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Seeing Plural

By E. Glen Weyl, Audrey Tang and ⿻ Community

Preface: Seeing Plural

“In order to carry out a positive action we must develop here a positive vision… It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.” — Dalai Lama XIV

The advent of the internet unfurled the world, illuminating paths forward. The transformative era of the 1960s bore witness to technology nursing the budding seeds of transculturalism, giving birth to digital communities that defied the constraints of geography and time. Through this digital bridge, knowledge blossomed across languages and cultures.

Yet, the surging wave of globalization carried with it divisions of social status and widening wealth disparity. The relentless march of progress, propelled by the currents of digital technology, engendered colossal tech industries, luring individuals into isolated islands of polarization. Consequently, democracy finds itself at a low tide. Authoritarian regimes, commanding nearly half of the global GDP, cast a disquieting shadow. Only a modest one billion people find solace under the umbrella of democratic systems, while 2.2 billion dwell under authoritarian rule.

Every culture, akin to a river, tells its own tale. We see the river of democracy as a conduit of hope. As its waters wane, we must replenish it with the rain of open-source technology, reminiscent of the meticulous artistry of Athena's tapestry and the boundless wisdom of communal synergy.

This book reveals potent insights into digital democracy from across the globe. Our goal is to magnify the strength and virtue of cognitive diversity across borders, mirroring the solidarity among the authors and contributors of this work.

In 2022, Taiwan proudly stood with over 60 nations in endorsing "The Declaration of the Future of the Internet," anchored by shared democratic ideals. A year later, in 2023, Denmark launched the "Digital Democracy Initiative" with the EU. Civil society, bridging societal divides, unfolds as we navigate the river of democracy towards a plural future. Our collective journey this time tells not a story of colonialism, but a saga of collaboration.

In Mandarin, 數位 embodies both "digital" and "plural," an ethos nurtured by the tradition of inclusive co-creation. Taiwan's democratic innovations, fortified by the commitment to digital rights, resonates with this spirit. Public collaboration, future-oriented in consciousness, eschews top-down dictates, favoring a secure and participatory cyberspace.

The idea of Plurality captures the symbiotic relationship between democracy and collaborative technology. The challenge of digitally transforming democracy might seem daunting, but it is not insurmountable. By fusing democracy with technology, as we've shaped science with diversity, we can weave a fabric of trust for the public to nurture and cherish, breathing new life into our river of democracy.

Life, a ripple of atoms — cosmic stardust — flourishes with infinite diversity in infinite combinations, reverberating through epochs of cultural fusion. The harmony extolled by ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras, the rule-altering power in J.R.R. Tolkien's Ainulindalë — these are us.

Within the atomic microcosm, a 'string' vibrates, much like a symphony. Those of us resonating with Plurality can foster collaborative diversity through interoperable coexistence. This book is an invitation to counter totalitarianism, avert extinction, and free the future — together.

When we see "internet of things," let's make it an internet of beings.

When we see "virtual reality," let's make it a shared reality.

When we see "machine learning," let's make it collaborative learning.

When we see "user experience," let's make it about human experience.

When we hear “the singularity is near” — let us remember: The Plurality is here.