Top Ten Reasons to Move to a Worldwide Open Source Society

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Back in 2018 I posted Will the Revolution be Open Source? here on Medium. I was super excited to share my idea for a way forward during this time of transition for human civilization.

Like many others, I see our current path as unsustainable and our current institutions as impotent, dysfunctional and feeble.

Unfortunately, the article never really took off. But I still believe that moving towards a truly democratic global society (and soon) is the only way we can hope to avoid a more dystopian world than we already have, and instead move towards an imperfect but infinitely happier future for all of us and for future generations.

Being of a certain age and therefore a big fan of David Letterman, I decided to provide this list of the benefits we stand to gain from an open source society in the form of a top ten list.

So without further adieu here are the Top Ten Reasons to Move to a Worldwide Open Source Society:

10. Sustainable economic growth and equity in today’s smaller flatter world.

Small and large companies, as well as corporations would be invited to participate in this new society by offering their goods and services to members. The catch for these companies will be that they will be expected to abide by the principles of the society. If enough of us join, small and large businesses will be sure to follow.

Smart contracts using blockchain technology can be used to increase trust in economic relationships and reduce the instances of theft, cheating and fraud. With a worldwide platform the economic landscape will further flatten, providing opportunities for people everywhere.

9. Save the planet.

A small percentage of each transaction completed on this new platform would go towards whatever use the members see fit. The percentage would be variable, depending on the impacts of the service or product on the environment and the health of the society. This would be a natural way to institute a worldwide carbon tax. Of course companies could avoid this by doing business outside the platform, but with enough people committed to this new paradigm, norms will charge inside as well as outside those companies. The pressure to do the right thing will increase exponentially as more and more people get on board.

In addition to “taxing” negative externalities, such as carbon emissions, we can choose to fund projects that improve the health of the planet. For instance, we could use the income generated on the platform to buy and protect rain-forests, to protect endangered species or to clean up the oceans.

8. Universal Basic Income
We’ve heard a lot about universal basic income (UBI) in the past few years. This would be a natural way to fund it.

Like environmental sustainability, universal income is a complex issue and could be approached in many different ways. For example, would folks in developing countries, with lower costs of living, receive the same income as those in developed countries? Would it be truly universal, or would it be only available to those who live below a certain threshold of wealth and income?

My thoughts are that this should be kept as simple as possible. What we don’t want is a huge new bureaucracy. Make it truly universal, the same income regardless of where you live and how rich you are.

That said, the Open Source Society that I envision will ultimately function as a direct democracy, So, all these choices; about environmental projects, UBI, or any other decisions that need to be made on behalf of all members, will be made by the members themselves.

7. Reduce likelihood of major war and global conflict.

The people of the world are already connected in ways that were hardly imaginable just 30 years ago. But this new society has the potential to give ordinary people economic and political power they have never had before, and to provide them with an even stronger sense of their interconnectedness. Our new paradigm would encourage us to think of ourselves as global citizens first and foremost.

That’s not to say that we would not feel locally connected, but we could rid ourselves of the negative aspects of nationalism and jingoism. Instead, by recognizing our selves as a part of a greater interconnected whole, we will be less apt to engage in conflict and better able to resolve international issues.

I can hear some people protesting that it’s not the people that engage in international conflict, it’s the governments. To that I say: “Governments are made up of people.” My hope is that this new paradigm will be attractive enough for everyone to join, even government officials. In more democratic countries members of this new society can exert political pressure on their representatives to be more oriented towards problem solving and slower to react with military “solutions” to conflict.

6. Encourage and increase universal civil rights and responsibilities.

At first, I wrote “Ensure universal civil rights and responsibilities.” But I realize that these will still be far off, even after this new paradigm begins to take hold. While civil rights in most of the developed are taken for granted by many, others around the world and even here in the United States continue to have to fight for them. While the arc of history tends to bend towards justice, it is a very, very long arc.

But here’s the thing, many of us, especially those of us who take our civil rights for granted, do not take our responsibilities seriously. We feel entitled. We forget that our rights were hard earned and that if they don’t apply to all of us then they don’t really apply to any of us.

This new platform should be one that supports and encourages people to take responsibility for their lives and their communities. An open source platform will allow individuals to have a direct impact on the greater whole. Instead of the divisiveness of a two party system, people will be able to weigh in on the specific issues that they care about without being tied to a party platform that includes positions that they may not support.

All members of the society should be expected to contribute in some way, by participating in decision making processes at the local and/or global level, by providing useful goods and or services, by modeling pro-social behavior and, I’m sure, in many other ways I haven’t thought of yet.

We should be guided by principles, not rules. Rules tend to lead to more rules and more bureaucracy (think IRS). That’s exactly what we don’t want. If we are guided by principles and certain outcomes that we wish to achieve, then we can have a more peaceful and equitable world civilization. Universal Civil Rights and Responsibilities are principles (I hope) we can all get behind.

5. Decrease the relevance of governments.

This is a tough one; it will not happen overnight. For sure there will be push-back from those with a stake in the status quo, but hopefully not before this new paradigm reaches a tipping point and it’s too late.

With enough members worldwide, this platform could exert political and economic influence over nations. Of course, to have any effect on major developed countries the society would need to have hundreds of millions (if not billions) of members and the economic muscle of a sovereign nation. This would be possible if enough businesses, small and large, were to offer their goods and services on the platform so that both people, businesses and even some governments conduct all (or nearly all) of their transactions on the platform.

As this new open source platform of and for folks throughout the world begins taking over functions previously considered the purview of governments, nation states will lose their relevance. UBI will first supplement, then (perhaps) replace government welfare programs. Similarly, the platform can fund environmental and other major projects that would otherwise be functions of government. And the carbon tax that we’ve heard about from politicians for decades now, but has never materialized on a global basis, will be built into the platform.

Authoritarian countries will be a tougher nut to crack. But remember, the idea is not to take down governments, but make them less relevant. China is already building it’s own internet with an eye towards controlling the information their citizens are exposed to. This will pose a major challenge for our new paradigm to gain a foothold in with this huge chunk of the world’s population.

But remember, China is not as inward looking as it once was. Today it is building and buying all around the world, especially in Africa. With many of it’s most influential citizens moving throughout the world they will be exposed to and see the benefits of our global platform and bring that back to their friends and loved ones in China.

4. Get to know your neighbors.

One of the features of this new society should be the organization of local communities that get together on a regular basis, not so much to make decisions, but to talk about issues affecting the community and to get to know each other.

I went into great detail how this would work in Will the Revolution be Open Source?. Maybe too much detail. How exactly this would work will ultimately be up to the members, but my initial proposal is that every member who wants to be part of a local community can join one. Some might prefer to be a part of a close knit community of like minded individuals spread out geographically; these folks can form or join such a group instead of a local or neighborhood community. Others may prefer to be a lone wolf, so to speak, and be a member of the whole without joining a specific community.

These communities would range from 80 to 200 members; ideally there would be about 150 members in a given community. They would function as both a political unit and a way for us to connect with each other on a personal level.

3. Empowerment of individuals. Make your voice heard.

The communities would send representatives to bring issues and ideas to regional and worldwide assemblies. These representatives would be randomly selected from the pool of qualified and willing members of each community. Any adult would be deemed qualified unless determined incompetent by their community (standards for incompetence will need to be decided by the whole society.

There would be no campaigning.

While at the assemblies, representatives would discuss proposals and give input based on directions and guidelines from their communities. They would then return to their communities with information about upcoming proposals that will then be voted on by all. Individual members may choose to cast their vote on each and every resolution and proposal, or they may pick and choose the issues that they find most important.

2. In an open source society, only humans are people.

While corporations will be invited to join and participate in this new society, and they will have all of the responsibilities of a human member, they are NOT in fact people. So they will not have all of the rights in the new paradigm that a natural born human will have.

As I wrote in Will the Revolution be Open Source?: “Corporations and any other non-humans, such as existing governments, may not have any political voice on this new platform, but they may choose to cooperate with us on our terms.”

And the number one reason to move to a worldwide open source society:

1. Less Hate, More Love!

Divide and Conquer is the strategy employed by despots for millennia. The Latin phrase “Divide et impera” is attributed to Julius Caesar. It’s an effective way for the powerful to keep their power. In the United States this is accomplished through racism, sexism, (every kind of -ism) xenophobia, and of course, the two party system.

One of George Washington’s greatest fears upon the founding of this country was that our country would be divided “into two great parties”. The two party political system has functioned poorly over the past 230 or so years since before the U.S. Constitution was even ratified. Over the past few decades in particular, it has served to divide Americans up between Red and Blue states, districts and media sources.

This division has fired up a lot of hate, fueled by manipulation of the media, especially social media, by those who have an interest in keeping us divided. Both of our major political parties are guilty of this manipulation, driving a wedge between people who otherwise have mostly common interests.

The thing is this; most of us tend to be conservative on some issues and more liberal on others. I doubt that many of us agree with every single position on their particular party’s platform, or even know every what position their party takes on every issue. These days many of us choose not to belong to a party at all. Since we can’t vote directly on issues that are important to us as individuals we vote for representatives who appeal to us more, or more likely, we vote for the one who repels us less.

I’m not the first to suggest that party politics has become a plague to the American political process, but I’ve not seen many solutions offered up. In her article Kindness a Cure for Polarization? Leonor Corsino of Duke University writes that “[w]hat we’re missing is kindness.” She’s right.

An open source society where everyone can vote directly on issues will allow us t come together in love and kindness with people who we may disagree with on many issues, but with whom we do agree on a particular issue that we feel strongly about. Discussions can be focused on the issues, instead of labeling others as an enemy.

That’s not to say that people will never be bitterly divided over specific issues, but if we intentionally go about creating our new open source society with the principles of love, compassion, empathy and kindness as the foundation for this new paradigm, then we will be well on our way to a future of hope and prosperity for our children and their children.

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