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What does the financial crisis have to do with software?

in Entrepreneurship, SC2011 - Software Developers' Haven, GPL
Joseph Potvin, Coordinator, ERA-ART
The Earth-Reserve Archetype (ERA) Developers Group / Le Groupe de développeurs de l'Archétype d'une réserve de la Terre (ART)

All present-day monetary systems and their supporting analytical systems are implemented in the form of computer programs, and all but the tiniest fraction of money is purely digital. In "Code is Law", Lawrence Lessig has observed that these computer programs and databases are the de facto official operational translations of legislation, regulations, policies, standards and agreements. A computer program is defined in copyright legislation and trade agreements as a type of “literary work” that exists as “a set of instructions or statements, expressed, fixed, embodied or stored in any manner, that is to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a specific result”. Rather than being neutral algorithms, they are literary works with a social purpose.

The financial crisis is, in its substance, the protracted crash of a complex network of database-driven computer programs. Many of the steps now taken by monetary authorities (such as "quantitative easing" and "bailouts") actually involve teams of programmers writing new software directly to production systems, to arbitrarily populate database fields with what is effectively dummy data, in order to prevent certain of the fields which are supposed to be constrained to amounts greater than zero, from reaching zero, or going negative, or in some cases ending up null, because nobody knows what the number is.

People of a free and democratic society can rightly demand free/libre access, transparency and accountability for the computer programs and databases used in monetary systems operations, analysis and reporting.

The foreign exchange (forex) market establishes relative value of currencies. This session will outline a potential component part of such a system. ERA-ART (The Earth-Reserve Archetype (ERA) Developers Group / Le Groupe de développeurs de l'Archétype d'une réserve de la Terre (ART) is an initiative to design, develop and operate a system for currency exchange rate determination based upon:

Earth Reserve indices will be available for voluntary use by any two parties engaged in a foreign exchange transaction. If the Earth-Reserve exchange system manages to incrementally gain a portion of forex market share, then to that extent, information feedback fostering macroeconomic resilience would become one of the core functions of money.

When the Earth Reserve indices are used to gauge currency exchange rates in a multi-jurisdictional multi-currency setting, relative resource and ecosystem degradation in a given currency's region of use, compared with the base year, will cause that currency to become more expensive to buy against other currencies, so that goods and services exchanged for that currency will become more expensive. In general, jobs and incomes will be attracted towards currency zones where ecosystem integrity and resource availability are relatively improved from a base year.