Part Five: Taking Action

Even if you’re now convinced of the importance of the knowledge loop and attention scarcity in the digital age, and persuaded by my suggestions for increasing economic, informational and psychological freedom, that still leaves a huge question: can it be done?

You may think my proposals to change everything from how money is created to who controls computation are too extreme. You may dismiss them as utopian and argue that we cannot change everything about how we live. And yet to do so ignores the fact that we have already changed everything twice. Each of our two prior shifts in scarcity—from food in the Forager Age to land in the Agrarian Age, and from land to capital in the Industrial Age—was accompanied by extraordinary transformations.

When we transitioned from the Forager Age to the Agrarian Age, we went from nomadic to sedentary, from egalitarian to hierarchical, from promiscuous to monogamous and from animistic to theistic religions. When we went from the Agrarian Age to the Industrial Age, we moved from the countryside to cities, from large extended families to nuclear ones, from commons to private property, and from great-chain-of-being theologies to the Protestant work ethic. Though the first of these transitions took place over millennia and the second one over centuries, they still show that a shift in the binding scarcity comes with profound changes in how we live.

With scarcity shifting once more, from capital to attention, we will again have to change everything—no matter how daunting that may seem. What follows is a series of ideas for how each of us can contribute to that change. There are many different projects to be tackled—my list is far from exhaustive, and should be regarded as inspiration for how we can take responsibility.

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