I have a fundamental belief that, as Carl Sagan said “Life is a way for the universe to know itself…” I also believe that we, as humans, have a limited capacity to “know.” We are constrained by our biological limits, having only recently evolved to be slightly more than chimpanzees¹. While we can hardly comprehend the universe as a whole currently, we know far more than the generations which have preceded us. It is our responsibility to continue to learn and pass that knowledge along to the generations which will follow with the hope that we continue to transcend, grow, and perhaps most importantly continue our evolution to expand our ability to understand, to experience, to know the universe.
In order to successfully continue our evolution and expand our knowledge we must prepare to navigate seven major transitions, all of which can certainly happen within our lifetimes.
The Yoko Manifesto
(aka shit I may have spent too much time thinking about)
While all of our ancestors found themselves at a cultural crossroads, our current level of accelerating change far out paces any that have preceded it². More importantly, and I believe more concerningly, is that fact that our current level of change has also out paced our biological ability to evolve to keep up with it. Consciousness has slowly evolved through survival of the fittest over eons to ensure its success within its ecosystem. As we are forced to adapt to stimulus we were in no way prepared for we must step carefully³ ⁴. Current findings already point to countless examples of our inability to cope with our newfound power; from the damage we’ve caused our ecosystem to the mental turbulence the modern mind must surf through each day as it is inundated with an overwhelming amount of stimulus ranging from face to face interpersonal engagements, video and audio calls, texts, tweets, and all forms of social and interactive media competing for attention. Oh, and lets not forget advertisements.
The amount of change we must cope with as a people will only accelerate as we move forward. There is no way to halt this rapid progress. The march of progress will continue, often driven by market valuations which are both short-sighted and singularly focused⁵. The market doesn’t look to the potential damage created for future generations, be it ecological, psychological, biological or anything else, so long as the damage is distant enough for a profit to be made in the short(er) term. It is vital that we progress with intention and moderation as we strive to better shape the elements of our culture which shape us. Unfortunately we have not evolved to be well attuned to moderation…
1. We must support companies that gladly accept the role of custodian.
One of the greatest forces which shapes us as a people is one of our own construction, our government. Our two party system has taken us far, but what got us here will not get us where we need to go. It seeks balance by stacking millions on either side of a see-saw and hoping it levels out rather than moving the whole towards the fulcrum wherein we can find better balance as a whole.
Our inability to move past this point isn’t because we’re not aware of superior alternatives⁶ it is because Government is inexorably linked to our economic structure. And our current economic structure, capitalism, is essentially a more formalized field of play for us to pursue our primary biological drive: we seek to obtain power. Which, in any of it’s forms is something that aids us in securing a mate, creating offspring, and ensuring our genes are passed along to the next generation. Our economic system simply converts social power from an intangible form, to a tangible unit which can be measured: wealth.
Wealth is, most commonly, measured in terms of currency. It is the scorecard we all play on whether we like it or not. It also serves as one of the greatest links between government and it’s economic system as currency is issued and controlled by governments. Second only to the governments themselves, the largest holders of currency are corporations⁷. Corporations, however, have a major advantage over governments, which is the fact that they are not bound by territory as governments are. Corporations can act across multiple grounds and governments, and are therefore more easily able to relocate wealth regardless of the status of any single government. It may seem a stretch currently, but there will come a time when multinational corporations are more resilient to failure than most individual governments.
This fact, combined with a corporation’s ability to more quickly respond to change than a government ensures that as change continues to accelerate we will reach a point where corporations will become more powerful than the governments which host them. This power is paired with the responsibility to care for those who bestow it, the people themselves. As governments are less and less capable of providing for their citizens, it will become the responsibility of the corporations to take care of their own. There are already several examples of this shift taking place, including corporations providing healthcare for their employees and families, paying for education, and even vehicles, food, and shelter⁸. As this transference continues, corporations will be put in the position to act as non-territorial governments, insomuch as they will, essentially, provide many of the services a government traditionally would for their populations. If we’re to create a world in which we want future generations to live, we need to support companies which have a purpose beyond simply profits⁹. We need to support companies who uphold the mantle of custodian and truly wish to better the lives of all they are involved with; employees, customers, partners, vendors and their communities¹⁰.
2. We must adopt a currency that aligns our economy with our ecology.
This divorce of a corporation’s reliance on a host government will also incentivize corporations to adopt a currency that allows them to more easily transfer wealth between borders. If they haven’t been embraced already, digital currencies will be exponentially adopted as they are supported by major corporations. As digital currencies compete for dominance, the world will no longer support a fiat currency backed by little more than trust and the backing of an entity no longer strong enough to support it. There will be no value in falling back to a currency backed by a fixed resource like the gold standard, as most of our belief in gold being valuable isn’t because it inherently has value, but that we bestow value on it because of it’s rarity¹¹. I believe an energy backed currency is a critical step in our ongoing advancement.
Converting to an energy backed currency ties our biological drive for power, wealth, to an actual valuable resource. It will help drive progress, especially in markets of energy and sustainability, because any development that allows us to capture more energy, more effectively use energy, reduce waste, or recycle spent energy is essentially the equivalent to printing money. An increase in sufficiency and sustainability also have the added benefit of eliminating scarcity, a critical element of almost all economic models. When scarcity is eliminated, we will have an end to this volume of our evolution. Survival of the fittest works in a world of scarcity, but will have little benefit in a world of abundance¹² ¹³.
3. We must provide our population with the time and resources to discover and pursue their purpose.
This transition has the potential to be the most difficult and dangerous transition life as we know it will have ever faced. The choice to enter a dystopian nightmare in which life no longer holds value because it is no longer able to yield an economic benefit, or to usher in a utopian era of ongoing progress, advancement and evolution¹⁴. We must prepare for this transition long before we are at its gates, and corporations who act with more care for their people and purpose than their bottom line will be the ones who are best prepared to respond to this transition positively.
4. We must value the life of all citizens and their potential contributions.
A utopian world of abundance is one in which each life is treated with respect and value. As a culture, the best investment we can make is in ourselves. It will require a complete overhaul of our current socio-economic model as we trade our drive for power with a drive for progress. A utopia would be of our making, and it would require some elements we may find uncomfortable from our current perspective; protocols for population management¹⁵, a guaranteed basic income¹⁶, and perhaps most importantly to invest in all of our population by giving everyone unlimited access to the education they desire¹⁷.
Ultimately this world allows us to give our descendants the greatest gift that can be given – the whole of their lives atop Maslow’s hierarchy, to discover themselves, their purpose, and the pursuit of that purpose.
5. We must embrace the technology that will enable us to achieve these milestones.
It has been proven, time and again, that most of mankinds’ most astonishing breakthroughts are the result of an inquisitive nature, access to information, and the time to pursue these interests¹⁸. It isn’t the small safe bets that pay off big, it is the long shots. And we’re on the cusp of taking the advantage from the house – to the point where we can bet, to some degree, on every shot. When even only a small percentage succeed, we reap an enormous benefit¹⁹.
This new societal structure enables us to ameliorate ourselves and take control of our continued evolution, not towards maximizing our previous biological imperatives, but in a new direction of our own choosing.
6. We must accept our technology will fundamentally alter us as a species.
This final transformation will likely be the hardest for many of us to accept. (If the transition from a world of scarcity to abundance is troubling to us, this transition will certainly make some people squirm.) The end of homo sapiens²⁰. Many people currently fear that the next form of consciousness will be some form of strong AI. And while I agree we must be careful regarding artificial intelligence for a number of reasons, it is only through weak AI that we will be able to achieve abundance. I posit that our next leap in evolution will not be the singularity as many imagine it – a manufactured digital consciousness, but quite possibly the opposite.
7. We must prepare to make a graceful transition to the next chapter of evolution.
Rather than building a consciousness with hardware and software I believe we’ll more likely take our next step as a people by augmenting our own biological hardware and software. It may start with simple enhancements – many consider wearable technology the first step of this transformation. We’ll soon progress to genetic engineering – first to cure diseases, but from there the line will quickly blur between correction to augmentation. These changes will become more and more pronounced until we simply get to the point where we’re no longer what we were²¹. This new species will be better suited to continue life’s pursuit to help the universe know more of itself and we’ll have fulfilled our role by taking the transcendent step from what life was to what life will be.
In time I’ll add notes about the things people can do to support each of the transitions. Some will be small decisions you can easily make every day, or major decisions which will require great effort. If you have any to add, or have questions about my ‘Yoko Manifesto’ please let me know.
These endnotes are meant to share some of the works I’ve read leading up to this draft. They are not necessarily references, but additional reading I’d encourage you to peruse.
- Sapiens by Yuval Harai (Book)
- A Brief History of Intellectual Discussion of Accelerating Change by John Smart (Book)
- Supernormal Stimuli by Gregory Ciotti (Article & Comic)
- Supernormal Stimuli by Deidre Barret (Book)
- Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail (Book)
- Single Transferable Vote by CGP Grey (YouTube Video)
- 2014 Cash Update: Corporate America’s Richest 1% Keep Getting Richer by Standard and Poors (PDF Report)
- Additional note: For those unaware, much of the wealthiest people’s cash is invested in corporations, not liquid.
- 14 Companies with Incredible Employee Perks by Denene Brox (Article, Salary.com)
- Evolved Enterprise by Yanik Silver (Book)
- Firms of Endearment by Raj Sisodia, David Wolfe, and Jag Sheth (Book)
- Energy Backed Money, Chapter 7: Energy Backed Money vs Gold Standard vs Fiat Currency (eBook)
- Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow (eBook)
- Of Mind and Money: Post-Scarcity Economics and Human Nature by Stuart Mason Dambrot (Article)
- Manna by Marshall Brain (eBook)
- The Rationale and Feasibility of Licensing Parents by Jack Westman (Article)
- A Brief History of Basic Income Ideas by Steven Shafarman (Article)
- The Price of Civilization by Jeffrey Sachs (Book)
- 20% Time is Alive and Well, says Google by Christopher Mims (Article)
- Alphabet Founding Announcement by Larry Page (Post)
- The Human Race Will Come to an End. What’s Next? by Chip Walter (Article)
- Last Ape Standing by Chip Walter (Book)
- Self-Enhancement and the End of Homo Sapiens by Luca Rade (Article)