A year after taking office president of France Nicholas Sarkozy, who happens to be Catholic, tapped Joseph Stiglitz to head a Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. The center-right politician and former mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine served as Minister of the Budget under Balladur and Mitterrand and Minster of the Interior and Finance under Chirac. Sarkozy is also a member of the Berggruen Network.
The Commission’s findings, which were released in the aftermath of the 2008 global economic implosion, set the stage for stakeholder capitalism and began to walk back GDP as the primary measure of economic vitality. Stigliz is a member of the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences established by Pope John Paul II in 1994. Michel Bauwens is also an expert advisor to the group that gathers at Casina Pio IV in Vatican City. There, ensconced in a sixteenth-century summer villa, prominent thinkers discuss the church’s social teaching in relation to current issues of concern like: globalization, democracy, and human rights. The focus of one of last year’s meetings was “The Science and Ethics of Happiness: Caritas, Social Friendship, and the End of Poverty.” The Vatican is very big in the social impact sector.
Source: Science and Ethics of Happiness. Caritas, Social Friendship, and End of Poverty
Source: Education. The Global Compact, 2020
Given the information that follows, I think it’s worth considering architecture as a form of social technology. This villa exhibits a complex interplay of encoded mythological and religious themes that revolve around truth, knowledge, and memory. People with a deeper understanding of esoterica may be able to draw out additional meaning as to why this location was selected as a gathering place thirty years ago. The detailed descriptions authorized by the church are available here and here. Its Wikipedia entry notes of the design: “the Casina’s rich and at times obscure iconographic programme, features the efficacy of baptism, the primacy of the papacy and the welcomed punitive powers of the Church.”
Source: Casina Pio IV in the Vatican, Historical and Iconographic Guide
Stigliz’s project for Sarkozy asserted that social well-being be prioritized. The era of bio-capitalism and investments in prescribed social behaviors was getting off the ground. Assisting Stiglitz in this effort was the Bengali economic theorist and Harvard professor Amartya Sen whose career centered: development finance; social choice, whereby individual preferences were guided to generate collective decisions; and capabilities, taking into consideration people’s abilities to pursue their choices. Sen has served on Berggruen’s philosophy prize selection panel.
Read this selection from their report keeping the following factors in mind. Well-being metrics will quantify ALL our relationships, social and environmental. By assigning everything a numerical value our lives are made visible to the machine. This information will be used to inform the actions of autonomous intelligent systems in mixed reality. Everything will be compelled to interact with these systems on the basis of the data that comprises unique digital identities, digital twins. Blockchain transactions connected to cyber-physical systems will enclose our lives in mechanical energies. This is the new rule of law – smart contract law. Global financial interests, guided by artificial intelligence prediction markets, will place bets on our ability to attain indicators of “success” specified. Submission to the machine is being framed as good for society and the planet, appealing to progressives, and economically efficient, appealing to free-market libertarians. This is how the Earth may be remade as a planetary computer. This is the “wellness” economy.
“Another key message, and unifying theme of the report, is that the time is ripe for our measurement system to shift emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring people’s well-being. And measures of well-being should be put in a context of sustainability. Despite deficiencies in our measures of production, we know much more about them than about well-being. Changing emphasis does not mean dismissing GDP and production measures. They emerged from concerns about market production and employment; they continue to provide answers to many important questions such as monitoring economic activity. But emphasizing well-being is important because there appears to be an increasing gap between the information contained in aggregate GDP data and what counts for common people’s well-being. This means working towards the development of a statistical system that complements measures of market activity by measures centered on people’s well-being and by measures that capture sustainability. Such a system must, of necessity, be plural – because no single measure can summarize something as complex as the well-being of the members of society, our system of measurement must encompass a range of different measures. The issue of aggregation across dimensions (that is to say, how we add up, for example, a measure of health with a measure of consumption of conventional goods), while important, is subordinate to the establishment of a broad statistical system that captures as many of the relevant dimensions as possible. Such a system should not just measure average levels of well-being within a given community, and how they change over time, but also document the diversity of peoples’ experiences and the linkages across various dimensions of people’s life. There are several dimensions to well-being but a good place to start is the measurement of material well-being or living standards.” Page 6
The language around establishing consistent standards of data to capture the diversity of experiences across dimensions of people’s lives is very much in keeping with the premise of developing social simulations that can be used for systems engineering of large populations. The dimensions Stigliz’s commission recommends tracking include: 1) material living standards (income, consumption and wealth); 2) health; 3) education; 4) personal activities including work; 5) political voice and governance; 6) social connections and relationships; 7) environment (present and future conditions); 8) insecurity of an economic as well as a physical nature. These are all metrics that will be used to assign and manage improvement pathways towards “equity.” Remember that the next time you are nudged to complete an online survey.
Source: Berggruen and Sarkozy (Who Is Half Hungarian) in 2013 at the 21st Century Council Gathering in Zurich
Richard Layard of the London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance first developed metrics around the “science of happiness” that were used to finance mental health services in the UK. By establishing that economic losses due to “mental health” amount to billions of dollars, the social impact sector has created an enormous cost-offset for pay-for-success social prescribing. The following excerpt is from a 2006 Guardian article, “Spread A Little Happiness,” about Layard’s pilot “happiness centres.”
“Imagine the situation. You have had a relationship breakdown. It has left you depressed, alone and turning to alcohol. Work is impossible. But, thankfully, your local NHS “happiness centre” is just around the corner. Part sanctuary, part psychology laboratory, happiness centres are a sort of Ikea for the mind, where the feelgood factor is flat-packed for you to take home. A branded chain of open-access outposts offering the latest talking therapies for some of the most common and distressing mental illnesses. No long waits. No need for a referral – simply turn up and get help.”
This is what ongoing mental health screenings are about; what ACEs scoring is about; what emotion-sensing digital surveillance is about; what social-emotional training in schools is about. The power structure is gathering baselines and sucking up data for prediction markets in future behavior management. That quote is sixteen years old. Today, your “Ikea of the Mind” drop-in center could easily be a tele-therapy chatbot or a cognitive behavioral therapy game in a VR headset.
Please understand, I am in no way dismissing or trying to minimize the reality of mental stress in society today. It is a serious concern. What I am trying to say is that these programs are dual use, and we’re moving into the phase where artificial intelligence really wants to learn what makes us tick as complex, emotional beings. There is a fiscal and pragmatic logic behind this pivot to tele-“wellness” management.” The plan is to use us to explain to AI how to be more like us. That’s human-centered design – that and cognitive warfare, the Sixth Domain. Hat tip to my friend Raul at Silicon Icarus for bringing a 2020 NATO report on the subject to my attention.
Source: Marketising the Mental Health Crisis: How the CBT Empire-Builders Colonised the NHS
Source: Cognitive Domain: A Sixth Domain of Operations, Hervé Le Guyader
In 2019, the Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems of the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), a professional association with over 400,000 members in 160 countries headquartered in New York City and Piscataway, NJ, prepared “Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems.” Their intent was to outline social policy imperatives in the face of pervasive computing with the goal of supporting human well-being. The effort was chaired by Raja Chatila, a professor of robotics and ethics at Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris.
“Ultimately, our goal should be eudaimonia, a practice elucidated by Aristotle that defines human well-being, both at the individual and collective level, as the highest virtue for a society. Translated roughly as “flourishing”, the benefits of eudaimonia begin with conscious contemplation, where ethical considerations help us define how we wish to live. Whether our ethical practices are Western (e.g., Aristotelian, Kantian), Eastern (e.g., Shinto, 墨家/School of Mo, Confucian), African (e.g., Ubuntu), or from another tradition, honoring holistic definitions of societal prosperity is essential versus pursuing one-dimensional goals of increased productivity or gross domestic product (GDP). Autonomous and intelligent systems should prioritize and have as their goal the explicit honoring of our inalienable fundamental rights and dignity as well as the increase of human flourishing and environmental sustainability.” Page 4
Looks like the eudaimonia protocol may involve scary ghostlike presences pulling the strings of your smart appliances to gaslight you into accepting the programmed new normal. I often link to this piece by Van Diamondfinger, “The Domestic Front.” The guy must know what’s coming; it dates to 2017. Still, it’s worth fifteen minutes of your time. Keep the image below in mind as you read it.
Source: A Meta User Interface for Interaction with Mixed Reality Environments
Page six of the document indicates that metrics assessing “flourishing” will be aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and will require universal access to communication networks. Otherwise how can the autonomous intelligent systems aid us on our self-improvement pathways? Then on page eight the document discusses the importance of well-being metrics, the very same ones laid out by Stiglitz’s commission. The authors go on to say that social norms of different communities need to be documented and made computable, otherwise the intelligent agents won’t be able to serve their intended purpose.
“At the present time, the conceptual complexities surrounding what “values” are make it difficult to envision A/IS that have computational structures directly corresponding to social or cultural values such as “security,” “autonomy,” or “fairness”. It may be a more realistic goal to embed explicit norms into such systems. Since norms are observable in human behavior, they can therefore be represented as instructions to act in defined ways in defined contexts, for a specific community—from family to town to country and beyond. A community’s network of social and moral norms is likely to reflect the community’s values, and A/IS equipped with such a network would, therefore, also reflect the community’s values.” Page 171
In charter cities, the idea is that communities will be created from scratch under the presumption, likely inaccurate, that all residents have opted-in and personally endorse the structured social norms coded into the infrastructure at the time of incorporation. I’m picturing a cross between a busy-body homeowners association, intentional community, monastery, or college dorm. Ok, really I’m thinking about B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two and its real life counterpart, Twin Oaks in Louisa, VA. In the clip below former Twin Oaks community member turned Smith College behavioral psychologist David Palmer makes a case for cooperative living where the use of shared resources creates economic efficiencies that might even “save the world.”
Source: Reflecting on Walden Two With Dave Palmer
The one not so insignificant issue, however, is human behavior management. The ideal of the charter city would be to develop a machine for “sustainable” living, even “flourishing.” This would be accomplished through sophisticated development of behavioral economics to guide society towards optimization metrics with such subtlety that even residents might forget that the choices being made were not entirely their own.
I haven’t had a chance to read Alexandra Ruthorford’s 2009 book, “Beyond the Box: B.F. Skinner’s Technology of Behavior From Laboratory to Life, 1950s to 1970s,” but I ordered a copy and added it to my summer reading list. Linked is a PDF if you’re partial to a free, digital format. It would seem that Skinner’s legacy, expanded upon by the many social science researchers affiliated with Ideas42, is being manifested in the linkage of DeFi (decentralized finance) to Internet of Things connected living situations for which displaced people receiving “aid” are on the front lines as Leo Saraceno has laid out in great detail through his work at Silicon Icarus.
This is another excerpt from the OECD social impact measurement policy paper that discusses the need for system change / social change:
“Further, social entrepreneurs are under growing pressure not just to deliver on their mission, but also to create system change. For example, one of the pioneering and most eminent incubators of social entrepreneurs, Ashoka, views its purpose as transforming inequality by changing mind-sets globally. This implies heightened information needs in order to understand complex social problems and evidence social change. Undeniably, such large scale and ground-breaking aspirations require the ability to learn and build from failures. However, instances where charities or social enterprises are lauded for being transparent and open about failure remain seldom. The discomfort and stigma around failure need to be addressed if social impact measurement is to help uncover and address the drivers and impediments to social change.” Page 56
I propose that the framing used here is operating on two levels. The first is the one most readers would see, and that is about assessing effective strategies for mass social control and steering – systems change. The second, which I doubt would register for most readers is the use of so-called evidence generated through trial and error, and made legitimate through pay-for-success finance structures, to LEARN human social systems and transmit that learning into the hivemind as impact data. The images below show how ordinary people are tasked with collecting impact data in and around the homes of their peers and how Ocean Protocol then uses that data to advance the development of artificial intelligence. Aggregation of information about group dynamics and the use of it for social physics and prediction markets is based on work carried out by Jacob Moreno, father of sociograms and psycho-drama in the 1930s, and Alexander “Sandy” Pentland, pioneer in interactive media at MIT in the 1990s.
Source: Inclusive Tokenized Economy: Blockchain for Impact Measurement, Social Finance and Social Development
Source: Data Tokens and DeFi Implementations
Source: Invention of the Sociogram: Some of the Earliest Graphic Depictions of Social Networks, Jacob Moreno, 1933-34
Source: Sensing and Modeling Human Networks, Tanzeem Khalid Choudhury with MIT Media Lab Advisor Sandy Pentland, Sociometer Wearables, 2004
The evolution of artificial agents requires ongoing data transfer from our human experience into the emerging World Sensorium (Global Brain). The desire is that this data be structured to maximize utility and potential for pattern recognition. That means humans, in addition to other beings and objects, need to be assigned unique identifiers, which is why there are so many options bubbling up: ID2020, health passports, digital driver’s licenses, blockchain education transcripts and medical records, crypto play to earn games, and programmable money for refugees. Eventually all those side chains will interlock into comprehensible digitally-twinned individuals and societies.
According to the IEEE authors, their intent is for affective computing to be deployed in such a way as to neither amplify or dampen human emotional experience. It’s strange to contemplate that these engineers really want us to accept and internalize interacting with machines as if they were peers is a sane way to live. Though, if the goal is to nudge us towards a post-human existence, digital mediation of all social and environmental transactions towards some optimization scheme would be in keeping with the de Chardin / Huxley / Vernadsky / Reiser imagined World Brain evolutionary imperative.
Among the many concerns raised in the report are: the potential for psychological manipulation of humans by intelligent systems (page 85); artificial intelligence impersonating humans (page 86); interference by non-human agents in human interpersonal relationships (page 96); the threat posed by coercive nudging (page 97); loss of individual autonomy (page 103); the use of intelligent toys for surveillance and profiling of children (page 120); weaponization of smart home technologies (page 145); labor displacement due to automation (page 152); the inability of intelligent systems to adapt to dynamic social norms (page 173); and how lack of understanding by the masses regarding how the technologies actually work will lead to poor implementation and bad outcomes (page 213).
As laid out on page 184 of the Embedding Values section – “Failures Will Occur.”
Source: I’m Afraid I Can’t Do That Dave, Hal 9000 from 2001 A Space Odyssey
IEEE has taken on the role of looking out for our interests by promoting digital identity as the key driver in the attainment of human rights, good governance, and self-determination in mixed reality. It is interesting that they keep bringing up democracy and political freedom, even though the authors must know the planned future is that of Estonian e-citizenship, a world where where one’s identity is defined less by the geographic location of your physical body than the accumulated SBTs (Soulbound Tokens) that define your avatar doppelganger.
Source: Estonia.com “We have built a digital society. We can show you how.”
Centering international human rights is key, because they need for one consistent legal system to extend across their borderless digital empire. The same set of smart contracts must function throughout the Metaverse no matter where you reside. On page 200, IEEE speaks of the Ruggie Principles, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Read the following with the understanding that the goal is for the government to become fully corporatized so as to eventually operate without human management as DAOs, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations.
“The Ruggie principles have been widely referenced and endorsed by corporations and have led to the adoption of several corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies in various companies. With broadened support, the Ruggie principles will strengthen the role of businesses (read DAOs) in protecting and promoting human rights and ensuring that the most crucial human values and legal standards of human rights are respected by A/IS technologists.” Page 200
Page 212 of the document speaks of a future where intelligent systems attain some degree of legal personhood. Picture citizens of an incorporated charter city that has its own legal standing to manage everything contained within its boundaries – citizens as wards of a machine, or collection of nested “machines.”
Below the slide of Villa Savoye are images of a pre-fab “tiny-home” model with embedded IoT, to maximize data extraction. Kasita, an Austin operation that rebranded from domiciles to resorts, eagerly promotes that its built-in technology can be customized to your mood, or perhaps the inverse depending on how “smart” it gets. Part of the pitch is that the “relatively” low unit cost makes the Kasitas good for affordable housing and disaster relief. The scheme below shows the units stacked and packed in the Agenda21 aesthetic. Perfect for charter cities or intentional communities of dislocated labor living off UBI, haptic gig work, and sovereign data sales. Stripped-down Villa Savoyes against a backdrop of Zamyatin’s “We” and Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One.”
Source: This Tiny Modular Home Is 325 Square Feet Of IOT Heaven
In his book on grassroots and worker democracy, Benello described the revolutionary qualities of Mondragon Corporation as creating a total system where one can learn, shop, and live within a cooperative environment. In such a culture people are supposed to be highly motivated, because moral incentives are integrated into every aspect of life: work, community, education, consumption, and family. Benello says workers have to be socialized into the culture; growing up Basque isn’t sufficient (Page 96). Yet he praises the systems engineering approach to workplace management, stating that cooperatives reward labor, rather than capital, with profit and control. This, according to Benello, empowers workers rather than infantilizing them (Page 96). I have many concerns as to the applicability of such a model in a world of ubiquitous computing, tokenized “participatory democracy,” platform cooperatives, and digital nudges. Rather than uplifting community agency in work, education, and living spaces, it feels far more likely that we’ll end up Tamagotchi pets trapped in cybernetic biospheres.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that Dave.”
The well-being framework that the IEEE used was based on the OECD’s Better Life Initiative’s 2013 document, “Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being.” IEEE is developing its own draft standard for well-being metrics for autonomous intelligent systems through its working group IEEE P7010. As a person who lives in a poor city with serious problems in the areas of housing and food insecurity, addiction, low-wage employment, mental health issues, and community violence, the idea that these technocrats are going to adopt some survey so that machines will interact with us in ways that actually improve the conditions of people’s lives is quite infuriating. It is hard to know that people are being harmed to lower baseline scores to make the odds better for bets on future improvement, but we cannot look away and pretend that’s not what’s happening. For more on my perspective you can read a piece that I wrote about poverty in Philadelphia’s 5th Councilmanic District in 2019.
California and the Border Crisis
To bring all this back to the Berggruen Network and California’s Blueprint for “good governance” and close out this exploration, we must understand that displaced people are a central feature of the social impact economy. Much of the infrastructure to support this new economic model was developed in Silicon Valley and funded through tech-related “philanthropy,” of which the Silicon Valley Community Foundation is a major player. I find it interesting, given these investigations into Mondragon Corporation and the tradition of Spanish cooperatives, that the father of Laura Arillaga-Andreessen; Marc’s wife, pioneer of west coast impact investing, and former SVCF trustee, just happened to be the son of Basque immigrants who moved to Inglewood. John Arrillaga, one of Stanford’s top donors – to the tune of $300 million over his lifetime, won a basketball scholarship and went on to build much of Silicon Valley with his real estate partner Richard Peery. Arrillaga played for Bilbao Aguilas in 1960-61, so he could travel abroad and learn more about his family’s culture.
Source: John Arrillaga, the Basque Silicon Valley Creator Who Played in the Bilbao Aguilas. In Memoriam, January 2022
An influential presence in the tech-impact space is Marc Andreessen and his A16z blockchain portfolio with holdings in Celo and Valora – all based in San Francisco. There’s the research taking place at Singularity University where management of data is inexorably moving us towards a Kurzweil post-human future, and of course Google and Linux Foundation and Unity and Salesforce and countless others. Sufficeth to say, many of the strings being pulled on the global stage around UBI and ubiquitous computing are being pulled from locations in California. Much of the groundwork for Web 3.0 has been laid by Bay Area faux-gressive techno-libertarians. California is a leader in the development of policy infrastructure for blockchain ID, micro-finance, digital payments, and human capital management. It’s in malleable mixed-reality, beyond the relative concreteness of the material world, that neuro-technicians of defense edu-tainment will do their best work concocting devastating cognitive warfare magic.
Seeing rising rates of homelessness in California, it is important to understand that the conditions are being created for social-impact “smart” towns of tiny homes where everyone can be put on pathways of self-improvement to train autonomous-intelligent systems and build character through remote gig work. It’s like the Jesuit reducions in Brazil and the Franciscan missions – captive neophytes converted through wrap around services to a holographic “faith.”
The state’s major health systems like Kaiser Permanente’s “Thriving Communities” are positioning themselves to get into the wellness markets in a big way. Authorized tiny house encampments are increasingly managed by faith-based welfare NGOs, fancied up with a “small-is-beautiful” aesthetic. Paint them with quirky murals and add some picnic tables, maybe a few raised garden beds, and the liberals feel good about it. Even though when you scratch below the surface, it’s obvious such a lifestyle is never going to be satisfying for anyone long term.
Source: Hope of the Valley, Tiny Home Shelter for Unhoused People in Los Angeles
Source: Arroyo Seco Tiny Homes Get Artistic Makeover, October 2021
I spoke about this outside Project Home, a Catholic charity in Philadelphia that launched the city’s first pay for success finance deal for supportive housing. I was doing some informational picketing with intrepid, now deceased housing rights activist Jennifer Bennetch. A blog post I wrote on Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, CA and impact investing provides additional context. It is important to make the connection between digital surveillance of displaced people abroad and internally-displaced residents here in the United States. Social impact finance creates profits from trauma and misery. Therefore the demand is to create as much of both as possible and slowly ameliorate those conditions, all the while collecting “evidence” on data dashboards.
Control of the Mexico-US border has been a polarizing issue for decades, and while less of an issue in California, the state does have the largest immigrant population in the nation. Industries have emerged from this manufactured disaster to process those kept in detainment, extracting practically free labor from captive workers. Some of those operators, like Geo Group, are now moving into social work, since pay for success finance deals are being linked to anti-recidivism stats.
Geo Group’s western regional office is in Los Angeles. The state operates a half-dozen facilities in the state. Knowing many conservatives are inclined to free-market investments and have ties to faith-based organizations involved in social service delivery, I see a possible future where refugees from US-enabled drug wars, gang violence, and economic manipulation are brought into charter cities in Opportunity/Promise Zones or remote areas of the US and managed for impact data and sweat-shop cyber labor. Of course it’s not only immigrants who will be subjected to these new purpose-built social-impact “communities.” Soon the fate of many Central Americans will befall working and middle class people in the United States as their economic lifelines are cut, and society becomes increasingly unstable.
Source: Geo Care Services – Continuum of Care, Reentry, Electronic Monitoring
Remaking Opportunity Zones and Promise Neighborhoods as mini-charter cities would subsidize profit-taking in less than desirable real estate, “smart” construction developments, and third sector servicing of marginalized workers and children. The education, health, and credit union systems built into the Basque Mondragon model would go hand in hand with “pay for success” finance. Worker “satisfaction” is a metric that is being built into social impact deals, and that has long been a selling point for worker cooperatives.
That would be a possible Third-Way “solution” designed to appease activists across the political divide. The understanding would be that refugees and displaced people would “opt in” to the programs, living under coded laws of what are sure to be austere settlements of pervasive surveillance, perhaps with a cooperative veneer of collective participation through tokenomics. The Charter Cities Institute mentions their hope that Biden’s election would create a more receptive environment for their proposals:
“Despite political challenges, the upheavals of 2020 have presented a unique opportunity to advocate for change. There is a new president in the United States, who has expressed greater willingness to engage with the international community on refugee issues than his predecessor. Policymakers and humanitarians are rethinking their approaches to refugee encampments as a result of the preventable disease outbreaks that continue to result from living conditions in the camps. This is a time for bold thought and action in a world that, if current trends hold, will only see forced displacement increase. There is no replacement for political changes at the global and national levels, but one starting point to make these changes possible is through local initiatives.” Page 29
Raul Diego’s “Biden Picks Kamala Harris to Carry the Carrot and Stick in Central America,” offers important insights into Harris’s involvement in the creation of OpenJustice database in California and what that means for her involvement in the border crisis – namely, more money funneled into the expansion of surveillance technologies like Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program (BITMAP), Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), and Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology System (HART).
Politically, there is no appetite to slow migration or resolve the physical and economic violence that compels so many to make dangerous journeys north. We have entered the age of the data economy. People on the move, once they’ve been properly tagged, generate a lot of data. The goal is to get as many people as possible into the track-and-track supply chain for future management as human capital assets. I have a suspicion that the trauma generated by separation of immigrant families with children, has a lot to do with plans to ensure everyone’s biometric information is attached to a blockchain identity in the near future. They create the problem to guide you to the “solution” they wanted all along.
Source: CBP Revitalizes Biometric Data Collection At Border
Kamala Harris was a junior US Senator during the years that the Santa Clara County pay-for-success pilot programs were put in place. Before that she had served as state District Attorney and District Attorney for San Francisco. During her time as San Francisco DA there was public criticism that she suppressed information held by her office relating to the sexual abuse of children by priests. The implication was that she was politically beholden to the Catholic Church. William Levada, Archbishop of San Francisco at the time, was later appointed Cardinal by Pope Benedict the XVI whom he served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith between 2005 and 2012, the highest ranking American in Rome. Prior to coming to the Bay Area Levada had led the Portland, OR Archdiocese where he was also criticized for covering up abuse. Portland was the first Archdiocese to be bankrupted by settlements from abuse-related litigation.
Source: Victims Question Harris’s Record on Clergy Abuse
It is all our responsibility as adults to face the real and serious consequences of the technologies that are being brought into the world and reflect on their potential for profound misuse based on historical precedent. We have to be able to comprehend the playbook and cut through their sweet talk of tokenized cooperation and innovative funding programs for the commons.
State-of-exception charter cities could easily become places where abuse and authoritarianism flourish. Consider the profound intergenerational trauma generated by the sexual abuse, forced child labor, and murder of indigenous youth through residential school prison camps modeled on Carlisle. In the twenty-first century we have that same drive towards domination and attempted erasure of social systems that counter the industrialized model, but now that ethos can be combined with powerful tools of prediction, profiling, and cognitive warfare harnessed to automated global finance markets.
It feels to me like what we are experiencing is ongoing AB market research to determine how best to sell “sustainable” confinement in such a way that it can thread the needle – appealing to the Left on the grounds of “green,” progressive care and to the Right’s inclinations towards faith-based crypto sovereignty.
There but for the grace of God go each of us. Who knows how far out on the horizon our date with displacement or a charter city may be. The one thing that seems certain is that massive disruption was baked into the plan long, long ago. That is why, in my opinion, with the time we have we need to throw as many wrenches as we can into the gears of Web 3.0 mixed reality, digital identity, “regenerative” finance, and human capital engineering. All that is sacred hangs in the balance.