Preface - or, Why I am Doing This
The best human dreams and goals reflect life’s striving towards itself.
The best outcomes for humans will require the uplifting of the life potential of all beings in the web encompassing us.
The most well-adapted methods for living beings to achieve their dreams are modeled after nature’s best practices—after the emergent patterns and strategies derived from millions of years of evolution.
Self-actualization of beings is an eternal, unified, and nesting structure. One is never complete: the field only ever grows, and everything only “fits” more and more elegantly together.
As these brief statements should illuminate, doing better for ourselves—optimizing our human situation—can be actually quite simple, and reflexive (just look deeply at Life’s patterns).
We are so much wiser than we think we are; we forget our true natures.
By coming together in generative, cooperative communion, we will progressively remember, reclaim, and remake the world in alignment with our dreams.
To transform the situation, we must align ourselves with one ubiquitous, ongoing life process: one that point towards positive growth and intelligent evolution (instead of devastating decimation and stratification). (And this one process is all around us—just, perhaps, beneath the surface of our awareness. But if I name the pattern, the template, perhaps you will see it. And thus may you begin to work with it.)
Imagine a multi-faceted system—a cooperative organization (economic system), a human-centered digital platform (technological system), a human community woven together by a mutual-care and mutual-growth oriented culture (social system)—unified on alignment with that one core process:
That all sentient beings pursue their self-actualization.
Through the Key Docs, what I hope to present is a statement, or “proof,” of design logic that justifies the creation of a proposed complex system (for shorthand, named “Cosmos”), whose primary output/outcome is enhanced, mutual human self-actualization. A system thoughtfully, coherently designed to result in this outcome for its participant-users.
We propose & advocate for this because we desire it. That reproductive urge in living things, to create, that desire–it sets all possibility and future forms into motion. We urgently and cooperatively need to remake the world in a more beautiful, integrated, wise fashion. By amplifying our inborn drives to create and to fulfill our potential, we hope to foster the conditions for the manifest realization of this latent potential in humanity.
Like in a permaculture system, we are designing from patterns to details. In “Understanding Cosmos,” I lay out a philosophical & logical foundation for all the content to follow. Consider this material the kind of “proof” work underlying the main “claims” behind the complex formula that is further outlined in the following docs. You needn’t review this material unless you’re strongly curious about how we arrived at our universal design principles & the motivations behind the specific proposed interventions.
In starting out with simple statements, what I hope to emphasize is the importance of maintaining awareness that that which may seem complex may actually be simple—just elaborated in copious, careful implementation detail. Like the tesselating, often-fractal patterns constituting Islamic geometric art, the elaboration contains the seed of a single, simple shape. At the heart of what we are doing is one principle: borrowing (with an enthusiastic love of life) from the design elements & model of a living, self-organizing ecosystem, we’ll construct a regenerative, collaborative system designed so that all human beings who interact with it move toward their self-actualization. From this single design aim, to its differentiated structural components, to who/how we serve & the gamification of the platform, to the detailed proposals for platform utilities and services—(again, hopefully) all parts “stack” from pattern to details. Like in an ecosystem: a vast diversity of forms may be apparent, but learn to look closely, and you’ll see an organic consonance in that all beings are shaped by shared material constraints (and all beings—all beings—love their lives and seek procreation).
So let me be clear. This is not just a business (although it should make sense as one). This is not just a community (although it should make sense as one). This is not just a platform (although it should make sense as one). What I am presenting is a design proposal for a deep, self-organizing system, that includes all of the above in a nested manner, as a unified system. I am suggesting a resonant frame in which all parts operate cooperatively, if not harmoniously, toward the singular mission of the entity: the self-actualization (or, fulfillment of creative potential) of all who interact with this system.
I (Caroline Savery, personally) am compelled to write about Cosmos’ model because I am often pondering means for liberating individual humans (and humanity’s) latent cooperative, creative and self-loving potential. It is inherently gratifying and challenging to do so for me; therefore, it ends up being how I choose to spend a lot of my time (even without the incentive of financial compensation to keep my attention on it—clearly, my devotion to out-puzzling this puzzle is a stronger yearning in me).
From my perspective, this work is tied to a kind of “duty of care” that I feel obligated to. I came into this project initially in the role of cooperative business development consultant. Over many hours of conversation with Marco, I become deeply intrigued, even “hooked” on the seed potential in these ideas. I became obsessed with working out whether and how the kind of ecstatic, visionary, holistic aspirations of value-creation, service, and integration that this co-op proposed would, ultimately, “all hang together” in a coherent logic—that it wouldn’t “fall to pieces” per some critical logical gap. In other words: given the radical premise at its heart (that we could construct a regenerative system that amplified the creative lives of all who interact with it), I felt a strong sense of responsibility to ensure to the best of my professional and creative ability that there wouldn’t be any catastrophic gaps in the logic that would preclude realization of the model’s proposed value propositions or innovations. Now that I have reached a point of feeling complete “enough” or confident “enough” in this—that I have done my due diligence–I am releasing these “Key Docs” to the world, secretly hoping you will find some flaws in it. (If you do, I’m stoked to dive back in so we can puzzle it out further, together! And… if you don’t… then, gee, let’s go on and build the thing, yeah?)
Let me say upfront: as someone without any formal background in systems thinking & modeling, it has been quite challenging to present a “story” of how the proposed system would work when most if not all of the systems’ requisite flows are reflexive—that is, self-organizing and mutually interdependent. It’s a “chicken and egg” dilemma: where I do start describing that which is best understood as a whole system? I mention this as an ameliorative to what I expect some readers may find here: confounding reflexiveness in the text, which may feel like certain principles are only ever discussed in the abstract. To this, I can only meekly retort: 1) A proper systems model, complete with systems mappings, is indeed a general model —but one that can be tested, experimented with and iterated on in practical applications. And 2) I’ve done my best to point to practical implications and potential realizations of the proposed systems model here—though I am sure much further work is still needed.
This is my attempt to present one complete, self-coherent, carefully elaborated impression of a Cosmos. What feels “complete” about this work? That the overall narrative “hangs together” and is skeletally interwoven in a sufficiently self-coherent, integral structure, thus having structure enough to have basic strenght/resilience—-this is what matters to me. As a kind of systems architect, I’ll hand over this blueprint, this basic skeletal frame, with (to the best of my calculations) enough structural integrity, but from there, it will take a community moved by mutual desire to flesh out the structure. Working together to test, augment, and build a structure like this, we collectively breathe life into this majestic inverse-Frankenstein, bringing it to life through infusing our attention, effort and love into it. (Inverse-Frankenstein: instead of a monster, we are creating a brainchild, a lovechild, a marvel, a jointly-made masterpiece.)
Like a barnraising, there is no way I can raise it up or “make it live” without co-creators, co-conspirators. Like an architect, however, perhaps I’ve seen it as my job to construct a blueprint, etching out the shape of the barn upon the open space of the field in the mind’s eye, based on known and reliable patterns and methods. As a skilled worker (architect), I offer this outline (if hazy) to the community to 1) lend some confidence/stir up some excitement for what we are attempting and where we might be headed, and 2) catalyze feedback. It is just one step in a shared process, but an important hurdle to cross. (Even in ancient human times, we had to first learn to model & storytell before we could share cultural knowledge enough to develop cultural innovations. This is an attempt at the modeling work that could point to something that does not yet exist, but may .)
Though weighted by my own intensive experiences of conversation and contemplation that imbue in these words, this is but one impression—one “view” or angle on what Cosmos is. From my immersed vantage point, I might claim to see one massive yet self-coherent outline of an exhilirating potential future system… But, what potential do you see? What potential does she see? What do they see? Mindfully combining our perceptions, we move closer to the reality—or, perhaps more importantly, to the aspiration . Which potential do we see, that we choose to act to bring forth into manifestation? Which dream may we come together around, may we combine forces on, to bring through reality in a future state, via a “heroic journey” of time, effort, coordination, and focused attention.
I don’t really wish to “tame” the beast by understanding it. I don’t seek to control outcomes by trying to see and grasp every single detail so it can be better submit to my command. I want to articulate the architecture and the interconnections in a potential (or real, but as yet unmanifest) model as a kind of love-making , of intimacy , of knowing this exhilirating future-creature in its full wildness and beauty so it can be reverently worked with. Knowing is power, but it need not be power-over. It can be power-to, and power-from-within, just as in the case of a human being’s deep relational understanding of the ecosystem she inhabits. Being “context conscious,” and seeped in it, indeed, can bring insight into what are appropriate actions to take that would result in regenerative benefit to all in the system. I want to be a contributing, cooperative agent of this being’s evolution, not its master.
In fact, this orientation is a seed of a constraining structure, like a limiting rule in an ecosystem (e.g. an “outer constraint,” such as how many total joules of sunlight actually come in contact with the system), that enables profound original and autopoeitic forms to emerge, and to layer. “Does this act serve this being’s evolution?” can be answered affirmatively or negatively, and is exclusive; moreover, it must be answered intersubjectively, necessitating the very behavior of mutual sense-making in the operational system. A perpetual dialogue and gifting loop, that stays builds local wealth by circulating, stoking creativity and connection.
I envision Cosmos—the meta-system made up of economic, social and technological aspects—like an organism, self-aware and intelligent as a result of the participation of its embedded, brilliant human members in their processes of creative venturing-forth, intensive reflection, and robust feedback processes. It is elaborate because there are many components that must be balanced and careful counterbalances of feedback loops in the design in order for the whole to be viable.
Viable is a key word. If this system indeed aligns with what wants to happen across the entire web of beings, we may finally harness enough power to do holistically well by ourselves. In this model of ever-amplifying intelligence and collective integration, may life finally regain control in the minds, hearts, bodies and life trajectories of its members, i.e. its constituent-humans (and other living beings). In my wildest dreams, a model such as this (or the very promise —the seed of a viable framework contained within it) inspires humans to spontaneously abandon depleting, wasteful patterns on faith and entirely, and, with a great whoop of celebration and a tremoring ecstatic dancing of the body, run heedlessly, love-crazy towards the best way to be on this earth: together, creative, and reaching ever-greater heights of living potential.
I’d love to produce a viable baby version of Cosmos with you, and join with you in defining what the next stage of a mature Cosmos looks like. Let’s bring in systems specialists to help us model the feedback loops in the system, run simulations, and generate suggestions for improvements. Let’s discuss this. Let’s develop it. If we dream, let’s be it.
Before we head off down that path, though, allow me to say a little more about the potential transformational, systems-changing implications of “bringing to life” Cosmos as an integrated, liberatory meta-system…
In presenting this work, I feel I need to make explicit an implicit premise: that Cosmos is needed in the world because it presents an optimization or improvement over our current system, in terms of human self-actualization, creative freedom & cooperative/pro-social accomplishment. It presents a more dynamic, diverse, creative and resilient use of living energy.
What is the difficulty of attaining a more optimal state? Why has it not been accomplished (sustainably) previously?
The perspective of oneness with all life (aka Gaia) and solidarity is a necessary prerequisite for a sustainable and joyful peace (something adrienne maree brown explores further in their book, Emergent Strategy) .
In parallel with the development of ecological thinking through culture and mind-training, there’s need for the development of systems-thinking. A systems perspective is a way of looking at, modeling, and thus working with whole systems. Cosmos, as proposed, represents an innovation insofar as it acknowledges the interactions and intersections between social/cultural, technological, and economic/business systems in the model, and orients toward whole-systems-bettering outcomes (through a focus on regenerative/amplifying or “virtuous” feedback loops).
Architects of a sustainable revolution must program the systems with which they interact for the outcomes and outputs they desire. As systems “programmers,” we reproduce the shape of our dreams in the medium of reality. Only through a whole-systems perspective can the design & functional innovation achieved by “visionary future-developers” pose a significant threat to stratified, entrenched status-quo patterns.
What I want to emphasize is that I’m not proposing that we only more comprehensively manage democracy —that is a dangerous philosophy of neoliberal capitalists that Slavoj Zizek critiques elsewhere. Rather, Cosmos would indeed be co-created and co-constituted by its parts— vulnerable to its parts, vulnerable to actually collapse, purely on the basis of its members’ actions (or its members’ failures to act when action was called for). Indeed, I imagine that all of, or major parts of, Cosmos will likely collapse, and be reborn, multiple times. You could almost view the process of “leveling up” as a shedding of a skin and emerging wholly new with totally fresh, current objectives. Developing norms and methods for “sandboxing” innovations/spin-offs (i.e. “forking/branching” from the core code), and running computer simulations of likely outcomes to assess the viability of adjustments to various rules and algorithms, will be important to aid in effective decision-making and in attempting to avoid catastrophic failures (in which all the generative momentum and capital circulating “intact” in the system is suddenly lost or horribly broken beyond capacity to repair.)
Cosmos, as proposed, is a model for a generative slip—away from “status quo” operant systems and toward the mutually-generative sovereignty of the living beings currently under its control (see Slips, Shocks and Shifts in Emergent Strategy) . Gradually, humans would gravitate towards this system over others, and in that process, the system would grow in (various forms of) capital—including cultural heft. This actuates a virtuous feedback loop by which Cosmos can “absorb” more and more people into its systems and still be delivering (indeed, amplifying) benefits to its members. This slowly siphons off a crucial “last desperate frontier” (of sources of natural capital) from the catastrophic failure or “death”-effectuating status-quo systems: the natural capital in the form of our attention, our resources, our human intelligence and our human productive energy or labor. However, in a slip (or gradual) model, the status-quo system may not notice the threat posed by the accumulation of this pattern over time—until it is too late.
There’s also a possibility that Cosmos would effect more of a shock to the system (in a scenario in which the system works well-enough, and early enough, that it attracts massive interest and can expand sustainably, rapidly). If it meets needs that many beings have, it may and may it! There is not a moment to waste—may whatever benefits the most beings and their life potential be what manifests, and swiftly.
Regardless, a shift in the direction of alignment with Life is much and broadly needed. May this, at the very least, contribute helpfully to the conversation about what appropriate action we could take next toward better realizing our life potential in our time here, together.
My closing aspiration, in perpetuity:
May any merits accumulating from my actions go to the benefit of all beings.