World Brain as EarthGame™
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The recent identification by the United Nations High-Level Threat Panel of the ten high-level threats to humanity, listed below, is most helpful in identifying the related underlying symptoms of global collapse.
Infectious Disease Other Atrocities
Environmental Degradation Proliferation
Inter-State Conflict Terrorism
Civil War Transnational Crime
Figure 1: Ten High-Level Threats to Humanity
As J. F. Rischard puts it in his book HIGH NOON: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them (2003), We the People are moving away from hierarchies at the same time that nation-states are struggling (many collapsing), and the lines are blurring among public and private sector enterprises. Nation-states, the most complex of enterprises, are collapsing and turning disasters like Katrina into catastrophes for lack of a proper decision support process and adaptive capabilities that can respond quickly to unanticipated challenges. Indeed, Joseph Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988) teaches us that as societies become more complex, their ability to manage details from the top down becomes overly expensive and less and less effective; Henry Kissinger, in Does American Need a Foreign Policy? (2004) notes that politics has failed to keep up with globalization and new forms of communication; and there are no fewer than twenty-seven (27) secessionist movements in the United States of America, and six secessionist movements in Canada (as well as hundreds elsewhere around the world). Meanwhile, under the Bush-Cheney regime, failed states have multiplied dramatically, with the United States of America itself no longer in the Sustainable category, but falling to being of moderate concern.
Put most simply, the traditional concept of bureaucracy as a means for administering complex organizations, the heart of the public administration paradigm, has failed. At the same time, the Internet and the cellular telephone have made possible completely new forms of collective action in acquiring, making sense of and sharing information. We are in crisis, in an intermediate period where political entities are failing; non-governmental organizations and social networks are emergent, and the majority of individuals have not yet chosen to become active participants in any of a number of collective intelligence enterprises, while a small minority are heavily engaged across a wide variety of networks that dilute the energy of individuals while not yet achieving synergy across divergent activist movements.
Smart Mobs, Information Sharing & Decision Support
The traditional paradigm for governance has relied on top-down or “elite” decision-making, generally behind closed doors and often in a climate of secrecy. This is consistent with the Weberian concept of bureaucracy as a means of pigeon-holding knowledge. Now a new paradigm is emerging, on that combines the power of collectives as discussed in World Café, Smart Mobs, The Tao of Democracy, An Army of Davids, The Change Handbook, Infotopia, Crashing the Gate, and Society’s Breakthrough; and the power of information to create Infinite Wealth, Thomas Stewart, the Wealth of Knowledge, Alvin & Heidi Toffler, Wealth, Yochai Benkler, the Wealth of Networks, and most recently, Howard Gardner, Five Mind for the Futures and Keith Sawyer, Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration as well as Richard Ogle, Smart World: Breakthrough Creativity and the New Science of Ideas. Each of these is the title of a book that adds to our understanding of the fact that information can be shared without losing value, and indeed gaining in value and creating new wealth as it is shared. This changes the balance of power between elites and the public. In the face of vast quantities of information, the ability of the elites to process and make sense of information declines sharply, while the ability of the public rises dramatically—as the LINUX pioneers like to say, “Put enough eyes on it and no bug is invisible.” The latter idea is developed in H. G. Wells, World Brain (1932); Pierre Levy, Collective Intelligence (1997), Howard Bloom, Global Brain .(2000); and Dee Hock, One From Many (2005).
Mandates for Change: Isolating the Key Policy Domains
Identifying and appreciating the high-level threats to our collective humanity is but the beginning. There have been two obstacles to coherent collective action in the past: the isolation of each of the policy domains, each dominated by a distinct group of stakeholders with no over-arching authority able to demand the harmonization of policies; and a lack of shared information or a common view of the totality of the systemic architecture and how policies and expenditures in one domain impact on all others.
Recently the author studied the various “mandate for change” volumes that precede any general election for President in the United States, and identified twelve policy domains where budgets and behaviors must be harmonized.
Figure 2: Twelve Key Policy Domains Requiring Harmonization
By identifying these, and combining them in a matrix with the ten high-level threats to humanity, it becomes possible to acquire, process, and present relevant information, including budgetary information, showing both the costs of the ten high-level threats to each community; and the cost-benefit tradeoffs of specific investments in specific policy domain areas.
It now becomes possible to see that subsidizing agriculture in the USA creates poverty in Third World countries suited only for agricultural production, while also consuming water that is increasingly scarce as the US aquifers drop a meter each year. It becomes possible to see that each gallon of ethanol fuel created consumes 1,700 gallons of water in the growing and processing.
Information in Historical and Future Context
Information that was once known but not recognized—Fog Facts—can now be shared, understood, and acted upon by collectives that previously delegated decision-making to an elite. Information that was once concealed, censored, or manipulated, is now being discovered and placed before the public—witness Lost History, or Someone Would Have Talked. One has only to look at the wealth of the literature—and the DVDs—on 9-11 to see that the information environment has changed radically in favor of We the People. Our digital memory will recover history, inform the present, and illuminate the future. However, memory is not enough. We need a process—a tool—that everyone can use, that is firmly founded in reality, is able to place all the relevant facts before an infinite audience of diverse stakeholders, and also allows for the clear visualization of alternative scenarios, their costs in the near to long term, and their benefits in the near to long term. Above all, this process must represent what Stewart Brand has called The Clock of the Long Now (2000), and it must allow every individual, every collective, to understand The State of the Future in terms that are meaningful and actionable.
Irrelevance of Europe and the United States of America
Before going on to describe the Earth Intelligence Network process that will support the EarthGame™ and make a World Brain possible (i.e. not just a network of nodes, but a network that can ask questions and make decisions as a collective, at every level in every language on every topic), it is important to emphasize that nothing that Europe or the United States of America do will matter unless we create a model so compelling that it is immediately adopted by the eight major players who will in the aggregate define the future of the Earth and the fate of Humanity. They are listed below.
Indonesia Wild Cards
Figure 3: Eight Major Players (Demographic Giants & Wild Cards)
The illustration below says it all—we must start with reality and end with peace and prosperity for all.
Figure 4: Strategic Intention for a World Brain
At the operational level, which concerns itself with campaign plans and the harmonization of disparate endeavors to achieve commons ends, we have found that the single most important obstacle to coordinated action is a lack of a common visualization of the operational “terrain” (be it a challenge such as poverty, or a province where multiple challenges are to be found); and, conversely, that the single fastest and cheapest way to rapidly accelerate and enhance voluntary coordinated action, is through information sharing and an inclusive decision support process. The 24 co-founders of the Earth Intelligence created the operational approach illustrated below, with a view to making the EarthGame™ a tool, a service of common concern, for all mankind and all collectives—in makes precision giving possible.
Figure 5: Operational Concept for Internet-Based Global EarthGame™
The digital EarthGame™, to be designed and implemented under the leadership of Medard Gabel, who co-created the analog World Game with Buckminster Fuller, is:
- An online global problem-solving tool accessible to anyone in the world with Internet access where sustainable and affordable solutions to real world problems are envisioned, developed, costed out in all respects, and tested so they can be implemented as soon as possible.
- An online tool and game that provides “ordinary” people the opportunity and challenge of addressing real world problems in a way that builds knowledge, competency, and options for real world implementation.
- An experiential, interactive, and fun way of learning about the world, its resources, problems, and options that builds global capacity and alternatives for sustainable prosperity.
Our intent is to honor the vision of Buckminster Fuller:
“To make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, with present day resources and technology, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological harm or the disadvantage of anyone.”
The world needs to see itself, across threats, opportunities, policies, and budgets, at all levels. As a planetary species, humanity needs a tool for seeing the whole, for connecting the dots, seeing patterns and large scale trends, and most importantly, recognizing, defining and solving its most pressing problems in a global context. Nearly all of the world’s most critical problems are global in scope and have been made increasingly dangerous by a piecemeal local approach that ignores interconnections and its resultant synergy. EarthGame™, by allowing all to see the all budgets in a planetary perspective, will inspire wise collective decisions that were heretofore unattainable.
Supporting the EarthGame™
Three institutes comprise the operational level of the Earth Intelligence Network, which is the parent and a 501c3 from 12 January 2007::
- Earth Intelligence Network (EIN). This network of activists and experts on each of the ten threats, twelve policies, and eight challengers will use funds solicited from foundations, governments, and corporations, to create public intelligence in the public interest.
- Transpartisan Policy Institute (TPI). Under the leadership of James Turner, Esquire this institute will harness the distributed knowledge of experts and practitioners as well as citizen end-users to identify a wide variety of policies and their projected outcomes, for inclusion in the EarthGame™,
- Public Budget Office (PBO). Under the leadership of Mr. Arnold Donahue, recently retired Senior Executive Service (SES) of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), this office will facilitate the loading of all budgets into an online framework that can be exploited by the EarthGame™, and will nurture Open Space dialogs about budget trade-offs in relations to the facts as they can be known, and the future as it can be forecast on the basis of alternative investment scenarios.
Other elements in support of the EarthGame™ include the Open Money project, an essential enabler for collective enterprise free of the debt and related handicaps associated with the existing monetary system that thrives on scarcity; the Memetics and Open Spectrum project that seeks to facilitate a global conversation while also promulgating standards and methods helpful to the achievement of Open Spectrum; and a Transpartisan People’s Trust collecting micro-cash money in order to bury conventional political parties and enable both honest democracy and micro-giving to the five billion poor.
Our tactical intention can be described in three phases.
- Phase 1. Connect the United Nations System, the Foundations spending money on the high-level threats to humanity, and the emerging Civil Affairs and “white hat” capabilities of the Pentagon. We do this through an annual conference with the intent of creating a validated global spending plan that the United Nations can share with all the foundations in order to enhance the impact of the aggregate funds as they are spent in the context of a harmonized global “virtual” budget for peace.
- Phase 2. Assist and leverage a Multinational Decision Support Center (MDSC) in Tampa, Florida, in support of the new Office of the Assistant Secretary General (ASG) of the United Nations for Decision Support; and also the new Department of State (DoS) Office for Information Sharing Treaties and Agreements (IST&A), as well as the Foundations.
- Phase 3. Attract sufficient funding to manage a global program to recruit volunteers or subsidized contract teachers—100 million in number—each able to offer Internet access and educational tutoring to the five billion poor, “one cell call at a time.” Educating the five billion poor “on the fly” is in our view the single fastest means of creating infinite stabilizing wealth in every clime and place. In conjunction with the widespread use of Open Money, we anticipate a relatively rapid single-generation leap forward in which those in extreme poverty triple their income from 1-2 dollars a day to 3-6 dollars a day. Helping to achieve that change is our “home run.”
Public intelligence is the antithesis of secret intelligence and secret power. Public intelligence can dramatically improve the transparency of public budgets, and since the budget is the policy, it can illuminate for the public what the real policies are, as opposed to the platitudes offered by politicians. By focusing very explicitly on budgets, and making it possible for all budgets to be loaded into the EarthGame™, it is our hope that we will provide the citizens of each jurisdiction with a means of eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse—and of course corruption—by subjecting every public transaction to public scrutiny before it is executed. We do, however, have a much larger vision for how the EarthGame™ can proactively influence up to $3 trillion a year in expenditures that here-to-fore have been uncoordinated and executed in isolation from one another. Here is Medard Gabel’s alternative spending plan for just one third on what is now spent on war. EarthGame can serve as a virtual Global Range of Gifts Table that all organizations and individual donors can use to opt in as the responsible party for specific needs from $10 to $10 billion.
Figure 6: The Opportunity Cost of War: Peace & Prosperity for All
Political Intention: E Veritate Potens – With Truth, We the People Are Empowered. We will create public intelligence in the public interest. We will create a prosperous world at peace.
 EarthGame™ is a trademark registered by Medard Gabel, who helped create the analog World Game with Buckminster Fuller, and is a co-founder of the Earth Intelligence Network, where he will oversee the creation of a digital EarthGame™.
 The author is one of twenty-four co-founders of the Earth Intelligence Network (EIN), a non-profit coalition that provides public intelligence in the public interest to all forms of organization, and to eventually organize 100 million volunteers able to teach the five billion poor “one cell call at a time. A recovering spy, he has spent the last twenty years as the leading international proponent for Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and is in passing the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction (#38 over-all as of 18 Feb 08).
 Two other compelling works are Jared Diamond’s COLLAPSE: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005); and an edited work, Catastrophe & Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster (2002)
 I choose not to get into the concept of memes here, but have great respect for Richard Dawkins, Robert Auger and the many others that have sought to develop that discipline.
 Real-time science is needed because changes to the Earth that used to take 10,000 years now take three. EarthGame™ is the Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth.
 Ralph Nader’s first partner, today a principal in Swankin & Turner, a law firm specializing in health and food industry standards, and co-developer of the concept of transpartisanship, a concept that subordinates political affiliations to the public interest.
 Open Spectrum leads very quickly to the promulgation of smart devices that make better use of all available spectrum. See David Weinberger’s contribution in this book, from page 445.
 His forthcoming book, Seven Billion Billionaires, will spell out the details.