We have no plan B.

Ban Ki-moon

The general assumptions underpinning the workings of the model proposed can be interpreted as follows (diagram below) :

  • The model uses a specific space-and-time : the time markers are 1960-2000-2020. The space chosen is the state, which remains the basic institution of our present world.
  • The model is universal ; the situation is the same for each society. It is the critical mass of human energy and funds invested in each item, by each state, that differs from one society to the next. There will be no one-size-fits-all model (chapter 6, no 1).
  • At the foundation of the knowledge-based society are the political, economic, technological and physical environments. The latter is formed by all of the natural capital consisting of the mineral, energy, biological and hydraulic assets of a given society.

  • These four basic elements are activated by the education system (bottom four horizontal dotted lines connecting the four points). It is education which gives coherence to all the structures of the model, and thus all of society.
  • At the top of the diagram, four networks enable the flow of information throughout the system. These are the networks of government institutions, market networks, social networks and ecological networks. These communication networks are not information tools, but tools for social intervention (chapter 4, no 8).

  • Information is the primary raw material used by citizens to develop their society through the creation of a digital map (chapter 1, no 1).
  • Feedback between the structures at the bottom and the networks on top allows all these elements to evolve according to the needs of the situation/moment. These feedback loops (dotted vertical lines) are government activities, the activities of markets, citizens speaking out and stewardship of ecosystem ressources.
  • The cube is essentially a model : its 8 corners (three human dimensions combined with environmental aspects and their networks) are living elements ; they are active on an ongoing basis.
  • When contextualized, data becomes information and knowledge and, sometimes, consensus (chapter 1, no. 1). Opinions create solidarity amongst those who share the same opinions, creating energy with which the various political, economic and social elements can develop the societal plan which could become a social contract.
  • During this process of information exchange, negotiations begin between political and economic elites and civil society (e.g. citizens speaking out via social networks).
  • The project of creating an effective society for all is a collective dream for the citizens, such as the American Dream for the Americans (see the speech of Martin Luther King) or the Chinese Dream (Fuxing) to the Chinese, etc.

For a plan to come into being, we must first dream it.

This model illustrates the complexities of real-time operation of the new knowledge-based society. The complexity is due to the fact that our western societies are (to date) open systems :

The mechanisms for seeking well-being

Societal adaptation requires processing information that creates and expresses opinions publicly. This processing supports the consensus-forging dynamics necessary for collective decision-making.

This model is a form of engineering for living together in society :