Persistent Selv

A self-sovereign digital identity (SSID) empowering individuals to engage in heritage and legacy-planning, establishing trusted connections with future generations and their environment.

Dark Matter Labs and IOTA Foundation — with significant conceptual contributions from Futures Literacy experts at UNESCO and Finland Futures Research Centre at University of Turku — are launching Persistent Selv; an exploratory demo app empowering individuals to improve their ecological footprints, by prospecting their environmental legacies and establishing trusted connections with future generations.

Click here to test the Persistent Selv demo app.

INTERDEPENDENCIES WITH THE PAST AND THE FUTURE

“We live in an era of pathological short-termism. Our politicians can barely see past the next election or latest tweet. Markets spike then crash in speculative bubbles. Nations sit around international conference tables bickering away while the planet burns and species disappear. And we are constantly clicking the Buy Now button. This is the age of the tyranny of the now.

How can we expand our time horizons beyond our obsession with the present tense so we can deal with the crises of our time? […] This is the moment to consider a new conception of the self that extends far beyond the present and transcends death itself.”¹

This is the moment to recognise that we are a gift from the past and we will, eventually, gift the future. This is the moment to acknowledge the impact of our legacies on future generations. This is the time to practice true long-term planning, prospecting and legacy-thinking. How we form our heritage will be decisive for expanding our influence beyond our lifetime, to take care of future generations.

PERSISTENT SELV DEMO

Based on this we have developed Persistent Selv, an exploratory demo app that leverages the possibilities opened up by self-sovereign digital identities (SSIDs) and data wallets, to help individuals plan their environmental legacy. Persistent Selv attempts to investigate possibilities for fostering individual long-term thinking, to make us aware of our interdependencies with the past and the future, understanding how our actions today might contribute to the legacies we are leaving behind to future generations.

The demo app engages individuals with a series of exercises that help them think about their environmental inheritance and how they might start constructing it to take care of future generations. The app asks individuals to construct their environmental legacy by registering a series of commitments towards supporting the ecological systems of our planet. In this demo, we have created two fictional institutions that provide the infrastructure to manage two different types of commitments: (1) far-future promises of financial capital transfers, contingent on what the future will need, and (2) present commitments which recognise everyday acts as legacy formation.

Far Future Foundation, a fictional institution that supports far-future legacies of financial capital transfers. Screenshot from the Persistent Selv demo app.
Far Future Foundation allows individuals to imagine possible and desirable futures, a process that can help us think of the impact of our legacies on future generations. Screenshot from the Persistent Selv demo app.

These commitment structures — our promises for being Good Ancestors — are testaments of the legacies we will pass down to the next generation. To form those environmental commitments, the Persistent Selv demo app has two main aims.

1. Guiding individuals to becoming time-literate

To overcome pathological short-termism, we need to learn to witness time in a way that transcends the limits of a single human experience. We need to learn to perceive our actions in deeper time and longer timescales that are relevant to the ecological systems of the planet (for example, those of groundwater systems or of forest growth).

A skill that can enable this is futures literacy² which offers individuals the possibility to expand their approaches towards imagining and using futures. This ability, to imagine multiple futures, can be thought of as adopting a variety of lenses, each one specifically able to show some aspect of our ever-changing world. In this sense, becoming skilled at being aware of the futures one is using and being able to readily switch to different approaches and aims for imagining futures is valuable. It can help identify and select opportunities for action in the present to inform our environmental commitments and legacies.

At the same time, futures literacy teaches us an important lesson about our legacies. In the present we can only imagine futures, whether those are probable, possible, desirable, surprising or even unexpected. But in reality the future is emergent. The design of our legacies need to embrace emergence by safeguarding the diversification of futures. In this way, we can move away from imperial intentions and decolonise the future, to grant future generations agency and decision-making power over the use of our legacies.

2. Financing the future

Through the Persistent Selv app we are also trying to create opportunities to coordinate the future through a more democratized and environmentally beneficial system for financing futures.

Our current mode of coordinating the future through financing is not fit-for-purpose. Our inheritance instruments bias a form of succession focused on financial capital and close kin, overlooking the importance and intertemporality of other types of capital, such as social or environmental. They are also built on stable social institutions, which are at a mismatch with the dynamic futures we are facing. And this all happens within a centralised financial system, where the gravitational pull of capital leads to accumulation of wealth across generations and inequality — meaning that most are left only with memories of their deceased loved ones.

Through Persistent Selv, we hope to provide a democratized opportunity for all to create the long-term futures they want. For all to transcend their death, through engaging with a dynamic future using oracles to trigger payments towards what is societally needed at that time. Persistent Selv is the infrastructure to provide individuals the trust to donate, and in the future invest, in long-term deep time.

PERSISTENT SELV DEVELOPMENT

Even though just a small probe, we hope the Persistent Selv demo app can provide a first interactive and captivating way to bring elements of Long-termism to life. We will be developing further this initial design towards a new long-term digital inheritance instrument for investing in futures through a variety of capitals.

Persistent Selv is just one of many experiments aimed at shifting the tenor of our financial flows. It has been developed as part of the Long Term Alliance.

To test the Persistent Selv demo app follow the instructions below.

To test the demo on iOS, please download the Testflight App from the App store: https://testflight.apple.com/join/3FCosIcj

  • When prompted to download the mobile app on the Selv desktop experience, use the iOS camera app to scan the desktop QR code with your mobile device.
  • This will take you to the download link for the Selv demo mobile companion app.
  • If you do not have TestFlight installed, you will need to download TestFlight before joining the Beta. Follow instructions provided in the link above.
  • Once TestFlight is installed, if necessary, return to your web browser and join the Selv Beta. Re-scan the QR above if you cannot find this link.
  • Accept and install the mobile app when prompted.
  • Once installed, open the newly installed Selv mobile app on your device and follow the quick onboarding process to create your digital identity.
  • When the onboarding is complete, return to your desktop device to continue the Persistent Selv narrative.
  • Use your Selv mobile app to scan subsequent QR codes when prompted on the desktop.

To test the demo on Android, please download from the Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.iota.selv.demo

  • When prompted to download the mobile app on the Selv desktop experience, use Google Lens to scan the desktop QR code with your mobile device.
  • This will take you to the download link for the Selv demo companion app. You will need to be signed in with your Google account to proceed.
  • You will be asked to join a testing group. You will need to do so in order to have access to the Selv demo app.
  • Follow all prompts to install the test app on Google Play.
  • Once installed, open the newly installed Selv Demo app on your mobile device and follow the quick onboarding process.
  • When the onboarding is complete, return to your desktop device to continue the Persistent Selv narrative.
  • Use your Selv mobile app to scan subsequent QR codes when prompted on the desktop.

We hope you have fun with this demo and that it prompts you to think about how to build the future for the next generation. To try the demo, click here.

References

1. Roman Krznaric on the Persistent Selv demo app. Full text can be accessed in the demo itself. More information on Roman Krznaric’s work can be accessed here.

2. Information on Futures Literacy is from a text written about the Persistent Selv demo app, by Nick Balcom Raleigh. The original text can be accessed in the demo itself. More information on Futures Literacy can be accessed here.

We would like to thank Marianna Birmoser Ferreira-Aulu, Nick Balcom Raleigh and Riel Miller, experts in Futures Literacy, for their valuable advice and comments during the development of Persistent Selv.

We would also like to extend a special thank you to Roman Krznaric, whose ideas and writing on being a Good Ancestor, have influenced the development of this work.

Persistent Selv has been produced with co-funding from EIT Climate-KIC as part of its Deep Demonstration on Long-termism.

This piece has been co-authored by Chloe Treger, Konstantina Koulouri and Thomas Theodore. The visuals were developed by Gurden Batra, Hyojeong Lee and Juhee Hahm.

We will be sharing a longer version of this blog after the New Year, highlighting our more in-depth thought-process in developing Persistent Selv and the future of this work.

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The Long Term Alliance is co-founded by EIT Climate-KIC, Dark Matter and a cohort of partners focused on five Areas of Action, which when combined seek to leverage systemic impact — changing behaviour, mindsets and action towards a long-term oriented society.

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