Sina highlights from green finance to metaverse: the more fascinating the imagination of technology, the more we need to be vigilant

From Facebook to “meta”, from cop26, carbon neutralization to green finance and ESG have become investment outlets in the post epidemic era, and technology has once again become a collective Carnival to conceive future life. For technological development, material facilities are important, but when a technology changes the organizational form and relationship structure of human social life, the key lies not in technology, but in the relaxation of the wings of human imagination and the weaving of the web of meaning.

I. the web of meaning

As early as 100 years ago, German sociologist Max Weber once asserted that “man is an animal hanging on the web of self weaving meaning”. Weaving meaning and creating existence in meaning is one of the biggest differences between man and animals.

Coincidentally, in his best-selling book a brief history of mankind, Israeli historian Yuval herali further explained Weber’s proposition that Homo sapiens ruled the world because only Homo sapiens could weave a web of intersubjective meaning. In herali’s view, the history of human development is a history of meaning creation, which constitutes the existence of human ontology.

A6021 brief history of mankind

The advanced nature of human society may not only lie in the creation and construction of meaning, but also in the iteration and stacking of meaning. In other words, imagination can continue to become the basis of a new kind of imagination and create new imagination and meaning. The iteration of technology itself is the iteration of imagination and meaning.

Green finance and metaverse are good examples. Finance is essentially an imaginary meaning community. As a general equivalent, the value of banknotes highly depends on consensus imagination. Only when the whole society or most of this society recognize such a “meaning of paper”, can money become an objective fact of an economic system. The value exchange system mediated by money constitutes the basic norms of modern economy, paying money and delivering goods, For a long time, it has become the basis of production value exchange. When the goods are delivered on one hand, but there is no way to pay on the other hand, but rely on credit and replace the value with future expectations, finance comes into being. Finance is one of the most important nuclear forces for the accelerated development of capitalism and an important means of residual value exploitation.

It can be seen that the reason why finance can be an objective entity is that the imagination of credit and value expectation is widely accepted and recognized. This process is the rationalization and significance of imagination. Of course, this process is far more complex than what we stated, and also includes the interaction of various elements such as law, system and organization, or they are the main bodies of each other. However, it is undeniable that the emergence of finance is inseparable from an imaginary network of meaning.

The essence of finance is to make sense of the imagination of credit and expectation, while the significance of green finance or responsible finance is to eliminate the anxiety and crisis caused by the gradual closure of the existing meaningful network.

The high efficiency of finance has also been criticized in the wave of capitalist reflexivity. Finance has become a black hand in creating extreme inequality and exploiting surplus value. This imagination dispels and deconstructs the basis of finance as a community of meaning. The limits of growth issued by the club of Rome in the 1970s pointed out that long-term social problems such as resource shortage and environmental degradation were affecting the future process of human society, and put forward the concept of sustainable development for the first time. Under the traditional economic paradigm, as a public good, the property right of environment can not be effectively defined and priced. Externalities often lead to market failure and affect the maximization of environmental public interests. Therefore, a new paradigm revolution is needed. But interestingly, when we try to respond to the financial crisis, what we reflect on is not the problem of finance itself, but trying to overlay the previous imagination with another meaning.

When climate change and social crisis are enhancing the expected risk and dispelling the sustainability of credit, the imagination of positive externality is particularly important. Therefore, green finance and environmental economics came into being. The G20 green finance research group proposed in 2016 that green finance refers to investment and financing activities that can produce environmental benefits to support sustainable development, that is, to integrate “green” into traditional financial activities. However, environmental factors or green factors often have a long investment return cycle and insufficient incentives for investment. At the same time, the complexity and impact lag of the internal mechanism of environmental problems determine that “green” is inseparable from an imagination to a certain extent. Bringing “green” into the invisible hand requires not only the visible hand to provide policy support, but also the meaning consensus of the community of interests.

The imagination of “green” is largely contrary to the foundation of financial meaning construction itself. The starting point of finance is to maximize productivity and maximize surplus value with an imagination. The positive externality brought by “green” is not the original intention of the financial starting point, but contained in the error variables of credit and expected uncertainty. Therefore, From the beginning, green is not the subject of credit and expectation, but subordinate to the subject. In this sense, green finance itself is a part of Finance and one of the elements of the imaginary meaning community. However, green finance itself obviously aims at more than this, but at trying to build a new mutual subject relationship. Whether this network of meaning is strong or not depends on the imagination space of subject relationship tension, that is, to what extent green will affect finance and to what extent finance can achieve green, The space created by this meaning is inseparable from the imagination of crisis and expectation.

How the construction of this imagination is meaningful at the group level determines that finance can iterate to green finance. Otherwise, green finance is only a type and subordination of finance.

II. Narrative wing

The key to the meaning of imagination lies in narration. The reason why imagination has become a widely accepted meaning is that imagination can become a narrative and affect the micro expectation of human society. Jen beckert, a famous German economic sociologist, once pointed out that capitalism is always “fictitious” and governing our expectations.

Successful narration determines that imagination can form a web of meaning. In narrative economics, Nobel laureate Robert shearer mentioned that narration has a far greater impact on economic and social life than we think. The reason why human beings are different from animals is that human beings can make imagination meaningful, and this process is narration. We like those deep-seated stories. These macro decisions emerge and have a deep impact on people’s macro operation.

Echoing each other, the performance research in economic sociology undoubtedly poses a challenge to the objective reality of economic phenomena. Sociologist carlon believes that economy is not embedded in society, but embedded in economics. Economics does not describe an existing and objective economic phenomenon, but makes economics a reality, that is, create a real economy through the economic tools or economic theories invented by economics, change the real world and create the real world into the situation they describe, That is “economics says business economy”. Interestingly, one of the sources of declarativeness is the research on technology.

Technology, like economic life, is inseparable from successful narration. Narration has extensive significance for human social life and is the basis of constructing the network of meaning. Green finance is the market of narrative banks, and the rise of metaverse is also rooted in a narrative of scientism and modernity crisis.

Starting from the steam engine, when the textile workshop in rural Scotland needs to spend the expected income in the next year or even several years to introduce a pile of unheard of steel, and may fire skilled workers, but may produce more material products per unit time, whether to buy or not depends largely on the imagination brought by the narrative.

So is the narrative of bitcoin and blockchain. After the industrial revolution, the improvement of our productivity has brought about a larger scale of information flow processing, resulting in an increasing public crisis. Therefore, we invented the government and companies to reduce the transaction cost of information flow processing. However, as the government and companies become more and more inefficient and rigid, a meaning crisis needs a new narrative to eliminate. Bitcoin represents a kind of free anarchic narrative, which makes bitcoin stand at the outlet of human expectations. A decentralized and encrypted nature of blockchain constructs a narrative of independent demands, which is a resistance to a series of consequences brought by dataism.

Metaverse

Metaverse is also embedded in the iterative narrative of datalism, and has become a community of meaning under the modernity crisis of decentralization, decolonization and shrinking autonomy.

Metaverse constructs an expectation narrative of spatial proliferation. The proliferation of capital and technology brings about the expansion of time and space. Human society enters the path of acceleration described by Rosa. When a large number of information flows cannot be processed and informationized in a single limited space and time span, A world that crosses the barriers of space and time meets the expectation of information flow expansion. The connection between technology and capital accelerates the expansion of information flow space. When capital cannot process information flow in a limited space and complete the accumulation, the transfer and development of space is a consistent choice. From the colonial era and the era of great navigation, it essentially meets the needs of space transfer. When colonization enters deadlock and the wave of decolonization strikes, the expansion of physical or geographical space is restricted, and a spatial imagination beyond three-dimensional entities becomes possible. Imagine that one day, when we can deal with the work assigned by the company in metaverse in the same space and feed the cats around us, the information flow we deal with in a single time and a single space span will undoubtedly expand. Our transaction costs due to space, distance and commuting will continue to decrease. Such a narrative is undoubtedly fascinating.

The information flow created by human beings is highly expanded, which in turn restricts human processing ability and accelerates the alienation of human life. A desire for autonomy under the framework of modernity crisis is the spiritual antidote of this era. The rise of metaverse is to build a more autonomous and subjective immersive world, which is a call to the soul under dataism. Metaverse’s narrative is in line with the imagination of the inner society on autonomy, which is the key part of the meaning of human life.

Like green finance, the success of metaverse does not only depend on the development of a series of technical infrastructure such as VR and holographic projection, but also depends on whether metaverse narrative can be transformed into a universal network of consensus significance. Just like bitcoin, if there is no consensus meaning imagination, it will not have subversive and universal functions, and can not replace the real currency to become a part of the meaning network of human life. So is green finance and metaverse.

In herali’s view, there were three typical narratives of mankind in the past. They were animistic belief, divine religion and humanism. After the existence of human free will is constantly challenged by the rise of science and technology such as brain science, the comprehensive revival of scientism has become the most important narrative community in the current era. The narration of scientism may be too abstract. Looking back on every success of modern scientific and technological narration, it seems that human beings have their own expectations for information flow processing. Datalism holds that the universe is composed of data streams, and the value of any phenomenon or entity lies in its contribution to data processing. Almost every subversive technological revolution is inseparable from a narrative of information flow expectations. Money is an information flow, and the grain produced per mu is also an information flow. Before the industrial revolution, textile workshop owners need to deal with only simple raw material calculation and production allocation, so the introduction of steam engine has brought more complex calculation and new resource problems, Every technological advance helps us reduce the transaction cost of processing information flow, but it produces more and more complex information flow in the use of technology, and then introduces new technologies. We are always creating new technological narratives and constructing a web of meaning in the spiral of technological optimization, information flow processing and technological complexity.

The great philosopher Plato said that whoever can tell a story has the world. When an imagination is more charming, the more we need to be vigilant. Each technology is both a burden and a gift. It is not the result of either or, but the product of both advantages and disadvantages. Just as the French irrationalist philosopher Bergson warned, fiction and imagination is a special way to describe the future. Its purpose is to consolidate the current social reality. Therefore, imagination is often closed. It always uses people’s familiar and habitual materials to carefully construct the narrative of the future, so the seemingly new future has become a repetition of the old things to a certain extent, The narratives we create are just to consolidate the unbearable and inner volume of reality. When our gradually tired soul is reveled and full of hope by the independent narrative brought by metaverse, we have lost another kind of autonomy, an autonomy for technical narrative and imagination reflection – who is creating technical narrative? We always place the expectation of grasping the future fate on the unfamiliar and illusory technological imagination we create. The consensus of technology is necessary, but the narrative of technology should also be different.

We are good at creating narration and imagination, but we are always in prison and self alienation in the narration we create. The greatness of human beings lies in narration and imagination, but the brilliance of human rationality is bred in the moment of restraint and Reflection on self narration and imagination.

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