Above the law?

Above the Law



In my humanonaut journey, some of the places where I go may look quite odd from the eyes of the conventional world. Food, vow of wealth, gift economy, amorality, love, stepping out of the classical economic and social circuits… Sometimes people ask me if I see myself standing above the law. This question inspired this present article, the seed of a further thinking in the future…





When minor contradicts major

I will start with an ontological distinction in regards to law. One single word —law— exists to name two different concepts, first, the universal and superior principles that govern us, and second, the rules used to regulate and arbitrate society in its daily flow, in particular through jurisprudence. In order to eliminate this ambiguity between universal law and circumstantial law, let’s name major laws those that lay the foundations of social alliance, and minor laws those that regulate society in a circumstantial manner.

In general, constitutions form an organized set of major laws that state freedom (of opinion, of religion, to move…), equality (of rights, of chances, of gender, of origins…), fraternity, the right for safety, education, health. Democratic constitutions (the French Constitution for instance) as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, carry this intention of universality, at least the way our epoch perceives it through the lenses of pyramidal collective intelligence.

Minor laws relate to arbitration, and the norms and rules that govern society in its daily flow. We usually find them in legal codes made to cover different aspects of society: commerce and trade, agriculture, justice, food and drugs, labor, transportation… See U.S. code for instance.

Napoleonic CodeMany minor laws contradict major laws. I see two main reasons for this. The first one: some minor laws existed before major laws. They carry ideologies from the past, unsuitable to our times. Let’s remember how much time it took before men and women equality appeared in the eyes of the law, or before homosexuality became legal while it always existed in human behavior. As for animals, still considered as a thing and a commodity today, we stand far, far away from a potential evolution in the legal system. Nothing protects them from our inhumanity, which opens the path to even more inhumanity. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated“, Gandhi said. Our barbarism against other forms of life directly contradicts the respect we want for humankind. Just like slavery did in its time.

The second reason that puts minor laws in opposition with major laws: the fact that systemic or secondary effects of a minor law can provoke, by emergence, a context that contradicts major laws. This happens with conventional money for which Pareto condensation and privatization mechanisms lead to a non-democratic concentration of power. We call plutocracy this correlation between power and money. This concentration of power creates a context that works against the tenets of  modern constitutions (major laws) that guarantee equality of opportunity and the right to safety. And it rules out articles 2, 3, 4, 17 and 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If society evolves one day, maybe it will challenge the constitutionality of money, the same way it revised its position in regards to slavery or gender equality in the past. Everything in its own time.

Incompleteness and inconsistency

Escher - RelativityTo further our inquiry, the question of laws takes us to Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, in other words to systems’ incompleteness and inconsistency.

Let’s begin with incompleteness. A constitution works as a series of postulates (axioms in mathematics) from which we should derive minor laws (theorems in math). Doing so, we soon face undecidable propositions. We have to adopt certain laws that no major law from the Constitution can substantiate. We find out that the system has no completeness in its core, it doesn’t “self-explain” itself, it doesn’t provide its own answers. We always need to enlarge it, add new laws issued from a vaster reference system. We have to legislate. This happens when new technologies arise, or after new breakthroughs in science or medicine (euthanasia, embryology…), or when new morals settle down in the society. Each time new cases appear, they require new arbitration, new jurisprudence, new laws. Before the legislator can catch up, extreme situations can happen. In positive law, we take for permitted what the law hasn’t yet forbidden.

Give me your papers!Let’s continue with inconsistency. This one requires somehow a mental leap to fully understand. The minor laws that we “logically” derive from major laws can contradict the system itself, which makes it inconsistent. For instance, in the name of common good, the state can legitimate violence, which contradicts the safety and liberty of the person. In the U.S., the Second Amendment allows citizens to possess weapons for their defence, which also contradicts their right for safety, as statistics prove. Also, in the fight against terrorism, claimed in the name of citizens’ safety, the state chops off a great deal of freedom and gives great power to the few in control. Freedom and safety contradict one another when applied through minor laws, yet another example of the inconsistency of today’s constitutions. We can also question secularism: in the end doesn’t it impose, without saying it, a peculiar way to understand reality? It carries oriented values (lifestyle, world views, belief systems…) that I can hardly qualify as “secular”. And what should we say about the dictatorship of the majority? All these examples prove how systems contradict themselves, regardless whether we speak about rights, ethics or mathematics. Hence their inconsistency.

The combination of incompleteness and inconsistency distills the perfect cocktail for dissension. For instance a country can adopt abortion or forbid it, both choices rely on perfect moral assumptions that fully respect the Constitution and contradict it at the same time. Same thing with GMO’s, homosexual marriage, nuclear energy, etc.

Let’s note that civil disobedience often rests on revealing the unfairness of minor laws in the context of the fairness of major laws. For instance GMO crops, authorized by property, entrepreneurship and commerce rights, collide with the universal right of life preservation that invokes the precautionary principle. These conflicts unveil an opposition between natural law and positive law, also between morals (major laws) and justice (minor laws). Yes, quite often the moral and the legal lines don’t get along together. Who does not suffer from that in his/her flesh one day or another?

Incompleteness and inconsistency fuel a sterile and naive political and social clash, because of the misunderstanding and ignorance of this phenomena. Our political animals show a breathtaking ignorance about a mechanism they should know well, given their responsibilities. Beyond today’s societal aspects, the question of incompleteness and inconsistency clearly shows that the mental will never produce a system capable of arbitrating life, as no subsystem can encompass a the vaster system that contains it. Another dynamics has to infuse in individual and collective consciousness if we expect our species to evolve.

From normative to generative law

If we think of how classical law works, it standardizes and frames actions and behaviors through objective wording. Coercive actions can protect these laws if necessary, some of them legitimize State violence. After a law comes a the law to respect that first law.

Misc. road signsLet’s look at a legal space that we know quite well: the traffic code. Normative law floods us with rules, signs, radars, limits, sanctions, etc. It attempts to contain people’s behavior by means of exogenous prohibitions and obligations. Normative law standardizes and takes responsibility away, since it imposes external rules. Rather than asking myself what good reasons I could have to drive slowly in a town, I have to obey a red sign and fear the cop. Rather than paying attention at an intersection, I drive through because I see a green light or I have priority. Things happen inside a game of obedience/transgression in relation with a normative external authority.

We can clearly see here one of the signatures of pyramidal collective intelligence: by applying one single norm for everyone, it makes economies of scale and industrializes its processes. Last but not least, it attempts to build predictability in an unpredictable living system.

Maybe evolution will lead us to generative law, who knows? Generative law needs objective wording to exist too, yet its aim consists in seeding social behavior coming from within the persons. Once matured, these behaviors induce collectives capable of self-regulation, in an organic emergent way. There, exogenous normative constraint reaches a minimal level.

Continuing with the example of traffic code, we have an interesting case in Europe. The city of Drachten has simply withdrawn all its road signs. A successful experience, people took their responsibility in hand. Today they trust their perception while following an interiorized social alliance. A living and organic cohesion evolves along with their learning curve.

A sweet and fun moment with my beloved Julie

I have a similar experience in India. There, we drive with our senses, like in many countries. The few road signs serve as decoration. A European used to external normative authority would mostly see a huge threatening mess. On my scooter, with my passenger seating behind (sometimes we seat 3 people), I love joining in the dance. Once in the flow, I honk the horn again and again, not to attack others, but to allow them hear and localize me. Dozens of toots around give me a real-time sense of the positions of others. I navigate in a 3D sensoriality, a little bit like in a collective sonar. Eventually, in this mingling of pedestrians, children, old people, goats, sacred cows, buses, cars, chickens, dogs, rickshaws and bicycles, nothing goes that bad. Of course I don’t take India as a model of road safety, but the example seems good enough to show how normative law doesn’t resolve everything, far from it.

We can also explore the effects of generative law at the level of the person. During the early years of my son Estéban life, I tried to use generative rules in order to help him integrate social life. Rather than giving him orders not to step out of the garden, or not to cross the street, I laid down rules that aimed to provoke a living behavior that would emanate from his self. To do so, I combined the verbal approach with playing, physical gesture, drawings, actions on the body, mime. For instance, before crossing a street, we played the statue. We literally petrified ourselves with delight to make the statue that observes and describes everything that happens around. Then, if no vehicle would show up on the horizon, the statue would transform into a rabbit that could cross the street. We called for precise sensorial conditions combined with  an internalized thinking process. Estéban incorporated generative rules. Once integrated in the body, these rules didn’t need to exist anymore, they could fall like a sloughed skin. Since the age of three, my little boy knew how to move without risk in urban environments. Today, at the age of twelve, Estéban knows how to take a plane or a train, he can move alone in Paris and make international travels. He does it with his senses and makes quite autonomous decisions. His mom and I proceeded this way during all his education: use generative rules.

Do every country, every population, every collective have the capacity to evolve towards a less normative, but more generative law? This question connects us to the ladders of maturity of consciousness: when does individual and collective consciousness acquire the capacity to operate from within? At what moment can it operate without normative rules? This question applies to traffic code as well as the law, morals, ethics, social codes… Imposing normative laws systematically leaves very little scope for individuation. States usually legitimate and legislate normative laws by alleging the marginal and immature behaviors of a few. We invoke monster-objects (the “let’s unite against the threat” thing). All these processes show the DNA of pyramidal collective intelligence. Yet I see normative law as transitory. The future doesn’t have room for it because of the limitations it provokes: the loss of responsibility, the exclusion of inner consciousness as a founding brick for the collective, inconsistent and incomplete systems that will never ever cover the whole spectrum of reality and that complexify infinitely, alienating the evolutionary capacity of society… I feel quite interested in what holomidal collective intelligence societies will invent in order to move beyond normative law systems. We will evolve even better in this direction if we aquire of a language of integral wealth. This latter allows us to name, raise and update our awareness of wealth in its multidimensional aspects.

So the initial question of whether I see myself above the law doesn’t mean a lot to me… I simply explore the generative approach. For me, the vow of wealth represents an example of generative wording. It worked so well that this vow doesn’t exist anymore in my reality today, as it became part of me. I don’t praise the abandonment of laws and rules, however I want to explore how a precise construct of language can initiate an integration of the rule, up to its transcendence. Gradually the words vanish and leave space to life, to what springs up from within, to an immanence provoked by an experience of transcendence.

So I don’t feel myself above the law, but sometimes aside, in spaces that the arborescent morass of law cannot, and will never, cover. Because of their incomplete and inconsistent nature, the trees of laws, norms, rules, morals can only grow indefinitely. They will never ever cover and regulate the infinite space of life. Today you need champion lawyers to defend the law, they make me think of the great chess masters. As for the average citizen, he/she has no chance to embrace such complexity. Will we entrust the complexity of our mental systems to machines? We already do it by means of code. With the advent of socialware and communityware, “Code is Law” becomes “Law is code“. The question remains how pyramidal collective intelligence will seize this new power, and if holomidal collective intelligence will use it as a leverage for its emancipation.

In my daily life, this journey outlaws me, sometimes, and makes me amoral, always. Make no mistake: outlaw doesn’t mean “against” the law, and amoral doesn’t mean “immoral”. 🙂


Some readings:

Gödel, Escher, Bach Finite and Infinite Games A Theory of Justice - John Rawl Discipline and Punish - Michel Foucault

Live rich

In September 2009, the vow of wealth sprung in me. It opened a journey for the future. Today, this vow became so much a part of myself that I don’t think about it anymore.

This vow had 2 main consequences: leaving money step by step, and shifting to the gift economy.

Piles d'eurosLeaving money…

My research in collective intelligence show well how money has become an outdated technology. Money exists as a catalyst for pyramidal collective intelligence, characterized by concentration of power and resources, with scarcity as a social dynamics and economic engine. Money will not survive the advent of holomidal collective intelligence that has already begun to develop its own technologies to sustain its economy based on mutualism, distributed networks, integral wealth.

Using less and less money offers me the necessary distance to understand today’s social dynamics, and see how we can do better. With other researchers, we imagine the next technologies for the post-monetary society that will allow any social organism to make visible and to regulate any form of wealth .

Today I still use a little money for my son and I, mostly for our primary needs: food and clothing. Others have chosen to live 100% without money, which seems to occupy 100% of their time. Because they document well this precious experience, it allows me to engage in other fronts.

This FAQ will tell you more.

OrangerGift economy

I live in the gift economy since September 2011. I decided to live this way in a world where we need to buy and sell everything, in a culture where the expression “to earn a living” doesn’t shock many people. I earned my life through my birth.

Like a tree I ripen my fruits and offer them to whoever wants them. Everything I receive comes as a gift. The material riches that manifest don’t come from a sale or an exchange. They arrive because of gratitude, joy, friendship: a meal, a smile, a trip, a cloth, a tool, knowledge, a shelter, a healing, a book, money, a thanks, a know-how, an advice, a computer, a music instrument…

Pyramidal collective intelligence societies developed a powerful and complete ontology to describe and engineer the market economy, as it belongs to their DNA. The gift economy, on the other end, only gets a few fuzzy, incomplete and approximate words. They do not cover the whole spectrum of the experience. We need a language to deploy the knowledge and the engineering of gift economy. I work on this. From the system’s perspective, gift economy possesses much more complexity and potential than market economy. This complexity that grows with size explains why gift economy has never expanded beyond the size of original collective intelligence that we find in micro-communities. The rise of holomidal collective intelligence frees us from these limitations.

Living in the gift economy makes us leave lot’s of beliefs, behaviors, thoughts and conditioning carried by the “we” that manifests unconsciously in the “I”. I refer, in particular, to “poorism“. Poorism carries the idea that living in the gift economy makes you poor, that what we only receive dimes and nickels that benevolent souls through in our hat, that we spend our time surviving rather than living. Make no mistake. I learned how living in the gift economy offers the best way to manifest the vow of wealth and evolve in integral wealth. Even if my financial balance often flirts with the absolute zero, even if sometimes I don’t know what I will eat tomorrow (which happens in this very moment when I write this article), my wealth equation reaches extraordinary levels. In the end, neither did I face cold or hunger, nor did I experience fear.

Indeed, the practice of gift economy makes us meet a key law of the universe: providence. For anyone who creates in a joyful way, inspired by his/her essence, a symbiotic phenomenon with the universe happens: we receive what we need, exactly at the right time. Often at the very last moment. No manipulation allows for this. We have to exist, fully, plainly, and not fear death. I named providence (or serendipity, to take a contemporary word) not as a philosophical or religious concept, but as a direct experience. Don’t judge, don’t reject before you have tried it for yourself.

I will always have a great joy to share the next insights that this journey provides.

[stextbox  id=”info”]This text written in e-prime by a Frenchie requires improvements in the writing. Feel free to make suggestions![/stextbox]

Integral Wealth

This page gathers two talks I gave during Centifolia in 2011 and 2013. Both of them explain in detail the meaning and consequences of Beauty, Goodness, Truth, and integral wealth, and how it can lay the foundation of our future economy.


This first conference “Beauty, Goodness & Truth, a Path to the Perfect Product” explains the founding role of these 3 primary values in our ontological structures, and how they will become founding leverages for organizations that want to evolve towards integral wealth and transcultural models (that transcend and overcome cultural walls, while integrating diversity).


This second conference provides us with a language to describe integral wealth: movable, measurable, rankable, and acknowledgeable. It lays the foundations for technological design.



Perfumed questions

Fleur CentifoliaCentifolia 2013, “The Riches of a Product”, focuses on radical innovation. It feels quite normal that people from this sector ask questions sourced from their paradigm, and wait for responses intended to match this same paradigm. Hence my attempt to address a list of corporate questions sent by some leaders, and to answer from the new paradigm. A somehow perilous exercise that creates lots of shortcuts if we want to stick to short answers.

Don’t hesitate, dear reader, to share your feelings and your own questions.


We observe falling perfume sales. How can we enhance consumers’ desire again?

Behind its apparent simplicity, this single question contains multiple questions. Let’s begin with the consumer notion, which points to a dying paradigm. This term evokes a big voracious mouth that swallows, absorbs and consumes anything we send into it right after we triggered some desire. Although we will witness the flourishing of new consumers in BRICS countries, this word, consumer, will more and more lose its meaning. Tomorrow people will want to work on their individual fragrance. How can they have a pleasant smell, for themselves and for others? For this they will connect to their tribes via social media. They will ask for coaching, for an experience with perfumers rather than trying to look like such or such star or belong to a market segment. They will want a dialog. The role of perfumers will consist in coaching individuals and tribes through their journey. It will require constant interaction. We leave industrial models behind to enter in the dynamics of the experience economy. The latter uses rich mechanisms of regulation/response, those that we find today on the Net via social media and gamification.

Blame the consumer

Let’s pursue the question linked to “perfume”. What we call a perfume today comes as an industrial and packaged product. Once more, it embodies all the vision of consumerism built by mass industry. Tomorrow, olfactive consciousness will reappear thanks to personal development that more and more people engage themselves in. Perfumers will become those who enchant cities, who offer an olfactive soul to public and private spaces, who help organizations and people in discovering their fragrances, fluctuating through time and moods. From dynamics built on conformism and belonging, perfume will become a language again.

What is a conscious market?

A conscious market has the faculty to understand and envision the meaning of its actions, and their consequences. In a conscious market, people direct their purchases not anymore on the sole quality-price ratio (industrial age and consumerism), but on a set of multidimensional wealth criteria such as environment, health, sustainability, natural products, GMOs, organic growth, fairness, respect of animal, ecological footprint, ethical behavior, craft, AOC, etc.

The economic landscape has just started to understand this multidimensionality of wealth which still remains in a wild state, without homogeneous information and identification. This will soon evolve. Methodologies allowing to visualize integral wealth like the ones developed by the CIRI, or certifications like B-Corp, offer promising progress.

How to crack the next business model ?

Coupons - cartoonThe question, as formulated, falls in the old paradigm and perpetuates it. We can already abandon the term “business model” to talk about “wealth model”. This opens an entirely new and promising path.

We cannot answer quickly such a rich question, however we can say that wealth models in the future will operate on the experience economy, social media, and conscious markets. Most big company leaders don’t have any awareness of this today. Sadly this will have a dramatic impact on their enterprise. Thanks to its commitment to radical innovation, Centifolia will open these new horizons to whoever wants to look at them.

How can we promote co-creation in pyramidal organizations?

Because of their very structure, pyramidal organizations generate an intrinsic limit to co-creation because they rely on inherent scarcity mechanisms, written in their DNA. Scarcity of money, scarcity of leading positions, a territorial view of reality, an asymmetry of relationships, and chains of command that limit access to crucial information. All these forces oppose   co-creation. A pyramidal organization can admittedly reach a certain level of co-creation — recent organizations like Google or Apple demonstrate it — but it remains way below what we might yet achieve.

Once more, the answer to this question implies an evolution of the very structure, from pyramidal to holomidal. A utopia? Of course not! We just need to observe the collaboration and mutualistic economy rapidly expanding on the Net to get a concrete sense (recognizing these just as first steps of this phenomenon). Some keywords: clouds of people, tribes, distributed networks, communityware, social media, leadership, accountability, digital self, conversations, crowd sourcing, cross-pollination… Furthermore we can notice that co-creation happens more outside conventional enterprises than inside.

Companies will evolve when they understand that co-creation and innovation happen more in the social engineering side than anything else.

How can we manage a global brand and remain close to the local customer?

To do this, we have to understand the experience economy, conscious markets, the leverages of integral wealth, crowd sourcing. These social dynamics operate quite differently from consumerism and industrial processes. Only a very few large companies have understood and integrated this today. They would just have to hire a good pioneering team and they give them carte blanche to create a brand that works on these dynamics. A rather small investment compared to the returns in teachings and a potential success. That said, the very notion of “customer”, that involves a supplier or a service provider, will transform too. Clients will fully enter in product and services conception processes of the future.

Is a multicultural product possible?

The conference on the fractal way to look at the world will demonstrate that multicultural products will thrive and will become a major strategic axis, as we cannot think in geopolitical and socioeconomic blocks anymore. Bruno Marion will explain that less difference exists between a 25 years old Chinese and a 25 years old Britisher, than exist between their parents.

How can we innovate (formulas, packs, labeling) in an increasingly constraining regulatory framework that impose longer and longer development plans?

Pyramidal collective intelligence enterprises will find themselves more and more helpless facing this increasing complexity. They have to evolve towards holomidal collective intelligence, distributed, hyper-connected, super-learning, capable of overcoming these limitations.

Does customer experience take precedence on the product benefit and the brand?

One cannot enclose our focus on experience to the client anymore. We must extend it to the whole chain of people who developed the product or service. An experience that reflects itself from people to people. In a conscious market, a client in London wants to know what a salaried person in China lives like, and a manufacturer in Madrid cannot ignore anymore the life conditions of an indigenous community that provides raw material. Therefore we want to embrace experience in its whole spectrum over the entire chain of value creation. There we fully enter the experience economy! An ecosystem of people capable of perceiving each other, a whole that becomes aware of itself… this liberates economic and operational capacities that overrun the ego-centered enterprise from the industrial age.

How can we sell an invisible wealth in current circuits?

First let’s understand that only a minority of the immense spectrum of wealth fits into what can be sold. Do we sell a quality of air, health, biodiversity, joy, trust, a know-how, a label, a reputation? We can measure some of these forms of wealth (quality of air, biodiversity, physiological health…), while others come from an experience we acquire subjectively that we can then express verbally (psychological health, joy, trust…). These forms of wealth cannot materially “circulate” inside a product we purchase. This rightly leads again to the experience economy. In this context, the product doesn’t represent the goal anymore, but a catalyst that triggers a chain of experiences between the people who design and the people who use. In this human network, people communicate and dialog via social media and communityware. Feedback loops operate everywhere, beforehand during the conception phase of a product, during its use phase, until its end. The famous “Cluetrain manifesto” had already foreseen this phenomenon in 1999, in its famous quote “markets are conversations“.

Can we be value driven and generate optimal profits?

Margin improvementWe cannot raise this question without including the time variable in it. On the short term, we often get that we can obtain higher margins if we put aside a certain number of values. On the middle and longer term, experience has proven exactly the opposite. It becomes even more true in the Internet age, where transparency becomes almost impossible to avoid. Conscious markets will increasingly punish the lack of transparency. Many brands have already experienced this, and this trend will just increase.

Making profits that rely on strong negative externalities (make others pay the harm we cause on the environment or on populations) has a boomerang systemic impact that will result in pay back someday or another. How long will civil society put up with paying negative externalities created by companies, in a time when we can almost trace everything?

Finally, as we shared in other responses, we must now evolve into wealth assessment and not just financial balance sheets. Financial profits will remain an important component, just like the arterial pressure in the body, but it will come in a multidimensional space of wealth, much more evolved and efficient for companies’ strategic evolution.

How can we maintain competitive margins by selling “made in France” products?

Made in France - FemaleIn regards to margins, the previous question offered an answer. Let’s focus on the “made in France” part. The “Made in France” label offers the opportunity to convey specific values leading to integral wealth that widely go beyond the sole quality-price ratio in which exhaustion awaits everyone. Rather than competing for the exclusive cost reduction of labor, we should rather develop our creativity on integral wealth that the “Made in France” label can embody and carry. This happens through the development of charters enhancing integral wealth that coordinate with the holistic steering of future economic systems. The State has definitely an important role to play in this process. Here again the research work of CIRI should help go in this direction.

What story telling for a product X sold on the other side of the planet?

“Story telling” represents an attempt, often clumsy, to link integral wealth to a product, as we instinctively know that any story and any myth creates such forms of wealth. Story telling has a role to play, but it must also incarnate something deeply reflected upon and tangible. Here and there we see many myths pulled out of the air.

In a time of globalization, our actions need to become driven by universal values. Do such universal values exist? Yes, they do! We have covered this essential fact during a Centifolia 2013 conference, on Beauty, Goodness and Truth, the primary values. The latter offer a way to coordinate added value circles by linking diverse cultures and segments of humanity. This works for story telling too, that must carry Beauty, Goodness and Truth.

How can a conventional company, used to dealing with “markets”, evolve towards the new forms you describe?

Rather than torture ourselves in launching heavy change management programs that generally give poor results with colossal investments, we should better invest in a startup, or a small team of pioneers to whom we provide all necessary means to launch and work for the time necessary.

We should not think of these new holomidal collective intelligence organizations as we do classic companies from which we ask a quick ROI in pure cash. These new collectives operate through integral wealth, they transform the whole economic ecosystem and co-evolve with it. Supporters of these new company species should learn how it works and open their mind to these new paradigms.

How can we face the shortage of raw material?

Buffalo ShortageLet’s first clarify what we call “shortage”. Natural shortage exists, because of the natural scarcity of an ingredient, because of climate issues, etc. Then we have situational shortages, essentially linked to market laws and competition. We cannot address these two shortages in the same manner. For natural shortage, we have collective intelligence techniques at our disposal that allow us to optimize the distribution and repartition, following agreed rules among every player, and not just the purchasers. As for situational shortage, it invites us to examine the human contexts that provoke them: the market and its laws, and the outcomes provoked by this technology called “money”. Today, the market looks like the only known means for the circulation of material wealth, and money its unique technology. Yet today we have tools at our disposal made to build economic ecosystems that operate in a much more powerful and efficient way than markets. Once actual economic players will have drained their own forces, and the ones of the environment through ferocious competition, they will begin to show interest in these new tools and methodologies. Unless others have done it before them. A space like Centifolia-Centisophia opens our sight in the direction of these new horizons.

How can we move between the different regulations that exist between Europe (REACH) and the other countries?

The very principle of “regulation” belongs to a specific form of collective intelligence: the pyramidal one. This latter builds itself around centralized power, chains of command, scarce money, competition. Individual and collective behaviors get contained by laws and regulations that operate in an exogenous way, from the outside. Until these laws have come into a written form, everything remains allowed. We just have to look at all the moral and ethical abuses that perpetuate themselves in the world until some laws and regulation come to contain them. It looks even more insidious when these damages come from collective emergence while no one, individually, has made a legal or moral transgression. Once more it reminds us the deep stakes of collective intelligence.

Evolution leads us to ask the following question to ourselves: do endogenous dynamics exist? Dynamics that emerge from the inside of the collective, that generate virtuous behaviors that don’t need external regulation anymore (those regulations that will always infinitely complexify themselves). Such collectives pop up everywhere. They move in contexts that have more complexity than exogenous regulations (that become useless). Let’s draw a parallel with driving, with the difference between an eco-centered driver that commits all possible abuses if we don’t place signals and controls everywhere, and a responsible, sensitive, adaptable driver, capable of driving very well with no signs, simply because his conscience, therefore its potential for action, has more vastness. The discipline of collective intelligence shows us the emergence of these conscious organizations. On the one hand they hit the wall of infinite regulatory complexity, but on the other their endogenous collective consciousness open new possibilities that conventional legal systems cannot understand or embrace. We enter into juridic voids that current paradigms cannot understand, just like religious dogma in the past had the capacity to arbitrate the scientific method.

How to approach BRICS countries that move from suppliers to consumers?

BRICS mapWe have enough studies that show that evolution can only happen by repeating the whole sequence, one step after the other. A human being, from his/her first particles up to its stem cells and then a fully formed body, sees the whole history of the universe playing again in him/her, in an accelerated way. Collectives work the same: they can’t skip any single step of the ladder. BRICS countries, like other countries that preceded them, like the countries that will follow them, go through the phases of high industrialization — mostly manufacturing — followed by high tech, the tertiary sector, and consumerism. It doesn’t solely apply to economic models, but also to paradigms and ways to see the world. However we already see the rise of post-industrial tendencies in these countries, even in a marginal scale. Yet different things vary. On one side, because of systemic constraints of the planet, the consumeristic phase should have a much shorter life. Then, Internet, that makes culture, values and behaviors interpenetrate, generates a fractal world in which we cannot think through big geopolitical blocks. A conference given by Bruno Marion will cover this point quite precisely. He will offer tools to build strategies that follow this evolution.

What about the lack of transparency in the exchanges within current transactions models?

Tranparency concealmentThis lack of transparency benefits some –because it exists– at the expense of others. It takes place in a paradigm where the enterprise only sees its own interest in an ego-centered collective psyche (meaning focused on itself), just like children or limbic brain forms of life do (birds, mammals…). Because they want to maximize their profits within classic market laws, few collectives have, until now, known how to develop and act upon a holistic consciousness of the world, while more and more people can do it individually. A group of conscious individuals doesn’t make a conscious collective. We call this the “tragedy of the commons“, a well explored phenomenon in sociology, economy and game theory.

Today we have the means to create super-conscious, holistic enterprises. They no longer rest on pyramidal collective intelligence anymore, but on holomidal collective intelligence. It represents an evolution for our species. Nothing theoretical here: everywhere we see such organizations flourish via the Internet. It turns out that classical companies don’t understand and don’t see them, just like the caterpillar doesn’t understand or see the butterfly. These new holomidal organizations operate on tools, methodologies and technologies partially borrowed from pyramidal CI, but diverted from their original use. We give the name socialware or communityware  to these online software that allow such collectives to navigate, do their governance, build a collective memory, develop a mutualistic economy rather than a competitive one, collect knowledge, etc. Today conventional companies should support these new holomidal organizations. The success of the latter will provoke a migration flow of people who want to evolve, and to hand over to the next generation. We can do it in perfect harmony. CIRI develops the processes and methodologies to facilitate this movement.

What should we do about the impact of our practice on the environment (use of natural resources that belong to all)?

The answer to this question appears in the previous question. The use we make of resources mostly depends on the consciousness behind it. It works for individuals as well as for collectives. An ego-centered consciousness doesn’t make the same choices, and doesn’t see the world in the same way as a world-centered consciousness, especially in the case when individual advantage in the short term conflicts with collective advantage in the long run.

The use of strategic compasses such as Truth, Goodness and Beauty allow the making of enterprises that act not only consciously, but in a much more efficient, resilient, learning and rich way compared to conventional companies. Centifolia will cover this intensively.

Globalization favors the abandonment of local food-producing. What she we do?

We will reverse this trend when we have developed tools that allow the vizualisation of integral wealth. By this we mean all aspects of wealth: material and immaterial, exchangeable, measurable, acknowledgeable. The quality of environment, trust, joy, education, biodiversity embody many forms of wealth that belong to humanity’s dreams. Any logic that excludes these riches in its reasoning dooms itself. The market and its underlying technology –money– embody this logic of non-integral wealth. They don’t have, in their structure, the means to blend in and develop integral wealth. Who has already seen a corporate balance sheet built on integral wealth?

Organizations that will develop themselves around integral wealth will show an extraordinary capacity to include the needs of populations and ecosystems in their way of working, because of simple pragmatic reasons. Local food-producing should grow again once this transition has happened. No science fiction here. We see this new DNA sprouting almost everywhere! New labelling processes offer quite a visible example. We will see an example of it with B-Corporation, whose their representatives will come to talk during Centifolia.



The 6 agreements

The 6 Agreements serve as a social architecture to invite wisdom through dialog and conversation. You can download a pdf version here.

1. A deep full breath before speaking

Deep breathThis breath has many virtues. It helps participants to let go of their selfish urge to keep a grasp on the conversation. They can surrender to what emerges from the center. Participants offer time to themselves to observe their inner processes. What someone just said becomes deeply listened to and ‘breathed in.’ Participants move from reaction (responding, taking the floor) to creation (inviting creativity through emergence). Interestingly, each time one speaks right after someone else, leaving no space for breathing and creativity, the lower self (automated pilot) takes control.






2. Listen to the center

Dog listeningBy center, we mean the physical center of a group in circle, or the experienced center in a global collective. Listen to the will that tries to manifest from the heart of the group. Give voice to it. This special mode of listening and voicing connects us to others and builds a sense of unity.






3. Speak to the center

DropletSpeak to the center rather than to a particular person. Participants agree not to engage in one-to-one conversations in the midst of the collective process. Although speaking and listening to the center may feel a little artificial at first, it allows the emergence of the whole and helps shift the whole dynamic of the group into a transpersonal context.




4. Don’t take the floor, have it offered

Gift offeringBecause time feels scarce, participants want to use this resource wisely and moderately. Notice that in groups where people interrupt one another or respond without leaving space, humans grab time the same way predators grab their prey in the wild―the strongest, the most agile, the fastest, the craftiest get the better share. Having the floor offered brings us in a gift economy, just like when we seat around a table with kindly served and shared dishes. It creates an entirely new, benevolent group dynamic.






5. Speak from direct personal experience

Man hugging tigerSharing personal experience invites boldness, vulnerability, trust and compassionate relationships. When a person speaks theoretically he/she separates himself/herself from the original experience, and places a barrier between him/her and the others. Here we check whether what we want to say imposes a generality on others, or if it might hide some personal story. Stories have the virtue of myths―they carry emotions, multilevel life experiences, cosmologies and vibrations―a much richer universe for a group to share.



6. Invite silence

DunesAny participant can ask for silence at any moment. Conversation gets immediately suspended and everyone enters into silence for one minute. It offers the space to explore the current context at a deeper level, name our experience, explore our emotions, needs, sense of emergence in the group, etc. After this silent breathing space, the person who asked for the silence can decide –or not– to explain why he/she invited it. Conversation can then resume, likely filled with a new dimension.


Presidential elections: who will become the next captain of the Titanic?

Presidential elections: who will become the next captain of the Titanic?

titanic_420x315You got it: everything, almost, lies in the title.

It seems that most people have a hard time making a distinction between the captain of a ship, and the ship itself. If the ship has structural issues in its conception, the captain won’t change many things: structural issues will strike someday or another. By design, the Titanic had to sink, no matter its captain. By design too, only a precise form of collective intelligence could pilot it: the pyramidal one. Indeed, the whole Titanic, from its architecture up to its very details, has a structure designed for the obedience towards an omnipotent and omniscient captain, with a chain of command trained to respond at his beck and call. We know the end of the story. A similar scenario happened more recently when the Costa Concordia hit the Italian coast, Jan. 2012.

Our large pyramidal CI organizations work exactly like these big ocean liners. Governments, administrations, large corporations, armies, churches… It doesn’t matter very much which captain plays at the top –elected or self-proclaimed– our large collective vessels have poor adaptative capacity to navigate today’s waters because of their very structure. They have a hard time dealing with social questions, surfing on the infinite systemic complexity of humanity, embracing current economic, environmental and ecological challenges. More precisely: pyramidal collective intelligence has become the systemic cause of most painful symptoms society faces today. This may look like a personal opinion, nevertheless the discipline of collective intelligence proves it.

Therefore, in the same way ships like the Titanic or the Costa Concordia “attract” omnipotent captains, our institutional vessels attract omnipotent chiefs. In the best case, they make mistakes (that sometimes become fatal for everyone). In the worst case — unfortunately the most common one — leaders hardly resist abuse of power. The infrastructure calls for it.

We castigate a president, condemn a Gaddafi, or hate a George W. Bush. By doing so we forget that the very nature of these institutional vessels brought such men to the helm. They exist as pure products of the system. The only difference between a captain and another one consists in the way they navigate. Don’t expect any of them to support another paradigm and infrastructure in which they would no longer have a power position and a reason to exist.

With the lenses of collective intelligence, presidential elections, no matter the country where they take place, look hopeless to me.

But what dies fertilizes the life that comes after. The bad news tell us that we won’t find any leverage of change in the ballot box anymore (supposing it happened in the past). On the good news side, I can vote every day, every hour, every second.

Indeed, each time I decide to buy or not buy something, I vote for or against the value system that produced that thing. Do I buy organic or not? Do I eat meat or not? Do I invest in my health and other’s health or not? Do I pay attention to environmental, social and health information for each product, available to me in real time? GoodGuide, a smartphone and Internet app that provides these ratings, gives us a good example of it.

Let’s follow this trail. Every moment I can improve my skills as a user, even as a designer or coder of socialware and communityware. These online softwares allow communities, local or global, small or big, to self-organize, self-actualize, without the need for them to abandon their sovereignty to pyramidal collective intelligence. Project management, cross-fertilization of ideas, decision making processes, conflict resolution, capitalization of experiences, collective memory, dialog spaces, digital self… socialware cover many of these domains today, via social media or other shared online tools, opening the path towards holomidal CI.

And then? The rise of post-monetary society and wealth technologies, of course! Holomidal collective intelligence communities will become able to organize their economy in an integral way, without the need for pyramidal collective intelligence’s money. A whole journey, too long to explain here. 😕

Our citizenship can reach its full creativity in these directions. Let’s leave the Titanic, let’s stop trying to convince the captains, let’s build many small, agile, interoperable vessels, and let’s leave today’s political candidates to their brawls and electoral promises. Power, today, lies in the code.

First readings to enter collective intelligence

People ask me what they should read for their first steps in collective intelligence, wisdom and consciousness. As surprising as it may look, this questions opens to many fields that might seem out of scope, for instance the way we feed ourselves. Indeed, shouldn’t we see food, like so many other questions, as a collective intelligence question?

Migration towards holomidal collective intelligence requires a hero’s journey for pioneers. Tomorrow we will witness a massive migration. Today not everyone can do it (check Evolutionary Boot Camps), it takes pioneers to reach places where society has not settled yet. By “going” I mean live there, find and invent practical and pragmatic ways to build tomorrow’s humanity. It doesn’t dictate a way to think or live, all this will naturally emerge. We just have to see holomidal collective intelligence like a new continent, with its landscape and its intrinsic laws. Then we can decide how we want to live there. Our creativity will make the difference.

Some keywords: integral approach (body, mind, spirit), personal development, fine tuning between the being and the doing, subjective and objective realities, holopticism, invisible architectures… It requires lots of work, attention, patience, within ourselves and with others. A 24/7 challenge, tough and exciting.

As for what you may read, I’ll share here a non-exhaustive list:

Ken Wilber, one of the authors I usually recommend first:

  • A Brief History of Everything: a condensed version of Wilber’s work. It offers a good overview of the theory as well as his integral approach.
  • Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: Wilber’s core work. As massive as a stone, a book in which we can finally grasp the scientific depth and the real flesh of his colossal work. A must read if we want to get into serious grounded work.

Collective intelligence requires that we become literate about how consciousness works, and how we can map it (see Wilber as a map maker) by exploring ancient spiritual traditions or recent research work. One of these maps has the name of Spiral Dynamics, an outcome of Clare Graves work. One of his disciples, Don Beck, wrote this seminal book about it: “Spiral Dynamics: mastering values, leadership and change“.

As migration towards global CI is pioneering journey, it has its heroes (famous or anonymous, it doesn’t matter). This heroes journey is mostly initiatory and spiritual. No matter the epochs or the quests, we find the same invisible initiatory structures that all mythologies in all civilizations have told. This synthesis, we find it in the extraordinary work of Joseph Campbell. His richest and most famous work is “The Hero with the thousand faces“.

It naturally leads us to the spiritual journey, the one of life, of individual and collective human experience, and the pursuit of happiness. Lot’s of literature and initiatory work have existed for ever. My attention mostly goes towards contemporary approaches. Indeed spiritual traditions still nourish them and they link Orient and Occident. The Oriental civilizations have pushed to the edge the inner exploration, the subjectif knowing of the Self, of the Being, of the Universe. Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, God, the Universal, exist inside ourselves, in the non-dual experience, by communion, by the direct knowing of the here and now, the Substance, the Essence, beyond words. This approach requires direct experience. One can teach the practices and the maps to get there, but you have to go by yourself. Occident, on the other side of the planet, developed the dual knowing of the universe, through the subject-object relationship. We play on objects: I drop a stone and write down its speed and acceleration, I brake a particle in an accelerator and I count the fragments, I mix substances and I observe the chemical reactions, I cut a corpse in pieces to see the organs, I observe stars with a telescope and sink in the infiniteness of the universe, I combine axioms and deduct new theorems… In the dual approach, reality principle (the “it”) teaches us something universal, it questions our current beliefs. The more knowledge expands, the more the universe seems to reveal a truth that operates independently of the Being. The biologist feels humble in front of the laws of life, the geneticist faces the genius of the natural engineering, the mathematician has an epiphany before π or φ, the physicist vibrates in front of c and h.

The spiritual work that connects Orient and Occident happened quite recently, mostly brought by mystics able to inhabit in both cultures. For instance:

  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin , an enlightened Jesuit, traveler, scientist paleontologist, one of the first in the Occident who formulated the link between the evolution of life and the evolution of consciousness. His  masterpiece, The Phenomenon of Man, is an absolute piece of poetry, nourished by this scientific rigor that authentic mystics have;
  • Sri Aurobindo, raised in England, spent the rest of his life in India. I see him as the most influent mystic of the 20th century, and maybe the 21st century. Inspired by the Upanishads and a man of modern times, we just begin to understand the magnitude of his phenomenal work. I recommend The Life Divine and The Human Cycle.

Food makes a whole topic and line of development of itself. I will write more posts on this. The way we eat shows where we stand in our journey to an expanded consciousness. No discourse will ever tell you the ultimate way to eat. But you may still want to learn some basics — everyone agrees for instance that too much fat will eventually kill you. You may want to become aware of the cultural biases and invisible architectures that operate through food. I do recommend “The 80/10/10 diet” from Doug Graham. Although this book explains how to evolve to law fat raw diet, it provides an impressive number of factual data about food, physiology, digestion. Then you can decide how you want to deal with it.

I will finish with my modest book that I wrote a few years ago, “Collective intelligence: the invisible revolution” (look at the picture in this post on the upper right). You can download it. I feel quite amazed by the success it had (translations and downloads). Each week I continue to receive mails from different places in the world. This book only focuses on the external aspects of collective intelligence, I left aside the spiritual and subjective phenomenology of collective intelligence. It provides is the foundations of this new discipline, it awakens many fundamental questions that concern us all.

Well, I hope you have something to start with now 🙂

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