THE EMERGENCE OF THE SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
OF PRODUCTIVITY AND QUALITY OF LIFE
If you have ever wondered why, after so much effort and billions of dollars that are spent every year... there is so much conflict, poverty and environmental degradation in the world...
Have you also wondered why there seems to be no end to those ills?
Are They Human-Behaviour Challenges?
...or Are They Structural Problems?
For a long time, the international development community has been focusing on a multitude of grievances and intractable situations that in most countries impede the improvement of wellbeing and the sustainable growth of national productivity. However, most of the money spent on reduction of conflict, alleviation of poverty, and protection of the environment appears to be wasted because there has been no agreement on what is the best thing to do.
Current sustainability philosophy appears to converge on the concept that because human dynamics is so complex, there can be no best practice that fits all situations. Consequently, the consensus seems to be that best practice cannot and should not be identified, developed or implemented at all.
Examples of the precarious state of affairs abound both in underdeveloped and developed countries. Whilst criminality and terrorism are mainstays of the media in industrialized nations, UNICEF reports that every day around 20,000 children die because of poverty, and the World Health Organization indicates that 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation facilities.
Donor countries also illustrate the difficulty of the situation by having funneled US$ 134.8 billion in 2013 through Official Development Assistance (ODA), for what management scientists would call a decades-long firefighting mission in their quest to eliminate global poverty.
Perhaps because humans favour convenience, or maybe because of frustration out of feelings of impotence, they may at times resort to expressing concern for those or other difficulties and grievances in emotional ways by becoming alienated or impulsive, tribal, sectarian or factional, or by expressing other informal manifestations. Methods can range from despondency or distress to voiced arguments or organized protest, riots to protracted insurgencies, vendettas, pogroms, guerrilla or open strife, or in kind.
Too often human beings try to resolve their differences or disagreements by blowing themselves up, or by causing bodily harm to others either informally, or very formally through national agencies whose sole purpose is standing ready for inflicting destruction by way of national protection.
The first proposition that arises from such a scenario indicates that there must be a worlwide disconnect or a giant invisible logjam blocking citizens from using a friendlier and more practical, convenient and effective way to express and realize their expectations on how civic life should operate, or how governments should act in order to improve wellbeing thus productivity. The proposition arises from the proverbial situation where citizen requests or petitions are met with indifference, or fall on deaf ears, or are appeased with empty promises on the part of public officials.
The reply is yes. There certainly seems to be a worldwide disconnect in the form of an overbearing global constraint, and much of the time the constraint appears to either inhibit the release of chronic stress, or to create privation while citizens, as Adam Smith would have said, strive to improve themselves and their lot in their daily lives.
For instance, Robert Wright´s August 28, 1995 TIME article "The Evolution of Despair" points out how rates of depression have been doubling every 10 years in some developed nations, and that suicide is the third most common cause of death among young adults in North America, after car wrecks and homicides. In May 2013, the BBC published a qualitative vs. quantitative indicator of sorts when it reported that since 2009, suicide has claimed more Americans than land-wheeled-vehicle crashes.
Further down the road, environmental degradation is mostly a result of a few very visible variables like solid and liquid waste, and gaseous emissions. So in principle, it should be easier for people to deal with the issues that impede human society from carrying out all of its activities in an eco-friendly manner.
Yet, in addition to the spectre of billions of humans either not having enough to eat, or not having proper living accommodations or healthcare, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) points out that human activities are rapidly damaging the biosphere to the no-return point, just as the
NASA Global Climate Change
website informs that Antartica is suffering an irreversible meltdown.
And as if to add a tangible sense of urgency to the dire long-term global situation, the North Pole Environmental Observatory (NPEO) maintains a webcam at the North Pole. In July 2013, NPEO said that the North Pole had turned into a meltwater lake.
The Engineering of Systematic Resolution to Global Issues
Typically, the various fields of the engineering sciences deal with the design and improvement of objects and systems like locomotives, roads, bridges, the software and hardware of computers of all types, rockets, satellites, automobiles, airplanes, buildings, chemical processes for making from shampoos to petrol, roller coasters, and electrical generation and distribution systems.
The list goes on with telephone systems and telephones, industrial product and food mass-production systems, the machines that make the clothes humans wear, etc. Just about every mechanism, human-designed process or structure is designed or improved upon by engineers.
On the other hand, socioeconomic issues have usually been dealt with by professionals of the social and economic sciences, but industrial engineering, which has popularly been identified with the mass-production line and the mass production and consumption issues it represents, deals with the human-machine or human-operating system interface. Human-factors engineering or ergonomics is one of the industrial engineering techniques used for designing or improving the tasks the individual worker or the work group must carry out in order to operate and control production equipment, and/or the overall production system, in an efficient manner.
Taking into account the famous conclusions Elton Mayo came to at the Hawthorne Works of the General Electric Company between 1924 and 1927, industrial engineers consider the work group a social group. Mayo´s findings have helped industrial engineering practitioners hone the macroergonomic functions work groups, and whole organizations, must satisfy while operating complex sociotechnical systems such as an assembly line or a factory, a submarine, a cruise ship or an airliner, a supermarket-counter system, a transportation system or a call centre, etc.
In the case of sustainability, industrial engineering deals with the tasks large social groups -such as whole societies- must carry out in order to operate and control the machinery of their own governments, as it were, in an ergonomically correct manner. In fact, because industrial engineering deals with the optimization of complex processes, it is within its scope to deal with how human society can optimize its activities vis-â-vis the needs of the biosphere.
In this video, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, comments on the engineering approach to sustainable development, which is the global evolutionary process that originates the emergent System-of-Systems (SoS) properties for sustainability.
Redirect to Engineering and Sustainable Development from Earth Institute on Vimeo.
The Global SoS Network is an Action Research-driven organization that bases itself on the premise that most, if not all, of the major social, economical and environmental difficulties and challenges facing human society at the beginning of the 21st. Century are a direct result of one and the same global constraint. The constraint could be classified as technological because it impedes individuals, in their role as constituents, from using information about stress-creating conflicts of interest, and from initiating the communiucation processes required for the resolution of the aforementioned issues.
More specifically, information about all types of social, economic and environmental conflicts of interest and other grievances is readily available to citizens. As humans live their daily lives, they gather information regarding constituent conflict, and of the perceived incapacity of government to address such issues. Citizens own the information that can bring about the ending of alienation, privation and inequality, criminality and terrorism, of simmering and open conflict and of environmental degradation.
But humans the world over seem to be unaware of how to put all that collective brainpower to effective use, hence the technological constraint. Consequently, some more key questions emerge from this scenario...
What are humans to do with that information?
Whom do they communicate it to?
How can human society unravel its major technological constraint?
Best Practice: Local Tools for Global Transcendence
The Global SoS Network posits that sustainable growth of wellbeing and productivity will be created by the participative platform that permits synergistic interaction between individual constituents and the legislative function of their Legislative Systems of Systems (Legislative SoS).
Since constituents also own the decisions made by their legislators, they must exact effective ownership by eliminating their technological constraint. Each constituent can do this by articulating the conflict-relevant information he or she owns, and communicating it to the relevant legislator through the teledemocratic infrastructure.
From the Systems of Systems perspective, a national teledemocratic infrastructure consists of the complete infrastructure of a national postal service, including existing old post or royal roads, and the Internet, when those communication channels are used to communicate with legislators.
It's no coincidence that the Internet offers business advantages that has brought accelerated growth to the sector. Not so with postal services, which have been termed as slow and old fashioned. Developing-country postal services have suffered from indifference and inattention to the point that they have become inadequate to satisfy basic institutional needs, such as serving as a transport medium for municipal, utility and housing-authority billing systems.
Under those circumstances, postal services are inadequate, even useless, for constituent-legislator communication, or for improving tax revenues that would help in the process of financing basic public services, the upgrading of the nowadays crumbling public infrastructure, nor in the construction of affordable housing in the Global South.
Nevertheless, effective local resolution of conflicts of interest, be it social, economic or environmental, is the result of robust teledemocratic mailstreams through which constituents will determine the systematic and environment-friendly:
Win-Win Resolution of Constituent Conflict
Unravelling of Industrial Underdevelopment
Eradication of Global Poverty
Image: © Benetton Group S.p.A.; with Adequate Technology? caption by Globalsosnet
The Human Factor of Democracy
Macroergonomically speaking, teledemocratic collective-intelligence processes are complex-adaptive sociotechnical-information processes. And in spite of the scarily complicated, hi-tech and expensive-sounding names, the streamlining of collective intelligence is refreshingly simple, very convenient, and surprisingly economic.
In order to streamline their collective intelligence, constituents must use at least four basic tools, and initiate simple three-step communication processes. The tools are a pen, a sheet of paper, an envelope, and a postage stamp. The processes consist of writing periodic letters to the pertinent legislator, having them delivered, and obtaining the subsequent replies.
Deducing that the logistics of transporting teledemocratic information require the existence of postal services that are adequate for the task, the focused collective intelligence of constituents now creates nationwide teledemocratic mailsreams towards the legislatures. Subsequently, legislators will use traditional parliamentarian procedures in order to resolve constituent conflict in the forums human society has designed for that specific undertaking.
Because it is the task of legislatures to allocate resources to the executive function of government, the deliberation of different perspectives will also result in the allocation of resources to implement the course of action chosen to resolve the conflict at hand, meaning that overall government performance will improve systematically.
Keeping in mind that constituent conflict could represent any aspect of the civic domain, from gaping potholes to inadequate housing, education, medical care, relationships between the facets of myriad social groups, or any environmental problem: only when business managers note improved government effectiveness will they become more motivated to invest in sustainable technology. This would take the form of more efficient machinery and methods that will improve productivity, helping make small gains in national productivity and wellbeing. The complex-adaptive result is that improved government performance begets improved quality of life as the standard of living improves, meaning that everyone involved, and the environment, win.
In addition to serving as a medium for constituent-legislator communication, adequate postal services allow for institutional focusing of adaptive capacity in order to address pressing social needs. As mentioned before, adequate postal services allow for the rollout of municipal and utility billing systems. The resulting income streams are key for the local development and upkeep of the public infrastructure necessary for world-class quality education and medical services, and for all-important trade.
The Internet is a very convenient venue for establishing teledemocratic processes. But until poor countries become affluent, the cost of each computer or cellular phone, in addition to installation costs (electric supply, fixed or cellular-line or Internet hook-up fees, modem, etc.) plus monthly payments, maintenance, upgrading, training, and hidden costs, must be compared to the cost of a few stationery items and that of home letterboxes, which are usually made of low-cost sheetmetal. Home letterboxes only need a key and lock, require no periodic expenses, and practically never need maintenance.
Using either type of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), postal services or the Internet, when social groups such as constituents use teledemocratic techniques, then the collective intelligence has the capacity to regulate the activities of the Public Sector System in benefit of the common good, and of the environment, while steadily increasing the level of productivity.
A Straightforward Notion
THE GLOBAL TECHNOLOGICAL CONSTRAINT...
...gets smaller each time a mail carrier delivers a reply or feedback from a legislator to a constituent.
"Constituents comprise the world's most powerful social groups, and teledemocratic techniques make constituencies the most versatile of social networks."
Image: © Trinidad & Tobago Post
The key outcome from a reply from a legislator is accountability. It is no coincidence that countries where some constituents are accustomed to carrying out the time-tested practice of communicating with their legislators... are developed countries, precisely the nations in which legislators are usually most accountable to their constituents. Needless to say, quality of goods, of basic public services, of concern for the environment, of overall wellbeing, and of productivity, is highest in those same countries. However, existing social shortcomings show that actual teledemocratic activity may not be systematic enough.
And because legislators are the only individuals that have the discretionary power -which they exercise collectively- to allocate public resources, teledemocratic activities give the basic sensation of being useful. Since hunches are not necessarily reliable guides, a book on the subject of this website, containing the technical details, will be made available to the public.
It seems that most underdeveloped nations are in the underdeveloped side of a postal divide. This means that most countries of the Global South have not developed postal-service-based ICT processes. As a consequence, the history of inadequate postal services appears to have inhibited constituent-legislator communication activities. Now that the Internet has arrived, the constituent-legislator communicaction tradition just seems not to be there, so developing-world constituents do not appear to use that tool for channeling their grievances.
Legislators in underdeveloped nations do allocate resources, but they do not seem to wield sufficient leverage as compared to the executive function of those legislative SoS. The reason is simple. If there is no constituent-legislator communication, legislators cannot really speak in name of their constituents, and the legislative function is not as relevant.
The practical result is that the executive function is very powerful, as compared to the legislative function. Even if the executive function does try to be effective, without the benefit of constituent-generated information, the executive function ends not being very efficient or effective in improving the habitat in a way that would help increase national productivity and quality of life in a sustainable manner.
Thus for human sustainability, SoS Engineering (SoSE) identifies teledemocratic activities, such as those ones being researched at the International Teledemocracy Centre as Best Constituent Practice. Dealing with legislative Systems of Systems themselves is bound to help donor nations because in addition to bringing much lower costs to development endeavours, the effectiveness of constituent-legislator communication will create giant markets that did not exist before. From that perspective, SoSE can predict, as the Global Marshall Plan puts it, a global economic miracle.
Image: © World Business Council for Sustainable Development
As an example of the potential of Best Constituent Practice, once Best Constituent Practice activities are initiated in developing nations, practically any developing nation can not just meet, but exceed eco-friendly milestones like the Millennium Development Goals at a very small fraction of the presently projected cost. In addition, BCP allows the ISO Series Standards to bring Total Quality Management to the delivery of basic public services in developing countries.
Transportation Safety: Quality Driving
If you get quite a shock when an airplane falls off the sky and kills dozens of people, or when someone dies from conflict, you will probably be horrified when you realize that three thousand humans die every day from land-wheeled-vehicle crashes.
The Global SoS Network has identified the isomorphism between Legislative SoS and Ground Transportation SoS. As a result, Globalsosnet has also designed the technological approach that will be necessary for eliminating 99.7% (Six-Sigma, assuming normal data distribution) of vehicle crashes.
Crashes are not accidents. They are statisticaly predictable outcomes. Crashes are not the fault of drivers -they are an organizational problem. So the solution to the problem is a matter of drivers participating in eliminating the SoS constraints in order to eliminate assignable causes for crashes. Globalsosnet is actively working to bring Total Quality Management, or Quality Driving, into practical use.