A World That is Nurturing for All of Us

Global Optimism

I think that our civilization has become, for most of us, quite negative, hostile and exhausting.

We are taught, I think wisely, to trust few people we encounter, little of what we read, and to expect to be cheated, betrayed, and lied to. Our online lives are immersed in passwords and complexity, needed because of online predators. Increasingly, junk mail, advertisements, petty crime, disinformation consume our attention. Robot intelligence is adding its own misery: calls, scams, bad phone menus, terrible web sites. Junk has become the new normal, along with murder, riots, brutality, manipulation and neglect.

This is a silly way for a species to treat itself, very few other species behave this way. We're smart, done a lot for ourselves. Now, we just need to move forward from here

It's natural to want better. We want a world we want to live in. We want a robust economy dominated by long-term wellness for all of us, not just a few. We want our lives to have meaning and passion and self-expression. I call this speculative world civilization 2.0.

Yet how can we accomplish such an improvement?  I don't know, but I think that we must somehow come up with answers. I think that if we don't, then all that we have achieved as a species will be eclipsed and possibly doomed. Yes, I react with a strongly negative attitude towards all this negativity. Yet I believe in our capacity as a species to solve hard problems and am optimistically reaching out for answers.

I think the answer must start with a clear agreement about what constitutes 2.0. I've been thinking about this for going on six years and whittled a description down to five goals:

  1. maximize reliability of all information sources without suppressing individual opinion
  2. drive our manufacture and distribution of goods and services based on existing needs, not profit
  3. provide excellent education and training that prepares us to be ethical and benevolent as well as technologically able to adapt to massively increased inventiveness and that teaches us to actually think both individually and collectively
  4. establish a bullet proof repository of opinion that accurately represents every last one of us and more accurately guides large-scale decisions and appointment of decision makers
  5. make the notions of meaning, passion, creativity, need and relationship more important than consumerism

Do these goals appeal to you?

I think we must also start by setting aside the stories that explain how we can't or don't know how. Just take for granted that we can do this even if we don't yet have a convincing plan. I'd like now to make the case that we are likely to come up with a rock solid plan. Several ideas come to mind.

We know a lot now. It's growing, through the efforts of our best minds. Also, at a rough guess there are as many geniuses alive today equal to the numbers of geniuses that have come and gone throughout the history of or civilization. Further, I've heard that it only takes a few to come up with an answer which is capable of going viral.

Along these lines, two ideas have become, for me, the vague sense of an answer: collective intelligence and empathy. We're a very smart animal. We possess a huge variety of capabilities: language, technology, culture, creativity. We simply lack the training that can unleash our collective intelligence: the deep and useful knowledge of ourselves and each other and some rational rules of engagement. As we learn these skills, we become gradually more able to be intelligent as a group.

Here is the good news: that training is showing up. It's mostly outside of academia but it's good stuff. It's hard to describe in a convincing manner, but when you experience it, I'm confident you will see it as a compelling answer to how. Perhaps it will suffice to say, "we just need to be able to speak to each other with both our best interests in mind."

Meanwhile, the world is tipping towards 2.0, here and there. We're exploring lots of ways for 2.0 to operate in 1.0. I've been collecting examples of 2.0 that are robust and solid. It's meant to build a case that optimism is not so foolish. Of course, I would love for you to send me more, to help me build a beacon of optimism.

Okay, here's where my passion is on fire. I would love if we could design and play in 2.0. I want to immerse in it, play with lots of people in it. Learn about being human in a 2.0 context. Experimenting is important for systematically building something new. I want people of every level of training to be touched by this luscious, living experiment about human culture. I want the world to be able to take ideas from it back into the "real world" to nudge us tiny bits further into 2.0.

Without optimism thinking about creating 2.0 seems foolish. But without optimism, life seems brooding and stressful. So, optimism is the first step and learning the skills of collective intelligence are the best next steps I know of.

My most poignant expression of this optimism is to claim that 2.0 has already arrived, in the sense that each of us are acquiring skills that make 2.0 flourish.

That seems to be my mission now. To convince you and those you know that the time is upon us, and to offer some simple tasks that lead towards 2.0.