A dozen writers, hackers, researchers, technologists, entrepreneurs and Internet activists met for a retreat in August 2013 at Windhover Farm in New Hampshire. The goal: to articulate a shared vision for a next generation social Internet that is trusted and responsive to human and ecological needs. Three days of discussion yielded a statement, “The Windhover Transition,” which is intended as a discussion draft to provoke ongoing public dialogue. Future drafts will surely evolve as the themes discussed come into greater focus in coming months and years.
The Windhover Transition
At this moment in history, as a planet and a people, we are engaged in a profound self-reinvention of unprecedented scale, opportunity and peril. We are hurtling toward a future for which we are wholly unprepared, which is being critically shaped by digital technologies, and the mobile Internet in particular.
The Windhover Transition is an open global community dedicated to imagining and inventing the principles, norms, technologies and institutions needed to make such a transition successful. Meeting this challenge requires new ways of seeing, thinking and acting. We see human endeavors as dynamic and holistic – as parts of larger, living systems, natural and humanly imagined, whose expressive, evolving elements constitute each other’s identity and behavior. In contrast to some technological libertarian movements, we do not see the individual as the starting point or end point, or as set against or above the group. Rather, both the group and the individual are indivisible and mutually defining.
This perspective represents a profound shift in human awareness because it recognizes that our species is co-evolving with assemblages of digital and biological technologies that themselves are clashing with incumbent social and political systems. As this process accelerates, it is intensifying and redefining the very boundaries of human identities and our relationships to our own built artifacts.
One thing is certain: our species must identify new ways to act as conscientious, self-reflective stewards of a future that integrates our own well being and that of our fellow creatures, digital and biological. We urgently need to develop new knowledge for cultivating harmonious, vital relationships with natural and constructed ecosystems. This entails identifying and defending new definitions of sovereignty beyond the traditional nation-state and classic democratic institutions. In this quest, it will be particularly important to recognize the sovereignty of the individual-group to self-organize new forms of collective action in transnational ways.
The focus of the Windhover Transition is to develop generative social practices, habits of thought and technological design that are commensurate with the magnitude and velocity of challenges facing humankind. These new approaches are based on empirical and experimental evidence, not ideology nor prejudice. The new approaches privilege open, accessible systems and rely upon scientific inquiry into the design and experimentation of new forms of governance and social design. Testing, questioning, revision and invention are central to this process of discovery and institutional transformation.
Such a worldview entails a comfort with incomplete, complex, competing changing and pluralistic perspectives. Attempts to know should be rigorous, even skeptical, but always open-minded and tolerant. This mindset is not about reduction and control, but about inclusion, sharing and empathy – while remaining wholly realistic about what works and committed to institutions that are accountable.
A Declaration for Innovation in Trusted Social Sovereignty
The following are some guidelines for social technological design and innovation to further social sovereignty and sustainable self-governance.
1. All peoples shall have a sovereignty of equal and unobstructed access and control over the data, algorithms, sensors, and other means by which their unique biological and behavioral identities are to be defined and recognized.
2. All peoples shall have the sovereign right of global self-assembly for self-governance, whereby any individual can form their own Distributed Autonomous Organization or Enterprise with others for the production and allocation of resources, goods and services.
3. Distributed Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) shall:
• Continuously evolve to achieve requisite transparency needed to achieve both accountability and trust.
• Continuously evolve to reduce transaction and coordination costs.
• Use contracts and agreements that are self-executing and self-healing.
• Keep open and secure logs of performance/activities of all members of DAOs to achieve transparency and to encourage learning and self-correction.
• Minimize sanction costs and penalties to avoid litigation costs, adverse countermeasures and needless social disruptions.
4. DAOs shall have the right to self-governance using experimentation and the invention of new mechanisms for participation, governance, adjudication, dispute resolution, allocation of resources and proceeds, inclusion, exclusion and market exchange.
5. DAOs shall have the authority to issue digital currencies and form digital asset exchanges that reflect the values and interests of their individual DAO, which shall be free to trade and exchange for other currencies of value.
6. All peoples shall be able to rely upon an independent and open global commons to provide the technological support for open digital identity, governance algorithms and metrics so that claims of authenticity about individuals, groups, things and processes can be independently tested and verified.
7. All individuals and groups shall have sovereign control over their personal data assets and their right and ability to move them easily from one Distributed Autonomous Organization to another. No DAO or other party should be allowed to coerce an individual or group to relinquish or share data or services that violate their personal dignity and agency.