SUGAR – The Last Question: How can we design the blockchain towards systems that encourage equity, ecological integrity, and living within the planet’s carrying capacity?

SUGAR The Last Question: How can we design the blockchain towards systems that encourage equity, ecological integrity, and living within the planet’s carrying capacity?

“For us to reclaim our full humanity, we have to understand that this will come from creating new systems of being with each other. So that in the new system, the value of a human being is the full human value, their value as a poet, a thinker, a lover, a carrier of the culture. That’s what the value of a human being is, that’s what we deserve and need.”

Ed Whitfield, Fund for Democratic Communities (F4DC)

Isaac Asimov’s short story The Last Question (1956) is a canonical sci-fi parable about technological innovation, that infers humanity is both the creator and created. 221A’s Research Initiative Blockchain & Cultural Padlocks (2019-22) aligns with The Last Question’s paradoxical message by looking at the ways that a relatively new and widely speculated technology, the blockchain, has the potential to develop new systems that will allow us to “re-common” land, data and objects. Through these investigations, Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks seeks ways to escape the limiting discourses surrounding technology in both techno-fetishist (solutionist) and or techno-pessimist guises, instead grappling with technology as a co-evolutionary byproduct which influences and is influenced by social life at large. (Reed, Patricia. The Valuation of Necessity. Vancouver: 221A, 2020) Please join 221A, along with our partner SUGAR (Toronto/Treaty 13)  for a roundtable discussion that will explore these challenges by asking the questions: How we can better design social, cultural and ecological value on the blockchain in ways that incentivize us to seek out new collective ideals? Are there ways to perform our work, and live our lives in ways that put humanity and the planet on a survival path amid the collapsing climate? 

“Expansionist thinking is rooted in abstract economic models and monetary analyses that are devoid of biophysical data and ignore fundamental physical laws.

William E. Rees, School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia

The Roundtable will be moderated by the Research Initiative’s Editorial Director, Rosemary Heather with a presentation by Goethe-Institut Guest Matthias Einhoff, Artist and Director of Z/KU, Berlin (Centre for Art and Urbanistics). Einhoff will present the ongoing Bee Coin Project which assembles human and non-human actors in a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), with the ultimate goal of caring for bees by incentivizing us to encourage qualities of our ecosystem which keep the most important pollinators healthy. Data becomes the foundation for a crypto-economic system that redistributes resources with the aim of creating ecological integrity.  Respondents will include Ala Roushan, Co-Curator/Director of Sugar Contemporary, whose current research navigates the implications of digital technologies as it reveals the depth of space beyond the limits of human perception; Dr. Alexis Morris, assistant professor in the Digital Futures program at OCAD University, and the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in the Internet of Things, and Ceit Butler, Professor of Blockchain Development at George Brown College, who contributed to the development of the first post-secondary certificate in blockchain in Canada.

Project Support

Supported by the Goethe Institut, Matthias Einhoff also participates in a series of public events in Montreal / Tiohtià:ke tsi ionhwéntsare earlier in the month, with a seminar on the commons organized by the Observatoire des médiations culturelles at l’institut national de la recherche scientifique, and a workshop convened by les Entrepreneurs du commun at the Phi Centre. 

Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks is supported by The Canada Council for the Art’s Digital Strategy Fund

Canada Council for the ArtsThe Goethe-Institut