This is going to be one of those posts where for every 10 people that don't get it, there's one that does. This is for that one.
The scientist/philosopher Stuart Kauffman has an interesting idea (he reckons it is a law of biological systems) that he calls "the adjacent possible." The adjacent possible is essentially the set potential futures that diverge from the current path of social development or biological evolution, that can be exploited at any specific time. Here's some more detail:
- The constraints of the time (social, technological, etc.) dictate when a potential future is possible.
- The potential futures with the most allure are those with the greatest benefits in terms of beneficial complexity, diversity, and free energy capture (self organizing potential).
- When the constraints on a new future that offers fantastic advances/benefits are eliminated (when it enters the adjacent possible), it's often 'discovered' and exploited by many people simultaneously (via new ventures, inventions, or organizations).
- Finally, the best approach to exploiting this new future is to move incrementally and in a decentralized fashion (rather than all at once, which can be fatal).
The reason I bring this up is that our economic and social 'adjacent possible' appears to now include complete economies and social structures delivered as software service. These software based economies and social structures could allow:
- A plethora of new economic systems within which you can make a living (all you need to do is opt-in to the one that makes sense to you). The ability to build and experiment with new rules that both fix the increasingly dire problems with the current dominant economic system while providing new capabilities and avenues for success (new currencies, new incentive structures, new forms of status, etc.).
- Rapid rates of innovation/improvement. Since the rules of these systems are software based, they can evolve very quickly. Further, some of these new structures have the potential to generate rates of improvement/innovation/wealth creation at rates an order of magnitude greater than the current system.
- Nearly costless scalability. The infrastructure of these systems scales at a nearly costless level and the platforms envisioned can support a huge amount ecosystem diversity without much strain.
We can already see the start of some exploitation of this possible future with the rise of social networking (as in: the idea of a 550 million person social network was merely a potential future a decade ago). However, those efforts are merely baby steps in comparison to the plans and projects now being floated by some very smart/capable people across the world (some of which I have access to). These plans are, by themselves, a strong indicator that this potential future is now in the adjacent possible and some BIG changes are in motion.
From what I've seen, these new efforts have the potential give global financial/crony capitalism some very healthy competition. May the best system(s) win.
NOTE: This spread of this revolution won't involve protest, riots, or wars. It will simply be an opt-in.
NOTE2: One potential outcome of this are virtual city states.