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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

All this reminds me of a feeling I put into words four years ago, just before the french presidential election.

I was trying to prevent someone to vote for the far right, and while talking, I realized I felt closer to the German citizens who did a sit-in to say to french people "please don't go that way, please stay in the EU with us", than to my fellow Frenchmen and women who were about to vote for the far right.

I effectively felt closer to people from a country I've never been to, than to my compatriots.

Closer ideologically, culturally, and even emotionally.

Because we share more values and could communicate in English anyway, so our first language is not even a question.

I think that's when I realized I didn't really relate to the idea of nation-states anymore. Being french/german/american today says less about someone than their values and vision of the world.

I worry about how it's gonna evolve though. Nation-states are not gonna go without a fight, and in the end we still need a place to live. Are countries gonna split in smaller entities ? (not sure that'd be a good sign and done peacefully) Are people gonna be allowed to move more and immigration laws will losen up ? (seems unlikely right now considering the rise of the far right in a lot of places)

Curious about your thoughts on this.

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author

I'll cover the nationalist sentiment in my premium article coming in a couple of days. It's a big one. Thanks for asking. But the short is that I agree with you.

Re what will happen --> some nation-states will embrace it (the way some feudal lords embraced the printing press and protestantism and not others), some won't. Those who embrace it will develop faster, and over time, will prevail.

The issue is the short term. The printing press was followed by 5 centuries of wars. They really only stopped after WW2...

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Well that's reassuring ! 😬

Thanks for your answer, looking forward to the next posts on this 🙂

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Aug 30, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

I've just been reading about the 30 years war....

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author

Not a fun time to live

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

The parallel with Luther's 95 thesis is interesting and your endeavor of building 95 new thesis is ambitious! But upon re-reading your article -yes, your articles are dense and packed with information- it seems to me you presuppose the "killing of the Nation State" by Information Networks as a good thing. However, I would argue that although the current system has many flaws, thanks to Nation States we have some redistribution of wealth (of varying degrees depending on the countries), we have infrastructure (hospitals, roads), public school systems, social security nets. Thanks to strong Nation States, we are starting to see legislation seriously taking into account environmental issues. With no Nation Sates, who would "police" the acceptable behaviour? Who would enforce much needed emission/gender quotas? Who would build the roads that connect small towns? Who would pay for scientific research that has not immediate economic return? Are new Information Networks offering a better solution to these problems? Because what we are seeing now, is that the rise of these Information Networks are, on the contrary, offering a worse system for the majority: bitcoin being used mostly for money laundering and narco payments; social networks being used to spread fake news, conspirationalist theories, propaganda; decentralization used to evade tax-paying... by the wealthiest individuals and corporations, destroying the middle class; bitcoin mining (again) being super energy consuming. Do we really WANT to suppress the Nation State to supplant it with a deregulated system where the only interest taken into account is the private interest? Are gatekeepers superfluouse? Bad per se? How do we make sure the change of paradigm works better for the majority? If you manage to articulate in your new 95 thesis a way to incorporate the "general good", it would be the most powerful blueprint.

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Note that I'm not making a moral judgment!

I'm not saying: "Internet and Blockchain *should* kill nation-states."

I'm saying: "Internet and Blockchain *will* kill nation-states."

Hoping against it won't make it real, the way most Europeans in 1500 probably didn't want the Church to disappear. You can imagine their fears:

"But the Church is the guarantor of the Faith! Of our values! Who will fulfill that function? We're going to be lost! And who will help the poor? The Church always steps in to help those in need. Of course, they skim some at the top, but without them our society would go to shit!"

Right now I'm limiting myself to "how the systems will dictate what we do." I'm understanding the chessboard so we know how the game is played.

I do want to tackle this second order, "how we navigate these new systems", how we can best play the game given the chessboard we're given.

But I am very optimistic. I think the future system will be much more positive. One way to think about it is that there will be substantially more transparency and accountability. As you probably know, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

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Oct 12, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Smart contracts, embedded in computer code, will not be transparent unless the authors want them to be. Writing easily readable code is a difficult art. If people actually want to obfuscate it, it's almost unimaginably bad - but it will still be automatically enforced.

Ever read an EULA end to end or compared cell phone plans? I expect the typical smart contract will be worse. Even well-intentioned professional programmers create bugs. Amateur contract-writers will be worse. I expect deliberate loopholes will be common.

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That's true. Maybe smart contracts will be used only for very important contracts, or for those that are standardized?

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Oct 12, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Hmmm. I'm thinking of that Texas power company that offered low rates, until wholesale rates went up in the cold snap and people's accounts got drained overnight. I'm not optimistic about smart contracts being any better regulated than that. I worry that they'll be as common as EULA's, as over-reaching as app permissions, as one-sided as most EULA's and waivers (how many people outside business and law know that "hold harmless" is a pipeline to your bank accounts?), and often as poorly designed as the California power "deregulation" that left loopholes that Enron exploited.

I hope I'm being pessimistic. But the things that are claimed to make them better - their transparency and enforceability - depend on them being written in software code, which is at least as hard to read and write as the legalese today's contracts are written in.

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I think you're right. You're pointing out that in contracts, there's several pain points. The one I highlight is ambiguity. The one you highlight is friction to understand that ambiguity. The current state of Smart Contracts is meant to solve the former, not the latter. Therefore, unless SCs evolve to tackle friction too, they will only be a partial solution.

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You forget to mentioned that most of our inventions today, including the Internet were created for military purposes at first. I mean without someone who pay for big, longterm research it’s almost impossible to get to where we are today, the same things hold true for the future. Probably, we’ll need a global government at least. If it’s a total anarchy it will be chaos which makes people vote to go back for some forms of government. Amazing writeup though Tomas.

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

I think most of us readers, if looking a ourselves in a mirror right now, would probably look more like Rigobert #2... Thank you tomas for unleashing another storm!

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Yes! You'll love the example I wrote above. Pasting here:

Hoping against it won't make it real, the way most Europeans in 1500 probably didn't want the Church to disappear. You can imagine their fears:

"But the Church is the guarantor of the Faith! Of our values! Who will fulfill that function? We're going to be lost! And who will help the poor? The Church always steps in to help those in need. Of course, they skim some at the top, but without them our society would go to shit!"

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I fully sympathise with the collective action you advocate Chloe, but II think maybe this doesn't have to be led by the "nation state". I advocate a form of collective action led by cooperatives (which could be enabled by new IT):

http://davidthorp.net/economics/co-ops

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Fascinating article, thank you Thomas. I think your article on information networks would need to incorporate how, with the billions of nodes of information stemming from people of all over the world, this creates a hell of a lot of "noise". This means that important / worthwhile / novel ideas & solutions have a much harder difficult chance to stand out by their own merit. (Twitter is a great example of this.) Also, these information networks are subject to being manipulated and purposely used to distribute misinformation, by groups, politicians, state-nations, etc. So, while access to information is now widely available, there are also greater chances to mislead millions of people. That is why, in my opinion, the world is becoming increasingly polarized, it has become harder and harder to know what is really true and people are becoming more anxious, afraid, radicalized, despondent, angry, etc. As human beings, we are able to co-exist if there is an underlying sense of trust between us as a group or society. The issues I highlighted are eroding such common trust, so as nation-states eventually disintegrate, they will be replaced by factions of people united in their beliefs, ideologies, religions, etc. and opposed to other who do not share them. Hope this helps =)

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Ah! I hear you.

I'll answer this point in an article coming in 1-2 weeks. A teaser: think about Wikipedia.

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

A dimension I certainly expect in follow up articles is that of the current identity "crisis". Yesterday I was reading about "identity inflation". It is obvious to me (and I am VERY far away from patriotism and other attributes of Nation States) that if the "system" that is cooking up fueled by the current technologies is to be "wider" than nation states, it will however need to cement itself with something that allows it to be socially cohesive at these larger scales. And not only do I not imagine yet what this cement could be (although Ernest Renan's concept of nation allows for worldwide cohesion, I think), but rather to the contrary, I feel the new concepts of identity are opposed to any effort towards universalism.

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Tomas, I used to think that we would evolve toward corporate states since we have begun to see such outsized political influence wielded by corporations, mostly through their financial influence on politicians. But then you introduced how blockchain will likely dispense with gatekeepers. I have watched how blockchain has made bitcoin relatively impervious to gatekeepers. We now see virtually all the major western nations manipulating their money supply to an unhealthy degree, classic gatekeeping, and enormous transference of wealth through inflation. I can only hope that blockchain might offer a more efficient method of this, even though market discovery worked well for centuries, maybe millennia. I eagerly await your next installment.

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That's my current theory anyways!

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Most all of the New Testament is testimony to the power of the hand-carried letter. The Roman Empire succumbed to Christianity largely because of the letters Paul wrote to early Christian groups scattered across the landscape. Paul used those letters to morph the preachings of an obscure Jewish rabble-rouser into teachings that captured the collective imagination of the Gentile world. Among other things, that replaced Roman rule-by-brutality with consideration of your neighbor's values. Imagine how much faster that transition would have happened if the printing press had been invented back then, long befoer the firsst Gutenberg bible was printed. And that process of huanization continues, documented by the exponential decline over the last two millenia of the rate of human deaths at the hands of other humans. As the Internet continues to level the playing field, tackling universal challenges like climate change and systemic racism starts to make sense. By the way, you can add "world spiritual transformation" -- following closely upon "global identity" -- to the list of 95 Theses.

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Very interesting! Yes, you're right. I'll add it.

I think a lot about world spiritual transformation. But I don't have very strong theses yet of what will emerge. What do you think?

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Aug 30, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

We already have a strong basis for spirituality in so many areas. From the early pagan worship of the world around us and the earth itself , to Buddhist respect for all living things, to Jesus' teachings on how to get along with other people. I have been meaning to read the Koran for a long time, but I have little doubt it also contains much wisdom. The modern religions of science and economics also have something to offer.

If "Global English" is going to be the new language, then why not something spiritual that amalgamates the best aspects of our collective wisdom?

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I agree! Some reactions:

- Buddhism's 4 noble truths are probably universal.

- Jesus' loving yourself and others is also a valid core tenet.

- Values like global brotherhood would prob be good to highlight for a 21st C religion

- Jewish focus on community looks powerful.

- Community in an online-first world isn't solved yet.

- Meditation / praying is a best practice common to many

- Psychedelics can help reach high spiritual experiences

- Still not a good answer to the meaning of life IMO. They're always about "you should do this or that" rather than the truth, which is "whatever you believe gives you meaning will actually give you meaning."

What else?

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Sep 12, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Slightly less sarcastically, I think humans tend to thrive when they have a sense of purpose that gives their life meaning. That can be the difference between truly living and merely existing. As a social species, goals and purpose often have more meaning if they are shared goals as part of a family, team or community.

Douglas Adams' Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy has an amazing amount of wisdom within it for a fictional comedy. I can't recall the name of the bit part character who is immortal, but he is bored out of his brain as a result, having been everywhere there is to go and done everything there is to do. Death is part of what defines life and the more remote it becomes, the easier it is to lose sight of what really matters.

My favourite passage is the discussion about which is the most intelligent species on earth. Humans thought they were more intelligent because they had conquered nature, built great cities and fought great wars, whereas the dolphins just mucked around in the sea all day and had fun. Strangely, the dolphins thought they were the more intelligent species for precisely the same reasons...

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Very good pts. We should all be dolphins.

I need to read that book!

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Sep 15, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Might be some light reading in between your serious reading schedule! I actually love human curiosity, invention and the complexity of what we have created, but I'm a fan of balance so we sometimes need to remember to just play and have fun.

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2021 Nobel prize for economics Joshua Angrist shows Adams´ book on his shelf on the official photo !

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Nov 13, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

According to a recent New York Times article, Elon Musk was a big fan of the book in his younger days. The point they made in the article was that Elon seems not to have realised that Douglas Adams was a committed socialist. He was in fact poking fun at rich elites when he suggested that luxury custom-built planets would become the growth industry of the future. And that the meaning of life was something that those rich elites weren't able to figure out for themselves, so they had to build a super computer to work it out.

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Dec 23, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

I read this great article by Andreas Kluth recently:

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-12-22/these-ancient-remedies-will-make-you-stoic-skeptical-epicurean-and-cynical

I would go for a religion incorporating the views of those four philosophers. I think their views already form part of many of the world's religions, though sadly my knowledge of those religions is somewhat limited.

I tend to towards the Pyrrhic, but I think it is time I was more Stoic.

To that end, your Christmas present is going to be the problem and solution list that I promised you back in July. It was supposed to have taken 2 weeks, but seems to have taken a bit longer!*

*I blame global warming. Who would have thought the Scottish Highlands could be sunny and 25 degrees celsius for 2 whole weeks instead of dreich as usual.

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Thx! Looking forward to it!

Nice little article, thx for sharing. I have an article coming that tries to put them all together into one theory! See where it goes…

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Sep 11, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

I thought that the meaning of life had already been agreed upon?

For individuals, it is to accumulate as much wealth as possible

For countries it is maximise their GDP statistics

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It seems to me that this path leads to mental illness and sadness. Wealth generate hapiness only until some point. Healthy existence must have other aspects than monetary, even for nations.

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Just to clarify, I was being sarcastic and I completely agree with you

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World Spiritual Transformation is already happening. It's reflected in the ardent desire -- joy really -- that people around the world demonstrate as they are finally able to communicate with each other in real time. Elon Musk knows this (although we don't know if he is capable of feeling it) so he's extending this capacity to every corner of the world.

I think we have to be careful about equating spiritual awareness with religious practices or even beliefs. Yes, the Golden Rule is pretty universal and many (but not all) people get fulfillment from communicating with a supreme being or His/Her local representative. But to explore -- and more importantly experience so we can participate in -- World Spiritual Transformation, we need to go wider and deeper.

Science seems like a religion to many because it explains so much about reality. It enables us to predict and control our surroundings. Not even God is that powerful, or at least He/She chooses not to exercise that power on command. But people thirst for deeper meaning, which science (for good reason) refuses to provide.

So we're already undergoing spiritual transformation. It's a natural process. Our last mass Enlightenment, triggered by the Renaissance and actualized through reason, individualism and the scientific method, has run its course. It's running out of steam, causing as many problems as it solves. It's time for a new paradigm, and if you look carefully -- and more imporantly, allow your heart to awaken -- you'll see it's already upon us.

Having been a physician for almost half a century, I appreciate the power of objectivity and scientific investigation. But as a fan of spiritual awakening, my experience has been that a steady diet of scientific products will make your soul feel like it's dying of hunger. I've watched this happen to many of my colleagues. Living exclusively on enlightenment thinking will develop your mind to the point where you may come to act like you've lost it. So we see (although the media don't often show it) rampant overtreatment of the seriously ill, poor pain control with simultaneous opioid abuse, and horribly deficient end-of-life care.

As the great teachers have told us, the mind becomes a problem if it's not supplemented by the wisdom of the heart. The mind may know how to cure, but the heart knows how to heal. The mind thinks -- and often winds up tortured by uncertainty -- but the heart knows. It understands how to tolerate uncertainty, because it knows how to trust.

Our fondness for analysis makes the mind pick things apart, but the heart sees unity. The heart knows that everything we experience simply is. It's happening, and therefore at the deepest levels we can accept it. Experiencing that may take practice, or it may dawn on you all at once.

Let the mind raise objections, and help it work to improve the things we don't choose to accept. But at some point, spiritual transformation will help you let go of the mind, or let it function in the background to fix things that need fixing. But the heart will be both up front in your consciousness and underlying your awareness as you're letting go, seeing that in an ultimate sense, nothing needs fixing.

Maybe we'll develop a science of the heart. We're learning a lot through neurophysiology and functional MRI, psychedelic research (speaking of experiencing unity) and the study of near-death experiences. But that science will just tell us what we have always already known.

Spiritual awakening is happening spontaneously now to an increasing number of folks across the planet, according to Eckhart Tolle, Gary Zukav, Michael Singer and many others. They all agree that the reach of the mind is limited and the heart needs to be heard -- and followed.

We don't need to create or define world spiritual transformation. We need to awaken and participate.

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As with all things, it's about balance.

Between "heart" and mind.

Between accepting things (ourselves and the world around us) or trying to change them.

Between the modern religions of science and money and the older ones.

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Fascinating article. It seems to me that if information networks are to have the global influence you propose, there must be a way to distinguish between facts and misinformation. If Trumpian denial of facts becomes a global rule, then information conveyed across networks can't be trusted and the networks will eventually collapse or become irrelevant. Facebook is struggling with this dilemma now, and has yet to come up with a solution. There's a difference between generating ad revenue from clicks on viral conspiracy postings and undermining nation states by spreading facts and credible ideas.

I hope that your prediction that block chain will lead to the disappearance of nation states will prove true . But I am skeptical, given how quickly the Chinese govt was able to suppress the Hong Kong democracy movement and culture through suppression of information and the use of police force. The Chinese clearly understand the importance of controlling information networks.

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I believe this will happen (good mechanisms for trust). We're just missing the mechanisms yet. I have been thinking about such a mechanism.

China is a good point. I think countries are in a crossroads. They can take the China direction or the Liberal direction. I hope most take the second.

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I hope trust mechanisms do arise. Feels like the whole world is at a crossroads, from several perspectives. Interesting times...

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

I share the fascination.

And I'm already expecting the specific blockchain considerations.

Blockchain is out of my area of expertise (who has areas of expertise anymore anyway...) but I wonder whether it could not, additionally to a function of gatekeeper, also act as a stone carver of lies and fakes. I.e. I am worried about the dark sides of blockchain.

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

The various periods of revolutionary change detailed in the essay all occurred during eras when the concentration of power was orders-of-magnitude less than we observe today. If authority flows ultimately from the ability to force another to submit or be destroyed, the total combined quantity of "authority" in the world today is many millions of times greater than that available to totalitarians of the past. Since inception, these levers of power have proven difficult to dismantle - like the Ring of Sauron, someone will always crave power on that scale. How to get that genie back in the bottle? If power on that scale becomes truly decentralized, there will inevitably be a miscalculation in the future that leads to calamaty for all - so, for better or worse, that kind of power must be concentrated in a limited number of nodes; if not nation states, what authority will rise to claim the power?

Nation states facilitate the blood-less transfer of wealth from those with less power to those with more - establishing media of exchange, enforcement of contracts, quashing individuals' resistence to collective priorities, etc. These vital functions have given us the modern world...

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Very good and difficult questions. I don't have answers today. The only thing I'd warn us is to mix things we want to be true with things that are true.

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The combined destructive power of the world's weapons may may be many millions of times greater than in former times, but I'm not sure that power was less concentrated back then. The emperors and popes of Rome wielded fairly concentrated power I think

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Relative power. Mighty when balanced upon the scales of those ancient days, but utterly inconsequential in absolute terms. What do I mean by this? Popes and emperors could summon relatively large numbers of men-at-arms, and emperors escpecially could deploy - through their generals - fairly sophisticated tactics to overwhelm their foes. And they often held superior arms - but the degree of superiority is best measured arithmetically, their gains were gains of addition (this alloy is 10% harder, or this trebucher throws 15% farther). A talented and motivated peasant with a club or a rake could possibly defeat a centurian. The centurian's gladius and shield may set the odds against the peasant: 3:1 against? 7:1? 20:1? But in any of these scenarios the peasant has a statistically robust chance of prevailing.

In current times, the gains realized between top-of-the-line and second rate are exponential (this warhead is 250,000x more lethal than that tank). Its an interesting thought experiment, to attempt to extrapolate the relative scale between centurian and peasant - M4 vs Ruger 10-22? And so on, until, at the top of the scale, the centurian obtains a Trident submarine; at this point, any relative difference at all becomes inconsequential.

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Aug 31, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Thank you for this interesting article. I think you are slightly cherry-picking the facts though. I understand it is mostly to streamline the narrative and focus on big trends, but I think it affects the way we construe them.

1) I am not sure the XX century turn is that different from Luther's times. He could spread his ideas quickly with books and local supporters, and so could do the XX century dictators. In fact, Stalin resorted to radio very rarely, and he/his party came to power before the age of mass radio, so his case is clearly different from, e.g., Hitler who relied on popular support. The "broadcasting" figure in the article is drawn as if the older "16th century" network isn't there anymore, but it is still there, right? I see how much difference printing could bring. However, later additions are just additions to this network, and it's not so clear to me what exactly later tech brings (apart from the chance to hear the newsmakers without any middlemen and much faster operation).

2) Having said that, I think it is safe to presume that the "global information network" is already here for quite a long time; even if we talk about Internet, you could read major newspapers online, say, 20+ years ago, so we can already dicuss the effects of this structure. I am afraid what we see in reality is "echo-chambering" rather than spread: people tend to ignore information coming "from the other side", and the mass media actually takes sides (which is also unsettling). We have the network, but most people don't really use it: it's much easier to resort to "default" options such as major media or Youtube/Facebook algorithms.

3) Speaking of nation states, it is tempting to imagine a Fukuyama-style world, but if we look at the facts, world is seemingly splitting rather than cooperating. I am not talking just about the present day, it is a trend from early 90s (when many territories preferred having independence when they got a chance) till 2010s (think Sudan) and then the UK voting. It is very possible that this is just a temporary relapse, but nobody really knows, and we can't just ignore facts. There is a lot of sympathy to "people who want to live their way", where by "people" a certain political nation is understood. Even "international" companies (like Wikimedia) aren't 100% international as they have to comply with regulations of their home jurisdiction, which affects their behavior in all sorts of subtle ways. This is also quite damaging to world unity, because it motivates the local governments to create their own independent alternatives.

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Very interesting, Maxim. Thanks!

1. Yes, you're right. In fact the printing press is a broadcasting tool too, if the production of books is controlled—which was impossible early on, the Church tried, but was much easier later on. I think a better way to put it is:

- New info techs upend existing powers, who are not used to them

- New powers emerge to harness those techs

- These new powers work within the boundaries of the tech

So speech, like writing, like the printing press, like internet, can all end up in a gradient between free and totalitarian systems. But not any totalitarian system. For example, a pan-European power was unlikely to emerge with the printing press given the vernaculars.

2. I do think you have massive spread. There are echo-chambers, but content continuously crosses across these lines. And ideas also spread much faster within these lines. Look at QAnon.

3. I agree with you. The world will likely become more fractured in terms of jurisdictions, not less.

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Aug 30, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

I see three scenarios:

1) big corporatioins will take over, the ones that control the information flows today, like the big social networks.

2) Nation states will not disappear, they will just become bigger and bigger. Big economic blocks like China, EU,... will dominate. China shows, that centralised power, Internet and censorship can go together very well. Also with their development of CBDC...

3) A new world society will appear. Information will travel freely. We will work with people who live on the other side of the planet. We will use a worldwide blockchain based currency and many different utility tokens.

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I can definitely see that!

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

It isn't hard to see how the nation state has already been weakened by the speed and ease with which capital can move across borders. But what will emerge to replace it? Right now, the most powerful players economically are transnational corporations -- but what replaces the nation state politically? A state is defined by its monopoly of force in a given territory. How will that change? Is it possible that a planetary government will emerge?

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These are the big issues I'm thinking a lot about. We won't have definite answers, but I hope that thinking through these problems helps us understand better what to expect.

You are right on the monopoly of violence. It reminds me of this riddle from Varys in Game of Thrones:

"A King, a priest, a rich man and a sellsword are in a room. Those three man tell the sellsword to kill the other two. Who lives and who dies?"

Answer: "Power resides where men believe it resides."

The feudal knights had the sword, and their lords controlled them, but the Church controlled the people's minds, and hence the military power.

So the question of who controls violence in the future is only half of the question.

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Wealth also resides where men believe it resides.

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Sep 1, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Thanks Tomas for a very interesting article. Very thought provoking, but as some others have pointed out, there are some simplifications and maybe cherry picking in the data, although the description of the ways information is important seems sound to me.

In fact, Spain, England and France became politically united before the printing press, through alliances/conquest and deals between the royal families of Europe. Italy and Germany may have followed your roadmap to Nationhood (that is the emergence of a national language through the printing press, and then a Nation State) but other countries followed the political path to building a nation, before the effect of the press. Also, as other coment remarked, Nationalism was reinforced by the widespread literacy in the end of the XIX century.

I agree with you that information technologies are always important, but changes are produced in a feedback loop, were information is important but not necessarily the driving force.

Events such as the rise of Capitalism, the european discovery of the Americas are also important in shaping the Nation States we find today.

You seem to ingnore the economic changes brought by Capitalism, based also on other technologies that were created locally for example those that brought about the Industrial Revolution. The textile industry in England, the steam engine and the railways were created mostly by crafsmen, which were not a part of the main scientific information network. Again, a feedback loop based on information sharing was essential later to spread, perfect and consolidate the industries created in the XVIII century and create new ones in the XIX (electricity and radio).

I see also a struggle between Nation States and large Corporations which has started, with Nations trying to close tax loopholes of Corporations, and I wonder if the new emerging power is not Bitcoin and decentralization, but rather the power of Corporations. Many of them are already larger in revenue than several Nation States, they benefit from fast comunication through the new technologies, and are accountable only to their share holders (and even then to a few key shareholders).

Again, many thanks for a thought provoking article. Tomas, ¡un abrazo virtual!

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You are absolutely right. Thank you for saying it, because I realize it might be confusing.

I didn't mean to say that unions were impossible before the printing press. The existence of empires like the Romans, Parthians, Egyptians... prove it.

What I meant to say is that they weren't nations. Spain is a good example: it was the mix of Castilla and Aragon and Navarra, where Castilla was a mix of Castilla and Leon, Aragon included the thallassocracy of the Condados Catalanes, etc. There was no national unity. The formation of the coutry was probably bolstered by the contemporaneous emergence of the printing press.

France is another good example. It had been united before under the Romans, then the Franks. Over the centuries the kings in the Northern half gathered more and more power, but it wasn't based in a nation. Case in point, the fact that southwestern France was supposedly subject to them but in reality were closer to Aragon in the 10-12th centuries. When the North invaded again in the 13th C, it's not like the people there felt any unity with Paris. They just accepted they were subject to it.

So these were states, but not nation-states. Correcting then your last sentence on this, it's not that "other countries followed the political path to building a nation, before the effect of the press", but rather "other countries followed the political path to building a STATE, before the effect of the press". The nation, however, they couldn't build.

You are right again with capitalism. I was struggling about whether to add it or not to the article. I see it as an information technology too. But I want to study it in the context of centralization-decentralization, so I kept out of it for now.

Also true about corporations. I'll talk about them in the next article, which is about the current challenges!

THANKS for very thoughtful comments!

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I'm curious who, in your view, the new political bodies will be in the internet-Blockchain world. Will it be the big tech companies? Will it be the consensus based governance mechanisms that exist in blockchains like Bitcoin?

If the latter, how will they enact real world change. How do they upgrade and maintain roads, provide hospitals etc? That seems like a reason for nation states to exist, albeit ones hollowed out by the Internet. That's already happening.

Also, what happens when nation states fight back? Using anti trust laws to take down tech companies. Creating their own central bank issued digital currencies. Banning particular blockchains, e.g. banning Bitcoin.

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All super interesting questions! This is a lot of what we'll be exploring together. I don't have an answer today, but I took some guesses in my premium article coming in a couple of days. I think the answer will come from a systematic approach of all these aspects: blockchain, the wars of the future, energy, information networks...

Some current intuitions (so I'm speculating widely, mostly as a forcing function for feedback):

- Big tech are also gatekeepers. Not sure they will be able to maintain that status.

- I do think consensus mechanisms might replace gatekeepers indeed

- Real-world change can be coordinated through consensus mechs, within existing nation-states. Look at big corporations, they emerged within nation-states and are now more powerful than them.

- For alternative IRL government, charter cities, special economic zones, and the like will probably keep emerging. DAOs can maintain roads and hospitals.

- Nation-states will fight back. The ones that successfully fight back will have slower growth than the ones who embrace it. They might stay behind like North Korea stays behind, but over a timeframe of centuries, they will fold.

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Sep 1, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

I agree with the broad thrust of your thesis Tomas, and I thank you for it. I am particularly interested in the systemic dynamics to which you allude. We are moving inexorably towards a new world of which I have no doubt. There are in my view a series of interacting technologies of which Web 4 and blockchain are an important part along with IOT 3d printing and TAAS. I would contend that whenever the primary source of energy changes it precipitates a new industrial revolution. In this case, a hypertec revolution. Such shifts induce the arrival a new epoch in which everything changes. Up to now mankind has, with the aid of technology imposed human will on the environment. In the future, it is the changing environment induced by human activity systems that will shape the socio cultural environment in which we live and work. Climate change will induce unprecedented migration. It will take two forms. Internal and external to the nation state. Populations are being displaced within national enclaves. At present, this internal migration is relatively small. However, it is and will become a significant dynamic as drought, wild fires and rising sea levels make habitation more and more challenging. At its worst, it will pose challenges for property rights and with it law and order. External migration will compound the problem dramatically, unleashing a new and contradictory dynamic resulting in cultural fractionation. The result is a paradox. A need to sustain institutional frameworks that support and promote the creation of social overhead capital, (roads, hospitals and schools), and sustain law and order on the one hand, and the need to accommodate decentralisation on the other.

Technology is a powerful dynamic but so is the natural environment. Resource wars are likely to ensue and resources to fight wars will be needed. Nation states will fight to survive. Some will and some will not. Envisaging what those that will not survive will morph into, is challenging to envisage.

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You are right!

So far, I've singled out the importance of energy tech (incl. food), info tech (incl. finance), war tech, and transport tech.

The importance of geography is huge. It's a very common thread of Uncharted Territories. I agree with you! And climate change will likely influence it.

But yes, conflict is coming...

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Please include in your thoughts on our changing future a reality dictated by the current concentration of wealth (power): toxic waste (spent fuel rods, etc), global warming, ocean acidification (from NOAA - "When carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed by seawater, chemical reactions occur that reduce seawater pH, carbonate ion concentration, and saturation states of biologically important calcium carbonate minerals. These chemical reactions are termed "ocean acidification" or "OA" for short"). Are these forces greater or lesser in strength than blockchain tech and/or the English language in shaping the future of our species?

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What is the biggest impediment to action on climate change?

The will of nation-states.

People want to do it. It's just the mechanism that is broken.

Because these gatekeepers are not working.

So yes, I think Climate Change is one of these sub-problems of what I'm describing here.

I'll go into climate change soon—I hope.

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Aug 29, 2021Liked by Tomas Pueyo

You have not commented here on the risks of loss of gatekeepers who also might protect from nefarious uses of blockchain such as blackmail

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Indeed. It's a risk. I don't have a definitive answer. Currently, I'm thinking that this falls in the question on how violence will evolve in the future. I have a full article on that coming!

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Mar 4, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

I'm thinking about post nation-state systems. I spent a career trying to stop child abuse and watched the prosecutorial & social services system grind along slowly at great cost. However if we look toward accountability and stopping corruption, and if transparency is a great disinfectant, the internet may the the most effective way. Leapfrog over the slow prosecution process and expose the sex trafficking networks, government and corporate corruption networks, and place a high value on providing evidence to back up accusations, follow the money and expose them. Those at the top are having a hard time censoring the internet effectively. Maybe Musk's satellites will make it harder to censor?

Jerry Allen

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That is very intelligent. I think this is where we’re going. I would bet on it.

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Tomas, lo que planteas acá, con toda razón es lo que se viene, es lo que planteo Diamond, es como ha sido el mundo siempre. Desde que comenzó a evolucionar el Homo de Heidelberg en Europa (Neanderthals) y en África (nosotros), imagínate, esto se remonta al inicio del ser humano. En ese tiempo el puente era el aire y él boca a boca, el Homo Sapiens llegó a Israel hace 35 mil años, terminando con el “reinado” de otros humanos, particularmente los Neanderthals, quienes lo tuvieron por 500 mil años, pero la comunicación de que probablemente había terrenos más fértiles, el tener mejores herramientas y un cerebro diferente, cambio el curso de la humanidad ya desde ese tiempo y siempre ha sido igual. Pero hay fueron decenas de miles de años.

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