Damian Fuller

Sustainable Energy and Social Performance Facilitator (Timor-Les, Good Return

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What kind of commitment device could we construct for present society to effect change and prevent global warming for our future society?

Daniel Goldstein and his colleague (probably at Allianz) develop what he calls commitment devices to assist older folk understand the dilemma they face with their personal savings.

I like the idea (Despite the irritating references to Allianz) and would like to see it applied to less commercial dilemmas involving present v's future selves, particular the collective self of society.

For example:

What kind of commitment device could we construct to assist the present society prevent global warming and avoid leaving our future society with a calamitous and possibly disastrous situation to deal with, not to mention costly?

The Kyoto protocol whilst an achievement towards global consolidation and acceptance of the issue has failed to place enough pressure on governments to achieve their commitments. A social movement within each country, particularly developed countries where education is high and society should know better could provide the local impetus governments need.

Such a social movement could be triggered by a society wide commitment device that evolves the tired climate change debate into one that unites society rather than splits it. What do you think this commitment device would look like and how would it galvanise society into action?

  • Jan 13 2012: Aha! As predicted, here's a facebook timeline contrasting past and present, albeit a fictitious person. http://mashable.com/2012/01/09/facebook-timeline-drug-addict/ .
  • Jan 9 2012: We already have an emerging meme in the Facebook Timeline. Every teenager on Facebook knows that their current behavior is recorded and will be compared to their future achievements.

    What is to keep us from having a future timeline, given past and current behavior? A Facebook plugin could do this easily with answers to 20 questions. You could see the likelihood of being alive, healthy, or still in a relationship within a certain number of years. Comparing responses with millions of others would further validate predictions and trends. Some of us would be inspired to improve our future, not just deny it.

    Similar plugins could produce timelines for NGO's, public figures, political groups and elected officials. Also timelines for endangered species, lost languages, cultural trends like marriage, slavery, income levels, etc.

    Once a critical mass of timelines are in one place, you can observe something fundamentally different from separate news articles or independent research. Crowd sourcing could gather and refine the findings and research. The technology is already advanced. Apple, Netflix and Safeway for example, can already predict what products we are going to want next.

    Effective crowd sourcing would develop its own political strength as well as the likely future begins to distinguish from fantasies cast by elected officials. With enough clout, the future might ultimately get a legitimate voice.

    When I was 13, a boy named David had all the answers and I thought him smarter than my parents. That phenomena does not exist for my children since the collective wisdom of the wikipedia has better answers than parents or peers. Now we all look at it together.

    Similarly our collective wisdom about the future will have us sharing authority with political leaders, not just giving it away blindly and trusting them to know better than we do.