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Mesh Governance - Concepts and Principles

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15th Jun 2018

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Outlining the concept of mesh governance and core principles for successful mesh development at large. Presented in the context of the 2018 Hub Culture Innovation Campus in France, a 3 week programme running in Paris, Cannes and Monaco, and kicking off at the Transform AI meeting on artificial intelligence developments.
(Presented in Paris, June 15, 2018, by Stan Stalnaker)
Networks are evolving quickly, especially at the edges. The rapid rate of change can be unnerving because it challenges our learned behaviours involving security, opening a primal risk underneath us. What was safe and secure yesterday is today gone. What was dangerous yesterday seems imperative today.
This change delta energises itself from a common factor, connectivity. As connectivity increases in a network, the ability for nodes in the network to transmit energy in all forms, to act resolutely, to evolve separately, and to move in new ways, grows. This change marginalises old power centres, who are used to seeing distribution occur through them from the centre instead of around them along the edge. At the same time, in any given network these new direct communication routes are empowering non-centred points where a competitive advantage becomes apparent. The advantage may result from any number of factors, but instead of becoming a centre distribution point, they become a power node not located at the centre of the network. Eventually we can imagine these networks to start looking like donuts, with a multidimensional web of connections that routinely bypass a non-existent center.
In some cases, the extreme edges of a network are gaining new power because the ability to connect with other networks that are disparate from the first network can be strongest at the edge. This furthers the case for decentralization toward the edges of a network in order to magnify outcomes related to growth. It also means that convergence across networks and scaling networks for cooperation is one of the greatest opportunities out there.
Driven in part by the explosion of social content and platforms around the world, the visibility of the network architecture is accelerating our move toward network economies. Companies and governments in legacy formats rely on traditional hierarchies to control and distribute power - using communication routes to trusted nodes, which relay onward through the network in a linear cascade. In decentralised networks this has changed, and after initial resistance, we are now seeing the absorption of both companies and governments into network architectures that promote decentralisation.
From these factors one can see the outlines of mesh governance - a non hierarchy oriented system designed to flourish in the networld now emerging. In mesh governance systems some forms of competition become counterproductive, while coexistence becomes a system imperative. Power nodes are no longer controlled at or from the centre, but at chokepoints in the network where some kind of variance provides an advantage for growth. Such an example exists in Bitcoin, where concentration among miners around the production of the currency is very pronounced, but work is cooperatively done in service of a system that thrives on decentralisation.
As companies and government functions are transformed by network architectures, the need to operate across multiple networks has never been stronger. This goes beyond interoperability - what is needed is inter co operability - the ability for a network to retain properties of its existence while effectively cooperating with many other networks. Typically this breaks down to a competition for resources (usually financial) which sets networks up for conflict between each other in an attempt to control the resources necessary for the network to operate effectively.
A pat answer might say the Sharing Economy is designed to solve this, but while it mitigates some of the egregious results, the lack of decentralisation of the sharing economy company into a network architecture prevents the full impact of the project becoming realised. It is still owned by founders and investors, not customers and employees, and there remains divisions between all four.
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For mesh governance to exist, we will have to co opt the networks to cooperate by demonstrating their own self interest in the mesh, which points toward an emphatic individualism - the successful involvement of all nodes. This could include node voices (so a voting system) and the creation of universal incentives that reward participation. Over time, this points toward the replacement of jobs and work in favour of node by node contributions for whatever the mesh thinks it needs. This will also require a rethink of participation - with exponentially scaling jurisdictions, rights among personas, infrastructure for digital-only participants, and pervasive holonics to enable independent action.
Lets break these areas down:
Exponentially Scaling Jurisdictions
The fabric of the mesh needs to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is existing and emerging platforms for governance - such as governments and protocols. Together, technical protocols (especially in the form of advanced AI) will enable governments to scale a new class of citizenry, who are able to opt in to governance at particular locations in the mesh and for particular reasons or scenarios.
We are already beginning to see this in the world of smart contracts, where all manner of activity can be enabled away from the centre. Smaller governments in particular have a role to play here, as they compete to scale interoperable rules to attract wider and wider audiences. As these locations generate rules, they will be joined by virtual communities that maintain their own rules, and at some point the connection between these protocols, states, and virtual communities will require mesh.
Digizen Infrastructure
The demand for jurisdiction convergence will come from the need for reliable digizen infrastructure. Digizens, or digital citizens, have different needs than Citizens in the nation state system. Some of the needs met by the nation state system can not yet be replicated by digital forces, but others already have been. As the mesh between virtual and physical becomes stronger, we can expect to see crossover between the two. Digizen infrastructure is being built most quickly in the blockchain and AI space, where any number of companies are seeking to digitise and revitalise the roles of the state - from new forms of tokenised economics to the provision of core state services by the crowd itself. From vault storage to identity, rights management to legal ownership, many functions of the state are beginning to be replicated in some way by the digital world.
Pervasive Holonics
So if everything becomes a network,, and companies function like networks and digizens opt-in to the governance scenarios that are most appealing, there can be no singular winners or profit seeking owners. There can be power nodes who gain and wield influence or value from their perspective or location in the network. It could be compared to traffic intersections - no one street intersection rules the traffic of a city, but some intersections (nodes) are crucial for the network's governance and smooth operation. Traffic systems like this are holonic, with nesting rules that work in a small location or a big one equally well, and with common principles that can be applied anywhere in the system. This implies the need for high levels of diversity tolerance.
Universal Basic Incentives
In a mesh governance system, rules and jobs are replaced by incentives, which are in turn produced by the network as needed to ensure inter co operability. An incentive in the network could be exchangeable to any other incentive in the network on a bilateral basis, without the need for conversion to a central value system. This is a fundamental principle of a mesh system - as good mesh governance supports a diversity tolerance through the embrace of holonic systems. Universal incentives may not always be applied evenly or to everyone, but would benefit from their potential to change in value over time - which accelerates actions and energy today in exchange for expectations about the improvement of the network and governance system tomorrow. In such a way, one can envision the mobilisation of large projects via mesh governance systems that require enormous energy which is not immediately available from the system or the nodes in the system.
Persona Rights
Along the pervasive holonics theory of diversity tolerance, the development of mesh networks will require proportionizing - actively manipulating the shape and structure of the participants in the system to the needs of the individual participant nodes. The idea that a node can have several dimensions, like the facet of a diamond, where different types of connections are made available depending on the faceted persona required, or the ability to combine facets to spin up differently constructed nodes, is crucial for a governance system that can scale beyond companies and individual humans. In such a way, groups or hubs of activity can obtain and use rights in the mesh. Recombination of these facets, and the ability to manage multiple personas across facets is crucial not just for network management but for wealth creation by the network mesh. In such a way, we can imagine many more types of value creation across the system, not just from an incentives/financial point of view, but from recombination factors that enable new forms of cooperation, new types of nodes in the system, and reinforced diversity within the network.
Together these factors can lay the groundwork for benevolent governance systems that embrace principles humans say they want. Power nodes in the network operate in a new way, based on both transparent or invisible factors, but not necessarily as system owners with the old motivating hierarchies. In this way, no single person, country, company, network or participant in the system owns the system - not unlike the world today. The key difference is that in such a mesh, we are better able to align activity in ways that benefit the common good, without the tyranny of the many or the few.
As AI moves to the forefront of our technical experience, mesh governance could become a helpful architecture in guiding inherent benevolence. As AIs then converge into the mesh, it could be our final insurance policy against a future of inescapable machine learned control systems.