The 18

by dave0searby0mason

The 18 . . . . . a shape for a manifesto

Introduction

The 18 is a frame or shape for a manifesto that attempts to collect in one place, the key elements needed to inform humanity’s future and how we get there. It is designed to be a seed, from which all aspects can safely grow but also a bedrock that informs everything. Large or small, these principles can be applied but work best and are strongest if they are accepted as a whole. It is designed to be the seed of a new morality and corresponding legal structure. What is good and right is not dependent on being told so, but on deciding so. Decisions are not enough, there then has to be communication and negotiation. History shows that change goes through periods of slow development followed by violent confrontation – the discipline of the 18 is one of persuasion and use of force only as last resort, sanctioned by a two-thirds majority. Leadership still plays a role, the leaders will need to be be those who persuade, those who engineer consensus.

It is called ‘the shape of a manifesto’ because this is more than a method, it is designed to be a way of life. The act of applying it and seeking to establish it in the real world is as important as the principles themselves. At this stage, we are are thinking, in some detail, of the circumstances where it can be applied first. Like a thought experiment, think of where it might be used and run some scenarios on how it might play out. An important part of this process is the discipline of how it is applied – all 18 must be applied at the same time in every circumstance.

The 18 principles are outlined first and they are followed by some notes on each.
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Principles

1. Doing good, is something we choose to do.

2. Defining and describing ‘good’ can be agreed.

3. Building the future safely, can only be achieved from seeing clearly where we are now. A description of where we are now can be agreed

4. Those beings who choose the future and agree on how it can be reached, must be sentient

5. A sentient being must have a core identity that is beyond doubt, registered in a recognised organisation. A core identity can be mobile but it is registered in only one place. A core identity has one vote in any one agreement process

6. An agreement process can be a one-off or on-going

7. A two-thirds majority is always binding on the whole.

8. Conflict within the group can be resolved by agreement. Where conflict cannot be resolved, the two-thirds majority is binding and is the authority for enforcement

9. The planet we are on is our home and everyone must protect it

10. Poverty must be abolished, all must have the basics of survival – water, food and shelter to a minimum standard. This approach can have many reasons but at the core, it is because we choose it.

11. Buying and selling takes place in a transparent market but one that is regulated to protect the planet

12. Privacy is a luxury only possible if the planet is not threatened

13. Sentient beings with a vote must protect those beings who do not have a vote

14. Two wrongs do not make a right. The end does not justify the means because there are no ends, only change and continuity.

15. The 18 operate within virtual boundaries. The smallest unit might be a family or cell. The next size up would be a community or a business. The next size up would be a city. The next size up would be a nation. The largest group would be an assemblage of nations. All apply the principles to make decisions in the same way.

16. Some decisions need to be taken so quickly that voting is not fast enough. Some functions will need to be carried out by individuals. These individuals will operate within terms of reference delegated to them by the group. Duration, change and revocation are set by the group. Decisions taken by individuals, who must have auditable terms of reference, are binding on the group.

17. People will be members of different groups and different sized groups. Interactions between the different sized groups will be agreed by the group members. In a situation of conflict, the larger two-thirds takes precedence over the smaller two-thirds.

18. Doing good, is something we choose to do and this choosing is both individual and collective. Any future we have can only be achieved if we get this balance right. The process of getting this balance right is something we can choose to agree on, no matter how difficult.

Principles expanded

1. Doing and describing good, is something we choose to do.

There has been much debate about whether we are free or not. Does free-will exist? The 18 starts in a very simple place. We choose to give ourselves freedom but this is not a freedom to do as we want. It is a freedom to do what most of us want. It is a circular piece of logic – we choose to be beings that choose. We choose this bootstrap, because we can. ‘Good’ is a very simple concept here. It is what we want. It is that simple. Up till now we have, as it were, ‘inherited’ our concept of good, mostly influenced by religion or its legacy. The 18 is an attempt to strip back this process to absolute basics. If ‘good’ is what we want, then morality, it’s framing, is also what we want. We choose our morality and the means of its deployment.

2. Defining ‘good’ can be agreed.

If good is simply what we want, how we do decide what we want? Choosing to choose (1 above) has to be the first principle. As important as that is, it still needs a “how”. We have to agree. Whatever mechanism is devised to deliver agreement, that act of agreeing is the crucial next principle. We can look back on history and see a range of options – tyranny, democracy of various kinds, anarchy, slavery – what do we want?

3. Building the future safely, can only be achieved from seeing clearly where we are now. A description of where we are now can be agreed

The starting place needs to be agreed or the directions taken later will diverge more as time passes.

4. Those beings who choose the future and agree on how it can be reached, must be sentient

There is a saying : ‘you will wait a long time for a rock to speak’. We draw the line somewhere in order to survive. Sentience is the best place to draw the line. We must agree what ‘sentience’ is.

5. A sentient being must have a core identity that is beyond doubt, registered in a recognised organisation. A core identity can be mobile but it is registered in only one place. A core identity has one vote in any one agreement process

Sentience is the best place to draw the line but it is a mobile line. We can agree where to draw the line but the act of drawing the line has to be secure. We have to trust each other but that trust must be transparent, structured and beyond doubt. Before we get to agree, we have to have trust in who is doing the agreeing. At the moment, a human being has a passport and a voting right. As science advances we will see a range of potential beings, from humans to post-humans, human-machine hybrids, machine intelligences and all of these might include copying and/or cloning. Human beings may live organically at first but then choose to exist entirely on-line. On-line identities themselves will become more complex. There needs to be a manageable baseline, that is, one being, one location, one vote.

6. An agreement process can be a one-off or on-going

As our electronic life develops, technology will offer multiple ways of connecting and decision making. All will still be based on one being, one location, one vote. Whether a macro political process or a minor domestic one, principle 5 still applies.

7. A two-thirds majority is always binding on the whole.

Stalemate can be a difficult problem, democracy and fairness are important but not if we are all dead because a decision could not be made. A discipline we must all embrace is the principle of accepting the majority decision. If you and yours cannot build a two-thirds majority, then your plan is not going to happen. Keep trying and move on but the overall system must continue.

8. Conflict can be resolved by agreement. Where conflict cannot be resolved, the two-thirds majority is binding and is the authority for enforcement

Conflict resolution is key. There will be laws and policies for a long time yet but they cannot cover every eventuality. The same principle at work in 7 must cover conflict resolution. The discipline is to accept the group decision for the overall greater good. Where people refuse to accept the two-thirds majority, then enforcement must be used. The speed of life is getting faster and faster, compete audit will be constantly available. The two-thirds majority, fully accepted by all, will facilitate clear action in real time.

9. The planet we are on is our home and everyone must protect it

This has to be seen now. We are not free to destroy our home. In fairness to all, none can opt out of this. A good principle that influenced this was first posted by Jason Stoddard ( http://www.strangeandhappy.com ). “To all sufficiency, from all sustainability”.

10. Poverty must be abolished, all must have the basics of survival – water, food and shelter to a minimum standard. This approach can have many reasons but at the core, it is because we choose it.

If there is no poverty, then whole series of inter-connected problems go away. We can make a case for poverty being immoral or even just express a sentiment like, ‘we look after our own’. Yet on a practical level alone, the human race will be more productive if all can contribute to a minimum level and not spend time just struggling to survive. Poverty breeds conflict, conflict inhibits the safety of the planet. At the end of the day, we can just choose this as an option. If a critical mass of decision makers choose this, poverty will wither away.

11. Buying and selling take place in a transparent market but one that is regulated to protect the planet

Capitalism has grown and developed and other experiments in organising production have failed. Even with its limitations (like waste), there seems to be no alternative to capitalism. Capitalism will continue to develop under the accelerating speed of online life but needs to be framed by principles 10 and 11.

12. Privacy is a luxury and only a necessity in some commercial practices

Privacy is expensive. Do we really need it? Principle 11 states the importance of shelter. People need a refuge from the struggles of life but we can make a distinction between personal privacy, (where people should not be intruded upon or bullied) and commercial and social business, where no one needs to hide anything. Commercial competition will still require secrets in some circumstances.

13. Sentient beings with a vote must protect those beings who do not have a vote

The distinction between who is sentient and who is not, will get more and more complicated but we can choose to live in a world where those who vote and control resources can choose to look after those who do not.

14. Two wrongs do not make a right. The end does not justify the means because there are no ends.

This principle just recognises that solutions that are short term only at the expense of our future survival, are not acceptable. Things actually do not end, they change and continue. Solving a problem now that results in another future problem is not an acceptable solution unless it is a dire emergency.

15. The 18 operate within virtual boundaries. The smallest unit might be a family or cell. The next size up would be a community or a business. The next size up would be a city. The next size up would be a nation. The largest group would be an assemblage of nations. All apply the principles to make decisions in the same way.

Boundaries are important and they would need a secure, transparent and automatic audit trail of all decisions and associated data. A group might change its mind but not the record of how it made each decision. The decision making process to ensure transparency, can be stored by the same system that keeps identities secure, thereby avoiding disputes about who said what and when.

16. Some decisions need to be taken so quickly that voting is not fast enough. Some functions will need to be carried out by individuals. These individuals will operate within terms of reference delegated to them by the group. Decisions taken by individuals with auditable terms of reference, are binding on the whole group.

Delegation is inevitable and not a problem as long as accountability is in real-time, effective and easily revoked. A unit should not permanently delegate its power to an individual as this will clash with the rest of the 18.

17. People will be members of different groups and different sized groups. Interactions between the different sized groups will be agreed by the group members. In a situation of conflict, the larger two-thirds takes precedence over the smaller two-thirds.

In exactly the same way that individuals vote in a group, so smaller groups will be part of larger groups, and will have a vote in that larger group. Smaller groups will be nested in larger groups. When a smaller groups is making a decision, it will need to factor in the necessity of making sure its decision can operate within the larger group structures it is a part of.

18. Doing good, is something we choose to do and this choosing is both individual and collective. Any future we have can only be achieved if we get this balance right. The process of getting this balance right is something we can choose to agree on.

Whilst it is possible for a person to live alone and self-sustain this is not how humans work. Our past was a collective one and our future needs to be a collective one as well. Perhaps there will be hermits living alone, or, break-away groups but the main momentum will be a collective one. We would choose maximum individuation but not support harmful renegades.

Engineering Consensus

It will not be easy but we will need to create some discipline. This may be fostered by some simple steps in the process. These could be as follows:
Sharing ideas
Debate
Building proposals
Agreeing the agenda
Voting

Each step is different. Sharing ideas is just putting things on the table to be looked at, ( people may even put opposing ideas on the table to see what happens in the next debating stage). The debate stage is still informal, it may itself generate new ideas. When two-thirds agree the debate is over, the proposals need to be structured and priorities in the agenda agreed. Voting does not include more debate. At any one time, a group may choose to go back a stage but mixing up the contents of the stages would be counter-productive.

The hard discipline will be accepting the two-thirds majority in all cases. This will not always be easy. For example, supposing you do not like cleaning. Then supposing the community group you are part of decide that the street they all live in, is not clean enough and a two-thirds majority agree that all members will sweep the street they live in by rota, once a week. You will have to do it, or pay someone to take your place in the rota, or negotiate a swap of some equivalence – or move away. Accepting the 18 does not involve the option of choosing which decisions you are part of. It is the rough with the smooth. Some may see this as a loss of freedom but others will see this as an act of taking responsibly that leads to some greater freedoms of participation.

Some difficulties will emerge, for example, two community groups that are next door to each other and one introduces no bonfires and the other does not. The wind blowing smoke may cause all kinds of hostilities. Negotiation and compromise will be called for and perhaps referral to a larger group that both are members of.

The transition from ‘here’ to ‘there’ (there being full macro acceptance of the 18), will be difficult – especially the transition to new legal structures. However, if enough people start doing it at small and local level, it can grow from the bottom up, thus leaving the most complex (city, national and international level) till last. In this transition period, some groups may have to hold back on some decisions for strategic purposes. This is about gradual change. Just like throughout history, the ‘old’ and ‘new’ will coexist going forward so decisions must be principled but also realistic.

Conclusion

These principles are designed to replace existing morality. At this stage, the 18 need road testing against ‘reality’. We can imagine a set of circumstances and then just say, “what if”? Consensus can be built from the bottom up. The discipline is simple but not easy to follow. The principles must be accepted in total; no ‘pick-and-choose’. This is about forging a consensus. The one-third who “loose” the vote, must accept the group decision. Leadership still plays a role, the leaders will be those who persuade, those who engineer consensus.

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