- There have been many efforts to change the world to the better. Many of them have failed. Many also have succeeded in some area or another.
- There’s a considerable subculture wanting to improve the future with technology. I will use the term “futurist movement” for this subculture in this post. A large part of the futurist movement falls under the term transhumanism. The transhumanist movement has been criticised for political incoherence. That’s why there have been efforts to define more coherent political future oriented movements under the labels of technoprogressivism and social futurism, essentially represented by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and the Institute for Social Futurism respectively.
- The initiative of the transhumanist Zoltan Istvan to run for presidency in the USA has triggered a lot of media interest. In turn, this interest has motivated transhumanists of all colours to create transhumanist parties around the world to at least ride the wave of media interest in the hope of achieving common political goals.
- The various futurist groups and emerging transhumanist parties mostly communicate via Facebook. That medium reaches a large number of people, but is problematic and ineffective as communication platform. That’s why Chris Monteiro and I started to create dedicated discussion boards for various different parts of the futurist movement. Recently we have come together to coordinate our efforts in the hope of creating a really big and ambitious online community with various communication and collaboration tools to support the futurist movement.
- Our ideas seemed to differ slightly, but are basically compatible. While I want a platform that supports various projects to improve the world whether they are “political” in nature or not, as described in the “Social Future Metanet Core Principles” (see point 1), Chris wants a large international platform that can be used by different futurist groups and especially the emerging transhumanist parties, no matter what their political and ideological orientation is exactly, to coordinate their efforts (see points 2-4).
- General observation / interpretation: The transhumanist community has been largely ineffective at changing the world at large. This has various reasons:
- The movement is quite small: It is constituted of between 10,000 and 100,000 people world wide.
- The movement mostly consists of people who value their independence and especially their own ideas and ideals. Efforts to coordinate the movement have been likened to the “herding of cats”.
- While this problem could be solved by “making” transhumanists more “cooperative”, a more promising approach may be to reach out to the larger futurist community. This has been tried with the WAVE movement, out of which sprang the idea of “social futurism”. Nevertheless, the WAVE movement hasn’t seen large visible success with that approach. It could be argued that the general approach goes into the right direction, but is incomplete.
A possible solution to the problems mentioned in the background section is to launch a large platform with the preliminary name of “Project Future” (the name will most probably change) that has the following main goal:
Improve the world!
How? In short, by bringing together the focuses on:
More precisely, Project Future is a platform supporting the futurist community to coordinate their efforts and collaborate on common projects effectively.
At this point, I propose a scheme that I call “Project Orientation”:
In a project oriented platform like Project Future the main constituents are people and projects. What is a project?
A project is a coordinated effort or organisation with the purpose to achieve a certain goal with certain methods.
This is a rather general definition that is to be interpreted very broadly in the context of project orientation. Let’s make this more concrete and list what counts as project:
- The work on some kind of text (paper, article, post, book, etc.)
- Programming a certain program or feature
- Political activism targeted at achieving some kind of specific change
- Developing some kind of new technology
- Creating an organization
- A organization itself, for example a political party or a think tank
- Creating an online community platform
- The online community platform itself, when seen as organisation
- Coordinating different projects in order to better achieve a common goal
Projects can be parts of other projects. In this case, the first would be a sub-project of the latter. For example, if the main project is to write a book, writing the chapters of the book would be sub-projects of the book project. Another example: If the main project is a political party (let’s call it Party X), creating the party in the first place could be seen as sub-project of that (which could be called “Party X bootstrap project”).
The point of project orientation is apply the same basic support structure to all kinds of projects. What is this basic support structure?
- The members working on a project
- The collaboration tools used for working on that project
- Optional working principles for that project
If the project is a party, then the members would be primarily the party members, but optionally also party supporters who are not members themselves. The working principles of a party are mainly written down in the party constitution and related documents. The collaboration tools of a party can be quite diverse, ranging from physical meeting places, to websites with different functions.
If the project is writing a certain software, then the members would be those who participate in creating that software. The working principles include the programming language(s), frameworks, libraries, and coding guidelines that should be used for making that software. The collaboration tools might be version control systems, ticket systems, programming suites, and forums like Stack Overflow.
How does project orientation apply to Project Future?
First of all: Some ideological considerations:
Project Future has the prime goal of improving the world by providing support structures for various futurist projects that seem to be conductive for achieving the prime goal.
There is a little bit of ideology in the alignment of Project Future in the sense that it is restricted to futurist projects. This is because we are part of this community and feel the need to support it – and because we perceive the lack of adequate already existing support. The other ideological part is the aspiration to improve the world.
A party should have the goal to improve the world, otherwise it’s just an organisation that tries to grab and reserve a large as possible part of the pie for its members and its voters! I guess we all agree that we don’t want to have this competitive narrow-minded nonsense, but a bright future that’s better for everyone.
We could have more ideological restrictions, but that would be problematic, because it would exclude potential allies. If we want to improve the world, we basically need the ability to collaborate with anyone who shares common goals. Our target reach is everyone who can agree with any futurist project. This is necessary to have large success historically prevented by a too small reach created by the focus on a too restrictive ideology (“transhumanism” or even “WAVE”) and a failure to create wide and effective tactical and strategical alliances.
This is not to say that the ideologies above don’t make sense or are useless. They have their purpose to define core groups of thinkers and activists. However, it would be counter-productive to force a complex ideology on a wide collaboration platform, because it would massively reduce the number of potential collaborators! When you want lots of collaboration, you need to keep ideology to a minimum – especially because effective collaboration between transhumanists themselves is almost impossible! We needs lots and lots of non-transhumanists to be really effective. When we fail to attract them, then we have failed entirely!
Therefore the Project Future must not adopt or officially endorse any transhumanist or technoprogressive declaration or the WAVE Principles!
So, what about project-orientation within Project Future?
Project Future supports futurist projects, be they parties, or tech enterprises, or think tanks, or activist organisations, or efforts to develop future societal systems (economic, political, social, or cultural), or coordination between such projects, or the creation of stuff that’s somehow futurist related. All of these things will be treated as projects, and all of them will have the principal ability to get a support structure within Project Future.
What is the support structure that Project Future can offer?
- Online tools and working spaces within them:
- Chat rooms
- Other online collaboration tools
- Advertisement for the project
- Online on social media, blogs, forums (either within Project Future on in the wide www in general) by the members of Project Future
- Blueprints for working principles
What will these collaboration tools be used for?
- The forums and chat rooms should be used to coordinate efforts between various futurist groups, especially the emerging transhumanist parties.
- The Wikis can be used for all kinds of projects as collaborative knowledge bases.
- The Blogs will be used for project announcements, project progress reports, and articles which are supposed to be shared widely on social media.
- Other online collaboration tools will be used where and when they are needed by the projects to make rapid progress.
- Advertisement is optional. It will either be done by the project members themselves, or by the crew of Project Future when they want to support a specific project. The purpose of advertisement is to raise public awareness of the project and to get more resources and collaborators for it.
- Members are there for collaborating with them on projects. And having a good time with them, ideally
- Each project may (but doesn’t need to) have working principles. If working principles are wanted, the working principles of other projects can be taken as blueprints for them.
So, what do you think about this (preliminary) concept for Project Future?
I want to keep the discussion about this in the forum, because this is the right place to discuss this issue. Comments on Facebook will be ignored, because Facebook is not a real discussion platform! If you want your voice to be heard, you need to register on this forum.
Also, I could have decided to discuss this project in private with the people who are most involved in it, but I think it’s important to discuss this openly, because Project Future will be a rather open community, so it should be involved from the start. With input from many minds this idea can become better than with the ideas and opinions of only few minds.