Vision and roadmap

An extract from Chapter 1 of the book Transcending Politics:

1. Vision and roadmap

There’s no escape: the journey to a healthier society inevitably involves politics.

That’s a message many technologists and entrepreneurs are unwilling to hear. They would prefer to ignore politics. They wish, instead, to keep their focus on creating remarkable new technology or on building vibrant new business. Politics is messy and ugly, they say. It’s raucous and uncouth. It’s unproductive. Some would even say that politics is unnecessary.

But putting our heads in the sand about politics is a gamble fraught with danger. Looking the other way won’t prevent our necks from being snapped when the axe falls. As eruptions from broken politics grow more intense, they will afflict everyone, everywhere.

On their present trajectory, technology and business are actually making politics worse, rather than better. Together, without intending it, they are fuelling increasing dysfunction within politics. In such a setting, technological innovations and aggressive business corporations might end up harming humanity much more than they help us.

You’ll find many examples in the pages ahead of how flawed politics leads to a string of bad outcomes. You’ll hear about perverse economic incentives, regulatory institutions that are caught in lethargy and inertia, vested interests that hold disproportionate power, self-perpetuating industrial complexes, spiralling arms races, and much more. These outcomes, exacerbated by almighty technology put to sinister use, are likely to lead in turn to a hurricane of adverse consequences – to an epic disaster of social disintegration and humanitarian tragedy.

Indeed, fixing politics is the central challenge of our time – and hence the central theme of this book. If we can fix politics – if we can transcend its messiness and ugliness to enable its true purpose – we can facilitate profound positive progress in many other areas of life. But if politics remains broken, it could lead us to collective ruin.

The necessity of politics

There’s no intrinsic reason for politics to be messy or ugly, raucous or uncouth. Nor should it be seen as some kind of unnecessary activity.

Politics arises wherever people gather together. Whenever we collectively decide the constraints we put on each other’s freedom, we’re taking part in politics.

Consider some examples where constraints on freedom are needed…

<snip>

Recent Posts

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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