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Everything written by Michel Bauwens

Book of the Day: Revisiting Associative Democracy

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Michel Bauwens
28th July 2014


* eBook: Revisiting Associative Democracy. How to get more co-operation, co-ordination and collaboration into our economy, our democracy, our public services, and our lives . Ed. by Andrea Westhall, 2011

This eBook further develops Paul Hirst’s views of Associative Democracy and their current relevance.

Andrea Westhall explains:

“What are the limits of representative, deliberative or participative democracy? Is there anything else? How can all forms of democracy respond to the future and the environment? How might the language we use, and our unconscious assumptions, limit, or even disable, our ability to respond to some of the biggest challenges of our day? How do you understand and change systemic and complex situations, without creating catastrophic unintended consequences? And just how should we run, or think about, economic activity?

These are some of the big questions that sit at the end of society’s ‘to do’ list. Like ‘Change my life’ we never quite get round to them properly. We have lots of ideas but ? through habit or the need for survival ? we tend to put the action off for later. And we can’t do them by ourselves, whatever the self-help gurus or management consultants might say.

In order to break out of habitual ways of thinking, or to promote creativity, sometimes it is worth focusing on ideas or approaches that challenge and provoke you. This was the thinking that brought together a group of people around a particular text and a particular concept. Associative Democracy, a book by Paul Hirst, was written in 1994.”

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Posted in Featured Book, P2P Governance, Politics | No Comments »

P2P Trendfest (3): Stochastic Science

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Michel Bauwens
27th July 2014


Excerpted from Sebastian A.B. :

“Nassim Nicholas Taleb recognizes that “stochastic tinkering” rather than systematic, institutional agendas yield the greatest discoveries. Taleb is best known for coining the term “Black Swan,” to describe hard-to-predict and disproportionately momentous events.

Stochastic tinkering is a process of trial and error, present in all creative endeavors, where randomness plays a great role.

Taleb writes, in his essay The Birth of Stochastic Science (PDF):

- The world is giving us more “cheap options”, and options benefit principally from uncertainty. So I am particularly optimistic about medical cures. To the dismay of many planners, there is an acceleration of the random element in medicine putting the impact of discoveries in a class of Mandelbrotian power-law style payoffs. It is compounded by another effect: exposure to serendipity. People are starting to realize that a considerable component of the gravy in medical discoveries is coming from the “fringes”, people finding what they are not exactly looking for. It is not just that hypertension drugs lead to Viagra, angiogenesis drugs lead to the treatment of macular degeneration, tuberculosis drugs treat depression and Parkinson’s disease, etc., but that even discoveries that we claim to come from research are themselves highly accidental, the result of tinkering narrated ex post and dressed up as design. The high rate of failure should be sufficiently convincing of the lack of effectiveness of design. [...] All the while institutional science is largely driven by causal certainties, or the illusion of the ability to grasp these certainties; stochastic tinkering does not have easy acceptance. Yet we are increasingly learning to practice it without knowing — thanks to overconfident entrepreneurs, naive investors, greedy investment bankers, and aggressive venture capitalists brought together by the free-market system [sic]. I am also optimistic that the academy is losing its power and ability to put knowledge in straightjackets and more out-of-the-box knowledge will be generated Wiki-style. But what I am saying is not totally new. Accepting that technological improvement is an undirected (and unpredictable) stochastic process was the agenda of an almost unknown branch of Hellenic medicine in the second century Mediterranean Near East called the “empirics”. Its best known practitioners were Menodotus of Nicomedia and my hero of heroes Sextus Empiricus. They advocated theory-free opinion-free trial-and-error, literally stochastic medicine. Their voices were drowned by the theoretically driven Galenic, and later Arab-Aristotelian medicine that prevailed until recently.”

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Posted in Featured Trend, Open Innovation | No Comments »

Video: Vinay Gupta on Solving Global Crises through Peer Production

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Michel Bauwens
27th July 2014


Morosopher writes:

“This is a keynote speech by researcher, engineer and thinker Vinay Gupta held at Camp Pixelache in Helsinki last Friday (2012). In it, Gupta uses projects he’s been personally involved with, such as the hexayurt and STAR-TIDES to show how peer production principles can be used to solve crises from the level of the individual up to the global level. He also discusses game theory and how cooperative networks are beginning to outcompete states and large corporations.”

Watch the video here:

Part 2:

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Posted in Peer Production, Videos | 1 Comment »

P2P Trendfest (2): Open Source Talent

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Michel Bauwens
26th July 2014


“Today’s evolving workforce is a portfolio of full-time employees, contract and freelance talent, and, increasingly, talent with no formal ties to a company at all. People move from role to role and across organizational boundaries more freely than ever. Global markets and products are driven by accelerating innovation and growing scale, and they demand talent pools and systems that can be rapidly assembled and reconfigured. Business leaders and customers expect agility, scale, and the right skills on demand. These new business and talent models look less like integrated factories and companies and more like highly orchestrated networks and ecosystems with a multitude of approaches to mobilizing, orchestrating, and engaging talent, skills, leaders, and ideas. What the open source model did for software development, the open talent economy is doing for work.”

The quote below will not be surprising for those knowing the collaborative economy, but the Deloitte report to which it is linked has the merit of systematizing a new approach to talent pooling for corporations that is no longer linked to the vision of jobs.

Excerpted from Jeff Schwartz, Andrew Liakopoulos et al. :

“In recent years, a totally new way of working has become possible. This can be seen in the advent of a range of new business models with a new set of players and a new language. There are three emerging models of open source talent that are central to understanding this evolving landscape:

Volunteer-based models: Examples of volunteer-based open source talent models include Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia written and updated by 100,000 volunteer contributors. It currently includes 26 million articles in 286 languages.

Crowdsourcing idea marketplaces: Among the best known of the crowdsourcing idea marketplaces is InnoCentive, a site that posts challenges for researchers, inventors, and problem solvers around the world.

Crowd work and project marketplaces: Crowd work and project marketplaces are composed of a growing set of business models and websites that distribute and manage small components of projects (and sometime entire projects or subprojects) to be done remotely. Work can be done by the piece, project, or hour. One example is Mechanical Turk.”

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Posted in Featured Trend, P2P Labor | No Comments »

Video: Friederike Habermann on the Commons Economy (Ecommony)

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Michel Bauwens
26th July 2014


Interview conducted by Alain Ambrosi on the occasion of the Economics of the Commons conference.

Watch the video here:

(if the right video does not show, because of a technical issue with the playlist, click directly on the link below, or item 4 in the series)

http:// www.youtube.com/ watch?v=i3jeKros4Yk&list=PLiO9RvnsUfkatF08AS-5t1PJSU35khJ3S&index=4

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Posted in Commons, Economy and Business, Ethical Economy, Videos | No Comments »

Book of the Day: A Reader for Digital Currency Design

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Michel Bauwens
26th July 2014


* Book: Alternative Currency Adaptor, the DYNDY Reader for Digital Currency Design. Jaromil and DYNDY, 2013

A description excerpted from Jaromil:

“After a selection of the best pieces that we have humbly put together to date and together with a most welcome contribution from Prof. Adam Arvidsson, the result is AC-Adaptor or Alternative Currency Adaptor, the DYNDY Reader for Digital Currency Design. True, the theoretical and political reflections emerged in more than three years of conferencing, networking and study had brought us to crossing the threshold with the real socio-economy. Designed around a ‘lean user experience’ methodology, D-CENT is a project that will create a virtual pan-European Collective Awareness Platform hosting tools for aggregate democratic decision-making to the benefit of social movements in Spain, Iceland and Finland. On top of the CAP, a second pilot on Social Digital Currencies will see Freecoin – a Bitcoin based client for customizing the genesis block in order to issue alternative and complementary digital currencies while adding tailor made modules conditioning the currency and communicating with the blockchain, and Threadgate – a geo-localised market place for the horizontal exchange of value among D-CENT users.

AC-Adaptor is both the end of the theoretical era of DYNDY and the beginning of the application and testing of DYNDY findings, belief systems and design principles together with socio-economic values and novel governance constituencies for making this a better place. Conscious that DYNDY does not have the solution to all money problems of this world in its pockets, we nevertheless continue to strive, self-reflect, put to trial and share what we consider to be the tools that will unavoidably replace the ones currently dominating monetary life and impairing our Freedom of Economic Interaction worldwide (only in this sense the global crisis is a desirable event).

Through D-CENT, we are going to put in practice with energy our advocacy for an explicit participation of society at large – the Multitude – to the decisions that mostly affect individuals in Europe (and worldwide) today, ie user data protection and privacy at the service of P2P monetary transactions in transparent circuits of mutual trust. This is the first building block for avoiding by design the hubris of speculation and utility maximization at all costs (as for the core of single-currency thinking) in favor of a polidoxy in human-friendly money and payment systems design for the creation of a G/Local multi-currency system co-owned and co-managed by the users.”

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Posted in Economy and Business, Featured Book, P2P Books, P2P Money | 1 Comment »

Video: Charlotte Hess on the Need for a Commons Research Agenda

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Michel Bauwens
25th July 2014


Interview with Charlotte Hess conducted by Alain Ambrosi on the occasion of the Economics of the Commons conference.

Watch the video here:

(the wrong video is likely shown, due to a technical mistake in the playlist , so click on the link directly or click on item 5 in the play list)

http:// www.youtube.com/ watch?v=jkKAMh_u-3k&list=PLiO9RvnsUfkYR3nlESkj73h8CLnDhh2kY&index=5

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Posted in Commons, P2P Research, Videos | No Comments »

P2P Trendfest (1): Rural Coliving

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Michel Bauwens
25th July 2014


Excerpted from Cat Johnson:

“What if coworking was a slower, more spacious affair that offered a respite from the everyday grind and included meals, walks and intentional collaboration? What if, rather than being in an urban setting, the coworking space was in a small, rural town? And what if you lived, temporarily at least, in the space? Would your work benefit? Andrea Paoletti says yes.

Co-founder, along with Mariella Stella, of Casa Netural, a coworking and coliving space in Matera, Italy, Paoletti says that coliving is an essential element of rural coworking and without it there is no coworking in rural Italy. He points out that Matera is a small town and many of its young people have left, moving to big cities to seek opportunity. This leaves half-empty buildings in the ancient and beautiful Sassi cave dwellings, and a small, isolated culture. Paoletti argues that to activate the serendipity that comes with coworking, you have to bring new people and fresh ideas into the space. The coliving model does just that.”

“There are two benefits to rural coliving. The first is that it has the potential to revitalize rural communities, which is at the heart of what Casa Netural is about. Casa Netural challenges the notion that the future is just in large cities. Through it, Paoletti is exploring the possibilities for small villages and rural areas.

“I think the future can come from this kind of territory,” he says. “And someone has to do it otherwise they will disappear. Coliving can be an attractor for other people like me who are maybe inspired by what we are doing and they want to come see it. Then they maybe want to buy a house, or rent a place, then we become a group of people.”

The second benefit of coliving is that it can revitalize those who live and work in the space. In a home setting such as Casa Netura, the opportunities for conversation, connecting and collaborating extend far beyond those in a space that is solely for coworking. There are group meals, trips into the surrounding areas, bedtime chats, early morning brainstorm sessions over coffee and more. With rural coliving, the idea is to slow down and focus on the people around you, which can lead to serendipitous conversations, relationships, and breakthrough ideas.

Most of the time coworking is not really collaborative space because everyone is really focused on their own thing,” Paoletti says. “In coliving, the focus is not really on how to stress and create a better business but how these relationships can create the best business, or give you a new tool.” He continues, “In small villages we don’t have to think about IT startups or millions of Euro investments. I think starting from the small example is what can really create the biggest social impact on the territories.”

Designed with social innovators, progressive thinkers and entrepreneurs in mind, Casa Netural is a space where visitors and locals work, relax and connect with each other. It’s a homey, open and casual environment in which people can refresh themselves, enjoy what the village and surrounding territory has to offer and get a new perspective on projects. The space coordinates regular get-togethers with the Matera locals and encourages the development of connections and collaborations, while getting some work done.

“With rural coliving, you go there because maybe you have free time or maybe you want to be more focused on one priority of your life,” Paoletti says. “It can be practical work but at the same time maybe you want to write an article or write a book or take just your own time to focus on other things, so you go there. That’s the reason for coliving.”

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Posted in Default, Featured Trend, Food and Agriculture, P2P Architecture and Urbanism, P2P Lifestyles | No Comments »

Video: Tomislav Tomasevic on Commons-Based Political Struggles in Central and Eastern Europe

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Michel Bauwens
24th July 2014


Interview conducted by Frédéric Sultan with Tomislav Tomasevic on the occasion of the Economics and the Commons Conference in Berlin.

Watch the video here:

(the wrong video is likely shown below, due to a technical issue with the playlist, click on the link directly, or on item 3 of the playlist)

http: // www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSMv1ZCxIYw&list=PLiO9RvnsUfkYR3nlESkj73h8CLnDhh2kY&index=3

or here at: http://www.remixthecommons.org/?fiche=luttes-politiques-basees-sur-les-communs-une-conversation-avec-tomislav-tomasevic

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Posted in Commons, Default, P2P Movements, Politics, Videos | 1 Comment »

Evgeny Morozov on the dangers of Algorithmic Regulation

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Michel Bauwens
24th July 2014


In shifting the focus of regulation from reining in institutional and corporate malfeasance to perpetual electronic guidance of individuals, algorithmic regulation offers us a good-old technocratic utopia of politics without politics. Disagreement and conflict, under this model, are seen as unfortunate byproducts of the analog era – to be solved through data collection – and not as inevitable results of economic or ideological conflicts.

Excerpted from Evgeny Morozov:

” If policy interventions are to be – to use the buzzwords of the day – “evidence-based” and “results-oriented,” technology is here to help.

This new type of governance has a name: algorithmic regulation. In as much as Silicon Valley has a political programme, this is it. Tim O’Reilly, an influential technology publisher, venture capitalist and ideas man (he is to blame for popularising the term “web 2.0″) has been its most enthusiastic promoter. In a recent essay that lays out his reasoning, O’Reilly makes an intriguing case for the virtues of algorithmic regulation – a case that deserves close scrutiny both for what it promises policymakers and the simplistic assumptions it makes about politics, democracy and power.

To see algorithmic regulation at work, look no further than the spam filter in your email. Instead of confining itself to a narrow definition of spam, the email filter has its users teach it. Even Google can’t write rules to cover all the ingenious innovations of professional spammers. What it can do, though, is teach the system what makes a good rule and spot when it’s time to find another rule for finding a good rule – and so on. An algorithm can do this, but it’s the constant real-time feedback from its users that allows the system to counter threats never envisioned by its designers. And it’s not just spam: your bank uses similar methods to spot credit-card fraud.

In his essay, O’Reilly draws broader philosophical lessons from such technologies, arguing that they work because they rely on “a deep understanding of the desired outcome” (spam is bad!) and periodically check if the algorithms are actually working as expected (are too many legitimate emails ending up marked as spam?).

Algorithmic regulation could certainly make the administration of existing laws more efficient. If it can fight credit-card fraud, why not tax fraud? Italian bureaucrats have experimented with the redditometro, or income meter, a tool for comparing people’s spending patterns – recorded thanks to an arcane Italian law – with their declared income, so that authorities know when you spend more than you earn. Spain has expressed interest in a similar tool.

Such systems, however, are toothless against the real culprits of tax evasion – the super-rich families who profit from various offshoring schemes or simply write outrageous tax exemptions into the law. Algorithmic regulation is perfect for enforcing the austerity agenda while leaving those responsible for the fiscal crisis off the hook. To understand whether such systems are working as expected, we need to modify O’Reilly’s question: for whom are they working? If it’s just the tax-evading plutocrats, the global financial institutions interested in balanced national budgets and the companies developing income-tracking software, then it’s hardly a democratic success.

With his belief that algorithmic regulation is based on “a deep understanding of the desired outcome”, O’Reilly cunningly disconnects the means of doing politics from its ends. But the how of politics is as important as the what of politics – in fact, the former often shapes the latter. Everybody agrees that education, health, and security are all “desired outcomes”, but how do we achieve them? In the past, when we faced the stark political choice of delivering them through the market or the state, the lines of the ideological debate were clear. Today, when the presumed choice is between the digital and the analog or between the dynamic feedback and the static law, that ideological clarity is gone – as if the very choice of how to achieve those “desired outcomes” was apolitical and didn’t force us to choose between different and often incompatible visions of communal living.

By assuming that the utopian world of infinite feedback loops is so efficient that it transcends politics, the proponents of algorithmic regulation fall into the same trap as the technocrats of the past. Yes, these systems are terrifyingly efficient – in the same way that Singapore is terrifyingly efficient (O’Reilly, unsurprisingly, praises Singapore for its embrace of algorithmic regulation). And while Singapore’s leaders might believe that they, too, have transcended politics, it doesn’t mean that their regime cannot be assessed outside the linguistic swamp of efficiency and innovation – by using political, not economic benchmarks.

As Silicon Valley keeps corrupting our language with its endless glorification of disruption and efficiency – concepts at odds with the vocabulary of democracy – our ability to question the “how” of politics is weakened. Silicon Valley’s default answer to the how of politics is what I call solutionism: problems are to be dealt with via apps, sensors, and feedback loops – all provided by startups. Earlier this year Google’s Eric Schmidt even promised that startups would provide the solution to the problem of economic inequality: the latter, it seems, can also be “disrupted”. And where the innovators and the disruptors lead, the bureaucrats follow.

The true politics of algorithmic regulation become visible once its logic is applied to the social nets of the welfare state. There are no calls to dismantle them, but citizens are nonetheless encouraged to take responsibility for their own health. Consider how Fred Wilson, an influential US venture capitalist, frames the subject. “Health… is the opposite side of healthcare,” he said at a conference in Paris last December. “It’s what keeps you out of the healthcare system in the first place.” Thus, we are invited to start using self-tracking apps and data-sharing platforms and monitor our vital indicators, symptoms and discrepancies on our own.

This goes nicely with recent policy proposals to save troubled public services by encouraging healthier lifestyles. Consider a 2013 report by Westminster council and the Local Government Information Unit, a thinktank, calling for the linking of housing and council benefits to claimants’ visits to the gym – with the help of smartcards. They might not be needed: many smartphones are already tracking how many steps we take every day (Google Now, the company’s virtual assistant, keeps score of such data automatically and periodically presents it to users, nudging them to walk more).

The numerous possibilities that tracking devices offer to health and insurance industries are not lost on O’Reilly. “You know the way that advertising turned out to be the native business model for the internet?” he wondered at a recent conference. “I think that insurance is going to be the native business model for the internet of things.” Things do seem to be heading that way: in June, Microsoft struck a deal with American Family Insurance, the eighth-largest home insurer in the US, in which both companies will fund startups that want to put sensors into smart homes and smart cars for the purposes of “proactive protection”.

An insurance company would gladly subsidise the costs of installing yet another sensor in your house – as long as it can automatically alert the fire department or make front porch lights flash in case your smoke detector goes off. For now, accepting such tracking systems is framed as an extra benefit that can save us some money. But when do we reach a point where not using them is seen as a deviation – or, worse, an act of concealment – that ought to be punished with higher premiums?

Or consider a May 2014 report from 2020health, another thinktank, proposing to extend tax rebates to Britons who give up smoking, stay slim or drink less. “We propose ‘payment by results’, a financial reward for people who become active partners in their health, whereby if you, for example, keep your blood sugar levels down, quit smoking, keep weight off, [or] take on more self-care, there will be a tax rebate or an end-of-year bonus,” they state. Smart gadgets are the natural allies of such schemes: they document the results and can even help achieve them – by constantly nagging us to do what’s expected.

The unstated assumption of most such reports is that the unhealthy are not only a burden to society but that they deserve to be punished (fiscally for now) for failing to be responsible. For what else could possibly explain their health problems but their personal failings? It’s certainly not the power of food companies or class-based differences or various political and economic injustices. One can wear a dozen powerful sensors, own a smart mattress and even do a close daily reading of one’s poop – as some self-tracking aficionados are wont to do – but those injustices would still be nowhere to be seen, for they are not the kind of stuff that can be measured with a sensor. The devil doesn’t wear data. Social injustices are much harder to track than the everyday lives of the individuals whose lives they affect.

In shifting the focus of regulation from reining in institutional and corporate malfeasance to perpetual electronic guidance of individuals, algorithmic regulation offers us a good-old technocratic utopia of politics without politics. Disagreement and conflict, under this model, are seen as unfortunate byproducts of the analog era – to be solved through data collection – and not as inevitable results of economic or ideological conflicts.

However, a politics without politics does not mean a politics without control or administration. As O’Reilly writes in his essay: “New technologies make it possible to reduce the amount of regulation while actually increasing the amount of oversight and production of desirable outcomes.” Thus, it’s a mistake to think that Silicon Valley wants to rid us of government institutions. Its dream state is not the small government of libertarians – a small state, after all, needs neither fancy gadgets nor massive servers to process the data – but the data-obsessed and data-obese state of behavioural economists.

The nudging state is enamoured of feedback technology, for its key founding principle is that while we behave irrationally, our irrationality can be corrected – if only the environment acts upon us, nudging us towards the right option. Unsurprisingly, one of the three lonely references at the end of O’Reilly’s essay is to a 2012 speech entitled “Regulation: Looking Backward, Looking Forward” by Cass Sunstein, the prominent American legal scholar who is the chief theorist of the nudging state.

And while the nudgers have already captured the state by making behavioural psychology the favourite idiom of government bureaucracy –Daniel Kahneman is in, Machiavelli is out – the algorithmic regulation lobby advances in more clandestine ways. They create innocuous non-profit organisations like Code for America which then co-opt the state – under the guise of encouraging talented hackers to tackle civic problems.

For Silicon Valley, though, the reputation-obsessed algorithmic state of the sharing economy is the new welfare state. If you are honest and hardworking, your online reputation would reflect this, producing a highly personalised social net. It is “ultrastable” in Ashby’s sense: while the welfare state assumes the existence of specific social evils it tries to fight, the algorithmic state makes no such assumptions. The future threats can remain fully unknowable and fully addressable – on the individual level.

Silicon Valley, of course, is not alone in touting such ultrastable individual solutions. Nassim Taleb, in his best-selling 2012 book Antifragile, makes a similar, if more philosophical, plea for maximising our individual resourcefulness and resilience: don’t get one job but many, don’t take on debt, count on your own expertise. It’s all about resilience, risk-taking and, as Taleb puts it, “having skin in the game”. As Julian Reid and Brad Evans write in their new book, Resilient Life: The Art of Living Dangerously, this growing cult of resilience masks a tacit acknowledgement that no collective project could even aspire to tame the proliferating threats to human existence – we can only hope to equip ourselves to tackle them individually. “When policy-makers engage in the discourse of resilience,” write Reid and Evans, “they do so in terms which aim explicitly at preventing humans from conceiving of danger as a phenomenon from which they might seek freedom and even, in contrast, as that to which they must now expose themselves.”

What, then, is the progressive alternative? “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” doesn’t work here: just because Silicon Valley is attacking the welfare state doesn’t mean that progressives should defend it to the very last bullet (or tweet). First, even leftist governments have limited space for fiscal manoeuvres, as the kind of discretionary spending required to modernise the welfare state would never be approved by the global financial markets. And it’s the ratings agencies and bond markets – not the voters – who are in charge today.

Second, the leftist critique of the welfare state has become only more relevant today when the exact borderlines between welfare and security are so blurry. When Google’s Android powers so much of our everyday life, the government’s temptation to govern us through remotely controlled cars and alarm-operated soap dispensers will be all too great. This will expand government’s hold over areas of life previously free from regulation.

What, then, is to be done? Technophobia is no solution. Progressives need technologies that would stick with the spirit, if not the institutional form, of the welfare state, preserving its commitment to creating ideal conditions for human flourishing. Even some ultrastability is welcome. Stability was a laudable goal of the welfare state before it had encountered a trap: in specifying the exact protections that the state was to offer against the excesses of capitalism, it could not easily deflect new, previously unspecified forms of exploitation.

How do we build welfarism that is both decentralised and ultrastable? A form of guaranteed basic income – whereby some welfare services are replaced by direct cash transfers to citizens – fits the two criteria.

Creating the right conditions for the emergence of political communities around causes and issues they deem relevant would be another good step. Full compliance with the principle of ultrastability dictates that such issues cannot be anticipated or dictated from above – by political parties or trade unions – and must be left unspecified.

What can be specified is the kind of communications infrastructure needed to abet this cause: it should be free to use, hard to track, and open to new, subversive uses. Silicon Valley’s existing infrastructure is great for fulfilling the needs of the state, not of self-organising citizens. It can, of course, be redeployed for activist causes – and it often is – but there’s no reason to accept the status quo as either ideal or inevitable.

Why, after all, appropriate what should belong to the people in the first place? While many of the creators of the internet bemoan how low their creature has fallen, their anger is misdirected. The fault is not with that amorphous entity but, first of all, with the absence of robust technology policy on the left – a policy that can counter the pro-innovation, pro-disruption, pro-privatisation agenda of Silicon Valley. In its absence, all these emerging political communities will operate with their wings clipped. Whether the next Occupy Wall Street would be able to occupy anything in a truly smart city remains to be seen: most likely, they would be out-censored and out-droned.

Algorithmic regulation, whatever its immediate benefits, will give us a political regime where technology corporations and government bureaucrats call all the shots. The Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem, in a pointed critique of cybernetics published, as it happens, roughly at the same time as The Automated State, put it best: “Society cannot give up the burden of having to decide about its own fate by sacrificing this freedom for the sake of the cybernetic regulator.”

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Posted in P2P Governance, P2P Hierarchy Theory, P2P Technology, Politics | 4 Comments »