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…

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Recent Posts

Q2 sprint: Political responses to technological unemployment

Technological Unemployment v2

Q1 recap

Before sharing some details about Transpolitica focus during Q2 2018, here’s a quick update on Transpolitica activities during Q1 2018.

Transpolitica has made good progress during Q1 with goals identified at the start of this period:

Priority project for Q2

As Q2 approaches, it’s now time to put into motion the first of a series of time-limited projects to dive more deeply into some of the specific key themes of a better politics.

Each such project will involve gathering, developing, reviewing, and then disseminating the best technoprogressive thinking on a given topic.

The first project in the series is “Political responses to technological unemployment”, carried out over three phases:

  1. Up to end of April 2018: mainly writing and collecting submissions – framing analyses, thought pieces, policy recommendations, etc
  2. Up to end of May 2018: more focus on group deliberation – where are the weak points and the strong points of our collective understanding, and how can we improve our understanding
  3. Up to end of June 2018: more focus on communicating our findings and recommendations, via publications, memes, slogans, videos, etc

Note that I am using the phrase “technological unemployment” to also include “technological under-employment” and “precarious employment”. (A better choice of words could be one outcome from the project.)

Starting points for this project (to avoid people re-inventing the wheel) include:

Depending on progress, possible outcomes of the project might include a PDF research pamphlet, a video, an improved set of pages on H+Pedia, a press release, a set of slides, and/or a public event (such as a meeting of London Futurists in June and the Humanity+ Beijing event in July).

Questions that need addressing

Key to the success of the project will be the identification of the areas most in need of better understanding. These are the “major uncertainties” where we should prioritise our focus.

For the moment, it seems to me that these areas include:

  1. Potential transition mechanisms from where society is today, to a new social contract in which a citizen’s income (to give one example) is in place
  2. Possible alternatives to a citizen’s income
  3. Strengths and weaknesses of various forecasts of scenarios for the development of technological unemployment
  4. The pros and cons of various ways of raising money to pay for a citizen’s income
  5. The possible role of decentralised technologies such as blockchain in the administration of a citizen’s income
  6. The possibility of an “Apollo scale” project to drive down the costs of all goods and services needed for a prosperous lifestyle
  7. International and trans-border considerations

If you think you know at least part of the answers to the above questions – or if you think there are more important questions to be addressing – please do become involved.

To become more involved in this project

The mailing group https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/transpolitica exists to to coordinate planning and execution of Transpolitica projects. To join the group, visit this page, and send a subscription request.

(There’s also a Transpolitica group on Facebook, but with a potential impending mass exodus from Facebook, it’s more important than before to use other means for project coordination.)

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