The New United Nations: a vessel for shaping Humanity’s collective intelligence [Part 1 of 5]

[Submission to the New Shape Prize by Jorge I. Bonilla Leon]


Human intelligence behaves like a liquid: it acquires the shape of any vessel it is poured into. According to Lev Vygotsky, said vessel is called culture. Our current global culture regards the accumulation of wealth as the primary measure of human accomplishment. This warped embodiment of our collective intelligence has created a world of rising environmental degradation and economic inequality.

A different kind of intelligence is required for increasing the likelihood of our species survival. Hence, it is imperative to craft a new vessel: we need a global culture that celebrates the behaviors conducive to greater social and environmental capitals. The proposed foundations for such culture are laid in the formula:

S = c x t

where S represents Humanity’s potential for survival as being a product of c (collective intelligence) and t (remaining time). Said formula can be further broken down as follows:

S = (i x d x sc) x (b/f)

where collective intelligence equates to i (access to truthful information about our common challenges) multiplied by d (cognitive diversity) and sc (social capital); while remaining time can be understood as a result of b (global biocapacity) divided by f (human ecological footprint).

The New UN should lead Humanity to the attainment of ever improving values for the aforementioned variables; this is expected to prevent the materialization of most global catastrophic risks, whose common denominator lie in their anthropogenic nature. Increased human resilience to both extrinsic and unknown threats should emerge as a very desirable byproduct.

A circular, six-stage process is proposed for the New UN’s global governance:

1. Culture creation by means of futures envisioning
2. A scientific led agenda-setting
3. An economic led policymaking
4. Implementation and enforcement
5. Monitoring and evaluation
6. Culture management (of the 5 forces that shape the social imaginary)

In the first stage, culture creation is accomplished by means of the description of the full array of possible, probable, preferable and wildcard future scenarios. Preferable futures are those where the primary objective (Humanity’s survival) is accomplished to the greater extent. This will be the source of the New UN leadership’s legitimacy: giving all global citizens hope in a better tomorrow and a sense of shared purpose towards arriving at it.

The second stage, agenda-setting, results from the application of a back-casting technique: the retrospective mapping of the gaps between where we want to be and where we currently stand. The bridging of such gaps is then translated into actionable plans on the STEEP dimensions (social, technological, economic, environmental and political).

The third stage, policymaking, has to do with the translation of those actionable plans into economic incentives. Nowadays, wealth accumulation is a self-engrossed activity, oblivious to the advancement of Humanity’s objectives. Hence the New UN should promote a new economic paradigm: one where no profit is to be made unless social and environmental good is done first.

The fourth stage, implementation and enforcement, requires to set up a system where nations’ stature and influence, and corporations’ prestige and competitiveness, are a direct function of how much they contribute to increasing the chances of Humanity’s survival. This will be objectively measured by means of an overall score of their Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDG) compliance.

This will empower the New UN as a fountainhead of soft power: the main regulator and issuer of reputation capital. Rights for using the global commons will be granted based on said SDG’s Score. Customer preference, access to markets and cost of capital will be heavily influenced by it as well.

A set of 18 New UN-controlled cryptocurrencies is also proposed; one per each one of the SDGs and one per truthful communication and behavior. This will allow for rewarding stretch goals of SDG’s compliance, thus speeding and exceeding their accomplishment. Concepts for an SDG’s Equalizer, an SDG’s Market and an SDG’s Bank are put forward as well.

Regulating access to the commons and creating new dimensions of commonality would grant the New UN multiple sources of income, enabling it for vastly increasing the scope and reach of its operations. Another desirable consequence is that the New UN wouldn’t need to rely on states’ donations that may jeopardize its impartiality.

The fifth stage, monitoring and evaluation, calls for the involvement of global citizens as auditors of social progress and environmental restoration. This would be done by means of a series of SDG’s Balanced Scorecards turned into gamified smartphone applications, so that global citizens everywhere can capture data on site and send it for analysis by the New UN’s scientists. They will be rewarded with SDG’s Cryptocurrencies for doing so.

The sixth stage, culture management, is a transversal process to each of the other five stages. It is in charge of building a worldview conducive to the achievement of the New UN’s mission. This requires synchronizing the five forces that shape the social imaginary: national laws, religions, mass media, academia, and the internet browsers/social networks.

In the event of the materialization of a global catastrophic risk, we don’t get to choose when or where is it going to happen or whom if any is going to survive. Therefore, true resilience consists in evenly spreading knowledge so that any potential group of survivors is perfectly suited for rebuilding Humanity. As a consequence, the New UN’s primary task would consist of building capabilities in the minds of the global citizens.

This can be achieved by engaging them in all stages of the global governance process and by composing with them, to the largest possible extent, all New UN’s institutions. They should be randomly selected on an ad hoc basis per their knowledge of the issue being addressed. Thus, the New UN would be a noocracy: an embodiment of sorts of the philosopher kings that Plato once dreamt of.

While the current UN strives to be a representative democracy of nations, each of them guided by its own selfish interests, the New UN would be something akin to a direct democracy of global citizens, all of them inspired by the vision of the preferable futures. This arrangement would allow for the faster action that our most pressing concerns demand.

[Continued on the next 4 entries: Section 2: “Description of the Model”; Section 3: “Argumentation”; Section 4: Supplementary Material” and Section 5: “Bibliography”.] [To see them, please go to my profile by clicking on my name, either at the top or the bottom of this page.]