Some excellent questions from +Matthew J…

Some excellent questions from +Matthew J Price in response to my #digitalpolitics slideshow. This response seemed especially important, so I'm archiving it here.

If you missed the slide show, take a look!

Okay, let me say a bit about the implications of the view. I will spell this out in more detail later in the essay. Some of this gets covered in response to questions from others, which you can see here:

But here's the upshot and payoff:

I think that attention models are the dominant organizational strategy of the digital age. In my first essay, I claim:

"my view is that using attention models will increasingly be preferred to other kinds of economic models (especially financial models) as the primary tools for social organization. Right now, financial models are responsible for nearly all social organizing decisions: both for the distribution of labor and resources but also for the policy decisions that shape our systems of governance. I will argue later on that attention models are fundamentally a measure of consensus and therefore may function as the legitimate grounds for a self-organized system of governance, while at the same time working as a model for collectively planning the production, distribution, consumption, and recycling of our natural resources. In this sense, an Attention Economy is a complete system for social organization, and therefore may function in the ideal case without either money or centralized political institutions significantly determining the results."

In other words, I think we can use the #attentioneconomy to collectively and systematically begin to dismantle and rework the institutions that currently organize the industrial world.

By this I mean very specifically two things:

1) We can beging to transition into a genuinely moneyless society, where resources are produced and distributed by means other than using money to motivate work.

A few things about this. First, there is plenty of talk about transitioning to "cashless" societies, where money is transferred digitally and virtually without having to actually engage in explicit (or even conscious) exchanges in funds. My idea is that if we are going to rework the organizational infrastructure anyway, we might as well rework it from the ground up to resolve the legacy issues with money. The issues of debt and exploitation, and the calamatous boom/bust cycles we know well from the Industrial age, these phenomena are features of the tool itself. This isn't something fundamntal about human organizations, this is the fact that we are organizing with a broken tool that is completely ill-suited for the digital age. I claim that we can design a better economic organizational tool that can do better than money at serving our economic needs, namely the production and distribution of resources and the division of labor.

Money is a terrible way to distribute resources. Note that we have more than enough resources to feed and clothe and house everyone on the planet, but billions go hungry because our organizations are fundamentally ill-suited to that purpose. That's a distribution problem, and distribution problems are organizational problems, and right now we are organizing according to money, and money is doing a terrible job at organizing. Money is an awful way to motivate labor, it's an awful way to value natural resources. Money just fucking sucks. I'll just leave this here:

RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

I'm not suggesting that we "redistribute" the money, or that we find some other way of regulating money or design a new currency. I'm saying that we can organize ourselves without money and do a much better job at it. Specifically, I'm saying that there are decentralized alternatives to money that will do a better at the issue of economic management than what we have now.

Getting rid of money is the ultimate #systemhack If we can abandon money as a primary organizational tool, this will be as dramatic a shift in human history as the Agricultural Revoltuion. I'm building the architecture from which I think we can pull it off.

Whatever theory you have, though, we can only transition off money if we all, collectively, decide to do it together and stop using the money we have. I think if enough people understand the system I'm describing, then I think they'll want to help. In fact, I think that my framework is compelling enough that even the people who have money now will actively contribute to the transition, because it's really in everyone's interest to have a better organizational framework.

In other words, I think we can pull it off. We just need to spread the word.

I say more about what an alternative, non-money-based economics might look like in my second essay on the Attention Economy, which describes what I call "the marble network":

2) We can begin to dismantle centralized governments as the primary vehicle for consensus-based governance.

The next essay in the series from me involves a more detailed discussion of self-organization. My claim is that attention models are self-organized models, and self-organization is the networked analog of "consensus" on the old paradigm. Spelling this out in detail will take some work, and I'll do that work in the next post.

The result for your question, though, is that we can begin to systematically replace central state governments with a more self-organized and democratic form of civic organization, for purposes of managing justice and ensuring freedom and human rights. Just as in the money case, where we can begin to systematically transition off financial models, the digital age also affords the oppotunity to use attention-based models as a measure of consensus, and indeed as a measure in the pursuit of justice.

This is a more delicate and I think philosophically significant issue, and I'll be spending a lot of time working out the details. But the practial implications are immediate and are already being taken advantage of; I take +Jennifer Pahlka Coding for Government project to be an instance of it.

Jennifer Pahlka: Coding a better government

Dismantling both the financial markets and state governments is a monumental task, and it will require the systemic cooperation and coordination of all of us. But the problems we face affect all of us as well, and we need to work togther to face them. I think I'm describing a framework where everybody has a role in that collaborative task, and where we all have an incentive in transitioning off the existing organizational structure.

So I mean everyone. I'm not suggesting we revolt violently, or that we demand an overnight transition. Making these transitions successfully will take all the resources of the existing state and economic powers, s
o we need to explain to them just as much as we need to explain to everyone else why it is in their interests to make this transition as smooth and quickly as possible.

I'm certainly not advocating that we all go out onto some deserted island and build an attention economy from scratch. If you want that picture, I suggest reading +Bruce Sterling The Caraytids, which describes that process in some detail. Sterling's is a work of science fiction that takes place about 50 years into the future, long after global collapse of civilization. I'd like to try and coordinate before we get to that point.

Instead, I am trying to explain a system whereby we can see how all our disjoint projects for creating a better world can be coordinated into a unified and systemic whole, whereby we can all freely self-organize and create and take real advantage of humanity's cooperative potential. My claim is that we can do this not just by sharing the wealth, but by changing how we measure value entirely. That's what the attention economy does.

I think we can start planning and coordinating for this paradigm shift now; we have the technology, we have the science, we have the math. We are getting better at each every day. What we don't have is a unified framework that clearly presents how this framework coheres, so that we can properly appreciate and understand what we are doing and learn to do better.

My claim is that the attention economy is precisely such a unified model. This is a philosophical claim, but I think it is an incredibly important claim, and I'm eager to share it with others.?

Daniel Estrada – Google+ – Digital Politics

My most recent #attentioneconomy is…

Digital Politics

My most recent #attentioneconomy is difficult, and several people have asked for a clear summary or introduction to motivate the time…

Submit a comment