Thankfully, not everyone is caught up in the trend toward thoughtless stridency. Plenty of people consider issues in a calmer and more reasoned fashion.
But while the echo chambers have their emotion-laden rallying cries, thinkers, by their nature, tend not to. A flag that shouts “Don’t Tread On Me!” is a lot more effective in rounding up true believers than one emblazoned with “Hmm, Let’s Think About This...”
That’s a problem. Outside of social media, and before it, there are and were all sorts of organizations where calm and thoughtful people gather to discuss things in a calm and thoughtful fashion. Their existence has provided an important space where valuable ideas and policies and initiatives are born.
And so, Stoanova is about a better kind of social media, a space governed by civility and by something called the engineering mindset, which will be described later as the last of our “Items.”
Is Stoanova right for you?
Let’s find out.
There is a distinct social trend of disaffection with religion
The trend begs the question: is religion good or bad?
Whatever the answer, one thing is certain: the scriptures underlying of all the major religions were written long before people knew anything about DNA, subatomic particles, PKI, endocrinology, microbes, the immune system, electromagnetic radiation, digital signatures, relativity, quantum phenomena – or even electricity. Offsetting the deep wisdom of antiquity’s best thinkers was profound ignorance of the world around and within them.
Stoanova is a retrofit, an update, to religion.
(For the explanation of the quotation marks, watch the video below).
Stoanova’s premise is that all religions could benefit from thoughts, observations, and discoveries that appeared in the millennia since their holy scriptures were written.
If you agree that religions could benefit from updates from things that have been learned since their scriptures were written then we hope you’ll be interested in learning more – and in joining us.
Stoanova is monotheistic. This should really be a minor detail, not worthy of top billing, but people make so much of this trivial matter of belief in God.
If you claim to be an atheist then you are welcome to join. Stoanova can serve you well. That’s because despite your claim, you are not an atheist.
To allow us to prove that, watch this short video:
The words “atheist” and “theist” presume that we can know where we came from, that is, that we can figure out how the universe works. That’s nothing new. Human beings have always pursued that conceit.
The first time we figured it out we discovered that at the bottom of it all were the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. Only a few details remained to be worked out.
Then in working out the details, new instruments such as telescopes and microscopes and other instrumentation that showed how incredibly naive we were with those assumptions.
That process repeats itself over and over as our human hubris tells us that this time we’re closing in on the great unifying theory and its proof.
Adam Kirsch, writing recently in the New Yorker, in his Philosophy in the Shadow of Nazism, shows how the members of the Vienna Circle put it all together on a “rigorously logical footing”:
“For Wittgenstein, the renovation of philosophy had to begin with language. Since the Greeks, Western thinkers had tried to understand the world using terms such as “being” and “becoming,” “substance” and “essence,” “real” and “ideal.” But these abstractions gave rise to complicated arguments that went around and around, never reaching any definite conclusion. Now, in the early twentieth century, relativity and quantum theory were redrawing the map of reality in ways that could be verified by experiment and given precise mathematical expression. In an age of triumphant physics, did philosophy still need to bother with metaphysics?
By declaring the answer to be no, Wittgenstein set modern thought on a new course. For the analytic philosophy he helped inspire, many of the discipline’s traditional problems are actually just misunderstandings, based on an erroneous use of language.”
Quantum and relativistic phenomena and other discoveries disrupted everything. But we're far from done with the disruption. Consider the possibility that scale is infinite in both directions: our universe is an atom inside a universe which is an atom inside a universe ad infinitum; and a hydrogen atom contains subatomic particles, each of which contains atom-like structures, inside each of which are atom-like structures, ad infinitum. What about the question of what does it mean to be “before” the Big Bang if time came into existence at the Big Bang?
What if it’s all built on semantics that represent artificial distinctions? Are you really not going to be happy until you as a scientist figure it all out? Good luck wi dat.
With my undergraduate degree in physics, I’ve been taught that the dominant process in the universe is entropy, which tells us that everything is going toward randomness. Then when I went to the Chilean desert I witnessed the total solar eclipse, exactly as predicted, at precisely 20:32 on July 2, 2019. So, the part of existence we inhabit (in one of perhaps an infinite number of universes?), which was formed out of a totally amorphous cloud of particles, has organized itself into a solar system of incredible precision. Sure, the mathematics and physics of the solar system is understandable and explainable. But as a witness to something profoundly anti-entropic, not to mention beautiful in its precision, it would be nothing but foolish hubris to pretend that the whole thing is understandable. It’s great to pursue a unifying theory of everything as long as you understand that you’ll never get there.
Albert Camus, along with many mostly Asian philosophers, have indeed figured “it” out. Because he had hung around with Sartre, Camus chose expressions like “Life is absurd” or “Life is meaningless” but as you read deeper you see that he was saying: “You’ll never figure it all out, so find your happiness where you are.”
Stoanova is based upon the admonition to “Humble thyself”.
“Atheist” and “Theist” are words that presume that you’ve figured it out.
But you haven’t.
Let it go.
Religion asks us to believe things which we’re inclined not to believe. It calls for belief in claims that our increasingly empirical minds have difficulty believing.
And yet, in 1637 René Descartes, the empiricist to beat all empiricists, showed that everything is built upon faith. Everything, that is, except the knowledge that some one thing exists because that something must be doing the thinking about whether anything exists. Other than that one bit of knowledge, everything we think we know depends upon our senses, which may not only deceive us but which may themselves be illusory. Therefore everything taken in by our senses – i.e. everything –is accepted purely on faith.
Making matters even more interesting: a few hundred years after Descartes, scientific discoveries such as general relativity and quantum mechanics ask us to accept things that are more nonsensical than anything in religious scripture.
So does that make more believable those unbelievable things that religion asks us to take on faith?
Here you’re on your own. Your empirical mind will be of no help; nor will Stoanova. It’s purely for you to decide what you accept on the basis of faith, guided by whatever works for you.
It’s also for you not to decide. Was water really instantly turned to wine? Who knows, none of us was around 2000 years ago to witness the event and write the tasting notes. I for one am perfectly content being clueless about whether that, or any other miraculous event described in scripture, actually happened.
Sometimes people conflate belief with faith. In Stoanova, belief is not important – but a willingness and ability to suspend belief is.
The ideas in Stoanova are mostly not new. So the news here isn’t the ideas. The news is that we are catalyzing people of like mind to form a community of values in the same way religions have done successfully for millennia.
Almost all religions have an elite, a class of priests to whom the masses of believers look not just for interpretation of scripture but for interpretation of the rest of life as well. Throughout most of human history, a large proportion of scientists and philosophers were also clergy or other religious leaders:
Here are just a few:
A Presbyterian minister and mathematician, Thomas Bayes, contributed to the logic of decisions in a way that was similar to the Bernoulli method that we will cite shortly as a test of the engineering mindset.
As literacy became more common, and as the clergy-scientists themselves made discoveries that appeared to contradict their own scripture, the basis for their elite status gradually eroded.
What wasn’t eroded was the need for society to be led by smart, value-driven people who can engage with others in finding solutions to complex problems – while also working to avoid the kind of polarizing shrillness that takes over the public square when such leadership is lacking.
This time around, let’s dispense with the process of selection of members of the elite by the operation of an old, politically-infested, male dominated hierarchy.
Instead, let’s use simple self-selection. If after reading about Stoanova you believe you fit the descriptions and you enjoy engaging with other smart people in a focused and disciplined pursuit of solutions to society’s problems, then consider joining Stoanova.
In spite of what I just wrote about belief, I must admit with some sheepishness that on many Sundays I join millions of people around the world, reciting in droning unison the Apostle’s Creed, proclaiming that I know that all the major miraculous events in the Christian Bible actually happened.
I do that for the same reason that I suspect most of my fellow droners do: because we are a community of faith.
Faith in the veracity of claims of miracles?
Nah, not so much.
Faith in shared values?
Yeah, that’s it.
Christians believe in the set of values that their particular Christian denomination professes. Same with other religious communities.
Regardless of how you feel about any particular religious denomination, do you like the idea of communities of shared values? If you do, and if you like the values that Stoanova puts forth, perhaps you’ll consider learning more, and perhaps you’ll join Stoanova.
So members of my denomination proclaim in unison beliefs that certain events actually happened, even though we may individually be undecided about whether they actually did happen.
Hey, we never claimed to be perfect.
And in fact the need to understand that distance from perfection is a core value of Christianity and other religions and sets of beliefs. Among the latter is stoicism in its many forms, from the ancient to the contemporary. If we’re not careful, we humans are inclined to believe we’re really hot stuff. And the more strongly we believe it, the more we attract a following of people who want to vicariously participate in our grandeur by feeding it with support, praise and adulation. It can really get out of hand, as we have all seen. That drug is addictive.
That is one of the big troubles with us humans. Christ and Freud and plenty of others have warned us of the depravity of big parts of our basic nature. When we tell ourselves that things like the need for humility apply only to other people, that we really belong in the seat just to the right of the throne of perfection, we get into big trouble.
Item five is straight from religious scripture. While there’s a version of it in all monotheistic religions, the Christian version is “Humble thyself in the sight of God and He will lift you up" (James 4: 10,11).
That-Which-Created-You-And-Me is greater than you and me. The more you keep that in mind using whatever works for you – worship, meditation, whatever – the better off you will be, in all ways.
You are fallible. You have shortcomings. The grace of That-Which-Created-You-And-Me is what will give you your next breath, your next heartbeat, your next neurochemical reaction, in spite of the many reasons why you don’t deserve that incredible gift.
Here’s a first question to help you decide whether you might be interested in joining Stoanova:
If you feel thankful for that which gave you a beating heart, you may find Stoanova to be of interest.
If not, you probably won’t.
“That-Which-Created-You-And-Me” is an awkward name, so let’s find a gender-neutral pronoun for it.
How about something short, let’s say three letters, easy to pronounce.
I got it! How about “God.”
It’s even short and pronounceable enough to serve as its own pronoun, with gender neutrality built in.
Humble thyself in the sight of God and
He God will lift you up.
Faith has repeatedly been corrupted over the centuries in ways that result in persecution, murder and war. Over and over we have seen religious leaders betray the trust that was placed in them.
Religious hierarchies were developed in a time before common literacy, before printing technology, and long before digital networking. In those days you needed priests who would meet with bishops who would meet with archbishops etc. to ensure that those common values were communicated to the illiterate masses.
Then the more ambitious priests would elbow their way up hierarchical ladder using methods that were quite contrary to what they were teaching their flock. So much for those common values. Religious hierarchies tend to corrupt.
Leadership problems aside, religion can provide a good framework for shared values. Often, religious congregations can provide what their own religions have difficulty providing. A member of a congregation tends to see themselves as accountable to other members of the congregation. Accountability is good.
A congregation can be the catalyst for groups of people to help those less fortunate than themselves, when individual initiative would have failed to do that. As we will see, the same technologies that match your need for a ride to the airport with a driver wanting to provide that ride can be applied to matching all sorts of needs with those who can fill the need.
Stoanova has no hierarchies, no bishops, no titled nobility. Leadership of a congregation is by volunteers. Everything in Stoanova is done by volunteers except when there is paid administrative help, which serves at the direction of volunteers. As with the original Congregational Church, the standards and values are established in a document (this document) and shared and reinforced in gatherings of limited size, both face-to-face and online.
Decisions are made in deliberations that are managed by moderators in a process we will describe shortly.
Religious teaching can help an individual understand their relationship to their creator, and curriculum based upon scripture is the essence of that.
Stoanova provides the foundation of a community where people of shared values can reinforce each other regardless of their religious affiliations. Just as important, it provides the information age facilities for acting on those values.
In Stoanova there is no coercion. If someone is not following the standards and values, another member may bring the deficiency to their attention. If it turns out that the alleged transgressor disagrees substantially with Stoanova’s values and standards then they will likely choose not to continue being part of Stoanova. In that case there will be no shunning, no ostracism. Stoanovans should always be on guard against the adoption of the methods used by cults.
In my books and videos I’ve made comparisons between a village of 800 people and a global village of 8 billion people; and attempted to show how PKI, when deployed properly (which has been rare) can provide the kind of mutual accountability in the global village that we have in a traditional small village. (After we’re done here perhaps you’ll read about, or watch the video about, how my daughter got me thinking about how PKI Done Right solves huge numbers of problems.) Watch this video for an explanation of PKI.
Of course accountability in any size village can have its downside. In a village of 750, everyone knows you, your strengths and weaknesses and the indiscretions you really wish they would forget about. But then you know about the indiscretions of others so it all evens out.
With PKI, accountability in a global village of 7.5 billion people is very possible. But unless it’s done right, the downside is much more onerous than accountability in a small village. We no longer need to point to George Orwell’s 1984 as invasion of privacy is just a fact of life these days. And that must be remedied
Accountable Anonymity is the solution.
With Accountable Anonymity, information about you is your own personal intellectual property, protected by both copyright law and secrecy law, as well as by PKI technology. Your personal nondisclosure agreement is something that those who want to know about you must either implicitly agree to or explicitly sign – and they’re still not done because they then need a license from you to use your personal information, and use it only for the purposes spelled out in the license.
Another part of Accountable Anonymity is your license plate credential. It works like your car’s license plate. Your car’s license plate makes you accountable for what happens on public roadways – but no one gets to know the identity of the driver or owner unless there’s been an accident or other incident. In the same way, your license plate credential lets you assert your identity without disclosing your identity.
You can have as many license plate credentials as you want, making it difficult for nosy social media companies and others to track your every move. But if you defraud or defame someone, or you engage in illegal activities online, and someone produces a court order, your identity can be uncovered and disclosed. That’s because your license plate credential is linked to a very private digital birth certificate that contains, or links to, that information. (The court order can come from any court in the world, but that court must pass muster with the courts of the Canton of Geneva, preventing repressive regimes from abusing the system.)
All very well and good, you say, but who’s to say that the information in your digital birth certificate is accurate? Who is to say that you are who you claim to be?
Every PKI must have at least one certification authority, and this PKI, called The Authenticity Infrastructure, is no different. Our certification authority takes the form of a municipality; and if you have one of its credentials then you own the city.
(This has opened a lively debate about the question: who owns the city where you live? Some say a municipality is owned by its residents, while others disagree. Whatever, if you have a digital residence in a community that accepts the governance of this city-in-cyberspace, the City of Osmio, then you own the City of Osmio. Check it out at governance.osmio.ch.)
The City of Osmio Vital Records Department uses what are known in PKI-speak as “registration authorities” to gather EOI – evidence of identity – from various sources. Each of eight forms of EOI is reported with a score of zero to nine, giving an aggregate score of zero to seventy-two. Any relying party gets to know the Identity Quality score of the credential and whether or not it is currently valid – and nothing more. Not the enrolled person’s name, location, age, gender – nothing, unless enrolled person chooses to disclose more about herself.
If the enrolled person wrongs you there is recourse. With a valid court order you will learn their identity. Otherwise all you know is that there is a real person behind the credential who is accountable for what they do.
Now that we have accountability we can have governance. We mentioned in Item 6 that governance meetings are let by moderators.
Moderators are elected using something called “optimocracy.”
Optimocracy is a process that emulates in the digital world a familiar process in the governance of municipalities. Effectively, cities and towns are governed by activists, that is, by people who have the time, interest, focus, and intellectual capability to participate in hearings and other city forums.
In an optimocracy, anyone can join a deliberation and anyone who is measurably active in the online room where the deliberation takes place may vote on matters that come up in that room. However, they must be active in order to vote. This serves to minimize bumper-sticker politicking, which is built upon the ability to manipulate the perceptions of uninformed voters. In optimocracy it’s difficult to find an uninformed voter because it’s difficult for an uninformed person to become a voter.
Optimocracy requires a robust identity infrastructure, to ensure that the person participating in the synchronous and asynchronous deliberations is who they say they are, that the identity cannot be delegated, and that a participant in a deliberation has only one voting credential. All of that is accomplished through the use of the Authenticity Infrastructure. Full disclosure: the author of this document is also the author of the Authenticity Infrastructure. But you already guessed that, right?
For most of the history of human social organization, behavior has been regulated by more or less official sets of norms. Violators would be dealt with at the whim of a monarch or his agents, frequently in an arbitrary manner.
Later, the sharing of power with legislatures begat the rule of law, which is progress.
However, systems of laws in many countries are so comprehensive that they deliver the message that one can and should do whatever is legal. Legal technicalities are invoked to justify what should be considered avarice. Rampant fraud, corruption of public discourse through the exercise of self-serving "public relations," and prurience are the result in many "developed" countries.
Worst of all, laws granting entitlements have left people feeling that they are no longer responsible for helping those less fortunate than themselves, as “the government takes care of that.”
We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident:
When they work, social norms are better than laws
To illustrate, let’s look at the difference between the way governments try to help the needy through mandated behavior, compared with the way non-governmental organizations attempt to do it.
Clubs, churches, synagogues, and civic organizations not only survive but reach out to help others outside themselves on a purely voluntary basis. The author’s church is like most in that its members tend to contribute financially to their level of ability. But some of them do not. Those who do not contribute their fair share are not paraded in front of the congregation, and are not badgered to cough up more. In fact, only the treasurer and secretary know how much each family gives. The deficient families may not even understand that they're not doing their part, that others will have to chip in extra to make up for it.
In spite of all that, the contributions are sufficient to include outreach in the budget. My previous congregation funded an orphanage in Central America and the current one provides services for the homeless in Boston. Since we audit the organizations that we help, and since there are no bureaucracies in between, we know the money is used well.
Imagine if the national and state/provincial tax authorities put out a message to private organizations: “We know that government bureaucracies can never be close enough to the needy to really understand their situation. Money will inevitably be misdirected. And then there's the fact that the bureaucracy absorbs a lot of the money before it ever gets to those who need it. Therefore we are getting out of the business of serving the needy. Please step up your work, and get your members to understand that they need to redirect the entire portion of their taxes that currently go toward social services to organizations like yours – or else directly to the needy themselves.”
Right now you’re probably thinking “Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen,” right? Governments know that a large part of the job of serving the needy is already being done by private organizations. They also know that:
Imagine if the outreach efforts of those organizations were organized around the kinds of tools that are used by the companies that match you with that ride to the airport. If that were to happen we might be able to get governments out of the business of compelling people to pay for the needs of others. Think of the amount of public acrimony that would eliminate. A person of means could provide specific help to a person in need. And as a bonus, they might get to be friends.
The difference between a law and a social norm is that the latter does not prescribe punishment for violation but rather puts forth a standard of behavior to be observed by members of the relevant community. The only sanction against violation of a social norm is social pressure, which can be more effective than the threat of fines and incarceration.
In a Stoanova community, whether a physical or online gathering, sets of social norms beyond those listed in the “Items” are voted upon and formalized. For example, “In our community, a fourteen year old should be home by 9:00 on a school night.” This means that “But Jamie’s mom lets her stay out to 10:30...” can be answered with “Sorry, but I have the community behind me on this one.”
Existing social norms help a little with things such as wastefulness, as people try to appear environmentally conscientious to their friends and neighbors. But when an online community gets its involved in making a set of standards, to be observed voluntarily, about what constitutes waste and other community matters, the resulting social norms are much more effective than informal norms. Social norms have the potential to reduce the number of permit-issuing bureaucracies.
Shortly we will be describing something we call the engineering mindset. Combining social norms with the engineering mindset will allow us to come up with much more effective solutions to problems than are provided by the political mindset.
According to Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative, one cannot ever suppose a right to treat another person as a mere means to an end.
We all know people who use people, right?
Well, by Kant’s standard it’s difficult to imagine a real human being who never uses others for their own ends.
When you’re trying to get your boss to send you to a convention in London, do you present the arguments against it (cost, time away from the job, etc.) equally with the benefit of the skills you’ll learn and the information you’ll bring back with you? Of course you sell the idea by focusing on the benefits. When you do that you’re using your boss.
We all use rhetoric to get our way. It’s usually a mild form of using others for our own ends. Sorry Immanuel. (But then I bet he did it too – or do we suppose that Kant achieved his fame and status without the use of a little rhetoric and salesmanship...)
Lest we think it’s OK as long as the detriment we’re causing is not very significant, consider the case of a company of soldiers, some wounded, trying to escape the advance of an enemy force of fresh troops, moving much faster than they are. The company commander says “Joe, climb up in that tree and be a sniper to slow the enemy and give the rest of us a chance at survival.” Everyone knows there’s no chance Joe will survive.
But at least Joe knows what’s happening. Consider then the real case of the Russian nuclear submarine with a damaged reactor going into meltdown. The skipper had to order a few men to go into the reactor room and manually separate the fuel rods. He knew that the men would die in a few weeks from painful radiation sickness, a fact that he neglected to mention to them. But if no one did what he ordered, everyone on the boat would die. So there’s an extreme case of a person using others for his own ends – but the skipper had no alternative.
You’ve probably heard the expression “Do or die.” It’s a misquote from Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade” The real quote, referring to cavalry soldiers in the Crimean War, is
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
That was the expectation of soldiers going into battle. The king is sending us to die in order to advance his interests.
If you think that was just a sad fact of a soldier’s life in a bygone era, think again. It’s established fact that additional American soldiers were sent into battle in Vietnam for reasons related to upcoming U.S. elections. Those who sent them did so knowing approximately how many would die.
How do we reconcile our desire to patriotically support our troops while knowing that what they’re being asked to die for is not their country but rather some politician’s agenda.
If we sell something for a profit, or we try to impress someone at work to get a promotion, or argue with our boss to get an overly generous share of the money allocated for bonuses, we are, to some extent, using people. If we hire people to work on something that will profit ourselves more than what we pay the workers, we are using people. To some extent, progress requires some mild form of violating Kant’s imperative.
If there were a Kant-scale of one to ten, a one would represent a claim that we never take advantage of others to benefit ourselves. Ten would be the case of a slaveowner who deliberately keeps their slaves ignorant and impoverished and weak so as to assure ongoing exploitation.
What level is OK?
Of course it’s impossible to precisely quantify how much “using” we are engaged in, but a Stoanovan strives to be aware of where the line is, and is mindful not to cross it. A Stoanovan’s check-in partner, described later, is part of that assessment.
You’ve seen the images of ancient Greeks dressed in what look like bed sheets, standing around on the front steps of some building, arguing over some scientific or philosophical question? “Stoa” means “porch” in ancient Greek; “Stoic” means “of the porch.” We’re building a new virtual porch.
From their earliest days, Stoics have been known for their aversion to BS. We believe there’s too much BS in modern life, that there needs to be more authenticity, more humility; and that groups of mutual accountability are helpful in keeping in check the human tendency toward ego gratification, self-aggrandizement, immediate gratification, and bad behavior in general. You know, those seven deadly sins. We’re in the midst of a BS epidemic.
One manifestation of that epidemic is political polarization. Labels such as “liberal,” “conservative,” “Libertarian,” Republican,” “Democrat,” “progressive,” etc. work like the precipitant in a chemical solution, creating bonds between people enabling them to rally around the “we’re right and they’re wrong” urge that comes from the disease known as hubris.
As K. Jason points out in comments on a YouTube video, rampant narcissism has a lot to do with it:
Psychopathy and narcissism don't discriminate when it comes to political leanings. These disorders are rooted in genetics and parenting styles and they have nothing to do with the political spectrum… Psychopathy and narcissism are epidemics. The rates are increasing every few years, and it's only going to get worse. These disorders are so pervasive, widespread, and socially accepted that it's pointless to try and attribute them to any specific group. Instead we need to focus on the individuals within these groups who corrupt everything they touch because evil is a part of their nature. They are our true enemy, and they're the problem we need to root out if we want to fix anything.
Evil is part of their nature because evil is part of everyone’s nature. The current epidemic results from untreated hubris, whose pathogens infect those whose psychological immune system has been deprived of necessary dietary humility.
From a notice for a webinar, April 2019:
Corporate Propaganda: False Flags, Shills, Astroturfing and Sock Puppets
Led by Vit Henisz, Deloitte & Touche Professor of Management, University of Pennsylvania
In response to growing pressures from civil society to address environmental, social and governance risk factors, some corporations are responding not by proactive engagement but by deception and subterfuge. An increasing number of seemingly grassroots citizens’ movements are, in fact, funded by corporations seeking to head off, weaken or confuse the mobilization efforts of civil society.
A Stoanovan can recognize BS when she sees it, and a Stoanovan works to remove BS from the public square. BS is not honest difference of opinion. BS is BS.
1 Bisulsilingua Sempiterna
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 2
A member of Stoanova does not judge where judgment is not necessary – which is most of the time. Just don’t judge unless you have to. Let it go. Chill. Live and let live. Most of the time, it’s all OK.
And yet that same Bible also offers this advice:
And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them. 3
So that admonition against judging others is not absolute. In effect, it says that if others have judged you and your message unfavorably, judge them as not worthy of further effort.
When circumstances tempt the evil side of a Stoanovan’s nature to cross a line, let’s say by engaging in some of the tactics mentioned above by Professor Henisz, the behavior must be confronted, and probably there must be an intervention, which starts with judgment. Even the apostle Paul calls for peer judgment of wayward Christians.
There will always be people who are so wrapped up in their own lives that they just don’t care about others, no matter how much effort is spent trying to evoke a measure of empathy for those who need it. Those are the members of the Suna 4. You’re not going to convince them, so avoid wasting energy on them. Typically they’re the people who won’t spend the time and energy required to participate in optimocratic deliberations, so they won’t generally affect things an optimocratically governed society.
Later we will introduce the check-in partner item. Your check-in partner helps you judge what you’re up to.
A political election is effectively a job interview. So imagine if an applicant for a job in a company used the techniques of a politician in interviewing. The minute they started to disparage another applicant, the interview and the opportunity would be over.
Politicians campaign the way they do – noisily, with simplistic slogans and glib proposals without detail – because a critical mass of voters simply do not apply the time and energy and intelligence necessary to make choices analytically.
Optimocracy can change that – and change the culture of group decision making. With that cultural change comes the end of the social acceptability of campaigning. If you want to be a moderator, or if you’d like your proposal to be approved, you state your case as you would in a job interview, then step aside and let the deciders decide.
Shall we define what we mean by campaigning? Probably not. We all know it when we see it, and to try to put a fine point on it is to revert from the methods of social norms back to the methods of legal systems. As we have noted, systems of social norms are superior to legal systems – when they work.
Logicians tell us that there are two types of reasoning by which we reach conclusions: deductive and inductive. Both are useful.
Yet when people use the term “stereotype” it almost always identifies something to be avoided. Stereotyping is bad. It’s the sign of a closed mind. It’s akin to all the “isms” we are taught to avoid.
Forming stereotypes and making decisions based upon them is about the same thing as inductive reasoning. Induction means forming generalizations about a class of entities based upon observations of some minimal number of them in a sample.
For the level of discussion in Stoanovan communities to rise above the immaturity of things like what have been called “grievance studies,” it is essential that we recognize that stereotyping is part of inductive reasoning.
Stereotypes are useful, as long as we keep in mind that exceptions abound. Once a generalization has been applied to an item in a sample, for instance, a person, one should look for the ways that item does not fit the stereotype. Perfection is rare in real life, and that applies to the way an item in a sample fits the generalization.
We will see in one of our Engineering Exercises that the wise use of induction can be useful in solving some significant social problems.
If anything in Stoanova contradicts your religious faith, your faith prevails. Hopefully there will be enough left of Stoanova to still be useful to you.
A member of Stoanova believes that major problems can be solved.
Here’s another question to help you determine whether on this particular point Stoanova is right for you. Read this poem, whose author, Ethan Coen, generously granted permission for its use:
The loudest have the final say,
The wanton win, the rash hold sway,
The realist's rules of order say
The drunken driver has the right of way.
The Kubla Khan can butt in line;
The biggest brute can take what's mine;
When heavyweights break wind, that's fine;
No matter what a judge might say,
The drunken driver has the right of way.
The guiltiest feel free of guilt;
Who care not, bloom; who worry, wilt;
Plans better laid are rarely built
For forethought seldom wins the day;
The drunken driver has the right of way.
The most attentive and unfailing
Carefulness is unavailing
Wheresoever fools are flailing;
Wisdom there is held at bay;,
The drunken driver has the right of way.
De jure is de facto's slave;
The most foolhardy beat the brave;
Brass routs restraint; low lies high's grave;
When conscience leads you, it's astray;
The drunken driver has the right of way.
It's only the naivest who'll
Deny this, that the reckless rule;
When facing an oncoming fool
The practiced and sagacious say
Watch out — one side — look sharp — gang way.
However much you plan and pray,
Alas, alack, tant pis, oy vey,
Now — heretofore — til Judgment Day,
The drunken driver has the right of way.
Copyright © 2001, 2009 by Ethan Coen. Reproduced by permission of Random House / Three Rivers Press.
How do you feel about Ethan Coen’s poem? (Choose one.)
If you checked either of the first two, then Stoanova is not for you.
If you checked the third item, then come on in! We need you!
Let’s lay better plans – and build with them.
Let’s use forethought to find ways for forethought to win the day.
Our mission is to keep the drunken driver and his ilk from having their way.
Our premise: with the right attitude and methods and people, we can accomplish that.
In Item 10 we noted the polarizing effects of political labels. Labels such as liberal, conservative, right, left, libertarian, socialist, etc. identify clubs, the distinction between and among which are no more significant than the distinction between Red Sox and Yankees, Manchester United and Real Madrid. Labels are the rhetorical equivalent of flags, whose function is to incite passion at the expense of thought.
Another example of mindlessness in nomenclature is the language of information technology, which is dominated by marketers using the FUD strategy: fear, uncertainty and doubt.
Unlike the world of mindless passion that is politics and the world of manipulation of perceptions that is information technology, the worlds of ACE (architecture, construction & engineering), medicine, law, etc. require the use of meaningful terminology. In order for your building to be habitable it needs an occupancy permit, and to get that its drawings must use the strict and well-defined language of building codes.
Stoanovans strive to model their discourse after the professions that require precision in terminology as a way to avoid manipulating and being manipulated.
I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best
of them, and I know how bad I am.
― Samuel Johnson
You, dear reader, are a racist.
How do I know that?
Because you are a human being.
The more like oneself another human being is, the more comfortable we are with them.
The less like oneself another human being is, the less comfortable we are with them.
You can claim that that’s not true, at least in your case.
I won’t believe you.
Different gender? Different language? Different color skin? Different style of dress? Different age? Different religion? Different sexual preference? Each of those differences puts a measure of discomfort between oneself and that other person.
The name for this is meism. Meism is like gingivitis in that it’s a disease we all suffer from. It’s the superset of racism, sexism, ageism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, and a variety of other manifestations.
...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 5
That includes you.
The effects of meism can be mitigated almost to the point of elimination. But there is always a little bit left, no matter how we try. We are human. We are born with it. It’s a part of who we are.
And it’s another reason for you and me to “humble thyself in the sight of the Lord” because in accepting that we have inherent flaws we gain freedom.
“I must see the ‘me’ in this other person who doesn’t look or sound or believe like me, and I need to do that for my own sake. If I can’t do that then I’m dwelling among the Suna.”
We can rise above our meism. We can rise above it so that it has no effect. But it is always there. It’s yet another reason why we shouldn’t be too impressed with ourselves.
A Stoanovan acknowledges their meism and works to overcome its effects.
Humble thyself in the sight of God and God will set you free of your delusions about your own wonderfulness. Face it, you leave a lot to be desired. Welcome to the club.
Corollary: Thank your spouse for their imperfections, because they give you your much-needed license to have your own imperfections. Without your spouse’s imperfections you’d be toast.
5 The Bible, Romans 3:23, (NASB)
We are OK attributing bad motives to politicians and famous people, but when we’re face to face in conflict with others we attribute conflict to gentler things.
We see the effects of this oversight everywhere. Counselors try to help people understand the "differences of opinion" that cause hostilities between them. But we all know that the desire of one person to have power over another is a much more common source of hostility among people than difference of opinion.
But counselors and helpful friends also know that "difference of opinion" is a lot safer to talk about than interpersonal power plays. It strokes the participants with its implicit assumption that they are honest, ethical people whose problem has nothing to do with one trying to take something from the other: their esteem, reputation, money, etc. Talking honestly about those things is touching a live wire. Better to leave it alone.
That is BS.
Stoanovans are committed to avoidance of BS.
Ethicists like to focus on determining what is ethical behavior, under the assumption that once determined, people will strive to live up to the standards of ethical behavior. They tend to avoid Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prisoner, who tells us
“I shot a man in Reno
just to watch him die.”
Johnny reminds us of an aspect of human nature that any system of ethics or faith must consider, that is, that evil is not just invoked to advance selfish interests, unless you consider instant gratification to be a valid selfish interest. This guy's going to be locked up in Folsom Prison for a long time for doing something he knew was not only evil but stupid.
Then there's “Screwtape evil,” the jealousy and resentment etc. that is provoked by experience, as illustrated in Heinrich Heine's little note about his ideal abode:
Mine is a most peaceable disposition. My wishes are: a humble cottage with a thatched roof, but a good bed, good food, the freshest milk and butter, flowers before my window, and a few fine trees before my door; and if God wants to make my happiness complete, he will grant me the joy of seeing some six or seven of my enemies hanging from those trees. [After] their death I shall, moved in my heart, forgive them all the wrong they did me in their lifetime. One must, it is true, forgive one's enemies -- but not before they have been hanged.
Ah, forgiveness. How many forgivers are a little confused about the whole subject. Willfully confused that is.
This is another place where Stoanova shares something with Christianity. People often cite the cliche that people are both good and bad, and the way they guard their assets shows that in their hearts they know about the bad part. But Christians are taught to point the finger at themselves.
We are all good and bad. The bad part is the part that needs attention, because our vanity is constantly trying to get us to overlook it. “Empowerment” is often the code word for “Ignore the evidence that you are anything less than perfect,” and so empowerment is always easy to sell.
News item: you are not perfect.
Not only do the two impulses, good and bad, fight within us at any given time, but at different times one will prevail over the other in any given person. Defaulting to the assumption of goodness in others sounds nice but it's a losing game. Screwtape and his nephews love to have us believe we can evoke goodness in others because it typically results in evoking evil.
Is there a way to stop the Folsom Prisoner's single lonely psychopathic act? Maybe in some cases, probably not in most.
Is there a way to prevent psychopaths such as the Folsom Prisoner from coming to positions of power where they can enlist other psychopaths in a coordinated effort to commit not just murder but genocide?
The answer to that question is yes. By understanding the process by which psychopaths come to power, and with the algorithms and tools we have to interrupt that process, we can prevent genocide. If the twenty first century turns out to be as brutal as the twentieth, we have only ourselves to blame.
In physics, dynamic friction is the resistance to movement by an object that’s already moving, while static friction is the resistance to be overcome to get the object moving in the first place. You know, you put your shoulder into that heavy box to get it to move, after which it glides down the floor leaving you sprawling.
Operators of web-based businesses talk a lot about friction. How easy is it to go from “I think I could use this pair of gloves on this ecommerce site” to having the gloves in hand? If it’s sufficiently easier for me to just go out and buy them in a physical clothing store, that is, if the site’s level of friction makes it too difficult to find the right size and color and navigate the ordering procedure, the site loses the sale because of its friction.
Both you and the site have put something in motion. You both want something to happen, but you necessarily need to do some things to make it happen because you can’t just make those gloves appear by wishing. Let’s call that dynamic friction.
Static friction, then, is what happens when we encounter people and institutions that prefer to have nothing happen, so they create whatever obstacles they can in order to prevent anything from happening.
When a business can’t market in another state or province or country because the time it would take to fill in the required forms and jump through other administrivial hoops would be too costly, that’s static friction.
Static friction is what prevents a distinguished physician from practicing the use of microphages, perfected in her native Russia, because to do so she’d have to re-do all her medical training.
A nonprofit that raises money for a claimed effort to make cities more livable chooses to ignore and even disparage newer, less costly, and less disruptive personal rapid transit systems because talking to benefactors about buses and subways is easier, is practicing static friction.
Static friction is why we have mindless variations in laws from one state or province to the next. It keeps law firms busy with busywork and lets their staff avoid having to, you know… think.
The world is full of people who can’t would rather not think, and who know how to follow by rote the peculiar rules and procedures of the turf they find themselves in. The result? Job security in a soul crushing boring mindless “profession.”
A profession used to signify that its members profess to immerse themselves in the relevant subject matter in order to be useful, to advance its state of knowledge. Reinforcing sources of friction is not useful to anyone – certainly not to those who do it. Static friction is dehumanizing. It’s the opposite of a profession.
In Stoanova we are committed to removing static friction. There’s plenty of work to be done without inventing fake work.
Of what came the Big Bang?
Cosmologists have figured that the Big Bang took place in an instant 14 billion years ago.
I’m certainly not one to question those assertions. Not only am I not a cosmologist, I haven’t done any of the work to arrive at these observations.
I can, however, ask questions.
So let’s say the Big Bang did take place in an instant 14 billion years ago.
Of what did it come?
It seems that time is something that’s characteristic of this universe.
We’re also told that it’s quite possible that our universe may be one of many universes. So maybe time existed in other universes and ours inherited time from that network of universes. In that case we can ask “What came ‘before’ the big bang?”
However, we have no particular reason to believe that a such thing as time existed “before” the big bang. “Before” is in quotes because the concept of “before” really has no relevance if time “did not” exist “then”.
What else do we know about this network of universes other than that we don’t know whether “time” exists “there”?
Let me suppose that this network of universes is like an atom, and our universe is like a subatomic particle in that atom. In that case, wouldn’t it be as likely as not that that atom itself is part of a molecule that consists of atoms, which in turn are networks of universes, each on the order of magnitude of our own universe?
Just as likely still is that the molecule is just one of the molecules in an object that has as many of those universe-molicules as a planet.
According to blastscience.co.uk there are 675,000,100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules in the earth, including its atmosphere. So perhaps there are that many groups of universes in this planet-like cluster of networks of universes. But then one little earth-like planet is an infinitesimal part of a galaxy, and Sky & Telescope estimates that there are two trillion galaxies in our universe. So let us try to contemplate two trillion of these uber-galaxies, universes.
And suppose that ours is the only universe that uses things like physics, chemistry, and time, that is, spacetime. Each other universe is composed of something other than physics, chemistry, and spacetime.
That may be difficult to contemplate, but it’s just as likely as any other scenario. So is the probability that some other set of dimensions other than space and spacetime prevails in each of those other universes.
Can we get our head around that? I certainly can’t.
As much as we work in our laboratories and think tanks to convince ourselves that we know something, we are in fact as clueless as the ancients who posited that the Earth is carried around the universe on the back of a turtle. It’s comforting to think that we have accumulated some knowledge about ultimates, but we have not.
Trying to figure out how existence works is fun. It exercises that organ between our ears and makes it more capable. It’s a worthwhile thing to do, as long as it doesn’t go to our heads.
Something unimaginable has ordered this existence and we don’t have the slightest chance of encapsulating it in our understanding. People in the future will look back at the “knowledge” we possess today and smile at our naively innocent view of existence. And yet they will be as naively innocent as we are.
We know next to nothing. So we must avoid being proud of our knowledge.
We’re not smart, we’re curious two year olds. And we will never grow older.
That which created you and me is far bigger than our silly little concept called “knowledge.”
Humble thyself in the sight of God and He God will lift you up.
Stoanovans choose someone with whom they have a ten minute check-in conversation with a mutually determined frequency, the more frequent the better. The check-in partner should not be otherwise connected to one’s life, so there are no diplomacy / political issues that can keep each partner from being candid with the other.
At sundown on the Friday on or immediately following every solstice and every equinox, members of Stoanova do all they can to cease all working, all commercial activity, all travel by means other than by foot, until noon the following Sunday. Those approximately 42 hours are to be used for family, friends, and solitary reflection.
Stoic tradition recognizes that some people do particularly well at exemplifying stoic principles in the way they live their lives, and has created designations for those qualities. According to Aristotle, the eudaimon life is one of "virtuous activity in accordance with reason." Eudaimonia is about going beyond learning and understanding the principles of stoicism to actually living those principles.
A sage is someone who has attained a level of wisdom sought by stoic philosophers. The term implies wisdom that comes with age.
Xenophon was a eudaimon. His friend Socrates was a sage.
Stoanova has no “specifications” defining what constitutes a eudaimon or a sage. If people start referring to you by one of those words, it means you have attained that status and that you’re worth listening to.
According to Wikipedia,
A benefit society, fraternal benefit society or fraternal benefit order is a society, an organization or a voluntary association formed to provide mutual aid, benefit, for instance insurance for relief from sundry difficulties. Such organizations may be formally organized with charters and established customs, or may arise ad hoc to meet unique needs of a particular time and place. Many major financial institutions existing today, particularly some insurance companies, mutual savings banks, and credit unions, trace their origins back to benefit societies, as can many modern fraternal organizations and fraternal orders which are now viewed as being primarily social; the modern legal system essentially requires all such organizations of appreciable size to incorporate as one of these forms or another to continue to exist on an ongoing basis.
Stoanova is fraternal (and “sororal”). We take care of our own.
In the seventies, an amazing technology was invented by the same British signals intelligence agency that shortened World War II by cracking the German Enigma code. That technology is PKI.
PKI can be thought of as a building material for software structures such as the “tunnels” you use every time you go to a site that starts with HTTPS://.
But PKI can do so much more. In fact it’s capable of solving almost all of our problems with the use of the Internet and phone networks: breaches, phishing attacks, malware, ransomware, human trafficking, etc.
Basic PKI tools are built into a lot of the familiar software we use all the time. But instead of directing developers to use those PKI tools to solve big problems, companies have either deployed bits and pieces of PKI in the quickest and easiest way to generate fast profits – or more often just ignored this astonishingly effective technology.
One reason big companies ignore PKI is that when it’s done right it puts people instead of machines at the center of everything, giving you complete control of the use of information about yourself.
That’s what we call Real Privacy. Much as companies like to talk about privacy, Real Privacy messes with their marketing methods.
The result of ignoring PKI except when it can make a quick buck was predictable. As MIT Technology Review said on its cover years ago, "The Internet Is Broken." And it gets more broken with every passing year.
Tunnels, including software tunnels, are quite secure in the middle, so that was a good start. But what about the openings at the ends, leaving us exposed to all the mayhem that happens in the wide open outdoor spaces in our phones, laptops, servers and tablets?
It's time for PKI Done Right.
Let’s use some of the good old common sense that went into building codes and occupancy permits that make our physical buildings secure. Let’s apply that same common sense along with PKI construction materials to rebuild the spaces where we keep and share more and more of the important things in our information age lives.
The Authenticity Infrastructure is PKI designed to be understood and deployed effectively to fix all sorts of problems with the information infrastructures that you and I use every day.
Some years ago, American safety regulators considered requiring large trucks to be built with a back bumper bar to prevent the worst effect of rear-end collisions. The trucking industry then noted that adding bumpers to all semi trailers would cost $3 million per life saved.
While that was the correct way to start thinking about whether or not to adopt the requirement, it precipitated passionate outrage in the American population. How could they be so crass as to put a price on the value of human life? “What if it were your son or daughter that was killed rear-ending a truck?” was a common refrain, as though that had any relevance to a policy decision.
A person with an engineering mindset would ask, on what else are we to base our decision? Traffic engineers and others regularly have to weigh the cost of a project versus the number of deaths avoided. They tend to do that weighing somewhere that’s not visible to a passionate and not very analytical public.
“A computer is a safety engineer with a heart.”
-variation on an old joke about actuaries
Question 3: Are you OK with the idea of making decisions about public safety in this way, by determining cost per life saved? If so then please consider joining Stoanova.
Stoanovans approach challenges with an engineering mindset.
The engineering mindset is passionate – about dispassion.
Approaching problems with that passion, the engineering mindset defines with dispassion a problem or set of problems that are to be solved, and a set of apparent modes of failure that cause the problem to exist. To the engineering mindset, the problem statement and its modes of failure are an art form.
As contrasted with the political mindset, the engineering mindset understands that usually many prototypes must be developed through iterative trial and error before version one of the deliverable is actually a deliverable, that is, worthy of actual use. And version one is just the beginning of a long series of improved versions. (The internal combustion engine is still being improved 130 years after being deemed worthy of use in vehicles.)
The engineering mindset avoids letting passion interfere with thought.
Ontology is important to the engineering mindset, which avoids using weasel words: language that subtly manipulates perceptions. We call a spade a spade.
“Issue” is another word I have complained about. There are questions, problems and issues. Questions require answers, problems solutions. Issues are matters in the flux of controversy. So I implore you, don’t tell me you have “issues” with your knee or with your kids, when what you have are problems.
- Joseph Epstein
Here’s another test, to see whether Stoanova is right for you when it comes to the Engineering Mindset item:
Watch this video in which Dan Gilbert explains why decisions are often made badly:
If you aren’t able to watch a video right now, the video explains a method for making decisions that was codified by Daniel Bernoulli a few hundred years ago.
It’s not necessary to understand the mathematical expression of the method, which is
In English, the method goes like this:
The benefit we can expect from an action is the product of two things: the probability that this action will allow us to gain something, and the value of that gain to us.
In other words, if we can estimate and multiply these two things, we can know exactly what we should do.
How do you feel about that?
Does it reveal for you a new way of thinking about decisions?
Or is your reaction something like, “What’s the big deal, that’s pretty much the way I make decisions.”
That is, you may not reduce every decision to mathematics, and there are often more than two possible outcomes to consider, but in an informal way you in effect assess the probability of the desired outcome from a course of action and multiply that by the value of the outcome.
If that describes the way you approach decisions, then you decide things in a Stoanovan way.
The engineering mindset is mindful of those who do not have an engineering mindset. As the late Admiral Hyman Rickover put it, “Knowing more about the public effects his work will have, the engineer ought to consider himself an ‘officer of the court’ and keep the general interest always in mind.”
That might strike some as elitist, but everyone is eligible to join. It’s self-selecting. You’re the primary judge of whether you have an engineering mindset.
Engineers tend to work on physical engineering problems rather than societal problems. They tend to be turned off by the shrillness of debate about solutions to societal problems, and so they leave those problems to those who can put up with the shrillness.
Stoanova hopes to change that by moving the debate to optimocratic places, where people with an engineering mindset tend to self-select in and people with a political mindset will tend to self-select out.
There are many different descriptions of engineering problem solving processes and the steps involved. In Stoanova the problem-solving process consists of:
We will deal with only the first four steps here.
Following are some examples of how the engineering mindset can solve problems that are outside the domains where engineers typically practice their discipline.
Let these examples serve as a catalyst for more. Submit your own ideas in the room named The Engineering Mindset At Work in the Stoanova Clubhouse inside Authenticity Village.
Years ago it was discovered that simply giving a homeless person a voicemail account with dedicated phone number greatly improved their chances of finding a job. The surprising part of that was that people found it surprising! How is a person to get a job if there’s no way for the employer to follow up on an application?
That’s just one example of how connectedness is solving all sorts of problems. Despite all we hear about homelessness and poverty, the World Bank tells us 6 that “The percentage of people living in extreme poverty globally fell to a new low of 10 percent in 2015 — the latest number available — down from 11 percent in 2013, reflecting steady but slowing progress, World Bank data show. The number of people living on less than $1.90 a day fell during this period by 68 million to 736 million.
‘Over the last 25 years, more than a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty, and the global poverty rate is now lower than it has ever been in recorded history. This is one of the greatest human achievements of our time,’ World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. ‘But if we are going to end poverty by 2030, we need much more investment, particularly in building human capital, to help promote the inclusive growth it will take to reach the remaining poor. For their sake, we cannot fail.’
Despite the tremendous progress in reducing extreme poverty, rates remain stubbornly high in low-income countries and those affected by conflict and political upheaval.”
As with many problems, the last ten per cent seems to be the hardest to solve. But if solving the larger portion of the problem required an amount of resources that was proportional to the size of that portion of the problem, then logically if it were just a matter of applying the same available amount of those resources to the smaller portion of the problem, that smaller portion should go away quickly. Since that tends not to happen, we may conclude that there is something qualitatively different about the remaining smaller portion of problems in general.
“Universal Basic Income” (UBI) is a model for providing all citizens of a country or other geographic jurisdiction with a given sum of money, regardless of their income, resources or employment status. The purpose of the UBI is to prevent or reduce poverty and increase equality among citizens. (from whatis.com).
2. Problem Statement: Disconnectedness contributes to inefficient employment, unemployment, homelessness, poverty, political and social polarization, and objectification of people.
3. Known Modes of Failure
4.1 Proposal 1: The Individual Initiative
With this proposed program, anyone needing a minimal income will post a proposal on a Proposals site.
“I propose that I maintain the environment around Back Street in Boston’s Back Bay. I will pick up trash and I will monitor compliance with trash and recycling ordinances and keep an eye on things in general.”
“I propose that I modify the traffic islands along Maple Street, installing plantings of small perennials.”
Consequent Problem: people doing work near public roadways must have instruction and resources to protect their safety, and so...
“I propose that I provide safety classes and distribute cones and other safety devices for Individual Initiative workers whose projects involve work near roadways.”
“Many of those who might provide simple public services lack the ability to post proposals on the Proposals Site. I propose that I offer assistance to them.”
“I propose that I do research on the history of the city’s East End district for the upcoming city bicentennial booklet and website.”
There are no forms to fill other than the proposal itself. The default condition is that the proposal is accepted and that payable work begins when the participant says they are starting. There is no supervisory bureaucracy.
Compensation for services provided by workers under the Individual Initiative plan will be at levels proposed by advocates of Universal Basic Income.
Anyone may provide digitally signed reviews of the performance of the person doing the work. Signatures must be made by the PENs accompanying certificates with an Identity Quality score of at least 18 on a scale of 0 to 72.
Objections to a proposed project or complaints regarding performance on an existing project may be submitted; but the burden of proof for denying a proposal or terminating a position is on the person objecting. Objections are to be considered on a public page where optimocratic hearings take place and decisions are made.
If a person has failed to perform a previous job such that the deficiency is clear, they may be denied a future project.
4.2 Proposal 2: The Connection Machine
The arrival of matchmaking services such as ride sharing and other manifestations of the sharing economy has caused people to see the power of databases. Tap an icon on your phone and some server somewhere in the cloud will find a Lyft driver who wants to take you where you want to go. Tell the database you’re looking for a shared apartment, or a soulmate, or a boat to borrow, and immediately you see choices that fit your criteria.
Here we propose a matchmaking database that answers the question, “As a member of Stoanova I am expected to find someone to share with: share conversations, share troubles, share triumphs, share resources, share language lessons, share a daily check-in session.”
Matchmaking apps such as Lyft, AirBnB, and dating apps have made possible the matching of needs with availabilities in a way that had never before been possible.
A person of means, or of real wealth, may like to discreetly help out family members with the understanding that the arrangement will be confidential. Perhaps they can afford another family member – an adopted family member.
A volunteer effort by Stoanovans, organized online, will work to match families in need with families who can help with those needs. Conceivably they might be of help to each other; one needing financial assistance and the other needing someone from a different country to advise them about the local economy.
If your cousin needs money, you share money. If you need someone to talk to about a problem, you talk with your new cousin. You help each other out however you can – because you're family.
The matching and subsequent communication will be assisted by a matchmaking software engine.
From the app’s database, every Stoanovan is asked to seek an “adopted cousin” whose condition is the complement of their own. If the need is financial, the measurement of need would be around a global median. Thus, theoretically, the wealthiest person in the network would be matched with the poorest person. The poorest person would likely not have access to a phone or computer, so part of the reaching out by the wealthiest person would be to pay to seek out the poorest person and provide them with the necessary equipment.
The economic part of the matchmaking addresses the problem that causes wealthy people to isolate themselves in enclaves with other wealthy people, simply to avoid confronting the abundance of people who desperately need what they have. The existence of a very large population of needy people induces isolating guilt. The app will make it possible for the wealthy to help the needy as one would discreetly help a few family members. The presumption is that any person can be of help to any other person, regardless of their financial status. By constraining oneself to one adopted cousin and their family, one can give that cousin full attention without worrying about attracting a crowd. The less fortunate adopted cousin will help the better-off cousin in many ways, not the least of which will be to remind the rich cousin to be thankful for their good fortune.
But needs matchmaking doesn’t need to be limited to the economic realm.
An older couple without grandchildren may want to help out a young family that has difficulty affording day care while the parents work.
A person who has problems due to lack of social skills could be matched with someone who would like to take them under their wing and, by simply being an example, help them socialize.
Older, experienced mentors in a field could be matched with mentees.
The adopted cousin can serve as the check-in partner.
The universe of members will need to be divided up by language, so that you and your new cousins would be able to communicate.
Stoanova’s matching app, in brief, matches people who have human needs with those who can fulfill those needs. But the app must also include the services of volunteers from the Stoanova community, as this matchmaking algorithm is a lot more complicated than the one that matches passengers with drivers.
An article of faith among economists, including those who call themselves conservative (whatever that means) or liberal (whatever that means) is that people make economic choices strictly according to their own self-interest. The interests of the rest of the world are not considered.
If you show those economists any of the dozens of packages of products in any supermarket that tout “good for the planet” or “Earth friendly” they’ll change the subject. Reality is outside their assumption set. But most people do want to do the right thing – especially if they know they’re not the only ones doing so.
Society has relentlessly worked toward moving the money aspects of doing the right thing from religious congregations and private charities to the realm of governments and legal systems. For their part in that migration, religious congregations and charities seem to be led by people who view technology as dehumanizing; the consequence being that they leave themselves with good feelings about resisting dehumanization while steadily becoming less effective as providers of solutions to social problems. The combination of avoidance of technological solutions and deferral to government results in convoluted and ineffective laws. That, in turn, helps build the sport of finding ways to defeat the intent, but not the letter, of those laws.
Until the nineteenth century, the merchant bankers of Europe lived by a code that made insider trading socially unacceptable. If you wanted to maintain your place in that society, you just didn’t use privileged information to your own benefit. If you did, someone would know about it, word would get out, and you would find yourself without counterparties to negotiate deals with. That’s the way social norms work.
When insider trading subsequently became illegal, the practice became socially acceptable as long as law enforcement didn’t get wind of it, giving illustration to the old expression “You can’t legislate morality.”
Author’s corollary: “And when you attempt to do that (legislate morality,) you release people from the need to own, and live by, their own moral code.”
Charitable deductions from income tax represent an acknowledgment by government that it’s possible that individuals and private organizations can be more effective in their efforts to do socially beneficial things than governments are. Governments have accepted the idea that if a taxpayer deploys her capital to some socially beneficial purpose, with no means of personally benefiting from it, then the amount deployed is deducted from taxable income.
But putting governments in the position of deciding what is beneficial to society creates a minefield. In 2013 staffers at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service singled out conservative organizations with “tea party” or “patriots” in their name that were seeking tax-exempt nonprofit status, giving them extra scrutiny to see if they were abusing the political activity provisions of U.S. tax law. They did it because many of those organizations amounted to scams, preying on the willingness of the more emotional component of the American conservative movement to send money to anything and anyone who put the American flag and patriotic catchphrases on their website. After that practice was uncovered by the media it became a simple matter for the scammers to convince their “members” that the Democratic Obama administration was using the tax authorities to suppress them and their political agenda.
Let’s step back.
The deployment of capital, whether through nonprofits or commercial enterprises, is generally beneficial to society. It produces jobs and it gets things done. If society wants clean water and clean air and clean energy then society creates demand for those things and capital is deployed to manufacture clean water and clean air and clean energy. It’s not the deployment of capital but rather the corruption of the process of deploying capital that causes the persistence of things that society does not want.
In fact, nonprofit has a problem. By definition it is unsustainable. The caption on a recent New Yorker cartoon says it well: “Yes, we’re a charity tackling skyrocketing income inequality, but we’re also a charity that should be saying ‘I love my billionaire funder.’”
Holders of capital pay a lot of attention to the return that the capital produces, as well they should. Capital that produces a healthy return also produces jobs and other measures of health in the economy.
The economy isn’t the only party that likes to see a good return on invested capital of course. The individuals who own that capital also like to see that return.
But why? It’s often noted that above a certain level of wealth, no louche lifestyle could possibly consume the money as fast as it’s being produced. The biggest new houses typically are sold at fire sale prices after their newly rich owners discover what a pain they are. Old money – wiser money – prefers smaller homes.
Why do people like their wealth to keep growing after they have more than they can spend on themselves? One big reason is the freedom to do big things with big money. Bill and Melinda Gates get to make a dent in living conditions in vast swaths of the Third World. Can you imagine the personal satisfaction that provides?
But commercial uses of personal capital are also worthwhile. Producing a new app that makes money while doing something useful for its users is a worthwhile use of one’s own capital.
It’s the wealth that people lavish on themselves that people have a problem with, not the wealth that is deployed to create more wealth.
Earlier we mentioned a pair of truths that we hold to be self-evident. Here’s another:
Somehow society has come to believe that those represent contradictory points of view. They are not. Money isn’t evil; the love of money is.
Money is like economic fertilizer. It makes things grow, just as the best fertilizer, manure, makes things in the botanical world grow.
It’s true, big accumulations of such fertilizer tend to be smelly, unpleasant, and certainly hard to love. If you love such a pile of fertilizer for itself rather than for what it can do, something’s wrong with you. These days, sadly, you have plenty of company in that illness.
A nonprofit depends for its existence on donors who make profits. If the donor’s income is stable, and if the donor remains committed to the nonprofit, that arrangement can be sustainable. Typically, nonprofits spend a lot of their resources on the work of keeping up the donations, i.e. begging. A better model is for the nonprofit to find a way to make a profit, that is, to be genuinely sustainable.
Tax laws in most countries tend to offer a deal: if with your own money you do some of the work that governments try to do, then some of that money will count against your taxes. Wealthy families have traditionally created foundations, which apply the accumulated wealth to accomplish some public good. But in order for that money to qualify as tax deductible it needs to be donated to an organization that the tax authorities certify to be unprofitable, i.e. unsustainable. And often, avoidance of taxes becomes a game.
Tithing is something that’s akin to taxes. One may say that tithing is voluntary, and as a matter of law it is just that. But in a strong values-based community with well-defined social norms, “voluntary” doesn’t mean the same as it does outside that community. “Expected” is a better word. You are expected to do your share. You are socially accountable. Again, social norms can be powerful.
2. Problem Statement: Requiring Unprofitability In The Use Of Personal Capital Is Counterproductive.
3. Known Modes of Failure
4. Proposed Solution: The Stoanovan Personal Foundation
The Stoanova Personal Foundation is the vehicle for reviving and amplifying the benefit of social norms to socially worthwhile work. But while the Stoanova Personal Foundation has the “community expectation” aspect in common with tithing, it is not tithing. Unlike with tithing, control of the assets in the Personal Foundation remains with the person who created it, their family, and any other designate. However...
A Stoanovan of means lives by a revised version of principle used by taxing authorities in North America and elsewhere. Their accumulated money is put into two piles: money to live on, i.e. discretionary funds, and money to accomplish things with, i.e. capital. The principle that taxing authorities use, where anything donated to a charity may not in any way benefit the giver if it is to be deducted from taxes, also applies to all of a Stoanovan’s money that is designated as capital. In exactly the same way, money that has been designated as “capital” by a Stoanovan cannot be subsequently used as personal spending money.
Unlike the tax rules, however, it can be used as capital. It can be invested to make more money, and the instruments of the investment can and should remain under the control of the person who invested it or their heirs – for who would know better than they who made the money what is the best use for it? It’s just that, as with charitable donations, once declared as capital it can never be used in any way that personally benefits the donor -investor. Once money is designated as capital, it, and its earnings, are capital forever.
From time to time, tax laws do favor those who recycle their earnings into long term investments, i.e. capital. When that same principle is used in Stoanova, that capital can be deployed not only where it produces the most return as measured financially but also in the quality of life for all stakeholders where it is invested.
Control of that capital, and the business power that comes with it, remains in the hands of the person who initially designated it as capital or their designees, and its deployment can benefit other entities which that person controls – as long as it doesn’t find its way to benefit their lifestyle. Lifestyle is paid for only by salary or other compensation for work performed, or by retirement benefits – not by capital.
This is enforced as a social norm, not a law. A transgressor who uses Personal Foundation money for personal expenses may be subject to judgment by Stoanovan peers, but jail time is not part of the disincentives.
This may be hard to grasp in a world where the relationship between personal financial benefit from the use of capital has been governed by law rather than by social norm, as was the case in parts of Europe in centuries past. One reasonably contemporary example, however, can show how it’s done.
Billy Graham accumulated enormous amounts of influence and capital for his organization, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Organization. That influence and capital could easily have been leveraged to provide him with a lavish lifestyle, as we have seen popular evangelists do with saddening frequency. But he chose instead to live only on the modest middle class salary provided by his organization. That willingness to live modestly by separating capital from compensation exemplified the kind of moral leadership that the Stoanova Personal Foundation calls for.
If we assume the ongoing robustness of the governments, national and provincial, that make and enforce the world’s tax laws, then the Personal Foundation idea will provide benefits only inasmuch as it may encourage those governments to return to treating capital gains differently from ordinary income. If, however, national governments slide into the kind of irrelevance that characterizes county government in many U.S. states, systems of social norms will become important. Rather, they will continue to be important in governance of jurisdictions that exist only in social media, as social media resumes the maturity that it once had.
7 The Bible (NASB) 1 Timothy 6:10
Education everywhere can always be improved, but education in the United States has taken a particularly sharp turn for the worse in recent years. So, unlike most of the problems addressed in this Engineering Mindset section, this describes the problem as it exists specifically in the U.S.
The quality of education in the U.S. appears to be declining at all levels: in the home, K-12 public education, and higher education.
In the home, parents of small children are left to figure it all out for themselves. They could get a little help from their own parents – but those are the people who recently stood in the way of their independence so new parents tend to avoid asking them for advice. The grandparents try hard to keep their nose out of their children's parenting practices, repressing their own hard earned knowledge of the subject of parenting in order to avoid interference calls.
2. Problem Statement: Systems of education have a tendency to gravitate to modes where they serve and benefit the education establishment rather than the people they were intended to serve and benefit.
3. Known Modes of Failure
4. Proposed Solution: Effective Education
1. Parenting Education
Expectant parents are typically offered childbirth classes by the hospital where the delivery is to be performed. We propose that those classes be followed with a series of parenting classes.
2. Community PIA (parent intelligence agency)
Accessible only to parents, the PIA will let parents compare notes on what’s happening with peers in specific age groups. It will also offer a facility for the formation of community standards, set via optimicratic process. This will help put an end to “Janie’s mom lets her do it” - sorry, Janie’s mom is in the shared-parenting-standards club and we know what her standards and limits are.
Things to watch for
3. Neighborhood School
K-12 classes will be held in someone’s home or in a small neighborhood schoolhouse. A source such as Khan Academy or MIT and others provides authoritative, high quality curriculum, materials, and teacher support tools, while local classrooms provide supervision and mutual help in understanding the remotely-provided curriculum.
Regardless of their age, students who have an affinity for a subject are encouraged and expected to tutor those who have difficulty with it.
Parents take turns supervising and keeping order in the classroom and helping with lessons.
“A terrified and angry pacifism is one of the roads that lead to war."
I'm gonna lay down my sword and shield
Wonderful, now how are you going to get your adversary to do the same?
Because if you don’t, your adversary will view your decision as an invitation to attack.
I ain't gonna study war no more
Then how are you going to figure out how wars start – and how to prevent them?
I'm gonna lay down my heavy load 8
Wait. Lay down the load after we fix the problem.
U.S. Congressman: “What do you think is the is the
prospect, then, for nuclear war?”
Admiral Hyman Rickover: “Well I think we'll probably destroy ourselves. So what difference will it make? Some new species will come up that might be wiser than we are."
from a “60 Minutes" Interview with Diane Sawyer
On October 27, 2012, the climax of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Fidel Castro sent a cable to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev calling on him to fire nuclear missiles on Washington, D.C., New York, and other American cities with a warhead 60 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. He knew that that would mean that Cuba would be annihilated.
The consensus of historians seems to be that Adolf Hitler intended to use nuclear weapons in the second world war, and would have done so if he had had them in his arsenal.
The next Stalin or Hitler or Genghis Khan will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons. The existence of nuclear weapons is inspiring some unstable megalomaniac as you read this.
Engineered Peace is not pacifism. Pacifists dwell on the desirability of peace, overlooking the fact that their audiences are already on that page and thus wasting resources by preaching to the choir. Demonstrative pacifism (noisy street protest) makes things worse through behavior that their intended audiences view as juvenile, discrediting their own cause.
Engineered Peace is as the name implies, an engineering project. Engineering projects start with a definition of the problem, followed by a description of the known modes of failure that account for the problem.
2. Problem Statement: War, the practice whereby nation-states instruct their citizens, through the military, to murder the citizens of other nation-states, has evolved to the point where one mentally unstable person in power can cause the destruction of most of the Earth. Therefore a means must be found to remove war from the realm of possibility.
3. Known Modes of Failure
© 2017 Tom Gauld. Used with permission
“Once, weapons were manufactured to fight wars. Now, wars are manufactured to sell weapons.”
4. Proposed Solution: Engineered Peace
Stoanova members initiate, and participate in, efforts to analyze those and as yet uncovered modes of failure and in efforts to eliminate those modes of failure.
After Stoanova gets done with this, future generations will find it difficult to believe the essence of this problem, which is that we train young people to murder and then we order them to commit murder.
8 From Down by the Riverside by Louis Daniel Armstrong and Terry Rendall
9 The Anatomy of Peace by The Arbinger Institute, copyright 2006, 2008, 2015. Barrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
The debate over climate change illustrates how badly a policy debate can go off the rails.
As a resident of Earth I am expected to have an opinion about the fact of climate change, the implications of climate change, and the correct course of action on climate change.
Well, I know little or nothing about the subject. I personally know very few of the purported experts on the subject, to be able to calibrate their skill and integrity.
Here’s what I do know: there is a method for making decisions in the absence of complete knowledge on a subject. It’s based upon the Bernoulli method that is intuitive with people who truly have an engineering mindset.
It’s all about assessing the impact of an outcome and the probability of that outcome occurring.
When people with an engineering mindset try to explain it to those without it, they use an example with one outcome, but in real life there are usually multiple possible outcomes, each with its own probability.
Let’s invite Daniel Bernoulli in to help us with climate change decisions. Daniel, what should be our course of action?
Let’s do a WPO analysis. Let’s look at the various worst possible outcomes in, say, the year 2100
|Outcome||Guesstimated Probability of Outcome|
|Oceans rise, coastal cities hire Dutch engineers to build dykes, which are effective. Cities survive, greatly changed.||0.1|
|Oceans rise, coastal cities die, new cites formed inland||0.1|
|Massive extinctions, most humans survive by moving to biosphere-type environments||0.05|
|1 in 100 humans survive in biosphere-type environments but food is so scarce that murder is common||0.02|
|Earth goes Mars||0.005|
The possible outcomes and probabilities have a lot in common with a lot of other information given us about climate change in that they were pulled out of the proverbial hat or other proverbial place. But that’s not the point. The point is the analytical process, which leads me to some ifs.
IF you had a twenty-chamber revolver with one lone bullet in a random chamber, would you have your progeny play Russian roulette with it?
IF any the last three outcomes and probabilities have anything to do with real likelihoods, then we must do something. That is, if there is a five per cent probability that my grandchildren and their children will live through mass extinctions, and will survive only by moving to biosphere-type environments, then we must do everything we can to slow the effects of climate change.
Note that that assumes not only that “it probably won’t happen” but that it ninety-five per cent probably won’t happen. However, the outcome is sufficiently dire that the five per cent probability is too high for me. I won’t risk doing that to my grandchildren any more than I would let them play Russian roulette.
And it’s not all direness. I wouldn’t mind replacing all that traffic with something like Transit X. There’s definitely an upside to making the planet more livable, regardless of other considerations.
That’s just me. But this is an exercise all Stoanovans need to go through.
2. Problem Statement: Because of a lack of Bernoullian analytics in the climate change debate, it has been overtaken by emotion and shrillness.
3. Known Modes of Failure
4. Proposed Solution:
Create an online community, governed by optimocratic processes, that discusses climate change in probabilistic Bernoullian terms. Use public relations in order to achieve visibility for its work.
Protection of the rights of individuals is a bulwark of a free society. The U.S. Constitution’ Bill of Rights has served as a model for similar guarantees of personal rights in many countries. The first of ten Amendments to that Constitution protects freedom of expression as well as separation of church and state. It stipulates that in almost all cases, the state cannot stop anyone from saying or writing or showing anything they want.
Naturally, the principle of free speech gets tested. We’re all exposed to things we would rather not see, read or hear. And of course the definition of what one would rather not see, read or hear varies by person and by the group or community of which they are part. One person or group might find it perfectly acceptable to use a common expression referring to an oedipal activity, while another person in the group finds it profoundly offensive.
2. Problem Statement: Definitions of prurience applied by external authority are defective.
3. Known Modes of Failure
4. Proposed Solution: My Bill of Responsibilities
Stoanova, like websites and social networks, provides its members with a personal profile platform. Since Stoanova supports Accountable Anonymity, one’s profile, while disclosing non-identifying attributes about its subject does not disclose identifying information except to people to whom the subject has granted a license to specific pieces of information.
Your profile includes a section called My Bill of Responsibilities. It consists of two sections, where you define each of two personal standards:
The definitions should be concurrent with those of other Stoanovans as much as possible, such that an API would be able to read your list of keywords and determine programmatically whether or not you would want to see the content of some app or website.
In Stoanova, a part of personal responsibility is to inhibit the propagation of what the member considers to be prurient. For example, a work that includes a certain expression for oedipal behavior may be blocked. If enough people include that blocking in their profile, writers will learn to avoid the expression if they want to maintain the size of their audience.
Words defined in your profile as prurient will be the start. With the application of fairly simple pattern recognition methods, the individual can enforce the kind of filtering that management of social networks cannot do effectively for everyone.
Limiting exposure to bad behavior can’t be so easily automated, but including it in My Bill of Responsibilities does give the individual an opportunity to let others know, without being personal or confrontational, what they consider to be over the line.
When asked by a reporter how proud she was of her son, U.S. President Harry S. Truman, Martha Ellen Young Truman answered that she was very proud of him of course – and then added that she was equally proud of her other children John and Mary Jane, for working hard with her on the family farm.
These days would the mother of a contemporary president show the same regard for those fundamental values? Power, fame and prestige have always provided a compelling siren song to many, but in recent years they have been more effective than ever in displacing more constructive values. We’ve come to believe that one must have that graduate degree leading to a position of power and renown to be “someone” in contemporary society. Meanwhile the plumber who commits to a life of service to people whose pipes have frozen in the middle of the night is seen as a lesser person. The result: an overabundance of prestigious but fake jobs for otherwise unemployable sociologists, funded by taxpayers and tuition-payers, and a simultaneous dearth of tradespeople.
Another group that loses out in the corruption of values is military veterans. After we ask them to risk their limbs, sanity and lives for us, they’re “honored” with big, splashy flag waving spectacles and profuse expressions of appreciation “for your sacrifice.” Often the real message is, “Look at me, I’m a fervent patriot, honoring our veterans; what about you, where’s your flag?” But after the big show, the ones who actually reach out to injured veterans, offering time and attention and care, tend to be other veterans. Because the veteran with needs doesn’t offer fame and power and influence, and, once the TV cameras are gone, no patriotic limelight to bask in, the flag waver is suddenly busy with other things.
Then there’s the subtle denigration of the values behind the most important job of all: motherhood. Sentiments such as in this Reddit post are common:
There is absolutely nothing wrong with women, such as myself, choosing to become homemakers and stay-at-home mothers. It is not degrading to choose to work for your family instead of a corporation.
People like to cite parenthood, and especially motherhood, as the most important job in the world. And it is just that. We needn’t even bother citing the reasons.
So why does that mom commenting on Reddit have to be so defensive? After all, society claims that it agrees with her when it comes to that specific point.
The reason for the defensiveness is the knowledge that society’s praise of the value of motherhood is insincere. Power, fame and prestige are what’s really valued. Society values titles. Earnings. Power. Fame. Parenthood is obviously not a way to get there. And there’s an even more subtle hindrance to those who try to go from parenthood to “making it in the world,” as though raising healthy kids is not providing the world with the best contribution of all.
When one goes from being an at-home caretaker into “the workplace,” they typically bring with them a nurturing attitude, which can be good. But the nurturing attitude often takes the place of hard-nosed decisiveness and competitiveness. Progress calls for decisiveness, alertness, smarts. A positive, nurturing attitude in a work culture is good to have, but it’s not what makes for progress against barriers that stand in the way of reaching goals..
To step on a third rail here, this afflicts mothers more than fathers. Let’s face it, that’s because as a very broad generalization – exceptions apply here as to all generalizations – mothers tend to be more nurturing parents than fathers.
Our mothers sacrificed for us both individually and collectively. Now they want to come on the field and experience what it means to be part of a winning team. We all owe something to those who assume the job of continuing the species with a physically and emotionally healthy next generation. That’s particularly true of people who have chosen not to be parents.
A common reflex of some is to view this as a problem for government to fix. Then there are those who will insist that government programs end up not only not fulfilling the lofty goals for which they were established, but also making things worse via the law of unintended consequences. And costing a lot of money.
To a certain extent, a single person in the workplace is riding on the backs of others. In recent decades we’ve come to understand that people with disabilities deserve some sacrifices from those who don’t have those disabilities. But the making things more equitable for the disabled has come a the cost of increased bureaucracy, with its built-in mindless application of laws and rules, and the inevitable entitlement creep.
Earlier we asserted that Social Norms Done Right are superior to government regulation. Social norms are thought of as being organically developed, but they can be engineered as well.
2. Problem Statement: Corruption of values has made society less civilized.
3. Analysis of Modes of Failure
Standardized, Voluntary Compensation
Social norms can be developed whereby those who benefit from unfairness will be encouraged by education and social pressure to pay with money (”voluntary tax”), time, or both to help make things more even.
Consolidate jobs and recruit tradespeople
Launch public forums for the purpose of examining the nature of professional positions at institutions funded by taxx dollars and tuition dollars, with the purpose of combining positions and retraining their incumbents to work in the trades
Form a volunteer commission to build a database of opportunities for citizens to work one-on-one with military veterans who need attention, and to establish social norms for expectations of citizens to provide such attention and assistance
Did you know that you cannot legally waive your right to sue your doctor? You can sign whatever paper you want, but because you are considered to be a child in the eyes of healthcare law, your waiver will not have any effect.
This may seem as though it protects you, but what it really tends to do is
Ask a friend who is part of the healthcare system: “How much effect do legal concerns have on medical practice?” Prepare to be dismayed.
2. Problem Statement: Litigation Risk Makes Healthcare More Costly And Less Effective
3. Analysis of Modes of Failure
Emancipatient: Allow Adults To Sign Releases
Emancipation is a process that allows a person who is younger than the age of emancipation to appear before a judge and demonstrate that 1) they are responsible for their own finances and for their life in general; and 2) they are capable of understanding the financial, medical, and legal issues that are part of adulthood. If the judge agrees, they become “emancipated,” and are legally an adult.
Emancipatient will be the same process, to be initiated by a person of any age. An emancipated adult will be allowed to sign a waiver, or any contract, which will then be legally binding.
“What?” you say, “As an adult I can sign any release or agreement or contract I feel like signing!” And indeed you can. But if the instrument you’re signing releases a physician from liability, it will be null and void. You cannot be trusted to make such decisions on your own behalf.
That’s how our laws treat individual responsibility.
And that must be changed.
Adult emancipation is not a blanket waiver of medical liability. An emancipated adult may waive the right to sue one doctor and not another. Emancipation simply means that any such waiver will legally be in effect.
State and provincial legislatures are of course populated with lawyers, and lawyers don’t like to see people waive their right to sue in court. This will take some effort by Stoanovans to put into effect.
The proposed legslation allowing adults to be adults must include a provision making it illegal for healthcare professionals to advocate, or even mention, adult emancipation. Only well-informed adults will even know about adult emancipation. And when they take action they will see a new class of higher quality, lower cost healthcare appear on the scene, just for them.
Social media is rife with fabricated news stories that serve to inflame the passions of, or otherwise manipulate, large numbers of credulous users.
2. Engineering Problem Statement: Fake News
Unaccountable, anonymous social media allows anyone to purport to be anyone, and to advocate anything in anyone’s name. A nation whose leadership class amounts to organized crime can undermine an adversary with fake news, especially if they are expert at psychological warfare.
3. Analysis of Modes of Failure
4. Proposed Solution: The Reporter's Credential
Because Stoanova calls for Accountable Anonymity, any digital object – text file, image, video, etc. - can be digitally signed, letting anyone know that it was signed using the “PEN” accompanying the identity certificate of the person who claimed to sign it and that not a single bit was changed since it was signed.
The identity certificate can allow its holder to assert their identity without disclosing their identity, meaning that they can remain anonymous as long as they don’t do something (commit fraud, slander, libel, a criminal act, etc.) which would cause a court order to be issued, in which case their identity would be disclosed to the affected parties.
A reporter’s credential is built on the same certificate structure as the regular identity certificate; however, unlike the regular one, the owner’s name is right there in the certificate. Anyone reading or viewing their work can see who wrote it – and that they are responsible for its content.
If another website or other platform republishes the signed content, they cannot change so much as a comma in the story, or the signature will no longer validate.
An inevitable effect of the Reporter’s Credential will be popular reviews of the work of individual reporters. Ideology will unfortunately be a factor in those reviews, but so will accuracy. And smart Stoanovans will be able to distinguish between adherence to party lines versus accuracy.
The purpose of the Reporter’s Credential is not simply to ensure accountability and integrity in reporting of single stories, but to provide a reputational anchor around which a culture of integrity in reporting can be built. If a reporter (blogger, newsletter author, etc.) is regularly held accountable for their words, then their readers will have a means of informally (or formally) rating their integrity.
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when
his salary depends upon his not understanding it!
- Upton Sinclair
In his book The Society of Mind, Marvin Minsky shows a model of the human mind that seems notably schizoid. The neurons and axons of our brains are organized in such a way that our minds are composed of some large number of “agents,” all advocating for their own agendas.
So when we say, “I know I need to lose weight; why do I keep eating?” it’s because some agent in your limbic brain has discovered that it can provoke a shot of dopamine if it can overpower that rational part of your prefrontal cortex and get you to put that cupcake into your mouth.
You are, in effect, a society of little people in your head.
So are we all schizoid? As different agents in our minds vie for dominance, or take turns in the role, are we effectively different people? I think it’s just a matter of definition of the word “schizoid”. We’re all most of the way there.
Consider the old image of the cartoon character with an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other, each whispering in the ear of their host, each trying to get him or her to act on the impulse that they respectively advocate. Two very different people in one body.
Now consider a society that consists of the employees of an organization, for example a pharmaceutical company. That society depends for its survival and growth upon generating revenue. And what if those “agents,” that is, the human employees of that organization, all understand that their personal sustainability and professional growth depend upon the sustainability and growth of that revenue stream? And suppose that company uses an ethically dubious technique of distorting the perceptions of prescribing physicians to push its very profitable but addictive drug.
Is the company not another society of mind, with each employee being an agent in that “hive mind”? And within the employee’s mind is the agent that says “This is my livelihood, my career, a big part of my self-image and the image of me in the minds of friends and family. So let’s just try to keep those ethical agents in my mind busy with things other than the nature of what my employer is up to.”
On April 10, 2019, Scientific American published an article by Lydia Denworth describing the use of group electroencephalography confirms that the brains of members of a group of people engaged in an activity do indeed sync up at a neurological level. The hive mind is real.
Does the hive mind have a conscience? We don’t have to look as far as the Third Reich or the Rwandan Hutus for an answer. We see it in every large company that engages in some activity that its employees individually would consider to be well over the line ethically, which they nevertheless go along with.
This is a problem.
2. Problem Statement: The Consciences of Individuals in an Organization Become Disabled By Pressure To Advance The Organization’s Agenda
3. Analyis of Modes of Failure
Organizations get away with behavior that most of their employees find unethical.
4. Proposal: The Whistleblower's Circuit Breaker
This solution calls for an organization to be created which would solicit donations to a fund called the Whistle- blower's Circuit Breaker. The fund needs to grow an endowment large enough to fund the salaries of its staff.
Its staff would consist of people who have performed as whistle-blowers in large organizations. Anyone can submit an anonymous encrypted report on the ethically challenged activities of the organization; but in order to be awarded a career in the Whistle-blower's Circuit Breaker organization they must not only demonstrate that the offense is genuine and serious; they must also demonstrate by way of previous and current employee review reports and / or other means that their whistle-blowing is not an exit strategy for someone whose future with the organization is already in jeopardy. The motives must be transparently not self-serving. In keeping with the “Pompeia principle”, the salary with Whistle-blower's Circuit Breaker must be marginally less than their salary with the organization on which they blew the whistle. An element of sacrifice underscores the genuineness of the motive.
Government programs are launched with more or less noble and popular objectives, then quickly take on a life of their own as self-justifying bureaucracies, constantly telling the public that if they fall short of their goals in any way, it’s because the public hasn’t given them enough money.
2. Problem Statement: Bureacracies, particularly in government, tend to work to perpetuate themselves at the expense of the reason for their existence.
3. Proposal: Bureauc-rats
The late Art Buchwald came up with a brilliant plan to reduce taxes, which I will here distort from his humor column form into the notion of an actual plan of action.
Offer the following to employees of government at any level:
Write up a paper about how their department or agency or other unit can be reduced in size and budget or can be eliminated altogether with no ill effect. If their recommendations are accepted, they receive ten per cent of the savings realized for the ensuing four years. Plus a Kevlar vest.
Creation of standards is like the creation of legislation, which in turn is follows the old maxim, “Laws are like sausages — it is best not to see them being made.”
Standards are created by standards bodies, which tend to consist of groups of people who have a strong financial interest in the outcome. That tends to corrupt the process.
And yet good standards are immensely important. To illustrate, Imagine being one of history’s first historians, trying to record for posterity not just the events of the Pelopponesion War, but also the dates when they happened. M. I. Finley’s introduction to Rex Warner’s translation of the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides shows modern historians how thankful they should be for the standard global calendar...
How does one go about writing the history of a long war fought in many theatres? Thucydides had no precedent to fall back on, no book, no teacher from whom he could learn the business of being a historian...
Thucydides was soon brought up against the elementary problem of dates. We say that the Peloponnesian War began in 431 B.C. An Athenian had to say that it began in the archonship of Pythodorus, which was meaningless to non-Athenians, and indeed to Athenians twenty or thirty years later, unless they had a list of the annual archons before them as they read...
...if one were to ‘trust any reckoning based on the names of magistrates in the various states’, there could ‘be no accuracy, since a particular event may have taken place at the beginning or the middle or at any time during their periods of of ice’. He might have added that he would have found it dif icult to pinpoint his informants about chronology as well, coming, as they did, from many dif erent Greek states.
Introducing months would not have helped. Every city had its own calendar: the names of the months were not all alike – more than 300 names are known today – nor was the order nor even the time of the new year. The peace treaty of 421, according to the of icial text quoted by Thucydides (V, 19) ‘comes into ef ect from the 27th day of the month of Artemisium at Sparta, Pleistolas holding the of ice of ephor; and at Athens from the 25th day of the month of Elaphebolium, in the archonship of Alcaeus’. To write a coherent narrative, therefore, Thucydides had to invent his own system. After fixing the beginning of the war, he dated all subsequent events first by counting the number of (solar) years that elapsed from the start, and then by dividing each war year into ‘winter ’ and ‘summer ’. Simple enough, yet the scheme was unique and Thucydides was openly proud of it. It was also incomplete: he does not say whether winters and summers began on a fixed date nor does he narrow the time within each season beyond ‘early’, ‘middle’ or ‘late’.
Today we have the benefit of the global synchronous calendar. We all benefit from not just the practical benefit of being able to plan events across continents, knowing for certain that an online meeting scheduled for 07:00 on March 7, 2025 Boston time will be 17:30 the same day in Bangalore. We also get to share with fascination the amazing ability for the whole world to know the precise time when a particular astronomical event will take place. I can know for certain that we can expect a lunar eclipse visible (clouds willing) in Boston on Monday, June 25, 2029 with its peak at 22:22 local time. If calendar and time standards had not been developed and made available to astronomers, we would never know of – have our minds blown by – the incredible precision of our solar system.
Yet there are still ancient calendars that are shared by religions and cultures that have nothing to do with the globally synchronous modern calendar. In the Hebrew calendar that same date will be the 7 th of Adar in 5785, and in the Hijri (Muslim) calendar it will be Ramadan 7, 1446. Wikipedia lists eighty-five calendars.
Technology has brought about two changes in the way time, days, weeks, months and years are accounted for. First, everyone everywhere that does anything synchronously with the rest of the world has for practical reasons settled on the ISO 8601 calendar – basically the Gregorian calendar with Coordinated Universal Time and leap second adjustments. Second, the number of people with knowledge and understanding of ancient calendars, and the level of communication among them, has greatly increased.
If technology causes a universal language to become a de facto worldwide standard, it will not mean that other languages will be forgotten. People still study Latin and ancient Greek, and they will continue to study them as long as they are interesting and as long as things written in those languages continue to be of interest to someone.
For selfish reasons I hope the universal language is some variant of English, but whatever it turns out to be, it will be a positive development because practical global standardization fosters understanding, which in turn fosters peace.
Why are we still messing with daylight savings time? Why can’t the world have a standard way of telling time?
And...let’s just say that some of us get irritated when it starts raining as the sun goes down in some city we’re visiting in a car we just rented.
Where’s the headlight switch?
The wipers – do you move the lever up in this car to turn them on, or down?
And why am I wrestling with this lack of standards a hundred years after cars became popular, when I need to be paying attention to these unfamiliar streets?
The reason, of course, is that the commercial interests of car makers conflict when it comes to making those standards.
2. Problem Statement: Resistance to Standards and Standardization Inhibits Human Progress
3. Analysis of Modes of Failure
4. Proposal: Grassroots Standards created through an optimocratic process
The answer to the question of why the world can’t have a standard way of telling time is that the traditional way of making standards is for a variety of constituencies to appoint a variety of official commissions to engage in very political tugs of war until one of them is victorious. But then the losing commissions will likely refuse to honor the decision of the battlefield.
With optimocratic standards setting, anyone on Earth can participate in the voting as an individual inhabitant of this planet – provided that they keep up with the debate on the subject at hand. In the case of a decision about the world’s clock, every human being has as much influence as any other, and because of that the decision of the group is much more likely to be accepted and observed.
Anyone can watch standards sausage being made this way, and the sausage will be palatable to everyone.
We don’t know enough about life in Israel when that country was ruled by judges instead of kings, but we do know what the God of the Old Testament had to say about governance by kings:
Israel Asks for a King
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Samuel died in 2012 BCE, so a little over four thousand years ago. We’ve had most of those four thousand years to learn what happens when leaders of nations are free to let the addictive nature of the drug called power run its natural course.
At various times in those four thousand years, events such as the creation of Athenian democracy to the writing of the Magna Carta to the Icelandic Constitution to the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, democracy has got a foothold. One event in that process is particularly noteworthy.
In his March 29, 2019 review of Robert O’Connell’s book Revolutionary, about the life of George Washington, William Anthony Hay describes what I consider to be the most important development in the leadership of nations since the era when Israel was governed by judges:
Self-control was more than a performance for Washington. At the end of the war, he gave up power by surrendering command of the Continental Army—after persuading its officers, at a meeting in Newburgh, N.Y., to accept the authority of Congress. It would prove his crowning achievement. Mr. O’Connell quotes George III remarking: “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” And so, in a way, he was: Washington’s triumph over ambition was essential for securing ordered liberty in America.
Because members of Congress felt that Washington and his officers and soldiers had not been treated well after the war, and because his extraordinary leadership qualities were so well known, Washington was offered the opportunity to be king of the United States. In rejecting the offer, Washington reminded the offerors of the hardship and sacrifice he and his troops had suffered in order to escape being ruled by a king. History doesn’t tell whether he added a few choice expletives in declining the offer, but I sure hope he did.
We can talk all we want about the contributions of Hamilton, Jay and Madison and their Federalist Papers to the brilliant separation of powers foundation of American democratic governance, but none of it would have mattered if Washington had done what most people would have done in his situation. If he had said, sure, I’ll be your king, American democracy would have been stillborn. Instead, as Hay put it, Washington triumphed over ambition and let that embryo of democracy actually be born into the real world.
But democracy has flaws. Huge flaws, as we have seen over and over.
Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for
all those other forms that have been tried from time to time....
- Winston S Churchill
Churchill, being an adventurous person, would be fascinated to know that since his day technologies have developed that will allow new forms of government to be added to those that have been tried from time to time.
But new technologies don’t just enable new ways of governing nations; they have already enabled new definitions of what constitutes a nation in an age when bitstreams and packets know nothing about national boundaries.
Everywhere you look in the analytical media these days, you see Facebook referred to as a nation:
Municipal governments will always be important as long as we are physical beings with a need for a governed place in which to live, but all other geographically-defined jurisdictions are following the same path to obsolesce as county governments in most of North America.
Technology is already redefining what a governed space is. Most of the thousands of social networks, from the little subreddit with a few dozen loyal users, to Facebook with its billions of users, do not acknowledge any geography other than Earth. They are all global. Language and time zone have some relevance, as contrasted with the irrelevant lines and colors that appear on those quaint old spherical objects they called globes.
As large numbers of people began to realize in 2917-2019, these new online communities need better governance. What people tend to overlook is the fact that all forms of governance start with accountability. It’s overlooked because it’s assumed that reliable identities of users are not available, and if they were it would leave us all so trackable that any remaining vestige of privacy would be completely erased.
2. Problem Statement: In the Information Age, municipalities are the only geographic jurisdictions that make sense. But communities of interest, as opposed to communities defined by wide geography, lack systems of governance.
3. Modes of Failure
4. Proposal: Geography-Free Communities Governed By Optimocracy
If you aggregate an audience, that is, if you publish a newsletter or magazine or if you help to organize an association, then you already have the most important component of a global online community.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Google, or Facebook, or Twitter belong in between you and your audience member, or between you and the organizations that serve your audience. Your audience member is your audience member. If you can make the following two commitments then you will be offering great value:
We’ve all heard about China’s state-operated reputational system, where basic services such as the right to travel are withheld from those with low scores in the system. It’s virtually guaranteed that the government of China will use it to repress individuals and groups which it sees as challenging the authority of the state.
And yet, reputational services are inevitable. Users of eBay have had the benefit of a very efffective and useful reputational system for decades. Yes, it can be subverted, but not easily or permanently.
eBay, AirBnB, and many sharing-economy sites all have their separate reputation-reporting systems, letting users report on their experiences dealing with each other. Inevitably these reputational systems will start sharing their databases. When that happens, we will see the same kinds of behavior we’ve seen in social networks: doxxing, bullying, and extortion. “Do this or I will go around to all the places that report on your reputation and I will trash them all, ruining your consensus reputation...”
A reputational system must be designed which makes reputation sabotage difficult or impossible. The system must be built upon measurably reliable identity credentials, which make those reporting on their dealings with others accountable for what they report.
2.Problem Statement: Reputational Services Lack Controls
3. Modes of Failure
4. Proposal: Accountable Reputational Systems
With measurably reliable identities, plus reporting by percentile, fair and accurate ratings can be obtained. Reporting by percentile means that the reporter might choose a number of stars, a rating on a scale of 1-10, or any other
system. However, that report is turned into a percentile, as in “over this person’s lifetime, they have reported
in the lowest 20%
This person has rated this product, service or person three stars. Since this person’s median report is two stars, the effective rating is four stars.
Problem Statement 1: When a person who is convicted of predatory behavior is released from incarceration, existing means of preventing recurrence are inadequate, starting with methods of alerting potential victims to the presence of a predator in their midst.
Problem Statement 2: A convicted predator who has fulfilled their sentence has most of the rights accorded to any citizen or resident, and cannot be compelled to advertise their past to everyone.
Known Modes of Failure
Offender registries are hard to maintain
Offenders, like everyone, are mobile, while the jurisdictions managing offender registries are static.
Managing “right to know” and getting the word out only to those with such a right is nearly impossible.
The Pingable Ankle Bracelet
Convicted predators often wear ankle bracelets that inform law enforcement of the wearer’s location. The same technology but with a more sophisticated transceiver could be made pingable by anyone with a corresponding app and a right and need to know. A predator who is determined to have a chronic tendency to want to re-offend with children under the age of twelve would have an ankle bracelet that is pingable only by parents and caregivers of children under the age of twelve. The bracelet’s notification would include a facial image of the wearer.
Problem Statement 1:Texting while driving is a major cause of accidents.
Problem Statement 2:Disabling phone communication inside a car affects all passengers, not just the driver.
Problem Statement 3:People with revoked or expired drivers’ licenses can and do drive. The only disincentive is the low probability of law enforcement happening to stop the driver on a particular trip.
Known Modes of Failure
People who understand the risk of texting while driving are easily tempted to violate their own better judgment.
Use Digital Certificates in Phones as Drivers’ Licenses
In order to start the car, the driver must have a valid Bluetooth enabled driver’s license app and digital certificate. When the app is used, the phone cannot be used for any communication-oriented purpose.
1. Problem Statement:
A car’s horn is supposed to be used only to warn other drivers of hazards, but tends to be used for personal expression.
2. Modes of Failure:
Means of penalizing drivers who use their horn for personal expression are insufficient.
3. Proposed Solution:
When a car horn is used, a video is made of the car’s surroundings. The video is immediately sent to a law enforcement officer whose authority is at a similar level as that of a parking meter officer. The officer determines whether the use of the horn was warranted. If not, the fine of ten dollars per second of horn usage is immediately deducted from the driver’s toll account.
Magic Quadrant (MQ) is the brand name of a market research product offered by Gartner Inc. Magic Quadrant rates vendors in a market on two criteria: Completeness of Vision and Ability to Execute.
“Ability to Execute” is pretty easy to grasp, being simply an assessment of a company's command of resources necessary to deliver on its marketing promises. But what's this “Completeness of Vision”?
We'll explain in a moment, but first let's introduce you to one Robert Friedland.
Robert Friedland was expelled from Bowdoin College in 1970 after being arrested for the possession of $100,000 worth of LSD. After two years in federal prison he managed to get into another college, where he befriended a student with whom he shared an interest in Eastern spirituality. Then when Friedland's uncle made him caretaker of his orchard near the college, Friedland and his new buddy, without the uncle's knowledge or consent, turned the orchard into a Hare Krishna commune called All One Farm. With the help of LSD, he invented a scheme for creating an alternate reality: the “Reality Distortion Field.”
Friedland's friend also pursued a sketchy path. After the commune experience, he joined the infamous John Draper aka Captain Crunch in hacking the AT&T phone network. While Draper went to jail for it, Friedland's friend managed to get a job with Atari. Because he refused to bathe, Atari put him on the midnight shift.
LSD? Hare Krishna commune? Phone phreaking!? Banishment for not bathing? You'd be forgiven for guessing that those two guys now live in homeless shelters.
Well, not quite. Friedland subsequently founded Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. and led the company to a successful public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1996. He now operates Ivanhoe Capital from its corporate headquarters in Singapore. He's quite wealthy.
After his Atari gig Friedland's buddy also launched a company, but was fired by its board of directors because of his insistence on managing it using Friedland's Reality Distortion Field. He had been inspired by the orchard experience in naming the company. He named it Apple.
Yes, we're talking about Steve Jobs.
A decade after Jobs was fired by Apple's prudent, sensible, intelligent board members, that same board had driven Apple into the ground. They then begged Jobs to return, and to please bring with him the ideas behind the Reality Distortion Field.
Jobs eventually did just that, and turned Apple into the most valuable company in the world.
“Reality Distortion Field” is simply the process of drawing a picture of tomorrow, based upon the knowledge that tomorrow will always be different from today. If you think about it, isn't Reality Distortion Field just another term for Gartner's Completeness of Vision? The Reality Distortion Field is an approach to building a picture of the way the world is going to be, rather than the way it has been up to the present.
The Authenticity Institute and its Alliance introduce “PKI Done Right,” aka Authenticity™, adding an InDoor layer of pervasive accountability to sit atop the old “information highway” - the outdoor public transport facility known as the internet. The vision we bring to that job is quite complete.
Do you believe that tomorrow will be the same as today? That is, do you believe in browsers? Do you really think there's a future for the Web? Do you believe that information security technology actually works?
If so, then thank you for your time, let’s not waste any more of it.
Or do you understand that tomorrow will be different from today.
After all, that's the founding assumption behind the completeness of our vision.
Whatever you can do, or dream you
can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Tomorrow will be different from today. While most people would agree with that claim, they tend to act as though they don't believe it.
Today's assumption is that the business model that permanently drives online media is the awareness model, that it's all about advertising. Eyeballs and clicks. And data mining on those eyeballs and clicks because, you know, “people don’t really care about privacy…”. Tomorrow will bring new ways to generate new awareness, more page views, more eyeballs, more clicks, more personal data to mine. Translation: the online media business is the billboard business. It's about commercial messages that appear in your face as you “surf,” that is, as you drive around this outdoor information highway space.
The online medium has demonstrated its fundamentally social nature ever since the Emisari network first appeared around 1973. The real implication of social media is that the online medium emulates life in the physical world. What do real people really do while online? They socialize. Just as they do in physical buildings.
And because of assumptions brought to online media from traditional media about how online spaces must be built and managed, they socialize in spaces that are largely insecure, where authenticity cannot be assumed.
Authenticity is the final ingredient that makes online spaces truly habitable, by making them trustable.
Authenticity is a major inflection point, which means that it is built upon assumptions that established sources of capital and infrastructure support will not see until they have become everyday reality.
To illustrate: which of the following enterprises could get funded by venture sources today?
The father of Micro Soft’s founder retained people from his own law firm to talk his son out of squandering trust funds on the abject folly of software for personal computers. Unfortunately, the money was the son’s to squander. So is the son now wandering the streets of Seattle, dirty and homeless, muttering to himself about this strange fantasy he calls “personal computer?”
In 1986, believe it or not, the common thread among investors was that the social media battle was all over, CompuServe had won, there was no sense directing any resources to this mature consumer online services market. That was well before consumers began using the Internet, well before Quantum, renamed America Online by its new CEO Steve Case, acquired CompuServe and then shocked the world by acquiring Time Warner. What had been deemed a mature market grew seven-thousand-fold in the next decade.
The world was swept up in the promise of the amazing possibilities presented by personal computers and the Internet. Now the world wonders whether worms, spam, ransomware, breaches, security vulnerabilities, zombie hosts, human trafficking, child predation, identity fraud, violations of personal privacy and other signs of growing anarchy have betrayed the promise. Organized crime is taking over the world’s information infrastructure, while that infrastructure claims an increasing portion of our time, attention, and money.
By contrast, physical spaces employ methods and designs and applications of authority that provide what real estate professionals call quiet enjoyment. Quiet enjoyment is nothing less than security and manageability and peace and quiet in the spaces where we pursue our agendas.
Think about it. What is it that buildings provide, besides protection from the weather?
Buildings provide accountability. A way of knowing who is in a bounded space with you. A way of designating bounded spaces for particular uses, by particular people. Accountability within those spaces.
The essential construction material for digital buildings has been around for decades, and it is rock solid. It’s PKI.
In the past, PKI has been deployed in incomplete bits and pieces, and without simple governance standards.
Authenticity™ is our name for PKI Done Right.
Authenticity™ is a means of bringing about quiet enjoyment in online spaces. That is, habitable and secure online buildings.
The organizations that deliver quiet enjoyment to digital spaces will experience incredible growth and prosperity over the next decade.
The time has come once again. This moment has a familiar look, feel, sound and smell. I’ve been here before. In the mid seventies interactive computing was in the air. A decade later we were getting a taste of what it was like to have our own computer on our desk. The nineties opened up the amazing Internet to us.
It was a lot of fun.
It’s about to be even more fun.
Join Stoanova as we help give birth to an inflection point that will make those of timesharing, the personal computer and the Internet seem like warmup acts.
This one is going to be the most fun of all!
Meet with others in the Stoanova Clubhouse. You’ll find it in the Civic District in Authenticity Village.
Help us bring Authenticity to online spaces through the application of the Quiet Enjoyment Infrastructure.
What is PKI Done Right, i.e. Authenticity?
In a nutshell, Authenticity is Pervasive Accountability with Privacy.
Expanding that a little,
AUTHENTICITY™ is the condition that exists when we have
The Authenticity Infrastructure is actually one of three infrastructures that constitute the Quiet Enjoyment Infrastructure.
2. Problem Statement: Silicon Valley, The Broadband and Media Industry, the NSA, And Digital Organized Crime Are All Trying To Own You And Me.
3. Known Modes of Failure
4. Proposed Solution: The Quiet Enjoyment Infrastructure
QEI is a set of inventions, plans and standards which can be universally deployed to provide online authenticity (measurable trustworthiness of assertions), which in turn begets a secure and manageable information environment. It is based upon the premise of our position statement: Identity Is The Foundation Of Security™.
QEI consists of twelve parts, called Components that fall into three groups: People, Places and Things. The twelve instigations in the three groups are:
PEOPLE The Authenticity Infrastructure
PLACES The InDoors Infrastructure
THINGSThe Ontology Infrastructure
The people portion of the Quiet Enjoyment Infrastructure is called The Authenticity Infrastructure.
The places portion of the Quiet Enjoyment Infrastructure is called The InDoors Infrastructure.
The things portion of QEI is called The Ontology Infrastructure.
Those are the names of the twelve components of QEI. Let’s now look briefly at the function of each, that is, the authenticity question that is answered by each component.
Question 1 Authenticity calls for pervasive digital signatures made by reliably identified human beings. How do you protect the PENs (private keys), while making them available for digital signatures?
Nothing we do with computers, phones, tablets, or other information appliances will be secure until there is a sound way to keep files, directories, identifiers, and other important items in a truly protected space. That in turn requires isolation of private keys, or PENs, as specified in The PEN Component.
Question 2 Reliable digital identity certificates, professional licenses and occupancy permits call for a reliable source of issuing public authority that is independent of any geographic jurisdiction. Where do we find such a source of duly constituted global public authority?
On March 7, 2005 the City of Osmio was chartered at the Geneva headquarters of the oldest international governance body in the world, the International Telecommunication Union. Osmio’s Vital Records Department is a certification authority that limits its practice to creating, maintaining, and protecting identity certificates. Osmio’s Professional Licensing Department will issue licenses that will allow architects, contractors, and building inspectors to sign plans for facilities and occupancy permits. Osmio's authority is strictly limited to those who choose to accept it, and its governance is as participatory as that of a small New England town.
Question 3 How do you establish identity in the first place?
Enrollment can be costly or not, depending upon the level of rigor needed by relying parties. The Enrollment Component ensures that evidence supporting a claim of identity is gathered properly for the requisite level of rigor and presented along with the public key in a certificate signing request to the Osmio Vital Records Department.
Question 4 When someone identifies herself to you, how do you know how reliable is that claim of identity?
The foundational identity certificate is accompanied by other certificates and by an identity quality record. Very little might be revealed to a relying party about the person identified other than their identity quality information and the fact that the identity certificate has not been revoked. Despite that anonymity, the Identity Reliability Component establishes accountability.
Question 5 ersonal control of information about oneself has been a long-sought goal of privacy activists. How can a universal identity credential restore privacy rather than erode it even further?
The foundation of real privacy is your own control over information that identifies you. Without such strong controls, individuals will rightfully resist the idea of a strong identity infrastructure. While the companies that accumulate information about you regard that information as their own corporate asset, the PIOC provides technological and legal tools by which you can reclaim that asset as your own personal property. The PIOC accomplishes accountable anonymity, letting you assert your identity without revealing your identity.
Question 6 We value anonymity, but at the same time we want others to be accountable. What happens when someone whose privacy is protected anonymously harms me, my community, or my country?
As QEI must protect your privacy, it must also protect your right to recourse if you are harmed by someone whose privacy is similarly protected. Law enforcement must also be able to seek a court order to intercept communications when a legitimate court deems it necessary to protect public safety. The Accountability Component ensures that due process prevails even in jurisdictions that are not known for adherence to due process.
Question 7 By what standards are we assured that an information facility is habitable, that is, secure and manageable?
Your information is never secure in a private, cryptographic tunnel if it is exposed at the ends of the tunnel. Indeed, a tunnel can be less secure than the outdoor space around it, because it gives its occupants a false sense of security. Building codes are sets of standards and procedures that ensure the integrity of the virtual buildings that enclose, for example, the ends of tunnels.
Question 8 How do we bring the benefits of InDoor spaces to our computers, tablets and phones?
Established operating systems are invitations to plantation owners to help themselves to the contents of your information home.
With the new continents, we will exchange the vulnerable and cranky old operating system foundation in computers and phones for a more reliable, secure, and manageable set of foundations for places rather than “apps.” Montaigne, Dorren and Glenda are continents.
Question 9 Who decides whether a facility is habitable, that is, that it conforms to building codes?
As with physical real estate, our bounded online spaces need qualified architects, contractors, property management people and building inspectors to ensure that they serve our purposes. The Professional Licensing Component provides a system of certification of their professional credentials and of the results of their work. The Professional Licensing Component does the same for the attestation profession and for other professions as well.
Question 10 How do we bring privacy and authenticity to social media?
Where are these online buildings built? Who owns them? Who pays for them? How do they connect to each other in a rational way? How does online real estate become economically sustainable, that is, profitable? We find our answer in the surprising intersection between skills and methods in the media industry and those of the urban planning profession.
Question 11 Can the outdoor public transport system also benefit from QEI?
The roadway system, the Internet, is far ahead of the real estate – the secure online places where people can safely gather. Its protocols, like those for the next generation of concrete Interstate highways, are well established. But the facilities that control the Internet are entirely too vulnerable to criminals and vandals. Access controls based upon measurably reliable identities must be put in place.
Question 12 Strict definitions of terms reduces confusion in the world of building codes and permits. Can terminology standards reduce rampant “FUD factor” confusion in information technology?
What information technology provides to the online world is no more mysterious than what architects, contractors, and property managers provide to the physical world. The Ontology Component requires the use of standardized terminology in the permitting of new facilities. By using the well-understood language of real estate, management can finally direct information technology, rather than the other way around.
As you can see, the real estate theme is not just an illustrative metaphor. QEI is indeed about indoor spaces. Think about it: where do you go to get things done, to pursue your life’s various agendas? While we enjoy the outdoors, we get things done in buildings.
Some people a long time ago told us that the Internet was a highway and that our use of it resembled the use of a highway. Fine. A principal use of highways is to bring us to buildings. Learning, shopping, and doing business by the side of a busy highway is just a nutty idea. It is the source of our problems.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about Stoanova
Stoanova Village®, built using the Village® Authenticity-Enabled Social Media Platform, delivers Accountable Anonymity by means of PKI Digital Certificate credentials.
Get your PKIDR Wallet and come join us in the Stoanova Village!
Stoanova's financial sustainability comes from optional upgrades to the basic PKIDR Wallet credential and from other upgrade sources. Information about you is never sold to anyone by Stoanova. You are in control of the use of information about yourself.