Eclectic Spacewalk #12 - Open Source Everything

Open Source Everything’s objective is to implement transparency, truth, and trust across all boundaries.

Read previous post: Updated Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth

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Table of Contents:

Social Cohesion is lacking

  • Trust is at an all-time low

  • Civic Engagement is at an all-time low

Consilience from Weberian Organization

  • Epoch A

  • Systems Thinking and Information Pathologies

  • Complex Threats to Humanity and the Earth

  • Epoch B

Open Source Everything

  • “Put enough eyeballs on it, no bug is invisible & The truth at any cost lowers all other costs.”

  • OSINT and the Burundi Exercise

  • M4IS2 and The Human Brain

  • Open Source Everything

  • Open Source Pyramid

Text (2 books)

Audio (2 episodes lists)

Video (13 videos)

Websites (9 websites)


Reading Time: 30 minutes (Read the sections you find intriguing, bookmark the media/links, and come back to anytime.)

Open Source Everything—

Abstract: “Open Source Everything is a philosophy and a process. OSE is the mechanism that society can use to overturn the ‘top-down, command & control, ruled by experts, and based on secrecy’ hierarchical organizational model that has dominated institutional structures since the industrial revolution. ‘E Veritate Potens - From Truth, We (the People) Are Made Powerful.’ Open Source Everything’s objective is to implement transparency, truth, and trust across all boundaries.”


Social Cohesion is lacking

Let’s begin with a few questions: What is social cohesion? How do democracies actually work with their multitude of diverse voices, ideologies, and decision-making networks? Are there links between civic engagement and trust? For the statistics geeks or the perceptive individual, the below Our World In Data graph is all you need to answer that last question.

“The figure shows a strong positive relationship: countries where people are more likely to report trusting others, are also countries where there is less violence and more political stability and accountability.”

In layman’s terms, if your country trusts others and is civically engaged in the micro, then the more stable and less violent your country is in the macro. Social cohesion is a pseudo-equilibrium state that shows a country can facilitate its non-violent collective decision-making process at any one time. Constantly emerging and dying off feedback loops in culture and power structures are indicated through accountability and aggregated data or lack thereof. (This will be a foreshadow for subject matter coming up later in the essay.)

Is the United States, or the world, ultimately cohesive or non-cohesive, in 2020?

Trust

Trust is at the core of any and every human being’s decision making process. It is not just the individual that needs trust, but also the public as a whole. In today’s complex world, there are no shortages of decisions, each becoming increasingly more ‘valuable’ as we dive headlong into our planet’s transformation from the collective force of human activity over the last millennia. Trust, however, is now at an all-time low. 

According to PEW Research, public trust in the US Government was at its peak in the early 1960s with around three-quarters of respondents saying they trust Washington always or most of the time. Now, more than half a century later, trust in government has dropped to below twenty percent. The latest PEW research findings suggest that we have dropped even further - bottoming out at 17% last year. Annual Review found an equally dismal percentage in their report on Political Trust in a Cynical Age.

Government and religious leaders were not far behind the very wealthy as the least trustworthy of societal leaders to address challenges in a recent Edelman Trust Barometer report. Scientists, people in my local community, and citizens of my country were the only ‘trusted’ societal leaders to address challenges.

In that same report, it was found that income inequality affects trust more than economic growth. In both developing and developed markets, high inequality was linked to less trust in government. A majority of respondents agreed that the media they use is contaminated with false information, in addition to 76% agreeing that false information or “fake news” was being used as a weapon - up six percentage points from 2018.

Edelman concluded that no institution was seen as both competent AND ethical! NGOs were the only ethical institution but less competent. Business was seen as the only competent institution but unethical. Government and Media occupied the dreaded left quadrant of less competent and unethical with no surprises to anyone paying attention.

One aspect of the Annual Review report that was particularly interesting of note was its conclusion. It says that skepticism needs to be the beginning of any questioning on Trust, and scholars are going to have a run for their money figuring out what level of public trust is needed and how to get there.

“We conclude with what may be an unanswerable question: How much political trust is too little or too much for the collective good? Reagan's aphorism about agreements with the Soviet Union was “Trust, but verify. If a virtual absence of trust fosters paralysis and disobedience, then blind faith can lead to widespread abuse of power. Skepticism, the midpoint on the continuum, seems a rational starting point, with change to depend on careful, unbiased monitoring of how government behaves. Although unbiased monitoring might be scarce in today's hyperpartisan polity, biases can be mitigated. Perhaps scholars should think harder about what level of trust is rational and how the public can be moved there.”

Civic Engagement

Along with PEW research, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) does non-partisan research. If trust in government is at an all-time low, then civic engagement in the US may be at its lowest since the country’s founding. Nothing in the below 2018 graph should surprise the perceptive reader. In the last twelve months, even in our hyper-connected modern world, less than 30% of respondents said they had: signed an online petition, posted on social media about an issue that matters to them, liked or followed a campaign or organization online, or encouraged others to be politically active on social media. 

These numbers may increase after 2020 with all the domestic unrest in the United States, but they can be a good baseline for just how low civic engagement among the citizenry was even before this year. Low civic engagement correlates with low public trust in government like the first graph in this essay showed. If you don’t trust your government it seems that you aren't civically engaged with your government. Then, due to those two factors, accountability goes down and crime goes up.

“Almost half (45%) of Americans report not being civically or politically engaged at all, having done none of these activities over the past year. A little over one-third (35%) report being modestly engaged, having done between one to three of these activities in the last year. Around one in five (21%) are highly engaged, having participated in at least four of these activities over the last 12 months.”

Only 21% of people were highly engaged, and FORTY-FIVE PERCENT REPORTED NOT HAVING ENGAGED AT ALL. Take special notice of ‘who’ is ‘engaged.’ The richer, more educated, and more suburban a person is, then the more engaged they are in the civic and political conversation, in person or online. 

The reasoning for being apathetic is rational to an average citizen, as nearly half cite lack of information, “Nearly four in ten (39%) Americans say they do not get involved in social causes or campaigns because they feel like they lack information about the issues.”

The other 60%? Well, their biases seem to be so strong they think the information they receive is from on holy and they could never be fooled, “Nearly six in ten (59%) say this (lack of information) does not apply to them.”

This is doubly apparent when you start to control for age: “Young Americans in particular are likely to cite “not knowing enough” as a reason to abstain. Nearly half (49%) of young Americans say they do not know enough about the issues to get involved, a view shared by fewer than one-third (32%) of seniors.

The way to remember the significance of all of these statistics is that the United States is in the midst of a Constitutional crisis embedded within numerous other crises dealing with COVID-19, Climate, and the Economy all happening within a generational and information gathering divide so stark that the country might as well have two alternate parallel realities happening at the same time.

How we got to this point is not one thing and not overly apparent, but for this essay’s purposes we will stick to the following formula: The United States is lacking in public trust in government and civic engagement in the micro which is broadly seen as a lacking of social cohesion in the macro which makes it near impossible for a centralized authority to deal with the constellation of complex issues that face the nation and the world in a rational and humane way because the information the populous and the powers in government are receiving is non-optimized and thus not used to its full potential in the decision support process which we clearly see can have devastating consequences to a country, its citizens, and the Earth as a whole.

For trust, civic engagement, and social cohesion to increase a radical new approach must, at the very least, be taken seriously, and at the most, tried and experimented within many different iterations across the globe. Before going forward into a world built on Open Source Everything principles, we must acknowledge specific failures in our history up until now.


Consilience and Epoch B from Weberian Organization and Epoch A

Epoch A

Max Weber was a German sociologist in the mid to late 19th century who is known as the grandfather of public administration. Weber laid the foundational research for the study of ‘bureaucracy’ and popularized the term. Weber had an idealized version of what a bureaucracy is and why it was the most efficient and moral organization of man and material at the time. Remember we are in the throes of the industrial revolution but hallmarks of a bureaucracy, via LibreTexts, included:

  • hierarchical organization

  • delineated lines of authority with fixed areas of activity

  • action taken on the basis of, and recorded in, written rules

  • bureaucratic officials with expert training

  • rules implemented by neutral officials

  • and career advancement depending on technical qualifications judged by organization, not individuals

This hierarchical organizational structure, although efficient at exploiting labor for the benefit of capital, had even more pernicious back doors that are still exploited until this day. The first three points are common sense enough but pay close attention to the last three. The fourth point denotes relying on “experts,” the fifth on a “neutral” arbiter of the rules, and the fifth on career advancement, “judged by the organization, not individuals.” 

This roughly singular idea on how to set up the leadership and decision-making process of an organization has seeped into every nook and cranny of our collective society. It is easier to think of a hierarchy in any government, business, or civil society structure than it is to come up with examples of alternatives. Seriously though, could the reader right now think of an example of a non-hierarchical organization? It obviously goes against the definition of bureaucracy, but any organization of people and matter is more than likely going to be hierarchical, than not. Some absolutely have value as such, but do all??

Taking a system thinking approach, with an intelligence officer’s credentials, Robert David Steele, author of Open Source Everything Manifesto, explains that organizing hierarchies based on expertise, shrouded in secrecy, and controlled through command and control top-down decision making is one of, if not THE main driver, of our lack of competent domestic and international coordination regarding complex issues. All the ways that are needed to try and correctly diagnose problems are being decided by people at the top of the decision pyramid with non-optimal information, all done in secret. This is a major hindrance when you are trying to solve global problems, and can be linked all the way back to the early labor and capital organizers of the 19th century. Steele calls this era “Epoch A.”

Steele says that there are currently “eight communities of intelligence,” each with its own sources and methods, and the most important fact is that - NONE have the “whole picture.”

  1. Academic. All those engaged in formalized educational activities from Head Start to post-doctoral research.

  2. Civil Society. All forms of citizen advocacy groups, including labor unions and religions.

  3. Commercial. All forms of business, not only legal, but also System D (the informal or underground economy) and organized crime.

  4. Government. All forms of structured government from local to national.

  5. Law Enforcement. All forms of law enforcement including multinational organizations such as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). Does not include contractors.

  6. Media. All media published or purveyed in any forms, from bloggers to the “mainstream” media, that are co-opted by the commercial world.

  7. Military. All forms of military including multinational organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

  8. Non-Government/Non-Profit. All forms of non-profit activity registered with a government. Anything not registers falls under Civil Society.

Systems Thinking & Information Pathologies

In a previous essay, it was stressed that humanity really ought to try to employ more systems thinking principles in how it deals with the increasingly complex world. In Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies, Charles Perrow shows that we may be at the maximum level of incompetence within governments and corporations. Hopefully, for everyone’s and the planet’s sake, we are at that threshold.

  1. Simple systems fail in simple ways that are easy to diagnose and correct.

  2. Complex systems fail in complex interacting ways that are difficult to diagnose and virtually impossible to remediate from a single fixed point.

  3. We are operating within a constellation of complex systems, and the ability to diagnose and remediate is now totally beyond the capacity of any “top-down” entities such as governments or corporations. We have reached our maximum level of incompetence.

We are most certainly living within a constellation of complex systems. Recently the failures of governments and corporations have been on full display with their responses to the COVID-19 crisis, the true cost of climate change, and dealing with the unrelenting wake of new potentialities - good or bad, moral or immoral, ethical or unethical - of exponential technologies.

Mass collaboration, in the information era, that tries to prevent cultural, systemic, and a failure of process collapse has not shown its full potential because of the current organizational hierarchy. Steele says this in effect has hindered us from solving the complex problems we face as a species, “the industrial era introduced (imposed) a cumulative series of information pathologies that deprived the group of access to all relevant information while favoring an elite few with privileged access that allowed them to concentrate both power and wealth.”

Here are a few examples of these information pathologies that Steele mentions above.

  • Fog Facts.

“These are facts that are “known” to some and publicly accessible but only if you know where to look. The mainstream media “blacks out” this knowledge. Modern examples include U.S. government support for dictators and U.S. government tolerance of massive fraud, waste, and abuse in return for fractional campaign contributions to presidential and legislative candidates who strive to remain in office “at any cost.”

  • Forbidden Knowledge.

This includes both knowledge forbidden for public consumption by governments (e.g., restrictions on pornography) as well as corporations (e.g., concealment of known pathologies such as the effect of tobacco on cancer, or toxins associated with household goods) and religions (the triumph of dogma over consciousness).

  • Lost History

The most prominent modern examples is the deliberate classification of secret clandestine and covert operations by the U.S. government such that a modern history of foreign relations cannot be written--this is the documented complaint of the historians responsible for this task on behalf of the Department of State. The role of the Central Intelligence Agency in the introduction of massive amounts of cocaine into the USA under the pretext of supporting “strategic” operations “at any cost” is especially frightening to anyone upholding the Constitution.

  • Manufacturing Consent

Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman first discussed this aspect of a modern democracy, and now, decades later, their work has been updated by Sheldon Wolin in his book, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. Corporations now “own” not just the legislature and executive branches of the U.S. government, but the judiciary as well, with the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United being the more reprehensible evidence of the corruption of the highest court in the nation.

  • Missing Information

Bill McKibben did something never done before--he recorded all the television channels being broadcast in his area in on -twenty-four-hour period, and watched them all over the course of time. He then spent twenty-four hours outside in the wilderness. Comparing the two experiences, he produced a brilliant exposition of how much “missing information” there is on our lives.

  • Propaganda

Propaganda, put most simply, is the development of manipulated (i.e., not truthful) information and the delivery of that information to an audience in such a way as to impress upon them views and beliefs that are not rooted in fact or deliberative dialog. Propaganda, which includes advertising that itself fosters an appreciation for planned obsolescence, waste, and toxic foods and goods, is the antithesis of transparency, truth, and trust.

  • Rule by Secrecy

As we have all now realized, and as Occupy is not confronting on Wall Street and around the world, secret banking networks, not governments, have been making decisions about war and peace, poverty and prosperity. It is banks that profit most from wars, followed by the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, and We the People that suffer most. Government secrecy enables massive lies--such as the 935 documented lies delivered by Dick Cheney that took us into a multi-trillion dollar losing war in Iraq--and this is one reason why I have committed the balance of my life to Open-Source Everything: Transparency, truth, and trust are the true currency for human transactions, and everything else is a cancer.

  • Weapons of Mass Deception

Whereas Rule By Secrecy is about secret cabals making decisions on the truth as they know it, Weapons of Mass Deception are about blatant lies--many of them allowed to go unchallenged by the media, think tanks, university specialists, and all others who should be thinking in the public interest but instead choose to “go along” out of a selfish and unethical dependency on funding from the government doing the lying. A form of mass hysteria is achieved, best illuminated by the manner in which the three singers of the band Dixie Chicks were treated when they publicly protested and questioned the veracity of the White House. Now, years later, as with Jane Fonda on Viet-Nam, we know that the White House was committing treason, and the Dixie Chicks were both ethical and correct in the protests. Mass hysteria--and mainstream media corruption--prevented this broader public from recognizing the truth at the time.

  • Weapons of Mass Instruction

Underlying the ability of a treasonous White House and a complicit Congress (which must abdicate its Article I responsibilities when going along with known lies to permit an undeclared war at great cost) is a national education system that is at best mediocre and at worst a crime against humanity. We are imposing on children of the Internet era--digital natives--an industrial-era system that is mindless: rote learning of old knowledge, sitting silently for hours on end, listening to lectures best left silent and so easily replaced by more vibrant multimedia communications. Teachers and the educational stakeholders whole are complicit in the criminally negligent continuation of a retarded educational system are a foundation for an uninformed, unengaged public.”

Complex Threats to Humanity and the Earth

Merging Perrow’s Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies with Steele’s Open Source Everything Manifesto reinforce each other. Steele goes further and offers a semi-solution in taking the key characteristics of Epoch A and making them the main drivers of the new “Epoch B.”

In The Ingenuity Gap: Facing the Economic, Environmental, and Other Challenges of an Increasingly Complex and Unpredictable Future by Thomas Homer-Dixon, we see that the author has distilled the challenges facing humanity into a handy list of assumptions. If taken at face value, a horror of a story emerges with all the plot points leading to mutual societal destruction.

“Highlights:

  • Dangers increase as man creates complications and misdirects his energy and resources.

  • “Hypercapitalism” (a concept credited to David Harvey) compresses time and space, over-produces waste, over-concentrates wealth.

  • We know from Chaos Theory that nature will magnify every human perturbation, however minuscule.

  • We are deluded in our belief that we can control complexity and predict the outcome of perturbing large systems such as the climate.

  • Our social systems are deeply out of synch with nature (less mature), while our economic and technical systems ignore the limits of the natural world.

  • Washington, DC, bureaucrats, including senior CIA analysts, do not process training in the type of whole-systems thought necessary to understand complex realities.

  • While the pace of change accelerates, the depth of ignorance and the political resistance to doing the right thing continue to increase as well. 

  • Delays in policy understanding, decisions, action, and outcomes compound losses over time.

  • Humanity has killed one-quarter of the planet’s diversity to date.

  • This systemic imbalance is not sustainable and will soon lead to a devastating collapse without a redirection of human society toward a new relation with the Earth.

  • Our ego and our inherited belief structures block us from utilizing our collective intelligence.

  • Wealth gaps + migrations = poor global management.”

So I ask a simple question, which seems to be the better Epoch at dealing with the above list - Epoch A or B? 

Hierarchical organization or an alternative? 

Top-down command and control or bottom-up collective decision making? 

Expertise subjected by secrecy or open knowledge at all times, in all languages, in any format?

Epoch A, consisting of industrial-era philosophy is not only ineffective but is actively making problems worse. If we are to break away from this narrow-minded and non-holistic process it will have to be with Epoch B attributes - “sharing information and maintaining the integrity of the information that we access is vital if we are to be resilient in the face of complex failures and constant challenges.”

Steele doesn’t mince words when saying what is needed to face today’s global challenges, “Transparency, truth, and trust are the true currency for human transactions, and everything else is a cancer.”

Jean Francois Richard, Vice President for Europe of the World Bank once upon a time, put together all the challenges Humanity faced into three groups. Astonishingly they all add up to man-made problems!

  • Group One: Sharing Our Planet

    • Global Warming, Biodiversity & Ecosystem Losses, Fisheries Depletion, Deforestation, Water Deficits, Maritime Safety & Pollution

  • Group Two: Sharing Our Humanity

    • Poverty, Peacekeeping & Conflict Prevention, Terrorism, Education for All, Infectious Diseases, Digital Divide, Natural Disaster Prevention & Mitigation

  • Group Three: Sharing Our Rule Book

    • Reinventing Taxation, Biotechnology Rules, Global Financial Architecture, Illegal Drugs, Trade-Investment-Competition Rules Intellectual Property Rights & E-Commerce Rules, International Labor & Migration Rules.

The United Nations made a similar distillation in their High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change which “focuses on high-level threats to humanity, prioritizing ten global threats to our survival.” Astonighlighy enough - all are man-made problems too!

The threats in priority order, are: 

  • Poverty

  • Infectious Disease

  • Environmental Degradation

  • Inter-State Conflict

  • Civil War

  • Genocide

  • Other Atrocities

  • Proliferation

  • Terrorism

  • Transnational Crime.”

Every single one of these threats is created by a singular system of governance, Epoch A. This apparatus of top-down, command and control, “rule by secrecy” blatantly lies to every institution and the public about the concentration of private wealth and the trickle-down meanings from that omission. Steele says this creates a culture that obfuscates the real cost of doing business this way, “Government for the benefit of corporations externalizes the “true costs” of activities that are detrimental to humanity and the Earth. In the face of systemic deception and self-delusion, all claims to the possibility of sustainable progress are fiction.”

He goes on to say, ”No amount of money is going to prevent catastrophe. Absent a commitment to creating a culture of attention and interoperability and information-sharing, we will create our own catastrophes each time we are challenged by what could have been nothing more than a localized disaster.”

The only answer is championing the continual process of figuring out what the truth is, in what context, with what assumptions and all the while with a proactive skepticism Steele says, “Truth--the combination of intelligence and integrity as well as transparency--is the foundation for both understanding and eradicating these threats, while moving as quickly as possible toward what should be the human mantra toward the Earth and all species, “First, Do No Harm.”

Epoch B

Humanity needs to elevate the ability to think strategically, or ‘problem-solve,” to its highest cultural regard. Across all geographies, across all times, across all languages - information is the lifeblood of the universe. Using information correctly, in the right context, from the bottom up is the first step on the path to addressing complex problems. This is called “Epoch B.

Steele says, “we have to embody three things: a respect for Earth systems and their details in balance; a commitment to discovering and sharing the truth and only the truth at all times about all things; and a commitment to no harm.”

Consilience was a term coined in the mid 19th century that means ‘the unity of knowledge.’ Its basic idea is that all knowledge from the physical sciences, social sciences, and the arts/humanities/media creates some type of middle ground of commonality. It is a philosophy that may never be achievable in the practical sense, but more importantly, it is a process of connecting multidisciplinary, multinational, and multilingual knowledge sets.

In the previous essay, not knowing I was echoing the same points by Steele, I noted that we should be optimistic about the philosophy and process as long as we start from Skepticism.

“We have reason to be optimistic that we are moving toward consilience given the success of knowledge in the natural sciences, says Wilson, “To ask if consilience can be gained in the innermost domains of the circles (first diagram in part I), such that sound judgment will flow easily from one discipline to another, is equivalent to asking whether, in the gathering of disciplines, specialists can ever reach agreement on a common body of abstract principles and evidentiary proof. I think they can. Trust in consilience is the foundation of the natural sciences.”

Vanessa Miemis, gives us the handy figure to show how any human is “a node is the network” and a “meme shaper” and/or “Observer & Scribes” in today’s world of hyperconnectivity. Does this look like someone who would fit into an Epoch A organization or an Epoch B organization easier?

Epoch A would try to specialize this supposed human into one of the fifteen options to the detriment of the entire system and all the other nodes. Epoch B would give the supposed human unlimited access to all the world’s information, at all times, in all languages and they then decide for themselves which path they feel most pulled to, most useful for, and can create the most positive feedback into the larger World Brain system. 

Technology is NOT a substitute for thinking. In Epoch B, a ‘human-centric, design-oriented’ approach would be implemented from the current ‘technology-centric, engineering-oriented’ approach we see in Epoch A. Words like: “collect, clean, transform, integrate, store, and report” are replaced with words like “explore, analyze, communicate, monitor, and predict.” 

Epoch A’s information pathologies, through its zombified and vampirish organizational structure, have corrupted most people's role within our global economic structure called capitalism. Charles Hampden-Turner published a book called ‘Radical Man’ saying that when the human is commoditized, capitalism fails; when the human is unleashed, capitalism benefits all.

Hampden-Turner says there are nine specific attributes of the “fully functional” human being:

  • Perception

  • Identity

  • Competence

  • Investment

  • Suspension and Risk

  • Transcendence

  • Synergy

  • Integration

  • Complexity

Epoch A has made humans into slaves and commodities. Epoch B could come to fruition through an increase in humans existing freely amongst each other with all nine specific attributes that make up a fully functional human being achievable to all. As Buckminster Fuller said poetically, “The goal is to make the world work for 100% of humanity.”

The below parable shows us how Epoch A’s “tired” thinking, albeit partly sufficient in the industrial age, is not sufficient for our current epoch and actively hindering global progress in the information age. Humanity has thus been trapped as Slave or Commodity, but there is still hope that Humanity can revolutionize our culture to create Radical People as Free Spirits!

TIRED: Give them fish.

TIRED: Teach them to fish.

WIRED: Give them information tools and access to information to create infinite substitutes for fishing and fish.

--

Open Source Everything

“Put enough eyeballs on it, no bug is invisible & The truth at any cost lowers all other costs.”

There are two maxims that perfectly distill the central thesis of Open Source Everything Manifesto; the first coming from software and the other from economics. “Put enough eyeballs on it, no bug is invisible” from the former, and “The truth at any cost lowers all other costs” from the latter. 

The first idea is that the more people that look at a singular problem, then the emerging diversity of thoughts from all participants get closer and closer to the truth - ala “Wisdom of Crowds,” etc. The second idea is just as important, if not more because it directly reflects our current predicament as a species. The more we allow fraud, lying, and non-accountability then the more expensive truth becomes to attain. Said another way, the lower the truth-cost relationship is, then the lower the external costs are that come before, during, and after “truth” is attained.

In 1995-1996 these maxims came to the forefront of the US national discourse through the midwife of an intelligence community oversight commission. Robert David Steele, author of Open Source Everything Manifesto recounts how he was tasked with an overnight exercise for the Aspin-Brown Intelligence Inquiry. The story goes that during the hearings, General Allen challenged Steele to a “one man and a telephone against the entire U.S. secret world including the CIA, NSA, NRO, and the DIA, as well as secret elements in the military, law enforcement, etc.” Steele agreed to the exercise. 

Allen, after turning to the Staff Director of the Commission, remarked: “Today is Thursday. By ten o’clock on Monday I want everything the secret world has on Burundi...Mr. Steele, you have until ten o’clock on Monday to prove your point.”

OSINT and the Burundi Exercise

Long story short, Steele not only beat the secret intelligence community at their own game - but it wasn’t even close! Steele delivered to the commission a trove of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) from publicly available information sources on Burundi, while the secret community only produced a flawed regional economic study and a small bland map of the region. Reading this completely dumbfounded me. THE CIA, NSA, and all those “three-letter agencies” that we have feared for knowing the nation’s and the world’s deepest and darkest secrets couldn’t even do their job at will when questioned by senior officials about a non “super threat” subject.

Steele, having been a former clandestine case officer for the CIA (aka a spy) and co-creator of the Marine Corps Intelligence Center, knew that the secret world had lost before the exercise had started. Steele made his way up through the secret world ranks and eventually had a semi-epiphany after years of questioning procedure efficiency, amongst other issues of failing to “see the whole picture.”

“OSINT does not make all spying and secrecy obsolete. What it does do is raise the standard for government intelligence while demanding that we produce intelligence for everyone…The bottom line: ‘community’ is not an elective, it is a requirement for the evolution and survival of humanity...It is these five communities that have inspired me toward my latest emphasis: holistic analytics and multinational information-sharing and sense-making,” says Steele.

Steele realized that he was working within something that wouldn’t change naturally and would have to involve a counterintuitive response to remedy. To someone like Steele, and all other secret intelligence people, Epoch A decision making went all the way down to the bedrock of all secret intelligence agencies’ philosophies. Steele says he was, “striving to do the wrong thing righter (improve government) instead of doing the right thing (help the public self-govern).”

Helping the public self govern goes against every secret agency’s credo and by default its advocates and budgets to keep intelligence secret. They continue to put the hopes of randomly improving government through Epoch A top-down decision making, rather than noticing that yes some secrecy may be necessary but not in the same realm of proportion as it is now. The budgets that are created, some black and thus an indefinite blank check, are completely overblown and don’t even do what they say they do.

General Tony Zinny, USMC (Retired), said “we are spending $80 billion a year on secret collection sources and methods, processing virtually none of that, and producing “at best” four percent of what the President or a major commander needs to know, and nothing for everyone else.” 

$80 billion a year, a figure that has arisen in the last decade, for maybe 4% of what someone at the top of the hierarchical pyramid needs to know. FOUR PERCENT! And additionally, NONE of that is for the public. We are burning money as a country on secret methods that are actively harming the public’s decision making process in a time of great uncertainty and more complexity than ever.

M4IS2 and The Human Brain

The opening of this third section conveyed Robert David Steele’s experience as not being a random observer from the outside trying to critique a controversial institution, but someone that bid his time for years while gathering data to support his claims eventually culminating in beating his own peoples in a now-famous exercise. 

Epoch B principles had shown their superiority to Epoch A principles by enlisting each human being on the planet as a possible module for information processing. Public intelligence, or OSINT, utilized the networked power of Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making (M4IS2).

M4IS2 is at the core of Open Source Intelligence which is at the core of Open Source Everything. Dave Weinberger says, “not only can no one person or even an organization or one country ‘know’ what they need to know to make an informed decision, but if they fail to understand, respect, and ‘jack in’ to the knowledge network with full transparency as the method and truth as the objective, they will make very bad decisions.” We are currently making a lot of very, very bad decisions as citizens, countries, and as a collective species. With each passing flawed decision on half information and mired in Epoch A organization, the world moves closer away from “Truth.” 

But there might be a way to course-correct. Steele says, “What has been lacking to date in the open world has been a strategic analytic model that allows shared information to leave no fraud, waste, or abuse (corruption) unnoticed, and to harmonize a diversity of endeavors without imposing “control”...This means that no history, no perspective, is excluded, with the result that more broadly beneficial and sustainable decisions are reached, grounded in the collective intelligence of the group.

This objective to implement transparency, truth, and trust across all boundaries could be capable of properly utilizing the one unlimited resource we have on Earth - The Human Brain. 

Steele says, “The potential for innovation and entrepreneurship on the part of the five billion poor is the most under-developed and under-utilized resource.” He got the idea from Barry Carter’s book Infinite Wealth: A New World of Collaboration and Abundance in the Knowledge Era. The central claim that ‘sheer human brainpower--average human brainpower--could create infinite wealth’ is hard to refute when you begin thinking with an Epoch B perspective. 

Imagine the innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship that could be created if the entire world’s population “jacked in” and became an Information Minuteperson (trying to not use the gendered term ‘minuteman’) for everyone else’s benefit. Efficiency, effectiveness, and cost savings would increase dramatically as more and more people took part in M4IS2 tactics toward OSINT in hopes of the ultimate OSE goal of “the universality of all minds, all information, all languages, all the time.” 

Let’s remember that this Epoch B is decentralized in nature and has a ‘bottom-up” emergence factor. Rather than the government, thought leaders, and experts telling the public what they should care about and using the state to fix problems with policies based ultimately on taxation; the public could share information on a previously unprecedented scale. Howard Bloom, in the OSME forward, says how this would work well, “What does work is agility at the lowest point in the system, and spontaneous agility across the system by a “mesh” of autonomous individuals who can Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act (OODA), all without central direction or permission.”

Open Source Everything

Open source is both a concept and a method. The core concept Steele says is one that Buckminster Fuller would endorse, “achieving ZERO RESISTANCE in the transfer of energy and information.” The objective would be to “eradicate CORRUPTION and all ‘burdens’ on human activity that have been contrived and imposed without the consent of the governed,” says Steele.

Lies and corruption are resistant to optimal system, governance, and information sharing functionality. Corporations, governments, banks, and non-governmental organizations ( like Red Cross and other global charities) have failed to act purely in the public interest for two reasons says Steele, “

  1. Because they can hide behind secrecy and not be accountable for some or all of their acts

  2. Because in the absence of public intelligence, the public is impotent.”

Steele summarizes his Manifesto’s conclusion, “The circumstances underlying this manifesto are stark and compelling: We are at the end of a five-thousand-year-plus historical process during which human society grew in scale while it abandoned the early indigenous wisdom councils and communal decision-making. Power was centralized in the hands of increasingly specialized “elites” and “experts” who not only failed to achieve all they promised the public but used secrecy and the control of information to deceive the public into allowing them to retain power over community resources that they ultimately looted.”

Taken together, Steele lays out our ‘Information Minuteperson’ marching orders with these seven points that would allow the public the ability to self govern with little to no friction: “

  1. Adopt a Strategic Analytic Model for focusing our attention, our information, our tools, and our deliberative dialog.

    1. Endnote: “Without a strategic analytic model one cannot begin to measure and appreciate “cause and effect,” nor can one harmonize multi-agency, multinational endeavors on a shared base of information and sense-making. To see the model created by the Earth Intelligence Network, search for < Reference: Strategic Analytic Model for Creating a Prosperous World at Peace >.

  2. Accept the Ten High-Level Threats to Humanity as a common starting point for what stands in the way of a prosperous world at peace.

    1. Endnote: “The ten high-level threats were defined and prioritized by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenge, and Change, and reported in their book study, also free online, A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility. The ten threats are in this order, Poverty, Infectious Disease, Environmental Degradation, Inter-State Conflict, Civil War, Genocide, Other Atrocities, Proliferation, Terrorism, and Transnational Crime.

  3. Accept the Twelve Core Policies as a common starting point for how we plan and execute public programs.

    1. Endnote: “The twelve core policies were selected (by me) from looking at “Mandate for Change” books associated with the past four or five presidential transition teams; these are published by folks aspiring to be asked to join the Cabinet of the winning president. The twelve core policies, those most consistently addressed but usually in isolation from one another, are Agriculture, Diplomacy, Economy, Education, Energy, Family, Health, Immigration, Justice, Security, Society, and Water. I include the concept of democracy and civil liberties in Society.”

  4. Accept M4IS2--and particularly its rejection of secrecy and the hoarding of information--as the method by which we can voluntarily harmonize public spending and behavior. 

    1. Endnote: “A page at the top is dedicated to M4IS2 at www.phibetaiota.net

  5. Recognize the fragmented knowledge structures we have today

  6. Accept personal responsibility for being a citizen intelligence “minuteperson” who is engaged at least at the local level and ideally at all levels from local to global. 

  7. Demand transparency and truth from every person, every organization, every government. Consider this the modern information-era equivalent of the Golden Rule.”

In an open-source community, all costs are minimized and benefits are optimized, says Steele, “this concept redirects ‘commerce’ from the goal of the few to the goal of utility for the many at the lowest possible cost.” In the beginning, there were the commons but we have lost our way. 

There is still hope to recreate those commons to an even superior form, “but It will probably succeed one transitional local community at a time (LOCALISM),” says Steele. This Basic Open-Source Approach creates resilience for the individual and the public at large but will take time and organization to succeed at the level that is needed for Humanity to solve the complex problems we face as a globally connected community.

Steele says that the end goal of Open Source Everything is not a new idea but nonetheless ambitious, “reaching the culminating point for humanity’s next stage of consciousness, what some call Panarchy, other the World Brain, Global Brain, Global Mind, or Web 4.0. This is about connecting all human minds, all information in all languages and mediums, all the time.”

The founder of the P2P Foundation, Michel Bauwens, envisions a potential end-state of Open-Source Everything. He says, “...as modernity was about rigorously individualizing everything, eventually reaching the current dead-end of hyper-individualism, we are now just as rigorously ‘relationising’ everything…(T)he three paradigm shifts (open/free, participatory, commons), although only emerging as seed forms at this stage, are letting themselves be felt through contemporary spiritual practices.”

Those three shifts Bauwens cites are the drivers for Steele’s Manifesto on Open Source Everything. “It is my personal and professional belief--as someone deeply concerned about both security and intelligence--that security can only be attained through pure transparency, not secrecy. Intelligence can only be maximally effective if it is open and collective,” says Steele.

Open Source Pyramid

In conclusion, The Open-Source Pyramid is Steele’s valiant attempt to take the familiar figure that we are used to in Epoch A hierarchies and completely gut the respective inner layers to reconstitute an Epoch B architecture.

Steele modestly says this is not a complete list, but you can absolutely understand the breadth and depth of a societal change if Humanity employed The Open Source Pyramid in full. This new Epoch B pyramid has the ‘most important’ philosophies on the base level to set the foundation for the continued building upon from the successive layers above. It recognizes that the “top of the pyramid” although important, even arguably most important, is much too narrow and cannot be the entire focus. The layers are broken up accordingly below:

Aspects

Open Access. Generally legal right to view, read, transit.

Participation. Generally, open right to contribute or utilize.

Transparency. General visibility of detail to any who wish access.

Shareability/Forkability. Peer property, sharing economy.

Enablers

Open-Source Publishing. Unrestricted public access.

Open Code. Excludes controlling or restrictive functions.

Open Communication. Open access to communications net.

Open Data. Allow data to be integrated and exploited by all.

Open-Data Protocol. Web protocol for querying and updating.

Open Definition. Reuse/redistribute without technical limits.

Open Facilitation. Open-Space Technology (Harrison Owen).

Open Governance. Panarchy, sociocracy, holacracy.

Open Licenses. Creative Commons is an example. 

Open Standards. W3C is an example.

Infrastructure (Physical)

Open-Source Food. Transparency of the food-supply chain.

Open-Source Agriculture. Open DNA and biotechnology.

Open Global Village Construction Set. Actual generic tools.

Open Cloud. Open standards, ease of mix and match.

Open-Collaboration Platform. Technical, e.g., Wiki. 

Open-Collaboration Spaces. Hacker spaces, e.g. HackLabs.

Open-Data Grid. Project underway to enhance data storage.

Open Funding. Crowd-sourcing, social lending.

Open Manufacturing. Open software creating the physical world.

Open Media. Video, audio, and text that can be shared freely.

Open Meeting. Organizational meeting open to the public.

Open Mobile. Standards and unlocked devices.

Open Spectrum. Unlicensed spectrum shared by all.

Open Territories. Regions committed to the open meme.

Practices

Open Knowledge and Science. Open Knowledge Foundation.

Open and Free Software. LINUX, Ubunto, Debian, etc.

Open Designs. Demotech, Howtopedia, Instructables.

Open Currencies or Money. BitCoin, OpenCoin, etc.

Open Funding. Crowd-sourcing, social lending.

Open Capital. B2B sharing of risk and reward. 

Open Hardware. Arduino, Buglabs, OpenMoko.

Domains

Open Education. Open Accreditation, Connectivist Learning.

Open Science. Cambia, Bios, BioBrick.

Open Government and Open Politics. Sunlight Foundation.

Open Business. Integration of buyers and suppliers.

Open Skies. National agreements to enable transparency.

Open Spirituality. Anabaptism, Reiki, Yoga.

Products

Open Courseware. Freely available online (but not credits).

Open Government Data. Funded by taxpayer, open to public.

Open Journals. Free public access to archives.

Open Textbooks. Free public access, deliberately organized.

Open Tools. Mix and Match, modular, affordable.

Movements

Open Coalition. Emerging non-partisan grassroots concept.

Open Materials. Enable do-it-yourself (DIY) production.

Consciousness

Open Spirituality. Integrates open, participatory, commons.”

Open Source Everything Manifesto was one of those books that, and this is not hyperbole, was life-changing. After reading this book, I could not believe how wrong we humans have been about public intelligence, information, and everything that is associated with them. But, the other equally astounding fact was that Humanity had created all these problems and structures to solve them and could be on the verge of finally “getting it.” 

The success of humans being able to work together on complex problems that face the entire globe will be a defining factor for the future of our species in the coming decades. We can continue to hold on to bygone organizational structures and all the trickle-down philosophies of Epoch A decision making, or we can rise to the challenge with our collective brainpower in a bottom-up manner that employs Epoch B principles. I hope this essay has helped in laying out the arguments for the reader to decide which Epoch they want to live in and how to get there. 

I thank Robert David Steele and all the authors who were cited and helped contribute to the collective knowledge base that I used to create this essay. Until next time, Ad Astra!

Share


Text:

Audio Podcasts:

YouTube Playlist (Documentaries, Lectures, Podcasts, and Ted Talks):

  • Dr. Marcin Jakubowski on Open Source Global Village Construction | Robert David Steele

  • Michel Bauwens on Peer to Peer, Open Source Economy, the Commons & Web 3.0

  • Ex CIA Spook Robert Steele on Open Source Everything: Ethics is an Operating System

  • Revolution OS Documentary

  • The Code: The Story of Linux Documentary

  • The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz Documentary

  • Project Code Rush: The Beginnings of Netscape/Mozilla Documentary

  • The Code-Breakers Documentary

  • Open source everything | Gus Arriaga | TEDxElPaso

  • Open Collaboration, Open Data and Open Source Software Development: Ted Han at TEDxCoMo

  • How Open-Source Software Can Change Our Lives | Brad Griffith | TEDxNewAlbany

  • Open-Source Everything with Robert David Steele | Miriam Knight

  • LibTech NYC: Robert David Steele - The Open Source Everything Manifesto

Websites:


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