Anticipating tomorrow’s politics

Available for purchase and download (from 20th March)

Transpolitica_Book_Cover_Ebook

Quotations from the book

  • “This book takes as its starting point the observation that technology has the potential to radically transform politics. The observation is simultaneously inspiring and frightening.”
  • “Anyone who cares about the future of technology needs to care about the future of politics”
  • “The goal of Transpolitica is to catalyse a transformation of the global political dialogue”
  • “Accelerating technological progress has the potential to transform lives in the next ten years more profoundly than in any preceding ten year period in history”

Table of contents

  1. An introduction to tomorrow’s politics, by David Wood
  2. Democratic Intelligence, by Stephen Oberauer
  3. The Case For Universal Prosperity, by Michael Hrenka
  4. Catalysing the Development of Artificial Intelligence Tools, by Roland Schiefer
  5. Anarchy beyond socialism and capitalism, by Waldemar Ingdahl
  6. Political Transhumanism and the Transhumanist Party, by M. Amon Twyman
  7. The Vision Thing, by René Milan
  8. The Zeitgeist of Change, by Stuart Mason Dambrot
  9. Mediated Patent Equities For Accelerated Biomedical Research, by Maximo Ramallo
  10. Accelerating Politics, by Sally Morem

About this book

This book takes as its starting point the observation that technology has the potential to radically transform politics. The observation is simultaneously inspiring and frightening.

Accelerating technology is already in the process of radically transforming many other areas of life – including education, entertainment, health, transport, the environment, and warfare. Some of these changes are highly beneficial; others are deeply troubling. In yet other cases, the implications remain unclear. So it is with the changes that technology can bring to politics. Technology can change politics in ways that are variously beneficial, troubling, and hard to fathom.

The relationship runs both ways. Just as technology can alter politics, so also can politics alter technology. The speed and direction of technological adoption is strongly influenced by social and psychological factors, by legislation, by subsidies, by incentives, and by the provision or restriction of public funding. Political action can impact all these factors, either for better or for worse. Anyone who cares about the future of technology needs, therefore, to care about the future of politics.

These bidirectional overlapping sets of influences – politics impacting the development and deployment of technology, and technology impacting the evolution and effectiveness of politics – deserve a greater share of our collective attention. They merit a higher priority in the overall global conversation about the future of society. That’s for two reasons.

First, accelerating technological progress has the potential to transform lives in the next ten years more profoundly than in any preceding ten year period in history. Radical technological changes are coming sooner than most politicians appreciate. Technology fields such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology, renewable energy, regenerative medicine, brain sciences, big data analytics, robotics, and artificial intelligence, are all undergoing rapid evolution. Improvements are feeding further improvements, in compound positive feedback cycles. Together, these technologies will change society in unexpected ways, disrupting familiar patterns of industry, lifestyle, and thinking.

But second, alongside the potential for exceptional benefits from these changes for both the individual and society, there is the potential for tremendous risk. The potential risks – like the potential benefits – are hard to anticipate with any confidence. Collectively, we need to improve our powers of anticipation, and to deepen our resilience in readiness for surprise developments. We need to learn to look with greater perception into the set of possible future scenarios. Improved foresight will increase our ability to spot potential oncoming threats (before they become too damaging) and potential major opportunities (before they slip outside of our collective grasp due to inaction on our part). And once we notice these major change factors ahead, we need to become better at making these future scenarios vivid, so that society as a whole includes these factors in the global dialogue. This book is dedicated to these tasks.

The goal of Transpolitica – founded in January 2015 – is to catalyse a transformation of the global political dialogue. We wish to encourage politicians and political observers from all parties (and those with no existing alignments) to urgently:

  • Think through, in advance, the potential consequences of rapid technological change
  • Take part in a wide public discussion and exploration of these forthcoming changes
  • Adjust public policy in order to favour positive outcomes
  • Support bold regenerative projects to take full advantage of accelerating technology – projects with the uplifting vision and scale of the 1960s Apollo moonshot program.

The essays in this book present views from futurists, technoprogressives, and transhumanists from around the globe. Welcome to the conversation about the future of politics!

Cover credits

The cover of Anticipating tomorrow’s politics was designed by Alberto Rizzoli, and was the winning entry from a number of candidates entered into a public vote.

The photo in the middle of the above book cover is re-used by permission from the excellent site Unsplash, https://unsplash.com/mujiebok, and is by Unsplash contributor Sudiono Muji. The terms stated on the site are ” Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos from Sudiono”:

UNSPLASH LICENSE

All photos published on Unsplash are licensed underCreative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

Recent Posts

Championing the Future

What are the most important issues that deserve full attention, during the campaigns leading up to the UK General Election on 8th June?

GE_2017

Should this election be dominated by the single issue of “Brexit”? That’s the issue given prominence by Prime Minister Theresa May as she called this snap election.

The Prime Minister wants the votes in GE2017 to deliver her a clearer power base, and therefore a stronger negotiating position with the other countries of the EU during what is anticipated to be a difficult set of discussions over the next two years.

In brief, the three main political parties in England and Wales (to set aside for the moment the special conditions that apply in both Scotland and Northern Ireland) have Brexit positions as follows:

  • The Conservatives have committed to a decisive break with the EU – leaving the single market and the customs union – and in the event of a failure of negotiations, with no framework relationship at all with the EU
  • The Conservative are also committed to giving, via the “Great Repeal Bill”, UK government ministers ongoing discretionary power over thousands of legal decisions which previously required either EU or UK parliamentary review
  • Labour have also committed to following through with a break from the EU, but don’t support “Brexit at any cost”; instead they advocate “Brexit with social justice”
  • Labour demand that the final negotiated terms will be put to the UK parliament for verification, though they have not clarified what they want to happen if Parliament rejects these terms (that is, whether the UK might in that case seek to retain its membership in what could be a reformed EU)
  • The LibDems are pushing for the UK to remain in the single market and the customs union
  • The LibDems also champion the ability of the UK Parliament to vote, at the end of the negotiations with the EU, for the UK to remain inside the EU after all, in case it has become clearer by that time what costs and drawbacks an exit will incur, and that many the presumed benefits of separation are illusory.

But should the GE2017 decision be decided entirely by views about Brexit?

That question hinges, in the first instance, on how seriously you view the consequences of a “wrong” Brexit outcome. Both sides of the Brexit debate contain people who see the matter as having fundamental importance:

  • Passionate Leave supporters highlight what they see as impending crises within the EU zone. The Euro is about to fail, they say. The EU operates opaquely, with no transparency. It increasingly lacks democratic support for its empire-building aims. Better for the UK to be as far away as possible from this forthcoming major train wreck. So long as it remains constrained by EU processes, the UK will be unable to adopt the policies needed for its own best future prospects
  • Passionate Remain supporters, on the other hand, forecast what will be a “Titanic” outcome of Brexit, to refer to an unfortunate choice of words from Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Secretary – words turned into a scathing black comedy video by Comedy Central UK

However, I’m drawn to the observation made by sustainability advocate David Bent at a recent London Futurists event:

If you’re worried about leaving the European Union… I worry more about leaving the safe zone for civilisation on our global planet

Slide 31

David was referring to the prospects of forthcoming runaway climate change: the departure of the Earth from the “Holocene era” to an “Anthropocene era”. See from around 13-18 minutes into this recording of the event:
.

The bigger issues

Climate change is an example of the category of “existential issues” – issues that might radically alter the well-being of human existence on planet Earth, well within many of our lifetimes.

These issues include existential threats but also existential opportunities. What they have in common is that, unless we give them sufficient attention in advance, our room for manoeuvre may rapidly diminish. It may become too late to head off an existential threat (such as runaway climate change), or too late to take hold of an existential opportunity (such as investing vigorously in next-generation green technologies).

In all these cases, we may end up realising, too late, that we had been concentrating on lesser matters – matters that appeared urgent – and lost sight of the truly important ones. Too much debate over the swings and roundabouts mechanics of Brexit, for example, may lead us to forget about the actions needed in many other areas of forthcoming radical change. Too much focus on the present-day rough-and-tumble may prevent us from championing the future.

That’s why Transpolitica urges serious attention, in the run-up to GE2017, to a number of potential existential issues. We need politicians who will commit to devoting significant energies to developing practical plans to enable the following:

  1. Next generation green technologies, including those for better storage and transmission of clean energy
  2. Healthcare solutions that address the causes of ill-health and disease, rather than just trying to patch people up after the onset of chronic illness – these solutions include regenerative medicine and other rejuvenation therapies, to be made available and affordable to every citizen
  3. Radical solutions, as a subset of the previous case, for the growing crisis of mental ill-health, including dementia, as well as depression
  4. Transitioning society away from one in which we live to work (with the aim of near full employment) to one in which we live to flourish (with the aim of near full unemployment) – this transition may become especially pressing, with the rapid onset of technological unemployment and technological under-employment in the wake of robots, AI, and other automation
  5. Foreseeing and forestalling the risks to societal well-being from widespread surveillance (by both corporations and governments), and from pervasive online infrastructures that are increasingly vulnerable to security flaws and other errors in software implementation (including powerful AI algorithms that operate with unexpected biases)
  6. Mechanisms for better debates on political topics – debates freed from distortions such as fake news, deliberately misleading statements, overly powerful press barons, deceptive intentions being kept hidden, and the flaws of the “first past the post” election system
  7. Mechanisms for effective international collaboration, that supersede and/or improve upon the existing troubled operations of the UN, the IMF, and more local organisations such as the EU.

The last of these issues takes us full circle. Proper solutions to the big issues of the near-future depend upon a healthy international environment. If you think that the UK leaving the EU will significantly impact, for better or for worse, the UK’s ability to address the other big issues, then maybe you would be correct, after all, to prioritise the Brexit issue in the GE2017 campaign.

But only if we keep these other issues in mind too.

Footnote

Some of the themes covered above are likely to feature in the London Futurists event happening on 29th April, “Who can save Humanity from Superintelligence”, addressed by Tony Czarnecki, Managing Partner of Sustensis.

Here’s an extract from the description of that event:

The presentation will cover four overlapping crises Humanity faces today – crises in the domains of politics, economics, society, and existential risk. The presentation will also provide a vision of a possible solution, with a reformed European Union becoming the core of a new supranational organization having the best chance to tackle these problems.

The world faces a series of existential risks. When combined, the chance of one of these risks materializing in just 20 years is at least 5%. We already had one such “near miss” that could have annihilated the entire civilization. That was the Cuban crisis in October 1962, which almost started a global nuclear war…

Additionally, mainly due to the advancement in technology, the world is changing at almost an exponential pace. That means that change, not just in technology but also in political or social domains, which might previously have taken a decade to produce a significant effect, can now happen in just a year or two. No wonder that people, even in the most developed countries, cannot absorb the pace of change that happens simultaneously in so many domains of our lives. That’s why emotions have overtaken reason.

People are voting in various elections and referenda against the status quo, not really knowing what the problem is, even less what could be the solution. Even if some politicians know what the overall, usually unpleasant solutions could be, they are unlikely to share that with their own electorate because they would be deselected in the next election. The vicious circle continues but at an increasingly faster pace…

Anyone wanting to improve the situation faces three problems:

  1. Existential risks require fast action, while the world’s organisations act very slowly
  2. People want more freedom and more control, while we need to give up some of our freedoms and national sovereignty for the greater good of civilisation and humanity
  3. Most people can’t see beyond tomorrow and act emotionally, while we need to see the big picture and act rationally.

Therefore, anybody that sees the need for the world to take urgent action faces a formidable task of proposing pragmatic, fast and very radical changes in the ways the world is governed.

For more details of this event – and to RSVP to attend what will surely be a lively discussion – click here.

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