Generative (Positive) Feedback Loops

Value Creation (or, That Which Generates) in Cosmos

This section discusses positive (or amplifying) feedback loops in the design of Cosmos’ systems.

Circulating Attention, Uplifting Self/Other

At the beginning, the primary form of capital—infused in the system by people’s presence and engagement—is attention. Attention itself has degrees of quality or intensity.

A person’s: attention + capacity applied (=) generative energy in the system.

In loose order, as of this writing, Cosmos is concerned with circulating the following forms of capital:

· Intellectual
· Social
· Cultural
· Financial (namely through Litcoin)

The primary form of value creation is inspiration, generated (or activated) through engagement. The dynamic exchanging of art, ideas, perspectives, descriptions, stories, etc. serves to “excite” the user’s hearts and minds. Interactions are not neutral --rather, it is the ineffable unfolding of interactions that shapes future destinies , individually and collectively. Interactions in which the attentional affordances are high (in other words, in which a great deal of attention, care, witness and spaciousness is offered) tend to feed the growth of participants’ capacities and creative insights.

Creative outputs flourish in an environment of affirming feedback loops, specifically engagement loops , which are also known as “learning” loops. Positive or affirming feedback fuels further growth and development. Through core design elements of sponsorship, amplification, valuing experimentation, etc., Cosmos is socially and systemically structured for the abundant circulation of mutual validation.

To generate an environment/a soil conducive to the mutual growth of creative powers, the system strives to capture and keep in circulation all such participant contributions–whether inspiring media, stimulating discussions, catalytic proposals or transformative encounters–naturally generated through participant engagement and exploration of the spaces–regeneratively, forming a natural "spiral of abundance."

Affinity/Fidelity of Members’ Contributions to Cosmos

The solidarity that keeps users’ contributions magnetized to the system is deeper than strictly an ideological glue. It is a pattern , normalized and imbued throughout, of the behavior of reciprocal co-sponsorship. Like the initiation process between Cosmos and new members, members model to one another what it looks like to be in fruitful relationship through showing generosity, interest, care and gratitude toward one another (supported by the platform structure and configuration, social norms, and economic patterns in the co-op.) Exposure entrains expectations, and structures enable growth.

So Cosmos will holistically orient around imprinting appropriate (and dynamic) values-infused norms for the optimal healthy functioning of the whole and its parts. This would mean encoding structures appropriate to realizing its mission at all points of contact between “Cosmos” and the individual: person to person on the platform (sociocultural), user experience/interface design (sociotechnological), workflow construction (technological), etc. Consistently entraining collective and individual attention towards mutual endorsement and meaningful self-actualization would result additionally in the system and its members becoming increasingly skillful and nuanced at sensing the presence of imbalance, unfairness, oppression, or obstacles that are barriers to mutual actualization—which they are empowered to directly inquire into, of course. Such “naturalized” behavioral patterns help discipline and regulate the radical energy in the system, which otherwise might become too chaotic, divergent, and, effectively, “noisy,” for value to be derived from the platform. These “soft and embedded” pattern enculturations/imprinting, which has regulatory effects, however, are balanced with ample unbounded, free play spaces and customizations afforded to the user.

Sponsorship as a Root Pattern

Here’s an example of how design principles appropriately constrain and enable: sponsorship. Beyond the generation of “inspiration,” and the circulation and spread of attention, intellectual capital and cultural capital throughout the system–financial and social capital are the next most important forms of capital to circulate. This is accomplished through the ethic and pattern of sponsorship . This involves users forming bonds of solidarity in patron-artist or mentor-apprentice type relational patterns, designed to maximize the fulfillment of the needs of both parties and amplify the target artist’s capacity to creatively produce valuable works. The sponsorship design principle would be present in the choices made at cultural levels (behavior modeled in the communities, e.g. Cosmos “raising the public profile” of its members creative productions through a co-op marketing budget) and technological domains (UX/UI, functions, features, tools, and workflows afforded to incentivize or provide for the fulfillment of sponsorship-type activities.)

Why is it important to take such care to design, “train” or act on these collectively maintained principles? Why is it worth the investment of energy to make sure that “sponsorship”-structured flows are present throughout? Because: The platform & the community’s ultimate and best value is its use value to its communities. We measure success by how thoroughly utilized and engaged with the platform is: how much interaction is occurring user-to-system and user-to-user, and subsequently how much growth is taking place in innovation, diversification, and overall capital investments in the system. Cosmos strives to retain value created in its systems and keep it pumping throughout the organization, like capturing and utilizing water in a landscape design. Litcoin is a crucial mechanism for keeping the value circulating, as are badges, scarce or hidden perks like “easter eggs”, the earning of C>, and of course the unpredictable but exciting growth of new & enhanced capacities and benefits accruing to members over time through the gamified, participatory systems design of Cosmos—these are the incentives that keeps members engaged.

Not only that, Cosmos is designed like a cone or a “spiral of abundance,” intended to intensify opportunities in accordance with benefits. Beyond the rate of Cosmos’ systemic “leveling up,” another measure of Cosmos’ holistic “health” is how many individual members “leveled up” or intensified their engagement with Cosmos, and how deeply they have progressed in movement toward their stated goals. Of course, deepening or broadening of a user’s participation must, per Cosmos’ purpose, ethics and value, track to actual benefits gleaned by the users, and not as an intentional or inadvertent effect of addictive game design. See Spectrum of Engagement & chart of layers of the spectrum. See also the Praxis Park illustration, re: “spaces” that are nearer the entrance/exit or deeper into the park that players can pass through as a representation of their intensity of involvement on the platform.

LitCoin: A Currency for Gratitude, Generosity, and Abundance

LC is a creative, flexible medium for expressing value in the system. It is one way members can creatively “play” with how they express themselves. Litcoin is a kind of feedback mechanism baked into the gameplay, by which members express what they value in an open-ended way. It is a generative pattern because at the point of origination, it cannot be redeemed— it must be spent or gifted to other members or Cosmos in order to represent any value. This is called the dimcoin/Litcoin feature; in combination with demurrage, members are incentivized to spend Litcoin generously on one another. Furthermore, members may acquire additional Litcoin to spend in the system at any time, if they want to enrich their direct engagement with various people, products and offerings emerging on the platform.

As a fluid means of “validating” what one’s peers find valuable, LC is a little bit like “liquid attention”—it can pool based on what numerous members’ are promoting and seeing as having strong merit. Cosmos also deploys LC, “dripped” from its retained capital as needed, through attaching “bounties” to system-scale work acknowledged as required to move system-scale goals forward (thus establishing the “worker-member” pattern—wherein members earn cash, LC, badges and potentially other in-game perks for their successful fulfillment of tasks).

However, the patterns around how members receive or fail to receive Litcoin for their actions may have the effect of passively regulating the kinds of behaviors and speech members perpetuate. That is, if some comments on a thread are generating large amounts of LC whereas others are not. This may be an emergent behavior, due to some underlying reason of shared consensus/consciousness, and therefore affecting members’ future behavior (particularly if how much coin one another has accumulated for a specific act is visible to others). This can have a positive effect in evolving the community’s culture; however, if a member consistently feels “unrecognized,” they may need extra help in locating a sub-community or group within Cosmos that is in a position to support and sponsor their growth.

Also, consider that if a member earns a consistent reputation for not giving out much LC (for whatever reasons), other members may eventually tend to avoid engaging that member with attention, thus effectively starving the member from willing playmates. This is a disincentivize for hoarding LC, to know that it acts quite like a currency of love and acknowledgement.

Enoughness: A Limiting Factor that Generates Abundance

There would also be the pattern or feature called “Enoughness,” whereby an individual member defines the boundaries of what they feel is “enough.” This appears as an important dial within the context of a member’s dashboard/user settings on the platform. A user may define “enoughness” along vectors of multiple types of capital; a member’s criteria for “enough” in different categories of capital may change and be updated over time. However, encouraging members to define “enoughness” is profoundly crucial: it is the individual-scale point at which any further capital accumulating to oneself becomes “surplus” and can and should, therefore, be redistributed elsewhere to other beings/applications in the system. As is now becoming widely known, hoarding wealth beyond the point of having enoughis counterindicated for happiness.

Enoughness is a crucial component within the self-actualization process: to meet it is the trigger to celebrate “completion” and to reassess/re-calibrate as to where one is headed on one’s path. (One cannot pursue the same end endlessly and not ever, well, reach it!)

Enoughness is also an element present in proposals/projects for which groups are attempting to gather resources (as in online crowdfunding). For the sake of sponsorship/fundraising, one must define what resources are in fact needed for the potential of the project to be effectively fulfilled. Once that threshhold is met, the project’s status changes from pending to activated, enabling the flow of the resources held in that bucket to be made liquid to flow into implementation of the project’s aims.

How enoughness (and the redistribution of “surplus”) might look for an individual member

So, say somebody has a wildly popular course that they are teaching on Cosmos. And they are making $100K annually off of it. If $100K is their threshhold of what “enough” looks like, then their personal income from the course would cut off at $100K. This truncation creates “space” where other organisms can thrive—it’s like the edge of a niche (however, because those edges are self-directed and consensual, no one may pass judgment on how much “space” someone takes up). Perhaps this person’s highly successful course wouldn’t continue to be promoted in people’s attention feeds along the same algorithms—effectively giving other people that “space” and opportunity to grow. (Of course, the particular popular course can still maintain a wait list, and word of mouth with continue to spread, but it would be “down-pushed” in Cosmos’ attention algorithms.)

OR there may be other ways that the surplus beyond “enoughness” is redistributed appropriately. For example, the excess money, past the “enoughness” threshhold of $100K, could get dripped to that member, not as redeemable Litcoin, but as dimcoin —meaning they are forced to spend it on others for it to have any value. Or, adding an element of the platform “cropping” interest in excess of enoughness, like a penalty.

If demand for the popular course exceeds the “enoughness” of that one person to offer it, Cosmos may attach a “bounty” or perk to incentivize that successful member to offer trainings to enable others to offer the same or similar version of that course (facilitaed by a badging mechanism).

These options could be informed by the user herself. In that sense, it’s like any user-driven educational platform such as Udemy, where some small percentage of teachers might make TONS of money per month off their courses, but they’re the minority, while most people are making nothing or making much less money (by an order of magnitude). Perhaps those intrinsic dynamics might appear, too, in the Cosmos platform (unless different algorithms were in play). We’d also offer a platform for the free ability to promote what you’re offering [OR do we facilitate payments for attention, ala the attention economy, as Synereo proposes?], and signal boosting via algorithms, Cosmos general marketing, and via search, SEO, etc. Like any other platform, an individual can make a great amount of money, but if one has a sense of enoughness and a sense of sharing the surplus, then that’s a built in re-balancing factor that can result in 1) surplus demand flowing over into other platform offerings by effectively throttling popular course enrollment and intentionally diversifying the course/community offerings (by adding trainers, innovating similar classes, etc.), 2) surplus revenue generated by continuing to deliver the high-demand product flowing into forms of value to others or Cosmos.

Indeed, Cosmos may set its own criteria for “enoughness” regarding a required task (i.e. criteria for fulfillment/completion of a task), including a “bounty” or budget corresponding to estimated hours, skill levels, etc. for the task. In response, worker-members of Cosmos can claim a certain appropriate amount of income and hours/workload [constrained by Cosmos policy] up to their mutual enoughness threshholds . When an individual is at 100% of their affordance for “work time”, the employee is working at the maximum of their cap of hours–e.g., 30 hours a week. When the employee is at 100% of their affordance for “pay rate” goal (I.e. what is “enough” in terms of hourly pay), then any excess value generated by their work may be automatically attributed to Cosmos’ books as retained capital or excess earnings (to be dripped through C>). “So we are never earning more than the co-op can afford, but we’re also never making more than we need.”

See more in: Mock formulas and ratios.

Customization

Like Facebook, upon logging in a user would encounter a feed of information and media based on the AI’s interpretation (I.e. interacting algorithms) of factors like the users’ settings, named preferences, named goals, etc., providing items it “thinks” might fulfill a need or satisfy a desire in that member. Unlike Facebook, however, Cosmos’ mindfulAI is oriented around serving the member’s self-defined purposes, instead of “hijacking” their attention for marginal user benefit (with the principal benefit accruing to third-party advertisers and private, external profiteers). Also, members are welcome to adjust the algorithms (through tweaking the “dials” that are “under the hood” in their Settings) affecting what they see in their feeds, and optimize those algorithms to their tastes. See: Dials, in Dashboard.

Because Cosmos so utterly values its members’ creative freedom, the flexible capacities for users to customize their experience and their “adventure trail” through the gamified spaces and tools is a value proposition. We are sincerely focused on amplifying our users’ freedom through “holding space” for the many distinct ways that members would choose to make use of the platform— how they play/use the system is in their hands. We value the autonomy of creative participants as a catalyzing factor in building regenerative feedback loops in the system.

This is radically in contrast to the norms of legacy systems. In design thinking, it is widely believed that creating too much choice can impair user experience. Cosmos’ intentional complexity runs the risk of being too messy or disordered for users to effectively interact with/on the platform. To this point, the dashboard/interface of mindfulAI is of crucial importance to consider. How to provide interfaces supportive of focused outcomes, yet also allow users to “lift the hood” and tinker beneath to customize the utility to their desires?

Such freedom to customize must be built atop a relatively-stable structure of constitutional algorithms—so users can creatively mark-up their personal games without “breaking” the system for everyone. That is to say: Cosmos’ game is on some “rails.” While it will offer more customization options than virtually any other platform, the system, through MindfulAI, will also offer “guardrails” of reflexive, data-informed suggestions, limiting (but perhaps blessedly so) a user’s experience according to their self-reported inputs. (For more on this, see Dashboard: Dials).

Capacity for creative customization by the user, in accordance with their needs, represents a higher level of freedom than can be found on competitor platforms. This is generative in that it presents 1) rich & deep data sets concerning user preferences (aka emergent “desire lines”) which Cosmos can reflexively use to improve aspects of the platform functionality and community, and 2) users benefit from the sense that “this tool FITS ME and is serving ME best!”, feeding a sense of inspiration, delight, and “being seen” that keeps them coming back to use the platform.

The high affordances for customization are really an invitation to broad interaction between members and between platform and members. Members are encouraged to “try something and see what happens,” to distill personal (and communal) take-aways from experimenting with certain methods, conversations, community structures, etc. It is through such mutually-interested interactions that even more intelligent forms emerge.

Worker-members and internal resourcing for proposed development projects of/by/for Cosmos’: Improving Cosmos from the inside out

Worker-members. As a co-op, Cosmos is dependent upon member participation—but, uniquely among platforms, not solely financial participation. Cosmos acknowledges many types of capital in its system. One highly-valuable form of capital is the talent, skill, knowledge, expertise, and under-used productivity of its member base—that is, the precious capital embedded in human life-energy (or, more coarsely, “labor”/human resources). Per its cooperative economics and ethics, Cosmos wants to employ its own members to serve its members needs—more specifically, Cosmos wants to be able to identify members for whom financial income is a need, and leverage those individuals to work for the platform, building out the benefits that then are made available to all other members.

Cosmos may conveniently, smoothly integrate requests of its members to fulfill pending needs of the distributed system. This is especially appropriate when the needs are best filled by humans and not AI—for instance, social/community and educational functional roles, like: onboarding new members; mentoring less experienced, learning members; mediating irreconcilable conflicts between members; contributing to proposals or decisions affecting features/capacities in Cosmos, etc. Of course, we also need visionary human designers and programmers to participate in structurally making and enhancing the platform.

For such roles, Cosmos may attach a “bounty” of Litcoin to the fulfillment of this role (a bit like Mechanical Turk, only less mechanical and more qualitative and relational) effectively compensating members for their essential contributions. This pattern would cover a broad spectrum: from token/micro payments (as a kind of “thank you” for small and low-skilled tasks such as responding to a particular customer service inquiry) all the way up to substantial wage/salary-constituting payments (to secure the sustained attention and intelligence/talent of an individual to produce high-quality, intensive results over time, such as in the case of hiring master systems-analysts and platform developers). See also: Membership Types and Labor Structure, Worker class.

The Plug-ins Strategy further “capitalizes” on member intelligence, creativity and innovativeness by “crowdsourcing” proposals, initiatives and projects for how Cosmos could improve itself from among the membership. Members then “resource” these proposals through various capital-allocation methods, such as: 1) giving LC, 2) attributing C>, 3) “signing up” to work in a productive capacity on the proposed project, etc. Under certain algorithmic conditions, Cosmos may even put up a “matching fund” from its retained capital resources to “boost” the proposal to fulfillment when certain critical threshholds of support by the membership are reached (in essence, creating an amplifying feedback representing collective-Cosmos’ endorsement of the initiative at the point where over XX% of members are invested at XX%).

In these ways, Cosmos achieves self-sufficiency by resourcing its systemic needs from among the members’ pool of latent needs and capacities—while providing generative resources (in the form of cash/LC and C>, as especially influential/valuable token coins per their mechanisms) to members who engage in “serving themselves.”

Summary

Through:

  • a high-quality user experience and user interface (Dashboard),
  • creative/fun customization (Dials, custom spaces, and original gameplay “pathways”/desire lines resulting from process of goal attainment),
  • internal currencies (doubling as a means of self-expression for positive impact [sustainer members]),
  • process patterns/templates, social settings/focused groups, and tools/utilities conducive to the entire lifecycle of creative products [creative members]
  • pportunities to perform meaningful work to one’s community (and get compensated for it [worker members])
  • ample opportunities for generative exchanges (conversations, marketplace functionality, etc.),
  • and the context of a conducive community, co-owned economic system, and co-created platform…

Cosmos strives to attract, capture, store, generatively circulate, creatively employ, glean and reinvest members’ attention/life-energy throughout the system—in ways that generatively “feed back” for those members.

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