29 August 2015

our tools are broken

Regular Reminder - Our tools Are Broken: social networking tools and other information infrastructure that are not publicly owned (and by that I mean licensed under the General Public License or Copylefted -see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyleft) are fundamentally broken. Because anything less than public ownership severely limits the extent to which we can use, fix, experiment, and grow these into useful universal assets .. This is especially true in the long term.

The list of our broken tools include Facebook, Google search, Twitter, and the operating systems Windows, Mac-OSX, IOS, and bits of Android. Linux is completely ours. Most of Android and the software that serves up and browses the world wide web is also properly public property.

Distributed/Federated social software that could easily replace Facebook and Twitter already exists (see Diaspora and Identica). Publicly owned search engines won't have to start from scratch either.

Its just going to take us some time to realise that all the complaints that we have about our social software - about the abuses of power that extend from privacy violations to the manipulation of search results and manipulation of our social signalling - all of these cannot be fixed until we switch to Free (as in speech) Software.

02 August 2015

infopolitics teaser

Techno-optimism and its bashing aside, there are two things that I'd like to repeat:
  • We will continue to be bad at predicting the forms and shapes civilisation will take as it evolves.
  • And the more information rich a civilisation becomes, the less and less tolerant it will be of the self parasitism that plagues it.

01 August 2015

fork governance

Time to begin hacking on top of -and away from - these current primitive democracies. The governance systems in use globally carry way too many design features common to the royal courts they emerged/evolved from (strong hierarchical design, centralised opaque authority, personality based leadership, etc.).

[Distributed governance models. Decentralised technologies that might be used to underpin new forms of collective cooperation and decision-making.]

"I use the term “governance by design” to describe the process of online communities increasingly relying on technology in order to organize themselves through novel governance models (designed by the community and for the community), whose rules are embedded directly into the underlying technology of the platforms they use to operate"

http://commonstransition.org/commons-centric-law-and-governance-with-primavera-de-filippi/ (As part of a series on the 100 Women Who Are Co-Creating the P2P Society, Rachel O’Dwyer interviews Primavera De Filippi)

16 July 2015

last one turn the lights out

my mother's mother's mother's ....185 millionth mother was a fish.
A good watch if you're trying to understand why there never was a first human. or chicken. or egg...
Speaking evolution is an old post about where saying mother's mother's mother for a 1000 years will get you.

Here's some comments from this post on facebook that I think are worth logging:

22 March 2015

time to grow up

Synthetic biology and nanotech are just some of the first technologies that will make catastrophic destructive ability available to more that just the very powerful.

So the survival path for our species becomes more than just restraining the powerful from causing catastrophic destruction. It becomes eliminating the conditions that cause pathological behaviour for the rest of 'us' too.

And I think this means eliminating injustice in total - as well as the more visible pathological behaviours from the powerful.

So our best hope of surviving, once our tech begins delivering immense destructive power to ever smaller and smaller groups, will be a world that ensures a thriving and well adjusted population as a whole. One with no injustice and poverty,  the best education for all, and a global population that is productively engaged.

Luckily, I think that there is nothing in our nature or the nature of the world we live in, that rules out even such an optimistic vision. And as for how we start building toward it, like with all change in complex systems, a good idea would be robust experimentation with little constraint.

So bring on as much experimentation along the lines of truly sustainable and just societies as possible...

24 February 2015

bob was right?

IFRs and some of the other newer nuclear fission technologies are probably safer now, taken as a whole, than continuing to build fossil fuel burning power stations.

Is that right? ...
The danger/safety of things at scale are shifty notions - using plastic packaging might prove orders of magnitude more harmful to global ecosystems than the worst possible nuclear power plant disaster.

Not so sure about this ... but I'm feeling that this might be another example of how bad we are at guessing about threat; like when we drive our children to school out of concern for their safety, but expose them to much more probable danger associated with the reduced exercise.

31 January 2015


It happened on our shift - this mass mistreatment of ourselves and the systems that came before us. Self-parasitism left unchecked, unchallenged. There can be little doubt that we will be seen as the neanderthal or homo-erectus of this past. Hardly human, because we were capable of behaving with so little humanity towards each other, and with so little respect for the complexity that birthed us that we could destroy it.
For dozens of generations, we let emergent power and self interest shape our will - teach our children, and we hardly noticed as it turned suicidal.

22 November 2014

trying not to fool ourselves ...

The scientific method is our best hack so far for building knowledge around some seemingly built-in and hard human problems:
1. We trust authority.

2. There is social reward for compliant thinking.

3. There is social reward for innovative thinking.

4. There is social reward for being believed to be right.

5. There is internal reward in believing yourself to be right.

6. Repetition and exposure to ideas in our formative years exaggerate the value of those ideas. 

7. We over-value our personal experience. The things we have experienced and have spent time thinking about influence our thinking.

8. Our beliefs influence our thinking - we over-value that which we already think to be true.

9. Our senses and intuitions restrict our thinking.
10. Profit, power and other reward affect our thinking and beliefs.
"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself."
― Richard Feynman

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts"
― again, Richard Feynman

 “The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure Nature hasn't misled you into thinking you know something you don't actually know."
― Robert M. Pirsig