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Money Is a Technology

by Ricardo Pachon
2 minutes read

If you were building a fullly-fledged civilization from scratch, would you provide it with money? Or, what about in the future of our own civilization? Would you say that money will still be around among us, say, in 3,000 years?

I struggle to find another element in my life that is so omnipresent as money, so entrenched in all aspects of my life, defining simultaneously my immidiate actions and my long term future. I use money, and I’m obliged to use money, without having to think what it is or how is created or which are its properties.

Of course money is not just the collection of coins and notes that we see in exhibitions of ancient Rome or in our wallets. Of course not. But I’m sure that for a lot of people this is a very satisfying depiction of what money is, and for all purposes of their lifes makes complete sense. How to make money, and how to spend it are much more pertinent questions after all.

I have found that enumerating the different types of money supply, beyond coins and notes, is also an appealing way for many to answer what money is. Anyone that has taken an Introduction to Economy class has seen the nested sequences of M0, and M1, and M2, and M3 and M4, which are just ways of looking for bigger bags where the various expressions of money can fit.

For some people, money is a commodity. I read this description for the first time in the very dry book titled “What is Money?” that summarise the discussion between german radical artist Joseph Beuys, two professors and one banker. Beuys’ view is that money is some sort of “unnatural” resource, but constrained and finite in essence, and as such can be concieved and modelled.

But turns out that money is actually a technology. And I will talk more about this in following posts.

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