Democracy is a fraud. Capitalism is a time-bomb. Corporations are cancer. As a result of these and other collective failures, the planet’s life support systems are in peril. Now what? How do we mitigate collapse and build toward a regenerative human society that coexists harmoniously with the rest of life on Earth?
The challenges we face are too complex to overcome from within any single status quo paradigm. No President, no CEO, no religious figure, no committee, no think tank, no brilliant radical can possibly imagine or orchestrate what needs to be done. As Nora Bateson put it, the kind of leadership needed now is liminal, distributed in mutual learning and in the relationships between things.
In the early days of the Internet, there were many who saw its potential to become a global nervous system, connecting us like cells in a brain, bringing distributed flows of information into a coherent yet unimaginable whole, so that together we could evolve into a wiser, more resilient collective organism. Would this kind of organism be smart enough to finally recognize its interdependence with the rest of nature?
That question was never answered, because instead of decentralized intelligence, we got centralized corporate greed. The Internet now is dominated by a few tech giants who operate within the stock market operating system, designing their products to be indispensable, addictive, insidious tools for advertising and mind control. One former Facebook executive said “the short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works.”
As an antidote to these centralized powers, Holochain (a small part of the larger projects Ceptr and Metacurrency) is creating the infrastructure for a truly peer to peer Internet. Unlike blockchain dApps, in a Holochain application, users own and control their own data while retaining their unique perspective. There is no monolithic ledger holding the single, universal Truth, but a fully distributed network of participants, each one sovereign, yet accountable to their communities.
Their intention is to enable new patterns of social coordination: new forms of distributed governance, and a rich ecosystem of current-sees, because true wealth is not quantifiable. The oceans are not worth $24 trillion. They recognize that money as we know it must change fundamentally, issued as mutual-credit by humans in their communities, not by banks as interest-bearing debt, nor by miners on the blockchain.
We need to fundamentally rethink our most basic institutions — the institutions that determine how we define and reward “productive” work, how we use our resources, and how we organize, communicate, and make decisions. For institutions (or decentralized collectives) to be sustainable, they must recognize that there are limits to growth. They must recognize that viable ecosystems cycle nutrients, creating zero waste. They must recognize that humanity is not an exception to the laws of nature, but part of a complex living system of interdependent beings.
My hope is that, one day, nations as we know them will become obsolete. The term “globalization” will be re-appropriated, taken away from the neo-liberal, planet-eating machine, given instead to the increasing awareness of our collective interdependence.
Will Holochain be a step toward this “globalized,” regenerative society? I don’t know. The odds are long. The powers are entrenched. The cancer is metastatic. And maybe I’m misguided, ignorant of the blind spots that prevent me from seeing how their vision is inherently flawed in some way. I have moments of doubt, but the obsession persists. The philosophy and intentions behind their work have given me hope for the future I’ve never felt before.
So I decided to start this blog, to report on news and document my evolving views on what Holochain and others are doing as the technology develops.
If you want to learn more about them, here are some resources to get you started:
Short intro videos
- How Holochain works, contrasted with blockchain.
- Asset-backed, value-stable currencies.
- Holochain explained in more detail by core developer Nicolas Luck.
- Clip of a conversation with Jim Cook, Mozilla CFO.
- Summary of Holo, the hosting application being built on Holochain.
Third-party projects in development
- Junto.love, a social network
- Core.Network, also a social network
- Producer’s Market, removing intermediaries in the food supply chain
- JustOne Organics, a dehydrated food producer.
- Bridgit browser, “quantum search.”
- ULEX, open source legal system