From Robin Hood to Economic Space Agency
We are architects of economic space
Back in the day we were a group of hard core researchers of the coming forms of economy and organization.
We knew that it will not be a picnic when we started using thinkers like Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and then the Italian autonomist writers, Toni Negri, Christian Marazzi, Paolo Virno, Maurizio Lazzarato, Franco Berardi, and others like Gabriel Tarde, Gilbert Simondon, George Bataille, Alfred North Whitehead, Rene Girard to study and understand economy, finance and organization. But we knew that this was the right way if we were to really grasp how post-Fordist economy, semiocapitalism, immaterial and affective labor, and the financial technologies work and intertwine with our destiny.
With these thinkers we were able to discern a couple of interesting things:
— How signs and meanings are part of real production and not only some kind ideology or superstructure of production. They have historically different ways of functioning.
— How the dynamic of the production of value is in the organization of a heterogeneity, of heterogeneous forces, and not only in the relationship between capital and labor.
— How information overflow and semiotic inflation lead to imitation.
— How finance can curb time, how it is essentially a technology to affect the future from the present.
— How economy is essentially about organization, not of action, but its potentiality.
— What is the nature of an organization which is not based on division of work, but on dividing into an open space, on opening to the uncertain and indeterminate possibility.
— How the meaning of autonomy is in internal displacements, shiftings, iterations, settlings and dissolutions that are the process of the self-composition. That autonomy means to be able to set the attractors of one’s own behavior.
So they helped us understand how the paradoxes of immaterial production and precarious work, the blurring of the boundaries between economy and politics, cause problems to the approaches and distinctions of industrial economy and its institutions. We needed to start creating new concepts and imagining new social and financial forms.
And we understood that the common ground of art and politics is in the collapse of old forms of society, economy and subjectivity and in the creation of new forms. This is where they meet, and this is where we found ourselves in work.
What can these new forms be today? How can they be created?
These questions meant the birth of Robin Hood Asset Management. It was a new form, a new combination, a paradox or a monster that didn’t fit the boundaries of our normal life, the easy flow of things and action. It was the first economic space we engineered.
Robin Hood Asset Management
So what do you do when you see what “financial services” offer ordinary people? Not services so much, rather a way to bail out financial industry with our tax money. Do you get depressed and cynical or get angry and go protest? Good! But maybe one can also get more hands on. With a hacker attitude; doing it yourself, doing it with others.
Our pilot in hacking finance to create new social and financial forms was Robin Hood Asset Management — a hedge fund with a twist. In fact, three twists. First, it is a cooperative. Individuals who buy shares become members and decide how the coop is run. One member, one vote. Second, per the Robin Hood principle, part of the profit generated by the fund is invested into projects building the commons. Third, the money put into the fund is managed by an algorithm called “the Parasite”. She logs into the brains of the bankers at Wall Street, deconstructs them into databanks, and uses big data analysis and structured finance to share their most important means of production to everyone.
By creating in our portfolio a synthetic replica of the emerging conventions of the financial elite at the market, we create a simulacrum, a monstrous false power, whose repetition yields a difference in kind. A bad copy of the financial asset accumulation model opens suddenly into something else. We copy the most important means of production of the fat cats at Wall Street — their knowledge, relations, positions — and use them in a way that does not belong to the orthodox economic space. This is what we call minor asset management.
Robin Hood, as an umbrella term, is a project towards giving people access to the operating system of finance, to open source finance. At the moment it is in the process of transitioning its member and share management on the Ethereum blockchain, which makes possible an effective secondary market for coop shares and the deployment of new algorithms, in addition to the Parasite. The new one in development is a shorting target identification algorithm called the “Sting”. Moreover, members can start managing and curating commons-oriented projects directly, without the need for overarching decisions by the whole coop. This is the vision for Robin Hood: to merge and re-engineer the financial and the social so that new forms become possible.
Economic Space Agency
The next step takes the logic further: not only stealing from the rich and giving to the poor (like Robin Hood did), but exploring, building new ecologies, new ecosystems, new universes, new possibilities, new worlds of value. For this purpose the Robin Hood hydra grew a new head: a start-up company Economic Space Agency, Inc. (ECSA). Economic Space Agency builds tools with which we can create economic space — not only to distribute something existing or produced in a pre-existing space, but to reorganize/rebuild the space itself. Two trends are converging and making open source economy possible: the moldability and plasticity of financial technologies and the decentralization and disintermediation provided by distributed ledgers.
ECSA’s DNA contains all these things: hard core research (the team has published over 25 books), direct engagement with the power of art to create unforeseen (economical, social, political, financial, incorporeal) processes, financial first-in-the-world inventions (such as a hedge fund as a coop, and asset-backed cryptoequity), experimental hands-on attitude and an intimate lived experience of how the financial and the social co-determine each other.
We are developing tools with which you can tailor your own economic space, a place where we can autonomously set the parameters and attractors of our economic behaviour. The name of our first product, Sherwood, reflects the spirit of finding a place to plan, experiment and act together. It offers you a space and tools to “phase transition” what you are doing or want to do into a liquid form both financially and socially.
The new network technologies will produce a radically different economy. We are building tools for you to start exploring and operating it.