This is a recording of a presentation I was honored to give to a group in Newcastle, Australia about the transition to the Impact Economy and how the city’s Smart City Plan is integral to it. Smart cities collect the data that makes the Impact Economy viable – ubiquitous surveillance provides “proof of impact,” which is used in determining the Return on Investment for impact investors. Smart city technologies also deliver nudges – or automated signals – designed to change behavior in ways that support the impact agenda, which coincides with the UN SDGs. In the simplest terms, Smart Cities are for social credit scoring and geofencing. I discuss the role that Anchor Institutions and Collective Impact strategies have had in advancing the 4IR Smart City agenda quietly and without genuine public oversight.
Many thanks to @Kate Mason for setting up this meeting. Her video on the real-life consequences of Australia’s social policy responses to the events of the past 2 years is excellent to share with those who are still wrestling with the true nature of the new normal. Here is the link to her talk: https://youtu.be/En-OzwJohu4
How appealing are the following innovations, each of which is described in the above interview as a possibility in the not-so-distant future?
●Licking your phone to experience gourmet aromas and flavors?
●Having your company require virtual water cooler encounters to nudge more diverse interactions?
●Determining whether you and your spouse should accompany each other into the Meta where you date other virtual creatures?
●Education based on an AI profile of you that has run every possible scenario for your pathway?
●Having a digital twin of your child to coach you on what parenting decisions you ought to make?
Each of these scenarios assumes a fundamental shift in the order of human life and society, and the moral assumptions that hold them together. Do any of these things sound like a future we want for ourselves or our children?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a New Religious System
One of the most important concepts to grasp at the cusp of this catalysmic shift in human history is the fundamental model of managing wants and needs through predictive profiling. The Precision Economy is based on the power of an AI to know you better than you know yourself and to determine how to optimize you for the benefit of yourself and others, ostensibly leading to habits that generate less waste and more happiness. At its core, this type of human-management system is, I think, the result of an effort to erect a substitute for God – a project guided by man’s desire to believing that he is his own maker. Yuval Harari’s 2016 article in The New Statesman is a clear example of this type of existential grasping.
The assumption that metaphysical and ontological structures are changeable and changing is evident in an article I recently came across: an Age of Aquarius interview with Danish futurist, Liselotte Lyngsø. Her company, Future Navigator, markets “Future-as-a-Service” and other similarly nebulous offerings to its clients. Until recently, the fantastical projections of professional Futurists have seemed too far-fetched for the general population to take them seriously as a guide for personal or business planning. But the events of the past 2 years have brought the Fourth Industrial Revolution and all its technologies into the mainstream, and – as its architects are the ones who are currently driving the rapid transformation of human society – we would do well to pay more attention to the Futurists’ incredible predictions. They are absolutely serious in their efforts to foresee and to control new worlds on the basis of advances in high technology.
Skeptics may find it helpful to consider how technology has already been put into place at employers including WalMart and in schools in the United States. Moreover, according to the World Bank, the growth of educational gaming protocols – sometimes called “edutainment” – as a behavior-modification technique are being used in both corporate and education sectors. In 2017, an article by Jump Associates, an innovation strategy consultant to major corporations, describes how VR “experiences” can alter perceptions and lead to behavior change:
VR’s ability to transport people into situations that are physically and emotionally inaccessible shows much promise. Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab is experimenting with using it to influence choices people make in their everyday lives. They’ve found that after VR interactions like playing the role of cow eating and drinking before being sent to slaughter, or virtually eating lumps of coal representing energy used to heat water while taking a shower, people see a connection between choices they make and the potential environmental costs of their actions.
Notice how, in the example above, human beings are presented with non-human – i.e. animal – experiences in order to encourage them to develop an emotional (vs. intellectual) commitment to carbon-reduction goals that are key to UN Sustainable Development Goals.
This type of attitude-management strategy is crucial to the Build Back Better, or impact economy, because it will not only increase a corporation’s ESG rating, it will also increase employee productivity by linking competitive gaming frameworks to job performance incentive strategy, as for example, in Salescreen’s product line.
How the ostensible conflict between competitiveness and empathy or global citizenship will be mediated in a future-world that takes all morality and metaphysical and ontological structures as fluid is anyone’s guess. My guess is that it will be decided by those who care more for management than they do for people.
In conclusion, I highly recommend listening to the 55 – minute podcast embedded in the Age of Aquarius article. Liselotte Lyngsø is optimistic, open-minded about the positive potential of these futuristic technologies, forthright in her assumptions, and blissfully unperturbed by the dystopian visions of humankind 2.0. In other words, she has bought into the 4IR ideology and will give you an honest tour of the best possible version of it. Of course, her naivete is demonstrated by her belief that we – regular people – will be able to determine how these technologies are put to use. I doubt that that is the case, but think rather that we will have no say whatsoever in transhumanocracy and its subjugation of all things genuinely human. The reality is that this agenda will be forced on us in the same manner as the coronapocalypse, as a set of VR goggles, and so many other titanic programs of domination.
Stakeholder Capitalism and the Soft Coup d’Etat: a “Golden Opportunity,” Part I
The World Economic Forum
declares that it is time for a
The declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 brought the world’s economic systems to a near-standstill, decimating small and independent businesses and creating catastrophic hardships on working people everywhere. In June of 2020, the World Economic Forum (WEF)—an elite think tank representing global corporations, government officials, academia, the media, and social policy influencers—in partnership with the United Nations, announced a plan to address the systemic economic and social injustices that the pandemic revealed or magnified—things like “gaps” in access to goods and services, the fragility of supply chains, and the environmental impact of daily activities such as driving to work, for example.
Covid 19 presents “a golden
opportunity” for inaugurating
the transition to stakeholder capitalism.
“The Great Reset,” as the plan is called, aspires to “seize something good” from the crisis by using it as the “golden opportunity” to implement “stakeholder capitalism” on a global scale. Executive chairman and CEO of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, has long argued for a new global socio-economic order that is equitable, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable — “a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being.” In order to accomplish this,Schwab argues,businesses and corporations across the globe must adopt the governance principle (i.e. a framework establishing a corporation’s strategic operations toward a mission or purpose) known as Stakeholder Capitalism.
Schwab claims that the realities of life in the twenty-first century—especially the constellation of technological, societal, and economic factors associated with The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR, such as automation, robotics, digital technologies, globalization, nanotechnology, bioengineering, etc.)—reveal the fundamental interconnectedness of people and planet and, as a corollary, the need to move beyond the outdated paradigm of prioritizing the self over the community. Harmony among people and with the planet that we share is possible if we can set aside our attachment to individualism / individual rights. These must be tempered by reference to the common good, which looks toward the needs and preferences of the global public. Schwab’s reflection on the mentality guiding Germany’s post-WWII recovery captures the heart of Stakeholder Capitalism, viz. that “one person or entity could only do well if the whole community and economy functioned.”
Klaus Schwab describes the contours of 21st
century Stakeholder Capitalism
Schwab’s vision is a Communitarian one. Noted researcher, author, and founder of the Anti-Communitarian League, Niki Rapaana, unpacks Communitarian theory in her extensive blog and books, which are available here.
Stakeholder Capitalism is distinguished from two familiar economic models, both of which have a narrow vision of whose interest corporations are to serve:
1) Shareholder Capitalism, the standard model for most Western businesses, which sets profit maximization for corporate shareholders (i.e. equity investors) as its primary criterion of economic success, as well as
2) State Capitalism, a system in which the state dictates the structure and direction of the economy as a whole and requires individual corporations to conform to it. The primary example of this model is China.
Where shareholder capitalism prioritizes the economic success of individual corporations and their investors – oftentimes at the expense of the economic success of the community as a whole, state capitalism seeks to maximize the economic benefits to the community as a whole – even if that leads to diminished returns for the corporate entities that drive the economy.
By contrast, Stakeholder Capitalism seeks to harmonize the interests of the individual and the interests of the community. This “third way” is accomplished by evaluating competing interests through a forward-looking or long-term moral perspective that envisions people and planetary balance as the ultimate economic goal. Or, in other words,sustainable development.
That is the core of stakeholder capitalism: it is a form of capitalism in which companies do not only optimize short-term profits for shareholders, but seek long term value creation, by taking into account the needs of all their stakeholders, and society at large.
– Klaus Schwab, “What Is Stakeholder Capitalism?”
In an article in TIME Magazine Schwab explains that as “stakeholders of our global future,” government, business, and civil society all “have a shared responsibility to shape the world in collaborative ways.” For Schwab, who has written about the intersection of economics, management, and mechanical engineering, shared responsibility and collaborative approaches are not ends in themselves. Rather, they must still promote the optimization of the pursuit of the well-being of all. And this is where we begin to see the threat that Stakeholder Capitalism poses to traditional political institutions and, indeed, to the stability of constitutional order itself. For representative government as established by the U.S. Constitution is designed not to optimize the pursuit of some new proposal claiming to promote the health and safety of the people. The system of checks and balances at the heart of the Constitution is a mechanism for de-optimizing the process of innovation in order to deter the passage of unjust laws by encumbering the legislative process with multiple opportunities for deliberation and many requirements for consensus-building.
Report: “Measuring Stakeholder
Capitalism Towards Common Metrics
and Consistent Reporting of
Sustainable Value Creation,” WEF, 2020.
The “golden opportunity” presented by the declared Covid-19 pandemic consists in the revelation of the sub-optimal ability of representative governments to respond effectively to a traumatic and disruptive global crisis. Governments were slow and ineffective in their efforts to contain the spread of the disease and to make timely public health recommendations. By contrast, the private sector – especially technology and pharmaceutical companies – proved its ability to innovate, adapt, and collaborate to deliver a quick and effective solution to an immediate need.* Just a few months prior to the pandemic declaration, Schwab wrote , that “Stakeholder capitalism … positions private corporations as trustees of society, and is clearly the best response to today’s social and environmental challenges.” In this model, private corporations, which are able to optimize operations in response to pressing global problems, assume the place and powers heretofore assigned to representative government.
The Great Reset plan attempts to reconfigure almost every feature of society. Its launch of Stakeholder Capitalism, which positions private corporations to assume responsibility for the programs and powers of governments that (in principle, at least) were designed to be accountable to the electorate, is one of the most radical and consequential of its innovations. The governmental functions to be privatized under Stakeholder Capitalism include the administration and oversight of public services such as health and education services, housing, safety, transportation, and cultural events; and they also include executive, legislative, judicial, and regulatory powers. In the stakeholder model, these functions are delegated to private or quasi-governmental corporations, often through a public-private partnership, or “P3.”
Absent the unprecedented economic devastation caused by close to a year of lockdowns, the likelihood that the people of Western nations would readily adopt the WEF’s “new social contract” is questionable. But with rising unemployment and decreased consumer spending come lower tax revenues and, subsequently, severe budget deficits that will prevent public agencies from fulfilling their public service obligations – and at a time when more and more people find themselves in need of this assistance. Covid 19 is just the sort of crisis that’s needed if one wishes to launch a “new social contract” quickly and without the hassle of consulting the public. It is indeed a “golden opportunity.”
As we saw earlier, Stakeholder Capitalism sets up private corporations as “trustees of the social good.” How well a corporation lives up to that responsibility will become the basis of its reputation capital score – that is, its value as brand – and that will be the key to securing a competitive edge in the radically-altered 4IR post-Covid economy. What better way to earn a reputation for social responsibility than to partner with cash-strapped public agencies in order to support public relief efforts with a variety of grants, expert research and development services, and operational support? Through these partnerships, private companies – in contrast to the people or their representative government – will acquire the means to drive social progress and to act as guardians of entire “ecosystems” of people, places, things, and ideas. Government administration is, in effect, outsourced to some private corporation that made a deal that couldn’t be refused.