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What made 2023 the pivotal year?
What is backcasting?
Backcasting is when you imagine a scenario for an ideal future and try to trace a path to there from today. Instead of simply being comforted by a future world as we would like it to be, the goal is to identify opportunities to take action immediately. Backcasting is about discovering a blueprint for that better future and investigating how it can be made into reality. I will be using the scenario from the Solari Report:
For our purposes, the year is 2030, and this is our “desirable future”: In 2030, freedom reigns planetwide, with the push for central control having failed miserably. Local currencies are flourishing, while lack of use slowly marginalizes the few CBDCs that were implemented. The World Economic Forum is bankrupt, and a depressed Klaus Schwab has retreated to his home in the Alps. Family and community prosperity is growing throughout the developed and emerging markets as economies decentralize—and as government enforcement, regulation, intervention, and taxation decrease. In short, there is much to celebrate.
How was this brought about?
Change really begun with accountability. People taking responsibility for the systems they use and the incentives they bring about. By being more critical of our choices, it became easier to make deliberate decisions that grew to impact wider society.
It started with courageous individuals
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
Joseph Campbell - A hero of a thousand faces
Heroes aren’t the people who you see on the TV or those who get the big interviews. In this story, the heroes are those who recognized the great evil lurking and set out to challenge it head-on. People who quickly went to confront the darkness themselves so that they may spare others the horrors. They made mistakes, suffered losses and won small victories. Learning many things the entire way. When they returned from their journey they brought light and hope as the darkness faded away.
Simple acts of heroism
Not everyone started at the same point, some were born ready, others had preparations to make. As more people made progress, it became easier for others to catch up.
The first and most courageous act one makes is continuing to love in a world of hardship. Injustice rightfully gives rise to great anger, but love must always be the animating force. Coming back from facing darkness requires a conscious decision to choose life. Forging a strong commitment to embrace life, beauty and wonder to the fullest was when heroes were truly forged.
With so much anger and pain, nothing was safe from a deluge of dread and sadness. Many of the heroes fell in terrible ways trying to just stand still in the torrent of chaos. Some had support, others had preparations, but the few who endured managed to find some footing to steady themselves from the otherworldly brutality they had been exposed to. They never lost sight of those alongside them who weren’t so fortunate.
Steadying themselves required powerful introspection and the ability to care for themselves. The heroes needed to build themselves up to be stronger than ever. Not in a selfish manner, but in a way that gave them the strength to carry on. Carrying on often meant accepting difficult differences with others. Other times, it meant shielding one’s mind from malevolent forces. Reducing energy spent on enraging culture war rivalries, and instead focusing on concrete goals for action. As the heroes made progress, unshackled from doubt and despair, things started to gain momentum. Fear shrunk away from being an ever-present oppressive force to becoming once again a distrusted stranger.
As momentum grew, so too did a constant reorganization of priorities. So many different voices had unique insight into the road that lead us all astray. It took time to shift attention and refocus energies so people tended to take more care with those resources. Spending extra time to reflect to themselves, or to investigate their own concerns more deeply. This questioning of not only the world as it is, but of themselves and us all for what we are. With this insight, gradual but meaningful changes were made on a constant basis.
The work of legends
It all started within reach. The massive tidal wave of change was built with individuals choosing to act on the world around them. Local movements grew and caught on quickly, learning from mistakes made along the way. What made the difference wasn’t brilliance, riches, or even luck. It was all built through tireless persistence of those who dared to dream of a better world.
Hardly anyone could even attempt it all alone. Our heroes didn’t just need to be stronger, they needed allies, support and numbers. While many different groups had many fantastic victories, it was support that truly laid the foundation to our bright future. The victims of the old ways were innumerable, many of the heroes themselves haunted by the extent of the suffering they managed to witness. What made 2023 the pivotal year was the defensive victories.
This required a solid fortification of people’s right to life, liberty and happiness. Support didn’t merely mean taking on the banner of other’s suffering, but meaningful actions to address the causes. Those who were injured were given care.Those who lost loved ones were given comfort. Those who’s careers were displaced by technocratic tyranny were found meaningful work. Those left behind were remembered. With real systems of support outside the technocratic state-controlled bureaucracies, people were able to take more risks to work for change without simply being burnt out and spent like fodder. Positive change was only possible when we stopped losing great freedom-fighters to the cold entropy of letting them fall.
Gradually, community bonds started to heal as people began to share the abundance of each other. Neighborhoods became warm and welcoming as people made meaningful connections. These real bonds forged in staving off devastation, became wellsprings of joy. It was this joy that brought people to new heights they never imagined before. Major victories were starting to happen all over, as people would use that joy to fuel supporting others.
Liberating the tech stack
Brought together by the joy of life and living together, there was much that needed to change in the technological landscape. What was originally seen as inconvenient and arbitrary changes were eventually seen as natural and obvious. People individually and collectively renegotiated different ways of using, building, and sharing technology.
Big Tech social media was the first to go. People saw how it had been weaponized against them from the beginning. More and more grew distrustful of any top-down centralized service calling itself a “platform”. These systems of control were difficult to break free from, but the heroes were the first to fully disconnect their minds from the mass mind-control platforms.
Increasingly aware of how Digital ID could be abused against the public, the people learned to make little use of anything that required an account for the purposes of collecting data on users. Instead of using apps from big tech stores, open and accessible web-based apps became more popular. As people became more familiar with experimenting with different options, lesser-known minimal protocols like Gemini were given a chance to show us a different kind of web. The heroes were at the forefront of encouraging others to embrace open protocols instead of the latest popular platform running on big tech infrastructure.
As people started regularly thinking about their software choices, and how they can impact their freedom, attention eventually moved to hardware. With a newfound appreciation for freedom, sovereignty, and privacy in the digital world, there were many things that needed to be done differently. Early on a great deal of attention was spent on right to repair ensuring that independent farmers weren’t beholden to technocratic abuse. Repairing old technologies was a fantastic way to reduce e-waste and give people opportunities to learn and experiment.
There would be instances where devices designed for a corporate dystopia simply wouldn’t have much use anymore. There was lots of opportunity for innovation. “Nostalgic” things like physical keyboards, removable batteries, and single-purpose devices all made a comeback in a big way. Efficiency and true elegance were real priorities.
Oddly enough, some of the heroes were fairly technologically inclined themselves. Long-disillusioned with Big Tech and the way things had gone, they had many ideas on ways for the rest of us to break free. People would regularly be shocked and surprised at how many of these innovations had just been abandoned to the aether. Over time more and more individuals experimented with different tools and technologies to find what adapted well to their situations.
These heroes would begin to start community-run services. Instead of everyone needing to use e-mail from Big Tech providers, dependable and trustworthy individuals were able to run small operations for small groups of users and assist others with starting their own. Education and outreach were vitally important parts of recruiting more people to build and share. These community services were a nightmare for those who wanted easily indexed access to everyone’s private information. All kinds of different services were provided, some communities had more novel needs than others. If nothing else, there was now real local representation in cyberspace that people could rely on.
Instead of using their skills to help large corporations harvest data, our technological stewards helped people take control over their own computing. Teaching them how to use Free and Open Source software to manipulate their own data gave people a real sense of digital autonomy. New projects would be created for building useful public datasets that don’t include people’s private information.
As people’s digital independence was better safeguarded, it became even easier for people to protect their sovereignty in other domains. Instead of wasting massive amounts of human effort and energy moderating “the one conversation”, people would participate in the places they felt had value. People were used to difficult and honest discussions and got better at resolving complicated disputes. Instead of people constantly calling for censorship, it was hardly ever considered. Egregious legislation worldwide was challenged and opposed. ChatControl and other laws targeting digital freedoms received constant and serious criticism. Politicians could no longer justify these excesses as “for the greater good” as people no longer believed them.
Those of us who were technologically inclined, realized that our talents weren’t the only skills lacking. We understood that we needed all kinds of people with all kinds of skills. Instead of simply dragging people onto platforms we deem superior, we build the groundwork that open alternatives “just work” for all of us. We work to empower those with different talents and build on their successes. This is my message to you, dear reader. No matter what your unique skill-set is, it definitely has a place in building this beautiful future.