There is enough technology to make a better world. Is there enough will?

After leaving Istanbul I took a flight to Dublin. The Sun had just set and yet it came up again as the plane flew West. There I was, in a heavier than the air, man made machine seeing the Sun coming up by the beginning of the night.

I have promised I would write a text companion to the mind map I presented on the CoP2013: ICTs, Governance and Conflict. Now, of course, thanks to all of the wonderful, mind stretching presentations I saw and the bright discussions I was able to participate, I am pretty sure everything I will write on the matter will be strongly influenced by other people’s very incisive and intelligent thoughts. I do agree ICTs are enabling tools and real people are the actual agents of change.

In a nutshell, I said in my presentation that are three major causes for conflicts: money, government and religion. I also have proposed two approaches as changing elements for a better world: eliminate barriers to education and stop hypocrisy. Now I will expand a little bit more on all of these items.

The existing technology allow us not to cope with a political system where we vote for representatives that stop representing us as soon as they are elected. They pretty much ignore the will of their voters, even though this will is very well manifested trough all forms of social network presence. We do have technology that would allow us to act politically, without representation, in a State that will be lean, automated, effective, open and secure. Open to allow the constant auditing by the citizens, giving no space for corruption. Effective in a way to foster innovation without useless bureaucracy, being dynamic to fully address the needs of the citizens. Lean, so taxes will be lower and the population will realize the benefits of paying them.

A software (open sourced, of course) supporting this kind of State and its Government would be a lot cheaper than the today maintenance of a full body of elected representatives in all levels. The money saved can then be used to provide better salaries to public employees, specially teachers.

In order to implement a direct democracy we must have the means to ensure the real identification of the citizens, along with their privacy and security and also the means for them to participate in the decision making and governance processes. The structure for this, however, is already being built anyway, even if not originally for this kind of usage.

Money, today, is almost a fictional element. It is created by financial institutions out of thin air, with no traceable ballast anymore. We cannot eliminate money at once although we can get rid of the unnecessary overhead caused by banks intermediating financial transactions. Technologies such as Bitcoin are based on a peer-to-peer trust and they are mature and safe, ready to be implemented and can take the banks completely out of the way. However, we must keep thinking of alternative, fair ways of distributing goods and comfort, without being enslaved by money.

Governments and money have been all about domination, territoriality and control over property. In an interconnected world it is ridiculous to think about any kind of border maintenance. The receptionist at the hotel I stayed in Istanbul fired up Google Translate every time he needed to communicate with a non-Turkish speaking guest.

Religion, another root of conflicts, however, must be dealt with the most care. The human religion manifestations are timeless. Even being possible to study and discuss religious dogmas and myths, the fact is religions is something personal, collective and very present. I can safely say governments are out of date and must evolve into a global, democratically direct administration. I am comfortable saying money must be eliminated. I cannot say, however, one should end religion: it would be asking for people to abandon part of their elementary nature. The best path for action, here, is to provide education in a way of greatly fostering respect and tolerance.

We must remove all barriers separating people from a proper education. There are several technologies that can enable this. Good educators will always be fundamentally needed and we must invest in their continuous update when it comes into the creative ways of using technology. As we still have to deal with governments and money, we cannot afford waiting for a new reality before we act. I believe the best way to guarantee resources for education is to finish hypocritical government programs, such as the war on drugs and financial assistance help.

Governments have been investing trillions fighting some illegal drugs and taxing legal ones.Why must governments decide what kind of drugs a citizen must take, or not? What is worst: someone high on marijuana or someone drunk beating a spouse or driving a car? Those trillions must be invested on education so poor people might have an alternative other than only having some joy while tripping on a crack or oxy stone.

After leaving Istanbul I went to Dublin, Istanbul, in order to pay a long waited visit to my affective daughter. An assistance program by the Ireland government allowed the birth of group known as “Knackers”. They are young, unprivileged people living on money and clothes they get from the government. Unfortunately, we are all wired to follow the law of zero effort. If we get something for nothing, we will provide nothing in exchange. As a result, these people have nothing else to do other than bother, sometimes in violent ways, the unprivileged that are working on jobs they have denied. In the other side, however, the unprivileged in Dublin are mostly young students working on a special study and work visa, renewable for three years. They wait tables, clean hotels, act as security people in the pubs and spend most of what they make in Ireland and other European countries, heating up an economy that is not in its best shape. Unfortunately, patronizing assistance programs present similar results all over the world.

Micro-loans, however, have been presenting fascinating results. It is worthed to know the experience of organizations such as Kiva and the work of Muhammed Yunus. Given the proper conditions, anyone will prosper. Loans provided to poor people by Kiva and Grameen are paid back in a rate bigger than loans provided by regular banks to richer people.

I just want to finish by saying we have enough technology to make our world a better place. What is lacking is real action and political will. If we are able to make the Sun come up again by flying West in a machine that is heavier than the air, we can do anything. We should consider building (and reproducing existent) quick and truly replicable wins and actually convince more people to replicate them.

Below is the mind map I used as a basis for what I presented in the first day of our CoP meeting in Istanbul.

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If you can't see the mind map above, please use this link.

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