Our Values and Beliefs
In our view, humanity as a whole strives to improve its adaptive abilities in at least six foundational ways. We all strive to grow our capacity for Innovation, Intelligence, Empathy, Ethics, Strength, and Sustainability. In our view, all six of these are foundational goals (“deep values”) for living systems. In our Guide, we call these the “IES Goals”. In process, the “I” goals are evolutionary (creative, experimental) in character, the “S” goals are developmental (conservative, predictable) in character, and the “E” goals are central, or “evo-devo” in character, as they manage perennial conflicts between the other four, most foundational goals.
Managing the advance of all six of these goals and abilities, summed across our entire human and life network, and prioritizing Empathy and Ethics (“E&E”) to resolve our goal and values conflicts, is our working definition for flourishing (thriving) in a world of accelerating change. Once formalized to a set of working definitions and procedures, consideration of these life values gives us a way to measure, critique, and increase aspects of general adaptiveness in our ever- more rapidly evolving and developing civilization.
- Foresight begins with our visions for today. We must strive for Quality of Vision, beginning with our next few seconds, minutes, and hours (“Today’s Foresight”) to live a high-quality life. The better we can each foresee our Probable, Possible, Preferred, and Preventable (“Four P’s”) futures, today, tomorrow, and over the long-term, the better our lives, teams, and organizations will become.
- Accelerating change is real. Humanity is now gaining scientific and technological superpowers, most obviously in AI. We must learn how to regulate and use them better, to distribute technology-created wealth and power more equitably, and to continually improve the three pillars of democratic society, self-actualized Citizens, the Market, and the State.
- Adaptive foresight requires good values (“normative foresight”). Empathy and Ethics (“E&E”) are our highest-priority goals and values. They are at the center of all adaptive human networks. Empathy (connectedness) allows us to understand, respect, love, and be kind to others, in all our astonishing diversity of minds. Ethics (interdependence) allow us to find and express feelings, thoughts, habits, norms, and rules that create more goodness (progress, general adaptiveness) in ourselves, our relationships, and the world.
- Our most adaptive visions balance strategic optimism (finding shared Preferred futures) with defensive pessimism (diagnosing and avoiding Preventable futures). There is always good and bad change happening around us at the same time. We must not only imagine protopias (shared visions of measurably better “future places”), but recognize and fight against dystopias (states of maladaptiveness, in comparison to our ideals).
- Good foresight begins with good hindsight and insight. We must strive to know the relevant past and present (insight), in order to better foresee the adaptive future. Our past and future thinking should also be kept in service to the present. The only benefit of both hindsight and foresight is that each can improve our current insights and actions.
- Good leadership starts with self-leadership, and unconditional self-acceptance and self-compassion for our strengths and faults as we know them. Good leaders strive to improve their visions and actions in humble, honest, and mindful ways.
- To be human is to use three great gifts—Foresight, Technology, and Empathy and Ethics (“Head, Hand, and Heart”) to become something more than our merely biological self. Technology has always been a key element of the human story, even before H. habilis emerged in Africa 2M years ago. As the futurist Buckminster Fuller said, human beings are verbs, not nouns. In this 21st century, we can and will use science, technology, empathy, ethics, and foresight to improve the well-being of all life, even as those improvements necessarily change some aspects of the nature of life.
- We owe an incalculable debt to our natural world, to the evolutionary and developmental (“evo-devo”) processes that created it, and to all the generations of life and humanity that have come before us. Each has had beings striving to do the best they can, with what they had, failing, and making sacrifices, to create the complex world we live in today.
- It is Networks (of genes, metabolism, cells, biosystems, neurons, individuals, knowledge, capabilities, ecosystems), even more than any Individual or Group, that have always been the most generally adaptive in any selection environment. When viewed as a single network, life has been immortal, and continually growing its IES capabilities, for 3.5 billion years. Astonishingly, even the six major extinction events that life has experienced to date have been hormetic (a strengthening stress) to network complexity. Counterintuitively, each catastrophe accelerated the growth of life’s functional and morphological complexity (and more specifically, its IES abilities), as seen in life’s evolutionary record of punctuated equilibrium. The natural world has many lessons to teach us about the design, management and future of adaptive human networks.
- Our world is slowly waking up to its exponential promise. We are learning to value intelligent optimism, empathy, ethics, individual empowerment, evidence-based thinking, and free expression. We are learning to use ever-smarter machines, platforms, and crowds (“collective intelligence”) to improve our foresight, innovation, and strategy.
- Humanity’s progress has been astonishing over the last 6,000 years of civilization. We are presently in a scientific and technological Renaissance, but we haven’t yet had a political, economic, or cultural Renaissance. There is a growing gap between our power and our wisdom.
- We believe in the evo-devo worldview, which tells us that the universe is like a living system. We know our universe had a beginning, and it will have an end, like life. It may also be a replicator under selection, like life. If this is true, the purpose of intelligence in our universe must be to aid in the replication process, just as it does in life. In this view, human life has both evolutionary and developmental purposes. This evo-devo worldview can help us understand our place and purpose in the cosmos, and why networks, empathy and ethics are so important to human thriving.
- Much good work remains to be done to make conditions better for all life on Earth. Many problems and challenges must be addressed. The great majority of these have been created by our own poorly foresighted and maladaptive past and present actions. Yet right here, right now is a very special and truly amazing time to be alive. We can remember to be grateful for our lives, and for the adaptive foresight we can develop together, day-by-precious-day. Thanks for reading, and please email us if you have any suggestions for improvement of these values and beliefs.