I live in Philadelphia, home of Independence Hall, the Constitution Center, and the Liberty Bell. While I have my reservations about the actual intent of these documents, see Tim Scott’s article on the Constitution here, I would love to see a public discussion of the nature of Constitutional rights in the twenty first century against the backdrop of the planned implementation of an extended reality regulated by a smart contract layer of cybernetic governance, a potent dose of snake oil that will be sold to us as a public good meant to save the planet from imminent destruction and birth a new “creative economy.” I speak briefly to this during the Tucson talk Q&A. This is a one-minute clip.
It’s a mayoral election cycle, so now would be an opportune moment to have such a discussion publicly and robustly. One of the candidates, Helen Gym, attended the Barcelona “fearless” cities summit back in 2017. I wrote about the Barcelona digital public good / smart cities effort as part of my refugee series here.
They can’t force us into their game without our consent. I believe their intent is to proceed as if they have it, but they don’t. The Web 3.0 / Smart Contract conversation must be had, and people need to be brought up to speed, so they can make informed decisions about what they may be giving away if they accept a shiny techno offer to live inside a world of programmable money and matter – not just for themselves, but for their children and the natural world.
I reconnected with someone this week who was interested in the idea and asked for ” a couple good phrases that conceptualize the scope of what’s coming more easily for folks.” This is what I came up with. Jason told me this morning that he thought it was a good, pithy summary. So, I’m putting it here to share.
In the planned future…
There will be new forms of money backed by things we love like toddlers, toddler’s futures. They will implement a global “learning economy” where investments in human capital improvement profit impact investors and create data that will be used to refine machine learning for artificial intelligence.
We live in an extended reality where the real world has an overlay of military technology (with cybernetic, psychological steering included) that runs on a global satellite network. That network will create a ubiquitous panopticon comprised of sensors and actuators that regulate natural life across the planet. Our actions, relations to one another, and behaviors are monitored via digital identity “a permanent record” on blockchain. Behaviors will be scored for KPI (key performance indicators) as set by e-government social contracts (UN Sustainable Development Goals, etc.) and corporate interests.
Our kids will be raised to compete in a global gig economy managed by artificial intelligence that will sort people as collections of skill tokens (or Soulbound Tokens). They will have to complete with people from around the world to do platform work, sometimes piloting remote robots for low wages and lacking any worker protections.
In their planned future, we will be citizens of a nation where Constitutional rights exist, but we can never drill down to them, because a deep layer of smart contracts (computer logic run on distributed ledgers) will have been put in place to keep us alienated from them. We will be citizens of a nation living under automated machine arbitration, the same as all nations of the world. Really, we will be citizens of the Web, Web 3.0.
In this future most people will be compelled to act as “agents” in simulated teams to solve “grand challenges” like climate catastrophe. Attempts will be made to remake humans as social insects for collective computation – all brain, no heart, no curiosity, no joy. These agents will inhabit a game where the rules change without notice, and the machines make the rules.
As in Yevgeny Zamyatin’s novel “We” written in 1921 that depicts a cybernetic reality where people live as numbers under the mathematical dictates of the Great Benefactor who ensures world “happiness” through consistency, harmony, uniformity, and regulation. In the world Zamyatin creates, imagination is excised by the machine for the “good” of its residents. My read aloud of “We” is available here.
In closing, I invite you to listen to what Rev Lebaredian, an executive at Nvidia (a company that makes high-performance computing systems for video games and digital twin simulations), has to say about AI “realizing” children’s imaginary worlds and projecting them into his planned virtual world, the Omiverse. He frames AI as an enabler, but to my way of thinking it’s actually a thief. This clip is two minutes.
In this three-minute clip, members of the Open Metaverse podcast from Epic Games, Cesium, and Kronos discuss Nvidia’s technology combined with blockchain digital twins and supercomputing to explore alternate futures and bend time.
Do you live in Philly? Do you have the ear of some politicians? Do you want to engage in this conversation? Hit me up and let’s see what we can make happen.
PS: The Open Metaverse podcast that hosted Lebaredian is sponsored by the company Cesium located on 11th Street in Philadelphia, just south of Market Street. Here is our site visit to the Nvidia office in Boulder, CO last March where we talk about Maya the grand illusion and the meaning behind the company’s name and logo.
PPS: I wrote a scenario of what this world might look like back at the end of 2017 based on the story of two sisters going to school in a world of ubiquitous computing in Queens. I was less familiar with the particulars of the technologies , but I think it’s still pretty spot-on. If you want to check it out, here’s a link to the first installment of “Building Sanctuary.” Or check out a PDF of the whole series here.
9 thoughts on “Dear City of Brotherly Love, We Really Need To Talk (About the Constitution, Smart Contracts, and Extended Reality)”
This is great. I’m going to forward this to an old friend from Florida living in Philly for over a decade who hasn’t the faintest clue what’s going on there.
“Rights”, American, Human etc, go out the window when there are 8, 10, 14 billion people on the planet. The Establishment, “The Man”, the Powers That Be, whatever you want to call it, are alternately scared shitless and thrilled by what the advent of The Internet and (more importantly) Social Media has brought about: on the one side people have become more self-centered, quick tempered, spoiled, ungrateful, entitled and eager to find fault with others, but on the other side they have become more easily managed/manipulated/herded due to the manufacturing of faux consensus and the homogenization of interests, personalities etc due to us all letting Social Media / Entrertainment Media tell us what our Culture (and the “New Normal”) is. Collectively, we are mostly anti-human, anti-life and anti-God in our drives and desires. Thanks 21st Century :/
I think it’s time for you to get up to speed on Web 3.
PERFECTION! I was about to email you with a similar request and now I don’t need to. I plan to submit this post to a friend who’s recently been elected to public office.
Thank you so much, Alison. You’re my mentor and a hero. 😉
Is it ok to cut and paste this narrative to my social media?
Regarding the nation state and enshrined rights. I suspect there’s a powerful current reshaping all nations for reconfiguring into regionalism. In the US I’m told by a close friend in Oregon that when California or Washington pass a new law Oregon soon follows. This is described on the local news there as a new level of collaboration between the three states. Juxtapose this to detailed regionalism planning for the NWO (by whatever name) that goes back to at least the early 1900s – exposed by activists of that era continuing through the Nixon administration in open government documents. Right after Trump’s election, Dr Steve Pieczenik, former head of a US Psychological Warfare division and member of the CFR, said in a recorded interview that Trump’s election was a military operation with generals already assigned to oversee various regions. Perhaps we’re in already in a C.O.G., first phase after 9/11, then next level was 2016. Same year Obama effectively transferred internet management to the UN via ICANN. None of this overshadows the importance of your message, Alison, but going forward there may be a kaleidoscope of political shifts obscuring our sense of expected civil liberties under nation states. There are setups now to trigger major state squabbles that could escalate to restricting travel across state lines and that situation or a conflict on that level could result in a “constitutional crisis” with lots of shady characters backing the notion of a new constitutional convention. I understand Soros funded a secession movement in the US that was based in California just as he funded others in different parts of the world to include Spain.
Shared; thank you. 💛
The clip from Rev Lebaredian was interesting to say the least. It triggered a memory I have from community college…. approximately 2002-2003ish. One of my art instructors, my Aikido teacher and a few of my friends all began to rave about this thing called ‘The Landmark Forum’. My art teacher was particularly entranced by TLF and incorporated the material into his lessons. He professed that if we could tap into our ‘childhood sense of wonderment,’ our ‘sense of awe’ in the world, we could free our imaginations and begin to ‘think outside the box’ to create good art, photographs, write or what have you.
That sense of wonderment and sense of imagination is NOT a ‘digital world’ inside a kids head. The sense of wonderment of a child is a private, deeply personal, still to be understood, human asset. Yeah — our imaginations are an asset.
In his irony, Rev acknowledges that the child’s imagination is essentially an asset that he hopes can be mapped (acquired/colonized) by his machines. Regardless of the machines success on this capitalistic venture, the acknowledgement that the child’s imagination is an asset makes him a thief. A lot of these people are just simple thieves. He is stealing the child’s sense of imagination/sense of wonderment without even attempting to negotiate a contract or a royalty payment (or, to borrow the reservation analogy, ‘sign a treaty’), which should outright violate the rules and customs of even the modern day robber barons. In the Old Days thieves would get hung on site, vigilante justice style. But we have no one out here in this new ‘wild west’ to defend us…this new ‘digital territory’ is lawless and runs on greed and an updated form of manifest destiny.
In a January 10th radio interview on the Ground Zero Radio Program, host Clyde Lewis was joined by Transhumanist Party President Gennady Stolyarov who spoke at length on various topics. Personal views on transhumanism aside, he at least suggested a few ideas I can agree with in principle.
Lewis asked him: “…but the abuse of that power, the abuse of putting nanobots or chips in people and using them for control mechanisms, and like I say, you know pushing us in that direction of the internet of bodies using humans as antennas for 5g and 6g; these are things that I have a hard time with. What about you?”
Stolyarov answered: “I think is why we need a discussion of individual rights in the context of technology, and this is where the Transhumanist Party has developed the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, which is now on its third iteration so I would encourage all of your listeners to look up the Transhumanist Bill of Rights v3.0, which tries to navigate these questions, of what rights, should not only humans, but all sentient entities, have, in a more technologically advanced context than our own. So, we definitely need a right of ownership to our bodies, to our personal data, and a right of autonomy with regard to decisions we make concerning any technology.”
In another response, Stolyarov said: “the use of one’s data needs to be considered more thoroughly; and I think a better regime of disclosure is very important, so right now, people are used to all of these end-user license agreements for software that are so lengthy that people just skip through them and don’t read them and don’t understand what they mean.”
He encouraged listeners to read the Third Version of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights (https://transhumanist-party.org/tbr-3/) and wanted to make sure that the Transhumanist party is known as ‘anti-Malthusian.’
This notion of ‘end-user license agreements’ not being understood by most people is an excellent reference point as it pertains to this post and smart cities as digital reservations. In a sense, many of the 1st world peoples were tricked into signing treaties in languages they did not understand with legal concepts that were foreign or unfamiliar to their customs. The end-user agreement is the 21st century version of treaties that were used to colonize and pacify the original inhabitants. It is the attempt to get us to illegitimately sign under coerced pretenses and give rights we didn’t even know we had… to give away more and more of our ‘land’ and our ‘data’ as they colonize our brains. Sure, you don’t have to sign the agreement, you don’t ‘have to’ use that software or agree to that platform. And the Cherokee didn’t have to walk to Oklahoma did they? they could have stayed where they were. But, they chose to go on their own volition didn’t they? Isn’t that how history remembers their story? Tragic, but in the end, they signed a treaty so its ‘legal’. The ‘end-user agreement’ is a ‘take it or leave it’ treaty that forces the signer to use the same system that is abusing them with no real alternative and little understanding of the consequences. Its true in a sense that “we’re all Indians now.”
(The full radio interview and podcast is behind a paywall. I painstakingly transcribed the entire interview if you’d like a copy please let me know.)
Your posts always inspire research. Sheila Jasanoff — Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Harvard Kennedy School (https://www.hks.harvard.edu/faculty/sheila-jasanoff) edited a book called Reframing Rights: Bioconstitutionalism in the Genetic Age (MIT Press, 2011) that is now on my ‘to read’ list… it looks to have a diverse list of material on the subject and suggests some people have been thinking about this for a long time. I have a lot of catching up to do.
My Grandparents were born in Philadelphia. Several of my family still live just across the Delaware river in New Jersey. It’s been since 2009 that I have visited the east coast. And yet somehow, my research keeps connecting me to the place whether I like it or not. They are not called ‘rabbit holes’ anymore they are called ‘mole tunnels’ because everything seems to be connected.
Vineland, for instance, is well known for the pioneering work in eugenics by Edgard Doll who operated under H.H. Goddard and developed the Vineland Social Maturity Scale, published in 1953. But even before Doll had officially published his scale, his definitions of ‘feeble-mindedness’ and ‘mental deficiency’ were useful out west as well, where the State of CA was doing some real ground-breaking research.
At the Sonoma Care Home, in 1913-1914, Lewis Termin developed the Standford-Binet Intelligence Scale, the forerunner to modern IQ testing. In the 2000 application for NRHP certification of the original Sonoma Care Home building, it was reported “the Home began to employ intelligence testing to individualize training programs. The Home’s educational programs were its primary focus at the time, and intelligence testing was felt to be of great value in connection with educating the Home’s students.” (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/123862134)
It is not difficult to see how this notion of intelligence testing and obsession with learning disabilities/disorders in the early 20th is now in a 21st century cross-over with AI trying to hack children’s imaginations… children’s neural feedback being crucial to design digital work platforms for the future smartcolonies of workers. They need to have that neural feedback to design work platforms that are not to boring or monotonous for fear of disinterestedness of ‘the ant’ and not too stimulating either… we don’t want people having too much fun in the metaverse and getting addicted to their work (like traditional video games tend to do). The imagination is key to designing a ‘synthetic pheromones’ trail’ to lead the ant on its path of work and accomplishment, while being able to trick the ant into thinking he enjoys his work, something like the ‘digital tom sawyer effect’ where we are expected to enjoy painting that fence in a simulated reality… is that what they want?
Vineland isn’t just known for eugenics. It was also the home to Vineland Chemical Corporation — a registered superfund site with the EPA — that produced arsenical herbicides and fungicides from 1949 to 1994.
The generally sandy soil was also well suited for growing grapes (Welches Grape Juice) and making glass products (like jars for Progresso Soup Company). The Wikipedia boasts an impressive list of Notable People from Vineland, New Jersey.
What really caught my eye on the Wiki page was that somehow, despite the storied and violent past of science and industry, Vineland is home to the National Dandelion Festival. There, in a place which took the pilfering of nature and the exploiting of humans to a new level, lying in this often overlooked part of New Jersey, grows the embodiment of hope and endurance. I could not find information about the 2023 event… but an article noted the 40th Annual event was in 2013… so that would make this year…2023… the 50th anniversary? (https://www.nj.com/indulge/2013/04/vineland_to_host_40th_annual_d.html; http://www.ourherbgarden.com/dandelion-2.html)
Forgive me if I have rambled but the 50th annual dandelion festival in Vineland new jersey seemed like a noteworthy event to share as it pertains to this current juncture of human history. We are like the dandelion growing on the grounds of a vast chemical infrastructure, increasingly surrounded by toxicity; what the dandelion faced and will continue to face is not going to be easy. And I am not sure that there is another ‘system’ that ‘we’ can create (or need to). But one thing is for sure… I know my place is to send my taproot as deep into the earth as possible and stay grounded. I know my place is to soak up as much golden sunshine as I can and drink as much pure water as I can. When the winds come, I’ll be ready, even if I’m not. And although most of my seeds might get blown away and will never germinate, that is ok. Even if none of my seeds germinate and my legacy, my progeny dies completely, that is ok. The life that I live is mine. But the life that I create — like the seeds of nature — belongs to no one. “You cannot eat money” and you cannot “own life.” Let life make its own way.
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