Transcript of a talk given by Emily Garcia at the ‘Keep Cash Local’ conference on Sunday 19 Nov. With added subtitles for enhanced readability.
Cash: a Physical Transaction
I’m going to give a quick disclaimer that what I’m about to present is not supposed to be a comprehensive explanation of the subject of a cashless economy and the Great Reset-which is impossible in 20ish minutes- but more of a 101 introduction.
Something that is unique about cash, as compared to any digital payment method, is that paying with cash is always a physical event. To acquire cash, I walk to a cashpoint and withdraw money, or am handed my cash payment for services I have rendered to a person. Then I might go exchange that money with someone else for something I want to buy in a physical shop, for example.
The reason this is important to note, and I contend the reason cash is being phased out all over the world, is that we are being nudged and herded out of a physical ‘real life’ existence and into the virtual reality matrix of the Metaverse Empire. (I will go on to explain more about what the metaverse is shortly, in case you haven’t heard of it.)
The Big Data Economy as the Reboot to the Collapsing Debt Based Financial System
The Global Capitalist system, which since 2008 has been visibly collapsing under the strain of the finance debt bubble, now requires the creation of massive new markets for investment and speculation, in order to survive. The end game is the colonization of the entire physical world and all natural resources for the privileged 1%, with the masses of humanity pushed into a virtual-digital only slave-like existence, under real time continuous surveillance up to the level of thought monitoring.
The World Economic Forum has described this emerging form of hyper exploitative surveillance Capitalism as the ‘Big Data’ economy, Clive Humby, inventor of the Tesco clubcard has said ‘data is the new oil.’ Data as the linchpin of the post-advent- of-the- 4th-industrial-revolution economy serves two key purposes. One: it provides the raw material needed for impact investing and speculating, which I’m going to explain in a second; and two: it will be used to train the Artificial intelligence and robotics, which progressively replace humans in most fields of work, including white collar jobs. A.I. algorithms are also the designated administrators of the digital panopticon.
The Rollout of 5G SMART Infrastructure
In order to gather, process and store the level of data required for the reasons I’ve just mentioned, a vast global digital infrastructure is being rolled out. In the UK we have the government subsidised Project Gigabit, that is, the laying of ‘5G enabling’ full fibre cables, with speeds more than 40 times faster than superfast broadband. The National Infrastructure Strategy describes Project Gigabit as a ‘major civil engineering project, requiring enough cabling to go around the Earth more than ten times.’ The end of 2025 will represent a watershed moment for this transformation into a world of 24/7 blanket radio-frequency radiation and internet connectivity, when the Public Switched Telephone Network is switched off in the UK. From that point forward, landlines will no longer be functional as all telecommunications will be routed over Internet protocol, rather than the old analogue system. The telephone lines strung across the streets, and copper cables buried beneath our feet, some of which have been down there since the 19th century, will be rendered obselete. As the BT website explains this will also affect everything else that currently uses the old phone network, which includes alarms, Electronic Point Of Sale machines, door entry systems, CCTV, and faxes. 5G will be the initial bandwidth for the new digital infrastructure, but there are already planned ‘upgrades’ to 6, 7G, and even 10G according to official documents. The 2019 5G House of Commons briefing paper states that ‘5G is expected to support many internet-connected devices and applications – known as the Internet of Things.’ Its possible applications are listed as driverless vehicles and cars, drone delivery, smart manufacturing, remote healthcare and wearable health sensors, smart energy meters, smart fridges, smart bins that send warnings when they are full, and emergency response and management. Some of these and other similar applications have been actively trialled since 2018 through the government’s 5G testbed and trials program.
Impact Investing and the Tipping Point to the Impact Economy
So, returning to the subject of impact investing, around which the new economy is going to revolve. A definition of impact investments given by the World Economic Forum is: ‘investing in firms that intend to both solve a social and environmental problem, with measurable impact, and return investment capital.’ In 2018 the UN Development Program set up a partnership with the International Finance Corporation (a sub division of the World Bank), amongst others, to set the terms of the impact investing metrics to align with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. According to the W.E.F, bringing impact investing further into the mainstream ‘would provide new firepower in the push to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.’ The Rockefeller Foundation- which has also partnered with the UN on this– is responsible for the creation of global social impact investment markets in the decade following the housing crash, as the next big financial opportunity for big player investors. In 2008, the Rockefeller foundation coined the term ’impact investing’ and provided seed funding for the Global Impact Investing Network, or GIIN. UK based Sir Ronald Cohen moved things on to the next stage when he created social impact bonds. A social impact bond is a social impact investment where the money is loaned by the investor to a government or company, in exchange for interest payments during the life of the bond, and when the bond reaches maturity, the principle is also repaid. The first social impact bond pilot launched in 2010, which aimed to reduce reoffending rates of prisoners in Peterborough Prison.
The UK is now the world leading country for impact investing, with the UK market worth an estimated £58 billion by 2020. According to a report sponsored by the Department For Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of the same year: ‘healthcare, affordable and clean energy, and sustainable cities and communities are the top focus areas for investment.’ The sectors of employment and training, homelessness, and child and family welfare show the highest number of current or completed social impact bonds, as per the government outcomes lab website. Cohen claims in the report ‘Catalysing An Impact Investment Ecosystem: A Policymaker’s Toolkit’ that 2020 is the tipping point beyond which lies ‘the impact economy.’ According to another report from 2022 securing the involvement of pension schemes, with their 4 trillion worth of assets, the UK’s largest source of capital will result in a ‘quantum leap’ forward for the impact market.
Looking at the Government Outcomes Lab website, the dominant themes in outcomes sought involve either decreasing use of health, education or care services or extracting labour, whether paid or voluntary from the vulnerable or marginalized. The wealthy investor for the ‘Bradford Positive and Included’ project may consider it a success that a 3 month residential placement for a child with ‘learning disabilities and challenging behaviours’ was avoided, but the struggling single mum losing her sanity trying to meet her child’s needs with inadequate support likely has a different view. Would it matter to the director of the Tower Hamlets Mental Health and Employment Partnership project if one of the sufferers of ‘severe and enduring mental illness’ being coerced into paid employment actually killed themselves out of desperation, as has happened in dozens of cases related to Department of Work and Pension sickness benefits ‘reforms’? Probably not, as long as boxes are ticked and the investor still reaps their consequent financial reward. What is really going on here is punitive conditions of hyper austerity and not fit for purpose and highly rationed service provision being rebranded as socially conscious stakeholder capitalism, to enable the stealing of profits out of the public purse for private investment foundations.
What else is very wrong with this picture? Well, the ‘measurable’ part of the impact outcomes, since our being electronically geofenced in SMART cities as data livestock, in what US researcher Alison Mcdowell has described as ‘the AI version of Farmville,’ is a non negotiable part of the future impact ecosystem. How else will they know if we’ve made the more sustainable food choices, earnt our digital skills badges or volunteered at our local carbon offsetting green space, unless this is recorded and inscribed on our permanent personal digital record for the perusal of the data dementors? Also, the orchestrators of this system will have zero incentive to reduce poverty, since the management of poverty and all its attendant effects is the very source of their profits. Moreover, most of the money to be made from the impact scam is actually in betting against the success of these impact projects on the meta dashboards that will eventually replace the stocks and shares trading of today. As researcher and author Paul Cudenec has put it: ‘these massive new equity markets for hedge funds will see your personal circumstances packaged and traded as liquid assets like bundles of mortgages, with some financial vultures gambling on you achieving your outcomes, and others against.’
As ordinary people are progressively reduced to leading a bare life existence in the real world, escape into the disembodied, de-realised virtual reality world of the metaverse may become an increasingly attractive option. A report by the International Telecommunications Union’s ‘Focus Group on the Metaverse’ explains the term ‘metaverse’ was first used by Neal Stevenson in his science fiction novel ‘Snow Crash’, in which the metaverse is described as a parallel virtual world that people could enter through a digital avatar. It goes on ‘With the development of digital technologies such as the Internet of things (IoT), digital twins, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, the metaverse has moved from science fiction to research and is now in application.’ Digital identity and human augmentation technologies including Virtual Reality headsets, Augmented Reality smart glasses, other wearables, haptics, holographics and brain-machine interfaces will facilitate entry into the metaverse. The ITU states: ‘From work meetings, shopping, and visits to the doctor, to social gatherings and tourism, the metaverse aims to provide a similar level of experience to the physical world without having to commute from one location to another.’ They describe Covid-19 as the watershed moment for worldwide metaverse adoption. There are already operating metaverse versions of businesses, banks and university courses, as well as embassies, cities and whole countries- in the case of Tuvalu-being coded into existence.
A blurring between physical and virtual worlds is predicted as according to the W.E.F, ‘individuals may potentially be spending more time in Extended Reality (XR) mediated experiences than in the physical world’, which ‘could make it more difficult for people to disengage and return to their analogue lives.’ The ITU Metaverse focus group envisages a simultaneous blurring of the boundaries that protect privacy, data, intellectual property rights, and personhood. We are perhaps given an insight into how this may play out in the W.E. F’s handy table conversion of Human Rights in the Metaverse. Article 13-the right to freedom of movement becomes ‘The right to move freely through the metaverse,’ whilst Article 17 the right to own property becomes ‘The right to have ownership of digital assets.’
Digital Tokens and Behaviour Change
The ITU sees the creation and sale of virtual goods and services as one of the primary drivers of the metaverse economy. This includes virtual real estate and digital assets, as well as digital experiences.
The WEF say ‘Metaverse transactions are expected to be conducted in fiat currency, in-platform tokens as well as cryptocurrencies.’ Non fungible tokens, that is, a unique digital identifier that is recorded on a blockchain, and used to certify ownership and authenticity, can be transferred by the owner, allowing Non Fungible Tokens to be sold and traded. More recently the concept of soul bound tokens created by Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, (a decentralized software platform for money and new kinds of applications powered by blockchain technology) has been gaining traction. Soul bound tokens are non-transferable digital tokens that represent social identity representing ‘commitments, credentials and affiliations.’ “Such tokens would be like an extended resume, issued by other wallets that attest to these social relations,” the authors of the 2022 paper, ‘Decentralised Society: Finding Web 3’s Soul’ explain.
Whilst this innovation is being pitched as an enabler of decentralized autonomous digital communities, the true coercive controlling intentions of those pushing the token economy are spelt out in the paper: ‘Tokenizing Behavior Change: A Pathway for the Sustainable Development Goals.’ The authors write, ‘Social impact practitioners. . .will be increasingly called upon to use tokens as behavior change tools.’ It goes on, ‘Blockchain technology’s greatest potential for social impact may rest in the ability to use tokenization to motivate the behaviors necessary for social impact,’ and express enthusiasm for fully exploring ‘the potential opportunities from using cryptotokens as behavior change tools to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’ The W.E.F forum meanwhile let slip that, ‘Users in the metaverse could be restricted from services and experiences based on whether they hold a specific token or digital identity.’
How do we Resist?
So, having sketched out a rather terrifying picture of a nightmarish future hurtling towards us, we now come to the question of what to do about it?
Number one: knowledge is power. We have to inform ourselves, and we have to talk about it to everyone we can. Success in implementing the digital enslavement agenda depends on our not understanding what is happening until it’s too late. There are a number of other researchers, in the UK, US and elsewhere disseminating vital content on the 4IR. I highly recommend subscribing to the youtube channels of Alison Mcdowell (who I mentioned previously) Temora Yuile and Julianne Romanello.
Finally: choose the embodied physical experience over the digital or virtual wherever you can. Obviously paying in cash wherever possible is one way to do this; but also, do you need to take your Internet of Things connected, harmful radiation emitting, data harvesting SMART phone everywhere you go? Maybe compulsively photographing and filming moments to capture in the digital for tweets or facebook and Instagram posts isn’t worth the price we pay. Cultivating a daily stillness practice can also be a powerful counterbalance to the lack of present-ness our digital culture encourages. I believe meditation or practicing stillness is one of our human super-powers because it brings us closer to our spirit selves and the higher spiritual beings that surround us and provide us guidance, if we’re open to it. Beyond the dark capitalist’s conspiracy, ultimately I believe there are adversarial beings inspiring them. They are attempting to drag us into the realm of the sub-human- below the level of animals-to become subordinated cyborg automatons who lack independent thinking, feeling and willing. Our ability to transcend this push and build a human centred future instead comes from our innate connection to Divinity. So I would suggest this is something we should focus on cultivating in whatever ways help us feel closest to God or the Divine. This can then be the wellspring we draw on for all our practical resistance work.
 Page 7 of W.E.F report: ‘Impact Investing for the Next Generation’ WEF_Impact_Investing_for_the_Next_Generation.pdf (weforum.org)
 P5 of GSGII report ‘Catalysing an Impact Investment Ecosystem A Policymaker’s Toolkit’ Catalysing an Impact Investment Ecosystem: A Policymaker’s Toolkit – GSG (gsgii.org)
 P21 of Impact Investing Institute’s report ‘Estimating and Describing the UK Impact Investing Market’ https://www.impactinvest.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Estimating-and-describing-the-UK-impact-investing-market.pdf
 P2 of ITU Metaverse Focus Group report ‘Exploring the Metaverse: Opportunities and Challenges‘ https://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itu-t/opb/fg/T-FG-MV-2023-PDF-E.pdf
 P3 of ITU Metaverse Focus Group report: ‘Policy and Regulation Opportunities and Challenges in the Metaverse’ https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/focusgroups/mv/Documents/List%20of%20FG-MV%20deliverables/FGMV-07.pdf
 P13-18 of ITU Metaverse Focus Group report ‘Policy and Regulation Opportunities and Challenges in the Metaverse’ https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/focusgroups/mv/Documents/List%20of%20FG-MV%20deliverables/FGMV-07.pdf
& P10 of ITU Metaverse Focus Group report ‘Exploring the Metaverse: Opportunities and Challenges’ https://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itu-t/opb/fg/T-FG-MV-2023-PDF-E.pdf
 P27 of WEF report ‘Social Implications of the Metaverse’ https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Social_Implications_of_the_Metaverse%20_2023.pdf
 P5 of ‘Guidelines for consideration of ethical issues in standards that build confidence and security in the metaverse Working Group 6: Security, Data & Personally identifiable information (PII) Protection’ https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/focusgroups/mv/Documents/List%20of%20FG-MV%20deliverables/FGMV-06.pdf
 P51 of WEF report ‘Metaverse Privacy and Safety’: https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Metaverse_Privacy_and_Safety_2023.pdf
 P18 of ITU-T Focus Group Report. Exploring the metaverse: opportunities and challenges: https://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itu-t/opb/fg/T-FG-MV-2023-PDF-E.pdf
 P50 of WEF Report ‘Social Implications of the Metaverse’: https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Social_Implications_of_the_Metaverse%20_2023.pdf
 P9 of WEF report ‘Social Implications of the Metaverse’: https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Social_Implications_of_the_Metaverse%20_2023.pdf