The Value of Technics: An Ontogenetic Approach to Money, Markets, and Networks

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Copyright: Lotti, Laura
This thesis investigates the impact of the digitalization of monetary and financial flows on the political-economic sphere in order to provide a novel perspective on the relations between economic and technological forces at the present global juncture. In the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis and with the rise of the cryptoeconomy, an increasing number of scholars have highlighted the immanence of market logic to cultural and social life. At the same time, speculative practices have emerged that attempt to challenge the political economy through financial experiments. This dissertation complements these approaches by stressing the need to pair the critical study of finance with scholarship in the philosophy of technology that emphasizes the value immanent to technics and technology – i.e. the normative and genetic role of ubiquitous algorithmic networks in the organization of markets and socius. In order to explore these events, I propose an interdisciplinary theoretical framework informed largely by Gilbert Simondon’s philosophy of individuation and technics and the contemporary literature on the ontology of computation, supported by insights drawn from the history of finance and economic theory. This novel framework will provide the means to investigate the ontogenetic processes at work in the techno-cultural ecosystem following the digitalization of monetary and financial flows. Through an exploration of the fleeting materiality and multifaceted character of digital fiat money, the social power of algorithmic financial logic, and the new possibilities offered by the invention of the Bitcoin protocol, this research aims to challenge some of the bedrocks of the economic orthodoxy – economic and monetary value, liquidity, market rationality – in order to move beyond the overarching narrative of capitalism as a monolithic system. The thesis instead foregrounds the techno-historical contingencies that have led to the contemporary power formation. Furthermore, it argues that the ontogenetic character of algorithmic technology ushers in novel possibilities for the speculative engineering of alternative networks of value creation and distribution that have the potential to reverse the current balance of power.
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Lotti, Laura
Murphie, Andrew
Jottkandt, Sigi
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PhD Doctorate
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