Societies are Living Not Mechanical
The predominant ways of understanding human choice, actions and policies today were derived from the Enlightenment. They are reductive, rationalistic, mechanical, and wrong. Human beings are living, inventive, and non-rational. Hence, most of classic economic theory, policy analyses and remedies are based on fundamentally incorrect ideas about human behavior.
Architecture Bounds Policy
A previous generation learned that “code is law” – that software code can perform the role of law by critically enlarging or restricting our ability to perform certain tasks and coordinate with others. This can be supplemented by the addendum, digital architectures bound policy. They dictate the scope of possible forms of communication, expression, collaboration and social relationships. Our digital architectures must be designed to enable the most open, democratic and accountable forms of social interaction – so that the “digital polity” can become as self-reliant as possible rather than look to government and formal law.
In Nature There Are No Externalities
As in Nature so in societies: There are no externalities. Everything is interdependent. Classic economic theory holds the view that economic efficiencies require externalizing costs. Such practices have been ecological and social catastrophes, pitting humans against Nature and against one another. This operating logic is not sustainable. Externalization subverts resiliency. Human flourishing requires living ecologies in which the survival of one species is recognized as dependent upon the survival of others. The new Social Stack intends to be ecological by internalizing as many costs and risks as possible so that governance can be as self-contained, resilient and self-directed as possible.
Digital Societies Should Be Self-Healing
By definition, all living things have the capacity to heal themselves. As living entities, social institutions, too, must be capable of self-healing – that is, the self-directed powers within their own bodies and immune systems to marshal the requisite internal resources to manufacture new, reconstructive tissues. The same principle should apply to the design of social networks.
Digital Common Law Evolves
There is no society without rules. The quality of any society is tied to the quality of its rules, which range from the static to the dynamic, and from the implicit to the explicit. The great jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes famously declared that common law is derived from living community norms and is forever evolving to adapt to new circumstances; there are no fixed, “originalist” rules that can be adaptive and stable. Digital expressions of Common Law need to evolve and adapt. A society of or institution’s capacity to heal themselves and function effectively and autonomously requires having supple, evolvable systems of digital common law.
Greed is Not Good – Proportionality Is
Runaway systems, “Red Queen effects,” and cancerous cells are systems that lack basic feedback loops and correction and hence are unsustainable. Incentives and social mores that encourage unbounded wealth and consumption and winner-take-all outcomes are systems without essential feedback. Social well being cannot be advanced by limitless appetites and accumulation; it must be balanced through feedback about resource limits of the whole and proportional need. To become viable self-regulating social organisms, communities need to actualize the principle of proportionality.
Flows over “No’s”
Individual property rights have been one of the sacred pillars of western democracies and capitalism. But extreme expressions of individual property rights can destroy value creation in the digital era by failing to acknowledge that value is created individually and collectively. In innovation-driven economies and societies, value is created not through artificial chokepoints and assertion of broad property rights, but through unrestricted flow of data and the open participation by all. Digital data are not the new oil; they are the new “water” because their free and uncontaminated flow is integral to the health of all living societies. To assure that “flows” prevail over the “no’s” of artificial chokepoints and ownership rights, it is foundational to the welfare of the entire ecosystem that digital architectures and governance systems privilege the free flow of information.