#BlockchainRant

Building the Blockchain Human Swarm

Why it’s up to you, me and all of us to build our future transcendent society

Preparing a human tower in the 2012 Competition of Tarragona. Photo by David Oliete.

I attended yet another disappointing blockchain conference yesterday. It consisted of the typical parade of vapid futurists (why I’ll never call myself a futurist), pushy crypto pundits, geeky blockchain developers and snake oil salesmen, all espousing a bright, abundant, collaborative, decentralised future. I asked numerous questions in public, around the lunch table and in private. All my questions had one common theme:

“If blockchain will have a greater impact on humanity than the Internet did, what can the average citizen do right now to get involved in its development?”

Not. One. Solid. Answer.

The typical answer usually included an element of education and crypto-investment. Lame.

This question is important because we didn’t ask the same question while capitalists, coders and corporations were designing and rolling out the Internet. And look at the unintended consequences that got us:

If we are to build a transcendent society — as many blockchain founders appear to want — it will be up to the non-technical and non-savvy to define how we want blockchain to serve us. If we don’t get involved now, the blockchain ecosystem will evolve to serve the interests of corporations and investors. Every large tech company already has a blockchain initiative, because they want to understand how blockchain can further serve their interests. We can allow the blockchain to follow the same commercialised route the Internet did, or we can build something that truly serves humanity.

Since I couldn’t find answers yesterday, it seems we have an opportunity to take initiative. So, let us collaboratively define the Blockchain Human Swarm, so that we can get to work.

What do I mean by a human swarm?

In the tech world, a technology stack is a set of components or layers in a software package that provides a broad range of functionality. The easiest example is Microsoft Office. The combination of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook makes up the Office stack. So a stack is a collection of functions all working toward a common goal. In the case of Microsoft Office, the common goal is productivity.

The blockchain-crypto stack required for building Society 4.0 is already reasonably well-defined and development of the stack is gaining rapid momentum. However, one part of the stack is as yet, not visible. We need a number of functions — beyond the blockchain-crypto stack — all working toward the common goal of a transcendent society. This should occur while the crypto and blockchain developers are building the tools we need to make it all possible. And it’s going to require people — lots of ordinary people like us.

Since we don’t particularly like the idea of hierarchies, we’ll replace the word Stack with the word Swarm. Here’s an early stab at what it might look like:

The Blockchain Human Swarm

Right now, the biggest focus in the the crypto and blockchain space is on the makers and builders. They’re all bringing platforms to market and funding their initiatives through crowdfunding or ICO’s (Initial Coin Offerings), with a handful doing traditional raises. The most glaring observation about this diagram, though, is just how small a role they play in the grand scheme of things. Of course builders and makers are important, but let’s not allow them to become all-important. In other words, let’s not allow a repeat of Silicon Valley.

Let’s unpack the diagram.

Vision

Central to the Swarm is the Vision. The vision is as yet not fully defined, and even when it is, it will evolve constantly. It is never set in stone. The vision belongs to and serves no-one and everyone.

Advisory Board

A number of peer-selected individuals will steer the unfolding vision and activities. We will require experts in Governance, Economics, Decision Making, Dispute Resolution, Education, Healthcare, Motivation & Rewards, Wisdom, Spirituality and probably another hundred more.

Storytellers

We essentially need a meta-religion: a defining belief about what it means to be human in a new society. These storytellers will shape and form the grand narrative of the new society and inspire anyone who wants to sit down at the camp fire to hear the story. This grand story is an essential missing element from the marketing strategies of each builder & maker.

Educators

These are the exceptional individuals who can make the narrative real. They are the bridge-builders between the world we have and the world we aspire to. They provide practical next steps by answering the question, “What can the average citizen do right now to get involved in the development of a new reality?”

Passionate Activists

The rapid results the #NeverAgain movement has achieved is mind-blowing. Imagine what might be possible if these inspiring kids and this movement got together with other people and movements representing issues beyond gun control to make theirs a more ubiquitous movement? Slowly we are starting to see that real change might just be possible.

Builders & Makers

We must make it easier for builders and makers to bring their ideas to market, by providing easy access to funding and legal services. We need an incubator dedicated to builders of Society 4.0. This incubator should exclude blockchain developers building platforms to support Society 3.0, because the incentives in Society 3.0 are different to the incentives in Society 4.0.

Funders

We need to find a way to decouple the rewards for investors in Society 4.0 from capitalism. Perhaps not entirely. The ICO movement has come a long way toward addressing this, but we can do better.

Solutions Librarian

We need to make it easy to track on a global scale how the swarm is developing and so a register of certified solutions supporting Society 4.0 would be useful.

Your Role in the Human Swarm

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

If you’ve read this far, you’re the kind of person we need! While you decide what role you want to play in the Blockchain Human Swarm, watch this inspiring video. While watching, imagine us collectively building an entirely new reality, from the ground up, human by human (skip to the 50sec mark if you’re in a hurry):

2012 Human Towers Competition in Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain. Video by David Oliete.

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Thanks for reading, and for clapping!