Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



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UPCOMING EVENTS: Melanie Swan



MULTIMEDIA: Melanie Swan Topics

Crypto Enlightenment: A Social Theory of Blockchains

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Melanie Swan Topics




Defining the Blockchain Economy: What is Decentralized Finance?

by Melanie Swan

The aim of this article is to explore the intersection of blockchain technology and finance from a practical, theoretical, and conceptual standpoint.



Bio-Cryptoeconomy: Nanorobotic DACs for Cell Repair and Enhancement

by Melanie Swan

Blockchains as the new platform for technological innovation invite the creative imagining of applications at both the level of technology use and in the rethinking of economic principles. Some recent developments include optimism about rising Bitcoin prices and the rewards-halving milestone, trepidation about scalability, block size, and the latest hacking scandal of the Ethereum DAO, and fast-paced single ledger adoption by financial institutions.



Decentralized Crypto-Finance: Blockchains, Automatic Markets, and Algorithmic Trust

by Melanie Swan

A revolutionary set of concepts and underlying technology enablement has arisen in the form of blockchain technology. Blockchains allow the digital payments layer the Internet never had, and more broadly contemplate an era whereby all forms of secure value transfer could take place via the Internet. This includes all monetary assets (the cash or spot market) and all assets and liabilities over any future time frame (the futures and options market, mortgages, debt and equity securities, treasury issuance, and public debt).



A New Theory of Time: X-tention is Simultaneously Discrete and Continuous

by Melanie Swan

Time has been conceived mainly as either discrete or continuous, but not widely as a simultaneity of the two. I would like to articulate a new theory of time in which time is reconceived as a ‘raw material’ whose natural state is both discrete and continuous. This is a “middle third” position that extends Husserl’s theory of internal time consciousness by being a new form of time in the middle between and connecting retention-protention (which are continuous) and recollection-expectation (which are discrete).



Vita-More, Swan at NY Posthuman Research Group Symposium

IEET Fellow Natasha Vita-More will be the Keynote Speaker, and Affiliate Scholar Melanie Swan will also give a talk at the NY Posthuman Research Group’s 2nd annual Glocal Symposium on Posthuman Futures.

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Satoshi Roundtable: Is Bitcoin Dead due to Scalability Issues?

by Melanie Swan

Scalability was the most prominent issue discussed at the February 26-28, 2016 Satoshi Roundtable (the Bitcoin industry’s annual technical meeting).

This is expected as scalability is an ongoing issue to be resolved for any cryptocurrency to achieve mainstream adoption.

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Cloudworld: A Hegelian Theory of Complexity and Algorithmic Reality

by Melanie Swan

Philosophy could be an important conceptual resource in the determination of human-technology interactions for several reasons. First, philosophy concerns the topics of world, reality, self, society, aspirations, and meaning, all of which we are hoping to reconfigure and accentuate in our relations with technology. Improving human lives is after all one of the main purposes of technology. Second, philosophy relates to thinking, logic, reasoning, and being, which are the key properties of what we would like our technology entities to do.

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#13: The Scientific Method is a Scientific Idea that is Ready for Retirement

by Melanie Swan

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on May 24, 2015, and is the #13 most viewed of the year.

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#27: Blockchains as a Granular Universal Transaction System

by Melanie Swan

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on February 17, 2015, and is the #27 most viewed of the year.

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Magic Blockchains, but for Time? Blocktime Arbitrage

by Melanie Swan

There is no doubt that blockchains are a reality-making technology, a mode and means of implementing as many flavors of our own crypto-enlightenments as we can imagine! This includes newer, flatter, more autonomous economic, political, ethical, scientific, and community systems. But not just in the familiar human social constructs like economics and politics, possibly in physical realities too like time. Blocktime’s temporal multiplicity and malleability suggest a reality feature we have never had access to before – making more time.



#30: We Should Consider The Future World As One Of Multi-Species Intelligence

by Melanie Swan

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on May 19, 2015, and is the #30 most viewed of the year.

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Machine Trust Language (MTL): Human-Machine Collaboration

by Melanie Swan

Andreas Antonopoulos’s articulation of network-enforced trust primitives (Oct 2015, Feb 2014) could be extended more broadly into the concept of Machine Trust Language (MTL). While blockchains are being popularly conceived as trust machines, and as a new mode of creating societal shared trust, Andreas addresses how at the compositional level, this trust is being generated. The key idea is thinking in terms of a language of trust, of its primitives, its quanta, its elemental pieces, its phonemes, words, and grammar that can be assembled into a computational trust system.



Crypto Enlightenment: A Social Theory of Blockchains

by Melanie Swan

There is something new and fundamental happening in the world which could be the start of the next enlightenment period. The core of this is shifting from centralized to decentralized models in all aspects of our lives, both individual and societally.



Blockchain Financial Networks: Rethinking Risk and Finance with Automated Value Transfer

by Melanie Swan

Internet transfers Information, and now Value

Blockchains are important because they constitute the next phase of the Internet,  not just transferring information, but now transferring value: money, assets, and contracts. Blockchains are secure distributed ledgers, which can be implemented as globally-distributed financial networks. Ultimately, blockchain financial networks could automatically and independently confirm and monitor transactions, without central parties like banks or governments.

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A New Kind of Economic Philosophy: Network Economies of Abundance

by Melanie Swan

Blockchain technology, as revolutionary as it is, is perhaps most revolutionary in exposing the corner of a whole new philosophy of economics that can be formulated as a Network Economics of Abundance.

Not just a new economic theory, but a new philosophy of economics is required because the entirety of existing economic theory has been constructed around the assumption of scarcity, and reconfiguring our economic thought around abundance instead as a central parameter requires rethinking economics so profoundly as to be a new philosophical position that is outside the field of economics.

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Economic Liberation: Network Economics of Abundance

by Melanie Swan

The possibility of creating true network economies of abundance and designing personalized economic systems raises a host of issues about what kinds of behavior might result from programmed economic parameters. In moving from indirect advertiser-supported models to direct peer-supported models, for example, one first issue might be the business model - which parts of the system should (can) be free and which paid? For any paid parts, certain externalities and artificial behaviors might be created.

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VR Chains and DAC Brains: Upload your Mind as a VR AI DAC

by Melanie Swan

Blockchain thinkers or DAC Brains are the notion of having DAO/DAC entities running with smart contracts on blockchains for the purpose of conducting thinking operations. The genesis of blockchain thinkers could be organic or inorganic: human mindfile lifelogs and uploads, and any variety of brain emulations  and AI ML/DL algorithms (artificial intelligence machine-learning deep-learning algorithms). One idea is to instantiate your mindfile on the blockchain as a lifelogging tracker and standalone ideation tool: your own mind as an AI DAC.

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Network Economies: Economic System as a Configurable Parameter

by Melanie Swan

We personalize everything else, why not economic systems too? Starbucks selectability comes to economic system participations! Some interesting implications for personalized economic system design arise per a recent post about ‘Decentralized Reddit.’

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Personalized Economic Systems: Self-Determination and Economic Theory

by Melanie Swan

In addition to blockchain technology,  another clear node of current innovation is in self-determined economic systems. Increasingly, as individuals, we are consciously examining the economic systems into which we were born by default, and questioning their validity, utility, and reach; and proposing alternatives. In some sense capitalism is the new feudalism and there is a finally starting to be the conception and realization of a viable post-capitalist position.

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Smartgrid Life: Blockchain-Enabled Virtual Food Cooperatives

by Melanie Swan

The contemporary era of blockchains as an implementation mechanism for decentralization suggests a new overall conceptualization of life as being supported by any number of smartgrids. Distributed network grids is a familiar idea for resources such as water, electricity, health services, and Internet access, and might be extended to other resources, literally and conceptually.

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Neural Data Privacy Rights - An Issue We *Should* Be Worried About

by Melanie Swan

A worry that is not yet on the scientific or cultural agenda is neural data privacy rights. Not even biometric data privacy rights are in purview yet which is surprising given the personal data streams that are amassing from quantified self-tracking activities. There are several reasons why neural data privacy rights could become an important concern.

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The Scientific Method is a Scientific Idea that is Ready for Retirement

by Melanie Swan

The scientific idea that is most ready for retirement is the scientific method itself. More precisely it is the idea that there would be only one scientific method, one exclusive way of obtaining scientific results. The problem is that the traditional scientific method as an exclusive approach is not adequate to the new situations of contemporary science like big data, crowdsourcing, and synthetic biology.

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We Should Consider The Future World As One Of Multi-Species Intelligence

by Melanie Swan

Considering machines that think is a nice step forward in the AI debate as it departs from our own human-based concerns, and accords machines otherness in a productive way. It causes us to consider the other entity’s frame of reference. However, even more importantly this questioning suggests a large future possibility space for intelligence.

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Blockchain Thinking: The Brain as a DAC (Decentralized Autonomous Corporation)

by Melanie Swan

Blockchains are a new form of information technology that could have several important future applications. They could be an explosive operational venue for new kinds of autonomous agents like DACs, distributed autonomous corporations. A DAC is a corporation run without any human involvement through a set of business rules based in software code. It is called a ‘corporation’ because it typically engages in corporate operations like fundraising, providing services, and making profits for shareholders. Blockchains are a software protocol upon which digital cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin run. 



Blockchain Thinkers and Smart Contracts to take over the World?

by Melanie Swan

Automatically-executing smart contracts and their impact on society has been contemplated in many different contemporary science fiction works like Daemon (Suarez), and Accelerando and Glasshouse (Stross). The interesting point is that artificial autonomous agents are becoming increasingly full-fledged participants in the real-life contemporary world.



Top 5 Immediate Money-Making Applications of Blockchain Technology

by Melanie Swan

The right question is not whether Bitcoin is over or under-valued, or over or under-hyped, but what the biggest potential money-making applications might be. While we wait for consumer-ready cryptocurrency applications to be presented to us by the financial services industry and other trusted providers, in the progression of ATMs, online billpay, eStatements, and Apple Pay, there are many other opportunities to be explored.



Blockchains as a Granular Universal Transaction System

by Melanie Swan

Blockchain technology is a new concept in large-scale coordination due to a number of key features. First, a blockchain is an open universal transaction system. Every transaction worldwide is processed the same way and posted and made available for viewing on the blockchain. The transaction ledger is publicly-inspectable on-demand at any future moment.



Machine Cognition and AI Ethics Percolate at AAAI 2015

by Melanie Swan

The AAAI’s Twenty-Ninth Conference on Artificial Intelligence was held January 25-30, 2015 in Austin, Texas. Machine cognition was an important focal area covered in two workshops on AI and Ethics, and Beyond the Turing Test, and in a special track on Cognitive Systems. Some of the most interesting emergent themes are discussed in this article.



Blockchain Consensus Models Increase the Information Resolution of the Universe

by Melanie Swan

There is ample opportunity to explore blockchains as a new form of information technology, including what consensus models as a core feature might mean and enable. A key question is “What is consensus-derived information?” that is, what are its properties and benefits vis-à-vis other kinds of information? Is consensus-derived information a different kind or form of information? 



Blockchain Thinking: Transition to Digital Societies of Multispecies Intelligence

by Melanie Swan

The future world could be one of multi-species intelligence. The possibility space could include “classic” humans, enhanced humans, digital mindfile uploads, and many forms of artificial intelligence: deep learning neural nets, machine learning algorithms, blockchain-based DACs (distributed autonomous organizations), and whole-brain software emulations.

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