Foundational Need of Humanity
An individual is the fundamental unit of human society, but humanity gives marginal importance to individuality. Social structures classify individuals into groups, and those groups determine how individuals are treated and allowed to treat one another. These groups can be families, societies, or citizens - aggregated at various units of community, city, state, or country. Further, societal constructs - such as social groups, organizations, or political parties - often overlap, exacerbating the individual’s helplessness to control his belonging and affiliation.
Within this framework, how do we understand what drives human behavior? What is our motivation? There have been many constructs albeit all coming at it from the economic dimension - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs being one such attempt worthy of mention. If you further drill down to understand the core psychology of what an individual aspires for, at all stages and situations, an individual aspires for being at a state of equilibrium and safety which allows for self-actualization. In simpler terms, he/she wants to be 'happy'.
Let us deconstruct what is this state of 'happiness' that an individual aspires for?
Happiness is a state which can be clearly recognized at an individual level but how does one define a commonly accepted state of happiness. It is a state which is reached or defined by the absence of something rather than the expression of something. We postulate that happiness is present when there is an absence of insecurities. Insecurities - fear of a lack of control over an outcome - may be transitory or continuous. The more an individual recognizes this absence of insecurity, the more his sense of control increases. If asked, he/she is likely to say he/she is happy. However, given the myriad interactions each of us has every day, such a sense of happiness is often fleeting. In the next interaction it may be quickly replaced with insecurity.
In summation, individuals aspire for an absence of insecurities and a sense of control over their interactions with rest of the world. Yet, as humanity and technological advancement creates more intermediated structures, individuals are removed from the outcome of their interactions. The individual aspiration for control, a precondition of happiness, is at loggerheads with current societal structures.
Interactions are often always intermediated, by people, institutions, platform (pre-tech and then of course with tech), courts and so on. Interactions get done with a lot of anxieties for the participants and, in their culmination, may provide a fleeting sense of happiness with some anxious moments on the way. Let us see this with a simple current day example. The first time you performed a credit card transaction in your life, let us say you were buying a coffee. You gingerly provide the card, enter the PIN or signature with due care and anxiety and when the green light or ping comes up it is a big relief. The hot coffee in your hand is surely a spot of happiness that is well earned and even cherished! Humans of course are blessed with memory and, hence, as they rinse and repeat the steps, they get familiar with the interaction(type) and that interaction no longer holds the same level of anxieties and you get comfortable with the interaction and the structure. Of course, the happiness at the end may continue, however fleeting that maybe. Hence the necessary evil of the structure of intermediated transactions is accepted and familiarized by humans but is the cause of a lot of anxiety in every instance of interaction execution.
On the flip side, these interaction structures have further reduced us to mere statistics. Individuals don’t have their individualities protected, they are just one among the many that go through the hopper, the assembly lines of interaction structures with no control and lot of anxiety during the process but aspiring to reach those fleeting end points of happiness. This has become so much a part of our life that we hardly take notice, and we see it as a non-negotiable aspect of human life and interactions. We have learned to live with little or no control in our interactions, ceding control of the value, context, and success to the societal intermediaries, whoever or whatever it may be.
Anxiety at the start, patience in the middle, and hope of happiness at the end!
Societal structures as interaction intermediaries
From monarchy to democracy, societal structures have acted as intermediaries and arbitrators of interactions between individual participants. This has allowed them to significantly impact the ‘outcome of individual interactions and control the very definition of the ‘value’ transferred between the participants of the interactions thereby garnering an unequal share of value created in social interactions and networks, even more than true value-creating participants of the network.
Illustratively, if you look at a financially incentivized societal model, here the control is all with the largest economic power distilled and seen at multiple subsequent units. In the context of whatever the interaction, the entity/person with the largest 'stake' has undue influence, eventually. On the other hand, in a fully community centric model, all rule settings, laws and hence control, are with a central group. In this model, the individual is rarely in control as a participant of any interaction. Some hybrid societal models are in the middle with the society at large, through processes of majoritarianism, in some way expressed, is in control. But again, here the individual has a limited influence. But he/she has a choice, a vote and must hope to be on the side of the majority.
As we embark on a digital society, technology, especially from the time of the internet, has also started to unleash its own societal structure. If we closely observe what the internet does, it is replicating prior societal intermediary models, to aggregate power based on a new asset hitherto easily not available - data.
So, to enable the primary human need of ‘happiness’, we need to create a societal structure where the participants of an interaction controls ‘all aspects’ of an interaction (value, context, and outcome) in an objective local way, that is personal and controllable.
A model where the value of the interaction is valuable to him/her!
In this true endgame of possibilities, our aspiration is to move humanity to this level of individuality, an ability to interact and be yourself, using the interaction intermediary structure with confidence and no insecurity. Moving the person to a state of happiness more often than not. Provide what the world is seized of from a measure of human civilizational progress, of late, that of a 'happiness quotient’. Implemented by truly putting the individual in the center of it all and letting him/her to be in complete control. Privacy is preserved to the degree that the individual wants, transparency is present to inspire confidence and value is discovered in each societal interaction to the mutual satisfaction of the interaction participants leaving everyone happy.
How will such a model work in a digital society? How can we create a network to enable interactions where values are personal, where participants control the interactions dimensions and its outcome, where the networks are enablers and not controllers?
Humanizing the Network
We are at a pivotal point in the journey of human civilization. From hunting to agrarian to industrial revolution, most of human advancement was functional. We primarily used our physical faculties and focused on developing coping and survival methods. But with the advent of the knowledge era, this is about to exponentially change. We are embarking on the grandest of discoveries. Using our mind to understand its own working, to discover the commonness in all of us and the world, and to create a co-operative equilibrium in all our societal interactions. A journey where we move from episodic functional growth to constantly evolving networked learning. A model that can maximize the ‘happiness quotient’ of society at large.
In this journey, over the past 25 years, Internet has transformed the world by developing new business models and has created enormous value for businesses and step-change convenience for people. Also, during this time, digital has gradually become integral to people’s lives and is now starting to support interactions which are personal and close to everyday living. We no longer just do emails or set-up meetings using the internet, but we are also starting to use digital networks to perform all the core human needs like shopping, learning, eating, social interactions, business processes, regulatory governance, money management etc. With the constantly improving global connectivity, networks have also exponentially shrunk the ‘distance barrier’ creating ubiquitous presence of digital in most societal interactions.
But, as observed earlier, the current Internet model suffers from the pre-digital framework of power aggregation through interaction intermediation. Data of the individual which is now left behind as he/she goes through the hopper / assembly line of interactions is harvested / mined and used, in a sense, to control the individual in subsequent interactions using the undue influence of information asymmetry. This is the current dichotomy of the success of the internet and needs no illustration. But let us see a simple example - a user of Uber launching the app is blinded by information of supply and hence with past behavioral data (say time sensitivity to get to work, derived as a pattern) maybe used to extract the best price for the intermediation with both sides blinded during the price discovery process. Here, the participants are not in control of the value, context, and outcome of their interaction, albeit the interaction is perceived to be digitally bi-lateral. Lack of control increases the anxiety, thereby reducing his/her happiness from the interaction. Using this model, if we build the digital society, we simply automate (and optimize) the older inefficiencies of the societal intermediary structures increasing the anxiety of participants in their interactions as values stay relative and outcomes stay controlled.
However, technology did not stop with the internet; it has further evolved and now we have digital. We have technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and peer-to-peer networks taking shape. Lines between real and virtual are blurring at exponential rates. Human networks are rapidly being replaced by their digital look alike. Interactions are becoming the new value driver, opening transformational opportunities for the society, and enabling a new ‘way of living’. A confluence of next generation technologies leading us into a constantly connected and aware world, potentially addressing the hitherto un-addressable aspect of intermediation - trust, and transparency. Giving what the individual wanted all along. The sense of control and eliminate the insecurity in interactions, providing him/her confidence and a state of happiness, longer and hopefully continuous.
A truly humanized network!
This is a paradigm shift. Societal changes of this magnitude inherently increase the entropy and require a new framework for harnessing value from the change. A digital framework where the building blocks of new technology, their interplay, and the context of their connectedness is well understood and implemented. So, we need a New Digital order to manage this entropy to deliver ‘happiness’ in every digital interaction. This can be achieved by integrating the ‘participant’s context’ into digital interactions and making the context of the participant as the interaction intermediary thereby making the values personal and provide the participants complete control of the outcome. A true peer-to-peer interaction where the individual is in control.
A humanized Internet that is context aware.
Personalized Value Network
As digital moves from the periphery to the centre of societal interactions, the context-aware network, acting as the interaction intermediary, enables this transformation with maximum happiness quotient. Participants of the interactions are in control and less insecure. In this new world, networks deliver the ‘personalized value expectations’ of participants, unique to each digital interaction. The new networks support heterogeneous value transfers and specific privacy, security, and trust needs of each interaction. A network, where users dynamically drive the network’s behavior based on his/her interaction-specific needs. A network, where user’s computation, value, trust, infrastructure, and storage preferences are a foundational construct baked into the fundamental design as opposed to a feature provided by systems and applications, controlled by their creators. A value network, where personalization is a right and not a choice. A personalized global value network.
Krama – The New Digital Order
Krama is the new digital order and a context-aware computational framework that enables personal value transfer in a personalized global value network. Using the context-aware paradigm, Krama digitally represents human individuality and recognizes the same in the smallest units of his/her interactions, giving them full control and removing insecurities. Making the world a happier place, with each interaction.
Well, does civilization have a parallel, have we seen this in the past such a model, working efficiently and leaving people HAPPY? Fortunately, yes, we do have a parallel. Consider barter, the rudimentary inefficient value exchange mechanism that existed in communities before the advent of money. Let us look at it closely now, a shepherd trading two of his sheep for a bag of grain. Now, this is a local transaction, he/she is not insecure about any structure and intermediation, does not harbor fears of price economics, and is only looking for the value transfer that he/she needs to get happier. The shepherd will be happier with the sack of grain over those two additional livestock. He/she is not constrained by what the perceived value of the same is, as the value is personal, and is driven by his/her intent to get 'happier'. The shepherd performs the transaction with little anxiety and is happier and gets on with his/her life looking for the next barter to make him/her happy.
However, barter could not scale (as human civilization scaled!) and hence the inefficiencies became pronounced and created inequities and disorder, and hence ingenious minds created a ‘generalized proxy’ for value, money, as a solution. Money sure solved many of the mismatch inefficiencies and the locational constraints, but it came with its own ills. By being a general purpose and gross metric, its tripped away the core idea of value - “a context-dependent personal metric to enable a situational utilitarian purpose with the end goal of happiness”. With this foundational inefficiency, money became a relative measure while the value in barter (and any human interaction) is an absolute personal measure. The emergence of cryptocurrencies and bitcoin is an attempt to address this foundational error, by providing a more ‘trustable’ degree of intermediary control for the participants of the interaction, away from traditional intermediaries. But this is far from being able to deliver the end goal of personalized value (and happiness), as value is absolute only if all dimensions of an interaction can be personalized by the participants, including trust.
With all the new digital technologies, the time now is for delivering a global personal value network, where value is not another currency (or cryptocurrency) but is an outcome of a free form value discovery, left to the participants of the interaction, with myriad dimensions and aspects to support the inherent creativity of the world and the individuality of each participant. It puts them in control as it was meant to be, leaving them happier.
Welcome back to the age of happiness, KRAMA!