Part Five: Taking Responsibility

Suppose that I have convinced you of the importance of the Knowledge Loop and of the scarcity of attention in the digital age. Suppose further that you find my suggestions for increasing economic, informational and psychological freedom interesting. That still leaves a huge question: Can it be done?

Throughout the prior sections you may have occasionally thought that I am mad for proposing so many fundamental changes, ranging from how money is created in the economy to who controls computation. One reaction is to dismiss the ideas as utopian. To argue that we simply cannot change everything about how we live. Yet that ignores the historical fact that we have changed nearly everything in how humanity lives twice already. In an earlier section I argued that we had two big 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. Each of these shifts was accompanied by extraordinary transformations.

From the Forager Age to the Agrarian Age we went from nomadic to sedentary, from flat tribes to extreme hierarchies, from promiscuous to (at least nominally) monagamous, and from animistic religions to theistic ones. From the Agrarian Age to the Industrial Age we went from living in the country to living in cities, from large extended families to nuclear (or no) families, from the commons to private property (including private intellectual property), and from great chain of being theologies to the Protestant work ethic. And yes the first of these transitions took place over thousands of years and the second one over hundreds. Still they show that everything changes when the binding scarcity shifts.

With scarcity shifting once more, this time from capital to attention, we will have to change everything once more. No matter how daunting that may seem and how long it will take. This fourth and last section sets forth a series of ideas for how each and everyone of us can take responsibility for change, starting today.

NOTE: I am substantially rewriting this section and the conclusion, so expect some bumpy reading.

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