The Next Phase

From Governance Crises to Distributed Systems

The Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape – Remodeling Global Cooperation received an overwhelming 2000+responses. The Foundation started by Laszlo Szombatfalvy, put it out there with the highest urgency:

The world has changed dramatically during the past century. In many ways, the change has been for the better. In most countries, the average level of standard of living has improved, as has life expectancy. Moreover, technological breakthroughs have made society global, both economically and culturally.
But there is an obvious downside to this fundamentally positive trend. Some problems have grown larger, and new risks that threaten humanity have emerged. The most dramatic change may be that mankind is capable, for the first time in history, of seriously damaging the very ecosystem that we are all completely dependent on — and, in fact, is well on its way to do so.

When you do the math and realize that a 3 percent average increase in in the U.S. GDP is considered to be a serious recession, then these “small” numbers may have some special meaning when you realize that we are talking about technologies that have the power to change every rule-of-the-game that Humanity has lived with for the entirety of its known history.

The global system that was created to address global problems — in particular, the United Nations and its subsidiary bodies — is not equipped to handle large global problems in an effective and equitable manner. The actions that have been taken and decided upon so far to address the largest risks have been inadequate. The risks and challenges remain, and in many cases have even increased, despite having been known for decades. There are two main reasons for this:

  • The scope of risks and problems has been underestimated due to an inadequate understanding and lacking or nonexistent risk and problem analysis.
  • The international political system has not yet adapted to today’s global community.
These major challenges are interconnected and impact each other negatively. They include the greatest threats to humanity today and should be at the top of the international political agenda. In my view, political and business leaders, influenced as they are by short-term and self-interested concerns, are gravely underestimating most of them, particularly population growth. These problems demand urgent global collective actions in order to safeguard future generations. The greatest threats we face today transcend national boundaries; they therefore need to be addressed jointly by all countries based on an increased realization of our mutual dependence. That is why I believe a new global framework for managing them must be found. — Laszlo Szombatfalvy

Global Organizations Phase

This situation of degradation a design problem, not primarily a moral one — or, an issue of population alone. What can be pointed to as a failure of moral courage, and can be identified as the measure of our risk, is our response and Grit — or lack of it — to our pending situation. We are simply running away from ourselves. It is in this circumstance that our growing population and economy is becoming ever more destructive.

When we agree with Szombatfalvy that our economy/ecology is not sustainable, we are not pitting one against the other. With proper design, the economy does not have to be sacrificed for ecology nor vice-versa.

In late 2005, the World Economic Forum decided that the theme of the 2006 Annual Meeting would be THE DESIGN IMPERATIVE and “the future by design not default” was chosen as the slogan for the Davos WorkPlace. This decision evolved out of careful dialog with experts from all over the world. But despite of over 10 years of constant working this way,the issues on the boards remain alarmingly the same.

NOTHING IS SUSTAINABLE IF COMMUNITIES ARE NOT INVOLVED — WEF 2017 Highlights

That work from the beginning was — and still is — based on the assumption that knowledge work, network organizational architectures and design processes form the basis of a viable and sustainable global economy/ecology; that design is the premier value-add.

Yet, as we see, despite a lot of sharing and awareness building, the trends towards degradation, loss of ecosystems and unsustainable emissions and waste, indicate that somehow a second cycle of accomplishment is necessary, to really change the whole inertia pulling us apart.

Distributed Systems Based Governance

Of course, technology may pull the planetary rabbit out of the hat, and in Kurzweil’s view this is what 2049 will bring, a moment here technology will over take human intellect. That may very well happen but is unlikely we think considering the diminishing returns of technology over the last 65 years. The problem we face is not a *lack* of intelligence. The problem is the *diminishing utility* of intelligence.

Our view is that the necessary augmentation of human capacities, will follow the biggest advancement in the last 65 years, which has been inclusion and diversity. What Ms Sadik Khan discovered of the people in New York when she dramatically transformed public space, was that people responded incredibly, everyone changed in a million ways, and over night business boomed, accidents decreased, use of bicycles took off. The whole culture of the city transformed.

When this capability for collective action is harnessed, when it is fully realized and applied, in a much higher level of collaboration and co-creation among people, especially our capacity for building the commons and peace will grow tremendously. An entirely new level of prosperity can replace the conditions of scarcity that govern the thinking and feeling of most. And it is entirely entirely possible today with not so expensive solutions.

The technologies necessary exist. What is lacking is a space for encounters and a protocol for public speaking and sharing knowledge in action. Regenerated natural and cultural worlds require examination of ‘why’s’, and call for a disposition to deeper learning and deep wealth concepts. But the way to move forward is together, and this requires doing large scale prototypes.

Working together with co-creation methods allows us to get to shared agreements, and this proof-of-agreement easily becomes the instrument of governance. With Holochain we can build responsible cryptocurrencies that can both finance our way to build the shared desired futures, and serve to ensure a peer-to-peer governance of public-space and common-goods, better, much better than regulations can.

This is the path we see for achieving a new global framework for managing the global and city scale challenges that Laszlo Szombatfalvy has so well summarized (pdf).


THE BEGINNING EVENT IS NOVEMBER 27–29, 2017 Stay tuned!

This is part five of the S2S Reactor’s six-part series Toward Building the City of 2050 that we all want to Live in. This is now in full mode ahead. If you’d like to get all the parts published sent to your inbox, sign up for Beginnings.