What Makes A Resilient Civilization?

June 13, 2024

This blog post builds upon the ideas presented in the Society for Resilient Civilization (res/civ) Manifesto. Rooted in technological optimism, the proposed Society is set to address the complexity of building long-term societal resilience, and explore effective strategies and tools in the age of AI.

In this post we outline one of the many possible ways to unpack the question, what makes a resilient civilization? Taking up a role of a hypothetical designer/programmer, one could think of several design elements and principles:

1. res/civ as a “Programmatic Civilization”:
  • Viewing civilization as a systematic framework that supports growth and experimentation. 
  • Introducing “stable” and “experimental branches” with continuous feedback loops to safely test new models and policies.
2. Critical pillars of a resilient civilization:
  • Optimism: Cultivating a culture of optimism and positive thinking is crucial. A resilient society avoids fear and pessimism to maintain a forward-looking perspective.
  • Growth: Sustainable growth that considers societal well-being and maximizes future options is essential for resilience.
  • Robust Experimentation: Establishing a safe environment for experimentation and innovation promotes diversity and adaptability—key traits of resilience.
  • Strong People: Encouraging individual autonomy and continuous self-improvement, the foundations for societal resilience.
  • Strong Leaders: Focus on developing leadership and personal integrity, together with tools and metrics for accountability and power balance.
  • Decentralized Structure: A decentralized organizational structure allows for diverse approaches to adopting and implementing core values, and most importantly allows breathing room for the values to evolve.
3. Resilience metrics. Important considerations for testing new regulations and policies include:
  • How well does the policy prepare society for future challenges?
  • Does it help preserve or increase future possibilities (e.g. strikes a balance between diversification and convergence)?
4. Addressing existential threats and societal issues:
  • De-growth and AI doom-ism: fear mongering should be battled with rational discussion about both risks and benefits, and a proactive approach should be taken to leverage the maximum benefits of AI and other technologies.
  • Climate, Dept, and Democracy Crises: Environmental and economic policies must promote resilient growth, and avoid power monopolies to prevent instability and one-sided solutions.
5. Collaboration with initiatives that share similar goals:
6. Scaling and Education.
  • Engaging broader audiences through active conversation, publications, and podcasts, using clear and relatable language.

By focusing on maximizing future options, enabling safe experimentation, and managing risks through technology and ethics, societies can build and maintain resilience.

When it comes to AI as a number one candidate to the societies’ soon-to-be strongest propelling force: in our view, banning, over-regulating, or limiting AI or any technology isn’t a sustainable, nor favorable, strategy. Instead, maximal effort should be put towards building beneficial initiatives, AI tools and inventions, therefore creating a robust ecosystem which will be able to withstand the negative outliers that will naturally occur.

We look forward to further discussing the building blocks of resilient societies, and we encourage you to engage with us on our social channels and voice your ideas and comments.

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