PULSE - Program on Understanding Law, Science & Evidence

Digital Cash! UCLA Conference on the Past and Future of Electronic Payment

Join us for a two-day conference on the past and future of electronic payment at UCLA, September 27-28, 2014 in Decafe, Perloff Hall.

Please note: to register for this event you must write to msmorgancurrie@ucla.edu.

Today’s discussions about electronic currency often focus on the obsolescence of traditional institutions such as the federal reserves and credit companies. It’s said that the old world of brick and mortar banks, paper cash, and plastic cards is disappearing – and the future is bitcoins, P2P infrastructures, and e-cash served through dotcom companies and mobile phone carriers.

But we have heard these stories before. Like jet-packs, flying cars and trips to mars, digital cash is a relic of the past and a constantly renewed promise from the future. That’s why this conference gathers together humanities scholars, engineers, and science fiction authors, all focused on the past and future of payment. Together guests will explore the historical legacy of payment systems – from conventional cash and credit, to prototype experiments with digital currency – alongside the speculative representations and explorations of science fiction in novels, film and games.


Legacies of Digital Payment: How did we end up where we are today?

Futures and Speculative Currencies: Cash(less?) Utopias and What the Future Might Hold

Politics and Power in Payment Systems: The Problems of Digital Enclosure

Dangers, Alternatives, and Experiments in Online Currency: What We Can Learn from Spam, Fidonet, and Mobile hones

Glowpearls, Ingots, and Mana: How Payment is Evolving in Online Worlds

*Plus Sunday brunch science fiction readings!

PARTICIPANTS: Amelia Acker, Tom Boellstorff, Finn Brunton, Steve Crocker, Julian Dibbell, Kevin Driscoll, Virginia Eubanks, Alex Golub, Sandra Harding, Christopher Kelty, Greg Lastowka, Bill Maurer, Jennifer Mnookin, Matt Novak, Ron Rivest, Allan Schiffman, Karl Schroeder, Emin Gün Sirer, David Stearns, Lana Swartz, and Sherryl Vint.

Organized by Morgan Currie, Bradley Fidler, and Christopher Kelty. Sponsored by the University of California Humanities Research Institute and the UCLA Computer Science Department’s Kleinrock Center for Internet Studies, along with the NSF-Funded Participation Lab at the Institute of Society and Genetics, the Department of Information Studies, and the UCLA Law School’s Program on Understanding Law, Science and Evidence.