The theme of the Anthropocene was suggested by the CIIC participants in June 2018. To frame the discussion, as part of a few introductory slides, we watched a 15 minute recording of a talk from 2014 by Eileen Crist titled Confronting Anthopocentrism. For humans it is not possible to reason about the Anthropocene entirely without human bias.
The best we can do is to consciously use language that broadens our perspective to include all living agents within the biosphere.
The human propensity and desire to exert power over others and to shape the social environment is reflected in the pervasive use of verbs that imply some form of coercion such as must, could, should, would.
Participants discussed the way humans perceive and experience the “civilised” world in comparison to the way in which pre-historic humans perceived the world. In the Anthropocene, with the help of modern communication technologies, the experienced world is more and more social and less and less non-human.
Unless we scale back our use of communication technologies or we develop powerful technologies for perceiving the state of the non-human environment in ways that capture our attention as much as social signals, we become increasingly numb to the effect that we are collectively having on the biosphere.
We picked up on a thought experiment from the CIIC workshop in March 2018, on establishing self-sustainable population centres. Such local initiatives could assist in refocusing human attention and future technology development on the non-social environment on which we depend.
The categories of the MODA + MODE logistic lens (energy/food, transportation, engineering, maintenance, culture) can be used to directly measure and set targets for the level of circularity and self-sustainability of the local economy, without having to resort of questionable trade-offs and easily manipulatable financial metrics.
The workshop concluded by soliciting a new set of assumptions for organising human life that make sense for societies that are becoming increasingly aware of the ways in which Anthropocentrism is currently shaping our world view, and thereby leading us further and further into a world in which human ignorance, human errors, and human cognitive limits are capable of not only triggering the extinction of the human species, but also into a world where anything that is non human or not human made is perceived either as worthless or as a threat.
Participants suggested the following assumptions for exploration in upcoming CIIC workshops:
- People are empathetic
- Given the level of automation of manual labour and given our technological capabilities, we have the time to implement good ideas
- Knowledge and scientific understanding is valuable and worthwhile preserving
- Humans have individual agency
- Exerting power over others is not acceptable
- Non-hierarchical competency networks learn faster than hierarchical organisations
- In a competency network human efforts can be coordinated via an advice process
- Human economies are best conceived as closed-loop zero-waste systems, and human progress can be measured in terms of improvements in waste metrics
- The value of knowledge is maximised by making it freely available for validation and use
- Most people try to do the best possible thing given their circumstances
Calendar reminder: The next CIIC unconference will take place on 8 December 2018!