The Research Center for Proxy Politics aims to explore and reflect upon the nature of medial networks and their actors, that is, machines and things as well as humans. The proxy, a decoy or surrogate, is today often used to designate a computer server acting as an intermediary for requests from clients. Originating in the Latin procurator, an agent representing others in a court of law, proxies are now emblematic of a post-representational political age, one increasingly populated by bot militias, puppet states, ghostwriters, and communication relays. During the period of the project (September 2014 to August 2017) the center will host a series of workshops at the Universität der Künste, Berlin, revolving around a wide range of relevant topics including the politics of digital networks, the political economy of crypto-currencies, the genealogy of networked thought, the mediality of physical landscapes and strategies of opacity. The center will also conduct material, experimental, investigations into the conception and construction of alternative networks, or alternets.

(Lecture / Workshop) 29/05 2016  18:00 @ Raum 115

New Companies on the Block

Ben Vickers

Corporations are people, one would generally assume. What if not? What if a recent paradigm shift has unleashed the full cyberneticization of trade? Can a decentralized autonomous corporation be truly autonomous? And if they can; What do these new decentralized companies running on the world computer want? Over the course of the last 6 years a strange, almost mystical technology has appeared in our midst, known as the blockchain. Born as Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency, described in a white paper, and unleashed on the world in code by the pseudonymous and AWOL Satoshi Nakamoto. Having recently achieved the acceptance of regulators and investors, the inception of its upgrade Ethereum, “the world computer” in 2015, could signal a change in sentiment. Rebuilt from the ground up and designed as a distributed blockchain based platform focused on planetary scale computation, smart contracts and decentralized autonomous organisations. Its creation has significant implications for bitcoin’s initial promise of disintermediating nation states and monetary markets.Despite being less than a year old this platform has already seen the deployment of multiple decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and decentralized apps. Raising the question of What happens when legal paragraphs and mission statements turn into code? What about questions of ownership, jurisdiction and legal liability? Taxes? Subsidies? And what are the latent possibilities for wide scale adoption of code based organisations that are registered nowhere, and available everywhere? Ben Vickers will discuss new digital infrastructures and their social and political effects.