Time for a New Social OS
It is time for a new social OS.
Rules are being rewritten for how our society operates. I propose that we think of society functioning on an operating system (“OS”). Much like in a computer, the OS is the context in which everything is done.
In recent years, large components of the social OS were being replaced.
Paper mail > email.
Books > web sites.
Fiat currency > Crypto
And so forth. One fundamental shift is the movement from central authority (media, fiat, etc.) decentralized authority (web sites, crypto, etc.).
This shift has been happening gradually in democratic / capitalist society over the last century. In places where government is an extension of the people, the shift to the new OS tightened that connection through increased transparency, lowered dependence, better communication.
However, same can’t be said for authoritarian societies. I’ll spare the reader lament on how authoritarian regimes are awful and jump straight to the point: Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, and other countries where politics are running on the old OS and there is a desperate need for an upgrade.
The most acute problem now is Russia’s war upon Ukraine.
Assumption: Russian government does not represent Russian people. It has consolidated power and, through coercion and manipulation are doing something that goes contrary to fundamental social values. This should be impossible in the new Social OS, because government should have no authority, no resources, no personnel if its governed constituents hold a fundamentally different view.
It is important to note that I am making the fundamental assumption of humanity. While some portion of our society may be sociopathic, the vast majority want to do and be “good”. Even in Russia, assuming the worst interpretation of those who support the war, their heart is in the right place, even if the belief system is entirely distorted.
Thus, one way to stop the war, reduce human suffering on both sides, and prevent from such a war being ignited ever again is to introduce this new SocialOS into the world — in particular in Russia.
A Tragic Fertile Ground
While I am not an expert on the subject, as a member of humanity, I find the Western lack of military response to intentional murder of civilians tragic. However, without a military response, sanctions on Russia are a brutal sledgehammer that is decimating Russian society and destroying the ability of those who seek to stand against Putin’s regime to survive as collateral damage. This facilitates repressions, limits choices for mid-tier bureaucrats, and while it does create immense pressure on Putin and limits his resources to wage war and control society, the cost is high.
However, the sanctions do something else: they destroy the old OS creatiung a fertile ground for new ways for people to collaborate, transact, organize. With the ruble crashing, the dollar inaccessible, flow of goods starting to be affected, I propose that people will be ready to adopt the new OS, so long as it is accessible, safe, and focuses on their needs.
Most importantly, where the new OS is going to be adopted, it will need to operate without reliance (and contrast with) existing governing structures. With that in mind, I recommend that, rather than thinking top-down, we think about communities: how do we build the new OS that can be adopted by a community first and enable it to operate without reliance on government?
What are Societal Needs?
In no particular order:
Value Storage / Transaction: the ruble is crashing, the dollar is inaccessible. People need an ability to store and transact value. (Ex: Paypal, Venmo, Crypto)
Value Communication: to ensure flow of goods / services, there is a need to for sellers/buyers to find each other. (Upwork, FB Marketplace, Craigslist)
Community Communication: to build communities, make decisions, communicate information / debate / calibrate. (FB, Twitter, NextDoor)
Community Decision-making: at some point, communities need to pool resources, make decisions, take action. (Change.org, KickStarter, DAO)
Criteria for Existence
Also in no particular order:
- Dissent should be an acceptable component of existence.
- Security of all parties is paramount (i.e. privacy in foundation, no information about participant is shared unless explicitly accepted)
- Compromise-Ready: if and when this system becomes a challenge to the old OS, it must be ready. With enough resources, anything can be hacked / challenged. The new OS needs to be built in a manner that would withstand local failures and protect its members.
Technology / Implementation
All this is nice, but what does implementation look like?
First, it’s important to recognize that we are not talking about one specific tool, but a new framework for thinking. Similar to capitalism, democracy, blockchain as frameworks that create a set of rules for those operating within, we are discussing a new set of rules for a new societal structure.