Our System Futures: Reimagining the Dark Matter of Society

It is increasingly apparent addressing 21st challenges requires us to transcend the enlightment periods models of innovation.

Where the enlightenment gave us tools to deal with an infinite world through isolating and seeing the conceptual lens of “in-vitro”. A mode that allowed us to disassociate, science from art, art from architecture, maths, from physics, chemistry etc — to understand, objectify, to make discrete. The emergence of the reality of a finite world crystallised by issues like climate change, peak oil, current nuclear crisis in Japan amongst a thousand other examples is forcing us to see and work with interdependency and inter-relatedness of our reality. No longer is the illusion of discreteness and the objectifiablity a helpful lens to make our future.

Climate change work, social innovation industry, banking reforms are mere patches, attempting to address in isolation symptoms of a structurally malforming institutional economy. This is our small world crisis.

The hope of patching these externalities without addressing our institutional infrastructure is limited. Just as at the end of the second world war we invested in the creation of a swathe of global institutions to address the structural issues that gave us World War II and gave birth to 60 years of relative peace and prosperity and 30 years of hidden externalities. We now need a new generation of institutions and tools to re-innovate our institutional infrastructure. In order to seed an economy appropriate for a finite and connected world, one where societal and environmental impacts are systemically internalised.

This revolution requires us to reinvent and transition a generation of institutions from the discreet silo of closed disciplines, analogue hierarchies of the industrial age. It requires us to embrace open & social innovation, outcome financing, system governance, computable contracts, peer2peer organisation from the community to the crowd and the need for new models of governance in an age of soft power & influence in a world of platforms & social physics.

This is a revolution which will require us to transcend and structurally unbound the privilege of the professions, the limited liability of the corporate economy of last 300 years and even the sector division of our economy. Perhaps even the late 20th century notion of ourselves as discreet isolated individuals.

This is a future which requires us to transcend the political debate around the future of welfare as a “cost” (as accounted in state books), a price that needs to be reluctantly paid by politicians and citizens, tolerated by the paying ‘clubs of voters’ as necessary to obtain ‘license to operate’ and maintain a gruding peace.

This is future which requires us to reinvent the institutional architecture of society. This revolution requires us to reinvent the dark matter of our society, the institutional infrastructure of civilisations, the notion of sectors, incorporation, accounting, governance, design, investment, and legitimacy. From the tools which are built to describe our models of individualism, meritocracy, discrete heroism, & predictable futures. To tools that understand the critical relevance and our interdependancy with the commons and notions of shared wealth and emergent futures.

A viable civilisation model which understands and operates in these systems and shared wealth model of the future. It requires us to reinvent our institutional infrastructure, this is not about the red tape or burying the red tape. Instead, about building a new model of civil organisation beyond the outsourced morality of the regulator, but the one which grows us all through radical transparency and massive feedback to be decentralised, diverse intelligent — with conscious actors growing our shared wealth in an emergent future.

This is future which is no longer be the sole responsibility of the state, but the enlightened interdependent responsibility of a broad range and movement of actors, cooperating to unlock all our potential, shared wealth and our capacities to innovate.

This is a future which recognises the state does not automatically represent public interest, in fact a good case can be made of government increasingly representing the interest of the electing minority demography (pensioners, political party funders, the interest of nationals as opposed to the global long term public interest).

This is a future which recognises ‘private’ interest does not represent purely private interest. Increasingly it is having to understand and factor a reality, that private interest is infact not isolatable from societal, system and environmental interests & risk. Whether they beclimate change, global pollution, political risks or a dependency on our global system of finance. This tangible interdependency is increasingly making the ‘private and isolatable’ value proposition untenable and increasingly an visible as the illusion it is.

This is a future which requires us to invest in re-imaging this institutional future, like we did in the 15th-19th century building a class of institutional infrastructures from IP, the Limited Liability Company, regulation, accounting norms etc.

Our systems and shared wealth future relies on us to re-imagine this ‘Dark Matter’ of society, it cannot be built soley by investing in shiny new objects, products, services and platforms. This is radical investment required by the nation state. This, is no longer a question of redefining or reducing the red tape, but truly about totally re-imagining it.

Indy Johar