Australians have just gone to the polls, and made a collective decision to reinvent their government. John Howard was uncommonly truthful when he stated, “When you change the government, you change the direction of the nation.” Just at this moment, as the front bench of the Government is being sorted out and ministers sworn in, we straddle a liminal space, where anything is possible. Before the Government does anything, it remains entirely potential. This is a space for dreaming big dreams.
All institutions inevitably disappoint – governments included – and as the Rudd Labor government moves from potentiality into actuality, these dreams will inevitably fade. We will wake up into a new reality. But just now, in these few days remaining to us, we have a unique opportunity to re-vision both the means and ends of governance. We can take a longer view than is normally allowed by a 24-hour news cycle, or the constant chatter of the blogs, and the endless sniping of a fractured and demoralized Liberal Opposition. This is the last moment – perhaps for the next decade – to rethink our assumptions.
In this essay, I will a new picture of politics, a “Theory of Everything”, which unites the Right-Left divide within an underlying model of human behavior. This is not a new political philosophy, but rather, the application of current research into sociobiology to sociology. Although sociology has historically stood at some distance from the “hard” sciences, the same was said of biology less than fifty years ago. When Watson and Crick discovered DNA, back in 1953, they unified biology and the “hard” sciences of chemistry and physics. We are at the cusp of another such union.
At the same time, the study of sociology, ethnology and anthropology has become the most vital area of research in technology. For a decade now, although I have continued to work with and invent new technologies, I have focused my research toward an understanding of how technologies change the people who use them, and how people change the technologies they use. This emergent, or “autopoeic,” relationship between technology and society is now having a significant impact upon the organization of all aspects of human life – and, in specific, the relationships between vast collections of individuals: that is, politics.
So let’s start with biology, and, as we work our way up, moving from the individual body to the body politic, I will to show you how our technologies have amplified some of our innate capabilities to such a degree that the previously unquestioned truths of political life no longer apply. The political environment of the 21st century bears little resemblance to the mass movements of the 19th and 20th centuries; this is a reality that political institutions are about to confront, and an environment which all of us – as political animals – must learn to exploit.
In 1871, when Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, he stated that,
Although a high standard of morality gives but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over the other men of the same tribe…an advancement in the standard of morality will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another.
This statement has caused no end of trouble, being taken up by those seeking a scientific rationale for the “White Man’s Burden,” which the British, Americans, French and Germans used as rationale for the “Great Game” of colonization. The European races, seeing themselves as morally superior to the uncivilized barbarian races (even if both India and China had been civilized since time out of mind), used their hundred year head start in technological advancement to trump the highly moral cultures of Asia. It was, they claimed, survival of the fittest. Darwin and all that.
The reductio ad absurdum of “moral fitness” justified the mass slaughter of indigenous Australians, Americans, Africans, and the extinction of the Tasmanians. The jump from Charles Darwin to King Leopold took just twenty years. When biologists realized what Darwin had wrought – and certainly Darwin had never intended his words to be twisted toward such malevolent ends – the entire idea of “moral selection” was quietly dropped from the canon of evolution. That presented a problem of its own; Darwin was working as a scientist, and you can’t just abandon an idea which has a sound scientific basis. While no one talked about “moral selection” in the context of human cultures, a new word, “altruism,” came to take its place. We’ll come back to that.
Meanwhile, over the next hundred years, evolutionary biologists studied the behavior of other social animals – specifically, the insects. E. O. Wilson, the Harvard myrmecologist and evolutionary biologist, studied the social behavior of ants. Ants, bees and other social insects flout the hard-and-fast laws of natural selection as laid down by Darwin: they often do not act in their own best interest, instead acting in the best interest of the colony or nest or hive. The individual selfishness predicted by natural selection has simply been written out of their repertoire of behaviors. Worker ants and worker bees simply toil until they drop dead from exhaustion; they do not breed, and do not pass their genes along to the next generation. In evolutionary terms, they do not succeed. Yet ants and bees are wonderfully successful life forms, found all across the habitable regions of the Earth.
This behavioral altruism has been a thorn in the side of evolutionary biologists; selfishness is considered an essential feature of natural selection – after all, the most selfish animals should, on the whole, do better than their less-selfish peers. This seems true on its face, but other social animals – the lions of Africa, who live in prides of up to fifteen females and children – also practice altruistic behaviors. Some females will forego breeding – and the chance to pass their genes along – instead, investing their energy in protecting and providing for the new mothers and their young. In other words, a pride which practices some degree of altruism will be more successful, in the long run, than a pride where it’s every lion for herself. This phenomenon has been recognized for some years, but, because it did not fit the existing theory, it’s been ignored.
Forty years ago, a consensus developed in the community of evolutionary biologists that natural selection occurred only at the level of the individual. That is, evolution would only select for traits useful in a single individual. The idea that traits such as altruism might be selected for within a social collection of individuals was declared heterodox. To the evolutionary biologists, there was no such thing as a social collection – despite some rather obvious evidence, from the insects and higher animals, that social collections are fairly common. As a consequence, evolutionary biologists have spent the last forty years developing some rather weird theories to explain away altruistic behavior, that is, trying to describe how unselfishness could emerge from selfishness.
The lovely thing about science is that the truth eventually triumphs. Just this year a number of papers – including a few by E. O. Wilson – describe what biologists are now calling “multi-level” selection; that is, a process of natural selection which includes both the individual and groups of individuals. Within the individual, selfish behaviors are selected for, but with social groups, altruistic behaviors can be just as strongly selected for. Consider two prides of lions, one of which has a number of females who have opted-out of breeding, while another has an assemblage of selfish individuals, all of whom are breeding. When each pride is threatened, or needs food, the pride with the altruistic individuals will tend to succeed, while the pride with only selfish individuals will tend to fail. The pressures of natural selection will tend to select altruism over selfishness when selecting between groups, but tends to select selfish individuals within either group.
This basic tension is at the core of what I want to explore this morning. Social animals do better for themselves and their children if they are selfish; but they do better against other similar groups if they are altruistic. Both of these selection pressures are acting simultaneously, both within the individual and within social groupings. If this is true for prides of lions, why would it be less true for the hominids? Neither altruism nor selfishness are extraordinary behaviors for social animals; they are both strongly selected for. All social animals, ourselves included, must display both of these behaviors to be successful. And, as we all know, humans have been very successful.
Let’s cross the tiny chasm that separates us from the “lower” animals. We’re less than two hundred thousand years away from the animal state ourselves, and we know that we haven’t evolved very much in that period of time. We’re remarkably similar to early modern humans found in South Africa. These early humans contained within them the same drives toward selfishness and selflessness; the selfish individuals within a tribal grouping would receive the “lion’s share” of the calories, and would raise healthy children. At the same time, starving your fellow tribespeople would leave you (in the plural, social sense) fatally weakened. Food sharing is an antique behavior, common across the hominids, strongest in humans, and is a signifier of altruism. Consider the emphasis we place on teaching children to share – an emphasis which is common across human cultures. Somewhere in our deepest roots, we understand that sharing is essential to survival.
Now, let’s step across a a larger chasm, and come forward two thousand centuries. In just the last ten thousand years, we’ve gone from tribal groupings driven by the “Dunbar Number,” which limits the effective size of human social networks to roughly 150 people, to urban groupings. Cities of a few thousand were commonplace at least eight thousand years ago, at Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, and Jericho in Palestine, social assemblages of humanity which far surpassed the ability of any human to contain all those other humans in their heads. As numbers grew, the basic human drives of selfishness and altruism, selected for over tens of millions of years of evolution, did not fade away. Instead, we see the emergence of differing ideals for human social organization – that is, political models. Each human culture of the past ten thousand years found its own balance point between selfishness and selflessness – often coded into the laws and moral teachings of religion.
By the nineteenth century, in the first city to pass a million inhabitants – London – we saw the emergence of two mutually exclusive political philosophies that are the absolute embodiment of these fundamental selection pressures. On the one hand, Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan announced the “War of all against all,” and John Stuart Mill, with his philosophy of Libertarianism, asserted the absolute right of the selfish individual to make his own way in the world. On the other, Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels distilled the essence of altruism: “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” The polar play of Libertarianism and Socialism stand outside the Left/Right divide of politics: Libertarianism is a philosophy of both the Left (anarcho-capitalism) and the Right (Objectivism), while Socialism can be Kropotkin’s anarchism, or authoritarian Marxism-Leninism. The important thing to note here is that both philosophies emerge from natural selection pressures. Libertarianism springs from the selfishness of the individual, Socialism from the altruism of the group. Neither is superior to the other. Both are natural and both are necessary. Yet so much of the tragedy of the last two hundred years has grown from one innate and natural drive asserting its primacy over its mirror twin.
Despite the fighting, the deaths and proclamations of the absolute, unquestionable truth from both camps, reality lies somewhere in the middle. It’s the mixture of selfish and altruistic tendencies which the body politic expresses; only in some very rare instances of revolution does one tendency achieve any lasting dominance over the other, and that invariably ends in debacle, because pressures selecting for both are never removed. Soviet Marxism-Leninism collapsed because it could not honestly incorporate individual selfishness; it was replaced by its opposite, a form of Crony Capitalism (the Age of the Oligarchs) which, in its own way, was just as noxious. China since Deng Xiaoping has moved from collectivism toward a mixed socialism which looks a lot more like American capitalism than Marxism-Leninism. This is not, as Francis Fukuyama would have it, “The End of History,” and the triumph of neo-Liberalism. Far from it. Australians have overwhelmingly rejected neo-Liberalism as too radical, too far from the mixture of selfishness and altruism which must be maintained in order to prevent catastrophe. There is a moral cost in adhering to selfishness, just as there is an opportunity cost inherent in altruism. Only in a mix can a healthy, vital balance be maintained.
While the preceding argument advocates for a moderate, middle-of-the-road approach to politics, this model works only with respect to politics before the network era. When looking toward a comfortable median in the behaviors and drives of thirteen million voters, a Government that mixes economic conservatism with a degree of socialism would seem to be as near to the ideal as can be achieved in the real world – and this is precisely the government Australians have elected. But the Australian body politic is now, suddenly, connected in entirely new ways, and, as a result, the political formations and pressures which characterized centrist politics will be increasingly destabilized by radically empowered polities within the larger body politic. These forces, too, are driven by the same essential selection pressures that characterize all social groupings, but these pressures have now accelerated to the speed of light, and amplified beyond all recognition.
II: Hyperintelligence: Or, What I Learned From The Poll Bludger
For the past three years, I have been intently studying the new digital social networks which have become such a prominent feature of life online. This study led me to a more complete understanding of all human social networks. We are all, all the time, immersed in social networks. It is a basic, essential part of human biology, and the one which takes the longest to mature. The cognitive apparatus which manages our social networks doesn’t come into its own until the mid-to-late teenage years, and is a big reason why teenagers, as a population, are so miserable: learning the rules of social networks is perhaps the most challenging of all human tasks.
A human isn’t completely human in the absence of our social networks. As a social species, we are not defined solely as individuals, but as members within some grouping. We do not end at our skin. Here too, we can see the echo of the selfish vs. altruist tug-of-war; the selfish bits of our biology seek to be self-contained; the drive to altruism reminds us that no man is an island. We are all actors within dynamic, evolving networks of individuals, gathered together around some shared goal. For tens of thousands of years, survival was the only goal of these human networks. While improvement in survival fitness remains the core goal of our participation within any social network, we now have many ways of reaching that goal. The explosion of cultural forms which define modernity is proof of this.
Social networks are now as ubiquitous as at any time in history, and have become instantaneous and global. Furthermore, these networks can capture their activity in a persistent form which lies outside of any one head – collective intelligence. It is now possible for a global human social network to pool its energies around a single effort, and – in the process – create something with value that far exceeds the contributions of any single member of the network. In the network era, the benefits of altruism can disproportionately outweigh the selection pressures of selfishness.
Consider Wikipedia. There are, globally, approximately 2000 “Wikipedians,” that is, core members of the global social network who create, maintain, arbitrate and improve upon the globally accessible, freely available and openly editable encyclopedia. The efforts of these Wikipedians (and additional contributions by millions of “fellow travelers”, who loosely affiliate themselves with the Wikipedians around a specific topic of interest) have completely redefined our understanding of knowledge formation. It is now clear, in the aftermath of the Britannica vs. Wikipedia Wars, that knowledge formation is not the exclusive province of elites: anyone, however marginalized, can make a meaningful contribution to the common font of human knowledge. Furthermore, everyone literate person can benefit from Wikipedia. As Wikipedia becomes ever-more-ubiquitous, as it extends its entries into every factual category, in every language with more than a million speakers, it should help us make better decisions: we have immediate access to (reasonably) accurate information in a way that no human has ever had before. If knowing the facts is a necessary precondition to good decision making, Wikipedia has already increased the selection fitness of all of its users. Anyone who uses Wikipedia has an enormous advantage over anyone who does not. This, in itself, is driving us all toward using Wikipedia.
In her book Continuities in Cultural Evolution, anthropologist Margaret Mead wrote:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
The Wikipedians, a 21st-century digital social network, have indeed changed the world – not just for themselves, but for all of us. Their single-minded dedication to an activity of nearly unalloyed altruism (Wikipedians are not paid, and, moreover, frequently confront powerful disapproval for their efforts) has had a profound and continuing influence on human culture. This is not just Wikipedia in itself, but the idea of Wikipedia. Collective intelligence, harnessed, recorded and shared, leads to what I have termed hyperintelligence, a social network that is vastly more intelligent than the sum of its parts. Wikipedia is only one variety of a hyperintelligence; there are others, and there will be many, many more to come.
Most are already familiar with the example of Wikipedia; while it is the archetypical example of hyperintelligence, and many believe that lightning will not strike twice, that this revolution begins and ends with Wikipedia. This is not the case. There are examples of hyperintelligence emerging everywhere we care to look. Having just returned from an encounter with another emerging hyperintelligence, I want to share with you one such example, as I believe that in this example we can locate the definitive features of a generalized model which then can be put to work.
As a subscriber to Crikey.com.au, I’ve kept careful note of links to other Australian political blogs when published in the newsletter. Among the most interesting of these are Possum’s Politics, run by the anonymous and mysterious “Possum Commitatus,” and The Poll Bludger, run by William Bowe, a 36 year-old PhD student at the University of Western Australia. Both Possum and Bowe are psephologists – they study the statistics of polls and elections. A few months ago, I hadn’t ever heard the word psephologist. Now I have something of an understanding of what they do, and how they do it. Psephologists use statistical tools to determine the accuracy of polls, the trends indicated by polls, and attempt – insofar as it is possible – to remove the noise from the soundings received from the electorate, to predict the outcome of elections. As with anything statistical, it’s not a precise science, but a psephologist can give you a margin of error for his predictions. In fact, I can now give you the formula for the margin of error associated with any statistical sample:
MoE = 0.98 / sqrt(sample size)
With this formula I can tell you that with a random poll of 2701 voters – such as in the last Newspoll taken before the election – the margin of error is about 1.9%, with a confidence level of 95%. I can tell you what a confidence level is. I can also tell you that Newspoll misallocated their preferences, based on an assumption, now shown to be erroneous, that preference distributions from 2004 would remain an accurate guide to preference distributions in 2007. The final Newspoll of the Federal election yielded a surprisingly low value for the two-party-preferred result for the ALP, which showed the race narrowing at its close, while, in fact, very little narrowing took place.
How do I know all this? I am not a psephologist, and I assure you that I have never in my life taken a statistics course. I know all of this because, for the last several weeks, and, in particular, for the two weeks leading up to the Federal election, I was deeply immersed in The Poll Bludger. I wasn’t the only one. From serious psephologists such as Bowe and Possum and the rock-star-like Antony Green, to tens of knowledgeable amateurs, through to complete newbies like myself, we opened up the entrails of the electorate and augured its meaning. We knew that the final AC Neilsen poll, showing a 57-43 TPP couldn’t possibly be right, because it swung to the top of the range of the earlier AC Nielsen polls; for the same reason, the much-touted narrowing in the final 48 hours was nothing but bad statistics, assumptions, and wishful thinking. We knew this, because those of us with knowledge shared it freely with those eager to learn. And I, being very eager indeed, spent hours and hours reading through the postings, ignoring the ever-increasing noise of various partisans as the campaign grew more heated and more desperate, focusing on the raw meat of poll data.
This was doubly an education for myself: as someone familiar only with the American electoral system, the concept of “swings” was entirely alien. But, because I listened intently, regarding each post from Possum and Bowe and Antony Green as pure psephological gold, I learned. I was hardly alone in this. Many of the individuals posting on Poll Bludger knew as little as I did – but we all learned together, and grew confident enough to share what we little we knew with each other.
At this point, it feels as though I’ve been through a crash course in psephology, statistics and Australian politics. I know far too much about far too many of the 150 electoral divisions in the House of Representatives, their voting histories and their members. I know how the “Latham swing” artificially distorted the preferences of the 2004 election. It may even be, when all the votes are counted, that I have correctly predicted the number of ALP seats (84) in the House of Representatives. I am, in short, a wholly qualified amateur psephologist, because other individuals in the blogging community freely and altruistically shared their knowledge with me in a way that allowed me to analyze, dissect and meditate upon their pedagogy.
A blog is a mechanism not just for conversation, but for knowledge capture. It is not as neat and accessible as a wiki, insofar as the blog must be read in its entirety, but it can record the collective intellectual output of a social network. Some of that is opinion, and some of that is factual; as I spent more time on Poll Bludger, it became easier to discern one from another. Raw knowledge, through experience, translated into understanding. That understanding, once earned, was also captured. It is impossible to translate one person’s understanding directly into another’s head, but captured understanding is a necessary prerequisite for hyperintelligence.
Wikipedia captures its understanding through its still-evolving processes: its standards, and (more significantly) its practices represent the embodied understandings of the Wikipedians, as Wikipedia has evolved from possibility through viability and into ubiquity. The Poll Bludgers learned very quickly not to feed the trolls, learned to detect and expose the “concern trolls,” and, over time, have grown into a community. Over the last four weeks, The Poll Bludger has become the place for “political tragics” to come and learn about and (perhaps) discuss the hot topics of the election. In that, The Poll Bludger is filling a very obvious void in Australian political life; the US has Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post, Little Green Footballs, and countless other politically-focused blogs; before this electoral cycle, Australia’s political blogs were mostly personal sites, or professional journalistic endeavors. Possum’s Politics and The Poll Bludger mark the emergence of a political blogging community which, through shared, altruistic effort, are producing the first hallmarks of hyperintelligence.
Assuming that the community of Poll Bludgers hangs together past the fag-end of this electoral cycle (there are signs that Bowe intends the site to transition into broader discussions of the political affairs of the nation) there is now a highly knowledgeable and reasonably strong digital social network of politically-aware Australians. How the hyperintelligence of this community translates into a transformation of the Australian political landscape is, as yet, an open question.
As I stated at the outset, this is a period of profound liminality. We are between things. But what we do know, from Wikipedia and now The Poll Bludger, is that a community can share its wealth of knowledge – from each according to his ability, to each according to his need – and produce a highly disproportionate, asymmetric result. A small but motivated group of citizens can change the world. We need only to dissect the mechanics of this process, and abstract a model which can be put to work. This model will form the template for 21st-century political activism.
III: Nothing Like Democracy
Earlier this year, I was privileged to go “on tour” with Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales, the founder and public face of Wikipedia, as we crisscrossed the nation, talking to educators in Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. Everywhere we went, people asked the same question: why is Wikipedia such a success, while my wiki languishes? What do you need to achieve critical mass? The answer, Jimmy said, is five people. Five individuals dedicated to an altruistic sharing of collective intelligence should be enough to produce a flowering similar to Wikipedia. Jimbo has learned, through experience, that the “minor” language versions of Wikipedia (languages with less than 10 million native speakers), need at least five steady contributors to become self-sustaining. In the many wikis Jimbo oversees through his commercial arm, Wikia, he’s noted the same phenomenon time and again. Five people mark the tipping point between a hobby and a nascent hyperintelligence.
Five people is not a very big ask. Anything that people are passionate about should be able to gather together that many dedicated altruists. Since we are now constrained neither by location nor synchronous activity, the barrier to entry has become nearly non-existent. Just five people can easily enter into a pact to change the world. As their work catches on and catches fire, as they capture their collective intelligence, and as the social network forms, hyperintelligence will emerge. Everyone involved in the social network benefits from it, and every member of the network increases their own selection fitness by pursuing an altruistic end. They will be more effective in pursuit of their ends (insofar as those ends are those of the network), because of their participation within the network.
Effectiveness is a highly reinforcing reward. If, through participation within a social network, an individual can pursue his or her goals with greater effectiveness, those individuals are more likely, through time, to become more deeply involved in the network, further increasing their effectiveness. Thus, altruism – that is, investment in the network – reaps the selfish reward of increased effectiveness. Both basic biological drives are simultaneously served. This marks the fault line between the network era and the politics which came before it. In the era of hyperpolitics, altruistic investment yields selfish results, and does so in such a disproportionate manner that the drive toward altruistic behavior is very strongly reinforced.
Hyperpolitics have completely scrambled the neat continuum from selfishness to altruism which provided the frame for a hundred centuries of human civilization. We are entering uncharted territory. It is now almost impossibly easy for networks of individuals to appear out of nowhere, harnessing hyperintelligence to achieve their ends. This phenomenon, known as hyperempowerment (Robb, 2007), is a radically destabilizing force.
Wikipedians have put hyperintelligence to work for the benefit of all humanity, but the hyperempowerment created by Wikipedia has unintentionally destabilized educational, informational and governmental elites throughout the entire world. Daily Kos has put its social network to work for the benefit of progressive politicians throughout the US: for the next decade, psephologists will be debating the impact of the “Kossaks” on the 2006 US Congressional elections; there is no doubt that Kossaks strongly influenced candidate pre-selection. Hyperempowerment means you punch far above your weight; institutions – all institutions – formed during an earlier period, are ill-prepared for this.
The 21st century is witnessing the balkanization of a single body politic into a mass of hyperempowered polities, each leveraging its own resources of social networks and hyperintelligence to achieve its own ends. This is where we see the ageless conflict of selfishness against altruism emerge again, but in a different configuration. Within any hyperempowered network, altruism is strongly rewarded; when working against the aims of a similarly hyperempowered network, selfishness will rule the day. However, these polities are likely to be quick to recognize the advantages of cooperation as frequently as they choose to compete, so we will see meta-polities, and mega-polities. Political life will not re-integrate into the singular political blocks of the 19th and 20th centuries, but massive, if inchoate forces will emerge periodically before melting back into the chaos.
None of this involves voting. None of this involves government as we currently conceive of it. The “Reassurance Ritual” which Alvin Toffler wrote about in The Third Wave, the triennial trip to the polling booth to assert your continuing belief in and respect for the institutions of representative democracy simply doesn’t apply. Political pressure will be applied directly to the institutions of influence, and these institutions are already deforming due to the informational stresses placed upon them. They simply can’t respond fast enough to hyperempowered polities and hyperpolitics. There is little doubt that most of our familiar institutions, including governments, will rapidly disintegrate as the number of hyperempowered single-interest and special-interest and meta-interest groups begins to climb. We will be left with the hollowed-out remains of the institutions of government, but with nothing that looks anything like democracy.
This is already happening. And it’s a little late to reform our ways; these transformations emerge naturally from our interactions with each other through the network. We’d need to junk the infrastructure of the last forty years of development, everywhere in the world, to prevent this process from continuing and accelerating. Yet there are dangers, great dangers. Turn hyperempowerment one way, and you get Wikipedia. Turn it another way, and you get Al Qaeda, which is the very definition of a hyperempowered polity: loosely joined, knowledge sharing, altruistically focused on bringing a Wahabist Caliphate to the entire Muslim world. Al Qaeda will not surrender its network. It is its network. And that network has proven incredibly resilient, despite every attempt from a nearly universal collection of institutional powers to extinguish it. (The same can be said about the file-sharing networks which have become the permanent bane of institutional media interests.)
For this reason, we don’t have any easy options. We must understand how the processes of hyperintelligence, hyperempowerment and hyperpolitics work, and make them work for us. Because someone will make it work for them. Indeed, some already have. Unless hyperempowerment is met with hyperempowerment, in a new balance of power, we will simply be pushed around more effectively than ever before, by forces which, acting selfishly, are unlikely to have our own best interests in mind.
So, as we sit and talk pleasantly about blogging and conversational media and Web 2.0, discussing their impacts on Australia’s political system and the global political order, please realize this: we are sitting on a bomb, now half-exploded. Everything we know about how institutions behave is likely to be proven hilariously wrong. We are the institutions now, and we, here in this room, bear full responsibility for our actions. This is the between time, the time when anything can happen. As we rise into hyperempowerment, we need to be mindful of what we want to share, and to what end. For sharing is the shape, the promise, and the danger of our common future.