“Cause Timing is Money and Money is Time”. Six Theses on Monetary Post Humanism in the Digital Age

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

In his essay ‘Ego’ (2013), Frank Schirrmacher describes how, by means of a digitalized global marketing strategy, a virtual double of the human subject is installed: the subject as agent or player in the market, represented in data collections and rendered predictable in game-theoretical data analysis. Game theory has failed to predict the behavior of real-world people; yet, in their virtual second existence, the subject is forced into a game-theoretical predictability. In recent big data technology, the subject’s double (or “number two”, as Schirrmacher calls it) is becoming more and more powerful, with nearly every action of a person immediately becoming an action embedded in the big game of the virtual market – a market that in turn becomes more and more game-theoretical in its ways of functioning.
In my talk, I will use Schirrmacher’s radical view as a heuristic starting point for examining the temporal dimension of both digitalization and financialization in the early 21st century. The timing of the markets has changed drastically – as much an effect of the digital revolution as of the shift from revenue to shareholder value, and from stock exchange to derivatives trading. When Benjamin Franklin posited that “Time is Money”, capitalism was still focused on both the productive labor of workers and the future outcomes of human planning (the logic of investments); today’s economy, defined by both financialization and digitalization, instead focuses on acts of decision making – acts on which game theory focuses as well. Indeed, what in entrepreneurial investment is about future opportunities, is decided upon in the present in a financialized market. The future is thereby left in the aggregate state of its mere virtuality. Meanwhile, as Schirrmacher describes, big data economy reduces human agents into the game-theoretical homo oeconomicus, technology reduces the time employed in the act of decision making at the stock and bond markets to the millisecond of a transaction. In short: Time is no longer money – timing is.
At the same time, the market turns away from human invention to embrace machinic prediction. The temporality produced by capitalism – which once held the utopian dimension of investment (modeling a future, then trying to build it) – morphs into a financialized temporality of mere decision making (predicting risks and trying to handle them). The ‘humanist’ dimension of capitalism is thereby lost, with capitalist markets eliminating human inventiveness from the scene in favor of the ‘developers’ of ever-more sophisticated data machines. Ultimately, the future ceases to be something to be built by humans; it instead becoming something whose eventualities have to be predicted by machines. Financialization therefore is perhaps the most important (albeit less considered) of the numerous agents propelling a post-humanist future.

(Source: Author's Abstract)

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Alvaro Seica