Hello! Welcome to the 1st draft of my book, Creating a Humanist Blockchain Future (placeholder title). The goal with open-sourcing these drafts is to:
- Get feedback before releasing the book
- Experiment with new processes that are more deeply aligned with a future of abundant long-term human flourishing. (i.e. Open source all the things! Information should flow freely! Allow others to remix this!)
If you’re looking to give feedback (which I would LOVE), a couple notes:
- It’s likely that it’ll be better to give feedback through this Google Doc. (If you just want to read, stay here though?)
- Please give me brutal, honest feedback! If something sucks, say it! Please don’t be worried about hurting my feelings. Lean in and vector towards blunt criticism.
- Ask yourself these primary questions: Is this clear? What can be cut? Do I want to keep reading?
- Right now, please give me feedback on general ideas and concepts, not specific wordings. (I’ll deal with all the little grammar and copyediting stuff later.)
- Feel free to ignore my comments. They’re mostly just open questions I still have.
- If you give any amount of feedback, I’ll thank you in the book!
Btw, if you’d like to be notified when I release the book, sign up here.
If you’d like to support my work, please do so through Patreon (or, with ETH on StakeTree).
(1/4) Who Am I? Why Did I Write This Book?
Who Am I?
Hello! My name is Rhys — welcome to my book! I hope it finds you well 🙂. I’d love to give you a bit of context on me before we dive into the rest of the intro. Many nonfiction writers try to abstract themselves away from their book by not using the 1st-person and not mentioning themselves, but I actually think that’s counterproductive. The book is (mostly) coming from my mind, so you should know who I am in order to more accurately judge my biases, point-of-view, etc. My identity is an integral part of the book. Let’s not be blind to that.
So, who am I and how does that bias this book? I’m hyper intentional, curious, enthusiastic and honest. I’m a 27-year-old, white, straight, American, upper-class male. In other words, I’m about as privileged as one can be. This means that I have essentially no experience with all the challenges of historically disadvantaged folks. From Day 1, the world has told me: you’re smart, you deserve power, and we accept you. Also, essentially from Day 1, I’ve lived in a world of abundance. My basic needs have always been met, and I’ve been surrounded by loving family and friends. Because of these support structures, I haven’t experienced the downsides of risks. And furthermore, I’ve been able to move up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and push for meaning and self-actualization.
Why Did I Write This Book?
At a deep level, I’m wrote this book because these ideas have been percolating in my mind for years. I needed to get them out. But more than that, this book is me trying to share learnings from my journey thus far in trying to answer the question: “How can we do good in the world?” In other words, I’m writing to try to vector the future of humanity in a positive direction. I’m writing for us. For you, the reader. For them, the random grandparents who are confused by their smartphones. For all of the future people and future consciousness, in 2020 and 202020.
My Writing Process
One note on my writing process. As you progress more deeply in this book, I’ll make claims that humanity is transitioning to a strange new future reality that doesn’t feel like the current one (and definitely not like 1980). As much as possible, I’ve tried to write this book in a way that is in alignment (or vectors towards) the positive version of that new reality. In other words, I’m trying to walk the walk.
At a high level, this means I’ve tried to take a sense of abundance and collaborative fluidity, then manifest it through my writing process.
- From an information perspective (where bits are naturally anti-rivalrous), it helps everyone if bits are set free. e.g. I’ve tried to co-write by iteratively blogging the chapters with Google Docs. I’m using a Creative Commons license so others can remix and build on my work.
- From a value perspective, it helps everyone if money is not accumulated/hoarded. e.g. I’m selling this book on a sliding scale (pay what you want!). For each dollar I make over $4,000/month (after that point you don’t get happier), I’ll give 50% of the rest to charity.
With this in mind, I am not really the “author” of this book. Instead I am its Source and Steward. By “Source” I mean that I catalyzed this book’s creation. By “Steward” I mean that I have primary responsibility for this book’s creation and propagation. This book was not fully created by me, nor are the ideas in it fully mine.
I hope you find it fun and meaningful. Please put it down and go outside if you feel it’s a waste of time. If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
(2/4) Who Are You? Why Should You Read This Book?
Who Are You?
Who are you? And who do I expect you to be? i.e. Who is my audience? At a high level, I expect this book to be valuable for folks who are interested in the systemic big picture. This book is not a story about lived experiences. Rather, it’s about the structures that create those experiences. We’ll discuss systems, institutions, philosophy, spirituality, technology, social impact, history, and the future. In some ways, it’d be helpful if you’ve read various books in each of those categories. You’ll be able to push back more. Or perhaps this book will give you signposts to cross-reference with those ideas. But in other ways, you can come in without any prior knowledge. Instead of a synthesis, you can also view this book as curation. A place to jump off and determine where to dive deeper.
This book is a mile-wide, inch-deep. It’s scope is broad. Many supporting details can be explored in the footnotes or bibliography.
Finally, I’ve tried to keep the book relatively accessible and casual. I don’t use much math and stay away from academic language. Though there will be graphs. I like graphs :).
Why Should You Read This Book?
In many ways, this book is a response to the status quo. It’s 2018 and the world is fast, confusing, and paradoxical. Fast in the sense that the iPhone is only about 10 years old, but now almost 4 billion people have smartphones. Confusing in the sense that we almost expect our expectations not to match up with reality. Confusing in the sense that, when expectations+reality don’t match, we don’t quite know why. (e.g. What is the root cause of Trump?) But just because the world is fast and confusing doesn’t necessarily mean its bad. I’d say it’s just paradoxical. In some ways, things are good! Wow, 1.25 billionpeople (16% of the world population) have escaped extreme poverty in the last 25 years. We have the entirety of the world’s information in our pocket. But things are also bad: climate change-produced instability will displace millions of people and agricultural land. We’re more polarized, less empathetic, and trust our institutions less.
What’s happening to us?
Seriously though. What’s happening?
So…yeah. This book is an answer to that question. You should read this book if you want a macro perspective on the changes that are happening to humanity. We’re at the confluence of the end of the Industrial Age and the beginning of the Networked Information Age. We’re at the fragile beginning of massive, converging, exponential technological change. I hope to bring you clarity on how to see that world, our world. That’s my goal: to help you clarify the world around you.
But actually, my ultimate goal is exists at a higher scope than that. It’s actually three parts:
- To give you the necessary frameworks to understand the world.
- Given those tools, to show you my current perspective on the world.
- Given that perspective, to show you how you can begin to shape the future for good.
So, to restate it, you should read this book if you want frameworks, understanding, and actions in our current macro technosocietal context.
At the end of this book, I hope you experience changes in your daily life. e.g. When you read a new piece of news, it makes sense. (That your lenses ofreality are more aligned with reality itself.) Or when you hear an analysis of reality, you can compare it to other theories. (Your understanding of reality itself is textured.) When you wake up in the morning, you’re optimistic about the future and are meaningfully contributing to shaping it for good. (Your textured understanding of reality [and yourself!] allows you to “do your part” in vectoring it positively.)
Emotionally, I hope to decrease your stress. (Though it may increase short-term.)
Spiritually, I hope to make you feel more connected to each other, nature, machines, and our collective future.
However, I can’t promise you anything. As long as we both authentically try our best, I feel satisfied.
In line with that: if the above doesn’t seem interesting to you please stop reading, put down this book, and go outside. Don’t read this book if you have little interest in how macro systems propagate into our future. Or, if you do start reading but find yourself bored, please put the book down and come back tomorrow. If it’s still boring, burn it :). Two strikes and I’m out!
(3/4) What Is This Book About?
I wrote a bit about this in the last section (because you should kinda know what the book is about before reading it). This book is about how to see our fragile context (Part I), what our context actually is (Part II), and how we can take actions in it (Part III). We’ll get more specific and break down each of those parts in a sec. Before we do that, I’d like to be clear about the perspective I took in researching/writing each part.
My Process: Synthesis and Curation
To write this book I read a bunch of books. My hope is that I’ve been able to synthesize and curate them for you (so that you don’t need to spend that time!). This book is not really about a specific framework. Instead, it’s a curated synthesis of many frameworks. That means that this book is not reallyabout a specific macrosystemic trend. Instead, it’s a curated synthesis of many trends.
To understand what I mean by curated synthesis, let’s dive into imagination land. You can imagine me as a librarian friend who is leading you through a large library. I’ve already been here before, so I’m showing you around. We can skip most of it, because, wowsa, there are a lot of books. I bring you upstairs to a special section I’ve created myself. I’ve pulled books from the rest of the library and brought them to this room. Still though, there are too many books. So I’ve put sticky notes in each book where there’s an especially brilliant insight. (This is curation! Going from all books to few books to sections in those books.) In addition to that curation, I’ve also ripped out some pages from a couple books and glued them with pages from other books. When you hold them together in front of the window’s sunlight in a specific way…ah! Look! Isn’t that fascinating how they connect? (This is synthesis! Combining ideas from multiple sources to produce unique systems insight.) Here are covers from some of the key books below:
Part I: How Can We Use Frameworks to Understand the World? (Meta-How)
In Part I, we’ll explore how to explore the world. This will provide a foundation for the later parts. (i.e. Arguments get built inside frameworks and goal sets, not in isolation of them.) This section has a couple parts. We’ll look at:
- Meta-Frameworks: Before we can make any claims about specificframeworks, we’ll need to have a general framework for frameworks themselves. In addition to that instrumental use (have a meta-framework so we can look at frameworks later), this section is an end in and of itself. I’ll make the claim: “getting more people to have a meta-framework mindset is necessary (but not sufficient) for long-term flourishing.”
- Goals: People often talk past each other when they either: a) Haven’t discussed their goals or b) Haven’t discussed their frameworks. This section addresses the former (goals). In it, I’ll discuss a framework for goals (consequentialism) and the trade-offs in determining our goals. i.e. If we’re trying to make a better world, then the question becomes “For who on what timescale?”
- Frameworks: In this section we’ll discuss more specific frameworks for understanding the world, especially frameworks based in systems thinking (which are crucial for understanding our complex world).
In short, my goal for Part I is to outline how I’m viewing the world so that a) you can also view the world in these ways to come to your own conclusions and b) you can push back on how I’m viewing the world (which happens a level above pushing back on specific conclusions from specific ways of viewing the world).
Part II: What Trends Inform Our Past, Present, and Future? (What)
In Part II, we’ll explore the primary trends that define our current 2018 context. All of these trends should be conceptualized within one macro transition: The shift from late-stage Industrial Revolution to early-stage Information Revolution. (All of the other trends result from this transition.) Given our goal (of long-term human flourishing), there is one trend in particular that surfaces as the most important — Fragility. This Fragility is the result of an Industrial Revolution-based rivalrous mindset instantiated in an Information Revolution-based exponential technological power distribution. In other words, we’re getting more powerful, and we need more responsibility, but don’t have it yet. Or, in yet other words, the world is getting faster and more complex, but our current institutions are not ready for this fast complexity. We’ll also explore how this Fragility (and all of the associated existential risks) primary results from two Meta Problems: Game Theory and Empathy.
If Fragility implies that it’s necessary we phase shift, then the other macro trend — Abundance — gives us sufficient conditions to do so. We’ll look at all of the ways in which our world is now abundant, but how our norms have lagged behind that abundance.
Though my primary point concerns Fragility (and how Abundance can help us escape it), we’ll also look at a couple other macro trends that will help give us texture on the vectors that we can leverage in this shift. They are:
- Capital/Attention: The shift from scarce capital to scarce attention. (Part of the story of abundance.)
- Trust: How we’re radically changing the core primitives of language/info and capital/value, both of which are mediated by trust. We’ll also view the sharing economy through this lens of trust.
- #NewPower: i.e. The shift in how we leverage power. e.g. The proliferation of bottom-up crowd-based organizational technologies. We now can motivate/coordinate around platforms, blockchains, and memes. I’ll bucket A.I. as a form of crowd-based technology (where the input data and algorithms for decision-making are just machine-readable rather than human-readable). We’ll also look at how power is distributed in the crowd, especially from a governance and ownership perspective.
- Myths: How stories, meaning-making, and identity will change in given our transitions in Organizational Technology and trust.
- Violence: Combining the decentralization of trust and power, we’ll look at the progression of violence over time, and look at how the nation-state monopoly on violence may be fading.
- Finally, it’s likely that I’ll try to apply biotech, China, cities, and identity into this framework, because those are crucial trends that I don’t reallyunderstand where they fit.
Break! Embody the Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual
In the last part, I outlined a future that might feel kinda scary/stressful — lots of change possibility vectoring towards existential risk. Woof. Given that, I think it’s a nice opportunity to go outside, take a walk, and get in touch with your physical/emotional/spiritual self. Please do!
Part III: How Can We Shape Our Context For Good? (How)
In Part III, we’ll take the analysis above (Fragility requires us to phase shift, Abundance means we can) and try to explain how we can actually make this phase shift happen. i.e. Given our Fragile context, how can we win? We’ll look at both how this shift could happen from a Macro Systemic Perspective and a Micro Personal Perspective.
Macro Systemic Phase Shift
In this section, we’ll outline what this looks like from a macro systemic perspective. We’ll look at:
- The 3 types of transitionary work: current protective work, transitionarywork, and post-transition work.
- Propagating a Meta-Framework mindset
- The properties of generative functions for a new tech <> society loop: non-accumulation, #Open, Co-Evolution to Shared Outcomes, and Multi-Scale complexity.
- The competitive dynamics between the “new good loop” and the “current bad loop”. i.e. How do we beat late-stage capitalism?
- And, more specifically, how blockchain technology can help us create a new antifragile loop.
After detailing that new system, we’ll examine how various concepts change as we push them through this future lens. e.g. What does life look like now and what will it look like then?
Micro Personal Actions
I think it’d be wack to say “hey world, we’re in a fragile time and are vectoring towards humanity’s self-termination” without also saying “and here’s what you can do about it.” That’s what this section is about. We’ll discuss:
- How to take responsibility for your own future by iteratively iterating towards a sovereign, aligned life.
- How to have a high impact (while not being stressed!) by actively trying to match your “Circle of Influence” to your “Circle of Concern”.
- How to use Essentialism and the power of “Hell yes or #SayNo.”
- How you can vector towards a Meta-Framework mindset with non-violent communication, double crux, the systems of behavioral psychology, and mindfulness.
- How to leverage #NewPower
- How to create “Teal” companies that are in alignment with our complex, organic future.
- How to create companies in alignment with a Meta-Framework mindset.
The points above are really about ways to succeed in an exponential, complex world. Possibly more importantly, we’ll also look at examples of how we can intentionally vector towards a more positive future. In other words, what should your goals and values be and how can you embody them in daily life? We’ll discuss:
- The non-accumulation mindset (for both capital and information).
- Co-evolving to shared outcomes. Coopetition and collaboration > competition.
(4/4) How Can You Use This Book?
In general, this book is meant to be read front-to-back. However, if you find yourself deeply disagreeing with some of the initial content, you may not want to continue. This is because later analyses follow from certain frameworks/goals. i.e. If you disagree with the framework/goal, then you may deeply disagree with some of my analyses. (And we should have a dialectic about the framework/goal, not the lower down analyses.)
If, however, you want to jump around, then you can follow the part overviews. i.e.
- If you want to learn about frameworks, check out Part I
- If you want to learn about our current context, check out Part II
- If you want to learn about actions you can take given our context, check out Part III.
Finally, you may simply use this book as a reference for exploring similar works. Check them out in the bibliography!
Please support me on Patreon / StakeTree. #begging
Thanks to Collin Brown, Mike Goldin, John Desmond, Paras Chopra, Andrew Cochrane, Sandra Ro, Harry Lindmark, Jonny Dubowsky, Sam Jonas, Malcolm Ocean, Colin Wielga, Joe Urgo, Josh Nussbaum, John Lindmark, Garry Tan, Jacob Zax, Doug King, Katie Powell, Mark Moore, Jonathan Isaac, Coury Ditch, Ref Lindmark, Mike Pratt, Jim Rutt, Jeff Snyder, Ryan X Charles, Chris Edmonds, Brayton Williams, Brian Crain, David Ernst, Ali Shanti, Patrick Walker, Ryan Martens, Kenji Williams, Craig Burel, Scott Levi, Matt Daley, Peter Rodgers, Keith Klundt, Alan Curtis, Kenzie Jacobs, and James Waugh for supporting me on Patreon! Thanks to Storecoin, Griff Green, Radar Relay, district0x, Niel de la Rouviere, Brady McKenna, and some anonymous others for supporting me on StakeTree! Thanks to KeepKey for sponsoring the show! Please use them/check them out!
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Disclaimer: I own less than $5000 of any given cryptocurrency, so my monetary incentive is not too aligned with Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. :)