Yeah, it is, it is, just had lunch. [laughs] Where do you want to start? Or where do I want to start is probably the question. I think I sent you a document about the catalyst. There’s been many catalysts.
Given where we are, given the huge issues we face, a lot of the decision-making seems to be, not just here, but all over the world, it’s firefighting. It occurred to me that when we make a decision, if we looked at the causes of the issue that we are trying to treat, the first one is, actually ask that question. What are we trying to solve?
Quite often, that doesn’t get asked. If we stated the issue, rather than just come up with a solution out of a vacuum, we might understand better why our solution is tackling that issue. If we stated that issue, it then might be possible to say, "Well, actually, is there any other way of dealing with this issue?"
We’ve got one in the UK at the moment where we’ve got a housing crisis. This is probably a good example. The solution is to build more houses, which sounds obvious, until you start looking at the real reasons why we’ve got the housing crisis.
Actually, it’s because houses are more expensive. People aren’t able to afford the houses. Then the question comes, "Well, why are they more expensive?" and so on, and so forth. It occurred to me that if we actually recorded, and publicly recorded, the issues we’re actually trying to address...
Because what happens when it comes down to my locality, the experience we have, we just get a new housing development? The only thing we can really do is object -- we’ve got no choice to do anything else -- or accept.
Challenge, yeah, to come up with an alternative to the UN. Lots of questions come up there. You’re not going to create an alternative, again, out of nothing. I was referring back to the Sunflower movement.
The sensible thing to me is, it seems to be, to create another platform where you could actually discuss the same issues, or similar issues. The problem, of course, then becomes is that, generally...I don’t know about Taiwan. I think you’re probably more engaged.
In the UK, the general population are very disengaged with politics, because it’s just one of those things that happens. We just put up with it. That’s possibly an issue. When you’ve got a local problem like we have with these...
To put it in context, I live in a village with about 850 houses. It’s evolved over the years. We don’t have roads. We have lanes. They’re the width of a good tractor. One modern tractor completely fills the lane. We’ve got 850 houses connected with these lanes.
There’s a few, you could arguably say, two-lane, but most of them are one-lane, because they’ve got cars parked along them. There’s a restriction there with the infrastructure. We are currently fighting 250 houses extra.
It’s not going to work, but we’ve got no alternative. We’ve got no way to debate an alternative. When you discuss it with local people, they say, "Well, what can we do?" I say, "Well, at least, we could just plan what we want and present it. At least we’ve got a starting point," but we don’t even have that.
There’s a gap, to my mind. A gap in our deliberative processes, not just for the way we deliberate, but in the places and how we deliberate. The Sunflower movement was a great example of how it might be done differently.
I set up a group to have a look at this challenge, using the Sunflower model as a mirroring, and then we needed a decision making process. How are we going to make decisions? That’s where I came up with this. Let’s try and hook it in with the system. Are you familiar with systems theory?
If we hooked into it systems theory, we could then get a bigger picture and say, "Well, actually, what are we doing first, and why are we doing it?" Then when you’ve come up with a proposal, we can actually examine that proposal and say, "Well, what are the effects of that proposal? What are the knock-on effects, the unseen side effects?"
If we record them, then we can debate them at a later stage. We could actually invite experts in, because we’re going to find places where we don’t have knowledge most of the time. [laughs] We could then have this deliberation, get as far as we can, and then say, "We need experts. We need to understand the data. We need to find the truth."
What tends to happen in these -- we’ve had a few meetings recently -- they get very heated. People come up with their version of why. It’s blame it on the capitalists, the immigrants, the lazy folk, whatever. [laughs]
Let’s look at the truth. What are the figures? What are the figures of immigration and emigration? What are the figures for capitalism? Let’s look at the numbers. Within our community, we probably don’t have the expertise, but we can call on the expertise.
What came out of that was then if we had a deliberating process, say in our village, we recorded it, and we recorded it in a structure that identified the systems that we’re connecting to, any other community, if they came up with a similar issue, could say as soon as they punch in Lapland, building, housing shortage, our deliberation can also come up.
They can see what we’ve done. That could knock on, knock on, knock on, and knock on. I think that’s the core of what I’m trying. We don’t have the software. I’ve been playing with the schema. I’ve got a background in linguistics and database stuff, so that’s happy territory for me.
Again, you come up with, how far do you normalize, and for efficiency, how far do you normalize the data, or how vague do you make it so that it still works? There’s a place to sort out what’s efficient and what’s not efficient.
I’m not quite sure how the system you have the parallel mirror, quite how that works, and whether there’s any prompts for where you’re out of your depth, do you ask somebody else, and how you work with all that, or how you’re structured at all.
It’s almost entirely dependent on the size of the group, how well the group knows each other, and how far physically are the group members from each other, how their life experiences overlap. Those three factors can almost determine the tool that we use to facilitate the process.
For tightly-knit groups, like 100 people or less, who already know each other, digital tools are just for archival. It’s just for recording, as we said, for like-minded groups, or for followup discussions. What’s really key at that scale is professional facilitation.
It is a facilitator that can get people into the right emotion, which is after everybody share their life experience, their story, their narrative’s told, get into the sense of, "OK, so, we have very different life experiences, but are there some common values?"
This facilitation, we found, was the key to small group who already share some life experience. My main work is on how to create empathy among groups who share no life experience at all, who have no personal connection, to speak of, to each other.
Using language of experts of different domains to put them on a shared mind map, so that everybody can understand the issue at hand, but using the vocabulary and structure that they are comfortable with. It is a little bit like simultaneous interpretation, but not between languages, but rather between worldviews.
That’s the main work. For 100 people or less, who already know each other and share the same language, like British English, that’s overkill, to be frank. Normally, a weekly or biweekly gathering, on ongoing relationship, plenty of food, [laughs] which people can bring by themselves, a good recording or capturing device, is all you need.
The capturing device could be, Discourse is pretty popular. For very tight-knit groups, Loomio is even better. There are already ready-made tools for exactly this purpose, for capturing structured data and the context.
Until you scale up. Then it gets more diverse, or until there’s vested interests, which is an issue. Going back to my example here, the people that turn up in the meeting are generally the articulate, the confident, the comfortable. Arguably, the wealthy.
The last one’s not so true. The demographic is definitely not representative of the community. That’s the bottom line. My concern, really, is how we get a representative quorum that matches the demographic. That’s the hard part.
The second half is to get the people who share the demographic who did not get chosen for the sortition, or invited to the quorum, to somehow accept the result as something that they are willing to get along with, that they are OK to live with.
No decisions are better without this. Anyone who can claim to be a stakeholder, but did not get discovered, or was not drawn in the sortition, or someone who shares their background did get drawn into the sortition, but they don’t have the rhetorics and oratory skills, and so they lost the argument, and so on.
All those different conditions may arise that makes the statistical representation void. Now, of course, if you compare it to the representative democratic system, arguably, you can say, "Well, but that’s still useful input to the MPs."
To that degree, everybody would agree, like this is useful input. This is useful agenda-setting. This determines what may be overlooked by the MPs and their crew, or the city council and the crew. To this point, everybody will agree.
If you try to replace even part of the policymaking or budget-making power of the existing representative system, then just statistical representation, or statistical representativeness, is not enough, because it does not factor in, as I said, the capability of propagation back to the community, as well as the still unequal rhetoric skill of the people who did get chosen for the quorum.
We kind of went with a hybrid model, where we’d get stakeholders, experts, so-called representatives from communities deliberating in one room of maybe 30 people, and have a town hall where hundreds, thousands of people can watch the live stream of the experts doing the deliberation.
I’m personally in the town hall part, so they can come to me and make their point, or make their voice heard on a pretty good platform called Slido, S-L-I-D-O, designed for this kind of real-time crowdsourced agenda. The smaller room, which is being broadcasted to the larger room, gets to focus on the discussion at hand uninterrupted.
My role is like an ESPN anchor or something, who explains what happens in the smaller room live stream to the larger room, to the larger town hall people, so that they know in their layperson’s language what’s at play for each play, each move that the experts make in the smaller room.
In the experts room, we don’t mean academic experts only. We mean people with live experience, that are generally honored, recognized, and so on. People in the town hall can see that their group of person performing in real time, and informing their discussion through asynchronous and online participation.
That’s one of the ways that we try to maintain both the scale and the quality of the discussion. Still, with this arrangement, it accommodates maybe to 1,000 people. Scaling beyond that, we don’t have a very good experience.
Scaling beyond 1,000 people, we resort back to AI-powered conversations, which is crowdsourced, but it’s almost text only. There is very little supporting material. We can only do the problem discovery part, and check each other’s feelings in design thinking terms.
That’s just first quarter, or a little bit over first quarter, of the first diamond, but everything else, the how may we questions and so on, we still have to do it face-to-face. There is some active research going on in virtual reality and so on, but I would say they are not mature for this purpose for at least another two or three years.
The other problem is that quite often, you’ll...Any technical solution cuts people out, because they don’t have the Internet. There’s still quite a few. I don’t know what the percentage is, but it’s measurable.
Certainly, you could bring the Internet to them, though. You just organize an offline meeting, and then make sure that it’s well-captured, like we did in your island. We capture everything in 360 video, but we had to post-process it and upload it afterwards.
Taiwan has a very recent history with democracy. We only had democracy for 30 years. I still remember the martial law. For us, democracy is a very new thing, as is the World Wide Web. Because of this, it’s somewhat easier.
People find that there is so much room to experiment with, they don’t think democracy as just some other process, because this is a very new thing to us. In the UK, far as I understand, because I’m traveling, as I mentioned, to Edinburgh later this week, they share this model of the so-called Highland and Island Development Agency.
Which there’s a lot of grassroot organizing, but they still use the social technology to empower the local decision-making, by essentially putting more and more of the building in the commons, and have the decision-making power vested especially to the younger generation.
Also, to people who are invested their life, their career, to the development, the betterment of this region in general, but just not to them personally. I think it’s been quite well-known in the international social enterprise community as a worked model, but I don’t know how well-versed you are in this community organization effort.
I’m familiar with it. I know of it, I’ll put it like that. In some ways, the highlands are -- probably because of their situation, and the necessity -- they’ve needed to get their communications. They’re very spread out, and it’s actually difficult to get to be.
They’ve had to facilitate it, in some ways. In many ways, they’ve leapfrogged the rest of the UK, England and Wales. Wales is actually, there’s some interesting things going on in Wales for much the same reason.
It’s been marginalized, and it’s difficult to get from your neighbor to neighbor. They’re not all next door. They’re not walking distance. They’ve had to leverage technology to actually get things done. The knock-on effect of that is, actually, they’ve got, I think, a more connected, more engaged community with decision-making.
Whereas in the bulk of the UK, we just go, "Yeah, it’s going to happen. OK, fine. Let me get on with the rest of my life." People are disengaged. Worse than that, probably because the only thing that they know how to do is object.
We tend to do that all the time. That’s our modus operandi. The unfortunate side effect, and going back to the situation here, is that the local council we have -- the parish council, which is the very local council, and then we have the district council, which is the next up -- they’re both seen as the enemy. [laughs]
Then I think the most practical way is just to find a friendly or at least attentive person with facilitation training or with social work training -- that often helps -- and so on, in the local city bureaucracy.
If the council is not helping, often the career public servants are sympathizing with it. They’re largely anonymous, so they probably would not come out and just say, "I think there should be more local engagement."
Surely, there must be someone in a correct position to start piloting a dialogue to break the ice, so to speak. You can import facilitators from anywhere, [laughs] even from the Highlands and Islands, but it really needs buy-in, at least from a career public servant in the city to start even turning the wheels, so to speak.
If the council, as you mentioned, is generally seen as the enemy, at least some people will still trust folks and people working in the statistics department, people working in the planning department, and things like that, because they are career public servants.
I’m guessing on problems, looking ahead, I’m not looking for problems. I don’t know, it’d be an interesting one to, because I can think of a couple of names. It’d be interesting to try, because they might feel there are conflicting interests, conflicting interest. I’m not sure. That’s a good one to look at.
That’s a good point. I’ll be interested to hear what are your thoughts about the systems side of it. I see that as quite important as a way to explaining the bigger picture to people. We are faced with some huge issues that most people I talk to go, "Well, what can we do about it?" [laughs]
I think the only way we’re going to do anything about all these pollution, climate change -- the list is big -- biodiversity, and they’re all connected. They seem to be so big that we can’t do anything about them.
It’s left to governments to make agreements. We’ve seen what happens when someone like America, for example, pulls out and stops. I’m thinking, if we had a system like the one you’ve got, and was scalable...I think there’s the issue where you’re saying about the scalable, and how do you scale with...
The only way I can see you can actually scale is to have some form of representation, someone on the line. At some level, you’re going to need, because you can’t just have everybody connected, saying. "We should do this," and, "We should do that."
There is some way of scaling where we can actually engage the public to understand the issues, and then get buy-in for the solutions. That’s the hardest part. I think we’ve got more buy-in, for example, now with plastic. People understand.
That’s due a television program. People understand it. Now, the tide is shifting a bit, where people are looking at things encased in plastic and saying, "Well, actually, I’d rather buy that without the plastic." It is happening. Whether it’s happening at the right, sufficient speed, I’m not sure.
I think there’s three kinds of scaling I would like to mention. There is, of course, horizontal scaling, scaling out. You’re correct in saying that there needs to be some kind of model, if not representation outright, at least some delegates, like small world network, to maintain when you scale out.
There’s also scaling up, which is a single message reinforced, and more and more people, like in a traditional social movement. For that, you don’t need that much representation. You need an actionable, connected, extensible message. That’s all you need to scale up.
Of course, it’s narrow. It’s not all the sustainable development goes here. It would be just one, and a very simple one at that, like the ice bucket challenge, or #MeToo, or whatever. It’s pretty good at scaling up.
There’s the third dimension, which I often mention as scaling deeply, meaning that in places where the cross-sectoral relationship is absent or toxic, one can scale deeply, meaning get fellows from each sector related to that problem to be in issues of the other stakeholders at play by just shipping people around, having fellowship, building rapport, sharing food, and so on.
That scales in a deep way, meaning if you have a, for example, university that embarks on a social responsibility program that have their students solve social problems as part of the course, then it actually determines how those students view the world down the line, maybe for the next 30 years or so.
Right. I’m 37 now, so I’m hopelessly optimistic. I don’t think anything will change that as part of my core personality. What I’m saying is that that’s because I joined the World Wide Web and the open source development in its formative days.
That ethic, I carry with me no matter where I go. That’s what I mean by scaling deeply. I think education is a large part of it. It’s not education systems or institutes, per se, but just getting kids in the habit of doing meaningful environmental and social work, and identifying with the purpose, but not the instrument, the skill, or the tools.
That goes back to the education thing, which again, takes times, doesn’t it? Part of my thinking with the process of designing is that, if you collect a lot of people, say, "We’ve got an issue," say, with housing. Take this example, because it’s a real example.
You actually then say, "OK, what are the causes of this?" It gets people thinking. It’s a critical thinking, but at a very basic level. Once that’s started, and then you say, "OK, well that’s..." It doesn’t matter whether it is the cause, so much, but if you think it’s the cause, then we can discuss it.
They’ve both got their different advantages, but World Café’s quite useful in that it can help people who don’t feel comfortable in large groups to actually participate. They get little discussions going there.
Once you start looking at the cause, then you can say, "OK, what’s the cause of that?" This is the Socratic question. Until you could ask them, or say, "When we’re doing this discovery, until you can get back to nature says it’s so, then you can find a cause that we can do something about, perhaps, depending on the circumstances."
That opens up a lot of thinking. Well, actually, what we’ve got now is not necessarily a given, so what could we do to make it better? Whether we can or not is not so much important, but it’s the education and the understanding.
Likewise, say, when somebody comes up with a proposal, you could say, "Well, what are the knock-on effects of this proposal, and what’s actually going to happen, the cost, consumption, materials, and the societal harm, necessarily?" and so on, and so forth.
To me, again, I don’t know. I’ve never really tried it yet that’s worked, but I have tried it, and it’s not worked. That’s, in my defense, I tried it as a protest group. When you’ve got a protest group, that’s all they want to do, is protest. They don’t want to hear the other side.
I think if you can get it neutral and say, "OK, we’ve got this issue. Let’s just get all the people and talk about it." Once you start looking at the knock-on effects of the proposals, you can see, because we don’t have much for maneuver now, whatever we decide to do.
I was looking at a thing today about Greece. They’ve got a smart city. They were doing all sorts of things, and they all sound good. I’m thinking about, well, actually, some of that doesn’t sound too good. It sounds like a good idea, and good fun, but where’s the power going to come from?
Where are the people going to come from? Where’s the employment going to come from, because that’s a big issue. There’s all these knock-on effects. If you get automated vehicles, effectively, you’ve done people out of a job.
In my office in Taipei is called Social Innovation Lab. We have autonomous vehicles on trial. It’s an experiment. They are tricycles. They are just slowish tricycles. I live just close to this Jianguo Flower Market.
They solve a very real social problem, which is elderly people strolling along the central park of Taipei, the Daan Forest Park, going to flower market, bought a lot of flowers, pots, and things they’re like, and they’re heavy.
They don’t want to rent a taxi, because it’s just 15 minutes walk’s away. They want to keep shopping. They don’t want to be dragged down. There is just so much they can do with the autonomy, without enlisting their grandchildren or something.
Having a tricycle that just accompany them, and you can just put stuff on it -- and at the end of it, you can just hop on it, and drive yourself home -- is actually very helpful. I don’t think it made anyone lose any jobs. I think it is a purely socially beneficial device.
I think it’s worth asking the question. I don’t want to go necessarily on the specifics. On that particular one, you actually said they don’t want to ask their friends and family. There’s a connection. They’ve lost a reason to make that connection. That could have a knock-on effect.
If they ask their family, but their family, it is just to help picking and carrying stuff, then they can’t do as much real conversation as they would do, if they have invited a normal accompany trip. They’re taking the trivial part out of the connection.
I don’t think the grandchildren or teenagers or very happy if they are just reduced to a carrier or something. That’s what I mean by equalizing the relationship between humans by automating part of the work that is not seen as a desirable job, but as a kind of filial piety.
I know this concept doesn’t quite mean as much in the UK, but something, an obligation to your family. It makes the family dynamic more dynamic, is all what I’m saying. I don’t think it really deprives any social connection.
Again, we’re just on field trial here. What I’m going on is, because this open source technology, and the local students loves to modify the build. It’s slow enough, it collects useful data, open data, but it doesn’t hurt anyone, even if it runs into something. It has the right to road as any pedestrian.
We are basically saying these kind of autonomous vehicles are the key to deepen the understanding between AI and collective intelligence. Instead of seeing something that pulls them apart, it ties them together. It may not be the perfect example, but it’s the one that springs to my mind.
Yeah. Given what we’ve talked about, apart from the human side, where I can find the right people to...Facilitate isn’t so much a problem, because it’s open space technologies. There’s enough people who understand that stuff, probably, to be able to get somebody to facilitate. That’s less of an issue.
Engaging with the authorities on that, I’d have to give that some thought. The deep thing is, or the long term thing is, if I am going to use this structure with issues, causes and effects, proposals, and effects, ratings, is how...
You mentioned Loomio. It has some of that, but it doesn’t have that structure. It’s getting the software to, what software would be available to...The only thing I can think is to build some, build it from scratch again.
We’re working on some early prototypes. The one we actually use day-to-day is called real-time board. Real-time board is just Post-It Notes online, collaboratively. It all depends on how you organize those Post-It Notes.
That takes skill. We use, actually, the PolicyLab UK policymaking toolkit, and their way of using the Post-It Notes. At least that’s something that your government invented, and therefore should understand.
I think the Policy Lab people, the policy toolkit the lab developed is worth looking into, if just for the shared vocabulary. As career public servants, they are required to know this stuff. That’s Policy Lab UK.
We are developing ourselves -- as you said, in-house -- quite a few software to automate the process of just putting Post-It Notes of the right color on the right points to connect cause and effect, stakeholders, and so on.
There’s currently two efforts in Taiwan, but they are both, I think, being developed in the early stages. One is called sense.tw, which just making sense of something, sense.tw. It’s trying to basically link...
I don’t know whether you know the idea of web annotations, which is a web standard that you take a PDF file, a local development planning picture, a website, whatever, and start highlighting and annotating any part of it, without the support from the site administrator. It’s an overlay. What it tries to do...
Sense.tw is trying to turn that overlay and mark it with the cause and effect lines, as you said, and make a mind map out of it, so you can have a bird’s-eye view. You can also zoom into the actual sources, where there is evidences, facts, or whatever are being presented. That’s sense.tw’s project structure.
That sounds interesting. Again, the thing I think is the first thing that comes to mind there is that, effectively, back to the curated library thing, which is great if you’ve got lots of curators. What I’m aiming for is that the process is self-curating.
The other thing is Wikum, W-I-K-U-M, Wikum. It’s like Wiki and a forum, so it calls itself Wikum. What it does is that you take an unstructured conversation -- as you said, Loomio, Discourse, Reddit, you name it -- but then it recursively enables people who participate to build mind maps that summarize fragments of discussions, until you have a bird’s-eye picture.
Unlike sense.tw, it doesn’t come from library or citational sources, but it comes from a live dialogue that takes place in a threaded discussion. The author is now working on porting the same technology to Slack, which is kind of different, because it’s real-time. It’s far more back and forth than a forum, which it tends to be self-containing.
If they solve it for Slack, then it also solves for capture or transcript of face-to-face, open space technology. It’s like Slack, if you type it down. Wikum, I think it’s also something you can look into.
I’m old school. I’m XML Schema, that sort of technology, where it’s predefined, which has its issues, obviously. At some point, you have to define your categories, somewhere along the line. Eventually, you’ve got to give them field names somehow.
That’s the conundrum, whether you start with field names, or whether you have it general concept fields, as opposed to specific field names. I’ve gone for the specific field names in a general sense. The specific field name would be issue.
The other thing I hope, if I pursue this -- which is another question altogether -- is that you could have a place for somebody who comes up with a solution for an issue, and says, "Well, I’d like to store this, and enter it into a database, so that people can actually use it, and benefit from it."
They could do that, too, but it would ask them what issue, and what part of what cycle it’s trying to address, so that it could actually act as a potentially global repository. I could talk to you about it for hours.
Another aspect of it is that, going on like the domain name registrars’ model, you could have multiple registrars of this data who could do their own manipulation, if they wanted to, and examine it in their own way.
Again, you and I are talking from a place of a democracy. There are places where they don’t have democracy, and it’s not so easy to do what we’re talking about. The model I think would work in places of slightly more strife, because it enables communities to do it in a protected way, so they don’t have to connect to some central service, or they can actually run it from their smartphones.
I have a bunch of friends who’s working on it. They call themselves the Secure Scuttlebutt Consortium. They’re in New Zealand, and they are doing something that’s...I’ve pasted you the link, but the idea, very simply put -- and I think Mozilla has some support of it now -- it is exactly as you said, a distributed, secure, offline-capable, LAN-enabled, peer-to-peer social network.
They have built a lot of infrastructure so that you can do Git development on it. If you can do Git development on it, then you can do everything, really, because then everything else on top of it is just an overlay. If you want to build an application, this could save you some time, is what I’m saying.
It certainly would. Again, my thinking is that they could output their meeting data is an XML file, validated against a schema, stick it anywhere on any public space. Then the bots, when they arrive, and when some people build them, can search for these XML slugs, incorporate them, and they’ve got the data.
The schema we are using for our deliberation is called Akoma Ntoso, which is a proper XML vocabulary for parliamentary, legislative, and judiciary documents. It just so happens that it can work for deliberations as well.
The flagship product of the Akoma Ntoso movement is also a UK product called SayIt. SayIt is a mySociety project. I keep all my meeting records in SayIt. I think that the good thing about it is that, just as you said, if I have a meeting transcript -- say, this one -- I just append .an after it to get the XML representation.
People are not restricted to the visualization. People can do a lot of cross-culture, even, comparisons, like compare between constitutions, compare between judiciary positions, and so on, based on the Akoma Ntoso vocabulary. That’s also a useful foundation to build on.
This is very early, very early days. I’ll give you the second one. This came from a hackathon in Cape Town meeting, which again, it was very linear. It was done in Discourse, actually, but in OSC days.
They used Discourse within that. Of course, you lose stuff. It disappears. That’s styled at XML, so then what you’re viewing it on, you’ll probably see. If you view source and see, it’s got XML behind.
I’ve got a document I can, which I’ve been playing with, which probably explains a bit more. It’s very interesting talking to you, because this is the first time I’ve talked to people who seem to understand the bigger picture of what’s going on.
In many ways, I had a useful grounding, because I started with PostScript, trying to do stuff on printers. I don’t whether you’ve come across PostScript. PostScript is actually where PDFs came from. PDF is just an encapsulated version of PostScript. This is before the Web.
We’re digressing slightly, but there was a very interesting chap called Richard Feynman you’ve probably heard of. He fought for a while to keep one of the old computers going that was analog. He had an analog weather computer.
For a long time, it was much better, because it was stepless, because it was analog. I think there’s something there that I think we might have missed. I think there’s something useful there about that, because digital, there’s always steps somewhere.
Its user interface is, like, 80 percent the same, similar, as the document as you just sent me. It shows through green lines, reinforcing cause and effect, through red lines, a negative externality, and the speed corresponds to how fast it’s affecting other externalities.
It has a very detailed policy model of the populations affected by policies. You can also add on some downloadable packs, such as Social Engineering, Clones and Drones, Electioneering, or Africa. I found this as an extremely good education tool.
So much so that I made a mod for Taiwan, using our National Development Council’s data, just so that I can explain policies. I think this is a good way, if not accurate for actual policymaking, to get everybody on the mindset of systems thinking.
That’s very important. The thing I haven’t mentioned, which, actually, I’m not sure it is entirely relevant...Tell me when you’ve got to go, because I can talk to you for another couple of days, I think. When I started looking at this thinking, well...
I like to go back not quite to assembler, but somewhere close, looking at something I’d like to -- there’s a link now. Grab the Google link -- understand the causation, as I said. When you go back, you go back, and you go back, let’s look at our history.
Most people go back to the Napoleonic. They might go back to the Middle Ages. They might go back to the Dark Ages. Actually, to see where the inflection, the inflection point is 10,000 years ago. There’s an awful lot of interest, I think. I don’t know whether it’ll be of interest to you.
There’s an awful lot of changes -- and there’s a couple of books. I can give you some books as well -- that illustrate what happens. It’s a mindset thing. We have this duality of nurturing empathy, and as you were saying, about getting people on board in that frame of meeting helps in a meeting.
Otherwise, they’re competing for their square, their circle, their space, or their whatever. They don’t know they’re doing it. People don’t know they’re doing it. They don’t know they’re in a war footing or a loving footing. Those are these two footings.
There’s lots of arguments about why we went from hunter-gatherer to agrarian. The jury’s still out on that. What happened was that suddenly, things had value and worth, whereas they weren’t exactly worthless before, but they weren’t ascribed a value, you could then park it and say, "It’s worth that much."
"My this year’s harvest, I know how long it’s taken me, how much it hurt, how the work, effort, and so on. In my head, it’s worth..." I’ve got the figure, and I can see what the equivalent is, and it’s mine, which is a very different mindset to, you were talking about the meetings where people bring food.
If somebody goes to a table, gets a plate, and piles it so that he can’t get anything more on the plate, he’ll get looks from other people. If he started filling his pockets as well, somebody would say something.
Whereas when it’s converted to money and a token, it’s then not connected with any emotional, somehow it seems OK to collect it, hoard it, and gather more. It’s a very different mindset. There’s some really interesting understandings, I think, from the Bushmen.
There’s a lovely story, another one. This is my favorite subject at the moment, so do tell me when I’m boring you. Otherwise, I’ll just carry on. There’s a lovely story of, say, East meets West. It’s not East meets West, but it’s that sort of thing, where an anthropologist fell foul of the innate rules that he didn’t understand.
Extract for this, yeah. [quiet muttering] This is an extract from a book by an earlier anthropologist, where he falls foul of the unwritten rules. It’s a lovely story. He should have known, really, but he didn’t.
This is part of his anthropology. He should have really understood what he was doing, but didn’t. They had to explain to him in simple worlds. They have this thing, they call it cursing the meat. It’s a way of, as the previous writer James Suzman, calls it, "fiercely egalitarian."
There’s many parallels in that, like recently, Taiwan has a trade agreement with New Zealand, but within their trade agreement, there’s a parallel chapter between the Maori people and the indigenous people here.
All of the Austronesian and Polynesian culture, they came out from Taiwan. Taiwan is like the originating place for them, for the language and the cultures. In Taiwan, we have more than a dozen nations of indigenous people, some still pretty much around.
They have a separate diplomatic track with the Maori people. Recently, just a bunch of Maori people came to visit their heritage, their ancestry. I think part of the lure of this is that a lot of the culture you just described, those fiercely egalitarian culture, in some nations, it’s matriarchal.
All this is without the help of "sustainable development goals" or "social enterprise," because that’s part of their national identity. A lot of what we do here in Taiwan is just to honor the nations as they are.
Also, unlearn what we do from a Han ethnic, very much currency, financial, trade-oriented culture, to the ways of living of the still very much living indigenous people. I think that is also one of the very useful ways to think about it.
Still do. Many of them are still reinvigorating. When I came to New Zealand, I visited three times in the past two years. Many different places, they are just revitalizing this, because they realize that may be the shortcut.
Their constitution is the treaty. They have to honor, for example, the Maori people consider a river have a personhood. They actually give that river legal personhood, so they can take place in board meetings and things like that.
I think all this helps us to anthropomorphize the negative externalities, so that we can all see that we’re harming the river, which is not a river god, like some Shinto belief. It helps to think in Shinto beliefs, and in Maori, and in indigenous cultures.
I’ll throw in a curveball into that lot. When you look at the early migrations, actually, the ones where the Maoris came out of, that branch, and the later Native American branch, they actually caused a human amount of damage.
Not so much that. I think it’s because the tribes, if you look at the megafauna loss in Africa, it’s far less than anywhere else. What happened, the megafauna and the humans evolved together. The megafauna in Africa were aware of how dangerous humans were, and they avoided them.
Whereas when the then-humans landed in Asia and in America broadly -- Asia and America, those two migrations -- they found fauna that just didn’t understand what humans were. They just stood there, and bang, gone.
The Bushmen, the Kalahari, and that Central Africa stuff, that had taken hundreds of thousands of years to evolve to a stage where they were in harmony, in effect. There was no such thing as an externality. [audio drops out] from this, because if you didn’t, you died.
There’s a lot of interesting, I think, a lot of very interesting lessons. Actually, probably deeper, there’s probably interesting lessons to look at the different indigenous communities, to see how in balance they are, compared to the Kalahari.
It came out of the Zulu language, yeah. There’s Ubuntu social movement now, as well, which is reusing it. The word ubuntu, I’ve seen it used by social groups that weren’t even aware of the operating system.
They’ve taken it straight from the Zulu and appropriated it again, without realizing it’s already being used. That’s a funny one. I actually helped somebody build a website, and I said, "You do realize Ubuntu has other meanings to a lot of other people?" "No."
It’s like with Salesforce tried to trademark "social enterprise", without being aware that it has a meaning in the UK. Then, of course, they graciously gave it back, because, well, there’s just no way they are going to win on search engines.
That’s fine, that’s fine. It’s been good to talk, good to talk. Ask any questions you want down the line. I’m still thinking that this has a place. We could survive without it in the UK. You could survive without it.
I’m sure it does. First, you are not alone doing this. [laughs] There is many different groups of people doing this. The good thing about open innovation is that it doesn’t have to scale. In open source, 99 percent of projects, they just push on GitHub, and then disappeared, and people just pick up and run with it.