While drafting the announcement of the new Etherean.org blog, I found myself asking the question, What is an Etherean and what does Etherean stand for? In particular, how is the community/movement different from adjacent communities such as Rationalism, Effective Altruism, and especially RadicalxChange?
Here’s what I wrote in the intro. I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts and whether you agree or disagree:
It’s very difficult to give a concise definition or explanation of what Etherean stands for, but to me, it’s a community that shares similar values and principles such as humanism, optimism, and a love of technology tempered by the understanding that technology alone cannot solve any of the big problems that we face today. It’s dedicated to exploring the intersection of powerful forces such as politics, business and economics, philosophy, technology, and social change, with an eye towards using technology as a tool to design and build better human institutions. In a nutshell: advancing technology for good while avoiding Black Mirror-esque dystopian outcomes.
I found myself hungry for a place to go deeper than social media allows into the high-level, social topics that matter the most to me, questions of economics, philosophy, ethics, law, etc. In short, I wanted a place to discuss the human side of what we’re building: the big why, the deeper implications, the risks as well as the opportunities.
In this respect, the Etherean community has a lot in common with adjacent communities such as The Long Now, OpenAI, Effective Altruism, Rationalism (see Ribbonfarm, Slate Star Codex, and LessWrong for exemplars), Giveth, and Burning Man (particularly Camp Decentral) - but, as far as I can tell, it’s different in that it’s more focused on using tools like crypto-economics and incentive and mechanism design to effect positive social change. The most closely aligned community I can think of is RadicalxChange, which also happens to be a fantastic community, but I think it’s hyper-liberal, extremely focused on more traditional political economics and issues such as diversity and inclusion, a bit less focused on privacy, and a bit more hesitant to embrace novel tools such as cryptocurrency and blockchain because, for instance, they don’t do a good job of institutionalizing identity. In contrast, I would describe Etherean as a bit more centrist, capitalist, and cypherpunk, as well as willing to embrace imperfect, radical new technologies like blockchain, but feel free to disagree.
Related: we had a fun conversation comparing ourselves to the cypherpunk movement here: