Sustainable communities – must they only be in science fiction?
I just finished reading (well, listening on Audible.com to) two amazing science fiction books by Daniel Suarez: Daemon followed by its sequel, FreedomTM. I was surprised to say that it made me think about our environment and communities more than any other book I have ever read my life! The book starts with the death of a young and very talented online game programmer, Matthew Sobel who unleashes a program, or Daemon, in the real world, which controls real people through technology and information systems. Daemon (disk and execution monitor) is a program that runs continuously in the background and performs specified tasks at predefined times or in response to certain events. In the first book it seems that Deamon is evil and wants to take over the world by spreading its network of destruction called the Darknet which eats up large corporations. **Spoiler-alert for second book following in italics** In the second book this concept is explained further and things turn out to be quite different. Sobel was willing to be the villain of the world to force necessary change so other people didn’t have to.
What was the most intriguing to me (besides the ‘haptic vest’ and ‘HUD glasses’ that I would totally love to have) is the way the Darknet members formed sustainable communities and explained the economics of sustainability. (Following are modified exerpts from FreedomTM.)
Each Darknet community lies at a center of an economic radius of 100 miles for its key inputs and outputs; food, energy, healthcare and building materials. Balancing inputs and outputs within this circle is the goal. A local economy that is as self sufficient as possible while still being part of a cultural whole creates a resilient civilization that has no central points of failure, and through it’s very structure promotes democracy.
The Darknet communities are founded on long term thinking. In the coming decades water shortage is anticipated due to climate change and depleted aquifers. Sustainable independence increases the Darknet resilience score. Many things are possible but not economically feasible in the real world but all that depends on how you calculate cost. Darknet communities factor in loss of environmental and economic independence as a cost. They factor in the cost of forcibly defending distant energy resources. They also factor in lack of sustainability and disposal of pollutants. That more than balances the equation.
The Daemon’s economy is financed by the Darknet imaginary credits. The Darknet economy was seeded by the real world wealth that was questionable in origin. Here it’s being invested in people and projects that have begun to return value, not in dollars but in things of intrinsic human worth: energy, information, food, and shelter.