Developing a Collaborative Organization
Synereo Conference Talk, September 10, 2016
The following is the transcript of the full speech I made at the Synereo Conference, on September 10, 2016. The speech was only 15 minutes long, so a couple of parts of the speech were omitted at the conference. It is also brief and doesn't go into details on the subject.
The big question of the day is - how can we organize ourselves better and make better decisions? How can we achieve social coherence?
Social, Pyscological and Neurological Evolution
Well, there is an intimate relationship between the way we organize ourselves and the way we make decisions. Better organization naturally leads to better decisions. Through the way we organize, we can realize the structural ability for optimal decision-making.
Before we can define our optimal organization systems, we need to understand how we interact with one another and with our environment. There is an evolutionary feedback loop between our individual perceptions and the perspectives that they form in society. This social feedback loop between organisms and their environment is an extension of physical evolution.
Measuring Our Collective Consciousness
So let’s take look at how we can measure our collective consciousness. Our collective consciousness is formed by our individual perceptions and our social interactions, forming multiple group perspectives. When we interact, we are faced with two major challenges that create conflict and prevent consensus: (a) our different perceptions forming inaccurate perspectives and (b) our different perspectives forming isolated groups.
(a) Individual Perceptions
Our perception is not clear and isolated, it is shaped by our previous perceptions and the perspectives formed from them. The whole process is very complex, involving subjective linguistic interpretations and assumptions, forming complex belief systems. As organisms, we are complex adaptive systems and, our perspectives, themselves, are also complex adaptive systems.
Whenever we perceive something that we don't understand, we make assumptions to explain our perception. Since we were born not knowing anything, nearly everything that forms our subjective perspective is based on assumptions. We have a limited capacity to perceive the universe and a limited capacity to process information. Our reality is 4 dimensional, happening throughout space and time on a planetary scale, but we can only perceive it in a local 3-dimensional way. It is like a Picasso painting, where the reality it depicts is 3 dimensional, but because it is projected on a 2-dimensional canvas, much of the 3-dimensional information is lost.
It is only through a self-directed education that promotes critical thinking and creativity that we can decrease the number of assumptions we make and rely on logical reasoning, understanding, and evidence. Through education, we have developed science, which has helped us gain a much more accurate understanding of the universe around us, enabling us to deepen our perspective and decrease the number of assumptions we make and rely on. Those of us who, through our scientific research, have learned more about a specific subject, should have a greater level of influence on the decisions related to that subject, becoming trusted advisors. Eventually, we can also use machine learning and AI to create experts that can take into account large amounts of data throughout our global network, relying less on statistics and probability and more on data and facts happening in real time. AIs could help greatly increase the accuracy of our decisions by greatly increasing the memory storage, organization, and processing capacity of our information networks, thus ultimately solving the Picasso problem.
(b) Group Perspectives
Individuals who have similar perceptions tend to form groups with a shared perspective. Groups of people who have similar experiences tend to have similar perspectives, based on similar assumptions. They share a social DNA that is formed by their shared environment. When people in these groups interact, they reinforce their perspectives even though their mutual perspective is limited to their shared experiences. This often creates a polarizing effect where different groups of people have opposing perspectives, based on opposite experiences, which are constantly internally reinforced while also being externally challenged by the opposing group. Both groups have their perspectives so reinforced that they don't consider their information is limited and there is more to the larger reality on Earth than they have so far experienced. Take, for instance, two groups of hikers, each at the opposite side of a mountain. On one side, the group sees a smooth hill to the top and believes that the mountain is easy to climb. On the other side, the group sees a cliff to the top and believes that the mountain is hard to climb. Both groups are right from their perspective, but unless they trade places and can see where they are coming from, they can't come to an agreement on the true nature of the mountain. The mountain, as a whole, is beyond their individual fields of view. The planet, like the mountain, is beyond all our individual fields of view.
This problem can be prevented and solved by promoting logic, critical thinking and increasing everyone's exposure to various opposing perspectives before any specific perspective can become dominant.
Evolved Social Networks
When we solve these two challenges we (a) optimize the perception of each group member, (b) normalize the distribution of power between groups so that no group can hold power over another and (c) normalize the distribution of power within groups so that those who have the most logical and proven points of view can guide their groups.
The solution to these challenges is built into the principles of collaborative organization I will introduce now.
Principles of Collaborative Organization
1) Autonomy and Legitimacy
In order to prevent the creation of isolated groups in an organization, we need to ensure that everyone who gets affected by a decision can participate in the discussions and decision-making process related to the decisions that affect them. This leads me to the first principle – all decisions must be made by those who are affected by the consequences of the decisions. This principle preserves our individual autonomy and enables us to balance each other’s autonomy, preventing the formation of isolated groups with extreme perspectives.
2) Responsibility and Accountability
Once each individual has the opportunity to influence every decision that affects them, they need to make decisions that are beneficial to themselves and to others. This leads us to the next principle - to create a natural accountability by establishing individual responsibility. Each partner must make decisions taking into account how their decisions will affect themselves and their fellow partners, otherwise having the power to make decisions becomes detrimental to ourselves and others within our organization. In order to ensure that the best decisions are made, partners must use logical reasoning and their reasoning must be based on information that is accurate and supported by evidence. This principle prevents the formation of inaccurate perspectives from our individual assumptions and the spread of perspectives formed from those assumptions.
3) Consensus and Sovereignty
Finally, partners must work together to determine the best course of action, by sharing their information and their logical reasoning, and then making agreements on how to proceed. Once a consensus that benefits all partners affected is reached, the partners can then agree and finalize their decision. The third principle follows naturally from the two previous ones. The ultimate goal of consensus is to harmonize the social DNA of all groups in society in order to create a symbiotic planetary social DNA and form a coherent planetary neurological system. These principles create a complex adaptive distributed organization that is capable of achieving consensus.
Synereo and AMPs
It is important to note that trading influence may result in negative consequences. By trading influence, we give more influence to people who already had an advantage, prior to joining the network. This reinforces their influence and reduces the influence of others, interfering with the first principle of the preservation of autonomy. As such, it is best to allow people to give part of their influence for free to those who actually catch their attention. That way, the system enables those who make more positive contributions to have more influence, rather than simply enabling those who have enough money to purchase influence to become more influential, thus perpetuating the centralization of power.
In order to organize the exchange of influence, we need to understand the economics of perception. Our attention is limited to the amount of time that we have. As such, everyone could trade their actual time. Everyone could have a set number of AMPs to use in a day, based on the amount of time that it takes to engage others in the network. Throughout the day, each user could choose to give their AMPs to other members based on how much time they spend paying attention to that user. The relative value of each contribution may also be taken into account, thus allowing people to give extra AMPs to members who deserve more attention. At the end of the day, default AMPs from all accounts could then be erased and reset to the default amount, with only AMPs earned remaining. This system would result in a meritocratic social network.
There is another crucial issue that must be taken into account, in the context of the second principle. Having more influence doesn’t make someone more accurate, logical and factual. As such, having a system that can detect logic and evidence could prevent assumptions from becoming influential in the network. AI experts could be programmed to double check the logic and evidence presented by different members, thus automatically giving more influence to members who present more logical arguments backed by more accurate and precise evidence.
Of course, that leaves us with the issue of raising money to fund Synereo. There are three ways that we could raise money – crowdfunding, preferred non-voting shares with buyback clause and simple low-interest bonds. What they all have in common is that they prevent the potential centralization of power and interference with the autonomy principle that comes from selling controlling shares of the organization. Of these, crowdfunding is the simplest, preferred shares are likely the cheapest and bonds are the most expensive and risky.
We need a cooperative form of organization that is co-owned by users and developers, empowering all members of the organization and enabling all members to have a say in the matters that affect them while ensuring that the most logical, evidence-based, ideas receive the attention they deserve.
It is not sufficient to decentralize our technological systems. It is essential to create decentralized networks to store our data, but that is only one aspect of decentralization. Our true goal is to decentralize power so that no individual has power over another. What we really want is the preservation of our individual autonomy - we want freedom. We need an organization, where the ownership of the organization is equally shared, decentralizing not only the control of information but also the ownership of the organization, further preventing the centralization of power and loss of autonomy.
Therefore, I propose to structure Synereo as a platform co-operative and use a collaborative decision-making process.