16. Bubbling under

This page contains the opening portion of Chapter 16 of RAFT 2035.

Copyright © 2020 David W. Wood. All rights reserved.


16. Bubbling under

RAFT is far from being a fixed and complete model. It is expected to grow and evolve in the months and years ahead.

As the ideas behind RAFT have been discussed ahead of publication, a number of other goals have been proposed for 2035, but have not yet been included in the main analysis. Borrowing a phrase from publishers of charts of the most popular music tracks, these goals can be said to be “bubbling under”: they are under the present threshold for inclusion, but have enough interest to be worth listing.

Selected examples are listed below, with a view to versions of these goals potentially being adopted more widely in due course.

A charter for individual liberties?

RAFT emphasises social collaboration, with “no one being left behind” against their will. This includes what can be called a principle of “active neighbourliness”: rather than keeping quiet about impending dangers about to befall someone, or major opportunities they are about to miss, we should find the way to speak up, just as we would ourselves like to be alerted to these dangers or opportunities in an equivalent circumstance.

At the same time, RAFT champions the fundamental importance of human individuality: individual flourishing should not be sacrificed or subordinated to collectivist goals. Society should protect and elevate all members of society. Individuals should never become cannon-fodder in service of some tribal, national, ethnic, religious, or ideological quest.

Balancing the principles of human individuality and active neighbourliness can be challenging at times. Might a new charter of individual liberties help?

This charter would clarify reasons to uphold important rights, as well as reasons why people should accept important responsibilities and limits. The interplay of these points can be subtle.

Merely the fact that someone desires to carry out some kind of medical or lifestyle experiment, and claims to be fully informed about all the risks and consequences, cannot, by itself, convey the right to proceed. That’s because the consequences of the experiment could extend beyond the person directly involved. Financial or social costs incurred by these third parties could far exceed what they expected.

However, the positive upsides to such an experiment could, likewise, exceed reasonable expectations. Therefore, care must be taken not to limit experimentation unnecessarily. Care is particularly required not to allow dominant subgroups to exert restrictive viewpoints over a community as a whole, obstructing innovation, where the effect of these restrictive viewpoints is to privilege existing power groups and to preserve the status quo.

In other words, there’s a need to take into account, not only the direct effect of a medical or lifestyle (etc) experiment, but also what are called the “externalities” of that experiment. Failure to do so would be akin to commending a company whose profits depended on them hiding flows of waste pollution they are generating. Another comparison is with overlooking the “moral hazard” that arises from an otherwise commendable act of generosity or forgiveness.

Two terms that are heard in this discussion are “precautionary” and “proactionary”. It is sometimes implied that a one-time choice must be made between these two poles. In reality, both principles are needed.

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RAFT 2035 – a new initiative for a new decade

The need for a better politics is more pressing than ever.

Since its formation, Transpolitica has run a number of different projects aimed at building momentum behind a technoprogressive vision for a better politics. For a new decade, it’s time to take a different approach, to build on previous initiatives.

The planned new vehicle has the name “RAFT 2035”.

RAFT is an acronym:

  • Roadmap (‘R’) – not just a lofty aspiration, but specific steps and interim targets
  • towards Abundance (‘A’) for all – beyond a world of scarcity and conflict
  • enabling Flourishing (‘F’) as never before – with life containing not just possessions, but enriched experiences, creativity, and meaning
  • via Transcendence (‘T’) – since we won’t be able to make progress by staying as we are.

RAFT is also a metaphor. Here’s a copy of the explanation:

When turbulent waters are bearing down fast, it’s very helpful to have a sturdy raft at hand.

The fifteen years from 2020 to 2035 could be the most turbulent of human history. Revolutions are gathering pace in four overlapping fields of technology: nanotech, biotech, infotech, and cognotech, or NBIC for short. In combination, these NBIC revolutions offer enormous new possibilities – enormous opportunities and enormous risks:…

Rapid technological change tends to provoke a turbulent social reaction. Old certainties fade. New winners arrive on the scene, flaunting their power, and upturning previous networks of relationships. Within the general public, a sense of alienation and disruption mingles with a sense of profound possibility. Fear and hope jostle each other. Whilst some social metrics indicate major progress, others indicate major setbacks. The claim “You’ve never had it so good” coexists with the counterclaim “It’s going to be worse than ever”. To add to the bewilderment, there seems to be lots of evidence confirming both views.

The greater the pace of change, the more intense the dislocation. Due to the increased scale, speed, and global nature of the ongoing NBIC revolutions, the disruptions that followed in the wake of previous industrial revolutions – seismic though they were – are likely to be dwarfed in comparison to what lies ahead.

Turbulent times require a space for shelter and reflection, clear navigational vision despite the mists of uncertainty, and a powerful engine for us to pursue our own direction, rather than just being carried along by forces outside our control. In short, turbulent times require a powerful “raft” – a roadmap to a future in which the extraordinary powers latent in NBIC technologies are used to raise humanity to new levels of flourishing, rather than driving us over some dreadful precipice.

The words just quoted come from the opening page of a short book that is envisioned to be published in January 2020. The chapters of this book are reworked versions of the scripts used in the recent “Technoprogressive roadmap” series of videos.

Over the next couple of weeks, all the chapters of this proposed book will be made available for review and comment:

  • As pages on the Transpolitica website, starting here
  • As shared Google documents, starting here, where comments and suggestions are welcome.

RAFT Cover 21

All being well, RAFT 2035 will also become a conference, held sometime around the middle of 2020.

You may note that, in that way that RAFT 2035 is presented to the world,

  • The word “transhumanist” has moved into the background – since that word tends to provoke many hostile reactions
  • The word “technoprogressive” also takes a backseat – since, again, that word has negative connotations in at least some circles.

If you like the basic idea of what’s being proposed, here’s how you can help:

  • Read some of the content that is already available, and provide comments
    • If you notice something that seems mistaken, or difficult to understand
    • If you think there is a gap that should be addressed
    • If you think there’s a better way to express something.

Thanks in anticipation!

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