L7 Why Technocrats?

Tools For A New Political Economy

Why Do We Need Technocrats?

Here are some of the drivers that increasingly demand technocratic proficiency in the coming age:

1. Exponentially increasing complexity and scale in all human systems and processes.

2. Accelerating rate of cultural, intercultural and technological change.

3. Compounding interdependence in relationships across human systems and between different arenas (local, regional, national, international).

4. Exponentially enlarging spheres of data, information and knowledge across all areas of study and application.

5. Hyperspecialization of knowledge and language among ever-widening differentiation in subspecialties.

6. Individual and collective human superagency, where the scope of consequences of a given action or decision can have tremendous short and long-term impacts.

7. Global diffusion and democratization of knowledge.

There seems to be a prevailing fantasy that humans will be able to rely on Artificial Intelligence, automation and autonomous robotics to help them navigate many of these issues. But I think that is both technologically unlikely in the near future, and an unnecessary and potentially dangerous capitulation. Much more likely — and in my opinion necessary — will be the augmentation of human intelligence and role definitions to better manage our noosphere and agency and extend our capacity. In my own 15+ years of IT consulting, I developed an adage that seasoned technology geeks have always agreed to be true: Computing is really great, and really powerful, until you have to rely upon it. Specifically, human beings have not mastered the design of systems that can self-organize or contextualize complex input; instead, we have remained stuck at the same level of functionality in this arena — regardless of Moore's law and the sophistication of software programming: "Garbage in, garbage out." In other words...if humanity ever does cede its decision-making responsibilities across a majority of societal systems and processes, there will almost certainly still be technocratic class tasked with programming, administering, maintaining and repairing computer intelligence; there will be human watchers observing and managing the AI watchers observing and managing human activity.

Alternatively, if there were to be some sort of technological singularity that took over in a big way — or if human beings eventually voluntarily gave up all of their agency to machine intelligence and technological determinacy — this would effectively resolve the challenge I am outlining. It would also effectively resolve the requirement for human existence. There is plenty of dystopian science fiction along these lines to illustrate the concerns over this fate circulating through the zeitgeist. So in my view this offers us one more argument for the necessity of technocrats and our active planning and cultivation of this group.

With respect to Level 7 proposals, the necessity of technocrats at all levels of government institution, within NGOs, and across all layers of the enterprise schema is obvious. There will be technocrats specializing in common property share allocations, currency backing, transfers and social credits system integrity and security. There will be technocrats who oversee energy production and distribution. There will be technocrats who specialize in research, information organization and input vetting for the Public Information Clearinghouse. There will be journalistic technocrats elected to the
Fourth Estate to safeguard the integrity and authenticity of information propagated by all media (inclusive of social media), and to watch over other branches of government in order to hold them accountable in the public sphere. There will be technocrats proficient at navigating and regulating the legal system, medical care and polycentric governance. And there will be technocrats who specialize in interdisciplinary communication and knowledge integration at the highest levels. It is inconceivable that without such specialization and expertise that an increasingly global civilization can function at all — let alone thrive. And this is regardless of subsidiarity, distribution and diffusion — because the interconnectivity, interdependence, growing knowledgebase, superagency, accelerating change, and complexity will all still be in play…probably for the rest of human existence.

A substantive difference within Level 7, however, is that technocrats will not a be a privileged class. Respected and appreciated, sure. But their passion for a given specialty will need to be intrinsically rewarding for them, because they will not wield any special authority or position of influence over the rest of society. Instead, they will contribute to the direct democratic process in a consulting capacity — sages to advise the electorate, citizens councils, citizens assemblies, provide
Delphi method policy recommendations, etc. — and as elected or appointed administrators and managers within worker-owned free enterprise the Universal Social Backbone. In such roles, their influence will be dependent on the moral maturity and civic engagement of the rest of society, as direct democracy weighs in on any policy, program or methodology they champion or design. I think this will be a difficult balancing act, and it will mean that diffusion and democratization of knowledge will have to pass a tipping point, where the electorate learns enough to humbly recognize just how ignorant and incompetent it can be, and the current epidemic of Dunning-Kruger armchair expertise attenuates of its own free will.

The increasingly global reaction to the seven drivers listed above has been to long for simpler times past, to deny that change is happening, to reassert arbitrary individual agency in the face of systemic failures and alienation, to scapegoat outsiders, and to invest in bloviating strongman leaders who brashly promise impossibilities — only later to admit they did not realize how complex or difficult managing reality has actually become.

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