Skip to main content

Being good - talking at bankers

Recently I enjoyed following a presentation at Platoon/Berlin on Alternative Currencies. It was a great pleasure to hear that very smart guy Gabriel Shalom introducing his video "The future of money" - and the video itself was a nice treat.
But I felt increasingly at unease listening to the narrative about the presentation of the video at SIBOS, 'the worlds biggest banking conference'. There was some sound of pride in the voice of Gabriel and giggling in the audience when he reported that after the 7.5 minute short video there was absolute silence, no questions, no comments, nothing… "we dropped the evil-bomb", he said to the amusement of us folks. My problem was that common-sense in the room (well, it was a tent at Platoon): *they* are the bad guys *we* are the good guys.
To phrase it drastically - even though I never dug too deep into the history and concept of money myself there was really nothing unexpected, scary, chilling, thrilling or excitingly new in that video. It was nice, well-done, well thought through. But I believe any open mind would put together those thoughts on a good evening communicating with equally alert friends - even if these friends are bankers. But at the same time there was this notion of moral superiority and the clear cementation of a separating wall between 'us' and 'them'. Gabriel often repeated that he had the feeling the message of the video was too revolutionary, too unconventional for the banking-guys - and that's where the silence supposedly came from. I haven't been at the conference but I have the feeling the silence resulted from the talking AT bankers, not talking TO them.
I am afraid that the pleasure of being minority, the desire to be revolutionary actually slams some doors shut which are standing wide open. And the slamming noise is seen as proof of concept for some.
It is wrong.
A good moderator after the video, an open mind also on the side of the 'revolutionaries' would certainly kickstart a great discussion even with bankers - to the gain of both sides.
But the urge to define oneself as underdog, not mainstream, etc. that drives so many in the community, appears to be one of the big stumbling stones on the way to really new thoughts, concepts and, ultimately, principles.
(See Platoons report on the event here)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Academics should be blogging? No.

"blogging is quite simply, one of the most important things that an academic should be doing right now" The London School of Economics and Political Science states in one of their, yes, Blogs . It is wrong. The arguments just seem so right: "faster communication of scientific results", "rapid interaction with colleagues" "responsibility to give back results to the public". All nice, all cuddly and warm, all good. But wrong. It might be true for scientoid babble. But this is not how science works.  Scientists usually follow scientific methods to obtain results. They devise, for example, experiments to measure a quantity while keeping the boundary-conditions in a defined range. They do discuss their aims, problems, techniques, preliminary results with colleagues - they talk about deviations and errors, successes and failures. But they don't do that wikipedia-style by asking anybody for an opinion . Scientific discussion needs a set

My guinea pig wants beer!

Rather involuntary train rides (especially long ones, going to boring places for a boring event) are good for updates on some thoughts lingering in the lower levels of the brain-at-ease. My latest trip (from Berlin to Bonn) unearthed the never-ending squabble about the elusive 'free will'. Neuroscientists make headlines proving with alacrity the absence of free will by experimenting with brain-signals that precede the apparent willful act - by as much as seven seconds! Measuring brain-activity way before the human guinea pig actually presses a button with whatever hand or finger he desires, they predict with breathtaking reproducibility the choice to be made. So what? Is that the end of free will? I am afraid that those neuroscientists would accept only non-predictability as a definite sign of free will. But non-predictability results from two possible scenarios: a) a random event (without a cause) b) an event triggered by something outside of the system (but caused).

No theory - no money!

A neuroscientist I was talking to recently complained that the Higgs-research,even the Neutrino-fluke at CERN is getting humungous funding while neuroscience is struggling for support at a much more modest level. This, despite the undisputed fact that understanding our brain, and ultimately ourselves, is the most exciting challenge around. Henry Markram of EPFL in Switzerland   is one of the guys aiming for big, big funding to simulate the complete brain. After founding the brain institute and developing methods to analyze and then reconstruct elements of the brain in a supercomputer he now applies for 1.5 Billion Euro in EU-funding for the 'flagship-projects' of Blue Brain -and many believe his project is simply too big to fail. Some call the project daring, others audacious. It is one of the so very few really expensive life-science endeavours. Why aren't there more like that around? Why do we seem to accept the bills for monstrous physics experiments more easily? Is