Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
(This "wrote itself" while I was walking around the lake. It is unedited, vaguely constitutional, prophetic, anticipatory, etc. For me it represents an attempt to grapple integrally with the quickly emerging world of massive information, constant tracking, and ever-more-powerful interpretive software. How could we constrain such trends to produce both an amplification of personal rights and well-being, and also community safety, harmony and efficiency. Perhaps there are a few points left unsaid or a few holes to fill in...?)
THE ARTICLES OF THE PLANETARY DATA-SET
by Layman Pascal
1. CERTAIN RELIABLE INSTITUTIONS must guarantee the autonomy, privacy, mobility, transferability, free appropriate access & secure integrity for nomadic sets of personal health and medical data.
A “reliable institution” is herein assumed to mean some form of enforceable governance. Although it is typical of governments to be only relatively reliable and to dwell between states plagued by occasional bureaucratic incompetence and other states plagued by full blown criminal conspiracy and overt propaganda campaigns of distortion opposed to the interests of the People whomsoever those people may be. Yet by innovative and proven rituals of collective intelligence a governance system may exceed many other forms of human enterprise -- of particular concern being those enterprises variously known as: criminal gangs, public mobs, non-skeptical religionists, and financial & mercantile & service corporations who, while operating well in their own niches, discover that by their behavioral structure and ancient temperament they regularly act to sacrifice the common good and natural flow of economic rewards. Observation of such groups reveals their long-term deleterious and depressive influence upon the robust abundance appropriate to human civilization. Such organizational wickedness is not inevitably the result of predatory conspiracy, false beliefs and conniving but also simply vague, confused, misguided, hypnotized, dull, unintentional, &c. We must be merciful, at least in our hearts, to the difficulty of making groups operate sanely and benevolently.
It is the wit & passion of the People that must demand a system of mutual organization which guarantees any person their private medical data set.
2. A “PEOPLE” WILL henceforth be regarded as any social collection of sapient participants -- be they human, animal, machine or other, and of any age, bodily form, reputation, membership status, etc. -- who are agreed to abide by the shared implications of a freely established set of guiding lines for sharing energy and intelligence. And no matter what agreements they have made they continue to deserve the basic rights of any sentient person.
3. THE PRIMAL GUARANTEE given to these data-sets must be understood to include the integrity, novelty, sophistication, accessibility and perpetual qualitative enhancement for all devices and routines which accomplish the acquisition and transparent, benevolent crafting of all relevant health data.
4. WE CALL UPON ALL PERSONS TO RECOGNIZE the many varied aspects of human health, and also the important attitude of open-ended inclusivity of potentially pertinent health factors. We observe the need for not only information derived from personal body testing & expert estimates, but also every other kind of well-being indicator which balances personal uniqueness with all types of anticipated and unanticipated patterns arising from ongoing, updated comparisons among all other individuals and types of individuals insofar as they permit their data to be shared.
5. THIS PERSONAL DATA-SET MUST INCLUDE, by individual discretion, all information gathered online concerning one’s own behavioral history and self-confessions and all compiled evaluations thereof. Your data reveals much about you that is critical and must be considered a sovereign part of your personhood which upon death passes into the common property of your chosen people or a specified heir. Governance must intensively guarantee these rights of personhood or else will be felt as morally suspect and naturally lose their authority and all temporal powers shall be thrown into question.
6. THE TWO SETS, this basic data-set (medical) and this extended data-set (one’s total social profile) will include our most updated, comprehensive & credible results from personality profiling which employs at minimum an integrated model of inner, outer and relational aspects of life, a combination of intellectual, emotional and physical estimates, consideration for multiple lines of intelligence as well as any possible typological or developmental stage-related matchings.
7. THIS DATA-SET MUST PERPETUALLY EXPAND to include and correlate all emerging forms of reliable information gathering tools notably including any advances in full spectrum bio-chemical, neuro-electrical, genetic & postural observations.
8. THIS DATA-SET MUST BE DIAGNOSTIC for person who it reflects. The basic medical data-set and also the extended social & psychological profile must therefore be intelligent enough to generate optimal options for action given the present profile’s conditions, obviously in accord with any customized individual preferences. in order to accomplish this its functioning must include whatever is comparable to personal browser, search-engine, operating system and social-networking interface. In effect is must use the electric information networks for you, at your discretion, more efficiently than might otherwise be possible.
9. EVERY SAPIENT PERSON in your group, whatever that may be, has an Ultimate Right of unrestricted access to their own data-set and the concomitant Right to share this set, or parts of it for any reason or gain.
10. ANY PERSON, or governance, or incorporated group, has a right to withhold non-vital services from any other persons, pending a reasonable claim of necessity for that data-set or some part thereof. Neither the sharing of data nor the extending of services is mandatory. Participants in any people should expect that their safety, health and well-being are not being risked by the anonymous presence of individuals whose profiles bear a strong and reasonable similarity to patterns associated with rampage, sabotage, &c. Anyone excluded from participation on these grounds has a right to contest.
11. GOVERNANCE SYSTEMS are morally and legally obliged to consider these data-sets when evaluating any person, just as they are morally and legally obliged to work for the health, prosperity, defence & strategic placement of their people whomsoever those people be. Democracy, which is the ancient name for intelligence communal governance with maximum individual liberty, functions as competently as it can receive, evaluate, integrate and enact the multivalent and disparate wisdoms of its people. CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND PUBLIC APPOINTMENTS present opportunities in which the good of the people must evaluate a single person. Such evaluations must be weighted adequately in favor of adequate personality profiling over the circumstance of possession of items, group affiliation or external categorization such as age, race, dress, memberships, etc.
12. ALL GOVERNANCE AGENTS in the governing body of any People are obliged to share their own full data-sets with any person who is thereby government at the request of the governed person.
13. THE ONGOING ENHANCEMENT of the system of data-sets is echoed in the assumption that every person is more than the sum of his or her profile, being amenable to growth and change of many kinds. Therefore a prominent piece of this system requires that all persons have good access to demonstrated effective and experimental methods of no more than minimally coerced self-improvement and that the trajectory of such efforts be considered additional valid data in one’s profile.
14. IN THIS MANNER -- affirmed, protected & upkept -- human civilization can rise and prosper and flourish with optimal liberty, community, satisfaction, self-knowledge, vital integrity, meaningfulness and intelligence.
This is quite an interesting proposal -- and is, of course, an issue that we will have to grapple with more and more (esp. this overlap of increasing availability of personal data and the public desire to prevent acts of mass violence, such as we have witnessed recently). But the proposal is also rather scary, instantly evoking fearful thoughts of the futuristic fascistic regimes explored in various science fiction novels and movies. Such a system might work well, given sufficient good will, a sufficiently developed populace, sufficiently developed leaders, and reliable-enough assessment tools. But barring such, it could also be quite nightmarish. I think people rightly balk at the prospect of being defined by and identified with a data set; something in us exceeds reduction to any such data set, as OOO would also affirm. It is not hard to imagine all sorts of difficult ethical scenarios and challenges: political and ideologically driven (repressive) use of such data sets; the illusion of omniscience access to such "diagnostic" data might generate; criminal activities such as the hacking of data sets to distort individuals' data or to access information for nefarious purposes; the inability to shake or escape identification with one's past as one is haloed, forever, by one's past-and-present data profile; etc. Very thorny stuff. But important, and increasingly inevitable, so I appreciate your grappling with it. Data collection is already in full swing -- new NSA data center in Utah, anyone? -- so, as a society, we need to bring this forward into the light and find ways to integrate it healthily and pro-socially.
The fearful recoil provoked by such proposals is fascinating. It immediately puts us in touch with our "inner republican" -- as if by disputing the world-historical changes we could secure ourselves in an archaic freedom, morally undisturbed. It is akin the fear people produce when they contemplate a regime of quasi-sentient machines in general... without entirely realizing that all their fears have been learned from old and human systems of organization.
People absolutely WILL balk. But even in their refusal they will not be free from precisely the things they fear -- they will only occupy the same world in a less organized, less autonomous, less usable form -- in which all control is ceded. Yet this is the classic "republican" move. A kind of petulance which does not quite understand the vital conservative instincts which they dimly feel themselves affirming. As always, a system which benefits individuals will have to be somewhat forced upon them by those who know and care. Individually typically reject the stress of even positive changes...
We are entering a phase in which we will be totally surveiled, totally profiled, totally tracked, etc. The only question is whether we will have rights in such a universe? Can it be made to serve us both morally and practically, both privately and in communion with others? What attempts can be made?
If we do not make these attempts, even out of fear of the world its seems to imply, we surrender ourselves to whatever predatory and institutional powers "just happen" to take control. The proposal made above give an almost unprecedented amount of control to individuals and empowers them relative to governance, relative to all information about themselves, and especially relative to their own health and well-being.
But still, doubtless, they will resist it on principle. The principle being that it reminds them that the present and future do not correspond to the fantasies of the past.
As far as I can tell the medical information is the most likely to be protected and handed over to individuals. And then it can be extended if we understand what's happening. We're all carrying high-powered computers which will soon enough have all kinds of scanning technology. And I sure as hell don't want to get on a plane with anyone who has the brainwaves, chemistry and psycho-social history of a terrorist! I'd rather get on plane with someone who has a gun or a bomb.
So both our personal and social well-being (and sheer safety) depend on having "systems" switch (as they already are doing) from external to internal profiling. We know it makes no sense to arrest Arabs just because we fear terrorists. We kinda know that gun control will not stop mad massacres. Etc. Our rights and our well-being and our ability to take advantage of the world's information resources AND our feeling of being a voluntary participant are all dependent upon establishing some sort of practical, protected, universal, transparent and endlessly enhancing legal-technological mechanisms to empower ourselves in this emerging world.
The sooner we start, the sooner we can start getting better...
Very interesting dicussion in light of what is happening in Utah right now:
Check out what Mr Binney has to say on this here: