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Exploring Deep Regeneration
How do we develop tech based solutions along cultural transformation? Please, follow me into this active reading:
I propose a term -Deep Regeneration- and a definition:
“Acknowledging the cultural changes -new belief systems, value based tech infrastructures, new collaboration models- needed in order to turn a business into a force for good in the context of today’s Life crisis.”
Are we aware that our Regen solutions should contribute to new frameworks of references questioning the centrality of consumer culture and markets of goods?
We cannot consider a carbon neutral society if its values are perpetuating a culture of waste and addiction and of natural ressources overuse. Corporations cannot continue to maximize profits while their environmental costs are not included into the equation.
Are we aware of the deep cultural disruption we need to initiate to sustain a Regen world?
How to develop tech based solutions along cultural transformation?
Music was not always this way. (I learnt it from Professor Michael Spitzer, the author of The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth. Most of what I am sharing regarding music is from him.)
Music was more something like if you were in a concert hall together with no stage. The music would be created in the crowd by the crowd. It was a participatory experience which was turned by Western culture into a history of piece of works and composers. “Western culture freezed music as an object but music was not an object, it was an activity. The idea of a composer is a purely modern invention.”1
We take for granted many aspects of our lives while historically they are often the outcomes of power disputes which might be questioned:
1/Let’s take the electrical grid, historically, interconnected centralized networks have been chosen over decentralized and independent access to energy (Architecture historian Fanny Lopez has written extensively about it).2 Do we know that Edison was initially in favor of local systems powered by small-scale power plants? Centralized electrical networks was a choice which transfigured our societies, our representations of the world and our place within this world. Today, our representations of energy and our relationship to it as individuals are about to evolve deeply along our tech and social infrastructures.
2/Think about the development of consumer goods markets in America and Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. It has been a choice! A choice between an easier life for factory workers- see Keynes's 1930 essay about the 15 hours work a week thanks to automated machines 3 - and the decision to rather create consumer goods markets and new needs for people through the encouragement of feelings of lack using psychological informed advertising.4
3/ Look at the early times of AI, this was a choice as well! At the beginning of the 1950s, there were two series of meetings that greatly influenced the way we conceive AI today. On the one hand, a group of mathematicians and one psychologist met at Dartmouth College (including Marvin Minsky considered to be the father of AI), and on the other hand, in New York, the MACY conferences were held inviting researchers from all disciplines, scientists, psychologists and anthropologists. What was done in New York was put aside to make room for mathematicians. Only today, scientists like Laurence Devillers5 evoke the need for a multidisciplinary approach, by definition less power centric. 6
In these 3 examples: the electrical grid, the consumer cultural model and the AI early times, choices had been made at the advantage of a centralized power and at the cost of the main aspect of Life: diversity (it can be understood both in its cultural and biological sense). Cultural diversity goes along with the development of local, small and medium size organizations. It limits, in its essence, ecosystems negative impacts.
Reproducing Objects Identically
Let's go back to music history: Michael Spitzer explains that with the invention of the staff notation by Guido d’Arezzo in the early Middle Age, music had evolved from a common experience to an object to be carefully reproduced7. The staff notation allowed people “to capture what was free and ephemeral” and always different. People started to learn to reproduce music identically. This was “a tool of Church control” in Europe and later during the colonization of the Americas.
Same in engineering culture: “We continue today to learn in engineering schools to reuse identically the tools and methodologies we have learnt”, as astrophysicist and eco-activist Aurélien Barrau says. He adds, “we scientists, find it difficult to think otherwise than in terms of a technical problem to which we should bring a technical solution”.
Like the piece of work in music as described by Michael Spitzer, valuing and reproducing objects identically -which is at the base of consumer culture and market economy-is intrinsically linked to power and control. It is opposed to the development of subjectivities when individuals engage through creativity, connections and experiences, which is is at the core of life, at the core of our Decentralized Desires…
The Objectivization of Everything
Beyond music or dance, Western culture values flourished through the objectivization of everything: health, culture, human bodies…From the Middle Age to its climax: the birth and development of consumer culture in the 20th century.
We have highlighted above how the production of identical objects is linked to control and power over others. Today, objects and products have invaded our intimate lives: many parts of our individualities have turned from subject to object: our moves in public spaces, our internal physiological movements such as our heart beat and our non physical movements like our emotions, are all objects of observation, they are all useful data to be monetized by others.
So, how to fully step into a Regenerative World when we need to disrupt our cultural frameworks? How do we do to embrace the un-imaginable?
What imaginative art and storytelling give us is the ability to imagine alternative endings as attainable. Ursula K. Le Guin
This is an exploration we initiated with Younergy Crypto -a DApp to invest directly into solar energy and get revenue share along carbon credits-.: looking at the users cultural shift along the innovative technology.
As I mentioned in another article, Younergy Crypto proposal to the general public is radically new. New by its token mechanism but also new by its offer to individuals to invest directly into solar energy and get NFT carbon credits. This offer doesn’t fit into traditional consumer value proposal. It doesn’t fit either into traditional investment products. But it prefigures new types of motivations and values transactions:
The traditional “vote with your purse” is getting reinforced. Global consumer goods companies such as Nike took over Corporate Responsibility when their US market shares started to decrease in the 90s under the pressure of public campaigns mentioning children work in their supply chain. What if behaving as a responsible consumer today means, just not buying. That would be a strong leverage tool and a way for consumers to exerce their “Autonomous Consumer Control”.
What if restriction is coming from consumers as a resistance to Consumer Culture and in search of freedom. What if market restrictions would come from people? And what if these individual actions based on intimate values would bring people together at the level of local communities which is where solar plants are installed?
This approach of deep regeneration is still in progress and we will share more soon and we do hope to hear from you. In the meantime:
(To be Continued)
Keynes, Jones, Economic Possibilities for Our Grand Children, 1930, from Essays in Persuasion, New York: W.W.Norton & Co., 1963, pp. 358-373.
Cross, Gary, Time and Money: The Making of Consumer Culture, New York: Routledge, Chapman & Hall Inc., 1993
Specialist in human-machine interaction, Professor of Computer Science, Paris-Sorbonne-CNRS
During the presentation of the French State strategy on artificial intelligence, 2018, Professor Laurence Devillers said: "What are we creating? Machines that simulate our behavior .... What do we know about humans today? Do we know the percentage of what we consciously perceive? We have no idea of this percentage. We create machines that represent the brain but not the body .... We are simulating the brain but not the body..."
Spitzer, Michael, The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth, Bloomsbury, 2021