Refactor Camp 2018: Cryptoeconomics and Blockchain Weirding Post-Mortem

refactor camp 2018

Refactor Camp: Cryptoeconomics and Blockchain Weirding was a 2-day conference held in Austin Texas on May 12-13th 2018. The event featured talks, workshops, and breakout sessions focused on blockchain technology, the sociology of blockchains, and whatever other weird nonsense the speakers could come up with.

Our hope with this event was to “stretch the Overton window” a bit in terms of thinking about the implications and elements of blockchain technology and, in the Ribbonfarm tradition, facilitate some more speculative thinking and discussions than what happens at other cryptocurrency events.

Topics covered included:

  • Blockchain as Metaphor – Take some feature of a mature blockchain ecosystem and map it into another domain (e.g. Decentralization in urban infrastructure or.)
  • Sociology of Blockchain Geopolitical implications of blockchain
  • Magic, Ritual & Blockchain
  • Blockchain as an International / Multicultural Phenomenon
  • Crypto Econophysics

We were able to record most of the talks and have uploaded them to Youtube as well as embedding them below. Special thank you to all the speakers who took the time to prepare a talk.

Speakers

A New Era Of Trust – Toby Shorin

Abstract: Historically, aesthetic was a reliable indicator of quality, social allegiance, and trustability. Even after global supply chains enabled the wide distribution of high-quality goods, brands relied largely on visual signals to communicate trustworthiness to consumers. But in a world of ethically relative and utterly remixable aesthetics, a world increasingly composed of programmatically-generated images created at zero marginal cost, what can be trusted?

We live in a time where brands are expected to not just reflect our values but act on them. Consumer trust can no longer be based on visual signals of authenticity, only on proof of work. This talk will explore the history of visual trust signals and the relationship between brands and identity, and outline the impact of blockchain technology and smart contracts on brand marketing and value creation.

Bio: Toby Shorin is a product builder and writer interested in systems of identity, agency, and value. He writes about and consults on the intersection of these topics—brands, software, aesthetics, culture, and community. Toby is currently located in New York. His blog is subpixel.space

Twitter@tobyshorin

The Blockchain Individual – Taylor Pearson

Abstract: Over the next two decades, blockchains will bring transaction costs down replacing existing firms with markets and enabling as-yet-unconceived-of business models. As organizations fracture, we’ll see the emergence of a new archetype: The Blockchain Individual.

Looking at the intersection of transaction costs and techno-economic paradigms, Taylor will investigate how this world may come about.

Bio: Taylor is an independent consultant and writer. He is the author of The End of Jobs.

Twitter: @TaylorPearsonMe

Chaos, Cryptography, and Community Control – Sonya Mann

Abstract: Blockchain communities are a mix of accessible and mysterious. There are layers of information available to anyone with enough time and interest, but also closely guarded secrets. Community participants and the authorities who want to police them must try to stay one step ahead of each other in navigating the simultaneously open and obfuscated landscape.

Bio: Sonya Mann runs communications at the Zcash Foundation. She has a background in journalism and is passionate about free expression.

Twitter@sonyaellenmann

Cryptohistorical Globalization: A Speculative Co-Refactoring Workshop – Samuel Chua

Workshop: We’ve all heard cryptopian visions of how blockchains might change the world. But here’s a different question: what might the history of blockchains — with all its quiet beginnings, improbable adoptions, colorful opportunism, proxy conflicts, and heady speculation — tell us about the world as it is (and might become), not just as it could or should be?

Cryptohistory instead of cryptopianism. In this workshop, we’ll explore this question, together. Beginning with a few seed cryptohistorical events (e.g., Satoshi, Silk Road, Sierra Leone), we’ll:

  • Construct a timeline of notable cryptohistorical events
  • Hypothesize speculative connective explanations linking these
  • Imagine crazy extrapolation scenarios from these hypotheses

We’ll have just over an hour, so let’s make no pretense at exhaustiveness or historical authoritah. But we’ll get some new data, hypotheses, scenarios, and (hopefully) a bit of co-refactoring fun!Bring: a couple choice cryptohistorical factoids, your favorite amateur historian hat, an improv mindset.

Bio: Sam is a culture hacker interested in civilizational change and a practicing metatechnologist (designer and cultivator of human systems). He founded and currently consults via Metacata, a ‘travel agency for the mind’.

Twitter@samuelchua

The Blockchain Archipelago – Rob Knight

Bio: Rob is an entrepreneur and innovator, with extensive experience in leading and building digital teams and launching nation-scale infrastructure. He is currently building Mattereum which allows startups and enterprises of all sizes to build systems to manage contractual relationships spanning years or even decades, covering vast areas of economic activity currently conducted on paper.

Twitter@rob_knight

Don’t Go Hashing Waterfalls – Nolan Gray

Abstract: Emotion is at the intersection between the disembodiment of value from the market seen in the rise of cryptocurrency and music’s divestment from it’s physicality of playback and distribution mediums. What can we presently do to ensure that our future selves are class compliant with the forthcoming generation’s desire for the emotional fluidity of identity and the right to dance if you want to?

Bio: Nolan Gray is an artist, producer and DJ. He serves as the Music Director at Blasthaus, and curates the Nolan Gray Communiqué, a weekly journal of music and the arts. In 2014 he released his first EP entitled Occams Lazer, followed by his second self-released EP entitled Stellar Wind in 2015. Nolan Gray has performed for sold out audiences nationwide and alongside a host of live acts including Hot Chip, Brodinski, Gesaffelstein and Booka Shade. As an artist his immersive sound installations have been shown in galleries in New York, San Francisco and Brussels. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Twitter@nolangray_

Beloved Community on the Blockchain – Matilda Wysocki

Abstract: Blockchains allow for the possibility of distributed communal control over the shared narratives that mobilize communities, and the divergent ones that are pushed to the margins only to redefine social movements (e.g trans women and women of color being ignored in 2nd wave feminism, only to become integral to 3rd wave feminism).

This talk will discuss how we can embrace a floodgate of previously unheard voices as our power structures decentralize more and more, how we can feel supported even as our traditional communal support structures (families, cities, nations) become more nebulous, and how the alienation that comes with unsatisfactory networks (e.g unknown Twitter followers) can make way for a deep sense of Beloved Community.

Bio: Matilda studies how different aspects of the world are connected, and how they may be reconnected for the better. They feel most fulfilled as a community organizer, having organized around homeless rights, access to education, climate justice, and disability rights, but have a creative practice incorporating programming, art, and design into their pursuit of the above goal.

The Relationship Between Medium of Exchange, Store of Value, and Unit of Account – Kyle Samani

Abstract: There are three commonly acknowledged purposes of money: medium of exchange, store of value, and unit of account. How do these purposes relate to each other? Kyle will look at how these different purposes relate to each other and the emergence of new forms of crypto-money

Bio: Kyle is the co-founder and managing partner of Multicoin Capital, a hedge fund focusing on blockchain technology.

Twitter@KyleSamani

Reimagining Identity & the Co-oped Nation States of Our Decentralized Future – Karyl Fowler

Abstract: Artists and philosophers have long been documenting and debating conceptions of identity. Most concede that identity is multi-faceted and fluid, highly dependant on social context or transaction type. This ability to rapidly adapt and optimize for the situation at hand is an enviable trait of individual and small group actors, but such a trait is sorely lacking in large institutions like governments [and corporations]. On the other hand, large institutions possess the ability to efficiently mobilize, distribute and monetize resources at scale.

Decentralized technologies power governance models that combine the superpowers of both the individual and the institution. This talk explores the advantages that emerge from this combination and the disadvantages that remain – with specific focus on individual identity and a revised notion of citizenship for a future where decentralization is fully embraced.

Bio: Karyl is the CEO and co-founder of Transmute Industries. Karyl’s experience spans enterprise sales to business development for high tech platform companies in semiconductors and software.

Twitter@Karyl361

Meta Problems and the Crypto Stack – Justin Mares

Abstract: Human capital is a scarce resource with highly illegible ways to drive returns. Both value investing and value capture are difficult, but the payoff can be tremendous. Crypto creates a new layer of abstraction that allows for not just the abstraction of code, but programmable value and the abstraction of value. This programmable value allows for the creation of markets in previously illegible sectors of the economy.

Bio: Justin is the founder of Kettle and Fire and author of Traction.

Twitter: @jwmares

Cryptoeconophysics: New analogies for systems of belief – Joe Kelly

Abstract: By the arrival of the 20th century, no reputed scientist believed powered flight was possible until it was demonstrated by the Wright brothers and other pioneers. Likewise, no one believed that an uncontrolled, digital money system was possible until Bitcoin.

After the modern airfoil was invented, the aerospace industry advanced through a combination of practical results and new theories about fluid flows, a fundamentally chaotic and difficult area of nature to model. Human social systems are similarly chaotic and difficult to model, but blockchain ecosystems offer a new technology that inspires us to develop better theories.

Joe combines ideas from the history of technology, microeconomics, and the physics of fluid flows to develop rich visual metaphors for models of social organization made possible by blockchains.

Bio: Joe is the founder of Unchained Capital which offers Bitcoin collateralized loans. Previously, Joe founded and sold Infochimps, a CSC Big Data startup.

The Mutable Mythology of Money – Harry Pottash

Abstract: When people think of money, they tend to think of it’s physical representation, a paper bill or coin, but money is actually a shared myth. Often the myth that constitutes a type of money or wealth is different for the naive user and the sophisticate. These myths also change over time with fluctuations in public confidence, relative power, and policy changes. We will explore some of the common myths that make up a few currencies, and how they have changed through time.

Workshop: Try out a dApp for the first time. Let’s get Metamask installed, and buy a crypto-kitty.

Bio: Harry is a wide ranging enthusiast with experience in activism, software development, cryptography, religion, and ritual magic. He previously worked as a web developer for Kiva.org, and is currently enrolled in a seminary program to become an interfaith chaplain. Harry has been engaged in the cryptocurrency community since 2012, and wrote his first dapp in march 2016.

Designing Robust Human Systems – Galen Wolfe-Pauly

Abstract: Today there’s an abundance of efforts to rethink digital infrastructure. Will any of it actually last? How can we tell? Is it possible to actually *design* long-lived human systems?

One way to frame the answer is to look at existing long-lived human systems. Particularly physical infrastructure: cities, buildings, furniture and hand tools.

In this workshop we’ll look at examples throughout history from these categories, work together to unpack their design patterns, and apply these patterns critically to the present.

Bio: Galen is an architect and one of the co-founders of Urbit, a network of personal servers built from scratch.

Twitter@galenwolfepauly

Blockchain Mind Candy: Increasingly Esoteric Applications for Blockchains – Dhruv Bansal

Bio: Dhruv is the co-founder of Unchained Capital which provides crypto-collateralized loans. Previously, he co-founded Infochimps, a big data startup which was acquired in 2013.

Twitter@dhruvbansal

AI, Etymology, Blockchain and the History of Strange Government Technology/Programs – Connor Chevaillier

Abstract: The hidden history and emergence of Blockchain and Authorities role in the emergence of Ledger and Secure Systems

This lecture is a History on the advent of Ledger services and its uses for military communication, escrow from the 1800’s to 2018’s. Furthermore, performing a critical analysis on the six generations of encryption in the context and use in systems of Authority and hierarchies. These generations being: mechanical, electromechanical, vacuum tubes, integrated circuits, electronic key distribution, and network/blockchain centric systems. Lastly, encryptions by types of application: Voice and Trunk encryption, Fleet broadcast, Strategic forces, Internet, Public systems and Escrow.

Bio: Data Designer-Philosopher- General Systems Researcher and Theorist. Conner’s areas of interest include the History of Emergence, Technological Evolution, Etymology, Blockchain, Authority Analysis, and the Occult

The Vulnerable Link – J. Bryce Hidysmith

Abstract: The vandalization, modification, or outright destruction of credit allocation records provides an environment where meritocracies of force are able to supplant meritocracies of credit in the organization of a culture. I’ll go into various strategies for using decentralized recordkeeping and common knowledge to avoid selecting for brutality as a primary hierarchy in society by increasing the surface area that a a given attempt to damage recordkeeping would have to affect.

Bio: J. Bryce Hidysmith is presently a researcher at the Median Research Group, an advisor at the hedge fund Numerai, and writes at www.hidysmith.com.

Visions of a Techno Leviathan – Brett Scott

Abstract: Since its inception in 2008, blockchain technology has lived a double-life. On the one hand it exists a practical set of protocols designed to achieve certain practical ends. On the other hand it is space for people to pin their hopes, desires, dreams and political projects. The technology has become host to an array of ideological visions for how society should be arranged, but whether the actual technology enables these visions is a separate question. In this talk, Brett Scott will explore the various ideological strains, from the dominant strands of conservative libertarianism, Austrian economics and cyber-utopianism, to the neo-fascist elements that have appeared, charting the connection between commodity theories of money and far-right thought. Finally he’ll look at the attempts to create left wing versions of blockchain technology, or ideological hybrids.

Bio: Brett Scott is an economic explorer and financial hacker traversing the intersections between money systems, finance, digital technology and cities. He is the author of The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money (2013), and collaborates with a wide range on groups on diverse topics, including banking systems, financial activism, digital finance, blockchain technology, hacker culture, technology politics and the dynamics of cashless society.

Twitter: @suitpossum

Modeling Blockchain-driven Global Macroeconomic Evolution – Anthony Di Franco

Abstract: How might widespread adoption of blockchain-based investment in financial and other similar asset classes impact the functioning of the global macroeconomy? Could this shift address long-standing problems in the economy, such as financially driven instability and accelerating concentration of wealth (a.k.a. condensation of wealth in econophysics terms) Vitalik Buterin and others in the community have advocated basic income and the related concept of a rolling jubilee as a prosocial use of blockchain-based financial technologies; where do these ideas stand relative to more direct broad participation in markets for financial assets? In work for blockchain startup YosemiteX, I investigated some aspects of these questions using dynamical systems models of the global macroeconomy developed by Professor Steve Keen of Kingston University, and will present discussion of these questions and the results obtained so far.

Bio: Anthony works on programming language technology emphasizing correctness and declarative programming, with smart contracts applications in view, in the PhD program at UC Davis, and in other work. He is also developing open source, simple, and low cost techniques to make insulin in a biohacking side project.

Twitter@dfko_0

Excavating the Post-Capitalist Subject: Darkchain technology and eventually-consistent mythmaking – Anders Aamodt

Abstract: machines undergo evolution and paradigm-shift, just like living organisms and material processes. Darkchain technology has been invented, and it is poised to standardize the terms of collective mythmaking in the same way that blockchain has standardized discourse around collective finance. Soon, the stories we tell that ground our identity will be open-sourced and tweaked by public-platform hackers, taking them back from mass media, identity politics, and lifestyle marketing. The emergence of a mass xenogaming industry inherently abhors prediction; but, by utilizing the dynamics of hyperstition and the eventually-consistent darkchain, we can triangulate ourselves within a narrative truth which inexorably exceeds expectations

Bio: Self-described “alien autopsy survivor” and wizard, Anders is working to build systems for mass peer-to-peer education, user interfaces for contemplation, and transpersonal languages that allow DAOs to express an internal dialogue. Anders is working with Holo on building the Holochain applications ecosystem.

Bloodcoin – Venkatesh Rao

Abstract: Our economic system is based on the future prospects of societies, captured in the idea of sovereign bonds. What if we could reimagine economics based on the past? Ideas like blood debts have been part of economic relationships in the past.

Could we model an entire socioeconomic history of vendettas, transgressions, reparations and such on a blockchain, and use it as the basis of the financial instruments needed in an economy? In this talk, I will explore a bit of design fiction in the form of a speculative blockchain concept called “blood coin” that attempts to explore this concept.

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Comments

  1. mitch buchanan says:

    Are there better quality audio versions of this?

  2. This is an incredible list; were there any videos/speeches covering the gigantic energy use required for Bitcoin and other proof of work blockchains? Curious to know since this has been coming up again and again.

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