What can we learn from the Internet?

Internet pioneer Danny Hills has a TED talk about the early days of the Internet. On that talk we see that the Internet, on its early days, was essentially an obscure network based on trust.

Today, the Internet is much bigger, and much more important. Despite its massive importance, governments and corporations are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to mess with it, reducing its usefulness for their own profit and power gain. They get away with this because it is technically feasible to do so, and it is in the reach of their power.

The technical reasons behind this vulnerability are not particularly interesting for this post. The interesting part are the responses the Internet community is deploying to this perceived threat of control. These responses seem to fall into the following three categories:

The first kind of response is to fight in the political space to keep the Internet open. This essentially means that, as members of our societies, we get together and complain to those in power and to each other until they change their minds. This has stopped the progress of bad laws such as “SOPA” and “PIPA” in the U.S. We will call this approach “begging.”

The second kind of response is to start designing an alternative to the Internet that would not be controllable. Designing theoretical alternatives, or prototyping these designs, is not really too difficult. The harder part is seeing how these alternatives would grow beyond isolated localities adopting them and into a global mesh that would, eventually, be easily accessible by anyone, like the current Internet. We will call this approach “forking.” Not really “forking,” as these networks would probably end up talking to each other, but it has to be conceived as to stand on its own, as if it were a fork.

The third kind of response is to build a network that’s better than the Internet in some sense, but on “top” of the Internet, that is, an application using the Internet, as opposed to beside it, as a “physical network” like the Internet. That’s what the “peer-to-peer networks” do. They are not “networks” in the same sense that the Internet is a “network.” In academia, you would say that these peer-to-peer systems, such as BitTorrent, FreeNet, Napster, Bitcoin or GNUNet, are “logical networks” or “overlay networks.” They are networks “overlaid” (built on top of) an existing “physical” network such as the Internet. We will call this approach the “overlay” approach (sounds simpler than “if you can’t beat them, add a layer on top of them that makes it do what you want.”)

So, in the case of transforming the system known as the Internet, what is the correct approach? The answer is, of course, all of them. When a system is as important as the Internet, then it is not a matter of “which is the right way,” but which is the right way for you. All of them are valid, and we’re going with whatever works.

I have a hunch that these paths can be translated to the paths we have available to transforming “The Economy” into a “Resource-Based Economy” or “Love Economy” or “Gift Economy” or whatever it is that we would call it. That problem is, similarly, very important and worthy of all kinds of response we can come up with.

We have many people enacting the first response, of “begging” the current governments and corporations to do things differently.

The second response, of “forking” the current systems, is similarly receiving lots of attention. Simple and small-scale designs, such as designs for specific villages or communities, have been working for decades. Some communities even cut economic ties with the rest of the human world, essentially creating a private “world” where they can claim to exercise a “world-wide” and pure resource-based economy — but you still have to at least negotiate land ownership with some existing country, last time I checked. Larger-scale designs, on the other hand, if not deployed, at least are the focus of much discussion and study.

The third path, I think, is where we would start making some interesting progress.

Consider the following: given any criteria for allocation of the existing money tokens in circulation, which one of the following two entities would be more likely to be capable of capturing more of it?

The first entity is a group of people who each live on their own apartment, and drives each day, on their own car, to the same job site where they work. When these people meet, they pay each other for things, and every transaction is taxed by the local government.

The second entity is the same group of people, but now using a gift economy of some sort between them. They not only share things, being more physically efficient, but they also avoid having their internal economy be implemented using taxed government tokens. Whatever government money they hold in total, it disappears slower from each individual’s bank account simply because they are not taxed for circulating it internally.

Yes, money is a fiction, a convention. But so is any economic game. Even if you have a global network of computer processes monitoring all world’s resources, the representation of these resources is still a model, still a game, still a fiction. An error in modelling of the world’s resources would produce sub-optimal allocation, much like the current government money systems produce sub-optimal allocation. A much better model is still a model.

What this means is, instead of abolishing the fiction of money, why not just satisfy it? Get together with some people, and agree to collectively play the game better than those who won’t build their own gift economies and who will live physically inefficiently. Then just watch the cash pile grow. The government will have no rule it can design to not reward the people who actually want to build something different. And the more “money” you have… well, let’s just say that, in the current system, having money is not exactly a bad thing. Want to build Jacque Fresco’s futuristic town? Amassing a few hundred billion dollars couldn’t hurt. It is all fiction anyway. Gather the fiction, then give it to people who still want it. These people will give you access to the land you need to build a town, as well as deliver all the resources, material and mental, that you need to build it for the first time. Since it is a sustainable town, once it is built, you have one place that doesn’t need money.

The “overlay” path is not without its own difficult challenges, however. When you design an overlay, be it for the Internet or for the human environment sharing problem, you have to keep two worlds in your head instead of one, and constantly remember which kind of thinking goes where. If you are not careful while designing your peer-to-peer system, you may end up recreating its supporting layer without intending to. Having money may cause us to exclusively “buy” our way into simply surviving on the fruits of the global unsustainable production machine, instead of taking whatever first step, even if small and feeble, towards freeing ourselves from depending on these unsustainable (destructive and violent, really) systems. I can “have” a million “dollars,” but that shouldn’t stop me from personally spending part of my day trying to grow some tomatoes.

Final note. Becoming a billionaire solving practical problems and then donating it to charities that also solve practical problems, or funding start-ups that want to “innovate,” is not what I’m talking about here. That’s simply trying to do good within the current economic and financial system, and validating and reinforcing it in the short term. This would be simply using the existing network as it is presented, not using it in a way that makes it emulate what a competing network would be. It is certainly possible that this alone — a “correct” application of business as usual — may bring about sufficient “real” transformation that problems disappear on their own through sheer business, technological and scientific ingenuity. That is, the beautiful communities based on trust and gifting that we envision are actually just around the corner — if only we would let the great Capitalist dance finish its performance on this planet, then we would see how wonderful things could and will be. Then again, it is also possible that trying to grow a new system as a mere “product” of the diligent application of the current system will continue to not work.

Original Post : thinking.nfshost.com/wiki/index.php?n=Main.OnResourceBasedEconomies


Douglas Mallette Lectures on a Resource Based Economy

I filmed this lecture and interview together with The Zeitgeist Movement in Oslo, Norway. Douglas Mallette gives here a somewhat deeper look into what a resource based economy is, how technology will play a role, and how RBE can be implemented in society.

The lecture:

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The interview:

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Pleiadian Gift Economy – an Equal-Value System of Economics

The equal-value system transcends the dichotomy of wealth and poverty as well as alternative money systems. It is a system for truly advanced civilizations in which everyone is valued and able to freely do what they love to do without contorting or selling themselves in order to “make money”.

The following excerpt from Millennium — Tools For the Coming Changes (ISBN: 0-9631320-3-2) by Lyssa Royal, pp. 113-115, provides the seed idea of the equal-value economic system (EVES). It is cited with permission from the authors.

Most people have not yet learned how to step into this state and let it serve them. Let us say that you could have everything you wanted whenever you wanted it. How then is wealth defined? There can be no wealth because it is only measured against a state of lack. Wealth is a measure of what you have compared to what others have — lack.

Some extraterrestrial societies (such as on several Pleiadian planets) have a system called the equal value system, which is a reflection of their beliefs about abundance and the free state of their society.

The equal-value system might sound simplistic, but it actually requires tremendous spiritual and emotional evolution to master. As an analogy, if you need food in that society, you simply walk into the supermarket, get the food and leave without paying. When someone comes to you for your service, you provide it without charge. This system reflects a balance of wealth that has no arbitrary, constantly shifting values. The foundation of thier wealth is a deep sense of value for each member of society. Everyone is eager to keep their world evolving by constantly following their creative excitement. [Bold face added — editor]

This type of planetary economy is a holistic unit. In criticizing this type of society, one might ask obvious questions such as, “Who takes out the garbage or performs the unpleasant tasks?”¹ In a society where creative freedom is encouraged and not suppressed, there are many inventors who create technology to deal with every challenge, garbage included. Free-energy devices have been created to handle all of the planet’s energy demands.

Without a government or a corporation hoarding profits and controlling new discoveries, the best interests of the society as a whole or as individuals are never overlooked. The spirit of the society is expressed through constant achievement and creative freedom rather than constant profits. This is a symptom of a healthy holistic organism. Where there is a need there is someone to fill the need. This might sound alien to you, but look at the many enthusiastic inventors in your world who want to promote alternative fuel sources but who are stopped by big business.

Any planet can eventually develop this type of society. However, it cannot happen now on Earth while you are in the present level of fear. If one day all the world leaders said, “Okay, now on we have the Pleiadian equal-value system,” there would be chaos! There would be tremendous hoarding, because you would not believe you deserve it. You would feel as if you had to grab as much as you could before someone changed their mind. Your planet is simply not emotionally ready for this type of system. There is too much invested in lack and victimhood. There is too much invested in the polarized belief of the have and have-not mentality.

There must be a deep internal transformation before you can embrace the Pleiadian equal-value system or your own version of the equal distribution of wealth. Communism was an immature attempt at an equal-value system. So is capitalism. A true equal-value system that supports society will not have any oppressive control, rigidity or constraints attached to it. Because society is tiring of the old game of lack and wealth and you are moving toward ideas that reflect self-responsibility, a precursor to an equal-value system will appear when the time is right.

Freedom begins at the individual level. However, you must remember that freedom and equality are inherent properties of your spirit. Once recognized, you must then begin exercising your freedom, otherwise you will continue the cycle of dependence and corruption in a downward spiral.

If you become more self-responsible and affiliate yourself with others who are making the same choice, you will always have what you need when you need it. Always. It is a very different way to live. These words do not convey the true depth of the meaning of freedom of the spirit, because words always fall short in such matters. Be aware that bondage is a state of mind and a state of heart.

Choose freedom, live that freedom, and watch your lives and your planet transform before your eyes.

Editor’s comment: The issue of “who takes out the garbage” need not be dependent on having technology take care of it. The cultivation of a spirit of service or “karma yoga” goes a long way to handling unpleasant tasks and is inevitably necessary — in any society. To discover more about the authors of this book, go to www.lyssaroyal.com


The Trust Economy

Summary:

Something big is coming. It can be really good or it can be really bad. This is a detailed outline of the good. The Trust Economy offers:

• A simple, elegant, fast, and peaceful solution to the world wide financial crises.

A workable answer to the demands of the 99% that can be implemented by the 99%

• Leverages existing models and available tools to manage and distribute resources in a fair and equitable manner.

• Easy to understand and implement.

• Creates a system that can not be stolen from or manipulated by a few at the expense of everyone else.

• Automatically aligns itself with the whole, without diminishing personal property or responsibility.


Background:

In the nineteen sixties and seventies, when technology was growing up, it was often said that technology would solve the worlds ills by making more abundance, shorter work weeks, and less toil and struggle. Robotics and computers were supposed to make life better for everyone.

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With The Help of Technology

What is technology? Really. There is so much talk of technology this, technology that, and all the time, it is implied that we all know what ‘technology’ really is. But do we? I think we will all agree that a car is one type of technology. But what about our bodies? Wikipedia defines ‘Technology’ as ” the usage and knowledge of tools, techniques, craftssystems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or serve some purpose”.

Well, with our bodies we can walk, talk, hear, see, feel, etc. We use the tools our hands are when we write, eat, drive and fish. We use the tools our eyes are when we see and focus. We use the tool our brains are when we solve a problem. So, yes, I’d definitely say that our bodies are one form of technology. And when we use a fishing rod, we extend the tools our hands are to that fishing rod. When we use a calculator we extend the tool our brain is to that calculator. And not only humans have built in technology, all animals and plants have that too. Like when a fly uses it’s wings to fly. Or when a leaf converts CO2 in to organic matter with the help of solar power.

Our world is filled with technology. Every plant, insect, animal and human is a walking, swimming or flying technological wonder. And Man has through the inspiration from the world around him created new technology that extends Man’s capabilities in countless ways. So, technology is not only all the wonders Man has created. No, technology was here long before us.

Since Man’s first use of external technology with clubs and the discovery of fire Man has developed technology that has helped him fly like the birds, dive like the dolphins and go faster than an antilope. Today we have technology that was unimaginable only 20 years ago. Many people think we have come far and are in awe of all the new technology we have. Others doesn’t like the technology, thinks it ruins nature, are afraid of it, and want’s to live without it. Still others are afraid the technology will take their jobs and leave them unemployed. They are all in their full right to think this way.

It can certainly seem like technology is the one to blame when it comes to the pollution of the planet, wars and bombing, technological unemployment and the dumbing down by television. But, is it really ‘technology’ per se we can blame for all of this? Isn’t ‘technology’ only a neutral tool that can be used as the user wishes? Certainly, a knife can be used both to kill with….and to cut bread with. Is it the knifes fault if someone uses it to kill his neighbor? It most certainly isn’t. It is the user’s fault, not the knife’s.

And this can be extended to all technology. Bombs doesn’t drop themselves. Guns have to be aimed and the trigger pulled for it to harm anyone. Even with today’s advancement in war technology, the computers that run the missiles still have to be programmed. So, is it ‘technology’s’ fault? All the wars, the pollution, the ‘alienation’. No. Technology is not at fault. At best, we can excuse ourselves with saying that ‘we were taken by surprise’. That the technology has developed so fast that it can be hard to keep up and put the technology to the right and good use, but not more. We can’t blame technology.

Technology is neutral. Technology is nothing but a set of tools that we can use to better our lives and the environment on this planet to it’s fullest, or it can be used to destroy ourselves. And it is certainly not technology’s fault if we use it to the latter.

Technology has gotten a ‘bad reputation’ in a lot of ways, but this reputation is definitely undeserved if we just open our eyes to look at what the development of technology has done for us. Things that was utterly impossible a hundred years ago. And the things I am thinking of are obvious and too many to count. We can fly from Paris to New York in a few hours. We can look through our bodies and get clear images of the inside. We can talk to anyone anywhere on the planet at anytime from almost anywhere. I can sit and write on a keyboard and letters pop up in black and white on a crisp and clear screen. I can even record moving images in crisp color and transfer them to the other side of the globe in a matter of minutes. If you have bad vision you can get it fixed in minutes with a lazer beam. We have satellites mapping the planet, making it possible to navigate anywhere with a little flat box with a screen.

Today, technology has come so far that we doesn’t think of it anymore. We take electricity for granted, running water, computers, the internet, shoes, nylon stockings, loud speakers, windows, DVDs, television, plastic bags, cardboard, paper, books, stainless steel, aluminum, concrete buildings, cars, planes, space shuttles, printers, cell phones, ovens, refrigerators, watches, water closets, rubber balls, sunglasses and cameras are all just ‘there’. We don’t gasp in awe anymore when someone turns on the fosset.

Hollywood and media has depicted technology as something to be afraid of, through films like Terminator. It should be utterly clear, though, that it is not ‘technology’ we have to fear, only some mad men’s use of it. As we can see, technology has helped, and is continually helping Mankind in it’s quest towards a better life. Even if you are a ‘nature person’, likes to be in nature, grow your own vegetables, doesn’t have television, maybe not even electricity, heats your home with a wood stove and copes without the internet.

Even you are using technology when you use your spade instead of your hands to dig with. Or when you put wood into your stove instead of burning it on the ground. Even using wood and fire is use of technology. Or when closing the door to your house behind you instead of living outside. Or when you put on a warm jacket in the winter. Or….well, you get my point. We are all using technology in some way or another. As mentioned earlier, even our hands and brains can be called technology, since they are tools that can help us solve problems and serve a purpose. And with them, we might even design a needle and a thread to sew together the two fur parts of the bison we just killed with the spear we had also made from a rock.

We can’t escape technology. Since we have hands to do things with and brains to think with, we are doomed to solve problems and try to make our lives easier for our selves. And in that, we most certainly have succeeded, even though it might not feel like it, since technology can be quite overwhelming at times. But for those who think we have ‘come far’ when it comes to technology; this is only the beginning. The technology will continue to develop beyond our wildest dreams in the years to come. And it will be far easier to use, safer, more user friendly, more integrated with Man, and we will notice it even less. It will be built in to our environment in a larger degree than ever before.

Some might be afraid that ‘the machines’ will ‘take over’. That maybe some day, when our lives are so controlled by technology that we can not control it anymore, one computer will say ‘Man is a threat to this planet’ and simply annihilate us. Or they may be afraid that technology will replace all our jobs, and we will all be out of work. In any case will neither of these scenarios be the fault of ‘technology’, but rather the fault of Man and the systems Man has created for herself through the mindset he has harbored and through technology she has created. So, technology is not to fear, only our mindsets and the systems it creates. Bear in mind that we already let technology control a huge part of our lives, even today. When we get in our cars, we trust the speedometer to tell us the speed, the cruise control to hold it and the breaks to stop the car when we press them.

If we are to ‘save’ this planet, we can only hope to do it with technology, not without. If we are to do it without any of the present or coming inventions we have to do it without humans as well. The question is how we use the technology. We have established that the technology itself is not to blame for the problems we have, our mindsets and systems are. And the biggest system to blame, is the monetary system with the free market system. The system of money and profit is a so ingrained mindset in the mind of humanity, that few people even think of it as anything ‘unnatural’, but rather take it for granted, as air and water, something that has always been there, and that has to be there for our survival. But, has it? Certainly not. There are no money in nature. And guess what? It thrives and grows abundantly.

A lot of the technology we have today has been developed to maximize profit and to serve the monetary system in one way or another. This is the reason technology is not always serving Mankind and planet Earth. This is the reason technology has been used to develop weapons for wars, gas guzzling and polluting engines for cars, lightbulbs that only last a 1000 hours, nylon stockings that rip for a good word, genetically modified soy plants that harm the environment, supertankers that leaks and kills millions of birds and fish, cell phones that breaks and cars that rust. Instead we could have had electric pollution free cars that outrun gas driven ones, if the development of batteries hadn’t stopped a 100 years ago, when the electric car was invented. We could have had nylon stockings and light bulbs that had lasted a lifetime, if it wasn’t for the profit motive. We wouldn’t have had huge oil tanker accidents, atom bombs and wars if it wasn’t for the monetary system, demanding we all hoard for our selves.

No, technology is not to blame, we are. When we finally wake up, we will see that technology is, and will always be, like a knife. We can use it to cut apples and share them with our neighbor, or we can use it to kill our neighbor for taking them. The choice will always be ours. When we realize that money is not what we need, but rather the communion with each other, and the sharing of experiences and information, water and food, land and energy. Then we will realize that technology will be our indispensable and invaluable helping hand in all of this. With a new mindset, a mindset freed from the slavery of money, trade and ‘ownership’, then we can start to create a truly sustainable world and use technology in it’s fullest extent to help us with this.