Dubai skyline among clouds courtesy of Vertical Dubai

Welcome to Social Evolution.

Max Borders
Jan 23, 2018 · 5 min read

We’re committed to liberating humanity through innovation

More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called “Irish democracy,” the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs. -James C. Scott

What kind of person thinks it’s okay not to vote? Or thinks it’s okay simply to opt out of systems they don’t like? What kind of person thinks we should use technology to erode society’s outmoded institutions?

Well, our kind of person.

Most little girls and boys grow up thinking that if you want to change the world you have to participate in politics. Civic education is designed to create herds of obedient voters who would give up varying degrees of agency in the service of the greater good.

So much of the time, though, “the greater good” is code for political power. Still, you’re expected to go to the voting booth, cry your teardrop in the ocean, and tell yourself you’ve helped change the world. Between elections, maybe you voice your opinion on social media. Thumbs up. Thumbs up. Angry face. Beyond that, you can’t fight city hall. Every day you’re being pushed and prodded by powers utterly out of your reach.

That’s why most people are so obsessed with the spectacle of who gets to do the prodding, if they care at all. But if you really care, and you’re the best and brightest, maybe you graduate from a fine liberal arts college, intern, and eventually climb to the highest echelons of Capitol Hill. Politics. Punditry. Policy analysis. (Lather. Rinse. Repeat.)

After a while you realize nobody cares about your ideals. You learn to play a zero-sum game and watch the whole thing play out in a reality show.

Subversive Innovation

But in 2009, something changed.

Satoshi Nakamoto held a vial of universal acid over the metal gears of a great machine and poured. Since then, that acid has been eating through the gears. And it eats. (Bitcoin) And it eats. (Ethereum) And it eats. (EOS, Aragon, Emergent, Holochain, etc.) There is a long way to go, but that great machine’s vulnerabilities are being exposed.

The pseudonymous creator of bitcoin had set something very important in motion: subversive innovation.

“Just as millions of anthozoan polyps create, willy-nilly, a coral reef,” writes political scientist James C. Scott, “so do thousands upon thousands of individual acts of insubordination and evasion create a political or economic barrier reef of their own.”

Subversive innovation is both a disposition and an action, a mindset and an approach. When philosopher Marshall McCluhan wrote that “we shape our tools and our tools shape us,” could he have imagined the extent to which innovation could change the very institutions we’ve always taken for granted?

We shape our tools and our tools shape us.
We shape our rules and our rules shape us.

These are the subversive innovator’s mantras.

The white paper went from a useless thing think-tankers generated to line the shelves of their guilds, to a tool around which to rally hiveminds. The ideologue was transformed from one with fires in the mind, to a creative force prepared to test her theories in the crucible of reality.

Social Evolution (The Organization)

As all this unfolds, it had become clear we need an organization that will unify this small-but-growing community around an ethos. Satoshi Nakamoto was not driven by money, after all, but by a mission. And that has made all the difference.

We also have a mission.

This article is the first product of what we hope becomes a formidable media juggernaut. Big things start from humble beginnings, so consider this our stake in the ground. But what ground?

Imagine a simple 2 x 2 matrix:

The x axis is “Using either centralization or decentralization to make social change.”

The y axis is “Using either politics or innovation to improve the lot of humanity.”

You’ll find Social Evolution in the upper-right quadrant (innovation + decentralization). And yet most people aren’t here with us. At least not yet. We are rare, which makes movement building that much more challenging. But every movement starts somewhere.

The Social Singularity

One place a movement can start is in countering fear. In fact most people are worried about the robot apocalypse, particularly if you read the headlines.

Robots Could Steal 40% of U.S. Jobs by 2030” warns Fortune.

You Will Lose Your Job to a Robot — and Sooner Than You Think” says Mother Jones.

White House: Robots will kill jobs and make inequality worse” claims Yahoo News.

The idea is not just that as we move toward the technological singularity, automation and AI will gobble up all the jobs. It’s that people will have nowhere to go for work.

But at Social Evolution, we think there is a parallel process unfolding. We humans will be more effective as we re-organize ourselves and our systems of collective intelligence. The social singularity is a theoretical point beyond which humanity will have reoriented itself to function more like hiveminds. Yes, there will be a great churn thanks to AI and automation. But technology is also helping humans be far more creative and collaborative. We’ll not only “compete” with AI effectively for a time, but we will eventually integrate with it.

Our Principles

Social Evolution isn’t just about technology and decentralization, as these are but a means. Fundamentally, we believe:

Does this resonate with you? Because we want to invite you to come along for the ride.

Fair warning, though. It could get bumpy. As developer and theorist Justin Goro reminds us:

The rise of cryptocurrency doesn’t merely threaten the monopoly of central banking, however; in fact the entire nation state apparatus rests precariously on the structure of banking carefully crafted over 400 years. What cryptocurrency threatens is the very existence of the nation state which will have to pivot quite radically in order to survive the coming onslaught from the blockchain. The resulting institutional framework might look entirely alien once the dust has settled.

Indeed, it might. But our job is to kick up the dust.

The Genesis

We are poised to move more human beings from the political frame to the innovation frame. We are ready to move more people from centralized thinking to decentralized thinking. And we — this merry band of writers, techies, and creatives — will carry on making our butterfly wing beats until these build into gales of creative destruction around the world.

If our community is willing, we will continue to grow organically — expanding our content, channels, and the community itself. It’s wonderful to have you all at the genesis of something so promising.

Welcome to Social Evolution.

(If you want to read the entire decentralist manifesto, get it here.)

Max Borders is Executive Director of Social Evolution.

Social Evolution

Liberating humanity through innovation.