Paul Kolling

terra0 2016, ongoing

In collaboration with Paul Seidler and Max Hampshire.
Have a look at, or read the White Paper

terra0 is a prototype of a self-owned augmented forest. It is currently being set up at 52°27'39.8"N 13°50'22.9”E – 30km in the east of Berlin.

The Project emerged from research in the fields of crypto governance, smart contracts, economics and questions regarding representations of natural systems in the techno-sphere. It creates a framework whereby a forest is able to sell licences to log its own trees through automated processes, smart contracts and blockchain technology. In doing so, this forest accumulates capital. A shift from valorization through third parties to a self-utilization makes it possible for the forest to procure its real exchange value, and eventually buy itself.

From an economic perspective, an object cannot be separated from its purpose or function. Thus the means of existence of every object is based on its usability by third parties. terra0 examines a scenario whereby objects appropriate and apply utilisation mechanisms to themselves, with the help of new technologies.

A forest has an exactly computable productive force. Beside its function as a source of raw material, the forest also holds the role of service contractor. It produces not only wood, but provides protective space within which diverse species can survive, contributing to overall ecological balance. Furthermore, it offers space for relaxation. The terra0 project creates a scenario whereby the forest, augmented through automated processes, utilitizes itself and thereby accumulates capital. A shift from valorisation through third parties to a self-utilization makes it possible for the forest to procure its real counter-value and eventually buy itself. The augmented forest is not only owner of itself, but is thus in the position to buy more ground and therefore to expand.

In the first phase of the project, a piece of ground is bought from the project initiators, and a Smart Contract is drawn up. The Smart Contract contains all contractual definitions from terra0 and passes of two users parties: the human actors as a project initiators, and a representation of the forest as a so-called Non Human Actor (or 'NHA'). The bought ground is signed over to the NHA in exchange for debentures, which represent a stake of the project and the Smart Contract. At this stage, the forest owns itself, however, is indebted to its shareholders (the project initiators).

An economic model implemented in the Smart Contract controls the exploitation of the forest. The NHA sells, depending on the topical growth, licences to log certain trees. If a certain sum of money has been earned via selling these licenses, the NHA starts to repay its debts to the project initiators by buying its terra0 tokens back. Once repayment is complete, the original owners (the project initiators) hold no more tokens, thus the forest is the sole shareholder of its own economic unit; the forest, in economic terms, controls itself.

By appropriation of capitalist and cultural mechanisms, a piece of ground plays an active role in society, whilst at the same time avoiding direct influence by third parties, via removing the possibilities of economic interaction by them. terra0 can be seen thus as a prototype of an economic unit in a post human future.