Much to my surprise the most popular image I have on flickr is a chart I made up:
This was back in 2006, at the start of web2.0 and in a sense I can see why the image attracted the views, as looking back, this is exactly what came to be as the Internet giants of google, facebook, Apple, Amazon and Twitter etc. and those equivalent in China and other parts of the world grew to dominate economics, attention economics. What does the current outlook look like? What should we chart in the next image?
Answer: A doughnut
I am not the author of this image, its the creation of Kate Raworth and I think it is the right image for the outlook. Now such diagrams originate from the environmental movement so it is interesting to see an economist now putting it forward for a post economic growth society. How does an Attention economy fit in with the doughnut? As the name implies, it draws focus to information and social interactions. It is far superior than money at this, as I explain. However, as Kate rightly talks about, we need a Peer to Peer Knowledge Commons. What knowledge do we want to address our attention at and contribute too, what is most urgent or speculative? As I have written on before, we need to have a future looking Doughnut too. Another great thinker and philosopher of our time is Jaron Linear who also paints a picture of a doughnut for an AI commons. Without the ability to look forward, Jaron warns of how the machine learning algorithms will be left with no human collective intelligence to learn from. The same can be said about our ecosystems, soils etc. When they collapse they will not be able to e.g. clean our air or provide us with food, so we need to look forward to prevent such outcomes coming to be.
Attention is timeless, equally happy to look back and forward in time but we still need help on where to focus and apply our contributions to society. New currencies need to emerge. These will be post-money, or information currencies e.g. an immune system index or a soil index etc. These new currencies will allow us to learn from the past and simulate the future in any level of detail ensuring the doughnuts boundaries are kept too.