Charter Cities, Refugee Labor, and The Learning Economy – Synthetic Pretenders Part 15A

The next four posts started out as a single article for the Synthetic Pretenders series; but as I continued to dig and write, the content got a little out of hand. If I were more self-disciplined, I’d probably be able to organize my findings better and perhaps offer up more compact, digestible posts. There’s a lot of background information provided here, so even though I cast a wide net, rest assured it does ultimately connect back to syn-bio eugenics, Berggruen’s Network, and California social impact NGOs joined at hip with defense-tech, global finance, and faith-based institutions.

You can read it in full here or access a PDF here.

Your Government As A Planetary Computer

When Nicholas Berggruen reestablished himself in Los Angeles in 2010 with an intention to train in philosophy, he sought out two mentors, both UCLA professors. One was Brian Esparza Walker, a researcher in comparative political theory and civic responsibility who has been working on a new book on cybernetics and Confucianism. The other was Brian Copenhaver an expert in the belief in magic in early Modern Europe and the Hermetica. Copenhaver’s 2015 book, “Magic in Western Culture: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment,” looks quite interesting, but comes with the hefty price tag of academic presses. If you’re interested in getting a sense of what he’s all about, there are a few online talks with Copenhaver here and here.

Source: The Secret History of Western Esotericism Podcast, Episode 101 Brian Copenhaver on the Hermetica

In lieu of payment, the two professors asked Berggruen to become a donor to UCLA. He ended up underwriting research at the Luskin School of Public Affairs on a good governance index and partnering with the humanities division on a lecture series aptly titled “Possible Worlds.” If you read between the lines of the tweets below, you can see how this governance index is infrastructure for outcomes-based contracts aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Remaking political systems for electronic government is the imperative; not only to ease the collection of data to prove “progress” towards the seventeen goals, but also to build the global data economy which, in turn, fuels machine learning for artificial intelligence. UN SDG 16 is “strong institutions.” The Governance Index is overseen by Helmut Ankeier, a German sociologist specializing in social innovation who splits his time between UCLA and the Hertie School in Berlin, one of Europe’s first graduate schools devoted to public policy. The Hertie School promotes e-government digitalisation as a means by which to steer behaviors towards “sustainability” through circular economic practice.

Source: Berggruen Institute Tweet, Good Governance Index, June 1, 2022

Source: Helmut Ankheier UCLA Bio

Source: United Nations Curriculum on Governance for Sustainable Development

A network emerged from the proceedings of Berggruen’s Think Long California committee, whose scope of work quickly expanded beyond the Eureka state to include international bridge building. In its first few years the Berggruen Institute established relationships with leaders in the EU and sent delegations to work with Chinese officials and industry leaders. A year after “The Blueprint to Renew California” went public, Nicholas headed over to Berlin for a European town hall co-hosted with French economist Jean Pisani-Ferry and Jakob Kellenberger, a Swiss diplomat working in the international humanitarian aid space. Both are members of the Berggruen Network.

Disruption, Displacement, and the Solidarity Economy

At that event, speeches were given by Minnesota native and former Prime Minister of Greece George Papandreou; and former UK Prime Minister and big-data social entrepreneur, Tony Blair. Then George Soros took the opportunity to chastise the greedy creditors that precipitated the Eurozone crisis, decry the refugee situation in Greece, and propose a new era in which “solidarity” community centers would be established to manage the masses of people flowing into the debt-crushed country. In 2013 his foundation launched the Open Society Initiative for Europe to promote “democracy” and “human rights,” with a special focus on refugees. Three years later he pledged $500 million for social impact initiatives targeting displaced people.

“Our goal is to harness the private sector for public good,” Mr. Soros said. “We will invest in startups, established companies, social impact initiatives, and businesses started by migrants and refugees themselves. These investments are intended to be successful. But our primary focus is to create products and services that truly benefit migrants and host communities. I hope my commitment will inspire other investors to pursue the same mission.” Source

In the image below, taken from the Berggruen Institute’s website, Nicholas is seated next to Ursula von der Leyen. At the time von der Leyen was a CDU (Christian Democratic Union, Center-Right) member of the Bundestag representing Hanover and Minister of Labor and Social Affairs. The year after the Town Hall, Merkel appointed her Minister of Defence. She became President of the European Commission in 2019. Her husband Heiko founded the Hannover Clinical Trial Center GmbH. He specializes in cardiovascular gene therapy and has held leadership positions at several bio-tech firms.

Source: Town Hall Meeting: Europe Beyond The Crisis

The issue of solidarity seems to be one of growing scholarly interest, which gives me the feeling that social integration of migrants may be being set up as a social impact investing opportunity – not unlike anti-racism and racial equity metrics in the US. If you want to read my concerns about equity dashboards, I wrote an open letter to Ibram Kendi about it in the summer of 2019, here.

Academics are parsing the differences between offering needy people “charity” and “solidarity,” examining how that distinction plays into the dynamic of EU politics. Seeing that, my first thought is that this is a narrative being spun to position “solidarity” as the preferred method of immigrant support, where asylum seekers can be “empowered” to work off their re-skilling and social care costs with impact investments tracked against future economic output. That’s the set up for the Career Impact Bonds former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy has been pitching with Social Finance in New Jersey.

The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) with funding provided from the EU launched the “Global Action: Promoting Social and Solidarity Economy Ecosystems” initiative in 2020 to begin to address income inequality exacerbated by Covid lockdowns. Or, to put it another way, the time had come to create the data architecture needed to channel global ESG capital flows through human misery.

The effort is being chaired by Secretary General Mathias Cormann, a Belgian born and educated politician who was previously affiliated with the German and French-Speaking Christian Social Parties in Europe before he relocated to Western Australia and rose to become Finance Minister with the Liberal Party of Australia. Prior to that he’d been working in the health insurance industry. Cormann, a conservative with a free-market outlook, met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken last June to discuss the post-Covid recovery; climate change; international tax reform; and management of the risks associated with the digital transformation of the economies of market-based democracies.

The intent is to transform all the so-called solidarity economies, but substantial “education” will be needed. Those targeted for the first round hard sell are: Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, India, the United States and the EU. Canada, Mexico, and Korea comprise three of the ten Digital Nations. Peer learning programs and conferences are meant to instill a desire in local leaders to develop the legal frameworks and impact metrics required to scale these planned “social economies.”

In 2021, the OECD developed a working paper, “Social Impact Measurement for the Social and Solidarity Economy,” with input from Catherine Clark of the CASE Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University; Lisa Hehenberger, management professor at ESADE; and Jeremy Nicholls a leader in the establishment of social impact metric values in the UK.

The document emphasized the need to shift to outcomes-based reporting tied to procurement and enforcement regulations; addressing the lack of common measurement standards and issues of credibility; opportunities for government and foundations to finance rigorous data collection; and getting buy-in from employees. All of this data will be used to keep capital flowing even as its collection normalizes ubiquitous digital surveillance for surreal simulations run through Taylorist optimization protocols to stave off climate catastrophe and mass social unrest. That’s the story they’ll tell us anyway to justify our dehumanization and the imprisonment of nature through blockchain financialization.

Source: Social Impact Measurement for the Social and Solidarity Economy

Who knows, they may even fancy it up by positioning contingent laborers as “cooperative” members. Envision pop-up refugee communities, enclosures of dispossession, reframed as a collective businesses where residents are made “token” stakeholders, living under rule of smart contract law with enforced participation metrics for a governance scheme they never wanted to be a part of in the first place.

Charter Cities as Containment Zones for Remote Refugee Labor?

My suspicion is part of the plan to manage the transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution era of automation will be to disrupt social structures across the globe through economic and military interventions; remove people to different locations where they have no support network; and then set up ad-hoc charter cities where they will be leveraged as human capital commodities and trained to build and defend mixed-reality Internet-of-Everything infrastructure.

Displaced people aren’t to be blamed; no one wants to be forced out of their home and culture. The average length of stay in a UNHCR camp is currently five years under terrible conditions with very limited rights and economic opportunities. Yet issues of asylum tend to center the challenges of meeting the needs of individuals and families balanced against economic and social impacts on host communities, who are often suffering under conditions of austerity themselves, rather than interrogating the systems that led to mass displacement in the first place.

I believe millions of people are being pressured to be on the move, because it serves the interests of power to normalize biometrically-managed social instability as the disruptive potential of Web 3.0 materializes. Last year the Charter Cities Institute prepared a white paper proposing their solution as an improvement over the current horror of refugee camps where families may languish for years. In the introduction, the author Sarah Doyel states that data from the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees indicates the number of displaced people has almost doubled over the past decade from 43 million to 80 million. Each of those people is a potential impact opportunity for global investment portfolios.

Markets in human capital “improvement” are created by trauma resulting from war and the breakdown of civil society. That’s the simple, brutal truth.

Source: How Charter Cities  Can Create Better Refugee Responses, 2021

CCI pitches their planned communities as a better option to UN-managed camp life, because they would open up settlements to economic activity and thus pools of millions of desperate potential workers (page 19). This approach also creates investment opportunities for public private partnerships (P3), which are touted as a way to off-set costs for host countries desiring to stay in compliance with the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Though they speak of P3 investment in terms of local entrepreneurs, the reality is that residents of charter cities will most likely be working on the Web 3.0 build out. It’s not about supporting the creation of one-off mom-and-pop businesses. The excerpt from the CCI paper below brings in language of “the collective” and “cooperatives” with the additional element of female empowerment, since gender equity is UN Sustainable Development Goal 5. What this looks like is tokenized plural voting, NOT what most people understand as participatory democracy.

“Collective ownership and cooperative groups constitute the social and economic parallels to participatory governance in refugee charter cities. Land trusts, housing cooperatives, and what the International Labour Organization calls “Social and Solidarity Economy Enterprises and Organizations” (SSEEOs) create opportunities for refugee ownership and inter- and intra-community social and economic relationships. In partnership with the IKEA Foundation, UNHCR has already implemented livelihood cooperatives across the five Dollo Ado refugee camps in Ethiopia that seem to be popular among both refugees and host populations. Charter cities can also build on existing collective structures in local communities, which can be especially helpful for women refugees who face higher barriers to economic activity. For example, Dr. Holly Ritchie, founder of the refugee women’s empowerment social enterprise THRIVE for Change, pointed out that mutual aid networks have been particularly important for refugee women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, there is a strong need from both a normative and an empirical perspective to center refugee voices in the design of governance, business practices, programs, and institutions.” Pages 22-23

The policy paper closes out with a call for accurate measurement and evaluation – for the impact markets.

Blockchain Collectivism and the Mormon Transhumanist Association Conference

Below is a clip from the blockchain-themed March 2022 Mormon Transhumanist Conference in which I ask Kurtis Lockhart, head of research for the Charter Cities Institute (CCI), how he reconciles the use of digital identity and sensor networks to track behaviors within smart urban environments with his advocacy for high-tech communities managed through public-private partnerships. How will the concept he’s promoting avoid the creation of DAO “company” towns run on behavioral scrip? I mention that Foshan in China has been using blockchain to track the behaviors of individuals across the city, a topic I wrote about here. The model Mr. Lockhart envisioned for scaling charter city development was China’s complex network of Special Economic Zones.

Source: Charter Cities Empowered Cities for the Urban Age

The charter city idea was expanded upon later that day by Tom W. Bell, faculty of Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law advising on special jurisdictions, who logged in from Prospera, the West’s first charter city billed as a “platform for sustainable development” on the Honduran island of Roatan. Bell’s talk was on U-Lex standardized blockchain legal systems – perfect for “sustainable,” automated cities of well-managed human capital.

Vinay Gupta of Mattereum (Internet of Agreements) who describes himself as a “humanitarian turned technocrat” presented remotely on fair trade as spiritual liberation. At the end of the day, a young Lisbon-based scholar Bernardo Vicente presented on the application of Harbergeorgist principles, novel forms of property ownership, to governance in “sustainable” crypto cities. Various interest groups are working diligently to get all the parts up and running, but I sense it will take more manufactured disruption before things start to scale. I’d definitely keep my eyes on Ukraine being used as a case study for a decentralized, digital systems-engineered society.

Paul Romer’s Vision Opens the Door to “Sustainable” ESG Finance

NYU and former World Bank economist Paul Romer’s vision for geo-fenced, state-of-exception towns fell out of favor after an unsuccessful campaign in Honduras, but seems to be making a slow comeback. A former Russian energy lawyer doing consulting for the state of Vermont, Roman Sidortsov, prepared a paper, “Sustainable Charter Cities: The Development Solution to Environmental Problems,” as a Global Fellow at the University of Vermont Law School back in 2011.

Sidortsov began his paper describing how he and his wife were inspired to create a humanitarian NGO after listening to a National Public Radio program about women and children brutalized at the Chad-Sudan border. He then pitched charter cities as an effective “solution” to human misery that would also meet the needs of ESG impact finance portfolios. To Sidortsov’s way of thinking, charter city investments would generate profit, unlike traditional humanitarian assistance. According to his Michigan Tech bio, Sidortsov teaches courses in alternative energy and climate policy. It defies logic that he would embrace Romer’s proposal, which entails building enormous cities the size and density of Hong Kong from scratch in developing nations on uninhabited tracts of coastline. Strange indeed.

The Charter Cities Institute has been collaborating with the United Nations on “sustainable” global development per a 2019 webinar with Richard Bolwijn, head investment researcher with UNCTAD. The image below is taken from the website of the UN-affiliated International Organization for Migration and links migration to the achievement of Agenda 2030.

It is important that we recognize displaced people as victims of the planned transition to an automated, surveillance data economy, one that will center remote work. No amount of border control can mitigate erosion of wages once blockchain skill lockers and haptic-robotic / telepresence labor become acceptable. Each of the squares below represents an opportunity for billionaires to use technological systems to process other humans, including children, as digital commodities. Every heading is an intentionally unattainable goal meant to keep the masses on treadmills (pathways) of prescribed self-improvement optimized for machine-learning data harvest. Immigrants are not the threat; BlackRock’s ESG portfolios are.

Source: Explore the Interrelations Between the 2030 Agenda and Migration

Source: ESG Integration at BlackRock

Source: Iris Biometrics Facilitate Change In Aid Sector Worth Hundreds of Billions

An example of immigrants being targeted for “pay for success” finance is the Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement piloted by JEVS (Jewish Vocational Service) in 2018 in partnership with Maycomb Capital’s Community Outcomes Fund, Prudential Financial, and the Kresge Foundation. Digital identity is a way to profile and cream compliant immigrant labor. It is easy to see how such programs could be incorporated into charter cities where people may have to earn release into the general population through demonstrations of social impact compliance over time.

The idea is that purpose-built communities would be open to anyone who agrees to opt-in. They would be run by private managers and embrace Romer’s New Economic Theory of technological innovation guided by Meta-Rules. Of course the presumption that all people actually have a free choice in the matter is disingenuous. In a 2010 interview with the Center for Global Development, Romer laid out a variety of scenarios, including the use of Charter Cities as immigrant containment zones:

“Brazil could be the guarantor and the host, but Haiti could be the source. Brazil has already made a major commitment to providing security for Haitians in Haiti. They are the main supplier of troops and police officers in the force that entered Haiti under a UN mandate in 2004. To have a credible exit option, Brazil might consider chartering a new city on empty land in its territory that could accept Haitians as residents of the new zone, while maintaining standard immigration procedures for the rest of Brazil.

This could give Brazilian forces in Haiti a way to leave even if there is little progress toward stable governance. Brazilian leaders might say to the Haitian elites “we’ll spend several years trying to help you return your government to the point where it can provide essential state services like public safety. But if by then it still can’t serve this function, and things go back to where they were before we came, back to a situation where crimes like kidnapping were common and the police couldn’t enter zones controlled by gangs, we will leave. But if we leave we will also give Haitians the option to move to a special zone in Brazil where we will provide the basics of good governance.”

The charter cities model involves up to three parties – the host nation that provides the land; the source nation that provides the people; and the guarantor nation that enforces the charter. From the passage above one can imagine where United Nations’ Peacekeeping fits in. Once installed in new settlements, displaced people would become impact commodities, suitable for training as gig-economy remote workers. That makes sense given the push by UNICEF Innovation to “educate” children of the global south through VR headsets and condition them for a future of tele-robotic labor. There are already many coding boot camps that target refugees and immigrants for training into low-skill, task rabbit work in the tech sector including: Coding Dojo, DevMountain, RefCode, and Na’Amal.

Something Rotten In The State of Denmark

In a June 2021 Charter Cities Initiative podcast, the Jordan Compact and the economic upside of locating refugees in special economic zones is explored. While Denmark has taken an increasingly hostile position towards asylum seekers in recent years; we see developments like the tunnel project in Lolland that rely on immigrant labor. With advances in biometric identity, satellite surveillance, and geo-fencing, could charter cities become twenty-first century “pop-up” labor camps where people enter a country conditionally – borders within borders? Remote compounds like Lindholm Island would no longer be needed.

Source: A Baltic Island Bucks a Danish Anti-Immigrant Trend

The hard line taken with refugees in Denmark contrasts starkly with a 2018 Memorandum of Agreement to establish a Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement in Copenhagen’s UN City. The United Nations and the World Bank have teamed up to gather “evidence” on “what works” in the management of global misery, styling the effort as a “global public good.” The University of Copenhagen hosts the Centre for Advanced Migration Studies, established in 2013, and the Danish Refugee Council, Denmark’s largest NGO established in 1956, holds the world’s largest migrant dataset. That data is being used to explore Alternative Migration Governance Models (ADMIGOV) aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This is about managing humans for impact markets.

Martin Lemberg-Pedersen and Eman Haioty’s 2020 article “Re-assembling the Surveillable Refugee Body in the Era of Data-Craving” does a solid job of laying out how the process of digitally-managing millions of dislocated people have supported the development of global data economies and the emergence of disruptive financial “solutions” like programmable money. The latter seeks to supplant informal economies and reframe “othered” people as dynamic “risk” scores, though the narrative spun in a 2018 article in MIT Technology Review is that intense blockchain data aggregation should be seen as empowering for those looking to make a new start. Every displaced person is a credit score waiting to be compiled and rated.

“The act of biometric enrollment can be seen as requiring refugees to perform certain acts and roles to obtain the associated entitlements. Performing docility is key to the assembling and re-assembling of webs of rights, duties and consumption opportunities. This can be perceived as a form of quasi-coerced alliance, defined as when one or more actors involved in a transaction are either forced to abide by the rules of a transaction or are otherwise placed in a position in which rejecting a transaction can incur a loss beyond the scope of the rejected proposition.” Page 4

“Refugee acts of quasi-citizenship are increasingly determined by intersecting and blurred markets involving actors like the UNHCR, the EU, the World Bank Group, IrisGuard, Accenture and the Cairo Amman Bank. These markets are characterized by a pervasive craving for data about displaced populations as risky others. The identities of the displaced and dataveilled are thus re-assembled according to their aid needs, but also according to donor dictates concerned with risk management, and technological and financial market opportunities.” Page 15

This quasi-citizenship is evocative of the plot of a science-fiction novel. Cory Doctorow’s novella “Unauthorized Bread” in “Radicalized” comes to mind. Unfortunately, Lemberg-Pederson (Amnesty International) and Haioty (IT University of Copenhagen) stop short of linking manufactured dispossession to the cultivation of social impact investment opportunities. The networks are vast, and hiding in plain sight as illustrated in a map I made a few years back of the Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement Project. It links Jobs for the Future re-skilling; financialized income sharing agreements through Edly; Jonathan Greenblatt, Obama’s impact finance guy now head of ADL; and Bloomberg Philanthropies with its Hazira “what works” smart city government pilots in Israel where the start-up nation is pivoting to be a Tikkun Olam impact nation. Where impact data is the new gold, migrants will deliver as soon as blockchain ID has been fully implemented for supply train traceability.

Source: Map of JEVS and Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement

We see glimmers of Doctorow’s dystopian future in Jeffrey Berns’s plans for Painted Rock Smart City and Innovation Park, a privately-managed blockchain community in Nevada, and Bill Gates’s acquisition of 24,000 acres west of Phoenix for a smart city near Buckeye. The Charter Cities Institute weighed in over the Fourth of July Weekend in 2020 making a case for privately managed communities being compatible with the United States’s legacy of “good governance,” likening the model to the Mayflower Compact and the First Charter of Virginia.

The poor reception of Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs’s Toronto Quayside project gives me hope that there may still be some clear-thinking people in the world. While most of the criticism leveled at that smart neighborhood revolved around data privacy rights, I continue to hope that one day soon people will start to understand that human capital finance is what’s actually driving the demand for big-data ubiquitous computing.

The Finance Ministry of Denmark is a major donor to the UNICEF Innovation Fund, which operates out of the campus of Singularity University on the former campus of the NASA Research park, Moffett Field, CA. The fund’s primary sponsor is Disney. In addition to development of drones, artificial intelligence, and blockchain applications, the fund is working to scale adoption of VR for education in Africa and India and wearables for measured behavior change. The latter work is carried out with assistance from frog design and Cambridge-based, embedded sensor firm ARM Holdings.

The Learning Economy As A Digital Public Good

Deployment of educational technologies is being pushed to gather data for human capital finance deals and machine learning. One of the systems being prototyped is IMISI, an interface where pre-literate children learn to code by hand gesture. UNICEF believes children in Africa are never going to merit human teachers. Besides the continent’s substantial youth population is too important to leave as an unrealized dataset.

Much of the software being promoted by UNICEF is open-source and pitched as helping create “digital public goods.” UNICEF is a member of the Digital Public Goods Alliance. This framing is important, because the new economic model is driven by data. Tokenized data will be used as the primary governance mechanism of smart contract mixed reality as society acquiesces to cybernetic control.

The “commons” should be understood as an encoded cyber-physical system, not some shared pasture, cultural tradition, or civic space. The narrative frame that is being crafted is that the Metaverse is “open,” that it is being created with “open source” software for “sovereign” digital citizens, so it must be good, right? In fact, in this Alice-in-Wonderland world, everything is inverted. When you see “open,” read “restricted.” When you see “commons,” read “enclosures.” When you see “decentralized,” read “centralized.” Once you understand the game is enmeshing everything natural in a synthetic sensing web, the intent is easier to assess.

Source: Digital Public Goods Alliance

Investments in these so-called public goods will become quite important in the future. We already see the infrastructure being put in place to track “public benefit” contributions over space and time in David Dalrymple’s presentation for Protocol Labs on Hypercerts below.

Dalrymple worked on the creation of virtual organisms with Ed Boyden’s Synthetic Neurobiology Group at MIT and secured private funding for his research from Peter Thiel and Larry Page. My sense is that what they are doing is attempting to organize information, including biophysical and biogeochemical data, to catalyze “life/automata” using artificial neural nets, gamified IoT environments, and “moralized” market logic. The Hypercerts presented here would be part of the latter. Perhaps they imagine bio-digital convergence as a form of symbiogenesis? It’s difficult to imagine what might be going on in their minds beyond the goal of a seamless human-computer interface.  Ed-tech is the testbed.

Source: Hypercerts On Chain Primitives For Impact Markets With David Dalrymple

Source: David Dalrymple Biography at Protocol Labs

They need ways to tag programs to track progress and claim “credit” for future well being. Hypercerts are one way to assess which of the various contributors have responsibility for a communal benefit and to what degree. Coming from a space as an activist parent who opposed the data-mining of children through educational technologies, I see that screenshot as representing many programs and interventions foisted on a child as digital society tracks their performance and future economic productivity. Sort of a cross between Los Angeles’s Daily Pass Digital ID, Clever’s QR codes, and Soulbound Token meta-data tags.

Children are quantified as “public goods” and subject to optimization by technological systems. The application of “evidence-based” scientific management of children toward pre-determined outcomes on pathways will be justified through the language of “equity.” The data analysts, program managers, and investors may attempt to convince themselves that this is benevolent, but it isn’t. You can see in the image below the treacherous fiction being peddled by UNICEF, Disney, and the Finance Ministries of Denmark and Finland.

Source: UNICEF Innovation Fund Graduate, IMISI 3D

This training will not only be imposed on children. The new economy is a so-called “learning economy” on blockchain. Refugees are targeted for perpetual data-mining through the United Nations High Council on Refugees and allied promoters of competency-based education.

Paul LeBlanc at Southern New Hampshire University, home of one of the largest distance learning programs in the US, piloted early blockchain transcripts with MIT’s spin off Learning Machine and partnered with Google on development of systems to track and log soft skills among enrolled students. I discuss these initiatives in this post.

SNHU’s GEM (Global Education Movement) mastery-based degree program was initiated in 2017 in refugee camps in Lebanon and Africa. The UNHCR’s also manages a “Connected Learning In Crisis” program of badge-based education for refugees, which is affiliated with several Catholic and Jesuit institutions. All of this needs to be viewed as a mining operation where children and adults from dislocated communities are literally plugged in to generate data flows that accrue to their biometric ID, establishing their digital reputation with the understanding that one day they may be released back into the real world.

Source: Southern New Hampshire University’s Competency-Based Education For Refugees Initiative

Source: Connected Learning in Crisis Consortium

The New Economic Model Is Shared Surveillance Branded as a “Data Commons”

The intent of manufactured communities like charter cities is ostensibly to improve economic productivity and well-being while reducing poverty. In the clip below from 2013, George Soros talks about his Institute for New Economic Thinking, which spent the past decade funding experts in the academy, paying them to conceptualize a new game of global economics to be built on cybernetic social impact finance and closing wealth gaps. The project lead is Lord Adair Turner, former head of the UK Financial Services Authority, who managed the aftermath of the 2008 global banking crisis in England.

Source: George Soros on Why We Have to Rethink Economics, Institute for New Economic Thinking, 2013

Paul Romer won the 2018 Nobel Prize in economics when he was teaching at the NYU Stern Business School. NYU is a major player in data-driven “what works” government through the GovLab based out of the Tandon School of Engineering. It is this government policy infrastructure that will pave the way for the “new economic thinking” described above. The prize was for Romer’s work in endogenous growth theory that states growth is best achieved through investment in people that will generate innovative ideas and new technologies. Human capital management is a core element of this proposal. Romer noted that he sought input from James Heckman.

Although I don’t fully understand it yet, the concept of “non-rival goods” that Romer proposes feels important. This is a paper he wrote on “Endogenous Technological Change” in 1990 for the Journal of Political Economy. Feel free to look it over and drop your thoughts in the comments. My sense is that this conceptual framework would be applicable to open source software (Linux in a major player in digital ID), the so-called “open” Metaverse (NVIDIA and Cesium), and digital public goods (Norway) meant to open low and middle countries up to the global data economy – economic liberalization for the Web 3.0 era.

As I’ve mentioned often, the growth imperative of capitalism demands creation of a digital empire before the Ponzi scheme falls apart. That empire will be made up of ideas and information. Those who aspire to be the next imperial rulers need for us to submit and build it for them. Unlike the colonial era in which lands lay on the horizon for the taking by force and trickery, this new world, the mixed-reality smart contract world, must first be made manifest through the organization of innumerable bits and bytes.

The pillow talk being deployed to get us to walk over to the edge of the Metaverse pit trap is that we’ll be creators, peers, members of a collective working in unity to enhance the Metaverse commons. When the harsh reality is that their plan is to use our naivete and need for belonging to turn us into piles of Soulbound Tokenized meta-data for a poker game run by techno-fascist billionaires and AI supercomputers. You see the way the story is being spun in this excerpt from P2P Foundation founder and former Belgian telecom executive Michel Bauwens 2007 “Key Theses on P2P Politics, which just happens to be eerily similar to RadicalXChange’s plans for plural property, plural money, plural voting, and plural funding.

“Our current world system is marked by a profoundly counterproductive logic of social organization:

a) It is based on a false concept of abundance in the limited material world; it has created a system based on infinite growth, within the confines of finite resources.

b) It is based on a false concept of scarcity in the infinite immaterial world (that’s mixed-reality / the Metaverse); instead of allowing continuous experimental social innovation, it purposely erects legal and technical barriers to disallow free cooperation through copyright, patents, etc.

Therefore, the number one priority for a sustainable civilization is overturning these principles into their opposite.

a) We need to base our physical economy on a recognition of the finitude of natural resources (circular economy), and achieve a sustainable steady-state economy (cybernetic homeostasis).

b) We need to facilitate free and creative cooperation and lower the barriers to such exchange by reforming the copyright and other restrictive regimes (free markets in data).

Hierarchy, markets, and even democracy are means to allocate scarce resources through authority, pricing, and negotiation; they are not necessary in the realm of the creation and free exchange of immaterial value, which will be marked by bottom-up forms of peer governance.

Markets, as means to manage scarce physical resources, are but one of the means to achieve such allocation (tokenization as alternative), and need to be divorced from the idea of capitalism, which is a system of infinite growth.

The creation of immaterial value (data economy / information economy / knowledge economy), which again needs to become dominant in a post-material world which recognized the finiteness of the material world, will be characterized by the further emergence of non-reciprocal peer production.

Peer production is a more productive system for producing immaterial value than the for-profit mode (peer to peer makes social relations visible to AI through tokenized transactions), and in cases of the asymmetric competition between for-profit companies and for-benefit institutions and communities, the latter will tend to emerge.

Peer production produces more social happiness (well-being metrics for pay for success finance and to train cyber-physical systems how to be more “human”), because 1) it is based on the highest form of individual motivation, nl. intrinsic positive motivation; 2) it is based on the highest form of collective cooperation, nl. synergistic cooperation characterized by four wins (the participants x2, the community, the universal system).”

Two interesting and related side notes:

  1. The techno-libertarian Holon future of free market peer-to-peer exchange is embodied in Daniel Suarez’s two books “Daemon” and “Freedom,” reviewed here by the P2P Foundation in 2010.
  2. Bauwens operates out of Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand, the mountainous former center of the Lanna Thai kingdom and home to ornate temples. Which based on conversations with my dear friend Deepti in Goa, India brings to mind a quote from Lincoln Cannon, member of the Mormon Transhumanist Association: “Maybe you just don’t see anything in this picture that you recognize as technology.”

Source: How To Raise The Dead By Lincoln Cannon, 2019

I haven’t had a chance to do more than skim it, but Nicholas Negroponte’s 1995 “Being Digital” appears to be a very accessible entry point into the physics of the information economy. Thanks Sebs for bringing it to my attention in your recent post about BRICs.

The planned future revolves around a knowledge economy, which is swiftly morphing into a data economy, which in turn rests on social impact finance, perpetual re-skilling to compete against AI, and health surveillance that legitimizes coerced bodily intake of the torrent of synthetic-biological “knowledge” churned out by thousands of biotech ventures. Romer’s theory of growth promotes investment in education, healthcare, and telecommunications, which on the surface sounds good. What they don’t say is that measuring returns on these investments will require the invasive use of Internet of Bodies wearables and biometric identity linked to your education and health records.

While teaching at Stanford, Romer developed an online homework assignment platform, Aplia, bought out by Cengage in 2007. So, he practices what he preaches. Ed-tech is an enormous area for investment as evidenced by BlackRock’s recent launch of a new entertainment/education-themed ETF (exchange traded fund) called PLAY that tracks stocks in the ed-tech, gaming, and digital device sectors. This new global economy of “ideas,” seems to be apps and games, while the future of “work” is navigating games under digital surveillance. I’m sure it sounded better to Romer back in the early 1980s when he was writing his dissertation. I imagine his outlook is closely aligned with the tenets of the United Nations and World Bank-affiliated Learning Economy Foundation. Learning Economy joined the UN’s ID2020 program six months after Romer stepped down from his position of chief economist at the World Bank.

Source: Is Education The New Currency? BBC, February 2020

Charter cities, built from the ground up with smart infrastructure, will become glorified Skinner boxes. Sidortsov also thought it would be useful for UN Peacekeeping Forces to get involved setting up these new settlements, because if international energy firms can own large tracts of land in developing nations, why not the United Nations? It’s such an honorable project, who could possibly refuse?

“As I noted above, Romer is currently trying to persuade leaders of developing countries to invest into charter cities. However, his idea should be appealing to a much broader audience. Charter cities present a rare “triple dividend” solution of environmental, sociopolitical, and economic problems. This makes charter cities a primary goal for international aid funds of various flags and colors. For example, refugee camps provide a temporary yet critical solution of humanitarian crisis. However, they depend on international aid and do not provide a permanent solution, whereas charter cities do. On the climate change front, a charter city can be a perfect candidate for a carbon offset project and can be funded through the newly established Green Climate Fund. Finally, because a charter city creates a mechanism for sustainable economic growth, it should be a primary target for economic aid. Overall, investments in charter cities are a much more effective and productive way to distribute $120 billion that developed countries spend on international aid.

Charter cities present a unique opportunity as a test bed for the “new economy” ideas reflected in the works of several authors. Free of public pressure, the governing body can internalize environmental costs by shifting tax burden from payrolls to carbon and other pollutants. As the German energy tax experience shows, such a shift spurs “green” economic growth and innovation. Because a charter city or village will be planned completely or almost completely from scratch, “smart” urban design and permaculture principles will be utilized. Finally, sustainable charter cities can serve as hubs for new business organization forms such as for-benefit-corporations.” Source

Sidortsov then goes on to say that while some worry cities run on public-private partnerships risk subsuming the public sector entirely, we shouldn’t be concerned, because there are models like Mondragon in the Basque region of Spain that generate strong economic growth. More on Mondragon Corporation in the next part, 15B.


2 thoughts on “Charter Cities, Refugee Labor, and The Learning Economy – Synthetic Pretenders Part 15A

  1. Amy Harlib – 60-something artist/performer/writer/polymath/politically progressive/culture vulture.
    Amy Harlib says:

    Read this carefully while trying not to violently projectile hurl! Note how the technocratic psychopaths try and hide their TOTAL SLAVERY AGENDA in Orwellian weasel words where all their benevolent and sensible sounding statements and concepts mean totally the opposite. Nobody documents this better than Alison McDowell!

  2. Jadi says:

    I’m at the part about Plural Property, plural money, etc.. I feel like I need to wrap my head around this concept. It’s going to be a huge trap for the young and for the folks trying to form community.

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