The Invisible Hand Machine by Renate Wieser, Julian Rohrhuber
For the piece "Invisible Hand Machine", we have developed an economic model which implements a somewhat cartoonified, but serious functionality of a "free" market. Like maybe every cartoon, it exaggerates a mechanical model that ones mind produced as a description of how one sees the world. Self-interest and competition, the basic forces of human society, are realized as the strive for [...]
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The Invisible Hand Machine

In their essay Renate Wieser and Julian Rohrhuber look for the "invisible hand" - the self-organisation of individuals which, as Adam Smith argues, reaches a state of balance through self-interest and competition. This rather abstract approach re-exploring one of the sources of contemporary neo-liberal thought is illustrated through with accompanying software, involving a rather ironic use of the visualisation tools of Microsoft Excel.
Their software models a market, producing music as well as the afore-mentioned excel visualisation. On a meta-level they thus draw a line from the first social theories that accompanied the industrial revolution (Smith) to the recent period where the social theory of post-fordistic production and less-industrial production emerged (von Neumann). Their position has some intended humour, but it is nonetheless undeniable that their market does develop from a disordered mess into harmony, the actors finding their place in a class structure and together producing a subtle, charming tune.
Where is the invisible hand guiding their market towards such harmony? We need look no further than Wieser and Rohrhuber themselves, gods over markets running to their own rules and conditions. However this need not make their market a false analogy to the 'real' markets. Indeed recent thinking considers economics itself as performative. That is, economic models do not only describe economics, but /instruct/ them, by providing traders with rules to follow. Consequently, the traders activities, and the behaviours of the market as a whole change to match the model. We may then draw an analogy between the activities of economists and programmers, giving us an interesting position from which to consider Wieser’s and Rohrhuber's work.

Francis Hunger, Alex McLean

by admin, posted 15 Feb 2006

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