Tech Anthropologist | Systems Architect | Token Engineering Researcher | Journalist | Public Speaker
It's the end of the world as we know it, humanity is programmable and our operating system is getting a reboot. The question is when the system is back online what will be in its place?
With the recent outbreak of global pandemic COVID-19, the world is being pushed further into digital space, where nation-states, corporations, and a New Commons Movement are engineering economic and social systems in a race to create the new matrices in which we will exist. These next-generation frameworks will forever change the way humans interact, transact, live, and evolve.
A Brave New World...or Is It?
Over the last decade, blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, and token economics have been an experiment into the possibility of new political-economic systems that are increasingly decentralized. However, this is just the most recent of many attempts throughout history to democratize the political-economic landscape, and although this time new technologies give us a greater chance at success, there are huge questions about the possibility that people in this world will truly ever be free.
These questions teeter without end on the precipice of evolutionary advancement.
Since the dawn of man, there has been a battle for power and resources spurred by the hegemonic, colonialist, violent, and extractive tendencies of human nature under the reactionary nature of the reptilian part of our brains. This is best illustrated in the iconic Dawn of Man scene from 2001 Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick.
Operating from a scarcity mindset, these behaviors have dominated and defined the vast majority of our recorded history. The few exceptions, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, have seen great human advancements as a direct result of various forms of collapse i.e The Enlightenment after the Bubonic Plague. Whether economic, political, or religious in context, the narratives and myth of pursuit of liberation have common threads, and has been seen many times throughout history.
When humans come to face the realities of their own mortality and look extinction in the face, there is a moment of pause - continue the status quo, or evolve.
In step with the Psychedelics Renaissance, which has often been attributed as a factor in mammalian evolution by researchers, our generation now is experiencing, in its new awareness and response to a global pandemic, the possibilities to reboot and re-evolve into the next phase of humankind.
There is an opportunity once again in collapse and the detritus of a Pandora's box of unforeseen technological repercussions, to reflect on and re-imagine what this next iteration of humanity looks like.
Will the reptilian brain prevail ushering in a new Dark Age? Or will the growing Lymbic threads propel us closer to a Regenaissance - a Utopian reality, where an operating system based on abundance leverages technology and resources to provide, at minimum, safety, shelter, basic needs and well being to all life on this planet?
When the pandemic dust settles, an indication of the results of the political-economical-evolutionary space race will be unveiled. (Or perhaps we can point to certain indicators now of what that could look like.)
But before we delve into the effects, we should look at the causes and impetus for this massive shift in paradigms, or realities, that we are experiencing now.
The system is broken. It has been broken for some time in this iteration of humanity and although we have all known at some level, our malaise has reached a point in space-time where it can no longer be tolerated. The global warning signs of impending frog boil have our instincts screaming.
The colonialist consequences of the Reptilian Brain Era, fueled the engine of exponential extraction and destruction during the Industrial Revolution, which happened too quickly for the developing universal consciousness - Lymbic threads - to catch up.
However, with the growth of globalization and the memetic nature of shared communication - the new Alexandrian library (the internet) and other technologies creating the hive mind - the speed at which we are destroying ourselves, is being mirrored by the speed at which we are becoming aware of ourselves and the destruction.
New feedback mechanisms and the increased velocity of these growing mycelial-like systems of connection and coordination map and mirror a meta-organism which we can now see and measure. (Similar to the expansion in perception humanity experienced when we saw the first pictures of the Earth from space).
Now as we are approaching a point known as the singularity, or a kind of karmic pause for those a little more spiritually oriented, we have a choice at this present moment, in relative space-time, that is not fixed or pegged to a yet-future.
The actions we take now, in this kind of wormhole or portal, are accelerated and exponential with this dimensional shift in perception from tribal orientation (see Marshall McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy) to meta-organism, from which future fractals will be spun. We have more awareness and visibility into the future than ever before, into the effects of our choices via predictive modeling technologies and recent developments of a new space race.
The Cyber-physical Space Race
This transitional point in space-time is marked by a new race, but unlike its predecessors, this race is not for external markers of territory or technological supremacy, it is for control over system and incentive design, and thereby the inner recesses by which we can program human behavior and condition responses via economic and social stimuli.
When tied with machine learning and algorithmic automation, the protocol and entities that win, could dictate thousands of years of further enslavement or, could map a road to seemingly elusive freedom and abundance (if we make it through the impending environmental calamities).
Arguably, the most prominent starting line of the race was when Satoshi Nakamoto succeeded in seeding a new era of programming.
While industrial, war-era scarcity-coded systems and bloated bubbles were subsidized by governments’ hyper-inflationary policies and the further creation of debt, a new intellectual oligarchy capitalized on Satoshi’s vision, realizing that those with the understanding and power to create new economic dynamics out of that ether could create the rules in the present-future, by manipulating the possibilities and rules of a new operating system based on liquid token economies.
With machine learning, economic manipulation was now decentralized much, in the same way, the printing press decentralized publishing. This time, it is the printing press of money that is fracturing paradigms and unveiling a new wave of unforeseen sociological-evolutionary effects. This technology, which has the exponential ability to move worlds, was unleashed without a tried and tested democratized governance layer, a fourth estate with enough understanding to act as a watchdog, and other stop-gap measures which could act as check and balance to this new power.
Operating outside of, or propped up by, nation-states, corporate entities and members of the new intellectual oligarchy have been vying for power. The ICO craze era between 2016-2018 was a bit rushed to claim and swallow large amounts of value in the now “legacy” operating system, to fuel rockets of virtual and corporate-run hegemonies hoping to own the next global economic system, or stake claim to as much of the global network and control over human programming as possible, by literally staking on blockchains in rigged systems.
The networks were idealized by Satoshi to be resilient to centralization however, much like with internet 1.0 and the dot com era, not even Satoshi and stewards of decentralized models could foresee how this technology created for liberation once again, could be exploited for deeper enslavement.
With Web 2.0, a similar race occurred, with hopes that democratic processes would run free. But in the aftershock of that technological wave, we realized that the tools were being used to weaponize and hijack our bodies, using our very own biological systems, to keep us hooked to the dopamine drips of social media, while harvesting our data and psychometric profiles to extract and shift more and more wealth and resources into these virtual corporate states, and control political outcomes, and by proxy, us (see The Great Hack documentary).
Now, with Web 3 the stakes are higher as we move into a post-nation-state, cyber-physical governance era. And here, the race to maintain any shred of democracy relies on the underdogs - the success of open source technology, token engineering for public goods, and the emergence of the New Commons Movement.
New Commons Mycelial Networks vs. Goliath
Screenshot from the documentary Fantastic Fungi showing an illustration of underground mycelial network
“Life finds a way”, as so eloquently stated by Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park. What many may not know is that Malcolm was a mathematician specializing in chaos theory (apropos for these chaotic times) however, simultaneously emergent with chaos is order; the paradox is the language of universal creation and drawing patterns, whether placebo or not, can create powerful narratives drawing that order into existence.
The order is growing like mushrooms - lots of them. Beneath and fueled by the technical, economic, and cultural detritus of the first two iterations of the world wide web (networked neural hive) is an ancient-future intelligence system that nature is regenerating.
Rather than pillars, hierarchies, linear engineering and proprietary defensive systems that have developed directives of self-preservation over efficacy, this new movement’s inclusive models of radical open source collaboration, shared stewardship, non-linear routes to emergent solutions and the nascent processes by which organizations form and dissolve for specific purposes, are allowing for rapid growth and meta-programming, seeding a parallel operating system to these monoliths. These decentralized collaborations operate more like organisms, and mimic the natural amalgamation and dispersal patterns found in nature.
These processes are not new, but a regenesis. Indigenous cultures around the world, during the height of their civilizations, flourished for thousands of years under sophisticated ecological-economic systems grounded in biomimicry.
While monolithic monopolies plant economic monocultures for manipulation and homogenized social systems, these New Commons mycelial networks are planting economic permacultures and engineering for enlightenment.
These bottom-up neural webs are taking root and anchoring the much-needed distribution and circulation mechanisms to revive dying parts of the meta-organism, in economic, environmental, and human resources. More tangibly, they are providing the counter systems, governance layers, and checks and balances to powerful new technologies in Web3 and the Deep Web.
Although these New Commons movements and their open-source systems are under-resourced, underrepresented, and undervalued in the face of the internet Goliaths in our existing systems, the energy they do have is arguably much more powerful. It is the energy that turns tides, lifts mountains, and transforms horizons. If evolution is any indicator, the mushrooms have a fighting chance.
Darwin is Rolling in His Grave
I just wanted an excuse to use this Darwin meme - and other hopes for the humanity we all wish to see.
If you haven’t already, you should search “Darwin Memes”
If “survival of the fittest” isn’t the most overused and oversimplified cliche used to justify inequality, I don’t know what is. There has been much ado about Darwin’s words and using them to justify socio-economic policy through a very limited lens.
What you don’t hear as much, is that his holistic view of nature included "dependence of one being on another". Collective intelligence research supports that when it comes to problem-solving, open-source collaboration is superior in addressing systemic challenges. This is reflected in tech as well. According to Eric S. Raymond (1998) and JC Herz (2005), open-source intelligence will eventually generate superior outcomes to knowledge generated by proprietary software developed within corporations (Flew 2008). Investors and markets are already starting to reflect and predict the impending rise of open source and shift funds.
To be fair, however, collaboration extremists have also gone a little wild in interpreting Darwin’s words. Competition and collaboration both have their places, but what we should really be looking at in the context of complex systems research and building human ecosystems informed by Mother Nature’s law is an organism's “saturation point”, and the research of evolutionary biologist and futurist, Elisabet Sahtouris. She is a living systems pioneer who points to the collaboration threshold as the focal point, rather than debating Darwin’s research.
If there is something else we have learned about evolution, it is that diversity is key for survival. Award-winning geneticist and broadcaster Dr. David Suzuki has written extensively on the topic and say now, more than ever, we must heed nature's lessons.
When building human systems amidst the rising tides, the re-localization of operating systems creates fractals of resilience and adapts much more quickly to meet challenges; economic polymorphism is a necessity.
The key to ensuring diversity and meeting at the collaboration threshold is our ability to coordinate. Commons systems, growing on the trusses of decentralized networks, are the best hope for humanity. I’m rooting for the underdogs, and so should you.
The Dawn of the Regenaissance
Nature is the biggest paradox of all. Resilient, powerful, violent, crushing, and tempered over millions of years; it is also tender, vulnerable, pregnable, withered, and endangered.
To survive the extinction feedback loop we’ve initiated, we must re-align technology with nature herself, who holds the keyholes to unlock the solutions existing within her codes.
As a species, it is time to mature and acknowledge our humble place in the cosmos and our interdependence on each other. By drawing on wisdom from our past and weaving ancient-future technologies, we can harness and scale mechanisms for diversity and collective intelligence by engineering our digital space systems in the patterns of nature, channeling our socio-political-economic system flows into positive feedback loops for the regeneration of our communities and our planet. By learning from the past we can become better futurists, and even better - more conscious present-ists.
Narratives are powerful and so are we. Together, let us write the pages of the Regenaissance and the greatest comeback story the world has ever seen. Let us loose the evolutionary shackles of our own creation, and rise again out of the ashes, never to return.
Thank you for reading! And a special thank you to Jeff Emmett for his feedback, edits and support, and Camille Corti & Bryan Doreian for their encouragement in the creative process. I would also like to acknowledge the noosphere and stand in gratitude for all of the researchers who have contributed to the expression of these collective ideas.