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Harnessing The Power of Decentralization: Max Borders of Social Evolution Speaks

Reading Time: 4 minutes by on July 28, 2017 Blockchain, Interviews, News

As the founder and Executive Director of Social Evolution, Max Borders is relentlessly seeking to liberate people and resolve social problems through innovation. Much of what drives him has been informed by his work as co-founder of the Voice & Exit event and as the former editor at the libertarian non-profit Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). Max is a futurist, a theorist, a published author and an entrepreneur.

Through his work with Social Evolution, Max is championing the following beliefs:  

  1. New forms of social organization will be powered by technology.
  2. Old mediating structures and governance will soon be obsolete.
  3. We must prepare ourselves for a more decentralized world.

Here at BTCManager, we had a chance to interview Max about his aims and visions around today’s emerging world of decentralization.

What Led you to Launch Social Evolution?

I started Social Evolution for two basic reasons.

First, I was frustrated with politics; how acrimonious it makes people, as well as the fact that most people think elections, legislatures and bureaucracies are the only means of making social change. I know there is a community out there that agrees that politics is a big, destructive illusion.

Second, and relatedly, I know there is a group of people out there already building new protocols for peaceful human interaction; systems that are decidedly less centralized and hierarchical. Social Evolution: the digital hub (forthcoming publication) will be an intellectual and spiritual home for this group. I want to unite and galvanize them.

Tell us about your Professional Journey and What Led You to this Place?

I had been editor of for years, and it was probably the best job I ever had. But I knew at some point I needed to create something different. I needed not to get too comfortable. I decided to build a media organization, a digital hub, that lies at the intersection of innovation and culture. I am in the process of building that hub; Social Evolution.

Can you Share more of Your Views regarding Decentralization?

Sure. Decentralization has a certain inevitability to it. Just as I believe the technological singularity is coming, I also believe the social singularity will emerge as well. That’s not to say there won’t be conflict. There will be convulsive wars between the old and new structures. Hostile state actors will be saboteurs, where possible, and there will be a lot of fallout. But decentralization is going to continue.

How does the Blockchain Fit into All of this?

The blockchain is not just about decentralization. It’s about disintermediation. And that means removing middlemen. And by middlemen, I don’t just mean bankers. I mean all the great hierarchical mediating structures operating today; in media, government, corporations, and education. These structures are already showing their cracks.  

But as they collapse there will be a great displacement. The middlemen will kick and scream on their way out because these obsolete structures butter their bread. They will have to transition. But first, they will try to reinsert themselves through various means, including attempts to ban or regulate the very technologies supplanting them.

You’ve often used the term ‘Legal Technologies.’ What do you mean by this and how do you Propose that they will Intersect with Blockchain Technology?

Great question! A lot of people hear legal technologies and think there is some kind of app for dispute resolution or contracts. I’m sure those are in development. But the law itself is a kind of technology because it involves a set of protocols or rulesets. And some of these rulesets are better than other when it comes to creating incentives to be productive. In countries with corrupt legal systems, the incentives are predatory. In countries with less corrupt legal systems, the incentives are to be productive. We can see this when you look at the difference between Venezuela and Hong Kong, for example. And put more cheekily, the US itself runs on DOS (Democratic Operating System). Isn’t it time for a better social operating system?

Can you Elaborate on this Theme a bit more?

So one of the more interesting developments in recent history are special economic zones (SEZs). These can be ports or territorial carve-outs, like Dubai or Shenzhen. A decade from now, it might be more speculative micronations, such as seasteads. As new SEZs come online, they can adopt new legal technologies, which is simply to say novel forms of law, which might be implemented with the help of bits and bytes. But given the corruptibility of people, one can imagine that the most competitive SEZs will use the blockchain for as much as they can because the most competitive and attractive SEZs for investment will be the least corrupt.

So over time, What Four or Five Emerging Trends do you believe we will see with the Continued Emergence of Blockchain Innovation and Decentralization?

I believe we’ll see five things. They are:

  1. Better Organization – The blockchain changes the need to organize people into corporate hierarchies and facilitates structures such as DAOs, which will continuously be refined. Tokenizing existing organizations will improve them, even if they don’t become DAOs.
  2. Better Sense-making – Hierarchical sense-making organizations such as government agencies, research institutes, and universities have incentives to obscure inconvenient data and highlight favorable findings. Their guild structures cause them to circle wagons and protect benefits. Decentralization offers the potential to track facts and truth better than legacy structures such as peer review, at the very least because the blockchain keeps an institutional memory.
  3. Better Systems – Systems are evolving to handle greater complexity. That’s because as there is more information to reckon with, systems require information load balancing. The extent to which any node in a system cannot handle information is a breakdown point. Distributing information allows systems — and the people working within them — to deal with greater complexity.
  4. Better Governance – There ain’t no angels. The extent to which you can have governance — rules to live by — that don’t require non-angel third parties, the more likely you are to have stable legal structures and robust systems of commerce and collaboration.
  5. Better Philanthropy – Part of the problem with non-profits is that they are not directly accountable to customers. Instead, donors have to rely on proxy measures to determine whether the non-profit is creating social value. At the very least, though, the blockchain allows you to establish a tighter connection between such proxy measures and donations.

Finally, What is your Greatest Hope and Vision around the Impact of Social Evolution?

Social Evolution is for “subversive innovators,” those prepared to create systems of human interaction that have never before been possible. Our culture will coevolve with those systems. Social Evolution can be a standard bearer for a movement dedicated to liberating people and solving social problems through innovation (not politics).

My great hope is that we can be a major catalyst for peaceful social change. One day I want to get an email every day that reads: “Because I read article X on Social Evolution, I started working on project Y that has revolutionized Z. Without the inspiration you provided, we’d still be doing things the old way.”

The geeks will inherit the earth.

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