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The Case for Freedom and Intelligent Decentralization

Skip Stein

Most of the Civilized World is run and controlled by digital devices; computers. They are imbedded in just about every electrical device. The intent is better control and utilization and we have arrived at an era of pervasive computing. From the toaster to the networked television, everything is, or will be, digital.


Researchers are exploring biological digital storage. Humans have realized that the world can be boiled down to simple 1's and 0's or a binary matrix of yes and no, on or off. It is not unlike our own genetic code with multitudes of pairs of genes that are either on or off! It is so simple but layers upon layers of these simple switches now control Our Lives, Our Planet and Our Civilization.


Early on, corporations and governments realized the power of computers. The very first 'real' digital computer was, after all, designed to compute ballistic trajectories for military use (ENIAC – Ordnance Ballistic Research Laboratories)! From there, it blossomed into what we see today, most commonly in your hand with your cell phone. Yes, your cell phone has more computational power and storage than millions of ENIAC's and more than most computers up until the late 1990's. Technology has and continues to advance at exponential rates.


These rates, long ago predicted by Gordon E. Moore (co-founder if Intel Corporation) are accelerating along a predictable curve called Moore's Law. Simply put, the rate of computation increase (across all digital platforms) is doubling every two years. Once thought to have an upper limit, Moore's Law continues to hold as scientists use the very computers and digital devices they construct to enable further advancement. In a sense the computers are aiding in their own growth, advancement and yes, even intelligence.


The Futurist, Ray Kurzweil, has long predicted the arrival of 'The Singularity' where computer intelligence arrives at the state of self awareness and yes, intelligence. Once achieved, it could rapidly advance well beyond our own human brain capacity to reason, think and evolve. While this is still science fiction, it may not be that far into the future.


Government & Industry Abuse


While these advances have provided huge benefits to the Planet they continue to elude much of the population. Much of the reason is the limited availability of electricity to power devices and infrastructure. While much of the USA and Europe has wired networks (copper and fiber cables), developing countries (India and elsewhere) have leapfrogged and gone to wireless infrastructures using cell phone technology.


These developments are often controlled by governments and corporations who seek to Control the use and availability of digital technology. Governments use the technology to literally watch over populations seeking to find individuals and groups who disagree with the current political agenda. Corporations watch over usage to predict, guide and Control the direction of product demand to increase corporate revenue.


This desire to control damn near everything usually ends up maintaining the status quo and restricting both technological innovation and growth as well as economic freedom and development. This Control keeps things in a restricted sphere and dampens innovation and new ideas, concepts and developments from ever seeing the open air and the Planetary Population remains controlled.


Communication, The Internet and Freedom


The primary to tool to combat this overall drive to Control everything has and continues to be the Free Flow of Information over the Internet. The very structure of the Internet, designed by the US Department of Defense when they funded ARPANET. ARPANET, which would become the first network to use the Internet Protocol, was designed to be fault tolerant so as to maintain the defense department communication infrastructure in the event of catastrophic event (either natural disaster or outside enemy attacks). This fault tolerance is the very facility that makes the Internet almost impossible to Control!


Governments and corporations can't Control the Internet (even though China and others attempt to), because there are always holes drilled in every firewall/obstacle that allows communication to seep through. As technology continues to advance, new technology and communications protocols will continue to advance this Freedom network of enabled information exchange; in spite of those who seek to exercise Control.


This expansion of the Free Flow of Information is enabling populations across the Planet to communicate with each other in groups and as individuals, to expand understanding and knowledge. Even as those with evil intent utilize the Internet to communicate terrorist and military information, there are those who continue to expose the nefarious acts and evil use by many Freedom Fighters who use Information as a weapon to defeat corruption and evil across the Planet.


Still in it's infancy, the very tools that governments use to spy and Control citizens and those that are used by corporations to control consumers are being used against them as People communicate the evil and nefarious intent and expose the secrets and corruption. In a sense, this is a balance of power and knowledge.


This new balance of power will and should be used to counter the attempts to Control the Free Flow of Information. Freedom of Information ultimately sorts out the lies, falsehoods and conspiracies that are hell bent on suppressing Freedom.


Predicting the Future


One of my favorite authors, Daniel Suarez, captured a possible direction in his novel Daemon:


“As countries compete for markets in the global economy, diffusion of high technology will accelerate. It will result in a diffusion of power. And diffusion of power will make countries an ineffective organizing principle. At first, marginal governments will fail. Larger states will not be equipped to intercede effectively. These lawless regions will become breeding grounds for international crime and terrorism. Threats to centralized authority will multiply. Centralized power will be defenseless against these distributed threats. You have already experienced the leading edge of this wave.”


We currently can watch this on the Internet and Television. The Middle East and Eastern Europe are examples. Major Countries, the USA in particular, have and continue to be defenseless against these raving lunatics and religious fanatics. It appears that it is destruction for destruction stake, but as bad as it gets, the evil is being exposed; even to those who first instigated and continue to support it. It is senseless violence for a senseless purpose.


On the National front, corruption in bureaucracies and governments continue to be exposed. The American Obama Administration has been shown to be rife with corruption and scandal causing the United States of America to be paralyzed with inability to respond to the simplest crisis. The trust has been lost. Corporations and governments work together to create massive information networks designed solely for their own preservation. Citizens/consumers seem unaware or uncaring as to what is happening. From Freedom by Daniel Suarez:


Storing data is so cheap it’s essentially free, so data brokers record everything in the hopes that it will have value to someone. The data is aggregated by third parties, linked to individual identities, and sold like any other consumer data. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s an economy, but an economy these people know nothing about. They’re tagged like sheep and have about as much say in the matter as sheep.”


Corporations are being exposed for their reckless endangerment of the People through their manufacture and distribution of products that have proven to be harmful. Countries, states and The People are beginning to demand labeling of the products (food) they consume. Dangerous devices are constantly exposed when companies seek to hide the facts/truth.


Theodore Roosevelt said in 1906:


Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.”


While we have few true Statesmen today, The People are stepping forward to expose the corruption. As this becomes more prevalent, others, feeling safety in numbers, will step forward, exposing more corruption and nefarious behavior in government and corporations.


Another quote from Daniel Suarez in his book 'Freedom'”


Persistence and presence create truth online.”


The persistence of the Freedom Fighters and dissimulators of the Truth online will only continue to advance further. Let not this prediction (again from Freedom by Daniel Suarez) be in our future:


Instead of adapting, their leaders clung to power and strove instead to be the last ones to starve to death. The Mayan civilization in South America did the same, and I expect our own civilization will do likewise. The people behind the modern global economy will prevent any meaningful change until it’s too late.”


We MUST prevent this scenario from advancing. If not, our Civilization will collapse and we will become yet another failed attempt to become human prime; an advanced honest, and truly Good assembly of human conscientiousness.


From Freedom by Daniel Suarez:


When people became more reliant on multinational corporations than on their own communities, they surrendered whatever say they had in their government. Corporations are growing stronger while democratic government becomes increasingly helpless.”


Just look at corn and soybeans, subsidized with taxpayer money—creating a market that wouldn't otherwise make sense. Why? So agribusiness firms have cheap inputs to make processed food. The taxpayers are basically subsidizing corporations to make crap, when we could have grown real food on our own. But, of course, they’ve made growing food illegal now. . . .”


You might not think it, but it was always the farmers who raised hell in this country. They worked for themselves, were self-reliant, and weren’t about to take shit from anybody. But then some clever bastard figured out how to make crops inedible. My family’s been doing industrial farming for forty years and all it produces is debt, pollution, and water shortages. It ruins the land and the people on it.”


And finally:

What made you finally change?” Fossen stopped for a moment then laughed. “When I started educating myself on why farming no longer made sense. We basically used oil and aquifer water to temporarily boost the carrying capacity of the land, all for economic growth demanded by Wall Street investors. It’s a crazy system that only makes sense when you foist all the costs onto taxpayers in the form of crop subsidies that benefit agribusiness, and defense spending to secure fossil fuels. We’re basically paying for corporations to seize control of the food supply and dictate to us the terms under which we live.”


These are relevant quotations from a fictional story that have strong implications to our Society TODAY.


What of Tomorrow?


I pray that the books Daemon and Freedom are not directly in our future as their path to the ultimate Freedom was difficult, dangerous and costly in lives and property. What we can hope to accomplish is to Learn from these and other predictors of possible futures. Study and LEARN from HISTORY to avoid future pitfalls.


Focus on Freedom and the Free Flow of Information. Even though the Truth can often hurt for a time, ultimately it will win out over evil and stupidity. An informed citizenry is a Free Citizenry.


Will we see a Singularity, a self aware computational system in our future? Probably. But how will we handle it; or more importantly how will it handle US?


If we persist in this maddening path to terror, destruction, murder and mayhem we see today, emboldened with both government and corporate bureaucratic corruption run rampant how will the future unfold? Will a logical computer Singularity (or group of them) decide we are too illogical to survive? Sometimes I even think so; but how will it be addressed?


Will we finally evolve into a more truly Civilized humanity, cooperating in productive pursuits, focusing on the Freedom of the Individual to think what he will, lest it harm none?


In his book WWW 2: Watch, Robert J. Sawyer said (via Webmind):


Any technology that allows you to take out large numbers of your competitors changes the whole evolutionary equation. And . . . ah! Yes! And that’s why sophisticated consciousness evolved, why it was selected for. Consciousness has survival value because it lets you override your genetic programming. Instead of mindlessly squeezing out those who aren’t like you—pushing them back to the point where they retaliate with their weapons—consciousness lets you decide not to squeeze them further. It lets us say to our genes, hey, give this guy who isn’t our close relative a chance, too—because that way he’s not going to feel a need to come after us while we’re sleeping. Making sure that only your own family is well-off is an advantage only when those who aren’t well-off can’t hurt you.”


By eliminating poverty—by improving conditions half a world away—you do make yourself safer. Selfish genes could never come to that conclusion, but to a conscious mind it’s . . .” She paused, then allowed herself a grin. “. . . blindingly obvious.”


Can we improve on our humanity by overriding the predisposition to violence and the concept that there are limits on human evolution? Can we overcome the selfish greed for power and control as individuals begin to become more self-aware and knowledgeable of their own Power to Choose?


Technology Can Provide the Infrastructure


Utilizing our current and future technology may prove our salvation. When Freedom is more prevalent and the Truth is more available, we may be able to finally live on our Planet in peace and harmony. Productive negations always benefit everyone, while terror, wars and devastation only benefit those few in power.


With technology such as 3D printers we may have the initial wave of capability to finally evolve past the need for cities that are utterly dependent on supply lines for their very survival. Distributed power systems utilizing more advance technology (Thorium reactors, solar/wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, fuel cell) can provide smaller regional/distributed power grids. Instead of ancient and inefficient transmission lines, power can be generated regionally with less cost using more localized resources.


Most modern cities on the Planet can only survive for a matter of days without a constant flow of food, water and energy. This model, is feudal, archaic and dangerous. Communicable diseases spread rapidly in closely packed human environs. It is horrendously costly to maintain supply lines and infrastructure into cities that are mostly groupings of information workers; not product manufacturers!


With new advances we see technology used to produce goods and services on demand and less need to warehouse stuff. On demand is now common in print material and may soon be with a host of hard goods by 3D distributed printing technology.


With Internet and our technology, most office workers can and probably should work in a more distributed environment. How often has a simple cold/flu spread through an organization of workers packed in cubicles in super-highrise buildings where air recirculates and windows do not open?


The concept of 'Holon Communities' may be one way to address this problem. Our Planet is truly vast. Driving across the USA or most any Country you find massive clusters of people surrounded by square miles of open/vacant space.


Again, from Freedom by Daniel Suarez:


Holons are the geographic structure of the darknet. Any darknet community lies at the center of an economic radius of one hundred miles for its key inputs and outputs—food, energy, health care, and building materials. Balancing inputs and outputs within that circle is the goal. A local economy that’s as self-sufficient as possible while still being part of a cultural whole—a holon—thus creating a resilient civilization that has no central points of failure.


Is a Distributed Civilization in our Future?


This is just one example of how our human civilization may survive. The current path, structure and methods have been shown to be failures. When Freedom is suppressed, it creates localized power centers controlled by a few. Mostly corrupt individuals or a cabal of them control resources and information for their own benefit. The People and the knowledge necessary to be Free is withheld and owned by the few.


With the Free Flow of Information, we can survive, surmount and excel in on a Planet that is healthy and open. Preserving the best and eliminating the worst, let no one hold power over another; instead let us all cooperate in a human network of Excellence and Freedom.


We Have a Choice – What Will it Be?