This blog is the next step in a personal journey begun some 30 years ago. A quest to understand the world and our place in it. It was triggered by a sense that our economic systems, while serving us well, were failing on some important measures: an inability to eliminate the systemic causes of poverty, coupled with cycles of booms and busts that people take as 'normal'. Our systems also appeared unnecessarily complex... more so, as time has gone by, with each new 'system failure' or 'abuse' generating hundreds or even thousands of pages of new regulations.
The economy has also become increasingly abstracted from the real world (all summed up in a single number: 'GDP'), as though people exist to serve it, rather than the other way round!
The idea of Earth as Gaia (proposed by James Lovelock) has also influenced my thinking. Just as the human body is composed of many different lifeforms (with more than 90% of our cells being 'bacterial', rather than 'human' in nature), yet we are one 'self-regulating' entity... so Lovelock showed that the bio-sphere too may be thought of as a single entity composed of countless creatures that depend upon each other for life. It is not just analogy to say that when the balance of life is disrupted in either, 'ill health' is the consequence.
In the course of this journey, I have been fortunate in having a wide-ranging career across many different sectors, including government, construction, manufacturing, transport and logistics, all helping to inform my understanding of business and economics.
Most recently I have become engaged in helping to develop the Digital Built Environment within Australia and New Zealand:
"A 3D computer model of the natural and built environment (inside and out, above and below ground) on all scales required for decision making, plus all rights, responsibilities and restrictions applying to every property".
This secure, federated 3D model heralds enormous gains in productivity throughout the property cycle (from planning to decommission), as well as for use by emergency services and business to deliver better quicker outcomes, with much less risk. (see vanzi.com.au)
This Initiative has further expanded my understanding of the opportunities and challenges before us, leading to the notion of World2-0.
Many writings have also informed my world view over the years. Unfortunately, a lack of diligent record keeping has left me in their debt without the means to give due recognition.
One book I can recommend is: The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee and Jeff Cummings; it succinctly encompasses both the opportunities and threats before us. There is little value in repeating their extensive fact-finding and analysis, as it is best read in full.
Few people that are informed argue the facts. Most disagreement is in the way forward.
Where I hope to add some value is in suggesting radically different policy prescriptions that may spark new avenues for enquiry - to move us towards a 'better world': World2-0.
World 1.0 was physical, analogue and powered by light.
Since the beginning, humankind has passed through various 'ages' defined by our tools. The Stone, Bronze and Iron ages, and then the Industrial Age each enhanced man’s muscles. In parallel, technologies such as writing and printing have augmented our memories and extended our understanding of the world.
More lately, we have been living through the Computer and Internet Age that is enhancing and networking our individual mental capacities - to generate new knowledge in all fields of endeavour, at unparalleled rates. Knowledge is information absorbed by a human mind. As more minds are connected via the net, so 'knowledge' is expanding exponentially... while information is expanding super-exponentially.
Until the last few decades, most of our communication has been based on alphanumeric and graphical abstractions.
Next is the Videamation Age, the first age of World2.0.
World 2.0 is a seamless integration of:
Physical and Virtual
Analogue and Digital
Light and Electricity
In this Age, our children will wonder how it was ever possible to know or communicate or do anything in a purely physical world.
Videamation is a concatenation of: Video+Virtual+Internet+Idea+Automation.
It is the Age where everyone and everything is ‘networked’, and:
Video and Virtual Simulations are used as a matter of course to teach Ideas: showing and testing through doing… speeding learning, with better outcomes.
3D Virtual models are used to design, test and ‘perfect’ Ideas for beautifully functional cities, structures, equipment, processes and products - before manifesting the chosen designs in physical space...
Using supply chains where the material and information flows (and transformation processes) are increasingly Automated - to achieve better outcomes, more quickly, at much less cost and risk than ever before.
3D Virtual models of the world act like ‘smart’ 3D filing cabinets, allowing us to link any information about an object to its virtual counterpart - in its 'spatial context'. Then access the information simply by clicking on the model object, or doing a text, voice or image search; or by pointing a ‘smart device’ (connected to the cloud) at the object itself in the real world.
Supercomputers connected through the Internet and new algorithms, combined with ‘sensors’ on everything, further enhance our ability to gather data, identify patterns and develop new knowledge at super-exponential rates, while answering natural language questions across the expanding field of human knowledge.
This interplay between technology and people has begun to shape humanity: extending our lifespan, and even more our capacities... into realms that were once science fiction.
This blog also holds true that human exploitation is changing the only world we have, in ways that are as yet not fully understood, but which, on many accounts, pose grave threats to the whole bio-sphere, as we alter the chemistry of our air, soils and water.
Clearly, technology is the foundation of World2-0. However, technology alone cannot solve our problems, simply because it can be used for both good and ill.
The Way Forward
To make World2-0 a 'better place', requires changes to our fundamental economic systems: monetary, banking and tax - to accommodate our new reality, while avoiding the system problems of the old world: poverty, moral hazard and financial collapse, along with adverse changes to our biosphere.
The proposals are founded upon a firm belief in the value of 'the market'... recognising that all markets operate within a 'legal framework'. It is after all, 'the law' that bestows rights that can be traded. Without a legal framework and due process, it is the law of the gun that determines resource allocation.
This blog recognises too, that along with rights, come responsibilities and restrictions. My right to make noise, is counterbalanced by your right to peace and quiet. My right to exploit our resources is balanced by your right to a healthy bio-sphere to support all life.
It also takes the view that we cannot change human nature. That crime, particularly organised and cybercrime (increasingly linked), will continue to blight our world, along with fanaticism, corruption and greed, not to mention addiction and mental illness!
Despite these challenges, I remain optimistic.
While no new 'organizational' or 'political' or 'economic' structure or system can change our basic drives, I believe we can contain and channel the worst of them by building systems that recognise their fundamental role in human affairs. This is the basis for the emerging field of 'behavioural economics'.
For some, 'changing our systems for the better' seems as impossible as 'changing human nature'. Yet, for any idea to go from theory to practice, (as long as it does not offend the laws of nature), we only need to get it into the minds of the few leaders required to make it happen - so they believe that it should happen. Difficult, but not impossible.
It is made easier by agreeing a plan in law, but deferring implementation (perhaps years or decades in the future)... to give people time to adjust, with compensation if necessary. And/or by meeting the needs of the poor in ways that also meet the needs of the rich.
The Home page sets out the Problems in more detail and gives access to the latest posts.
The Narrative page includes all prior posts as a 'book' in logical sequence.
As you will see there is no 'forum' for general comment. This is deliberate. Rather than lose good ideas (including counter arguments) in long discussion threads, I am proposing to post changes to the blogs, with appropriate recognition, as contributors correct or add new facts and ideas to support or counter the approaches first suggested. A bit like a 'Wiki', but with attribution.
I encourage you to become engaged by writing to me directly at , via Contact or Sign Up. Real names are required.
In time, it is hoped that the ideas will evolve to become the basis for a 'quiet revolution' - supported by all sectors... each in their own interests.
Michael Haines updated 06/05/2015