The Science Fiction Journey in 2024: Where we go from here?

@zazizoma asked me how I envision the bigger picture and the work of the Scifi Economics Lab within it… So a first stab at it…

Last year two things happened which I think are relevant to shaping the work with the Scifi Economics Lab in 2024 and beyond.

  1. @Tim_Reutemann and I co-facilitated a workshop on the future of climate and finance for the OECD, AFD (the International Development Finance Club) and Plurality University. Report here:
    Exploring Futures of Climate and Sustainable Finance_Synthesis_Vfinal + summary.pdf (1.0 MB)

  2. COP28 workshops and talks: We received three invitations:

    • UNFCCC secretariat: We ran a series of events - some art performance, talks, discussions etc
    • AFD (The French Development Bank, not that German political party :)) and the International Development Finance Club)
    • Paris Article 6 implementation: The Global Carbon Council + Ernst & Young invited us to speak about our work with ITMOs (Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes).

Reflecting on our experience at the recent COP summit, where the limitations of consensus-based decision-making were evident, I find a common thread connecting these threads: It’s about breaking free from static models and fostering dynamic, inclusive approaches to tackle our pressing global challenges.

And I think the work we do with the Lab in 2024 should reflect this.

:one: Imagination: We need to envision new social-ecological systems post-fossil fuels, respecting diverse values, cultures, and histories. It’s more than just emphasizing technology; understanding social dynamics and human aspects is the real challenge. People have to be able to imagine and choose from a range of options what best works for their communities and societies following their deeply held values, culture, history, etc. Context: Scifi Economics Residency.

:two: Implementation: Merely imagining is not enough. We must accompany societal imagination with practical means to put ideas into action. I see any societal imagination exercise as basically intellectual masturbation unless it is accompanied by means actually to start putting those ideas into practice - now.
This is what drew me to the Paris-Agreement compliant carbon markets: vast amounts of money sloshing around that are supposedly dedicated to attaining decarbonised futures - with the requirements that these futures should be just, inclusive and make those who landed us in the mess take financial responsibility for the cost of fixing it - because they have the means to do so (which they secured through their polluting activities). This new carbon market is one where the rules, norms, and processes around their implementation are being shaped as I type (keywords: Paris Article 6, ITMOs, compliance).

An Opportunity

ClimateGains (website) is one of the first private sector companies acting on this new UN-governed carbon market. Everyone is watching what we do, as the rules and implementation are still evolving. By “we”, I mean both our company and the two governments involved: Ghana and Switzerland (Ghana allows us to run our Ghana Green Schools program and include the emissions reductions resulting from it as part of their nationally determined contributions. And Switzerland is authorising us to transfer the emissions reductions we have registered in Ghana to Switzerland- so that Switzerland can meet its international emissions reductions).

:globe_with_meridians: I see a unique opportunity in demonstrating:

:one: Desirable alternatives for post-fossil-fuel societies are not just possible but realistic. We can model the social dynamics which make them work.

:two: Realistic transition plans for individuals and communities to navigate towards can get from where they are now to the fossil-fuel-free futures that they deem best fit for them.

:three: Shaping climate finance rules for autonomy and freedom of choice in selecting alternatives. As well as the freedom to shape the social and economic arrangements through which they will implement their transition plans.

So - It makes sense to double down on imagining alternative futures through the Science Fiction Economics Lab. And feeding that learning into developing ClimateGains as a prototype for how carbon projects can grow, not limit, desirable options available for how communities can make their transitions.

:earth_africa: Where do we want to go? Building a Cluster, Inspired by Messina!

:link: The Messina Advanced Cluster, involving 120 local enterprises, demonstrates the seeds of long-termism. Their approach of valuing relational goods, prioritizing stocks over flows, and functioning as a system, not just a network, provides insights into fostering resilience and sustainable development.

Drawing from what we have learned from their 20-year history, we convene a few companies (including co-operatives), non-profits, research and art organizations, ethical banks, funders and investors. Participants are open to re-orient their work around a joint mission to better work with the other participants:

If you are a construction company, you must not be lazy and be open to using new technologies. If you are a social cooperative, you must look away from providing standardized services to customizing what you do to valorize better the capabilities of the people they are assisting and so on.

This happens at the pace of building fruitful relationships. e provide a space and facilitation so that people find meaningful connections to move their work forward together. Our approach is running a well-prepared series of events with well-designed follow-up activities.

:seedling: To expedite the process, we launch:

:one: A Residency Program in May – We start with a small invite-only event in which we engage in a creative exploration of an equitable, inclusive world. An opportunity to flex our creative muscle in the company of brilliant people from different disciplines and sectors.

:two: Appropriate Technology Labs – Bringing together existing technologies for a decarbonized future. The purpose is to discover and better understand what is already out there and how these different components could come together to support different socio-economic models for transitioning away from fossil fuels.

:three: Paris Article 6 Assembly – We convene project developers, investors, regulators and buyers interested in learning from our experience as first movers in this new compliance market. Draft description.

Next steps?

Weaving together thoughts above and threads of Scifi Economics and Paris Article 6 discussions across channels and settings… A rough sketch could look this.

Before the Event:

  1. Online Invitation and Signup:

    • Launch of the event website with an online invitation.
    • Online signup form available for participants.
  2. Role Assignment:

    • Recruitment for specific roles: session curators, journalists for documentation, and communications specialists.
  3. Preparation and Facilitation:

    • Distribution of the Facilitation Pack, including choosing IPCC scenarios, character definitions, and integration of exogenous events.
    • Pre-event online sessions for preparation, complete with documentation guidelines.
    • Synthesis of discussions and follow-up arrangements, favoring voice calls over text.
  4. Event Introduction via Video Call:

    • Comprehensive introduction to the event and its objectives.
    • Encouragement for participants to volunteer for various roles.
    • Post-call online discussion and provision of URLs for role descriptions.
  5. Program Announcement:

    • Public announcement of the event program.
    • Provisional session titles and outlines, each with an assigned curator.
    • Detailed session outlines including burning questions, background information, reading materials, and calls to action.
    • Open invitation for contributions to session development.
  6. Promotion and Further Signups:

    • Active promotion of detailed session descriptions.
    • Engagement in discussions to refine sessions.
    • Additional participant signups.

During the Event:

  1. Session Participation:

    • Participants choose sessions based on interest.
    • Each session is documented and synthesized by a designated journalist.
    • Task for each session to produce a summary for the plenary discussion.
  2. Plenary Session:

    • Consolidation and presentation of session summaries.
    • Use of the ClimateGains mobile app for video-based documentation.

After the Event:

  1. Analysis and Reporting:

    • Social network analysis (SSNA) of discussions (texts and videos).
    • Production of an SSNA-based event report.
    • Follow-up posts focusing on key emergent topics and questions.
  2. Summaries and Media Production:

    • Creation of illustrated, story-based, and video summaries.
  3. Future Activities and Real-World Integration:

    • Planning for location-based activities, possibly on a sailboat, incorporating immersive experiences.
    • Blend of speculative imagination with real-world action, similar to the Evoke/Marketplace model.
    • Production of media and content from these immersive experiences.
  4. Continuous Learning and Sharing:

    • Ongoing process of learning, sharing, and repeating the cycle for future events. Most of which happens online (but stewarded elsewhere for practical reasons as discussed with @alberto).

So that’s where I am at, how about you? Thoughts?

This is a lovely vision! Way to go.

Hi there, so I’ve taken some time to digest Nadia’s vision and catch up on IMTOs and ClimateGains. I particularly liked the imagination and implementation framing, and am seeing the goal of the residency to develop the 1st around intentional stubs, employing the software development concept, to extend into the 2nd.

I also particularly liked your opportunity 3, designing structures that allow for diversity and autonomy in decision making. I’m curious to explore how the Messina cluster has scaled this paradigm . . .

@alberto, do those stubs I mentioned also work for proposing climate week experiments?

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At the moment I am focused on the first step (without the first step there is no walk), less on the strategic elements.

During the event, I think we focus on producing some kind of output, in the spirit of the Space Economy Camp. I think of it either as a future (economic) history of a near-future economy that has achieved the goals of the Paris agreements or a Witnesspedia-like rendition of one such economy.

All the materials produced can of course be ethno-coded and analysed, but I don’t see us doing that any time soon.

For Climate Week, the win would be to get someone from that team to come to Messina, then we can co-create something between May and October.

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Could you unpack your thinking a bit here. I think it might be helpful to translate that to non-native English speakers

We maybe need to define where/ how far across the simulations range we want to go with not only the residency outputs but the whole ScifiEcon - Itmos connection.

Drawn from wargames simulation:

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Also something I have been thinking about is threat-models. Any development in one direction draws out attacks against groups and individuals. Ive found this to be helpful in the context of cybersec work:

That’s useful framing . . . Start with war games and then lean into map exercises and minor field exercises post residency?

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Sure. I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept, but when developing software modular, you don’t always include all the desired functionality at once, but add it bit by bit. So you finish one piece, but you know something will be added to in the future so you add ‘stub’ code so that you can go back to it and easily connect another module.

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Here’s the Lessons Learned doc from Space Economy Camp:

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