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Small may be Beautiful (again)

Look at many of the worlds largest commercial organisations – what do you see?  Probably many of these businesses bulldozing and bullying their way through our civil liberties, using their unprecedented power to affect political and governance outcomes, leaning on small businesses and individuals creating an unfair playing field for their wares and services.

The same is true of many large non profit organisations.  Political parties, civil service organisations, large charities are all a law unto themselves with few, if any mechanisms for change or oversight.  Even well meaning large organisations can become unwieldy and intransigent, leaving both individuals and small organisations failing in their wake.

CST has a simple remedy.  Why not move to utilising small organisations across the board?  This sounds like ‘nuts’, and currently such a radical move is clearly impossible.

However, (with CST always expect the unexpected), as the paradigms shift over the next thirty years or so, (see technological disconnects), the socio-political landscape is likely to change so profoundly, the move to Small Is Beautiful may offer not just an alternative for all our societies, but indeed prove an enhanced way forward.

CST will try to explain why we think this may happen:

The main changes to our future will almost certainly be technologically lead.  This has been true for many centuries and there is nothing on the horizon that looks likely to change this.  Factors such as climate change, natural disasters or wars, (provided they are not catastrophic), will if anything quicken such change.

We do not know which technologies will emerge or indeed what new trends they may form.  However, the general trend of technological change has been to provide more power to individuals by increasing the leverage of their natural abilities.  The move to globalisation, (of commerce), has been made possible by theses same technologies. Consider the key technologies that have directly affected globalisation over the last two hundred years; steam shipping, the telegraph, railways, the telephone, the automobile, radio, commercial flight, television and currently the internet and mobile phone.

All of these have also provided for immense new facilities for individuals, although these usually take time to filter down to the individual level as the first use is driven by commerce and the very well off as it is too expensive for most individuals.  However, it is clear that all of theses technologies have become available to many individuals over time and the time lag between first use and mass individual use has increasingly shortened.

Globalisation is reaching a zenith.  There are now only a few global companies or global organisations in many of the major industries.  Most large economies already have commercial laws preventing further consolidation.  There is also a rising backlash against such global businesses that are deemed to have too much control (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon et al).  Already the new internet technologies have created many fundamental changes to personal abilities (email, social networking, crowdsourcing, crowdlending, kickstarter, music streaming, films on demand, MOOC’s, virtual currencies, etc).

A small business can today avail themselves of very sophisticated commercial systems for global communication, marketing and project management often at little or no charge. (eg services such as websites, global email, online calendar, cloud storage online docs et al).  Just twenty years ago these technologies were only available to large corporations and cost a great deal of money to implement and maintain.  Today, anyone with good business idea may crowdfund it, market online, take orders and payments online and send automatic invoices.  This is an amazing change to commercial possibilities.  The global businesses will still have a strong hold on many industries for some time, especially where there are monopolies (such as Microsoft and Google), and where there are volume issues (eg Amazon) and where there are massive capital requirements (oil, vehicles etc).

Emerging Tech's

But, what of the next generation of potential technologies?  The 3D printer created a stir.  It is not well understood however and this technology is in fact not new, but the public clearly liked the idea of home manufacturing.  It is a brave person who bets on the next big thing, but at least we can identify some emerging technologies; 5G, robotics, wearable or embedded technologies, online education, 3D virtual gaming.

It is unlikely that the new big ideas have all been done already, we just don’t know what is coming and how fast.  One of the major talking points is now robotics.  Lets take just one example of this emerging technology. 

Much work is being done here by many in both research and commercial organisations. When we finally have a workable, cheap robot that can sensibly understand simple commands, work with information flows and work alongside us without causing harm, this will move us all to new heights.  Gone will be many jobs and tasks for humans.  This is almost certain to have massive economic effect.  Initially the large corporations will be the first users, driving down price as they replace many employees for robot systems.

As the technology spreads, new industries will spring up to utilise these new ways of getting things done. However, less and less employee paid work will be available the further this technology spreads.  As this has the potential to move across nearly all industry sectors, it is difficult to see the emergence of many new jobs being created due to new opportunities.  There will be some, perhaps in areas such as personal leisure, tourism, highly skilled manual jobs and personal health care.

So, in our scenario, socio-political changes will have to occur first.  Society simply does not work with excessive unemployment; there will need to be a new paradigm for what we now call the work/life balance.  Maybe we shall see some form of cradle to grave ‘pension’ (or CST’s life share). Such a change would open opportunities to move away from global corporations and perhaps large organisational bodies.  We have already seen that we have the main technologies to enable individual and small business communication and endeavour.  As many of the large corporations become less relevant, (as local robotics will provide many more local manufacturing and services), it makes sense that individuals will create new organisations to tackle the local needs of people.

An Example Scenario

Take for example electrical power production.  There is already a move towards local power production (mainly solar and wind or even small nuclear).  Couple these to hydrogen production and a local distribution system, (linking into a larger network), and with the new fuel cell technologies.  This provides for a self-sustaining local provision for all power consumption and transport.

This type of change provides for small local organisations to take control of their own needs, administered by local people in some form of new organisational model where people do not expect to get directly paid. Perhaps, for instance, a group of local people created such a power grid for themselves (with the help of robotics) and provided electricity and hydrogen for all local use.  There may be a number of similar small organisations that provide services and manufacturing, all driven by robotics but organised on the basis of some form of not for profit model.  Perhaps this will see the rise of local virtual currencies. Large organisations would have little incentive to compete with such small organisations as there is no direct profit.

Governments take note

As CST likes to help the future along, we have an idea here for future governments to implement.  When the time comes to alleviate the society’s dilemma of robotics vs jobs the Government of the day could set up a new legal framework for local endeavour.  This would enable not for profit organisations to create local services by local people.  The people involved could be the first to gain from a ‘life share pension’.  These people would sign up to supporting these new local endeavours.  A new type of governance for these organisations would be required.  This could be based on CST’s ideas for new politics, (see a better political system) and are ideal for local implantation directly for the governance and oversight of these new small organisations - by the people for the people.  As this becomes the norm, the reliance on centralised governance and large organisations will diminish or even dwindle entirely.  

New Global Currency
At the same time, Governments could enable a world wide currency.  This would provide a base system on which to measure life shares, and continue to provide a global exchange system for essential imports and exports.  A new global currency could be of fixed value.  This is of course the holy grail for any currency system, whatever standard is used the value may go up and down.
CST has thought of an interesting way to fix this value and link it to the very substance of life.  A new currency could be fixed to the total number of human beings alive.  As the population grows so would the currency.  Every person killed (say by war) would reduce the value – a good incentive not to kill people! This value is relatively easy to measure (give or take a few hundred thousand which is less than a hundredth of a percent error). 

Such a fixed currency would probably lead to deflation. As the amount of money would be effectively fixed in the short term, it would become more valuable in terms of availability of abundant products and resources (robotically created or mined and therefore ‘cheap’ to produce).  In a post economic political and social system this is not important, it would just reflect the true value of ‘things’ and the changing way that the robots are changing the ‘cost’ of production.  People's ‘life shares’ if paid in this fixed currency would simply buy more as the robotic revolution continues apace. Just what we need.

Some people think this idea of a currency based on a human population count is 'nuts'. However to show how this could work, consider this currency as a virtual currency, only existing within computing based systems globally connected using the internet, rather like bitcoin. Whereas other virtual currencies require a mechanism for production, CST's human count currency would simply be issued (by a world bank) to replace other currencies from the existing total (currently 7.3 Billion people or multiple thereof). As this new global currency exists effectively within a closed loop system (with all the necessary check and balances), it would be impossible to create more money. Thus the major downfall of all other currencies, ie the printing of more money, (cf £350Bn recently printed by the UK and $3.7 Trillion by the US treasury), would be impossible. The money total would slowly grow (see www.worldometers.info/) by about 2,200 per hour matching the actual human population growth.

The point of using the population count as the direct link to the amount issued is that it is one of the very few real things that cannot easily be manipulated, and as such would provide the stability factor that gives the necessary 'faith' in believing in something that in effect never exists. (cf Terry Pratchet's 'MAKING MONEY' where the bank is run by the conman, of course). This money system also has the advantage of being able to grow as the need grows.

What do you think? Comments invited – you heard the future first from CST.







































































Comments, Ideas and Feedback





How will the globalisation issue pan-out?  People are beginning to feel their personal loss of control and understand the unfairness caused by the power of global organisations.  New paradigms are emerging, forced on us all by new technologies. How may these change the socio-political landscape?  And how may they allow smaller organisations, backed by a new framework of local political structures, work to help stabilise such radical changes?  We throw into this heady mix an imaginative solution for a new fixed value global currency - that may actually work.


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