Last week’s Metaverse, I spoke with Joel Dietz, artist, entrepreneur, investor and founder of Artwallet. Created earlier this year, ArtWallet fosters the ultimate solution for storing and owning NFTs, and also provides the playback of unique audio and visual content. Before this, Joel was a founding member of Ethereum, a platform allowing developers to build and publish next-generation decentralized applications. As an author, his book Principles of Holonic System Design looks into our outdated understanding of the world, and has been Google Scholar’s most cited author on “cryptoeconomics.”
Speaking of collaborative practises that foster innovation brought us to Joel’s book, Principles of Holonic System Design. This describes the theory he enacted with half of Ethereum’s core team, where they all cohabitated in a “living accelerator” or a “nest” which encouraged “synergistic interactions” that resulted in everything from the development of games to MetaMask. Holonic systems derive from the writings of philosopher Arthur Koestler, who discussed the integration between biological systems and how they coordinate and scale up. Joel describes this as a series of “nesting circles” – on a microscopic level, cells combine to create a living biological organism, and on a larger scale, there are social organisms that as individuals we can choose to participate in and organise. Joel envisions this as the foundation for not just how we reimagine like small organizations, but reimagining all of society.
Of course, given Joel’s status as a scholar of cryptoeconomics, I couldn’t resist picking his brain about the concept. Joel believes there is still a lot of suspicion around crypto and its stability, with so many coins materialising with dubious value, but this is part of the growing pains that comes with building a currency system from scratch that has never before existed. So on the whole, he believes we should be excited and optimistic about crypto as our next chapter, and that we should channel our energy into building things that could provide a financial safety net, if not a whole foundation for our future economy.
We also discussed Joel’s interests beyond digital assets. Eternally curious, Joel is an avid follower of a number of academic topics, including neurobiology and psychedelic research, unpacking how the brain works and finding the ways to fine tune and modify our cognitive structures. Having studied comparative mythology and belief systems as an undergraduate, he is also eager to explore when such philosophical topics merge with neuroscience.
Looking towards our more immediate future metaverse, Joel touched upon how Facebook’s algorithms are “a little bit out of control” and have not been adapted to human good. Designed to maximize the amount of time users spent on their platforms, Facebook has created a generation that’s grown up within this environment, and the result is a lot of unhappy people with very short attention spans – or as Joel frankly put it, “a sort of zombie apocalypse for the rest of society.” Moving forward, Joel thinks there needs to be a serious rethinking within the Web 3.0 community to use this technology in support of the better angels of our nature.
We wrapped up by discussing Joel’s current work, including his “meta metaverse” project and his desire to stay at the cutting edge of the virtual art scene – with the NFT explosion, he’s discovered a number of amazing fine artists in the digital space, including some cutting-edge AR/VR works that incorporate and evolve according to active neuro-feedback from the viewer’s brain.
To hear more of our wide-ranging conversation, which covered everything from philosophy to the economy to the emergence of UFO religions across countries, you can listen to our full conversation here.