Cosmos Café: Democracy.Earth White Paper [2/13]

Even though I’m by no means a crypto-insider—though I do believe I understand the concept of a distributed ledger and cryptographic hashing—it is interesting to look at the assumptions underlying the technology. This video makes the case (which is backed up by its own white paper) that blockchain is inherently limited by the (false) assumptions of data independence and universal time. This leads to some very different rules about how value is created on these respective systems. (E.g., Holo implies a mutual credit system, rather than relying on the artificial scarcity of the token.)

Meanwhile, here is essential the same idea as relating to data attribution and personal sovereignty, but applied to the dissemination of creative works.


I find this approach, naively, more interesting than blockchain, although I’m still feeling my way into what these different techniques do. Not so much how they function, although I am beginning to get a sense of that, but perhaps more importantly, what kinds of transaction systems they enable. One of the things that bothers me about blockchain, again naively perhaps, is the idea that the blockchains get longer over time, and so increasingly hard to calculate. I read somewhere that the total cost of generating blockchains in terms of power (electricity) already exceeds the power used by many small to moderately sized nations. Blockchain is a power hog, and over time this is going to become a serious limit to its use. Is Holochain any less a power hog? Perhaps not, but I think within a sustainable value framework, we cannot simply accept these new approaches uncritically.


VERSUS the Holochain energy use:

“2.) Energy consumption. With Holochain there is no energy waste, since “mining” is done through execution of meaningful code. There is no proof-of-work, whichTh basically executing a large amount of non-sense code just to slow down the participants in the network. You earn Holos by serving holo apps, a concept that is called proof-of-service by their inventors.”

…didn’t do much research or fact checking, but there seems to be a significant difference in energy consumption between the two. And yes @Geoffrey_Edwards… definitely needs critical eyes on the various unknowns.


This conversation has really got my mind revving—high beta brainwaves, with a faint but steady undercurrent of delta. The more I think about BitCoin, the more insane the unerderlying solution to the problem of ‘consensus’ seems—i.e., a single, immutable, universal chain of data blocks, validated by ever-increasing, non-productive computation (and thus resource consumption).

I have heard contrary arguments regarding the real electricity usage of the BitCoin blockchain, and how it’s not really all that bad. Regardless, doesn’t something seem fundamentally flawed when so much meaningless work is required to maintain data integrity in a ‘trustless’ enivornment? I can only trust YOU if I can trust the ENTIRE BLOCKCHAIN. That worries me—especially when we consider that only a few SUPER-nodes on the chain actually get to mint new coins, and must be in constant (purely profit-seeking) competition with one another to apply superior computing power. What could go wrong?

I worry about Democracy.Earth building its whole platform on this foundation, and I must say, perhaps naively, too, that on the face of it the Holochain approach makes much more sense to me, since its premise is that I can trust YOU without having to trust all the data ever written to the system. I can trust you because of the integrity of YOUR OWN data chain, and vice versa. The system lets me know that you’re in integrity with yourself. Thus we can establish trust locally rather than relying on absolute consensus, which is an enormous computational task.

There is a profund difference in approach here that seems important, and I wonder how it relates to Democracy.Earth’s plans for “proof of identity.” The whole notion of recording a video of yourself, which your friends or sponsoring organizations need to verify is REALLY YOU for you to receive your drip of votes, strikes me as improbable.

Instaed of presupposing a’ permissionless’ environment of maximum distrust, forcing us to put our faith in the absolute decentralized network (which in a weird way becomes its own kind of mega-central authority, no?), what if we could inherently trust each other as integral agents in trusted local contexts, which can still be linked to the greater network? This, to my novice mind, seems the approach of Holochain.

Would anyone be interested in following up on this talk with another one (maybe 4-6 weeks out, to leave breathing room?) on the Holochain ‘green paper’, or the Holo project in general? I would love to compare and contrast with Democracy.Earth. And I would also like to try to be more explicit about what we ourselves would envision as desirable technology for the selves we are, and the work we care about.

Perhaps we need to more deeply explore what it means to be “networked individuals,” who can exist (co-create, socialize, exchange) in trust-full, decentralized (non-absolute), yet holistic relationships…

And what does (deep) time have to do with it? And money? Should we all be conceived as having equal time, whose value is pegged to the minimum wage on a linear (block on top of block) monophasic construct, which becomes the basis for our participation rights?

What conceptions will allow us to make music, write poetry, walk on the sidewalk again, meet our neighbors’ eyes and smile?


A holo-up sounds like fun. Sign me up.

1 Like

Is the video of this cafe coming out soon? I had hoped to take a meta-perspective on that event, before the next cafe happens. I feel that the slow mind is not nourished and I am rushed between cafes before the themes in the old cafe was fully developed, it is already over. My memory is evaporating.Ugh.

1 Like

Sorry for the delay, John. Busy week! But the video has been uploaded and is processing. It’s posted above now, and should be available for viewing in a few minutes.


I’m watching your video. Very good. I think you basically talked about the main ideas of Tocqueville, William James, Byung Chul Han, Lipovetsky and Sloterdijk.
Every time I come to post something I think, “I have to write at most 10 lines” and now I was going to post the text, it was going to be giant.


A year ago or so I connected with the MiVote folks, who are also connected to the Horizon State folks; both of those groups are working on “civic tech” type interventions. They have both been very successful so far. MiVote seems to be focused on reducing corruption by getting the money out of the system. They have done a lot of work on processes for developing sound policy as well. And Horizon State is working on the blockchain angle.

curious how is the same or different which I have been using for a few years.

1 Like

Thanks Eduardo for noticing meta-patterns, the organization of patterns. We need that kind of sensitivity. Please do more of that.

I picked up on Tocqueville and William James ( I am a vibrating membrane) but dont know well enough the other figures you mention. Although I have read a lot of Sloterjdik I am unaware of his influence. I am sure the group is drawing upon many references from different fields and so it is like a mosaic of references and life experiences that we bring to the topic. The movement between speech and text(s) and public and private is of great interest to me and that is why I like to reflect upon the video when it is posted. There are levels that are understood better when the video comes out that are lost when ‘in the moment’, where the fast mind is usually dominant. I am very interested in the emergence of new/old metaphors and like to collect such data.

Hopefully, the interplay of previous cafe videos could link up with future planning of discourse events and the ‘We space’ gets more self-reflexive. The I that is We. Moving from a first person to a second or third is important and this is neglected in the technocratic kinds of solutions that are most often generated in these kinds of conversations that I find creates a narrow focus. We tend to try to solve the problem at the level of the problem ( Einstein?), ‘we’ like speed and we try to make it go faster. We become enamored of the next gadget, and we forget how important it is to touch with the mind important others. This is deemed ‘magical’ and unimportant. We skate on the hyper speeds of technology, lost in the surfaces, no depths, no sustainability, no wisdom. More trash in the sea than fish is the result.

Some processes, like pregnancy or baking bread or painting a self portrait with water colors, can’t be speeded up. And that is why I invited the group to consider the metaphor of a porch and rocking chairs…slow mind…rocks and trees…good neighbors…being peaceful with what is happening…

I learned how important that value is for me, how to coordinate faster and slower tempo-rhythms in our public discourse. I find this a challenge as we are dominated by speed, innovation, and increased competition for shrinking resources which is unraveling our societies as we suppress slower and relaxed and deeper dimensions of psyche/soma.

My big research question that comes out of my review of this last cafe is, With all of this knowledge of fast and slow rhythms, what happens next?

What is the difference that makes a difference? ( Bateson)

Who are We that We can make a difference that makes a difference?

What comes to me, as I struggle with my meta-questioning, is that We would be Janus faced, we would be able to sense forwards and backwards at the same time.

Other creatures can do this. How else could a caterpillar coordinate a walk across a leaf? What can we superior humans get from observing the small and quiet co-evolving creatures of this planet?


I think I’m understanding your questions. We have a generation “short” and “not short”, Like it and not like it, the world in which everything is decided by a thumb movement. The important thing is that we can pretend to be intelligent by judging quickly and living in an apparent democracy because we can judge. Deciding quickly became synonymous with judging. Deciding everything by plebiscite became synonymous with voting. I think the Black Mirror series of Netflix has sometimes dealt with this issue.


@johnnydavis54 The Korean German philosopher in his main works makes a diagnosis of the contemporaneity saying that we are a sick society. We have symptoms coming from a high positivity and the “neoliberal market” where the man happens to be fruit of the excess of positivity, of performance, of exercises and competition. This is making society sick. No wonder the evil of the twentieth century is anxiety and depression. In contemporary society in all places a competition syndrome is acquired. At work, at leisure, or in mental rigging. This leads to a high positivity that creates a vortex and is internalized in man by altering its functioning. Therefore, the man in this environment is giving way through fatigue, of the excess of performance culminating in a high positivity. For him, we are in the era of “positivity infarctions” caused by stress, which results in the proliferation of things like Hyperactivity Disorder (TDAH), Borderline Personality Disorder (TPL) and Burnout Syndrome (SB). It is these evils that determine the pathological landscape of the early twenty-first century, against which no immunization is possible. Thus, the immunization society, in which the metaphors were warriors, that is, the defense of the organism in the face of foreign and foreign enemies, remained behind in the twentieth century (I personally disagree in that point). It would even be interesting, he thinks, to reintroduce some negativity into our society. We would have to rebuild rest, not as passivity, but as a capacity to get out of the dumb scheme of active life in the molds of computerized life, to a resumption of the capacity for contemplation, the demand for true philosophy. Byung also says that machines and computers are stupid, just because they do not know and cannot stop. They cannot stop an action they continue incessantly. Paradoxically, in a way, they were meant to have an end - an interruption: the so-called programmed obsolescence.
Exhaustion is not only about the positivization of a “neoliberal” society focused on performance, but also on a sameness that is done without alterity, but effectively as the equals, since the other does not exist anymore. Man is no longer distinguished. He is different, but a different one that is the same. A diversity different, but equal, from those many who are comparable. The man here is getting tired of himself.


Our contemporary society is the lightness, the relief and the anti-gravitational movement that takes us up. In it, here is a figure I have dealt with before: that of the masters and coaches - the Coach and Personal Trainer. Gurus who command what to do, what to read, what to research, what to eat, what to train. For Sloterdijk culture is a system of dressage and in it goes the man. It is also useful to us when we see ourselves in Debord’s “society of spectacle” as a world whose content is the practice, the exercise, the conduct of asceticism stripped of any religious background, we begin to accept the philosophy of Peter Sloterdijk and that he is right in saying that where we look for the man we will only find acrobats. Only those who train, that is, all of us, are human. The man is the one who practices his practice to do better what he has already done. It is not a matter of noticing a certain performative character of human life, but of noticing performance as any content that fills us as human (physical, material, mental and spiritual) with creations of immune-immune systems.
“Nobody has time for an entire generation anymore,” says Sloterdijk in an interview. We will live without interruption. A society of non-interruption. It would take a “stop in time” or the famous epoché of Husserl. Noninterruption requires a form whatever it may be in the form of performance. It all depends on a deep work which, as Sloterdijk says, is the substitution of Hannah Arendt’s contemplative (Cartesian subject-object) life for Hannah Arendt’s active life, but all of it subjected to the real life, the performative life.
Husserl wants to capture the structure of the world’s natural point of view - in its phenomenology. So, either the “phenomenological reduction” or the suspension of beliefs, which in Greek is epoché (sectioning a moment, an epoch, and holding it suspended). It is a matter of putting the whole experience in brackets and describing it by suspending assumptions and assumptions about that experience. It would be like a sort of procedure to get the thing itself. She wants what appears. And it does everything to clear the pre-appearances.
It would be like peeling an onion, removing its layers of impregnation whether it be cultural, semantic or otherwise. For example: a tree. You already see that thing, the tree with the language. It is already “contaminated” with culture because the word tree already brings several ramifications out of the thing and its first appearance. We also have the tree as science presents us. Botany (stem, leaf, roots and etc.) or something in the scope of Ecology. It is these barks that bind that must be cleaned of the object. To seek the “pure phenomenon” even if you cannot. If you try then, pick up the tree like an almost tree - its appear like tree. Sloterdijk works this in the book “Apparent death in thought” just by making a suspension of picking up a period, time or theme and freezing it there to philosophize yes. It was the modern creation of philosophical practice, a vision of the Academy that was the forerunner of this posture that always wanted to create a place of culture, but far from the practice of other places also involved with the most elaborate culture and the discussion about knowledge, such as forums, museums , arenas, parliaments and editorials Epoché, or the “catch an era” or the “put in parentheses” an occurrence, or “circumscribe a period” in order to raise it out of judgment and conclusions; this was a way of doing theory by theory without concern for conclusions or purposes other than the very purpose of continuing to investigate continuously. It would almost take something to a non-place.
I believe your questions may be very interesting, and I believe Sartre would be well regarded in the book Between Four Walls and The Nausea. In the first book one of the characters speaks that they are in hell and that they would be doomed to life without interruption because that would be a punishment and a sacrifice. Hence: “the hell is the others”. The character gradually realized that he had no eyelids and could not blink, because life would be fated without interruption. Blinking and closing the eyes would create an interruption in the permanent where the world disappears even for a short time. It would be a relief even if for a few seconds it disappears and reappears. In the second book we have a hero sitting in the park in front of a tree. He sees its enormous root and realizes that there is a clump of existence, a menacing bulge of existence, which may be black, pasty, knotty, melted, monstrous, slimy, smelly. The “crisis of consciousness” is the breaking of any epoché, for it shows the being of the tree seen as that which erupts in its excess, in its maximum contingency. All that the root shows are aspects of its facade, its attributes, and the root does not allow itself to be captured by its essence. It just exists. It’s there. In its existence the root breaks with the “phenomenological reduction,” since it is seen from various angles and names and impressions without being defined by any separately or by their whole, and then causes the “crisis of consciousness.” The consciousness that is always referential tries to grasp. Contingency causes nausea. It is the fear that each of us does not really have any reason to exist. The being of the tree shows itself. And the Being of the Self shows itself as without reason or justification. The word existence, then, appears as not evoking any abstract category that can explain it, as would be the case in the epoché, and thus existence opens to nothingness. The hero of Sartre tries to explain the root by its size or function or color, but soon discovers that speaking of these attributes is not properly speaking of the root, but of things that do not exist. Note then that essence is a simple idea that hides existence. The feeling of nausea is the product of colors, tastes, smells that, in short, are not real. In addition, nausea becomes explicit when he notes that essence is what people attribute to things exactly to supply a reason for existence. There is no reason for existence, which exists only as an accident. Existence is a gift. At that time, the hero then understands what bothers him, which is nausea. It is the meaning of their existence. You realize how much people do not confront their very existence, but they tend to shy away from it. No one faces your nothingness.

In a further view of pragmatism, I fear that seeing it does not aim at particular results. He has no dogmas or doctrines, save his method. Pragmatism came exactly with this proposal: let’s stop thinking that the world must be made of a substance. It can be accepted as a variable set of relations. Pragmatism is during the most diverse theories as a hallway of a hotel. The hallway has several doors that are bedrooms. In one of them there may be someone writing a book on atheism, the other one may be praying for faith and strength, another may be investigating the human genome, another may be writing about metaphysics. All these rooms open onto the corridor and everyone must necessarily pass the corridor if they wish to have a practical way of getting in and out of their respective rooms. If we take Pragmatism and see that it does not mean how the world should be or talk about metaphysics, but rather to have a practical consequence in the world of putting an end to questions. For example, if I tell my mother I have a headache and she gives me a pill. I take the pill without question, without hesitation and I believe I will be well. Because I believe the remedy will heal me and because I trust my mother would not give me another remedy by mistake. That would be dealing with every day and mundane situations that can generate a kind of solidarity. Or even when the mother says that “everything will be fine” when I am a baby. I feel comforted, less suspicious and less fearful, though there is no guarantee that this promise will be fulfilled. It’s a way for us to stay in the world and have some “control” over contingencies. Belief would be almost something ontological. Would “truth” work as a placebo? No, the truth works. Cannot you experience it? The word truth is important. Really important. If you say, “this will heal me, heal others” and get in return, “it’s true”, do you feel falsely stimulated? Or if you go on a diet hoping that in the future you will be healthier and that diseases can pass you by without harming you. You really can believe it. It is uninhibited, even if the contingencies hit you in the future.


I will have to read this guy. From your summary of his views he sounds interesting. I am out of touch with the techno craze myself. I sense that there will be no quick fixes brought about by computers. But I would say it is not the computers that are stupid but the people who think the computers are smart that are stupid.

You mention that you disagree with him on one point. Is there anything else about that one point of disagreement?


I like this metaphor of the Grand Hotel of Pragmatism. Very well said. I recall that James said most people have a belief in the beliefs that other people believe in. That is what faith is. Faith is like a tattered security blanket that the child drags around the hotel lobby, the teddy bear he hugs to his chest and when he grows up he gets a laptop to put in his brief case and hurry from meeting to meeting in the Grand Hotel which is located at the edge of a mountain. I imagine the hotel has a spectacular view and that it is near a big precipice. Earthquakes are frequent. We can feel an occasional rumble.

Yes…I think I get the picture…many relationships can emerge…when the guests start talking to the staff.

A metaphor happens when you can draw a picture of it. I sense a picture arising and can also feel there are relationships between the different rooms, and that there are different rooms with different kinds of wall paper and different voices coming from each room, many conversations happening all at once. There is also a bar downstairs and an auditorium for conferences. I am starting to like this Grand Hotel.

Thanks, Eduardo, for the Grand Tour of the thinkers that you are thinking about and that you bring them to our symposium. I sense that you really are motivated to develop the many themes that you are working with and hope you will continue to share your insights and develop the metaphors for our collaborative mind . May the force be with you!


We have much to learn from you. It is now required that you frequently post at least 100 lines :wink: Someone here will benefit from your words, whether an incomplete passionate flurry of ideas or an in depth study.

Sociedade do Cansaço or The Burnout Society (and your critical analysis of Han’s work) articulates ideas expressed here in other discussions. I am working with these ideas (changing the way we see work/retirement to promote healthy, slow exercise of the mind and body; the erasure of meaning via technological removal of the stories shared by families, generations, elders; allowing our mothers to give us the medicines of their generation rather than seeking techno-cure-alls; etc.) and would love to see you and others continue to explore.


Here is an essay which I think makes a good case the kind of networks that we’re working on through such projects as Democracy.Earth and Cosmos not only should but could win out in the end.

While decentralized projects start out half-baked, ultimately we can offer greater incentives to developers (or creatives) and end users, who over time come to see the benefits of openness, transparency, and collective control as the closed-system dynamics of centralized platforms become more problematic.


Separating yourself and creating your own immune field is a rule in Sloterdijk. The present world problem is not to create a great human society without walls. What we are looking for today is the maintenance of our work of “cell reproduction” at all levels, a mechanism of self-transport, as the bubbles soon see globes, so that our immune spheres have their membranes according to a system of gates that can maintain the level of immunization, without it becoming a complete barrier, a type of cage or a closed chamber. A bubble can not be certain to be rigid. It can not be a chamber in a kind of enclosure. At the beginning of Spheres I, Sloterdijk mentions a boy who is blowing bubbles. That’s it, two spheres that are one for a brief period. The air coming out of the boy’s mouth and the bubble share the same space functioning as a transport of animation. Astronauts travel to the International Space Station in capsules. All capsule and station design are made by sluice systems and hatches. The capsule and the Station are now one air-conditioned environment. This allows the crew to move. It all depends on how we build them and how the flow is. I think Byung Chu Han means that immunization does not fit today as something of the notion of antibodies, of elimination. I believe that for Sloterdijk immunization is in fact a regime of consideration of the other, but in no way what is to be expelled and eliminated.


I came across this interesting critique of what the author calls liberal democracy. This is a broader argument that the bitcoin stuff, but I wasn’t sure if a new thread was called for. I don’t agree with all the points presented, and I feel that if the assumptions made are indeed correct, then we were in those days incredibly naive.