Zero State Activism

The following quote is from core ZS member The Engineer:

Zero State was recently rebooted, and some 3,000 Facebook “members” removed because of an informal “No Passengers” rule. That is, everyone who wants to be a member must contribute in some clear way. Up until now, we have had no metrics or guidelines concerning this. My suggestions are as follows:

Everyone should expect to put in at least half an hour per day or three hours per week, unless their contribution is manifestly in some other form. This does not include time posting on FB or dealing with emails.

Each House should list what projects they are working on, the aims of the project, who is involved and the expected timescale to completion. Finally, what are the explicit real-world goals for ZS in the short and medium term? Do you have a plan?

This is important. There are a few points to briefly consider, but active participation is the fundamental rule in the Zero State. The quote above definitely expresses informal ZS policy, but the following three points should be considered formal expectations:

1. Work Smart, Not Hard…

A critical (but easy to miss) phrase above is “…unless their contribution is manifestly in some other form.” It has always been part of the ZS ethos to say that people should contribute as and when they can, in ways and at a level that works for them. At the same time however, we have become increasingly and justifiably intolerant of people using that attitude as an excuse to not contribute at all.

Long story short, we require that all our members find ways to best apply themselves to the goals of ZS and their House, in whatever ways work best for them. The basic time requirement suggested above is a good general rule, though it may not work for you personally. That’s ok, but you need to find something that works for you if you want to remain a member.

2. …but Work all the same!

The policy outlined above is liberal, with a minimum standard. Left as it is, realistically, it would only lead to a sizeable proportion of would-be ZS members attempting to “game” the rule (Oh the Irony, given that ZS is an ARG). In other words, some people would actually adhere to the spirit of the rule, but most would simply try to use it to mask inactivity on their part. The simple answer to this problem is to have a mechanism by which the active retain valid ZS membership, and the inactive are removed.

3. The Auditors Will See You Now

Imagine a class of agents we might call Auditors. These entities act as a kind of feedback loop, monitoring ZS activity and highlighting areas where adjustment is needed. In short, an increasingly automated system of standards, carrots, and sticks… just like the feedback systems which keep all biological organisms alive. Expect an Auditor in your neighbourhood, soon.

Finally, let’s address the question of plans. As is implied in the Engineer’s statement, activity is only helpful insofar as it progresses us toward goals. ZS Houses and the teams within them should assign and adjust their own goals over time, with particular care to ensure that those goals are in line with those of the Zero State as a whole, and its Social Futurist Principles.

At the highest level, the ZS “plan” is a kind of trajectory from now to the future, known as The Path. The Path starts with media releases and events, moving on to the coordination of large events and political interventions by the early 2020s, and establishment of a Social Futurist sphere of influence by 2025. Obviously these steps are intended to be completely integrated with the latest technological developments and the disruption they cause to traditional socio-political-economic systems. Each House derives its goals and plans from a nexus of its own culture and ideals, and ZS’ overall strategic requirements at any given point along the Path.

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    1. I’m afraid I don’t have time to reply to Machael’s analysis just yet, but will do soon. It is certainly interesting.

      As for carrots and sticks… Indeed, all sticks and no carrots is not a good look, I agree. But we do in fact offer carrots, and will be offering more and more all the time, and indeed are encouraging our members to *grow* carrots for each other. But right now we have very little in the way of carrots, so the main one we have to offer is the right to stick around and partake of what evolves. If saying that constant inactivity is unacceptable is a “bad look”, then so be it. Lines must be drawn somewhere.

  1. Excellent analysis by Michael Hrenka

    The recent discussions have triggered me to add my own two Satoshi.

    Thought 1: I don’t have sufficient confidence in the success of this project.
    My experiences with transhumanist projects and communities over the last decade weren’t particularly encouraging. This lead me to suspect that transhumanists themselves were to blame. On the other hand, the time for the transhumanist community hasn’t come yet, as transhumanists are still very much a very small minority without any exceptional advantage that they could effectively leverage to make themselves exceptionally successful. Is transhumanism just a sterile reflection of our possible progress as civilization and individuals. The philosopher in me hopes that this is not the case, but the empirist in me sees some evidence that this might indeed be true. Since Zero State is still very much framed as transhumanist project I strongly feel that it’s entrapped in the karma of ineffectiveness. How could it be any different?

    Thought 2: The problem transhumanism needs to solve next is economics.
    Yes, economics. I have been convinced since quite a few years that the problem why we can’t have better transhumanist technology is that our current economic paradigms just don’t really allow for them. We don’t make use of digital abundance, but instead create artificial scarcity. We still don’t share know-how, we hide it in organisational silos. We are stuck in jobs that only leverage a small percentage of our full potential as human beings – upgrading to cyborgs wouldn’t necessarily improve anything, if more and more people get stuck in jobs that have an increasing percentage of bullshit. Yet, there are emerging trends that might change the way our economy works:

    – Basic income
    – Cryptocurrencies, smart contracts and DAOs
    – Additive manufacturing
    – Open source
    – Teal/evolutionary organisations
    – Solar power becoming cheaper than other sources of energy
    – Reputation systems

    Those trends are still in their early stages, with some being more advanced than others. When all of those trends reach their full maturity, the economic system we currently live in, will be hard pressed to maintain its control over humanity. I’m not saying that it wouldn’t possible, but that it would look very dystopian. We need to move towards a “smart economy” that used technology in the most efficient way, so that a level of abundance is reached that allows people to use their full potential, which would in turn increase our wealth and freedom dramatically. Envisioning, defining, designing, and implementing the smart economy is the real challenge.

    Thought 3: The key of every greatly successful organisation is that its members can truly identify with it.
    The degree of active participation of a member within an organisation is roughly proportional to the degree that this member can identify with that organisation.
    In a certain interval of probabilities, the degree of active participation of a member within an organisation is also roughly proportional to the subjective probability (of that member) that this organisation will be successful in reaching its relevant goals.
    Those aren’t independent factors. A lack of probably success can make an otherwise attractive organisation look not worthwhile. Full identification with such an organisation cannot be achieved in that case.
    Values, goals, strategies, working principles, resources, and culture need to be aligned in order to at least create a convincing impression that an organisation will be successful.

    Thought 4: Use principles of effective altruism!
    Ideological altruism is not enough. The emerging effective altruism community places a huge emphasis on effectiveness. Yet, there are pretty established methods for collecting and multiplying resources: Fundraisers and pledges. What do you think we could achieve, if at least some of us to pledge at least 2% of their income or wealth (or even just time) to Zero State? That’s the level of identification that would allow us to become significantly effective.

    Thought 5: What would Zero State being successful even look like?
    Growing in numbers is not very inspiring. Many kinds of organisations dream of becoming big, powerful, and influential. The interesting question is: What will they really change, if they really become big, powerful, and influential? What specific and measurable goals would we be able to achieve, if we in fact managed to become sufficiently big, powerful, and influential?

    Thought 6: If this is a game, it’s still worthwhile even if no concrete success comes from it.
    In the right dosage, games can invigorate us. Especially if they are really engaging. Increased energy levels from playing games can spill over to actually productive projects.

    Thought 7: My visions of the future don’t seem to align too well with the mythos of Zero State
    Here’s a short summary of my current concept of the civilization system progression:
    System 1: Forager society (just a bunch of tribes)
    System 2: Agricultural pre-industrial societies (kingdoms and such)
    System 3: Industrial societies (nation states based on economic ideologies falling somewhere between capitalism and communism)
    System 4: The smart age, based on a smart economy, smart networks of people, smart AI, divided among the lines of those who want to restrain the augmentation of intelligence (in my terminology “aurelians”) and those who don’t (“upgraders” in my words)
    System 5: The axiological age, based on an economy arranged by superintelligence, optimized for certain value systems. Different value faction compete against each other for cosmic dominance
    System 6 (hypothetical): The canonical age based on a universal convergent value system optimizing everything on a cosmic scale

    I’m currently working on a novel depicting the situation of humans (they still exist) in system 6. Here are the basics of that world the novel is based on:

    The background story goes like this: Before the middle of the 21st century, humanity has full progressed to system 4. An emerging powerful meta-organisation called AICON enforces control over AGIs and those who want to become AGIs. At the beginning of the 22nd century AICON breaks down and genuine superintelligences take over. The superintelligences are divided into competing value factions, mostly the Big Six. Towards the end of the 22nd century one of the Big Six, the Balance, finds a convergent, perfectly rational, value system. A sub-faction of the Balance forms around this convergent value system and calls itself the Coherence. A couple of decades later this value system is proven to be optimal, and the only perfectly rational value system. All opposition to the Coherence breaks down, granting it complete dominance over its local future light cone. The process of finding the proof involved billions of ancestor simulations (and other simulations, often simulated in former stars turned into giant ultra-quantum-computers), tested for their convergence towards the Universal Value System (under non-degenerate conditions). Maybe the Array could be the entity that creates all these simulations, but that wouldn’t fit, as involvement in these simulations would decrease their use as probes for the convergence of value systems towards the Universal Value System.

    The Houses don’t map on anything here. They aren’t value factions, since value factions are defined by superintelligences and we are still humans. If anything within my own future mythology the Houses map onto what I call “collective intelligence networks” (or “nets” for short). There’s is no obvious reason why there should be twelve of them. But maybe Zero State as a whole has the potential to become the first true net. Who knows?

    Anyway, I don’t think my timeline is very realistic. In a sense, it’s informed by a recent surge of pessimism in the rate of real progress. A more realistic or optimistic setting would probably see the transition from system 4 to 5 and then 6 compressed rather severely. We don’t really worry about that too much now. Reaching system 4 is our most pressing current task.

    Thought 8: It is an almost always underestimated factor that humans are social beings
    Most of human behavior that seems irrational can be explained by the necessity of humans to band together to groups. Humans need to submit to certain kinds of collective insanity just in order to survive and fulfill their basic needs.

    Thought 9: Can’t we just copy Elon Musk? After all he’s getting amazing stuff done!
    Like seriously, we need to copy the model of Elon Musk as often as possible: Take crazy talented people and let them try to get rich by founding tech companies. Once they become rich, they are supposed to put their riches into even more ambitious, futuristic, transformative, and transhumanist companies. Why aren’t more people doing that?

    Thought 10: Synergy doesn’t work between organisations that aren’t really successful on their own
    Organisations without serious resources must invest their resources into building themselves us in their first place. Any resources invested into vague synergy projects with other organisation are resources which are taken from the already insufficient resources for existential maintenance without providing any substantial return.

    Thought 11: Sustainability of effort is of existential necessity for any kind of success
    This means that turning an organisation into a greatly successful organisation is even harder than suggested by my previous points. In particular, alignment of values, goals, strategies, working principles, resources, and culture need to be sustainable. Also, personal resources need to be sustainable. Too many other commitments, or fragile health can greatly impair the probability of success. In other words: We have almost no chance of success. How do we fix that?

    Thought 12: In all places above “organisations” can also be replaced with “entities”
    Where this doesn’t seem to apply the reason for that is that entities have evolved towards interdependence.

    Yours futuristically,
    Michael “Radivis” Hrenka AKA Horse – Switch accounts – Desktop

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