Discovering Humanity’s Options For Success
At this crucial juncture in history, humanity contends with changes of enormous complexity. The effects of the emergence of a new world order coincident with the dawning of the Anthropocene – defined as the geological epoch in which human activity fully emerges as the dominant influence on Earth systems — has humanity reeling. The scope and pace of unfolding events exceeds our ability to anticipate and adequately respond to their potential impacts using traditional tools of analysis.
We must develop more effective means to understand, communicate, and engage with the underlying global forces at play that are contributing to the negative consequences brought about by human activity including human-induced climate change. As a global community we need resources and experiential tools for envisioning whole systems, understanding the dynamic nature of interrelationships within those systems, discovering patterns and large scale trends, and most importantly, principles for recognizing, defining and solving humanity’s most pressing problems — the majority of which are global in scope. Piecemeal, disconnected local approaches that fail to consider the whole systems (and their points of leverage) often end up making matters worse.
The absence of tools and processes designed to illuminate the accelerating threats to our well-being and inform us of the opportunities to make positive progress in the face of these challenges, leaves us ill-equipped to participate in and inform the decision-making processes that will determine humanity’s fate.
Greg Watson, Schumacher Center for a New Economics Director of Policy and Systems Design, and Elizabeth Thompson, former executive director of the Buckminster Fuller Institute and founding director of The Buckminster Fuller Challenge have been given the opportunity to update and convene Buckminster Fuller’s World Game™ Workshops.
Building on the experience distilled from nearly forty years of successful participatory global simulations inspired by visionary design scientist R. Buckminster Fuller, they will assemble a team to create a new set of programs that combines 21st century technology and data resources with new insights gleaned from cognitive science and on-line gaming.
This initiative will develop a new set of global systems literacy engagement tools and programs designed to empower current and future generations of decision makers and engaged citizens with the kind of decision support tools that will enable them to successfully navigate and make sense of the complex web of interrelated issues that seem to have immobilized politics.
The World Game™ Workshops will offer a series of real-time, data-driven immersive educational experiences designed to illuminate the global systems dynamics shaping our world and to guide participants to discover their agency to create a world in which humanity can prosper without compromising Earth’s ecological integrity.
The site is an introduction to the key concepts of the World Game™ Workshop. Click on each title to delve deeper.
Geopolitics and geoeconomics are constrained and guided by geography. Choices are framed by mountains, seas, peninsulas, straits, deserts. Geography (and by default, maps) factor into every world event. The Dymaxion Map™ is the most accurate view of the whole Earth available. There is no right or wrong way to orient it. It reveals the Earth’s landmasses as one interconnected island (none having any inherent advantage over others) surrounded by one interconnected ocean.
Global systems literacy refers to understanding the drivers behind current and historic global patterns and trends having the greatest influence on the structures of everyday life. Life on Earth is sustained by a network highly complex, nonlinear systems. The more we come to understand these systems and how they interact, the more proficient we become at developing life supporting technologies that nurture and enhance nature’s regenerative systems and avoid unintended consequences like resource depletion, waste and pollution.
How best to assess the status of resources aboard Spaceship Earth™ and their ability to support the world population now and into the future? We begin with the observation that the periodic table represents Nature’s minimum inventory/maximum diversity toolkit. Everything in our physical world is built from the naturally occurring elements that were forged in the interior of stars. The catch is that they are distributed unevenly around the globe. The Dymaxion perspective helps reveal the many synergetic benefits of global collaboration and cooperation.
Humanity impacts Earth systems in a variety of ways in pursuit of its real and perceived needs. Our ability to discover human trends prepares us to anticipate future resource demands and mitigate potential adverse environmental and societal impacts. Ten years ago almost no one was talking about rare earth elements. The growing use of these materials by the military, clean energy sector and consumer electronics industry has raised the profile of cerium, neodymium, niobium, yttrium, lanthanum and other twelve rare earth elements. They have emerged as pivotal players in the global economic and political arenas.
Real wealth is the technological ability to protect, nurture, and support the needs of life. Historically, in the U.S. the military is the major driver of high-performance technological innovations (where outperforming your adversaries is the only option). Consumers are often the unknowing recipients of once advanced/now obsolete technologies introduced into our growth-oriented economy for the purpose, above all else, of generating corporate profits. The needs of life are not necessarily prioritized. Comprehensive anticipatory design science offers an alternative approach to technology development that recognizes solving humanities most pressing needs as the top priority: Designed pull-up of the bottom vs. austere pull-down of the top.
Reliable, timely, transparent data available to everyone forms the backbone of the World Game™ Workshop. We are compiling a Database of Databases that will be drawn upon to create quantitatively-rich interactive Dymaxion Maps™ and graphics that reveal the key drivers of global systems interactions and trends. The synthesis of data and trend recognition employed in World Game™ Workshop simulations disclose synergetic (“doing-more-with-less”) problem-solving options often obscured by linear analysis.
Visualizing and simulating interstreaming datasets suggested by workshop participants on interactive digitized Dymaxion Maps™ will bring the numbers to life and enhance their ability to comprehend the full implications of their collective actions. The feedback can help hone decision making skills by revealing trimtabs capable of leveraging systemic change with minimal expenditure of time and energy.
Chronlogic is an experiment in “living case studies”. The goal is to take advantage of a wide array of online sources of information to compose real-time narratives that illuminate World Game™ Workshop concepts and themes that provide insights into how the world really works.
Top photo (banner): Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Map.