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Governance without Borders

In 2045 everyone's voice contributes to an emergent global choir!
The drawn peace-, or V-hand-sign encourages people to make use of their voice. through V.O.I.C.E.
Sofiá calibrating a new General Robot care-unit to their new environment.
This future value-compass indicates the thousands of preferences of a single human.

Overview

Governance Without Borders (G-WOB) is a sustainable, technologically advanced society, where the benefits of technological development are distributed more equitably. An educated public is involved in democratic debates and deliberations, and these discussions also encompass technological development as well as how technology should be used. 

Existential Hope Vision

What makes this future a desirable outcome for humanity?

Our world in 2045 is a technologically advanced, sustainable society, where an equitable distribution of technological progress and economic progress allows individuals to pursue individual fulfilment and to participate in democratic governance. 

A new entity—Governance Without Borders (G-WOB)—provides a universal basic income (UBI) to all living individuals through the currency NOBRAC (carbon, but backwards). NOBRAC is backed by the amount of carbon absorbed and stored, making it harder to “mint” as humanity progresses in its net-zero carbon economy goals. 

In this world, humanity has equitable access to technologies. Thanks to AI and other technologies, high quality education is readily accessible to those on the G-WOB platform, which, in conjunction with a universal basic income, creates billions of new innovators and inventors all around the world: this is a world of bottom-up innovation. 

Humanity also participates in the development of technologies through democratic governance. There are hundreds of G-WOB conferences on a wide variety of topics (both technological and non-technological) with robust attendance by the public. G-WOB events have become the new, lively public square, enabling democratic participation, leading to new norms and conventions around technology and the political-economy. 

This is a desirable outcome: there is an empowered public, who are educated and involved. Through debate and discussions, they decide on how technology is used and for what ends.

Top 3 goals of the world:

  • Human development. 95% of humanity can secure their individual livelihoods without working.Our world in 2045 values education, democratic participation, and bottom-up innovation. All of this requires a highly educated and “developed” public. Technological progress has led to the selective automation of most dirty, dangerous, and demeaning jobs in our world. This goal ensures that automation translates into education, human development, and bottom-up participation.
  • Democratic governance. 90% of humanity participates in discussions about the future of technology. Technology is not value-neutral; the benefits are also not equitably distributed. In our world, most of humanity has access to technologies; in addition, the G-WOB platform, conferences, and events have allowed greater democratic participation of the public in the future of technology. 
  • Sustainability. Carbon-positive society that captures more carbon than it emits. Climate change does not only require a net-zero society; carbon needs to be captured to reverse climate change. Our society is a carbon-positive society that captures more carbon than it emits, reversing some of the damage of climate change. 

Significant challenges that this world must overcome:

There are a number of challenges to overcome to achieve the goals above and create a sustainable world with an educated and capable public that participates in democratic governance.

  • The current world is characterized by inequalities in terms of access to technologies and basic economic prosperity. Most people in the world, particularly in the Global South, work in dirty and demeaning jobs without much prospects for improving their conditions, let alone participate in discussions about the future of the world and of technologies. 
  • There are great power imbalances that underlie these inequalities, both in nation-states and in the global political-economic system as a whole. Current systems of governance (again, governance is not limited to government, but includes the broader discussions and decisions made by civil society, private actors, the public, etc.) are captured by special interests and powerful players that use and create political-economic systems for their own benefits.
  • Due to these imbalances, there is a lack of democratic deliberation on what technologies will be used for and how. This is particularly troubling given the existential risks of some of the technologies. 

Additionally, current economic systems are unsustainable, carbon-intensive, and polluting. Human-nature relationships are based on short-term, unsustainable incentives, leading to over-extraction of natural resources.

Core Elements of this World

Technology & Science

1. What is a major problem that AI (not AGI!) has solved in your world, and how did it do so?

AI has played a critical role in technological development, both by increasing individual capacity through education and by changing the process of technological development itself. 

AI has radically changed the education sector. High quality education is available to the majority of people (especially those who have access to the G-WOB platform), which has led to billions of new innovators and inventors participating in the future through technological development. 

AI has also changed the process of technological development. AI has played a critical role in advancing precise manufacturing, synthetic biology, and material science that supports advanced climate tech, neuroscience, and GPT research. AI has done so primarily by making significant strides in research capacity all over the world. AI has made it easier for researchers to navigate the massive size of scientific literature: the AI parses the literature, identifies relevant papers, translates literature enabling global collaboration and summarizes the findings. Not only that, AI can organize research notes, data, ideas, and synthesizes these into novel insights. This allows human researchers to turn their attention to the creative aspects of science, like experimental design and theory development.

2. Why does AGI not exist?

AGI does not exist for two primary reasons Firstly, there are some intractable difficulties with realizing AGI, and secondly, there is still some hesitation by the public about AGI due to its uncontrollable risks. 

The realization of AGI remains elusive primarily due to the immense complexity and theoretical challenges associated with replicating or surpassing human intelligence in a machine. Consciousness, a fundamental yet poorly understood aspect of human cognition, may be necessary for true AGI and could prove impossible to instantiate in artificial systems. Additionally, the world in 2045 increasingly relies on AI for various tasks, and AI systems receive less creative input from humans, potentially stunting their ability to evolve towards AGI. Experts are pointing out this paradox: the closer we get to achieving AGI, the more our reliance on narrow AI is inadvertently limiting the creative and diverse inputs necessary for an AI to achieve general intelligence. 

Additionally, G-WOB has put on numerous conferences related to AGI, both to facilitate discussions about the science and to discuss potential consequences. So far, the global community is hesitant about pursuing AGI development due to the risks, which has limited investment and innovation in the technology.

3. What are two new non-AI technologies that have played an important role in the development of your world?

Climate Tech: Climatech advancements lead to unlimited clean energy and effective carbon capture. Carbon capture has evolved beyond industrial point-source capture to encompass direct air capture (DAC) systems. Ocean iron fertilization enables genetically engineered phytoplanktons to capture and sequester carbon, turning the ocean into a light-driven carbon sink. Innovations in materials science led to development of highly effective sorbents that can bind carbon dioxide at much lower energy costs, making DAC both economically viable and scalable. Once captured, the carbon dioxide is either sequestered underground in geological formations that were once depleted oil and gas fields or used in carbon utilization processes. 

Neurotech: Whole Brain Emulation (WBE) represents a monumental leap in neuroscience and computational biology, creating functional digital replicas of human brains. In 2045, we have not yet executed full WBE but have made major breakthroughs. In healthcare, WBE has led to breakthrough therapies for conditions previously difficult to treat, such as Alzheimer's, PTSD, and neurological damage from strokes. In education, WBE has expanded our intellectual and emotional capital. We now can access to simulated brains of great thinkers, experts, and animals, which has sped up the acquisition of knowledge and skills, enhanced decision-making and metacognitive processes, and deepened our empathy and understanding across different life perspectives.

4. How does your world utilize technology and address potential coordination challenges and risks arising from the technologies you focus on?

In our world, the integration and governance of advanced technologies, including AI, are governed democratically by Governance Without Borders (G-WOB), which holds hundreds of events online and in conference venues around the world. These events are attended by a wide cross-section of humanity, who are able to keep up and participate in these discussions thanks to expanded educational resources and a universal basic income provided by G-WOB, which allows them to invest their time in the things that matter to them. Democratic participation has led to norms, cultural expectations, and institutions that have worked to address coordination challenges and risks associated with novel technologies. 

G-WOB’s global influence comes from its large global user base—over 85% of users participate. While the world in 2045 is a multipolar world with powerful players like China, the EU, the US, and ASEAN, G-WOB’s global influence has worked to reduce the influence of supra-national, national, and sub-state interests that often drive technological development for military and economic dominance. Democratic participation, facilitated by G-WOB, has fostered stronger incentives for open technological development and has established robust norms within the international system. 

Values & Community

1. How do people live, work, and interact in this hopeful future?

People inhabit sustainable communities. Homes are energy-efficient, there are abundant clean energy sources, and carbon capture technologies are slowly undoing the harms created by climate change. People live in communities that practice proper stewardship of nature, learning about ecology and nature. People are mobile and free to travel, learning about different expressions of humanity all over the world. 

Work is redefined. Unlike work in 2020, work in 2045 is not limited by the production of economic value. Automation handles repetitive tasks, freeing humans for creative, purpose-driven endeavors that are not necessarily reflected in GDP. Care-work is valued for its own sake, and people recognize the importance of care and strong relationships as a reflection of their humanity. There is bottom-up innovation as people pursue what interests them. Formerly “useless” endeavours like the arts and philosophy flourish.

G-WOB has changed how people interact and has made governance democratic. Not only do people engage in cross-cultural dialogues, but they engage in dialogues about the future of political, economic, and technological conditions. This is supported by educational technologies and an educated public. 

2. What is a notable beneficial trend in this world and what is a trend many are concerned about?

In 2045, one notable good trend is democratic participation. Facilitated by new educational opportunities and the G-WOB platform, the global public is interested in participating in discussions about the important events in the day, and takes a future-oriented perspective on the issues coming in the future. By participating in these discussions and making their voices heard, there is a bottom-up approach to democratic governance on multiple levels: in the local community, on the level of sub-national jurisdictions, on the level of the nation-state, as well as on the international level. These conversations lead to norms, institutions, new advocacy organizations, private sector organizations, as well as policy changes. 

There is one trend that many are concerned about, and these are existential risks resulting from novel technologies. While the public attempts to keep themselves informed and educated about new technologies and the potential risks associated with them, there is the awareness that technologies are not 100% controllable. There is always the chance that rogue actors misuse and abuse technologies for their own gain. 

3. Which of today’s values does society keep, which of today’s values does society expel, and which new values has this society added?

In 2045, society has kept some values, like the respect for democracy and education. However, the practice of these values have been greatly modified: people do not experience democracy as the practice of voting once every couple years for a politician; instead, democracy is understood as a process of political participation. Additionally, education has changed in its delivery (see Economy & Institutions, Q2, for full details) and in its purpose. People engage in lifelong education and pursue education for its own sake. 

Some values have been expelled. Short-term rent-seeking behaviour is discouraged and looked down upon, especially as most people have access to UBI, and they are able to engage in activities that give their lives purpose. 

New values have emerged in 2045, namely respect for nature and creativity for the sake of creativity. Climate change and environmental destruction have made people reevaluate their relationship with nature. There is a general interest in ecology and nature among the public, and more and more people consider themselves stewards of nature. As for creativity for its own sake, UBI and educational technologies have made it possible for people to pursue their interests. While creativity was once valued only for its potential economic value, the culture has changed, and creativity is pursued for the sake of creativity. 

Economy & Institutions

1. What is a new or reformed institution that has played an important role in the development of your world?

One new institution, Governance Without Borders, has made a pivotal transformation in the world in 2045. G-WOB is an opt-in platform with a UBI component. NOBRAC is the name of the cryptocurrency attached to G-WOB, and a certain number of NOBRAC is deposited under the identity of any individual unconditionally, whether they participate or not. Any individual who opts in with their personal identity can claim the accumulated NOBRAC. 

G-WOB has grown its userbase to encompass over 85% of the global population. It is an important forum for democratic participation and deliberation on the most pressing issues in the world, like technological development. Every year, hundreds of events and conferences are held by G-WOB users on a voluntary basis, convening a wide and diverse cross-section of society, including civil society, nation-state actors, private sector, not-for-profits, and the interested public. Several of these events and conferences are related to new technologies, where participants discuss everything from the technicalities of new technologies to their risks and how to govern them. As such, the institution is leading forums on the governance of technologies that pose existential risks to humanity.

2. How has one sector of society been transformed by new technologies?

The education sector has been transformed due to the technologies available in the year 2045. Climatech has allowed for net-zero transportation and green energy, which has facilitated the transportation of students and members of the public to conferences, events, and educational institutions all around the world. (While education happens virtually, the movement of people has proven to be necessary particularly when it comes to studies on the environment and nature due to the intractable material characteristics of nature.) 

Neurotech, particularly Whole Brain Emulation (WBE), has greatly expanded access to intellectual capital. We now have access to simulated brains of great thinkers, experts, and animals, which has sped up the acquisition of knowledge and skills, enhanced decision-making and metacognitive processes, and deepened our empathy and understanding across different life perspectives.

Additionally, AI and network technologies (i.e., Starlink) provides access to high quality learning programs for at zero marginal cost. AI tutors can create personalized curriculum, answer questions, provoke learners with their questions, and create assignments. The classroom and teachers still exist, but in another role. Teachers operate like technologists and facilitators who teach students how to interact with AI and learning technologies. In classrooms, students learn soft skills and transferable skills like communication and presentation skills, which are important for democratic participation.

3. How have the following branches of economics evolved, and what are their current roles?

Microeconomics (individuals and organizations)

The provision of universal basic income to a global population has transformed how individuals and organizations behave in the market. Freed from the compulsion of labor to secure their basic livelihoods, a growing number of individuals have exited the formal labor market; they are less focused on producing economic value and instead, they operate in a higher region of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, working towards what they consider valuable, whether that be citizen science, technological development, creative pursuits, or caring for the community and nature. New organizations are emerging around these interests, connected by a global internet connection provided by Starlink; unlike older organizations in pre-UBI times, these organizations are horizontal and voluntary clubs with members rather than employees.

Macroeconomics (nation-state level – if it still exists)

The G-WOB platform has changed the level of control that nation-states have over their citizens, who produce economic value, and by extension, their economies. Governance Without Borders has created post-scarcity conditions for those that opt-in and there is a growing section of the economy that is not concerned with producing economic value, as is measurable in GDP. Facing a declining tax base and a mobile population, nation-states are forced to adapt: they are forced to listen to their citizens and to provide benefits for their citizens, undermining any tendencies towards plutocracy and state capture by special interests.

Global Political Economy (global economic policies and geopolitics)

A unipolar world has largely transformed into a multipolar world in 2045: China, EU, and the US have the most political and economic power and they are joined by regional players like ASEAN, the Latin American countries, and an emerging bloc of countries in Africa called the African Union. However, individual nation-states and supra-national blocs (e.g., EU, African Union) are ceding parochial political and economic interests to pursue the global public good due to the emergence of Governance Without Borders. Governance Without Borders has drawn a majority of the world’s population as users from most countries in the world, giving it bottom-up influence and authority as the forum for democratic deliberation on political and economic issues, as well as the world’s most pressing issues.

A day in the life

Ayesha had finished her call with her father just as her jet plane touched down in Neom, Saudi Arabia. It was dark—it was 3am. She removed her headset and sighed. Her father, as usual, had nagged at her for an hour before complaining for another hour about her artist-inventor mother, who was trying to create, as she repeatedly told Ayesha, “a fully-immersive haptic experience of untouched Amazonian rainforests prior to the Sixth Mass Extinction.” 

Ayesha knew her father nagged because he cared. Three years ago, at the age of 18, Ayesha left her parent’s home in Neo-Lahore to Rotterdam, where she studied anticipatory governance of nanotechnology. Ayesha promised her father that she would visit them after her three-day conference at Neom. 

The flight from Rotterdam to Neom lasted three long hours on the new Airbus A-675. After the robotic flight attendants had given their signal, Ayesha jumped out of her seat to stretch her legs. Stepping onto the tarmac, a wave of dry heat overwhelmed Ayesha. So this is the Middle East, she thought. Ayesha stepped into an air-conditioned automated vehicle, which drove her to the sky train that would bring her to her hotel. 

On the platform, tired passengers from all over the world spoke to each other in different languages. Ayesha resisted the urge to put on her headset, which would translate the conversations around her. The sky train arrived; she found a window seat. The train silently started. 

Ayesha looked out the window into the city. The city of Neom was fully lodged in the awe-inspiring megastructure called the Line, completed in 2032. It was filled with lighted block-like buildings of all sizes, with spots of verdure that conflicted with Ayesha’s preconceptions of the Middle East. I guess it is the same here as it is all over the world, she thought. It was a norm for cities to practise harmonious stewardship of nature after the Sixth Mass Extinction, supported with citizen interest. 

Ayesha personally found the architecture passé—she liked the newer modular style in vogue in Rotterdam, which incorporated nanotechnology to be adaptable and modifiable. The newer designs even incorporated neurotechnology; the home would automatically reconfigure itself by reading the user’s thoughts. 

When she arrived at the hotel room, she collapsed into her bed. The room AI recognized her fatigue, dimmed the lights, and lit a soothing floral scent. 

—- 

“RING-RING-RING.”

Ayesha woke up and turned off her headset alarm. It was 9am. The alarm chose this time by calculating her fatigue levels, her schedule for the day, and the amount of time that she would need to get ready. 

She sat up in her bed and put on her headset. The AR interface projected her applications in front of her. She checked her video mails. She noticed that 3 NOBRAC were deposited into her wallet: she was busy and forgot that it was payday. Ayesha dressed and headed out to the conference. 

Ayesha came for the annual Governance Without Borders (GWOB) bioscience and biosecurity conference, the largest of its kind, attended by civil society, private actors, NGOs, the interested public, and national representatives from almost all over the world. (Officially, North Korea banned the platform, but she often saw users claiming to be from North Korea.) 

Ayesha entered into the conference lobby, an air conditioned room with intricate Islamic patterns decorating the walls, sunlight streaming in from the stained glass windows. Hundreds of people were speaking in dozens of different languages, translated by AI through their headsets. Robotic waiters zoomed around with appetizers and coffee. 

“Hi, my name is Pablo, is this your first time too? I’ve never been to the Middle East before—it is so exciting!” A flustered young man approached her. 

“Hi Pablo, my name is Ayesha. I’ve never been to the GWOB bioscience and biosecurity conference before, but I’vebeen to their nanotechnology conferences,” Ayesha said. 

“That’s so cool, I signed up to GWOB a few months ago—it’s only recently been unblocked in my country.” 

“I’ve been a member for years now.” 

“I wish I had joined earlier; I’ve been using the platform and learning about the life sciences with my AI tutor to become a doctor in my town….” Pablo’s eyes shone with excitement. 

They talked about the sessions they were planning to attend. Pablo was heading to the “New AI Use Cases in Bioscience Innovation” session, while Ayesha’s first event was the “Governing Existential Biosecurity Risks” panel with experts from the Foresight Institute, the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, and the UN. One of her heroes, Allison Duettmann, was even set to make a live appearance; Ayesha had only seen Allison in hologram form before. 

—- 

The final keynote presentation, “Undoing Extinction: Ethical considerations,” ended and Ayesha's mind was buzzing with new ideas. It was 6pm. Feeling tired from all the socializing, Ayesha found an isolated parkette, where she could sit and think about the day.

She thought about her encounter with Pablo. Her father often told her stories about the past. There was a flood that had devastated Pakistan—she was a child back then and could only remember the feeling of wetness—they had lost all their worldly possessions. Her parents had signed up as one of the first users of GWOB for the free educational content, not understanding the function of the NOBRAC that were piling up in their account. As the platform spread, so did the use of NOBRAC as a currency, and so did her family’s material conditions. Her father had also told her about their family’s lack of access to technologies; he joked that they jumped from the Stone Age to the modern age in less than a decade. 

There was a bright red sunset; the trees in the parkette cast a long, friendly shadow around her. Her family was fortunate to be participating in creating the future; she hoped Pablo, now that he was on the platform, could as well. 

Filled with hope and optimism for what is to come, Ayesha started walking to explore Neom.

Timeline

2025: Personalized Medicine and Cost of Thriving

Personalized medicine and precise drug delivery systems become widely available, improving healthcare outcomes and increasing life expectancy. A team of researchers publishes

a paper on how to measure and optimize the "cost of thriving" for each person, based on their personalized needs for nutrition, water, air quality, socializing, mental health, and entertainment.

2027: Global Technology Council and Smart Social Contract

  • A new multi-national global institution, called the Global Technology Council (GTC), is formed to regulate and coordinate the access and development of technologies, especially those with potential social, ethical, and environmental implications.
  • Techno-idealists create a cryptocurrency built on a "Smart Social Contract" (SSCoin) platform that automatically includes accounts for all living persons. SSC leaders plan to buy undervalued technologies with universal benefits and license them, issuing the dividends as a universal basic income (UBI). They are unsure how to achieve this. They start the attempt, nonetheless, and overcome some early humiliations with pure grit.

2030: Starlink and Global Public Technology Office

  • 3 years after starting, and after successfully becoming the first smart social contract platform without the value of the Coin becoming particularly high, SSCoin makes its first purchase: negotiated rights to use Starlink downtime for universal internet access. Starlink is a satellite internet constellation developed by SpaceX, which provides high-speed broadband access around the world.
  • SSCoin also buys shares in a company special-built to be a proxy for the new global public technology office (GPTO), which develops and evaluates technologies for the public good.
  • The concept of selling shares in private proxies for public entities which are legally required to follow the guidance from the entities gets some traction in the financial sector following SSCoin working through some kinks, and a surprising amount of copycats end up adding value to the SSCoin platform unexpectedly. They simply cannot work without the smart social contracts.

2034: NOBRAC and Carbon Capture Technologies

  • SSCoin spins off NOBRAC (NOB) carbon-capture based currency, but retains a connection as the peg to which SSCoin will remain fixed. NOBRAC is backed by the amount of atmospheric carbon humans absorb and sequester, creating an incentive for carbon reduction.
  • Advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and AI enable the development of carbon capture technologies (CCTs), which can efficiently and cheaply remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into useful products, such as fuels, plastics, and fertilizers.

2036: Democratic Reforms and Optional Jobs

  • Thanks to the free flow of information, national governments in autocracies such as China, Iran, and North Korea are forced to make compromises and test democratic reforms.
  • SSCoin UBI has become the de-facto source of income for most users and after purchasing Amazon and Alibaba has sufficient distribution power to ensure that all users have their personalized health needs met.
  • Jobs feel optional to users of SSCoin, who can ask the algorithms to create social contracts for them resulting in sufficient funds and take advantage of their UBI.
  • Unemployment is at an all-time low everywhere except areas with the highest cost of living or bad SSCoin exchange rates. Employment, where measured separately from unemployment, is also dropping, which mystifies traditionalists who believe employment is a zero sum game.

2038: Governance Without Borders

  • SSCoin, the GTC Proxy Inc. and several NGOs including Doctors without Borders collaborate to expand SSCoin into Governance Without Borders (G-WOB).
  • G-WOB is a platform that allows anyone with free internet access to participate in global decision-making and problem-solving, using SSCoin as a medium of exchange, reward, and incentive structure reconciliation with existing corporations and governments.
  • G-WOB becomes the default governance platform for governments, individuals, and international organizations, enabling a more transparent, inclusive, and effective global governance system.
  • Most publicly traded companies and governments now have proxy entities on SSCoin which emulate their value structures and allow SSCoin users to create smart contracts with the derivative entities. While these attempts to contract have a >50% failure rate, it is built in, and the successful contracts vastly improve the efficiency of the proxied entities.

2040: SpaceX and Further Technology Purchases

  • SSCoin purchases sufficient shares in SpaceX to create a  contract with in perpetuity for maintenance of the Starlink fleet, continuing to allow privileged satellite internet access for exorbitant fees, and plowing  the funds into further technology purchases.
  • SSCoin creates a platform for users and proxies to invest in space and asteroid mining, with every human a likely beneficiary. This resolves many (but not all) issues with international relations regarding space mining, and risk-tolerant companies and proxies begin dragging rare earth metal asteroids to orbits which allow mining.
  • The future value of SSCoin (traded on derivatives markets) skyrockets to reflect the trillions of dollars in minerals being moved based on smart contracts and plans made solely on the platform. Traditionalists are mystified as to why SSCoin is worth anything at all.

2042: Carbon Negative Humanity and NOBRAC Value

  • Humanity becomes carbon negative for the first time since the industrial revolution, absorbing more carbon than it emits. NOBRAC becomes more difficult to mint, but also more valuable and stable.
  • Prior trends in SSCoin and the world continue. There is a general feeling that the holdouts need to come around or there will be a world war, but also a feeling that should such a war come about, nations fighting SSCoin and G-WOB will find that their own citizens are not on their side.