Within Our Reach
The garden as a place in which all living beings co-exist in harmony. No violence, no need for violence. Abundance. Scarcity needs are met and belonging needs can be freely pursued. Harmonious, sustainable living.
- This reality — Eden — never existed, except perhaps as truly inert matter. Since molecules developed agency, violence — action without the consent of that being acted upon — has saturated the interactions of communities of living beings. (A side note — if the receiver has no consent to give, is it wrong? What is consent and at what point does it emerge?)
- As awareness evolved, our capacity to perceive the consequences of our actions developed. This gave rise to intent — consideration of action.
- As the complexity of life developed, organisms began to coordinate, due to the competitive advantage it conferred. This is the origin of our need for governance — amongst communities of individuals and within one’s self
- Being the living creatures on Earth with the most advanced capacity for critical thought, humans have developed the most sophisticated interpersonal structures to coordinate.
- But coordination has always been enforced by the threat of violence. This is where the state derives its legitimacy. Driven by threat of violence or enforced lack, which is a form of violence. Harm or revocation of assets, mobility, privacy, enfranchisement and other freedoms, rights and forms of influence.
- Physical violence: they will take your body and put it in prison if you break the rules. Or conceptual violence: they will take your money, they restrict who you can contact, they track your location. The point is, they do something to you without your consent. Non-consent is a key component of violence.
- The Garden of Eden seems to be within reach, in the next century. (And if we don’t grasp it by then I fear we never will.)
- We are discovering new ways of coordinating, new governance structures and incentivization mechanisms. Ways of inspiring humans (and (semi-)autonomous machines) to behave in ways we intend them to.
- This includes money, the attention economy, our classical governance structures like governments and regulators, as well as norm and habits and traditions and protocols like http or our country code systems or different grades of oil or steel.
- Each of these are expressions of our values, which are personally and collectively held beliefs in what is good or right.
- Fundamentally these governance structures rest on understanding, meaning shared between communicators. So it makes sense that advancements in information technologies result in new governance capabilities. (Money is an information technology — Lanier.)
- Now, for the first time, these information technologies and the governance structures they enable can be created by anyone*, and come into existence without requiring the permission of an authority or action from a representative body.
*anyone with the requisite skills, knowledge and equipment to participate — like molly wintermute
- Furthermore, once created these structures are, due to their nature, almost impossible to kill or remove.
- Formalizations of the conceptual objects we each hold in our collective awarenesses — the norms and traditions and rules and principles that govern us. How can we define what it means to cheat?
- Antisocial behavior — activity that tends to result in reductions in human dignity and sustainability, measured by as broad an array of metrics as possible. Anything proposed by a person (live born human who is still alive today) will be measured and integrated into the models. If it is a reliable signal for our shared conception of quality — improvements to our world — it grows in weight.
So, how can we move towards the garden, towards our destiny?
An unformed proposal
When the UN was formed, Alan Turing was still alive and Claude Shannon had not yet published A Mathematical Theory of Communication. The United Nations’ founding documents were crafted by brilliant people who understood the way things worked — but had no idea how they would work, how as the noosphere matured and our ability to exchange sophisticated messages with anyone on or near Earth in an instant emerged, our ability to coordinate would also proportionately expand.
The time for a global governance system is past due, but it has not been achieved because we are using systems of government designed to administer local territories.
I propose a global system of governance built on smart contracts. This system will allocate and distribute funds and information to pursue goals that are mutually agreed by the people of Earth.
- A global governance system built on self-sovereign identity. Global human identifier — a global passport.
- Global oversight using privacy-preserving technologies of all digital currency, to detect financial criminals.
- A global monitoring system to identify individuals intent on perpetrating violence, and intervene to prevent it, while preserving the individual’s right to choose privacy.
This global governance system would be designed to fulfill many of the functions of the state. This system must not be like its precursors, created in a static form, hobbled by the inaccuracies of human communication and interpretation.
Every person who would choose to participate is entitled to, in whatever capacity they care to — a civic life that is opt in and inclusive.
People could “vote” by swiping through statements designed to glean that person’s values. We could also mine social media activity, search patterns, financial activity, etc to take the pulse of the global demos.
By analyzing these voter surveys using advanced analytics techniques, we could approximate a more accurate understanding of our society’s values than asking directly.
These understandings could be further refined by analyzing the public discourse, and by including respected voices from across society to engage in more formal ways, with their choices weighted as trust in their justness and consistency develops.
In this way, we can extract our collective values in an increasingly sophisticated way.
Based on the values we continuously assess and identify, we can use measurable metrics as indicators of their prevalence.
Individuals could submit proposals for ways they think they could promote the collectively-identified values (locally or globally), along with the resources required to pursue them.
These proposals could be assessed by other Citizens, and if they seem credible, funding could be unlocked to pursue them. By measuring metrics the projects intended to impact, further impact funding could be unlocked.
All participants could be compensated by governance tokens. These could have monetary value, and earning these tokens could also mean a person’s weight in the system is enhanced. In this way, we could incentivize civic engagement, and compensate genuine participation in governing. To get your UBI, spend a small amount of time each day or week participating in the system.
This system would be designed to adapt as society evolves. This could be achieved by upgrading the smart contracts that run the system, and the algorithms trained to identify collective values, assess indicators of these values, and allocation funds and information.
Further, the system could be designed in such a way that malicious actors could be detected, and stripped of resource, before they could do much harm. In such a case, a group could investigate their behavior and intent — if found to be a false alert, their rights could be restored and those responsible for raising the alarm penalized (slashed weight and / or slashed funds).
A small step towards the garden, I hope …