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Immune Reactions Against The Network Society at Singularity University

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Thank you. Can we go to the first slide please? Thank you. I want to talk to you about the next phase of our social evolution. The nation state has been the dominating way that individuals organize themselves worldwide for the past five hundred years. My thesis is that we are now entering a new phase or our social evolution, which is going to be what I call the Network Society. We are all accustomed to the exponential changes we all see around us and these changes are the basis of social emancipation, rather then the other way around. The dreams of Egyptian slaves, as by night in evening they where trying to understand whether the world could work differently, achieved nothing exactly because the technological bases were not there in order to do so. What we are seeing around us now are due to the fact that we are now capable of organizing ourselves, we are capable of communicating, we are capable of executing on the scientific achievements, that we have created. The ten thousand years of history characterizing the technological human society created what Paul Crutzen, a Noble Prize winning chemist calls the Anthropocene, and it is actually an unsustainable rapid change, that we must understand much better. Actually the only thing differentiating us from the dinosaurs is that we use telescopes. But are we? Both metaphorically and concretely, are we looking out at the asteroid that is coming to hit us? Are we applying rationality, the tools of of science at the degree that we need in order to understand what we need to do? The hierarchical organizations that we have developed can achieve certain breakthroughs, and they have, but they are not necessarily the right response to everything around us. And both in the lives of individuals, in the lives of enterprises and in the lives of larger organizations, cities, regions and countries around us, new network based organizations are taking the place of what was coming before. Let me illustrate you the eight pillars of the Network Society through very concrete examples of what I'm talking about, and why this change is in fact unstoppable. In energy production we see the power of renewable energies, most specifically solar energy, that is distributed and decentralized, contrary to carbon, contrary to gas or nuclear plants that are centralized. In manufacturing 3D printing is bringing distributed manufacturing, whose power is allowing complex designs in the hands of everybody and it is not dependent on the control of capital. In food production, plant labs, hydroponics, vertical gardens, in a near future 3D printing of meat itself, is completely changing the parameters and the equations behind agriculture. Personalized health is distributing the possibility of preventative medicine putting in the hands of individuals the power of controlling their parameters of health rather then being an industry thriving on illness. Massive online open courseware, and other ways of distributing access to knowledge globally, is making sure that the university model is not the sole one capable of managing access to education and knowledge. In finance cryptocurrencies represented chiefly by Bitcoin, but also the next generation of solutions like Stellar, Ethereum, and others, are eliminating the need for central authorities controlling access to banking, finance, financial services. In security we have trust platforms like Airbnb or the car sharing services, Uber, that are much better in mediating relationships among individuals then not traditional police forces intervening after the fact. Policy making itself must change, how we design deploy adapt in our local regional and national levels, the policies driving our decisions. So you see how all these forces together are really not a fad, they are not a coincidence, they belong to a big wave of decentralization and distribution of traditionally centralized and hierarchical activities of the Nation State. The Network Society project which I'm sharing with you, is developing toolboxes for acting on this, because as these activities are becoming more and more visible there is a spiking immune reaction from the forces of the incumbents. Bureaucracies whether governmental or within the enterprise are extremely good. They have evolved in order to protect themselves, in order to make sure that they can resist change, because they want to survive, want to resist the disruption and this resistance dictates messages that highlight the precautions. They say: "Let's make sure that the consumers are protected. Let's make sure that we don't underestimate the negatives." But actually what is happening very often is that behind these protective messages, there is a sensation of panic because of the unstoppable nature of the change that is coming. This panic is generating in the regulatory bodies in the organizations within corporations, an overreaction. This overreaction is very similar to what happens in the body when the immune system actually makes mistakes like in an asthmatic attack, like in allergic attacks, like in HIV AIDS when actually the immune system stop working. Let me give you two three examples. In the island of Hawaii it is required that solar panels be connected to the island's grid but when the utility company cannot take the peak power generated anymore the installation of solar panels stops! Or the 23andme episode where, just like Martin Luther translating the Bible for anybody to be able to access it, 23andme is told that the we cannot read the sacred text of our DNA without the mediation of the physicians priesthood. And of course the New York State proposed legislation for Bitcoin which is regulating Bitcoin even more than not what is being done with traditional banks. However we technologists who understand that technology is not a zero sum game, it is not a balanced good and bad, but there's a positive view, can espouse the proactionary principle, which enables us to embrace the new possibilities much faster. We can overcome traditional differences, we can embrace new ways of organizing, that implement our policies much better. The Network Society project that I'm talking to you about, embraces this, illustrates this, and I want to invite you to visit in order to learn more. Thank you David, Last minute question? Anyone? Here a question in the back Are we on? Yeah. As we move into this Network Society we're inevitably going to have a greater and greater divergence of people who are on this Singularity... who are being educated, who understand what's happening at this frontier which is happening faster and faster, and the majority of people don't really have a clue on what's happening. Can democracy survive in that kind of an environment, where most of the people don't know what's going on, and other people are super skilled in manipulating people's emotions? Three answers: Singularity University's exclusive approach, rather then inclusive approach in this sense is fatally wrong, because we want to invite everybody here but seven billion people don't fit in this room. Second answer, representative democracy cannot survive, because, ignorant people are easily manipulated to vote against their own interests, and it is happening very very frequently at an increasing rate. Direct democracy however requires a level of participation that the majority of people is not ready or not ready to make. Third, the Facebook experiment, showed a lot of people who were not aware, that computers are not only good at sequencing and printing DNA, computers are very good or starting to be very good at reading and programming our emotions as well. So as long as we face that fact, and we understand that our memetic future is being designed together by people and computers then we have a chance of being aware of what is going on. [We have another quick question from Yuri.] [I have a question about this peer to peer movement, decentralization. I see the same thing but the point is that the backend systems are consolidating power. So on one hand you have consolidation and on the other you have fragmentation. Yeah let me give you two answers to that, Ok? I think that the Internet of things can kill Google, and should, because the centralized paradigm that Google represents is corrupting. NSA is chiefly enabled the fact that there is a big hay stack to take advantage of, and it shouldn't be that way. I think Google realizes that too because they purchased NEST, and you know just like the Large Hadron Collider throws away 99% of the data they generate, and only analyze what they think they know that matters, we have to stop pretending that a bigger hay stack will allow us to find better needles. And the second point is that ISIS has just announced that they will use Diaspora for their social media communications. Yes, distributed systems are here and they are superior, for good and bad than not centralized ones. Facebook should also, as a consequence adapt to this future. Let's thank David Orban again. Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes and 13 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Views: 85
Posted by: davidorban on Aug 24, 2014

A set of simultaneous technologies is growing exponentially, with the common feature of being decentralized, and organized in a network. This contrasts with the centralized and hierarchical organization of today’s traditional society and its basic functions. The shift from the old to the new structure will subject the Nation State to an unprecedented pressure. The Network Society project creates a vision and analytical tools to allow individuals, enterprises and the society at large to deal positively with this unstoppable change.

Low level stimulations of changing technologies are capable of provoking a reaction in the regulatory and policymaking bodies of the Nation States.

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