Updated: Jun 30, 2020
This post is part of the: 'The Digital Renaissance' thread, a blog sequence that explores the capabilities and history of 'The Power Of Collaboration' and demonstrates how we can solve most if not all major issues of our time by leveraging collaborative and distributed principles on a global scale.
Since our time is valuable and scarce, you can speed-read through the articles in this thread by focussing on the emphasized pieces of text.
Before you start reading this post, which explains the principles and infrastructure necessary to rebuild our economic machine, please ask yourself the following question: “Have I ever at one point in my life said/thought to myself that I wanted to be rich, a millionaire, or something similar?” If you’re anything like most people, probably you have, and probably, like all of us, you were wrong. We said it before but... As famous author and entrepreneur Tim Ferris once said: “People don’t want to be millionaires, they simply want to experience what they believe only millions can buy." People don’t want to be rich, they simply want to reach certain goals and fulfill certain dreams. Unfortunately, most of us believe that this is only possible by becoming rich. This can best be explained by using what’s called: “The Analogy of the Mountain”.
The Analogy of the Mountain
In the previous post, we got acquainted with Plato’s ‘Analogy of the Cave’ and we concluded that if we want to improve our systems and societies, we first need to figure out what is, and how can we get out of the 21st-century cave. To do so, ironically, we can use Joey’s ‘Analogy of the Mountain’.
Probably you’ve heard about it before, The Mountain of Success. In this analogy, reaching the peak of the mountain equals fulfilling certain dreams or realizing certain goals (or the ability to do so). Of course, different individuals will have varying dreams/goals, so there are many different mountains to climb. In this process of climbing mountains, we can classify and distinguish between three stages: startup-, scale-up- & corporate stage.
First of all, we have the startup stage. individuals in the startup stage find themselves at the feet of the mountain, in the valley. These people are trying to define the best way to climb their respective mountain, or sometimes they're even still identifying which mountain they want to climb. Secondly, we have the scale-up stage in which individuals are using various tools, templates, and routes to climb the mountain and to reach the peak. Last but not least, we have the corporate stage. Individuals in this stage have reached the peak and now aim to maintain their strategic position on top or are using their vantage point to decide which mountain to climb next. The same goes for organizations by the way. In our modern-day and capitalistic society, unfortunately, only about 1% of humans manage to reach this level of success, we call them the rich. This means that around 99% of us are still trying to climb the mountain, or even worse, still stuck in the valley. We call them the poor. The valley and the slope, those are our 21st-century cave. So how can we enable the remaining 99% of us to reach the peak and to live the lives of their dreams? Well, by utilizing what’s called ’The Power of Collaboration’!
The Power of Collaboration
Ever since ancient times, we as humans have organized ourselves in systems and organizations to increase our chances of success. You could say that together we're able to climb not only higher mountains but also to do it faster. Even though we know these principles, we aren't using them. We're nevertheless in a situation with that 99:1 ratio right? So where did we go wrong? Where does this inequality come from? How can it be that in our current information- and network society, with this level of increased connectivity that 99% of us are still unable to fulfill their dreams? That 99% of us are still stuck in what I call the 925 Cycle. The rat-race. The life in which most of us hate Mondays because we have to go to a job that doesn't help us fulfill our biggest dreams. A life in which we long for Friday's simply to catch our breath for a moment before the whole cycle starts again. To understand what created this situation for most of us, we need to explore and understand another vital part of our history. The way in which we organize ourselves, our systems, and our society.
Back when our filos (greek for: friend) Plato still walked the streets of Athens, humans organized themselves in centralized ways. We simply had no means to do it otherwise and therefore we've done it this way ever since. This centralized way is best displayed by the hierarchical structure that we see in most businesses, but also in the governing structures of cities, countries, and civilizations. Please bear in mind that in such a system, information, knowledge, and value are pretty much siloed and can only flow following the slow and bureaucratic way throughout the organization. Then about 30 years ago, technologies such as the telephone, the computer and the internet enabled a new way of organizing. Together with the arrival of decentralized technologies we slowly started to see a shift from hierarchical to a more swarm-like type of governing and behavior within organizations (e.g. WhatsApp). We could also see this shift on an inter-organizational level where mostly corporate business organizations started to apply this governing model to collaborate with other and often smaller businesses such as startups and scale-ups. These new swarm-organizations (SO’s) are becoming more and more mainstream these days, but beware, they're already falling behind...
With the arrival of technologies such as blockchain, big data, and Artificial Intelligence we are now able to move even further, from decentralized systems towards so-called distributed systems (e.g. Bitcoin). We're now able to take these SO's from the decentralized world, and connect them with other SO's. In such an infrastructure information, value, and knowledge can flow freely and directly from one entity to another. In such an interconnected and distributed network, amazing things will suddenly start to happen.
Because of the increased connectivity, the system becomes dynamic with relationships between different entities being created and dismantled at will. If we look at all of these organizational types from a vantage point, we can classify four different stages all the way from individual to distributed. Please note that all four of these stages are essential to build a solution for our '925' problem and to create a world in which we can all fulfill our dreams, the distributed level is just the cherry on the pie (or the flag on top of the mountain, that’s your call).
Pause, hold on, wait a minute... Are you telling me that the entire world is about to change? Yeah, kind of. But it won’t be that simple. Throughout time, we’ve learned that even though technology & innovation are the catalysts of change, socio-cultural transformation (which often starts because of catastrophe and manifests in the form of revolutions/wars) is what ignites the process. For this reason, it all starts on an individual level.
The New Machine
As I mentioned before, all major shifts in history went paired with great socio-cultural change and revolutions. In the 21st century, clothes are a great way to stimulate this change and to convey a certain mindset on an individual level. But clothes can be many more than that, clothes can also be used as a means to increase our human/societal connectivity. For example, when I would cross you on the streets and I recognize that you are wearing a symbolic item, it can serve as an invitation for us to explore how we could support one another on our ventures. This is especially true when you realize that since I cross you on the street, we're essentially part of the same ecosystem. This is a crucial element when we scale this up digitally, through an application called DreamLink. Through an automated matchmaking technology based on AI, we can match people with the same dream or goal, and then match them with one another based on their skills and the ecosystems they have access to. By doing so, we can increase the chances of success because we are building complementary teams and organizations.
When we've built these organizations, we will need to support them not only in organizing themselves but also in growing their organization or business. We can do this by providing them with the right tools, knowledge, and if available road maps to climbing their specific mountain. This stage can also be dubbed as business acceleration.
After this, it is time to help these organizations build, connect, and collaborate with the SO's that we've seen before. This is done within a user-friendly and data-driven marketplace which is based on Blockchain and Big Data to enable even more efficient, effective, and faster deal flow.
Now last but not least, we have reached the distributed level, and this is where things really start to get amazing. Because our society is not only based on business principles, but also on economical and political principles, the impact will ripple all the way through our political and economical systems as well. To understand what will happen from a business perspective, let's loop back to the SO's as we know them today. Multiple competitive SO's are present within a market and are actively trading goods (supplier) for capital with their consumers (demander). But as famous Paypal founder Peter Thiel once said, competition is for losers. This is because, in a perfectly competitive market, the players would compete all the margins (and therefore profits) away. Therefore, competition and capitalism are actually opposites. For this reason, in order to optimize capitalism in a market, the present SO's could better work together in a distributed network. By doing so, they can collaboratively identify the actual and therefore just price of their products and services. This concept of just prices have been a trending topic for economists and philosophers (such as previously mentioned John Rawls and Adam Smith) throughout time but unfortunately, this could never have been realized because they lacked the ability to create the infrastructure for it.
Since we have an overview of all products and services within our ecosystem, from an economical perspective, we are now able to utilize these just prices and put them in perspective in regard to all other products and services. We can then by using a simple mathematical equation (which also accounts for the available supply and demand) calculate the respective value of goods and services in order to facilitate fair trade. Of course, the economy isn't static so supply and demand will fluctuate, but this is not a problem. The respective value will just change accordingly, just like in our current economic model. The only difference between the two is that in the distributed network the value and price will always stay relative and just, that in contrary to our current situation, where supply and demand are often artificially raised or lowered to drive prices up or down (for the benefit of the 1%).
The benefits provided by a distributed system can also be used to enhance our political abilities. To go back to ancient Greece once more, when Aristotle defined the six types of political governing that we discussed in the previous post, we know that democracy wasn't the best one, it was simply the best alternative. In fact, we’ve continuously tried to move more towards a polity, a type of governing in which the many rule for the common good. Once again, the only reason why we didn't organize ourselves as such is that we didn't have the ability to create the infrastructure for it. But now we do.
Famous investment guru Ray Dalio came up with what he calls the Dot Collector, which basically is a polity. In a nutshell, the Dot Collector is a distributed decision-making tool where all individuals that are part of a certain organization can give their opinion or vote on all topics. These votes and opinions are then weighted against one another based on people's merits. Because people have different skills and are part of different ecosystems, their view can be of more significance, for example: a teacher's opinion on our educational system has more relevance compared to an elder who hasn't entered an educational facility for years. Now I'd like to remind you that this data is actually available from DreamLink, where people enlist their skills and the ecosystems they are a part of.
So how is this realized? It all starts with building the necessary solutions and infrastructure. The infrastructure and solutions are then used to create this cloud/ecosystem/bubble in which individuals and organizations of all sizes can come together to operate on these distributed principles. Of course, this bubble will initially be present within the larger economical ecosystem that we know today, but this is not a problem. For the time being, the bubble can interact and deal with organizations outside the bubble based on the principles of our old economy (e.g. by becoming a fiat currency). Nevertheless, slowly but steady organizations on the outside will realize that the climate within the bubble is better since we operate on these collaborative principles. This will make them inclined to join in the long run.
Now that we’ve explored the power of collaboration from a holistic point of view, we can proceed with deep-diving into the technologies and systems that together enable us to realize this way of living together. This will be the main focus of chapter 5.
To the not-so-tech-savvy ones and the ones that already ran some quick calculations and believe in the feasibility of the concept, feel free to skip the next post (chapter 5) as it will get pretty dense and complex down the road.
In the post that will follow, we will inaugurate the middle part of this book where we will prove and demonstrate how we can solve the most prominent issues of our time by following these principles of collaboration.