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You are about to board a bus for a long night ride, when you notice the flickering streaks of light emanating from two wax candles, placed where the headlights of the bus are expected to be. Candles? As headlights?

Of course, the idea of candles as headlights is absurd. So why propose it?

Because on a much larger scale this absurdity has become reality.

The Modernity ideogram renders the essence of our contemporary situation by depicting our society as an accelerating bus without a steering wheel, and the way we look at the world, try to comprehend and handle it as guided by a pair of candle headlights.

Modernity.jpg Modernity ideogram

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An application

The situation we are in

The Club of Rome's assessment of the situation we are in, provided us with a benchmark challenge for putting the proposed ideas to a test. Four decades ago—based on a decade of this global think tank's research into the future prospects of mankind, in a book titled "One Hundred Pages for the Future"—Aurelio Peccei issued the following call to action:

"It is absolutely essential to find a way to change course."

Peccei also specified what needed to be done to "change course":

"The future will either be an inspired product of a great cultural revival, or there will be no future."

Aurelio Peccei

This conclusion, that we are in a state of crisis that has cultural roots and must be handled accordingly, Peccei shared with a number of twentieth century's thinkers. Arne Næss, Norway's esteemed philosopher, reached it on different grounds, and called it "deep ecology".

In "Human Quality", Peccei explained his call to action:

"Let me recapitulate what seems to me the crucial question at this point of the human venture. Man has acquired such decisive power that his future depends essentially on how he will use it. However, the business of human life has become so complicated that he is culturally unprepared even to understand his new position clearly. As a consequence, his current predicament is not only worsening but, with the accelerated tempo of events, may become decidedly catastrophic in a not too distant future. The downward trend of human fortunes can be countered and reversed only by the advent of a new humanism essentially based on and aiming at man’s cultural development, that is, a substantial improvement in human quality throughout the world."

The Club of Rome insisted that lasting solutions would not be found by focusing on specific problems, but by transforming the condition from which they all stem, which they called "problematique".

Can the proposed 'headlights' help us "find a way to change course"?

Why did Peccei's call to action remain unanswered? Why wasn't The Club of Rome's purpose—to illuminate the course our civilization has taken—served by our society's regular institutions, as part of their function? Isn't this already showing that we are 'driving with candle headlights'?

If we used knowledge federation to 'illuminate the way'—what difference would that make?

The Holotopia project is conceived as a knowledge federation-based response to Aurelio Peccei's call to action.

Suppose we lived in a world where knowledge is federated; what difference would that make? What we are about to present is an answer. Or perhaps only the first half of an answer. We don't consider an idea to be fully federated, before it is reflected in the social and cultural order of things. The goal of the Holotopia project is to complete the federation in that way.

To draft a vision, an image of a cultural and social order of things where knowledge is federated, we do not repeat or verify what The Club of Rome did, to reach their conclusion. We simply take The Club of Rome as a federation project, and we federate further. That brings us into a wonderful realm of questions, and cultural possibilities, which are relevant and interesting on their own accord. Such as:

How can "a great cultural revival" realistically emerge? What do we need to do to help that happen?
How can we "change course"? How can we transform a society whose built-in goal is an ever-growing material welfare, into a society dedicated to cultivating "human quality"?
<p>We coined the keyword holotopia to point to the cultural and social order of things that will result.

To begin the Holotopia project, we are developing an initial prototype. It includes a vision, and a collection of strategic and tactical assets—that will make the vision clear, and our pursuit of it actionable.