criminalize the circumvention of DRM. (wikipedia)

In 2001 the United States National Security Agency (NSA) developed a set of cryptographic hash functions called SHA-2 (Secure Hash Algorithm.) These mathematical operations run on digital data and are used by cryptocurrencies. A Cryptocurrency is a medium for exchanging digital information conceived as a payment technology. In layman’s terms, a cryptocurrency is electricity converted into lines of code with monetary value following algorithmic rules to maintain a fixed production rate. Following previous digital cash technologies such as eCash the Bitcoin appeared in 2009 [1] by a pseudonymous developer/s named Satoshi Nakamoto. The only way to generate bitcoins is through a process called mining. Mining is a calculation process to confirm transactions realized by Bitcoin users and used to secure the transactions and to control the creation of new coins, writing them into a public ledger of past transactions called the Blockchain. A block in the blockchain is where the most recent bitcoin transactions are stored. (Nadal & Escudero, 2017)

Blockchain technology, lauded as providing us with the ability to radically disrupt the inequities of the financial realm –including the art Market. (Zeilinger, 2017) At the beginning Blockchain technology was conceived as an alternative electronic decentralized system for capital transactions against corruption and failed banking industry. Today Bitcoin skips democratic vigilance without any role of governments, this means, that capital has all the power. But also his ideology has triggered a competitive struggle in which computing power is the most important variable for earning Bitcoins; a struggle that benefits only the owner of the most powerful and efficient technology, one of its consequence is a considered amount of electricity wasted. (Nadal & Escudero, 2017)

“Bitcoin is the real Occupy Wall Street.” (Assange, 2017)

It is essential to make clear how cryptography transgresses from the digital to the physical space and how this change has a great impact on economic, social, political and ecological aspects. “The current use of the term Anthropocene dates to the year 2000. The term was coined by ecologist Eugene Stoermer to refer to the influence of human behaviour on the Earth’s.” (Haraway) Other authors such as Andreas Malm 2009 or Donna Haraway 2012 [2] prefer to use the term Capitalocene, pointing out the ways capitalism made use of the natural environment resources e.g. fossil fuels. Other terms Chthulhocene [3], Plantationocene, Misanthropocene are also considered. The Cryptocene can be understood as a period of time featured by a significant use of cryptographic systems and its impact on the surface of the Earth with ecological, economical, cultural and political consequences. (The term Cryptocene could be included into the Capitalocene or be rejected as Anthropocene).

The democratization of cryptography and the appearance of cryptocurrencies are probably the most influential events of what we have called Cryptocene. The massive use of computers to support different Blockchains suppose a notorious expense of resources, pollution and alteration of the Earth’s surface. This fact is due to the greatest energy consumed by cryptocurrencies comes from the coal-fired power plants located in China, with estimated annual emissions of 17,796 kt of CO2 and 123.31kg of CO2 per transaction.

However this technology (Blockchain) might be thought and implemented to produce new forms of financing from and around cultural circulation.” (O’Dwyer 2017) The Blockchain can be used for multiple actions and functions; in field of Cultural goods, music, research, art or ideas for example. According to Rachel O’Dwyer In an economy of cultural goods, techniques have to be employed to make these goods artificially scarce and to challenge their easy reproduction. But, How can Blockchain stimulate, value and reward the work of a researcher?

Archiving/Recognition/Monetization

The objective of the next section is to propose a research model in which the Blockchain replaces the institutions in their role of archiving, recognising and funding the knowledge generated by researchers, as well as to explore its repercussions, rethinking established links, reconfiguring the ownership models, and defining concepts such as originality, authenticity and ownership; values related to the creation of information and knowledge.

In this case, Does it make sense to generate a distributed research model based on Blockchain outside the institution? What repercussions can it have? Can Blockchain generate new research models? E.g. Poof of Research (PoR). archiving_recognition_monetization

Archiving

Research and money share characteristics such as exchange, accounting, and value storage. Indeed, working and learning about science requires reading at papers from multiple journals, this fact inspires us to imagine an environment of open access to knowledge. In 2010 The computer programmer, writer and political organizer Aaron Swartz downloaded academic journal articles systematically from JSTOR using a guest user account issued to him by MIT. On January 6, 2011, Swartz was arrested by MIT police on state breaking-and-entering charges. As a reaction to the high cost of research papers behind paywalls, typically US$30 each when bought on a per-paper basis. Alexandra Elbakyan in 2011 developed Sci-Hub; a website with over 64.5 million academic papers and articles available for direct download without requiring subscription or payment. The website is hosted in St. Petersburg, Russia, where judgments made by American courts are not enforceable. A similar case was also filed against Library Genesis (LibGen).[4]

Why do these solutions seem insufficient? This problem must go through a profound change of the research system. Because the Sci-hub server is located in Russia it makes it difficult for the scientific processors to prosper. But that is not a solution, we can not depend on legal loopholes. We must find a long-term, sustainable solution that allows us access to papers without having to depend on institutions and governments. A possible solution is to store all the papers / articles in the blockchain, generating a distributed database, open and accessible to everyone.

Academic and professional recognition.

The research outcomes are disseminated academically in conferences and scientific journals. Hence, a research is a process of context search, reference and contrast with other researches. The impact factor (IF) or journal impact factor (JIF) of an academic journal is a measure reflecting the yearly average number of citations to recent articles published in that journal and the Impact index (II) makes an estimate of how relevant a paper is. It is not our intention to go into technical details. However, It is possible to examine the impact factor of the journals in which a particular person has published articles.[5]

A possible solution. The paper and the citation data of the papers are stored in a Blockchain block and each paper associated with one or several researcherID with a digital signature. Using the number of times this paper is cited to estimate how much is recognized, allowing to identify the most productive researchers and the most cited papers.

From these data it is possible to calculate values such as prestige and originality. We imagine papers as a network where papers are nodes and quotes are edges. This network of citations shapes the distribution network of the financing.

In the diagram we represent some papers and their respective citations. Paper E cites C and B, C to A, and so on. We establish a relationship between funding and recognition in the research community.cites_diagram

By distributing part of the resources among the papers that are cited if the papers cited belong to another discipline, there will be a transfer of resources between the category of the paper and that of the cited paper. The more times a paper is cited on another paper is consider more relevant, with greater recognition. We propose that these ‘networks’ of citations define how resources should be distributed, that resources be distributed according to the number of times they are cited.monetization_diagram

The resources are distributed in ‘cascade’ [image 2] starting from the paper to the cited paper. Since we do not yet have a name for our cryptocurrency (ReserarchCoin is used) in which our wealth will be expressed we use the $ symbol.[6]

Another possible application would be to incentivize areas of knowledge through rewards. The idea is that an individual or a group can establish a budget to encourage study in an area. An example could be “the cure of cancer” or “alternative policies to capitalism”, for each paper that is published in that field, the author and authors of papers cited will receive part of the budget. How the resources will be distributed would be defined in a smart contract.

Ownership models. The platform, automatically acts and measures the impact of the paper, referring and temporally detecting each research approach, as well as avoiding possible ideas and appropriations. We also evaluate the idea that Michael Spearpoint shows in his paper “A Proposed Currency System for Academic Peer Review Payments Using the BlockChain Technology.” He suggests a system based on Blockchain to incentive researchers to agree to conduct suitable reviews. One criticism to consider is the behavior of researchers directly affected by the rewards altering the metrics. This should not be discouraged when solving open access to content and proper attribution.

Monetization/funding

Financing plays a fundamental role in the generation of knowledge, in this relationship, the capital flows from private companies, foundations, universities or governments deciding the research direction. Normally, these are incentivized under mercantilist and arm aims rejecting basic global cultural and social needs.[7] In the other hand, academic papers are often subject to a paywall. Paywall is a restricted access to Internet content via a paid subscription. The problem stems from the lack of access to papers published behind paywalls, derived from the lack of financial means of some researchers. Besides, companies such as Academia.edu emerged, which functions as data brokers that benefit economically from these and the scientist’s networking.[8] Another clear example is the information and analytics company Elsevier. Elsevier provides scientific, technical, and medical information, with a high profit margins (37% in 2016) its copyright practices have subjected it to criticism by researchers. However, It must be emphasized that the contributions done by the researchers are most of the time altruistic and non-profit, on the contrary access to them is limited to payment.

Finally, the ResearchCoin (momentary name) is a distributed and participatory model of economic support and contribution bia donation, stimulation, and promotion of researches and researchers in specific areas of knowledge, giving the chance to invest in expecifics researches, e.g. cure of cancer, study of regional songs.

CONCLUSION

Cryptography invokes social and political change, reshapes the realm of possibility and redefines power structures between individuals and governments. Privacy and secrecy are tools to defend the open society rights, but behind cryptography there are companies encrypting devices and services with unknown keywords and spying users.

It is essential to make clear how cryptography transgresses from the digital to the physical space. Cryptocene can be understood as a period of time featured by a significant use of cryptographic systems and its impact on the surface of Earth with ecological, economical, cultural and political consequences. The democratization of cryptography and the appearance of cryptocurrencies are probably the most influential events of what we have called Cryptocene.

In essence, we speculate with the possibility of generating an academic system in the Cryptocene.The problem stems from the lack of access to papers published behind paywalls, derived from the lack of financial means of some researchers. A possible solution is to store all the papers / articles in the Blockchain, generating a distributed database, open and accessible to everyone. We propose an ideal scenario where the role of publishers, institutions and reviewers are rewarded with a cryptocurrency generated in the same system. We can not control what is going to happen: When a computer program is launched, human action disregards. This only has a place now.

REFERENCES

Assange, J. Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet, (2012)

Haraway, D.,Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin. University of California, Santa Cruz, USA, (2016) http://environmentalhumanities.org/arch/vol6/6.7.pdf

Kahn, D. The Codebreakers: A Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet, Revised and Updated. Scribner. New York, New York. (1996)

Nadal, M & Escudero, C. Critical Mining: Blockchain and Bitcoin in Contemporary Art. Artist Re:Thinking the Blockchain, (2017)

O’Dwyer, R. Does Culture Want to be Free? How Blockchains are Transforming the Economy of Cultural Goods. Artist Re:Thinking the Blockchain, (2017) Pp 297.

Spearpoint, M. “A Proposed Currency System for Academic Peer Review Payments Using the BlockChain Technology, (2017)

Zeilinger, M. Everythink You’ve Always Wanted to Know About the Blockchain*(*But Were Afraid to Ask Mel Ramsdem). Artist Re:Thinking the Blockchain, (2017)

NOTES

[1] Mining process. The objective in the mining process is to calculate the hash function value of a concatenated Blockheader with a random number (nonce) and to obtain, as a result, a hash value starting with a sufficient number of zeros. Obtaining this number, the miner gets a reward of 12,5 BTC. BLOCKHEADER + nonce = hash.
To mine a new block it is necessary to know the hash function of the previous block and the unconfirmed transactions. It is from these transactions where the Merkleroot is generated, with the Merkleroot and the previous block the Blockheader is generated. The Blockheader hash is the main way of identifying a block in the blockchain. It is An 80- byte header belonging to a single block which is hashed repeatedly to create the proof of work. The Blockheader is a set of structured data representing the block with all its transactions using the Merkletree. The hash of the previous block is included to ensure that this block was generated from the previous one. So if someone wanted to modify a block, they would have to rewrite all the previous ones. The blockheader hash is calculated by running the blockheader through the SHA256 algorithm twice. It is calculated by each node as part of the verification process of each block.

[2] The figure of the anthropos itself is a species term. The anthropos—what is that? All of Homo sapiens sapiens? All of mankind? Well, who exactly? Fossil-fuel-burning humanity is the first short answer to that. Industrial humanity, however, is still a kind of a species-being; it doesn’t even speak to all of industrial humanity, but specifically the formations of global capital and global state socialisms. Very much a part of that are the exchange net- works, the financial networks, extraction practices, wealth creations, and (mal)dis- tributions in relation to both people and other critters. It would probably be better named the Capitalocene, if one wanted a single word. The mass extinction events are related to the resourcing of the earth for commodity production, the resourcing of everything on the earth, most certainly including people, and everything that lives and crawls and dies and everything that is in the rocks and under the rocks.(Haraway) http://openhumanitiespress.org/books/download/Davis-Turpin_2015_Art-in-the-Anthropocene.pdf (Haraway, http://environmentalhumanities.org/arch/vol6/6.7.pdf)

[3]Donna Haraway (2015) proposed that there will be a new epoch, the “Chthulucene” where refugees from environmental disaster (both human and non-human) will come together.

[4]Alexandra Elbakyan said in response to the lawsuit that publishers demanding payment despite putting in minimal effort in publishing the academic papers, which she says are essentially donated by researchers, is illegal and violates Article 27 (1.) of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which recognises the right “to share in scientific advancement and its benefits (wikipedia)

[5] This use is widespread, but controversial. Garfield warns about the “misuse in evaluating individuals” because there is “a wide variation from article to article within a single journal”

[6] The most-cited paper of all time is the classic paper by Oliver Lowry describing an assay to measure the concentration of proteins. By 2014 it had accumulated more than 305,000 citations.

[7] More resources are invested in combating alopecia than research against malaria. Bill Gates: Why do we care more about baldness than malaria? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/bill-gates-why-do-we-care-more-about-baldness-than-malaria-8536988.html

[8]“As privatized platforms like Academia.edu look to monetize scholarly writing even further, researchers, scientists and academics across the globe must now consider alternatives to proprietary companies that aim to profit from our writing and offer little transparency as to how our work will be used in the future.”Sarah Bold, Forbes Jan 23, 2017

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9 Comments

  1. Dear Martin and Cesar, thank you for this write-up covering an introduction to history of cryptography, its connection to cryptocurrencies, the crypocene and your idea of turning research into blockchain based system.

    I really enjoyed the definitions you made around some of these complex arrangements:

    ‘In layman’s terms, a cryptocurrency is electricity converted into lines of code with monetary value following algorithmic rules to maintain a fixed production rate.’

    ‘Mining is a calculation process to confirm transactions realized by Bitcoin users and used to secure the transactions and to control the creation of new coins, writing them into a public ledger of past transactions called the Blockchain.’

    The connection and disconnection between the term ‘mining’ and the actual process intrigues me.

    One thing I’m wondering about regarding your recognition within science through the blockchain is about optimisation. If scientist would be payed only by how many citations their work receives, science would become, very much like digital journalism, a hunt for as many views/citations as possible.
    This is of course already happening, but such a system would most probably make this more extreme. Papers with more radical claims, papers appearing to a wider audience etc. might become much more evaluation and funding than papers which only address a small audience, have no breakthrough finding, do not appeal to the current mindset etc.. To me it feels science at it’s best should be free of this ‘Capitalocene’ rather than weaving it deeper into it.

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    1. Dear Kim

      Thanks for your suggestion, which goes directly to the topic that we want to discuss with this article.

      Ideologically, blockchain was born as a distributed alternative in response to the banking crisis, which is good, but the actual result is a system where the government and current banking have no jurisprudence, and companies and individuals use for skipping democratic vigilance without any role of governments. Therefore, what born with good intentions (blockchain) has become in a hypercapitalism system, actually this model of Blockchain can be applied in different sectors as music, art-market, medicine advertising, etc. There are even some proposals to unite all blockchains in one and put internet in a blockchain [1].

      We think we are in time to think about blockchain consequences.

      We propose to launch a research system within blockchain, –like bitcoin and other currencies without knowing their results– but acting as a trigger for thinking, we want to experiment if this lack of jurisprudence could be replaced by and algorithm creating and equal research environment. As you say, we also believe that blockchain becomes everything more extreme, we can suspect that the “research system” we want to develop is going to become in a “hypercapitalism” way of researching, as happened with cryptocurrencies, but we want to analyze the consequences before doing it.

      So we take your consideration of “recognition within science through the blockchain is about optimisation”.
      implementing the possibility to create a equal system, finding solution such as:

      1- Giving the opportunity to the people to invest in the research field they prefer.
      2- Generate contents out of institutions.
      3- Jumping paywalls
      4- Creating an environment of research that forces all publications to be open access Breaking all paywalls.
      5- All the nodes have a copy of the included papers, playing the role of public archives, disseminating the knowledge freely.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Have you read Joana Moll’s article on Deep Carbon? Your concept of cryptoscene or capitaloscene may be good for her to think further in relation to labour processes and monetization via the example of blockchain technology.

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  3. Have you read Joana Moll’s article on Deep Carbon? Your concept of cryptoscene or capitaloscene may be good for her to think further in relation to labour processes and monetization via the example of blockchain technology.

    Like

  4. Thanks for the interesting article. From a moderator perspective, my comment will be more on facilitating the dialogues between the three papers’ authors. First of all, your paper offers a historical and informational account of cryptography and how Bitcoin, as an example of blockchain technology, disrupts the existing central role of governance, such as a bank. However, one of the major consequences is the cost of environmental impact, the consumption of a huge amount of energy to do mining activities, in which new bitcoins can be generated. (In terms of the computer power and amount of computer and ventilation facilities). The mentioned term Cryptocene in your paper suggests that the availability of cryptographic systems and peer to peer transactions incur other ecological, cultural and political consequences. This draws into the values of blockchain technology, and you suggest a research model that use blockchain technology to store, archive and analyze papers, journal articles, citations and other information so that resources can be distributed to recognised and acknowledged “productive researchers” based on the “most cited papers”. One of the concerns could be this model might only facilitate one view of “recognised scholars”, which is rate by the number of citations but not the quality of papers, where some of the marginalised fields such as Tibetan language, will never get the same amount of citation as in other more popular fields, such as social science. Haven’t said that, there might be a possibility to think about using blockchain technology and databases to generate a different peer to peer file sharing system (provided that the core problem is accessibility).

    One of the common concepts of your piece and Marc Garrett’s writing is the notion of privatisation that you used in conjunction with platforms, and he uses the term “proprietorial lockdown’ systems. In relation to your example of research platforms, academia.edu may be regarded as a proprietorial system in Garrett’s term. The system that you propose suggesting a peer-to-peer exchange of value without any third party corporations for storage or centralization. How might your proposed system escape from ranking or rating (as this implies the direct relationship between metrics and viewership, and it favours those already established scholars)? And how may your system deal with bias (such as the gender citation gap)? In further relation to Calum Bowden’s piece on time/temporality, how blockchain constructs time, specifically in your proposal of the research model? How does it change the notion of governance via forking?

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    1. Dear Winnie

      Thanks for this introduction rather useful to think how to implement our (utopian/dystopian) system.

      Marc’s argument summarises most of the approaches we want to achieve with our proposal, as he says “we need a set of updated visions, tools, and emancipatory levers, that reflect contemporary social context that assume all as equal agents, as part of a larger global intersectional community. Blockchain at the beginning looks for a destabilizing concentration of power in the economy, it was its main idea. As it is known, we can apply blockchain technology to other fields such as medicine or pedagogy, but “how should we build these independent platforms, spaces, identities, first by analyzing which kind of problems arose before Blockchain is an amazing tool to unpack ‘proprietorial system’ ” but applied in economy, as we could observe, it is also a contribution to lead humanity to the “hipercapitalism” .

      How might your proposed system escape from ranking or rating (as this implies the direct relationship between metrics and viewership, and it favors those already established scholars)?

      We propose the system as an open research investment where investors can invest/donate supporting the research field they choose .

      And how may your system deal with bias (such as the gender citation gap)?
      There is no gender difference, researchers will be treated as researchers. We have found connections with Calum article “the Cthulhu-chain” and Donna Haraway’s idea of Chthulucene because she introduces a dystopian scenario an entities-inassemblages- including human or inhuman, Tchthonic entities without a proper genealogy;
      The blockchain is a technological system at the end also in Haraways words “It matters which figures figure figures, which systems systematise systems”.

      how blockchain constructs time, specifically in your proposal of the research model?

      We have to think how to implement, but obviously timing in papers matter in terms of novelty, as every paper is stored in a block in blockchain exist a reliable testimony of innovation.
      a proposal could be to

      How does it change the notion of governance via forking?

      We have to think about

      Like

  5. “Bitcoin is the real Occupy Wall Street.” (Assange, 2017)

    Interesting proposal for designing cryto-economic incentives for open source research. I commented as I read through and want to raise questions that might be interesting to discuss next week.

    “May be that Cryptography is the ultimate form of non-violent direct action, but behind cryptography there are companies and governments encrypting devices with unknown keywords and spying users.”

    What kind of network effects does the Cryptocene require, if any? Is it a time scale to be avoided or to be directed in a preferable direction? In my research looking at time and blockchains, in many ways Blockchains can be seen to construct older linear and successive notions of time. As you say, the Anthropocene and the Capitalocene describe period of times during which humans and capital have had significant impact on ecological systems. What sets the Cryptocene apart form this?

    “The democratization of cryptography and the appearance of cryptocurrencies are probably the most influential events of what we have called Cryptocene. The massive use of computers to support different Blockchains suppose a notorious expense of resources, pollution and alteration of the Earth’s surface.”

    To me the rise of cryptography and the impact of Proof of Work on energy systems seem almost more like intensifications of the Anthropocene and the Capitalocene. Something I’m interested in thinking through is what a subversive use of this technology might look like – perhaps something like a no longer human centric Chuthulu-chain.

    “A possible solution. The paper and the citation data of the papers are stored in a Blockchain block and each paper associated with one or several researcherID with a digital signature. Using the number of times this paper is cited to estimate how much is recognized, allowing to identify the most productive researchers and the most cited papers. “

    It might be interesting for you to look at Page Rank, Google’s original sorting alorithm, which equated importance with the number of links a page has directed to it. In this system, not all backlinks have the same value and links from more important pages result in higher scores. Defined using the mathematical formalization of a random walk on path – “a random Web surfer” – between the connected objects of a graph, PageRank calculates the probability that a random walk would fall on a given page after a large period of time. If a page is linked to more, and by pages which are themselves linked to more, there is a higher chance that a random surfer clicking links would end up on it, and therefore that page was ranked higher on Google. This is also the mechanism behind Google Scholar.

    As the previous commenter suggests, what are the implications of citation-bait scientific research? Do you see a difference between putting papers on a blockchain and using tokens to incentivise open source research? Group Currency is also interesting reference here.

    Currently, who are the ‘data brokers’ of academic/scientific knowledge? What are the values of the intermediaries of Knowledge and research?

    Like

  6. Hi Martin and Cesar,

    Sorry I can’t be more productive with my comments but I’m a bit confused by your piece, so I’ll get straight to my two points – playing the role of the annoying guy in the audience after you delivered a talk, until I can turn, I hope, into a collaborator of yours during the workshop:

    1. Besides being a potentially good branding device for the booming crypto-industry, what’s the use of the “Cryptocene”? Why do you need to coin this term? From the current crypto-bubble to the idea that cryptographic systems would be THE defining agents transforming the composition of the Earth’s crust to the point that we need to invoke a new geological era in their name – there seems to be quite a stretch. Mine is a genuine question, which we could open up to the rest of the group: when is a new term useful?

    2. Along the lines of what the other commentators have pointed out, I am pretty freaked out by the system you propose for the hosting and distribution of research papers – which looks a lot like what we already have or are frighteningly tending towards, but “on the blockchain”. (by the way this is quite fun: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/on-the-blockchain/jieoegmpbhhhdeidanoldbfnghajiehe). The massive process of parametrisation of complex value systems (such as the production of knowledge) into reductive computable indexes (such as “impact”) seems to something we should really stand against, by coming up with solid alternatives, rather than facilitate with the use of new technology, decentralised or not. And in fact, if it is right to think of blockchains as, precisely, a “technology of value”, I think it could be really interesting to think of the use of blockchains in the context you have chosen, not so much as an economic infrastructure for the circulation of predefined value attached to a given content, but rather as a tool for a decentralised community to design the very criteria by which that value will be defined and attached to content.

    Looking forward to discussing further.

    Like

  7. Hi Martin and Cesar,
    A last minute comment from me. The history of cryptography is very interesting but I also have some comments that echo Francesco’s.

    Naming a geological era after cryptographic technologies seems like a very bold claim! Unless you are approaching this with humor? To me, it is a stretch to argue that crypto has become a geological force. I think you will upset the geologists.

    I also read your proposal for researchCoin with some trepidation. I feel very strongly that not all issues ought to be addressed with computers, and I see others have raised questions regarding what this would incentivize and whether knowledge can be quantified? For me, its worth remembering that the cloud is not inevitable despite our rapture with it. On the other hand, if you are proposing this as a rhetorical prompt – as an object for thinking – it does its job. And if this is your strategy, I’m interested in discussing the role of satire and trolling in media arts? Having also used these strategies, I think it’s worth asking whether they produce the critique we seek?

    For my fav coin project see: http://saaaam.s3.amazonaws.com/lazycoin_whitepaper.pdf

    Like

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