The Co-Intelligence Institute // CII home // Y2K home // CIPolitics home

Y2K is a Door that Looks Like a Wall

This is an outline for a talk I gave in Eugene, Oregon in March 1999. I will be working it into a number of articles soon, but I thought it worth making available to you now. -- Tom

Questions worth asking

Where did Y2K come from? What caused it?

What other major problems do you see our country facing over the next few decades?

How well do you think we are handling these problems? Do you expect our collective problem-solving capacities to improve or get worse over the coming decades? What factors influence how well or poorly we handle our collective problems?

What relationships, if any, do you see between the causes of our problems and the things that make it hard to handle them?

The positive social change potential of Y2K

Y2K is a peculiar and compelling problem. Many conversations are happening thanks to Y2K, which would not otherwise be taking place. Many of these conversations are opening people up to the possibilities for change -- to ways we could improve our society. Among the developments I've seen are these:

1) more awareness of our interconnectedess -- through our infrastructure, through our humanity, through the natural world that contains us all

2) more awareness of the vulnerability of our infrastructure

3) more appreciation of the value of local community and place

4) more interest in sustainability and sustainable technologies

5) willingness to question our dependence on technology

6) willingness to question the adversarial nature of our political, economic, and legal systems

7) more awareness of the limitations of individual solutions to our problems

8) interest in having more citizen control of technological development

9) interest in developing greater democracy and capacity for collective intelligence

10) questioning what's really important: quantity of stuff vs quality of life?

11) interest in the underlying the causes of Y2K

Where I've come so far in my own thinking on this

The more grounded we are

the less we have to attend to sustainability issues. We just ARE sustainable.

But as we depart from these,

-- that is, as we move further and further outside that realm in which our bodies and minds evolved to intuitively know how to cope -- specifically, tribal communities that were embedded in local natural systems -- it becomes imperative that we have powerful corrective feedback systems, methods of collective perception and reflection, and ways to humble ourselves into respect for each other, the natural world and the essential mystery of life. Otherwise our adolescent arrogance will keep testing the limits of our power until we destroy ourselves and our civilization, massively and with immense and pointless suffering. We are on the verge of that now. The Sufi poet Rumi says:

Sit down and be quiet.
You are drunk
and this is the edge of the roof.

Some ways to generate community wisdom and collective intelligence

In a group: Listening circle - people truly listening to people truly speaking
In an organization or community: Open Space Technology - attendee-created conferences
In a polarized or confused culture: Fishbowl - bringing the issues into the light
In a society: Citizen Consensus Panels - a part can learn on behalf of the whole