Althamer’s Golden Humanity

In 2008, collaborative artist Pawel Althamer invited his neighbours of a small town in Warsaw to dress in golden astronaut uniforms and travel the World.

Polish tourists roaming around in different countries without the need to work challenges the traditional understanding of being a tourist as needing to have money — afterall a Polish citizen coming from the Iron Fist typically has to work to subsidise their travelling and living costs which is significantly higher in the West. Well, these tourists were mistaken to assume this was a free round-world ticket. Althamer’s Golden Humankind does not need money to travel, because they are money.

The performance art project, named Common Task, juxtaposes socialism and capitalism to illuminate similarities between them and form a common Utopian ground. Challenging societal assumptions is the genius of Althamer who demonstrates that value can be extracted in more ways under capitalism than labour hours.

To be money rather than to merely have money is the capitalist utopia, afterall, who’s hedonistic desires are endless in a consumer culture. Althamer’s tourists are depicted as living currency. This is the common ground between the two doctrines - people having value in and of themselves; simultaneously contributing to and vacating from the economic system; to become currency.

Karl Marx best defines capitalism as being the commodification of labour as the effects of the value it produces. So where then does this human currency derive value from and to whom is it valuable? How could we satisfy production value of the tourists in the true capitalist sense? Who is the supposed producer of this data and who is the consumer? Such questions are precisely the evocation of Althamer and the purpose of this thought experiment is to explore am implementation of the Golden Humankind as a Blockchain Humankind through tokenisation.

According to Foucault’s theory of Human Capital, we must begin by extending economic analysis into domains previously unexplored. Understanding the importance of human experiences gave birth to a new kind of value in the 20th Century, which came to mean the accumulation of education and experience for making better choices, giving rise to a new school of behavioural economics motivated by rationality. Decisions are made by consumers to maximise benefit in the pursuit of self interest. Therefore the more human capital, the better decision-making power, or so it was believed.

“The acquisition of… talents during… education, study or apprenticeship, costs a real expense, which is capital in a person. Those talents are part of his fortune and likewise that of society.” — Adam Smith, 1776

Human capital in the 21st Century can be understood as having evolved as data. This form of labour in society today is the collection of information through experience which as it turns out is not very rational at all. The very reason why we need more data for better understanding consumer behaviour.

Each event that can be recorded as a transaction has value; such as getting a flight, attending a music festival, purchasing a cup of tea. Society have been producing data at an exponential rate since the digital revolution and this is only increasing with higher smart phone penetration and more financial inclusion worldwide. The majority of people assume that the convenience of interacting with the digital world doesn’t come at a price. For example the evolution of money went from a paper cash economy to plastic cards. Simply tap and go — don’t worry about littering your data everywhere, someone will happily pick that up after you!

The collection of data is much like our solution for handling rubbish — it’s inefficient, nobody stops to think about where it goes and people don’t care about it until the problem is too late.

The problem here is that people have become commodified through use of their data without their knowledge. Like our example of tourists passing through different countries, at first it appeared as innocent consumption however upon deeper analysis we come to understand a person as currency. With experiences collected and sold as data to marketing agencies for better understanding of how they can increase your consumption of their products. More purchasing is equal to more data is equal to more marketing manipulation is equal to more purchasing. And so the vicious cycle of a parallel market for your data occurs in the radio waves operating in the background of day-to-day life. Meanwhile you have no idea that this lies beneath the physical world in which you interact with.

Festy is building a platform for the future of blockchain payments and data intelligence. With Festy consumers can leave their wallet at home and have complete control over their data in the new era of cashless transactions. The World Economic Forum recently stated that data is “becoming the new economic asset class” and Festy allows both users and merchants to gain a foothold in this new economic market. Like in the case of our tourists, the notion of the producer and the consumer become one. Why? Because the tourist produces transaction data through their experiences that they can profit from or protect with the use of the FESTY token.

Festy allows merchants to purchase data Peer-2-Peer directly from consumers. This is to gain the ability to perceive true behaviour rather than assume behaviour is always rational. As it turns out, the classical understanding of consumers as being rational is anything but true. Genuine insights representing an accurate understanding of the reality of consumers has value for marketing agencies and merchants. This is a revolutionary business model for these industries.

From a human rights perspective, having the ability for individuals to protect their data is fundamental at realising international Conventions including General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the human right to privacy under EU Convention on Human Rights.

With Festy, consumers own their data and distribute it as they see fit. This allows users to remain private to marketers, as well as maintain control of whether they wish to sell metadata to bidders on the open market. Festy seeks to bring transparency to transaction data access, and endeavours to create GDPR-compliant standards and implementations; allowing users to track and control the data they own, share, and sell.

Overall, Festy aims to give consumers freedom to make decisions based on their needs by removing technological friction from cryptographic payments, while at the same time giving merchants the ability to better understand the needs of their consumers with full transparency over data accessibility. Like Althamer, we too must question assumptions made in society such as the rational agency theory of economics. By gaining real insights into consumer behaviour through fair data exchanges, Festy aims to eliminate the global marketplace for stolen data and make better sense of consumer trends.