A RDS Scenario
what if - why not?
Trying to undestand the alchemy of factors that determine if something gets done or not is of endless interest to me. All kinds of reasons are given each time a cusp point is reached, and a project moves ahead or not, and while these are insightful I think rarely get to the real point. I think projects go ahead when they appeal to a significant number of people. The rationalizations are important but they come largely after minds are made up. The idea intrinsically appeals, as a gestalt, or it does not.
I recently reread SPACE COLONIES a coEvolution Book edited by Steward Brand. It was written in 1977 and represents a vigorous debate about Gerard O’Neill’s High Frontier concept [link]. Now, nearly 30 years later, it is interesting to revisit this dialog. People, both for and against it, took this idea very seriously. There were many divisions but the major split existed between those that believed that technology could work for good and those who did not and also believed that problems “at home” should be solved first. Embedded in this debate was an argument regarding the legitimate role of government and the existence, goodness and badness of the “Industrial-Military Complex.” Now, nearly a generation later, all the problems that both sides pointed to are still with us and none of the visions of either side have been realized - or even, as far as I can see, seriously tried. Some very smart people fought hard over this idea and argued for their vision of the world and how it should develop (and defined the issues very well, by the way) - while meantime, the rest of society ignored it all and did something else.
This something else, it seems to me, is the sum of all the default positions held at the time. I often wonder what would have happened if the two sides in this debate had found common cause - which is what I think Stewart Brand was seeking - and worked together to create a syntheses that accomplished all of their agendas. Would this have created the critical mass necessary for effective action? Did the debate among those who wanted a more positive future (and who were at difference as to means) just leave the game to those with no - or a more negative - agenda?
The last 25 years have been disappointing to me [link]. The promised tool kit has been delivered more or less as described. Society is still stuck in the ideological mud [link]. We have just about all of the problems that everyone predicted with few of the solutions and virtually no vision. The debates (if you can even call them that) of the last election so eloquently reveal bankruptcy of imagination, vision and willingness to move forward.
It is within this rather sobering context that the following scenario is offered. Can we leave distractions behind? Can we rise above important and legitimate differences and seek common cause and a positive action oriented view of our future? Or, do we leave the field to the accidental sum of what is negative, based on control, power, in appropriate wealth concentration and social confrontation?
IMAGINE that a group of people formed as a ValueWeb to advance the RDS capability so that it can be used in the three ways I have outlined: deployments to assist communities in crisis; commercial deployments for businesses and governments for design, planning and project management exercises; and, for facilitating Global Agenda development.
IMAGINE that the management of this capability was performed with the greatest possible fiduciary duty and adherence to the mission of facilitating the emergence of free, sustainable world dedicated to the advancement of all life.
IMAGINE that access to this capability was based on mission defined principles and practices unbiased by cultural predigest, economic interests or political manipulation.
IMAGINE that a truly neutral, confidential environment is created where communities, of all kinds and scales, can be facilitated though ignorance, conflict and negative history to design/engineer viable futures based on their unique vision of life and human opportunity.
IMAGINE that this deployable capability can be connected to a global network of NavCenters so that the work can be augmented on any scale required.
IMAGINE that this capability is offered independent of the participants immediate circumstance and ability to pay.
IMAGINE that the sum of all these deployment experiences can be used for Weak Signal Research and trend analysis leading to systematic anticipatory design exercises with all that is learned shared, appropriately, with all humankind.
IMAGINE that, by working these deployments, a new a generation of thinker/doers (executive-knowledge-workers) can be trained and shown, by experience, that individual profit and social good can be reconciled [link].
IMAGINE that the many educational, cultural, social aid, relief, governmental and private foundations dedicated to the advancement of human potential can be augmented so that the positive impact of their work is greatly multiplied and their mission better accomplished.
IMAGINE that the CONTEXT of Earth as a garden and work-of-art can be brought to each of these exercises so that local solutions can better fit with an evolving planet that supports all life in all it’s forms.
IMAGINE that this work can be done by a rigorous, systematic ecological/economic process so that all who participate (and those they impact) can prosper and operate at a profit [link] - as all living systems have to do.
IMAGINE that the ValueWeb that supports and provides this service has the satisfaction of having performed good works and receives legitimate worldly rewards for their investment and effort.
IMAGINE that from a seed system of one deployment unit and one home-base (both of which already exist), this capability can quickly boot strap itself into a global capacity able to make a difference in time.
IMAGINE that the SUM of this effort - over a generation - can tilt the consequences of human action significantly toward a better outcome.
UTOPIAN Fantasy? No, just practical engineering using a system that has been tested for a quarter of a century.
The View from 2025
Extracts from introductory remarks made at the 20th Annual Meeting of the RDS Governance Board:

20 years ago, a ValueWeb formed - before ValueWebs were common - to provide a capacity aimed at the ambitious prospect of transforming human society, its circumstance and fit upon Planet Earth and in near orbit habitats.

At the time, many considered this ambition to be impossible and Quixotic. However, the idea was based on a quarter of a Century of action research and there were many who were beginning to understand that large scale systemic problems could not be resolved by conventional means. The capability existed. Why not organize it, apply it and see if the objectives could be met?

In early 2005, two high profile conferences in Europe employed the RDS, with great success, on issues of global scope and impact. It became clear from this exercise that there were a number of critical and immediate applications for this method that could materially advance negative situations that had festered for years. It was after these “test cases” were successfully executed that the RDS finally began its rapid maturation to the commonly used social tool that it is today.

At first, there was opposition. Many felt that the cost was excessive, that any environment was adequate as long as people worked hard and any process was useful as long as it was fair. Others worried about the extreme degree of inclusion and participation; they worried that this would disrupt legitimate order and threaten entrenched interests. Still others did not see the crisis and felt that things would work out as long as good will was brought to the table. Many believed that somehow the “hidden hand” was at work and all the obvious problems would go away in time.

Two events, one a crises and one an unexpected breakthrough, changed a large number of minds.

The crises was the devastation caused by a confluence of terrorist attacks, ecological collapse and political failure in Holland - a place no one expected something like this could happen. The RDS was used to repair much of this damage and did so far faster than was expected.

The breakthrough was the signing of new Kyoto Accords in 2006 after a series of RDS deployments took the issue to the people, globally, and created a broad consensus to act on a workable agreement that every nation could support.

It was after this that the RDS was but to work on a scale sufficient to have the impact required. A network of NavCenters were created and many RDS units deployed. Virtual technology made it possible for the best minds and resources, from multiple locations, to be “present” when needed anytime-anywhere on the globe.

There were many factors that lead to the RDS success. First off, it was a DESIGN process. Humans are good at design - it just seems that the practice of tackling complex social problems using design methods never occurred on a sufficient scale before. The process was INCLUSIVE - no one was left out. It was UNCORRUPTABLE - the integrity of each deployment space was never violated and the administration of the system itself remained beyond reproach. For this reason it was TRUSTED across communities that did not trust one another. The agenda of the RDS was simply to facilitate a good solution - it did not work for anyone and it did not start a deployment with a solution in mind. It was never captured by interests of any kind. And, some very talented people got involved. World class CAPABILITY was brought to every challenge no matter its “importance.” Perhaps most importantly, the effort was SUSTAINED in good times and bad, when their was optimism and not; the effort never wavered.

It is not that there were never problems - there were. And many of you sitting here tonight remember them. We moved beyond these because we always used the RDS process on ourselves to renew our energy and dedication as we solved the problems we confronted. As long as the process is employed, the RDS is a self repairing system.

Tonight, we have much to celebrate. The world is moving in a direction far different from what we confronted when we began this effort. We can legitimately claim having contributed significantly to this change. Much remains to be done. It can be said that we have moved out of crises and have bought the time necessary to complete the work before us. We are the generation that was given the the task of creating a planetary society. Many feared that this would become some utopian nightmare gone bad; that freedom and diversity would be eliminated. Others feared that humankind would cover the earth like a plague and destroy all life - ultimately our own. Neither has, of course, turned out not to be true. What is true is that we have begun to bring awareness to our own human process.

20 years ago, the sum of all human activity was adding up to a consequence that no one wanted or understood. This was the result of the immense complexity of the growing human enterprise. We have not learned to predict or control the emergence of the human, we have learned to co-evolve with each other and with all life. We have learned to employ the gifts that each culture brings. We have learned to become artists in the evolution of a planetary habitat.

This is the last time I will be addressing you as the speaker for our Board. As is our tradition, I will be stepping down with many of you to make room for a new generation stewards. Renewal is the essence of our work and sapient leadership our way. I can only wish them the joyous experience that I have had and that, when they also make their leave, they will have the same measure of satisfaction that I feel tonight as I stand before you.

Always, we must remember that our task has just begun and that our greatest charge is to remain true to the principles of inclusion, collaboration, comprehensive design, systemic thinking and respect for every living thing.

This is not “goodbye” - it is “hello” to a new beginning and a new era.

Return to RDS INDEX
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Matt Taylor
November 9, 2004


SolutionBox voice of this document:


posted: November 9, 2004

revised: December 27, 2004
• 20041109.099927.mt • 20041110.337120.mt •
• 20041227.452590.mt •

(note: this document is about 95% finished)

Copyright© Matt Taylor, 2004

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