Required reading


#1

Here are some books I highly recommend reading to get some perspective on the ideas discussed here:

  • The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age, by by James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg
  • Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society, by E. Glen Weyl and Eric Posner
  • Everything by Yuval Noah Harari
  • The Incerto series by Nassim Taleb
  • The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson
  • Debt: The First 5000 Years, David Graeber

What others do you recommend?


#2

I got myself a Christmas gift :wink: Thanks for sharing.


#3

Thinking in Systems: A primer
Donella H Meadows
~ Perfect place to improve your ability to think holistically while staying scientific; based in complex systems science

The Undoing Project
Michael Lewis
~ Great place to think about how people think; based in behavior psychology

Algorithms to Live By
Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
~ Good place to examine the relationships between human and machine decision making; based in computer science


#4

Take a look at the work of:

  • Center for Humane Technology (“realigning technology with a clear-eyed model of human nature”) - http://humanetech.com/ and basically everything Tristan Harris and team have said.
  • Charles Eisenstein - all his books but Sacred Economics is a good start
  • Elinor Ostrom - Economy Nobel Prize on governing the commons
  • Daniel Schmachtenberger - New Economies Series at https://civilizationemerging.com/

If anyone’s interested in discussing any of these or has any questions feel free to reach out!
ps: Lane, soooo grateful you started this forum!!! + great reading list.


#5
  • Who Owns the Future? and You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jaron Lamier
  • Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker
  • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

#6

I recommend How Soon is Now?by Daniel Pinchbeck, The Infinite Resource by Ramez Naam, _Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential by Ted Chu, and The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch.


#7

Barry Eichengreen (Berkeley economist) also has good reads:


#8

I wrote a book! Probably not required reading, but I think it is relevant to this discussion. If you like the intersection of MetaPhysics, Government, Cryptocurrencies, and Philosophy it might be an interesting read.

Amazon - Kindle and Softcover: https://amzn.to/2PQqRkg
Web - https://skilesare.github.io/immortality/


#9

Some good suggestions so far! Some I have read and some I will be adding to my list :slight_smile:

Additional recommendations from me:
Inventing the Future - Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams
Platform Capitalism - Nick Srnicek
Coding Freedom - Gabriella Coleman
The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (or the shorter online piece The Black Stack) - Benjamin Bratton
(https://www.e-flux.com/journal/53/59883/the-black-stack/)
The Structure of World History - Kojin Karatani
#Accelerate: the accelerationist reader (or at least Marx’s Fragment on Machines and Deleuze + Guattari’s The Civilized Capitalist Machine)
An essay on framing and overflowing: economic externalities revisited by sociology - Michel Callon (http://www.vub.ac.be/SOCO/tesa/RENCOM/Callon%20(1998)%20on%20framing%20and%20overflowing.pdf)

(could only put two links in, so I left the ones to direct materials, I’m sure you can all locate the rest on amazon or goodreads anyway :slight_smile:)


#10

Technics and Civilization and The City in History by Lewis Mumford
The Patchwork, Moldbug on Carlyle, How Richard Dawkins got Pwned, and A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations by Mencius Moldbug
The End of Alchemy by Mervyn King
The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin Bratton
Unenumerated blog by Nick Szabo
Radical Markets by E. Glen Weyl and Eric Posner
Radical Liberalism by Vitalik Buterin and E. Glen Weyl
Violence and the Sacred and Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World by Rene Girard

I am more than happy to provide resources and answer questions about these.


#11

What aspects of Bratton’s work did you find most relevant to the development of this space? I have a few ideas of my own on this as well, but I’d like to hear what you think :slight_smile: I found both his shorter piece and the book itself (though I haven’t read the book in its entirety) really helpful in conceptualizing some of the changes we are seeing and the absorption of society into tech in some ways.

I also thought of two more reading reccommendations since last night as well…
Virtual States: The Internet and the Boundaries of the Nation State - Jerry Everard
and
Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life - Adam Greenfield


#12

Bratton’s structure is excellent for analysis of how the different layers of our society impact the interactions of these systems and the relative sovereignty that countries, companies, and individuals are able to exercise. I like to bring up the Stack (Earth, Cloud, City, Address, Interface, User) as a way of mapping out the influences of systems on the whole. An excellent example is Bitcoin, which is a service accessible to everyone with Internet. It thus forms part of the Cloud layer, which permeates all political bodies and corporations.

Bitcoin can act as a parallel mechanism for the transmission of money, deeds, credentials, and basic contracts (in theory, I know in practice it lags). Bitcoin also modifies the notion of the address for money. Compare it to the necessary information that is required to receive money. Compare the users of Bitcoin as well, which need not all be human. This allows for extra layers of logic to be built to control the flow of value between entities automatically. In some non-trivial sense this emancipates the right of abstract logical contracts (or, broadly, computers) to own and spend money independently of traditional notions of ownership. There are momentous implications to this that are not fully realized in the limited usability and implementation stage at which we find ourselves today.

What I want to highlight is that technology has a way of breaking apart the limitations of the old paradigms, and in doing so they unpredictably change the relationships of the units that compose our societies. Emancipation opens new possibilities, but chaos is a correlate of change, and when looking at global, distributed systems whose functionality is constantly increasing and whose accessibility is near-total, the effects of a change are beyond anything that preceded our era. When looking at the attainment of order in such a system, the notions of innovation and liberty may be contradictory to the purposes of the state, chiefly, but also all entities that prefer a state of order (most people would fall here), as well as entities that benefit actively from the status quo (e.g. the traditional banking system).

I would love to see the creation of parallel sovereign entities that afford rights and responsibilities to their constituents parallel to countries. It is in this sphere that I see the greatest possibility for innovative use of Bitcoin technology as well as adversarial competition with the modern state.

Its implications to alternate paradigms of nation states such as Moldbug’s patchwork are also very compelling, particularly the notion of parallel sovereignties interacting within the same patch of land, as this is a more general case than Moldbug’s. In this sense, it serves as a better framework for imagining a fully abstracted nation state.


#13

Indeed! Added to cart, shipping with my next order. Thanks for sharing!


#14

I totally agree with this, the stack is a great way to both abstract and conceptualize the social aspects of tech and integration of it into society and institutions.

I have been particularly interested in the interface and user levels, as my research has been from a sociological perspective. But I find it very interesting the development of different GUI’s or lack of them in some early systems that require command line, git, etc, and the ways that they both enable and disable control in different ways for the user. And really, this has an effect on the amount of personal agency the individual is even able to exert on the other layers of the stack. One example is wallet software that sets the transaction fee for the user, or whether there is control over that (ex. Exodus and Metamask). I’m sure there are other examples as well.

Have you seen the e-residency program with Estonia? Although this is still aligned with a nation state, I don’t believe there is anything but a small economic barrier to application.
There is also Bitnation, which I believe is independent of any geographic area, but I could be misinformed on that.
And then Aragon of course on Ethereum. I think all of these at least exhibit parts of the development to this idea of parallel sovereign entities. Would you agree or disagree with any of these inclusions or have better ones that exist?

I haven’t heard of Moldbug’s work before, but I will look into it!

I’m also wondering if this has strayed too far from the thread topic… :thinking:


#15

I’m very interested by your use of Bratton’s framework because it is something inherently forward-looking. I think people with the knowledge to impact the future in significant ways are too cautious when looking to the future. Although this is often out humility, this is an area where humility is goes too far an gets in the way of productive discussion about the changes that society is experiencing. I am of the firm belief that the future is something to be envisioned and brought to being, not something that is to be passively received. We should take to the science fiction of the 50s and 60s, if not in their rigor or artistic merit then at least in the scope of their speculation. Modern speculation seems stuck in a rut of apocalyptic pessimism, and although this is well-justified we cannot let this stop us from looking to the future with creative intent.

Furthermore, and you really seem to agree with this, the interface and user levels are of paramount importance in the development of futuristic society, to an extent far greater than we have at this point seen outside of science fiction. And it is here that most of the progress that I speak of has occurred, even though it is not satisfactory when pursued from the lens of artistic endeavor.

We have to conceive of the interface as an omnipresent layer mediating interactions between all sorts of users. At the most extreme, we should discuss how the state will make their services available through a smart interface that is capable of reflecting user qualities like citizenship, location, rights and responsibilities. This should be complemented by other groups that similarly provide services to people, such as employee status, insurance, medical services, etc. There really is much to be explored in this area.

Have you seen the e-residency program with Estonia? Although this is still aligned with a nation state, I don’t believe there is anything but a small economic barrier to application.
There is also Bitnation, which I believe is independent of any geographic area, but I could be misinformed on that.
And then Aragon of course on Ethereum. I think all of these at least exhibit parts of the development to this idea of parallel sovereign entities. Would you agree or disagree with any of these inclusions or have better ones that exist?

I have seen these projects, and I recognize the great potential they have, but again these are very basic building blocks to the discussion we should be having. My own perspective is that political, economic and intrapersonal dynamics will be paramount shaping forces of technology going forward, particularly as radical developments (like distributed ledger technology) accelerate the forces acting on these mediums. That is why I don’t see this discussion as off-topic, as it seems necessary to knowledge the scope of factors affecting the future in their totality.


#16

Stealing Fire by Kotler and Wheal
Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean