Money Machines

MoneyMachines_CoverMoney Machines

Electronic Financial Technologies, Distancing, and Responsibility in Global Finance.

Ashgate, May 2015



Abstract. While we have become increasingly vulnerable to the ebb and flow of global finance, most of us know very little about it. This book focuses on the role of technology in global finance and reflects on the ethical and societal meaning and impact of financial information and communication technologies (ICTs). Exploring the history, metaphysics, and geography of money, algorithms, and electronic currencies, the author argues that financial ICTs contribute to impersonal, disengaged, placeless, and objectifying relations, and that in the context of globalization these ‘distancing’ effects render it increasingly difficult to exercise and ascribe responsibility. Caught in the currents of capital, it seems that both experts and lay people have lost control and lack sufficient knowledge of what they are doing. There is too much epistemic, social, and moral distance.

At the same time, the book also shows that these electronically mediated developments do not render global finance merely ‘virtual’, for its technological practices remain material and place-bound, and the ethical and social vulnerabilities they create are no less real. Moreover, understood in terms of technological practices, global finance remains human through and through, and there is no technological determinism. Therefore, Money Machines also examines the ways in which contemporary techno-financial developments can be resisted or re-oriented in a morally and socially responsible direction – not without, but with technology. As such, it will appeal to philosophers and scholars across the humanities and the social sciences with interests in science and technology, finance, ethics and questions of responsibility.

About Money Machines

Mark Coeckelbergh is recognized internationally for illuminating the manner in which information and communication technologies (ICTs) create new forms of “distancing” and in particular “moral distancing”. This important book extends that analysis to underscore the hidden ways ICTs shape money and global finance, alter relationships, and undermine responsibility.’ — Wendell Wallach, Yale University, USA

As if proving Heidegger correct, what the recent financial crisis clearly demonstrates is the extent to which the techniques and technologies of global finance have remained transparent and virtually invisible. In this eye-opening book, Mark Coeckelbergh expertly exhibits and examines the influential but often unseen machines, machinery, and mechanisms of money that now regulate every aspect of contemporary life.’ — David J. Gunkel, Northern Illinois University, USA

‘Coeckelbergh’s book is a highly original contribution to the studies of global finance and reveals an area of research that has been largely neglected so far, into the role of technology in the constitution of the global financial system. … Coeckelbergh has clearly managed to explore and identify a new branch of research in the philosophy
of technology.’ — Wessel Reijers, Dublin City University, Ireland

Review by Wessel Reijers in Ethics and Information Technology

‘Coeckelbergh’s view of money as a technology of relationality that shortens some geographical and temporal distances, whilst simultaneously widening moral and social gaps (…) has much to offer to anthropological debates on the nature of finance and money.’ — Keir James Cecil Martin, University of Oslo, Norway

Review by Keir James Cecil Martin in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23 (2017)


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