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Alt-C – Designing for synergy between our ecosystems and network economics

Created by Michael Sedbon, Alt-C is an installation that uses electricity produced by plants to power a single board computer mining a cryptocurrency. The project questions our relationship to ecosystems in regards to networked technologies and abstraction problematics.

During the photosynthesis process, green plants release sugars and organic matters in the soil. These nutrients will then be digested by bacterias releasing electrons. As electrons flow between the two electrodes, the electrical current is then leveraged to power a cryptocurrency mining rig.

What would it mean to perceive forest and fields as giant networked processing or powering the information grid? How forecasting technics in places in the finance industry can recall Aeromancy (Cloud reading Divination)? What would it mean to live in a world where economic would be driven by the weather forecast, atmospheric conditions or any naturally occurring phenomenon? Would this made us respect more natural ecosystems or nourish our will to control them? With enough abstraction and control, could we plan on growth? In such a context, would economic growth lead to ecological sustainability or a total financialization hegemony on farmable lands making them vulnerable to the fluctuations of the market?

Michael asks if ‘money grows on trees’ as it (technically) does here, then is it possible to draw a correlation between atmospheric condition and production of cryptocurrencies. In Alt-C a neural network had been trained to predict the crypto mining rate in regard to the weather forecast in the UK. Simultaneously, The AI tries to come up with a strategy to reinvest the grown/harvested money into farmable land. As this speculative system grows, it will attempt to plant more trees to provide for the required energy.

Created using a Latte panda board, Arduino, VVVV and Wekinator.

Project Page | Michael Sedbon

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