January 13, 2020 Twitter: @jim_rutt Mini-bio GameB Facebook Group
In this essay, I’m going to lay out a set of ideas about a long term path for GameB to become a civilization level social operating system.
Please don’t take it too seriously as THE trajectory. It’s certainly wrong in many regards. It’s just one possibility through the high dimensional possibility space of GameB’s unfolding. Nonetheless, I’ve found it a useful framework on which to hang some ideas. I hope you will, too.
In this essay I’m assuming that in the next 20 years no significant catastrophe strikes the status quo resulting in a large scale hemisphere level collapse, I’ll address “collapsian” scenarios in a future essay titled something like “The Short Road To GameB”.
At times I’ll go way out on a limb and inject my own prejudices and opinions about specifics. I’ll label such sections: “[JimSez:]” and bold the text. Feel free to ignore!
So what is a civilization level social operating system? For this essay, I’m going to posit that it means that at maturity GameB has become the dominant attractor for a living civilization. Roughly analogous to “Western Civilization” or its competitors. Think at least several hundreds of millions of people across a significant portion of the Earth’s surface.
So what is GameB? First, it is not “GameA” — the Western Civilization status quo. That’s a good start for those of us who find the status quo a grim place that seems headed for self-destruction. GameB is conceived of “What Comes Next”, the social operating system that replaces GameA.
GameB is not yet well defined but it has four fundamentals: 1)self-organizational 2) network-oriented, 3) decentralized, and 4) metastable for an extended period of time [JimSez] at least a few hundred years.
By “metastable” I mean that a civilization clearly evolved from GameB though constantly adapting and changing to circumstances, will be around for a while, avoiding the many catastrophic failure modes that are confronting GameA in the coming decades.
There is also a sense that GameB should aim to maximize human potential and flourishing — what Maslow called “self-actualization”, with more attention than in GameA to high quality embodied life — how we actually live in our bodies. GameB should also engender a sense of real security from physical want and should make it much easier and natural to find friendship, fellowship, and love.
GameB assumes a values system such that living a life of honesty and good faith will be a good thing, not the strategy of a sucker as it so often is in GameA.
[JimSez] For me it is important that GameB should operate such that irrespective of their biological and social endowments, everybody in GameB should be able to live a life of autonomy and dignity.
In short, the goal of GameB is a metastable society emphasizing human wellbeing built on good values that we will be happy to call home and we will be proud to leave to our descendants.
Lots of good information about GameB on the GameB Wiki.
With respect to previous and ongoing discussions with the GameB movement, I see this essay providing one possible path forward among many for what has been called “GameB Transition” or #TransitionB.
I’m going to start by introducing some nomenclature about epochs in the unfolding of GameB that I believe provide a series of initially small and doable steps, but that nonetheless can go “all the way” if we proceed smartly and effectively and with honesty and good faith. I’ll fill in the details as I go.
I have used the idea of “the adjacent possible” to build a path forward by many small steps, all of which feel like they could really happen, but that add up to a momentous journey.
Pre-GameB (PreB) — today — when no actual group of people is living a whole GameB life.
Proto-GameB (ProtoB) — when a coherent group of people is attempting to live a GameB life that can be thought of as “whole” if not yet “complete”. My vision of the Journey has many ProtoBs coming into existence each with a different formula of GameBishness. I would expect ProtoBs to fission, merge, and some of them to fail. Maybe over time one or a small number prove themselves most efficacious at playing GameB and other ProtoBs will start to converge around them. Or maybe not, perhaps GameB will remain very diverse.
Early GameB (EarlyB) is a future state where there is a civilization level minimum critical mass of people — perhaps a few million — that are no longer under the sovereign authority of any GameA entity and are composed of scaled-up versions of one or more ProtoBs.
GameB — where a major civilization has been established — at least hundreds of millions of people that is its own sovereignty(s) (if such things still exist) or not subject to any other sovereignty and is analogous in its scale and completeness to Western Civilization.
Some extremely crude time estimates of the above phases: Pre-B: now, ProtoB first ones in 2021 or 2022, EarlyB ~2045, GameB~2090. These are guestimates assuming no huge hemisphere-scale catastrophes resulting in widespread social operating system collapse. I’ll address the collapsian “Short Road to GameB ‘’ scenarios in a future essay.
In this section I’ll sketch out what people could be doing in each Epoch, with as you might expect, more detail around the earlier epochs.
As of today — Janauary 2020 — we are all in PreB. Our job is to get ready for ProtoB. Here are some of the things we should be doing:
Finding The Others Online — if you are reading this, you may well have found it on one of the GameB online meeting places. If so, you are already on the job of Finding The Others! If not, you can find lots of other GameB folks on the GameB Facebook Group, on Reddit on the GameB subreddit, and on Twitter by searching on GameB, Game~B or #GameB . As of Janaury 2020 there are at least 1000 GameB players who have raised their hands. Join ‘em!
Finding The Others In Real Life — online network interactions are good mostly for produce weak links. We can find people and determine whether they might be approximately aligned and if so, begin to share some ideas. But humans are apes with clothes. To really establish a strong link usually takes spending time together in person. And it’s amazing how those strong links make our otherwise weak network links much stronger, even if the face-to-face meetings are infrequent.
See if there are other GameB peers in your area. Organize or attend a meetup. Better still a recurring event like a potluck dinner. Even better create a local GameB “chapter” that meets regularly face-to-face that can serve as an ongoing outreach to the community to recruit more PreB people and as a source of education to deepen the knowledge and commitment of members and recruits.
When you travel, let the wider GameB community know online and you can connect with GameB peers where you are going. Make some friends. We all need more real friends. Friendship, love, and conviviality are going to be central to GameB, we can get started straight away!
Get Yourself Ready — joining a ProtoB will be a big move with a significant likelihood of failure if one hasn’t made some personal changes first. These are things PreB folks can do right now:
Parts Domains — PreB
A PrototB will be a Whole made from a number of Parts from a number of Domains. Here is a partial list of the Parts Domains that will be needed in creating ProtoBs, that we can start working on during the PreB epoch:
Jordan Hall and I talk about a fair number of these Parts Domains in the podcast episode: Jordan Hall on the Game B Emergence
Exploring and learning how to constructively create in the Parts Domains will be accelerated by working together. Cooperation is the true human superpower. Folks interested in a given domain ought to create online venues for information sharing and cooperative learning. For example, it’d be great if someone or some small group would create a GameB Parenting Facebook Group or Basecamp instance or Reddit subreddit, for PreBers to get together to create and curate what GameB Parenting might actually be. Current GameB online venues are too general and noisy to be useful for such concentrated work. Have a strong interest in a Domain, go start an online venue for it, and then provide a link to it in the more general GameB online venues (Facebook GameB Group, #GameB on Twitter etc).
Yeah, “X-In-A-Box” is a strange name for something! It goes back to the early days of GameB 1.0 (2013). The idea is that once a group of practitioners in a Parts Domain (“X”) believe that they have a repeatable process with respect to that domain, they should document it and share it in an online venue with the wider GameB world. For example: in the education domain once a group of practitioners believes they have figured out how to build a GameB Charter School that is generalizable they could create and keep updated an X-In-The-Box: “How to Create and Operate a GameB Charter School” that could be used by any collaborating group of parents to launch their own Charter School. Creators of an X-In-A-Box should assume that most people will need and want to make changes and variations for their own locations, circumstances, and values. So don’t make one too prescriptive and dogmatic! We will need a set of tools for creating and finding X-In-A-Boxs. I’m interested in working on those tools, anybody else want to help out?
While we will be happy to be rid of GameA eventually, it’s premature collapse could be catastrophic. In both the personal and political realms, for now, we should apply some effort to prevent a rapid premature collapse of GameA and to preserve as much as possible of the natural world as we can.
Note: there may come a time when we should want to accelerate and encourage the collapse of GameA, but that time is not now. We have a LOT of work to do first.
Including meditation and other contemplative practices, yoga and tai chi and other mind/body practices, medical psychotherapy, psychedelic drugs, nootropics, transcranial magnetic or electrical stimulation, brain implants, neuro and bio-feedback and more.
A key hypothesis of GameB is that there are techniques using psycho-technologies that can increase our capabilities to play GameB. The gain can come from overcoming the effects of “malware” — previous experiences or learnings from our GameA lives that reduce our efficacy. The gain can also come through improving our cognitive and bodily functioning by increasing our ability to focus, reducing anxiety and fear, improving our emotional transparency, increasing creativity, and making it easier to enter highly productive flow states.
Since our new social operating system will be emergent from the interaction of the constituent humans, improving human cognitive health, capability and resilience has the potential for enabling a better and stronger emergent society.
But, these are powerful techniques and not without their dangers so PreBers should proceed cautiously in an evidence-based fashion and with support — and potential good-faith critique from the people around them.
People differ in their needs for psycho-technologies and their risk profiles in their use. For some people avoiding them entirely may be the correct path. For others finding the best ensemble of technologies may take some time and expert guidance.
It may be best to start with lower risk approaches like contemplative practices or mind/body practices such as yoga and Tai chi.
[#JimSez] We must be alert to the risks that the pleasurable and reinforcing aspects of these practices may pull some people towards treating them as ends rather than means. Too much navel-gazing and not enough building GameB!
“amateurs borrow, professionals steal” — John Lennon (from T. S. Elliot)
There is a lot of good work going on in the world that is applicable to GameB. Explore and engage with it where appropriate. GameB can either interoperate with it (say the perfect crypto-money system should any such ever exist) or borrow/steal the ideas for reuse. Inventing things is hard with a very high failure rate. We’ll have to invent some stuff, but let’s do as little as we can. Learning from others is one of the highest human powers.
For GameB to gain strength it needs to be propagated out into the world. A high impact PreB activity would be for those people with abilities in narrative making, writing, acting, videography, visual arts, music-making, etc to craft artifacts about GameB and send them out into the world. And don’t worry too much about telling some “official” GameB story (which doesn’t and probably never will exist), much better to tell YOUR version of GameB! And it would be very helpful and memetically powerful if we all provided links to GameB venues and artifacts in our online discourse, blog posts, and podcasts.
GameB is self-organizing and network-oriented. That means it is unlikely that anybody is going to TELL you to do anything. GameB isn’t like being at work in a GameA job. We need to be self-starters and “social entrepreneurs”.
Find things that GameB needs, and either start an effort or volunteer to be a member of an existing effort. GameB, if it is to really come into reality, will need lots of action in parallel. Some of it will not be well thought out. Some of it will fail. That’s ok. Experiment in parallel. Share results. Redesign and try again. That cycle is a hugely powerful metastrategy. But it requires people to jump in and not wait to be asked or told what to do. Anyone who claims to be GameB but tries to stifle Bias Towards Action should be regarded very skeptically. That said, Bias Towards Action should NOT apply to activities with large systemic risks. Thus no home gene-splicing of ebola into e-coli, please!
A ProtoB is a coherent community of people coming together to attempt to live in a GameB way. While in PreB we are working on Parts (including ourselves), in a ProtoB we are attempting to assemble and operate a Whole. The launch of the first ProtoB will represent a significant phase-change in the journey to GameB. A ProtoB will operate across multiple Parts Domains, with its own alive and evolving institutions and culture and will thereby become more than the sum of its Parts. With the first ProtoBs we begin to seriously explore GameB as a dynamical system that can persevere in time while fulfilling many if not all of our human needs.
I use the plural “ProtoBs” intentionally. I expect that many ProtoBs will get established independently; experimenting with different mixes of internalized domains, governance models, and institutions, based on their best judgment on what is likely to work. I expect a lot of adapting to the specifics of their location. A ProtoB in Brooklyn New York, will and should be different than a ProtoB located in a small city such as Staunton Virginia, while both will be different from a ProtoB located in a remote rural area. Experiment and readjustment can progress more rapidly in parallel.
The purposes of ProtoBs should include at a minimum:
The sizes of ProtoBs could vary widely. Perhaps 10 or so at the low end, but with no obvious limit on the high end. I would expect the most successful ProtoBs to grow organically and by merger until the largest might have memberships in the millions.
ProtoBs could grow organically in geographically adjacent places and/or a ProtoB could establish new non-adjacent sprouts, perhaps far away, that would nonetheless be part of the same entity. It may be that non-adjacent ProtoB growth is a bad idea, but it is worth trying. [#JimSez] I’d bet that we can make it work.
ProtoBs should aspire to reestablish the “mesoscale” of social organization. By the mesoscale I mean the void left when those aspects of life that were formerly handled in extended families and face-to-face communities were ceded to either the Government or The Market.
ProtoBs should strive for the organicness of families and communities while avoiding the small-mindedness and excessive conformity of families and communities that made markets and government seem like an improvement to many. A ProtoB is neither family, community, market nor government, but has aspects of all of them.
[JimSez] To preserve the mesoscale dynamics I would suggest that ProtoBs be built up from smaller units that I’ll call “Dunbars”. A Dunbar shouldn’t be bigger than150 adults and should consist of a face-to-face community. Dunbars should be responsible for inherently local parts of life such as housing and food. The line of responsibilities between Dunbars and ProtoBs seems like a useful domain for thought and experimentation.
[JimSez] I like the idea of naming ProtoBs after plants and Dunbars after animals. No duplication should be allowed in ProtoB names, but every ProtoB should feel free to reuse the animal names for its Dunbars. I like “Crocus”, my favorite flower, as a PrototB name and “Raven”, the name of my childhood Boy Scout Patrol, and one of my favorite birds, for a Dunbar. So if nobody beats me to it, I hope one day to be a member of Crocus->Raven! We can all have fun with logos and more serious art for our totems.
It is important to note that early ProtoBs while they will be Whole, are not likely to be Complete. Each ProtoB will choose those domains in which they will attempt to use GameB approaches while admitting that other domains are not yet within their reach. For example, a ProtoB might choose to operate its own school for all of its children but to rely upon hospitals and conventional medicine at least for severe medical issues. Another example: we’ll need to use GameA’s deep technical infrastructure. It’ll be quite a while until GameB is building its own computer chips!
Different ProtoBs can and should make different decisions about what domains to support internally and which domains for which they will rely upon GameA for provisioning. Each ProtoB represents a probe into a very high dimensional space of social system design. Complexity science tells us that we need to be humble in our ability to predict what will happen and to proceed via experiment and readjustment.
To facilitate parallel exploration and learning, ProtoBs must work to communicate with other ProtoBs as well as with the PreB world, using the principles of self-organization, network-orientation, and decentralization. ProtoBs ought to be rich sources of Parts knowledge and active sponsors of X-In-The-Boxes.
A natural and constructive way for ProtoBs to interact with each other would be to establish “guilds” for practitioners of various specialties across the ProtoBs. Thus there could be bakers’ guilds, psycho-technology practitioner guilds, agricultural guilds, construction guilds and many more that spread best practices and standards of excellence, though never at the expense of useful local diversity and experimentation.
I would also expect that there will be “immigrants” between ProtoBs when people decide that a different ProtoB might be a better fit for them, and we should expect ProtoB “refugees” from ProtoBs that have failed or have gotten off onto an evil trajectory. We should not be shocked by either failed or evil ProtoBs. There are likely many failure modes in crafting a ProtoB, and societies being captured by bad actors are a recurring theme of human history. No reason to think we will be immune.
And like open societies more generally there is often much to be learned from both immigrants and refugees. Good ProtoBs should be willing and able to handle immigrants and refugees from other ProtoBs.
At the new scale of emergent organization represented by a ProtoB, there will be a new set of issues different from the PreB world that will have to be addressed.
Parts Domains — ProtoB
I’ll now briefly touch on some of the Parts Domains that I enumerated under PreB that may be especially important or have expanded scope in ProtoB.
There are many other considerations around the formation of a ProtoB that we will only touch on very briefly. This document is already too long!
Should there be a strong filter on membership, such as skill sets, and personality types? And might a ProtoB want to make a conscious decision such that all ages, genders, ethnic and racial groups, and educational levels are represented at about their rate in the local population?
And how will the effort be capitalized? As a several times entrepreneur and an investor and advisor to other entrepreneurs, I can say that undercapitalization is the MAIN reason (after products that nobody is really interested in) that ventures fail. To increase the chance of a ProtoB succeeding, startup and early capital will be necessary. Yet at the same time, we don’t want a lack of capital to be a barrier to entry for people otherwise valuable to the community. That will require some clever thinking.
A key idea in the earliest days of GameB 1.0 (2013) was that GameB could potentially out-compete GameA at its own games and be able to parasitize GameA by “winning” GameA competitions and using the winnings to grow GameB. That was just talk in 2013 but as GameB has come more into focus, this idea continues to make sense.
Groups of people who are inherently network-oriented, tuned up with appropriate psycho-technologies, who know how to self-organize and operate at high coherence, ought to be able to beat GameA at its own game much of the time.
It strikes me that those superpowers ought to especially give GameB a substantial advantage at creative professional services like management consulting and even advertising. How ironic if ProtoB, which eschews by choice ad-supported media, should launch a number of successful ad agencies! Of course, operating in these domains would require that we be actively cynical in our work: we are good at it so we can invest in undermining it! This may or may not be something we are comfortable with.
Less cynically our superpowers could allow us to outcompete GameA alternatives in everything from financial services to auto repair. Imagine the demand-pull for a large scale auto repair service known widely to be both highly competent and rigorously honest! If conviviality is one of our superpowers, maybe ProtoBs could establish the very best beer/music/food businesses in town. To coin a gag-inducing MBAism: “conviviality as service”.
ProtoBs ought to at least consider whether they want to play the game of parasitizing GameA. It’s a potentially powerful strategy to provide resources for building GameB but at the cost of some cynicism and doing work that doesn’t cause our hearts to sing.
We have just scratched the surface here of thinking that needs to be done to launch a ProtoB. This is something we’ll surely “learn by doing”.
EarlyB can be said to be achieved when there is a location in the world with a significant and probably contiguous population — let’s say 2 or 3 million people — where there is no sovereignty (think nation-state) with authority over the ProtoBs in that territory and the population of the territory has a clear majority of its population that is Pre-B or ProtoB. An additional qualification is that the ProtoBs, if there are more than one of them, are acting cooperatively.
EarlyB could come into existence through various means: a failed-state “stateless” situation like Somalia in the early 2000s, capture of the state apparatus by GameB aligned politics that chooses to eliminate nation-state sovereignty over ProtoBs, or a political revolution that establishes GameB as the social operating system of the territory. No doubt there are other trajectories possible.
At that point, we would have a cultural unit (eg; Ireland) that is principally operating by GameB means. Nonetheless, an EarlyB is unlikely to have the capabilities to make all that it needs (think computer chips and airplanes at least) and so EarlyB will have to peacefully coexist with GameA elsewhere.
In the self-organizing and network-oriented style of GameB, I would expect that ProtoBs would continue to exist as constituent parts of the larger structures. How that would work is way beyond the ability of us to see from here.
After the first EarlyB we would hope to see multiple EarlyBs come into existence in additional territories. How tightly integrated the EarlyBs would be with each other is hard to say from here, but at a minimum, we should expect preferential trade between them, and maybe a shared currency system. They would certainly need to have strong mechanisms to come up with convergent solutions for planet-scale existential risks such as climate change.
[JimSez] I know some GameB people think my tendency to think in terms of contiguous territory and nation-state sovereignty is old fashioned and lacking in imagination. And maybe it is. However, it is my view that the concept of territorial sovereignty, meaning approximately “having a monopoly on the legitimate application of force in a defined territory” will remain fundamental to social operating systems and governance at least through the end of the 21st century. We don’t have to like it, to accept its reality.
Eventually, enough territory would exist as EarlyB that we could declare GameB as having been achieved. Roughly that is when almost all of our goods and services can be created by GameB processes. We are probably talking hundreds of millions of people. Something on the scale of Western Civilization. How the EarlyBs interact or whether they merge into a broader concept is impossible to tell from here.
Ok, I’ve finally done. Hopefully at least some of it will turn out to be useful.
I’d like to thank the people who read earlier drafts of this document and gave very useful comments that substantially improved this document. The mistakes, errors and bad ideas are all my own.