Thanks to Stephen Beckett for sharing the YouTube link to the trailer for Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet. Sobering, indeed.

A persistent theme among these types of documentaries is that time is running out on the human race if we are to reverse the trends that threaten us with extinction. As I pointed out in another email to Michael Greenman, other threats, be they pandemics, human migration, and civil unrest, 1 conspire with climate change to make the path forward for humanity quite challenging to navigate. But, as the trailer says, we have this decade to figure it out or we let the planet have it back as we “devour” ourselves to put it into your words.

The issues are so comprehensive, intertwined and complex that it’s nigh onto impossible for any one of us to figure out what to do differently that would truly make a positive impact. Each one of us nearly 8 billion human earthlings lives amid clear evidence of changing circumstances that adversely affect us in localities everywhere. And we choose to spend our time, day in and day out, doing whatever we can to meet our basic needs, first, and pursue what we want to do with whatever is left over. That approach has led us to this point, which as you, Michael, and others have stated, is woefully insufficient. Obviously, it’s going to take nearly ALL of us acting in concert with one another to make a “dent in the universe.”

Given that, I suggested to Michael that the question is HOW does one incentivize people to

  1. Engage in conversations that matter about their circumstances;
  2. Experiment with alternatives that address them; and
  3. Share what they learn and adopt / adapt what works?

Or more succinctly, how do we incentivize 8 billion people to make different choices—change their behaviors—and thereby address these issues?

Michael and I hold a great deal of confidence that some application of time banking may provide such needed incentives. As Michael put it:

I am beginning to see the Time Bank concept as a possible tool for greater human interaction and communications globally! With the number of offers in the Intertrade segment of the HourWorld system, I think we should start looking more closely at the enormous number of services that could be exchanged between individuals who have no likely possibilities of in-person contacts, but who could, with the help of AI translations, and the internet as a tool for working together, lead to unimaginable levels of communication and collaboration.”

In my response, I expanded on his notion:

Basically, you are advocating

  1. PLATFORMS that can accommodate open communication among any and all regardless of an individual’s location, characteristics, or circumstances (possibly Time and Talents?)
  2. GAMIFICATION the creative brokering of offers and requests that incentivize widespread participation in the search for ways that work (maybe intertrading assisted by genetic algorithms associated with artificial intelligence / machine learning?) ; and,
  3. COMPENSATION through time credit exchanges that enable one to meet basic needs without money as one implements what leads to greater chances for sustainability in one’s locality WHEREVER that may be (perhaps an adaptation of the overall hOurworld system?).

This could be the start of potentially expansive and fruitful exchange among us. However, to do so it would have to be on a public platform sufficiently robust and scalable to allow any and all who want to participate to do so. The platform would incorporate a gaming feature that credits participants for the time they spend on it addressing key issues in their localities. Furthermore, the platform would facilitate the exchange of time credits for food, water, clothing, energy, housing, healthcare, education, etc. and thereby encourage them to spend as much as possible doing activities that move us forward, individually and collectively. Finally, with the clever utilization of algorithms drawing upon data collected from the platform, we would learn more from one another, influence change in those social systems that often keep us at bay from reaching our goals, and teach the machine so it empowers us to tackle even more complex challenges ahead.

Personally, I started posting daily to — a public platform — earlier this year in an effort to get in the practice of publicly relating what I’m doing, thinking about, documenting, etc. (I’m posting this email to it as an example.) Hopefully, others find something of value in it. Even more importantly, though, perhaps they will be encouraged to post publicly about themselves so we can acknowledge, learn from, and contribute to one another in the pursuit of shared interests. Maybe this could even be associated with hOurWorld in order to explore the gamification and compensation aspects mentioned above. Or not. The world is full of options.

  1. I term these the Four Horsemen of the Emerging Apocalypse. Maçāes references them in the opening lines of his insightful article on how they can act as a source of political power. Maçāes, Bruno. “Is Vladimir Putin Preparing for War?” New Statesman, 24 Nov. 2021,… [return]