The term proto-technate refers to an experimental platform for experimenting with technocracy and a mean to move from today's unsustainable sociality to a future hi-tech sustainable society. A future hi-tech society can take many forms a proto-technate (or full technate) exemplifies one such form.
The Technate refers to an operational area where experts manage the technology within that area. Such an are has no nations nor uses money. Technocracy Inc. in the US originally proposed the idea in the 1930s. A proto-technate then forms a step between a full technate and today's society as it partially uses money and works within the current socioeconomic system.
A Proto-technate as a Network
A number of building blocks form the foundation for a proto-technate. Not for Profit Organisations (NPO) such as companies and communities form examples of these building blocks. Each building block works autonomously but forms part of a network. The communities form the central core of the network with the companies forming the interface between the core communities and the outside world. The system, thus, works as a P2P or holonic network with each part of the network working on its own goals but contributing to the overall goal. Internally the network does not use money. Each NPO effectively provides services for other NPOs within the network to the best of its ability for free. However, the network should use some means of resource allocation, based on energy accounting. Externally, the network works like any company in operation today, buying, selling and proving services as any other company.
A small start up network consisting of:
- A web design company
- A computer hardware company
- A translation company
The web design company provide web design services to NPOs in the out side world for a cost but could also provide web designs for free to those inside the network. The computer hardware company provides servers for web hosting. The company would charge for serves provided outside the network but could host websites for free for those inside the network. The translation company offers translation services at cost to those outside the network but would offer free translation services for those inside the network.
So, the web service company could design a web site for the translation company, hosted on the hardware companies servers and then the translation company could help translate web sites for the web design company and help with advertising for the hardware company.
As each company interacts with the world out side they still have to make sufficient money to keep the company going so the services provided internally have a limit. An NPO can't provide services if it prevents the company from making sufficient money to keep going.
As the network expands, more companies become part of the network and the network provides more services for its members. As the network becomes larger, we can add sustainable communities to the network. Each community would provide members who would work for the NPOs and in return the network would provide housing, food, and other goods for a good standard of living to the members of the community (no money used internally).
Goals and Communications
As the network has a composition based on autonomous NPOs it needs a method to maintain the network. The use of goals and channels of communications forms such a method. The network has an overall goal of the highest standard of living for the longest time possible but each NPO or holon within the network can work towards its own goals so long as those goals have a good degree of computability with the overall goal. As a network consists of arcs and vertices the proto-technate has NPOs as vertices but also maintain communication channels as arcs. TO form part of the network, each NPO must maintain a communication link with at least one other NPO and there must exist a path directly or indirectly from any given NPO to any other NPO.
Classes, Principles and Tags
As the network works towards a goal we can define any number of networks through a reference to the network's goal. To enable NPOs to know what goals the network(s) it belongs to has each NPO can use a system of principles, classes and tags. A principle defines what the NPO does or what standards it adheres to. For example, an NPO could adhere to a principle of equality or of diversity. A class represents a collection of principles that defines the NPO and through knowing a NPO's class other NPO can decided to accept the NPO as part of the network. When an NPO accepts a principle or class it tags that class through adding a PGP signed tag so other NPOs can see that the NPO has accepted the class or principle.
Roles within the Network
As part of maintaining the network we have three roles defined for people within the network.
- Project leaders
Directors have the roles of maintaining the goals and communication channels in the network. For each NPO to join a the network, a director must approve its goals. If the NPO carries out activities incompatible with its goals a director can remove the NPO from the network. The director also has the responsibility to ensure that each NPO can communicate with at least one other NPO. However, a a director can not interfere with the internal running of each NPO. So long as the NPO carries out activities compatible with the overall goal, the NPO decids how it carries out its own activities. Also, so long as the NPO can communicate with another NPO, its up tot he NPO to carry out communications if it so wishes.
Coordinators work within each NPO to aid cooperation between NPOs. For example, that can communicate with other NPOs on a regular basis and if they find a project of common interest can propose to the NPOs involved that the work together. Also, through maintaining an awareness of the activities of other NPOs they can advise if one NPO starts working on a project that another NPO has already started.
Internally, each NPO carries out work within projects. Each project then has a project leader to manage the project. How each NPO works remains the responsibility of the project leader and so long as the project has compatible goals, the project runs with no external interference under the full authority of the project leader.
Higher Layers in the Holarchy
Each NPO works autonomously on its own projects. However, some projects becomes too large for each NPO and they need to cooperate with other NPOs. When such cooperation becomes necessary, the NPOs form another NPO to manage the join project. The higher NPO manages the overall project and the lower NPOs manage sub-projects. As each NPO forms an example of a holon, the layering of NPOs becomes a holarchy. The following forms the layers of the holarchy :
- Groups - the lowest level of the holarchy
- Zones - Groups level NPOs can join together to cooperate on larger projects forming another NPO to manage the larger project. The higher level NPO then becomes a zone NPO.
- Areas - Zone NPOs can join together to form area NPOs for larger projects.
- Sector - Area NPOs join together to form Sector NPOs.
- (Proto-)Technate - Sector NPOs join together to form the highest level of the holarchy that manages projects that cover the whole operational area.
The Hierarchy of Sequences
On top of the holarchy exists a hierarchy based on technical areas such as research, agriculture, aerospace or transport called functional sequences. This structure forms the monitoring and maintaining structure for the holarcy and has a composition formed of boards of directors. Each level of the holarchy has a board associated with it. Each person within each NPO has membership of a functional sequence as can appoint a direct at their level. So, each member of each sequence can appoint a director such a s members of the group level sequence of research can appoint a group director of research. The director then has the responsibility given above.