Last revised: Sunday, 15 January 17 23:53:52 Europe/London

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The desire for robustness is at the heart of the impetus behind this project. Considering the wide range of novel and in some cases potentially existential questions which will be posed to humanity over the coming decades, and realising that our existing systems for addressing these are weak and/or dysfuynctional - that out society is not robust - lies at the root of our lack of confidence in the core of our thinking as a society.

Many movies put their protagonists in situations where the affordances of civilisation and technics are gradually stripped away, increasingly pitting the core of their personhood against harsh conditions of a disinterested world. Crudely, the premise is that, as Gil Scott-Heron wrote "when push comes to shove, you find exactly what you're made of". For a society, 'what you're made of', at the limit case, is the shared ethics available to the majority of the population. Increased robustness, on these terms, consists precisely in increasing the viability and acceptance of an effective ethical framework.


There is, of course, another view as to the way to achieve robustness. Crudely, I would describe this approach as dictatorship, but its proponents might wish to soften this, with terms like technocracy, meritocracy and the like. Let's play fair, and use the term noocracy (Wikipedia: Rule by the Wise).

The argument goes that only some certain proportion of the population can be relied on to make sensible decisions - particularly in times of crisis, or on subjects that are technically complex or pose existential threat.  We can see this as specialisation writ large. Who would you trust to mend your car - the mechanic or the flower arranger? In such cases the answers are obvious. 

Rebuttal: something that is obvious at one level of scale cannot be assumed to work at significantly different scales; Scale changes Everything. In the case of societies - formally complex networks of humans operating within the deepest complexity we know if in the Universe - the ecoystem of the planet - even small scale changes require deep reconsideration.

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