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Semantic Money® – Tagging money with intention

Fiat currency printed by governments or crypto-currency mined by computers.  Spending rewards issued by credit card companies or retail brands. Impacts reports by socially responsible investment mutual fund families or foundations.

What characteristics differentiate these forms of money?  Each has an accountancy focused on the math of input-output, with a sliding scale for the holder’s and user’s right of audit the money’s journey.

A hidden cost of using fiat and crypto-currency is this audit function.  If you deposit money in the bank, where does the bank lend your money?  Hard to tell.  A bank’s assets are loans, what do the loans produce in contributions to the economy’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and how would a banker even answer the question?  If you donate to a nonprofit, what of the range of needs in a region have they addressed and how should their impacts be matched up to the nonprofit’s leadership in tackling issues that range from primary to tertiary?  As you look at all the ways that you handle money – saving, spending, investing, borrowing, insuring and donating – what is the net impact of your financial life, and how could you even answer the question?

With digital currency (fiat or crypto), the cost of auditing and the institutional blockers in answering “What is my money doing?” will disappear.

Urban Logic advises on  (1) tagging digital money with its intended uses, (2) putting the money into circulation, and (3) receiving feedback as to the portions of the intention that are fulfilled or thwarted. Such semantic money® reduces the costs, delays and incompleteness of currently expensive institutional and private audit functions.

Imagine all of the elements of Quality of Life – education, energy, environment, health, infrastructure, public safety, governance, civil rights, and natural diversity, organized into clusters so their synergies could be strengthened and their interdependencies used free of institutional preemptions.  (In collaboration with Stanford University, Urban Logic is creating such a Periodic Table of Quality of Life Elements).

The science of each Quality of Life Element is robustly dynamic, with daily advances in measuring and impacting physical, natural and social aspects of climatological, geological, structural, molecular and crowd phenomena.  Improving health spans investing in health clinics, cleaner water, “Internet of Things” sensors and educating the population to be alert to personal exposure, vulnerability and resiliency to local toxins.

The funding of government programs or foundation grant programs often mixes four distinct gatekeeper activities: (1) identifying and quantifying the need of direct interest (a Quality of Life Element), (2) accumulating a pool of financial and social assets to address the need, (3) overseeing a portfolio of investments in specific strategics to meet the need, and (4) returning to phase 1 to report changes in the need as a result of the strategies funded in order to acquire additional assets (phase 2) and invest them (phase 3).  This Gatekeeper’s Business Model of change is proving slow, inauthentic and artificially narrow, in part, because of its inherent conflicts of interest:  Few investors would expect a mutual fund manager to  self-generate a performance metric for return on portfolio that ignored performance relative to the major stock exchange indices. Semantic money reduces the Gatekeeper frictions and could speed objectively ranking, funding and seeing the impacts of Quality of Life strategies.

Requesting Our Semantic Money® Services

Urban Logic’s successful innovation strategies depend on prototyping and collaborative services offered to companies, financial institutions and government organizations that inform and seek our “systems-of-systems” approach.

Urban Logic’s Semantic Money methodology offers its collaborators:

  • Consultation and consultative reports and lenses on credit scoring, quality and risk modeling for finance, investments and insurance,
  • Strategic insights and information on how to harness and aim corporate, community, environmental and government change,
  • Consumer-product and crowd-sourced knowledge on tracking and improving supply chain and product lifecycle impacts on regional quality of life concerns,
  • A new conversation promoting the interests of people concerned with health, community and environmental sustainability issues via a virtual currency of true value and meaning

For more information about Semantic Money, please contact us at info@urbanlogic.org.

Adding your voice 

As a nonprofit, Urban Logic is keenly interested in hearing your thoughts on developing its core technologies, like Semantic Money.

Mitigating risk and expediting recovery in disaster-vulnerable regions, including mapping, planning, phasing and organizing investments, philanthropy and other interventions pre- and post-disaster requires a continual conversation 24/7, 365 days per year.

Please share your thoughts on Semantic Money as Comments to this page.

Regarding regional quality of life (QoL) impacts by comparing alternative economic, environmental, social and other investments and interventions, we especially welcome suggestions for

  • sources of historical, evidence-based QoL data on a regional or national basis
  • QoL visualization analogies, concepts and dashboards
  • QoL scoring and ranking of intervention options
  • QoL mitigation strategies

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Vatican, Banking, Ethics & Money

Vatican, Banking, Ethics & Money

The Vatican has been a bell-weather of human rights concerns and research for centuries. His Holiness Pope Francis’ personal commitment to put actions in front of the Holy See’s words are having a profound effect in Vatican City and globally.

The Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, led by His Eminence Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson from Ghana, is responsible for developing policy and nudging its implementation on issues that include business ethics, and the conduct of business leaders and their bankers.  The Vocation of a Business Leader captures recent policy research and thought.

Initially in October 2012, and then as part of the Pontifical Council’s Colloquium  on the theme Banking on the Common Good, Finance for the Common Good on May 13, 2013,Urban Logic has brought forward our design work on high-transparency, impacts aware banking and related research to inform the Vatican’s (and our own) interfaith dialogue on creating banks and training bankers to handle money that is authentic in achieving its intent and impact, ethically.  From little acorns, giant chestnut trees grow!

For more on the May event, Cardinal Turkson’s interview and the Pontifical Council’s press release are here, and Vatican Radio’s coverage here.

Practicing What is Preached...As importantly, informal conversations with the new head of the IOR (Vatican Bank) on that Monday May 13th, were prelude to the Bank agreeing om May 22nd for the first time to release its financial monitor’s reports – Transparency momentum in action is good to see!

By September (2013), the Pope was speaking out regularly, decrying the idolatry of seeking money as an end goal or end game, and urging the globalized economy to return to the core functions of providing meaningful employment, and the honorable reality of a job creating meaningful lives.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Banking on Altruism

Banking on Altruism

Fear is Fake Collateral, Rugged Individualism is Bankers’ Mythology

In his May 2013 TEDxHayward Talk entitled Adjacencies Revealed, Urban Logic’s founder shared thinking that developed in dialogue with Dr. James Doty and Dr. Daniel Martin of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research (C-CARE) that could build stronger banks and bank customer user experiences.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Why Sustainable Banking Matters at Stanford

Why Sustainable Banking Matters at Stanford

At Stanford University, in the Engineering School, and in the d.school (Design School), and in the Law School’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy & Finance, in the Graduate School of Business, and nearly all parts of the campus, sustainability matters.

Stanford is buzzing with students and faculty creating next-generation energy, construction, transportation, food, housing and other solutions that extend the lifecycle of resources used by our generation, and steward resources for future generations.

Designing solutions that repurpose the built environment and respect Nature’s own design quest to add resiliency that mitigates climate and other conditions is admirable.  In their own expert and innovative ways, biomimicry writ large.

Whither the bankers?  Where liveth they?  Harken the bankers back to a world underwriting to profit capital by destroying human or natural capital?  Is the legacy of un-sustainability banking – even digitized to nanosecond trading efficiency – the best that can be innovated?

In order to redesign sustainable cities and businesses, the banks that hold our deposits and create the rules for lending capital must understand sustainability, and must evolve to create Sustainable Banking that keeps the bank safe as an institution, keeps the customer of the bank safe throughout their personal or business lifecycle, and keeps the regions impacted and their quality of life safe.

When the Stanford graduates with sustainability ideas and business plans tucked into their gaps and gowns can show up in a bank and have a banker reward the startup business for adding sustainability, the banks will be safer, and make regional  of life safer, for all.

Through an active collaboration with Stanford, Urban Logic is pushing forward a Sustainable Banking Affiliates Program, and more:  Check out – SustainableBanking.Stanford.edu.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Commercial Property investors start tracking sustainability

Commercial Property investors start tracking sustainability

U.S. Green Building Council LEED Certifications, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star Certifications have been in development for nearly twenty years.

Forward-looking real estate investment trusts (REITs) are beginning to promote that their portfolios include LEED or Energy Star certified commercial and industrial properties (for example, without endorsement, Wells REIT II’s LEED Portfolio Grows to 25 and Health Care REIT’s Green Arrow Program).

The major institutional investors in commercial real property are beginning to take notice of sustainability. National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries, best known for its benchmark Property Index Returns, is now collecting Energy Star and LEED information for properties owned by its investor/members.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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TEDxNewWallStreet – Re-imagining Banking built in and for the Information Age
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TEDxNewWallStreet – Re-imagining Banking built in and for the Information Age

2008 – 2012 had seen a stubborn recession, shattering personal wealth and global confidence in the largest banks.  The Occupy Wall Street Protests in New York and London pressed for reforms to the banking system, by legislative, regulatory and judicial means.

By March 2012,  Silicon Valley had been pursuing its agenda of revolutionizing the banking system through innovations for nearly a decade.  Square did for in store local purchasing what PayPal did for online shopping, moving billions in credit card payments out of the hands of bankers and into the hands of “payments processors.”  Kiva created a disruptive microfinance finance, uncontrolled by and side-steppng at scale the administrative overhead of large sprawling nonprofit organizations.  Kickstarter anticipated the JOBS Act‘s embrace of crowdfunding small businesses, using elegant design storytelling to pre-sell products that have yet to be built.

Silicon Valley is well known for changing paradigms that concentrated power in entertainment, telecommunications and automotive industries.

Thus, on March 11, 2012, Urban Logic decided to convene TEDxNewWallStreet as a day-long exploration of what it might look like for Silicon Valley to be the New Wall Street, and ask how it might be fairer, safer, cheaper and see and show its impacts with greater transparency.

Moving opaque, dysfunctional, predatory banking into the digital age isn’t progress.

Fixing banking to become highly-transparent and impacts-aaware, that’s progress.

Our TEDxNewWallStreet speakers were amazing, and let the audience at the Computer History Museum, and on YouTube understand how bankers and bank technologists in Silicon Valley are changing the paradigm, again:

 

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Istanbul: before the next earthquake
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Istanbul: before the next earthquake

Istanbul sits smack on top of some of the Earth’s most active seismic faults.  A city of nearly 14 million, the risks of repeating past earthquakes exceeding 7 in magnitude, threatens rich and poor alike.  Current USGS projections, show the vulnerability maps, with devastating clarity.IstanbulEarthquamap

The geology of how this region formed explains what is happening now:

Turkey geologically is part of the great Alpine belt that extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Himalaya Mountains. This belt was formed during the Tertiary Period (about 65 million to 1.6 million B.C.), as the Arabian, African, and Indian continental plates began to collide with the Eurasian plate, and the sedimentary layers laid down by the prehistoric Tethyan Sea buckled, folded, and contorted. The intensive folding and uplifting of this mountain belt was accompanied by strong volcanic activity and intrusions of igneous rock material, followed by extensive faulting during the Quaternary Period, which began about 1.6. million B.C. This folding and faulting process is still at work, as the Turkish and Aegean plates, moving south and southwest, respectively, continue to collide. As a result, Turkey is one of the world’s more active earthquake and volcano regions. Helen Chapin Metz, Turkey: A Country Study (1995).

IstanbulEarthquakeRegionalmap

We know an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 or greater is likely for Istanbul in the next 30 years.  We know that the immigrant poor in Istanbul live  in squalor, in make-shift shacks connected as shanty-towns (“informal settlements” seems to be the polite term) built on the most seismically active areas of the City.  We know that Istanbul’s city government derives nearly 50% of its non-tax income (“government sponsored enterprises”) from a gas pipeline some of which runs near or would be threatened by the collapse of structures underneath the shanty-towns.  And we know that 40% of Turkey’s sovereign debt rating is attributable to Istanbul’s municipal credit rating, because 40% of Turkey’s economic activity occurs in the Istanbul Metropolitan Region.

Thus, it seems that the economic, humanitarian and foreign aid contexts for addressing the shanty-towns of Istanbul need not wait for the next earthquake.  Community land grants, housing revitalization and retrofits and a culture of job creation and entrepreneurship would be worthwhile strategies for improving the survivability and quality of life in Istanbul’s poorest neighborhoods, mitigating pandemic risks post-earthquake, and reducing the chance that slums gestate homeland security risks there or elsewhere.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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State-Owned Banks: why just after a crisis?
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State-Owned Banks: why just after a crisis?

In Colonial America, states issued their local currency so as to achieve independence from the banking and bankers of the Old World in Great Britain and Europe.  Today, the Bank of North Dakota formed in 1919  is all that remains of the state-owned bank tradition.

In response to 2008’s Credit Crisis, U.S. taxpayers pumped $608 billion into the banking system (of which $367 billion has been repaid as of August 2013).  An immense DC-Wall Street-Main Street public debate followed, along with passage of The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform And Consumer Protection Act (echoing reform measures passed after every previous domestic banking crisis), and the lobbyists on Capitol Hill carving the reforms into shards and loopholes without sufficient enforcement budget or the will to prosecute offenders at “too big to fail” banks.

Two options for public investment remain relatively unexplored:

  • Reviving State-owned banks who, by reason of being government-owned, would be subject to higher public purpose accountability, conflict of interest and transparency rules
  • Investing in a national program of banking services innovation and redesign, through smaller new banks and non-bank organizations

Urban Logic has surveyed global state-owned banking history, and posted it online at StateOwnedBanks.com (as a Wikimedia research site and to reduce spam, please create an account to access our work there).  For an illustrated timeline of multiple banking crises, recessions and other developments in the U.S., and legislative responses to them, download this PDF, and because it is 600 years wide, zoom in 12 times (12x).

 

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Banking for the Uninitiated
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Banking for the Uninitiated

Over the past few years, Urban Logic has looked at how banks reflect society’s priorities, and cause multiple impacts in doing so.

In order to understand “banking,” numerous books, professional journals and a deluge of popular works after the 2008 Credit Crisis have come forward to demystify the “black box of banking”, so that it can be simply understood.

Two of our favorite books that explain banking as it is currently practiced today are:

Other good reads on banking and money tell tales of bankers and banker hubris, and those are fun literature too!

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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Jerusalem, Middle East Peace & Money

Jerusalem, Middle East Peace & Money

October 26, 2010 at the Koret-Milken Institute in Jerusalem offered Urban Logic the opportunity to present research on using using interfaith ethics to tag money, and in that way bring greater understanding and tolerance to the various religious groups in and surrounding Israel.

The Koret-Milken Fellows are impressive, and go on to occupy major leadership positions in government and industry in Israel.  The Institute, through Glenn Yago‘s leadership, conducts ground-breaking research on infrastructure, capital finance, legislation and other challenges facing the Israeli Government, business sector and society.koret milken institute

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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