“The future remains uncertain and so it should, for it is the canvas upon which we paint our desires. Thus always the human condition faces a beautifully empty canvas.”
Frank Herbert

Children of Dune

What is Ceptr Part1: Being Together


This is an attempt on my part to try to assimilate and internalize the Ceptr narrative. It is my wish to be able to grap Ceptr well enough to share with others who are asking me about it. It does not necessarily represent Ceptr.

In order to keep my own writing energy flowing I am going to adopt open and organic expression:

  • I am not going to wait for contents to mature to “perfection”.
  • I am going to publish posts as soon as I can so that I don’t get bogged down … I am trying to stay connected to an inspiring flow of expression.
  • Early publication will make it possible for others inside and outside Ceptr to relate … suggest, correct, ask …
  • I am going to freely update and change them … I will add an indication at the beginning of each post of when it was last updated.

This is a work game in progress.

Being Together

Ceptr addresses what is, in my mind, one of the most systemic challenges of our time: how can we, human beings, better coordinate and collaborate? How can we act more as an integrated being?It is tempting to believe that we have figured out something so fundamental, otherwise how do you explain this rich world we’ve built?

I have been in very few situations where I witnessed / experienced or participated in a group where people were able to have a coherent, pleasant, focused conversation that lead to better understanding and decision making. Yet there is a world out there and somehow … I can own a car that I can fill with fuel and  drive safely … into the city and park in a shopping mall where I can use a small plastic card with embedded electronics in it to buy things that were made all over the world … it is quite an achievement.

I can also, with a tiny device I can hold in my hand access a vast communication network where I can access to an infinite amount of information in which I can find in seconds what it is that I am looking for. What I’ve discovered doing that is that behind the world of unparalleled convenience, lies another world full of inconvenient truths. We are paying a dear price for living the privileged life we have. I don’t want to give up the privileged life I live and so I am left asking myself: can we do better?

Can we have everything that we have (and more) without the downsides? I realize it may sound like a naive question, but I don’t think it is. In the past the downsides were isolated to places in the world that were far enough away for me to ignore (places I may have never heard about if it wasn’t for that vast communication network), but that is no longer possible. Climate change and wealth concentration (to name a couple) seem to know no borders. Challenges are becoming more shared and connected and so it is reasonable to expect that if there are solutions, they too will be of a more shared and connected nature.

So how do we do this? How can we connect and collaborate better then we’ve been able to do so far? I don’t know and I don’t think anyone knows. I have witnessed it a very few times within small and tightly knit groups – and I have it disintegrate when those groups tried to grow. Ceptr doesn’t know either. Ceptr is a strong intuition (with a lot of vested research and work in it) about what may be possible if we were to change some core assumptions.

To give you a idea of what Ceptr is asking, take a look at the leading edge of one of your finger-nails … seriously … look … closely … and consider this: if biological cells were beholden to Dunbar’s number (a widely cited and accepted limit for the effective size of a group of people) that edge of your fingernail could not exist! But there it is, and there you are … looking at it.

What can we learn from that?

Technology & Currency

Ceptr assumes that technology is a key ingredient because of the potential it has to connect us. For many of us this is already obvious – we have and rely on technology in so many ways already. But the kind of connectivity that Ceptr envisions goes (potentially) way beyond what we currently have. Imagine going back 100 years when “fast communication” was a written paper carried on train or horseback and explaining communication via sms or email. That is what its like to describe Ceptr today.

Ceptr is coming into being at a time when a certain kind of technology has surfaced and is getting a lot of attention. I am referring to blockchain and the systems built on top of it, the two notable ones being Bitcoin and Ethereum. It is inevitable that if you hang out around Ceptr you will come across references to blockchain and alt-coins. I am going to hold off on touching on these subjects because:

  1. The Ceptr view on these subjects is very different and comparisons can be misleading and detrimental to understanding.
  2. Alt-coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum portray distributed/decentralized computing AND currency as joined at the hip. This is not a god-given truth nor even a necessity, but rather a choice, possibly a poor choice. Regardless, that choice is not helpful for understanding distributed computing nor for understanding currency.
  3. A faulty understanding of currency is at the heart of many of the problems we are facing and a good understanding of currency is at the heart of possible solutions. So it is critical to be able to focus on money without the added burden of its relationship with blockchain (and it is critical to understand that decentralized computing does not have a direct relationship with currency).

Inspiration: Nature

Ceptr is  inspired by nature. How is the growth of a pasture or a forest coordinated? Or even better, how are you possible? A human body has way more cells (trillions) then there are humans on the planet (billions)? How do those cells (a primitive and simple form of life compared to a human being) coordinate to become you? If the cells that make up your body coordinated like human beings cordinate, you would at best be a very sick creature.

It is worth noting that the underlying metaphor there hints at what Ceptr is trying to do: to create a means for groups of people to become social organisms that are able to coordinate and collaborate as effectively as the cells in our bodies have been doing for millions of years.

As I reflect on this metaphor, which profoundly informs the making of Ceptr, I realize it may also become a trap. It assumes that our understanding of nature is shared and mature. I have a feeling that as I try to unfold this metaphor we may arrive at some unconventional ideas about nature itself. I believe this is not a coincidence. So while I do look forward to leaning on nature as a crutch in explaining certain ideas, I also expect that crutch may need some reinforcement before we can put our full weight on it.

Do cells communicate? collaborate? organize? make decisions? Do trees? Do bacteria? Do fungi? What is communication? What is organization?

Where do we begin? Maybe brains and skins?


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