Possible Futures of Power (part 1)

‘Tis the season for blog posts on the future of institutions, which is basically the future of power.

Spending day job time dealing with the NHS, it is also clear that institutions matter less than power. Institutions are vital, but we have a great many irrelevant or inept institutions, sidelined because of failures including of power.

How do power and institutions get fixed? what process discussion will that offer to people who lash out because they feel like they are being overwhelmed by that process, whether it’s about “ethics in game journalism”, US guns, throwing muslims off busses, or the power plays in institutions that lead to #paedogeddon, let alone the many small oppressions that cause ongoing harm on a day to day basis.

Flawed institutions gave us those problems; hopefully the next institutions will get us new worldviews that get rid of those problems. Not by the traditional approach of “solving racism” etc, but by engineering such views to institutional obsolescence. When everyone is heard, and everyone feels heard, how does that begin to support mental health, turning that violence inwards as self-harm, or outwards against others?


How many people do you think it takes?

One of the measures that the US Department of Defence uses for measuring threats, is “how much damage can 10 people do before they get stopped?”. The amount is now pretty high.

The original GDS alpha team was 12; how many of those were doing the work, and how many were defending the people doing the work?

Wikileaks was, what, 3 core people, maybe 5? That’s a small Cambridge dinner probably talking about the same things some of the time.

There are tends or probably hundreds of people in the NHS whose day job is trying to do something that OpenPrescribing.net does better and easier. OpenPrescribing was basically Ben’s idea and Anna building it.

I’m not advocating for lone geniuses (the direction there is essentially random), but the majority of cost is getting the existing status quo to move, not innovation in of itself. There are very few innovations which are good enough for people to adopt them, absent systematic and incentive change. The last one I can think of was probably facebook, which according to the film* was one person plus random friends to launch.

What takes time and interest is taking it from launch to product that scales.

How will proposed new institutions take advantage of this radically changed reality?

Dec 2015
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