As a species, we have more impact than any other life form on our planet. It is fair to say that we have not been using that power in a very sustainable and beneficial way. Certainly not as far as other species go, that are dwindling in numbers unless they provide direct utility to us. Neither do we seem to be doing a very good job of taking care of our own. Certainly, people on average live longer today than a century ago and by and large have more options, but this is only one metric among many. Despite our technological development and growing affluence, significant numbers of our sisters and brothers are struggling badly. Some are laden with crippling debt, others are struggling by being displaced by wars and environmental disasters. Many are severely malnourished, have scarce resources, and must deal with extreme stress on a daily basis despite the vast wealth that seems to be out there.
There are enough resources to take care of everyone’s needs, and enough to heal and regenerate our planet, yet our current distribution system does not seem up to the task. It is like there is some basic design flaw in our current Operating System. At least if its purpose is to deliver the goods of life, liberty, and justice for all.
If we were to take a step back and redesign our current global operating system from scratch, what might it look like? What would we want such an OS to provide? Perhaps we’d like to have more control over the rules and regulations that govern us, more to say about where we allocate our common resources. Perhaps we’d like more schools and hospitals and free time to spend with friends and family or to work on projects that are meaningful to us. Perhaps we’d like our basic needs to be met by local solutions that we could manage ourselves, rather than having to rely on complicated and vulnerable systems far beyond any effective control.
Many attempts at change have been made over the previous centuries, some more lasting than others. But as it goes with natural systems, all things revert to the mean. If the underlying system is not changed, any changes built upon it will be temporary at best.
Any sustainable change needs to be bold, broad and fundamental, yet simultaneously careful and wise. We need to understand the old system, figure out what parts are useful and can be co-opted into this new operating system. And we need to decide together what we really want, for ourselves and for each other and for all those future descendants we will one day be the ancestors of. We need to agree on this and then decide what we are prepared to do to get there, to make this all happen.
The smallest unit in a democracy is the individual. The rights of the individual, therefore, must lie in the heart of a new global operating system. But if the smallest unit of a democracy is the individual, the smallest operative unit is the community. The tribe is what gets things done. It was through working together that we eventually rose to the position we now hold. A position we now must take responsibility for, as individuals and as communities.
The global community that this operating system is to serve must take its input from local communities that in turn take their input from individual members. The challenge is great and the tasks are many, but then, so are we. As history shows us, when we work together towards shared goals, there is little we cannot accomplish. We are a resourceful little species and the greatest illusion is that we are alone when, in fact, almost all of us share common goals. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Goals we can only attain by looking out for each other and looking after this planet that we live on and of.
So this is the grand WHY of co:do, to create a new operating system for global civilisation. An entirely absurd undertaking with little prospect of changing business as usual. If not for the fact that business as usual is killing our habitat, destroying our communities, making us sad and lonely and disconnected. We need a new operating system because the old one does not work. End of story. And since humans are a storytelling species, let us begin weaving this new one together.
Let us tell a story where those who work for others are the greatest heroes, where service and altruism are held to be the highest values, along with personal integrity and a good dose of measurable competence. Where we relate to each other and the world through how we contribute, not by what we extract and hoard. Where needs are met, where support is lent, where respect is mutual and where differences are honoured. Where everyone is invited to contribute, and through contribution strengthen their bond to others and to all living things. And perhaps most importantly, their bond to themselves.
This and much much more. Quite the story to be told. An epic, even. So how could we possibly go about speaking and singing this story into being? How do we weave nearly eight billion individual threads together and into one great common narrative?
A new operating system is not built in a day or even in a decade. And co:do does not yet tick all the boxes, not by a long shot. Perhaps we never will. But we think we have a good shot at offering something that could take us in the right direction, into a new space where new ideas can be explored. Provide the tools with which to someday create this new operating system.
At the core of co:do is the individual. You and your self-sovereign identity. A presence that is one part an entirely customisable profile page and one part your personal node supporting the decentralised network of peer-to-peer connections. No central servers granting and refusing access, no advertising or covert manipulation, no data mining or monitoring. Just a network of individuals connecting and sharing resources as they see fit which whom they chose to connect and share with.
You can look at your individual profile and node as your digital presence. A space for you to present your values and goals, interests and talents, your offers to the network and the world as well as your requests. An identity layer that actually says something about who you are, not merely a piece of paper with a photo and a date of birth that allows you access to a certain space defined by geographical borders. You decide what to share about yourself and with whom to share it. Better still, no one can contact you unless you grant them that privilege. Even better still, no one can know who you are or what you are up to unless you invite them. All nodes and all communication are fully encrypted because any system that allows third parties to monitor our metadata is not an adequate base layer for a new global and species-wide Operating System.
Integrated with this basic layer of individuals is a liquid democracy function. Tools that allow you to vote on proposals yourself or allow other nodes you trust to vote for you. Tools that will allow you to write your own proposals, polls and petitions, or together with your peers of both like and unlike minds. Because the more perspectives, the better the solutions. A synthesis of direct democracy and representative democracy. Not disruption but evolution. A democracy worthy of this New Story.
Democracy, however, is more than just the drafting of proposals and the casting of votes. It is an entire ecosystem that needs to verify facts, raise funds to allocate to common projects, measure the results of the outcomes in accurate and transparent ways, and learn from past mistakes. To name but a few features the CoDo toolbox is designed around. In order to fund all this, we offer a neat piece of technology we call The Altruistic Wallet. The economic engine of this Operating System, if you will.
The Altruistic Wallet is a financial engine and a self-regulating resource distribution system rolled into one. The concept is both fairly simple and straightforward. In order to build and, to a lesser degree, sustain the CoDo network, we collect funds through various ways. Through donations, grants, hosting fees should you not wish to maintain your own node, brokerage fees and more we collect the funds needed to continuously develop the ecosystem. However, as we are not a for-profit operation, any funds that we do not need to dedicate to this purpose are returned to you. Or rather, are returned to your Altruistic Wallet as a form or network dividend.
Unlike regular wallets, the altruistic wallet can only be used for two types of payments. It can either support a changemaker by paying a regular dividend, or it can be used to support a project within the ecosystem. But the kicker is that you get to decide where your dividend should be spent. Not a board of directors or a political body beholden to lobbyists and backroom deals, but you and you alone decide who or what you want to support.
In the global governance sense, co:do lets you decide where your “taxes” should be spent. Naturally, you can add to this wallet with your own funds, or offer services to others within the ecosystem and receive payment into your altruistic wallet. This wallet can also contain digital tokens and physical resources that you are willing to share. But no need to dive into all that now. Our Operating System has a viable economic engine and a democratic distribution system, which is a good enough start.
Funding alone does not guarantee that goals are met. In fact, funding alone does not really guarantee anything other than that someone will be making a chunk of money. In our current Operating System, this usually translates into a massive loss of resources due to incompetence and corruption in the political sphere, a number of less than necessary middlemen taking more than their fair share, and various structural issues that further drain projects of their momentum. What makes this especially draining to the system is that abject failure to achieve any goals, inasmuch as these goals are even defined in a way that can be measured in the first place, does not lead to the cancellation of further funding. In fact, it rarely leads to a diminished flow of funds at all. The lack of functional feedback loops and the appropriate response to these loops translates into a constant drain of common resources into private repositories, with very little to show for it.
To alleviate this issue and create closer feedback loops, co:do is designing The Red Button Process, a wizard of sorts that assists budding and experienced changemakers alike in the process of making measurable change. In short, if there is anything you want to change or improve in the world, we want to help you in the process. Be it volunteers, specialists, resources, funding, coaching and more, co:do will have your back, if you are prepared to back your words with your deeds. Use the Red Button Process to set your goals, the metrics to measure them, and find co-creators and contributors throughout the network. Once you have completed your mission and have achieved the measurable change, this becomes part of your profile and identity. The more successful projects you are involved with, the more you learn, the more the network learns and the more likely the latter is to support you as you take on even greater challenges.
On a network level, co:do will be a training ground for project managers as much as it will be an enabler of much-needed projects. Project managers that will over time become more experienced and more trusted, rising to take on ever-greater challenges in more and more efficient ways.
A crucial point that needs to be addressed in our brand new Operating System for civilisation is how to establish and nurture trust when we are eight billion strangers linked in ways we cannot detect in one global community. A far cry from the local village or tribe where everyone knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses, altruism and collaboration are how things get done. Favours were the currency long before the concept of symbolic value in the form of money was born. And more importantly, less trustworthy members of a close-knit community or tribe had very little chance to gain influence that would be detrimental to the group. The global village clearly lacks these dynamic mechanisms. But must it be so?
Through participation on co:do, by contributing to projects and proposals, moderating discussions, verifying facts, managing projects or being favourably reviewed by project managers or performing a dozen other services and adding value within the network, users will rise in their trust ranking. Within the network, being a highly trusted and appreciated individual will grant access to features and spaces that might otherwise need to be paid for. As your deeds add up, your reputation grows into a thing of true value, acknowledged even by those who have never interacted with you. Trust is the cohesion of society. An honest and open way of measuring contribution to the common good, a system to measure trust that we can trust, is crucial for our global tribe. Indeed, it is crucial if we are to evolve as a species.
There are many other perks with co:do that are worth touching on. For instance, we don’t spy on you or manipulate you with secret algorithms. This would defeat the point plus we couldn’t do that anyway. This also means that we don’t sell your data to third parties, or even use your data ourselves without your explicit permission, because the system is based on an entirely different architecture, not only a different philosophy.
We are open source, transparent and we let you decide, through your Altruistic Wallet, what path we take as a toolbox and network. Your data remains your own and you can design your experience, your corner of co:do, any way you see fit. You hold your own and support the network by providing a node and sharing the burden, after all. We evolve this thing together, by countless individual actions and ideas.
We offer tools designed and dedicated to supporting you in your active work to create change with your community rather than try to lure you into staying passive in front of the screen for as long as possible, for the most reliable of reasons: it profits us nothing. We promote open discussions and the meeting of different minds over positioning and gaslighting. We offer our users far more practical and advanced options than mere likes and dislikes in order to evaluate the confusing content that permeates social media and digital news purveyors today.
We believe in free speech, but we also believe that our users should be able to require that everyone in their network treats everyone they interact with respectfully. When individual freedom of speech clashes with individual rights to privacy and security, we let you be the judge of what is and what is not a transgression. We promote signal over noise, depth and consideration over soundbites and oversimplification, facts over speculation. So why join us? Because what good are the best tools in the world without changemakers to use them and improve said world?
We don’t harbour any illusions that co:do will solve all our collective problems, but it might just provide enough useful tools and connections for a sustainable human civilisation to begin to evolve out of. And you might just be the one who figures out the next crucial step in that evolution.