A set of simultaneous technologies is growing exponentially, with the common feature of being decentralized, and organized in a network. This contrasts with the centralized and hierarchical organization of today’s traditional society and its basic functions. The shift from the old to the new structure will subject the Nation State to an unprecedented pressure.
After speaking about these shifts for several years, about a year ago I created a non-profit organization headquartered in London, Network Society Research. With representatives in 25 countries, Network Society creates a vision and analytical tools to allow individuals, enterprises and the society at large to deal positively with this unstoppable change.
This is the Fundamental Thesis of the Network Society:
- Widespread social and economic change only happens once a solid technological foundation evolves to make it sustainable.
- Globally distributed and decentralized technologies have emerged that achieve superior results with respect to centralized and hierarchical ones.
- These unstoppable technologies undermine and disrupt the Nation State’s supporting pillars. The resulting socioeconomic organization is the Network Society.
The Network Society project aims to:
- analyze the reasons for change,
- teach its nature and its technological basis,
- collect and monitor the dynamic indicators on its development and
- stimulate the evolution of individual behavior, business strategies and the adoption of policies consistent with its nature.
On October 15, in Turin, Italy the Network Society World Congress will allow delegates to discuss in person these themes, plan actions for the following year, and to meet with stakeholders from government, industry and associations with similar interests.
Pillars of Change
What are these technologies and what is the kind of change they represent in detail? The eight pillars of the Network Society, the point of arrival of thephase change of our social organization, are the basic functions of the Nation State now, listed here with the technologies that are revolutionizing and decentralizing them:
- energy – solar panels
- manufacturing – 3D printing
- food – plantlabs and vertical gardens, 3d printing of meat
- health – Quantified Self
- education – MOOCs (massive access to online courses)
- finance – Bitcoin and mathematical currencies
- security – trust platforms like AirBnB
- policymaking – open data and direct democracy
The Network Society Project involves activities with multiplying effects in ever-widening circles of people and organizations. Represents a set of tools for individuals, businesses and policymakers for the design and implementation of strategies compatible with an accelerating future!
Technology Services And Their Disruptors
Below is a more in-depth description the eight pillars and how they are transformed from hierarchical and centralized activities to distributed networks.
Renewable energy solutions, spreading rapidly first of all through photovoltaic solar panels, are represented by a decentralized installation organization, as opposed to centralized energy production based on coal, oil, natural gas or nuclear.
The technology of 3D printing allows to accelerate the design, development and production of increasingly sophisticated and varied objects. Contrary totraditional production systems, increasing the complexity of the object created does not increase the production costs. The added value of a complex object that performs complex functions is then accrued by its designer and not by the manufacturing process and therefore the owner of the means of production.
Agribusiness’ green revolutions have allowed us to avoid the most dire predictions of the Club of Rome from the 70s that included, in case of inaction, global famine. The challenge today is to go beyond this and new solutions—hydroponics, urban and vertical gardening, and container-based plantlabs with crops lit 22 hours a day, which do not require pesticides—transform agriculture from an activity whose output is proportional to the area occupied to one that grows with the volume. It is then possible to feed a growing population while increasing food quality, with a radically smaller environmental impact.
Monitoring the state of personal health, with mobile apps and increasingly sophisticated sensors, makes customized preventative medicine available toeveryone.This is a fundamental contrast to the traditional focus on illness and the disease and its treatment in hospitals.
The opportunities of modern society are open to all, with barriers to entry that get progressively lower, as long as knowledge is accessible and the ability toput it into practice increases. The schools are in chronically and increasingly late in developing curricula that prepare their students to play an active and useful role in society. The online learning revolution challenges schools at all levels, and universities, disrupting their role and the providing of all thenecessary tools for a customized continuing education, driven by passion and value.
6. Finance and Entrepreneurship
The mathematical invention of the Blockchain, and its implementation with Bitcoin has revolutionized the world of payments. But even more generally, theexplosion of innovative cryptocurrencies and their applications, offers an alternative to central banks, financial institutions and their products and services. Decentralized, viral, accessible to all, the new world of Bitcoin promises solutions that lead to the emancipation of the individual, and to the increase of creative entrepreneurial initiative. We are already in the implementation phase of insights on how notaries, legal services, and investment and startup funding can be based on a similar algorithmic approach.
The exceptional nature of the war is visible by how the attention of the world immediately focuses on the luckily few contemporary examples. External security today is not based on traditional military forces, but it is more that of the e-borders, which are not geographically defined, the sound practices of data management and advanced security. Internal security is fundamentally changing: I do not know you or we have never even met? Do you want my car or my house while I’m on vacation maybe? There is no problem! The only requirement is that we’re both on the same car sharing or apartment exchange platform and the network will deal with the verification and reputation management in an incomparably more streamlined and efficient manner than any police force.
Recursively, because a priori also responsible for the regulation of the activities of the other pillars, new tools are needed to design the transparent discussion, support and implementation of policies at local, regional, national or supranational levels. The limits of representative democracy are evident and our accusations against the politicians are hypocritical: they are simply human beings, faced with challenges that they often do not understand and for whose solutions they are not suitable. New tools and platforms that involve direct participation for increasingly large groups of the population are emerging, putting pressure on traditional systems that are based on more opaque politics.