Carin Ism

I work on governance innovation, on updating the tools available to distribute power and make/enforce decisions. I am the Director of Research at Bitnation, where I direct the Bitnation Future Governance Expedition, I am faculty in the future of governance at the Nordic branch of Singularity U. Before that I was Executive Director of the Global Challenges Foundation, I give talks on power and governance-related issues and offer advisory services to governments and IGOs. I am the chairman of Effective Altruism Sweden and run a live-in hackerspace in Stockholm and one in Amsterdam, both heavily informed by effective altruism. My current work emphasises applications of emerging tools for governance, ranging from algorithmic regulation to the power of escrow/multisignatories, reputation systems and what needs to be in place to get distributed autonomous organisations to actually work. If you do anything in the space of reimagining governance and power, do reach out. I am always interested in learning about new projects and perspectives.

Beyond this, my brain tends to ideate far outside of these specific domains. Apparently, it is yet to receive the memo stating that people should act like siloed entities and simplistic brands. Sometimes I indulge in these impulses and create art, lamps and literature. I publish some of the results here.

Talks

Power: The capacity to materialise our desires, to make others execute our wishes. Governance: Our attempts to organise power. The institutions, norms and practices we put in place to bring order to a world where we hold opposing desires and beliefs.

The nature and evolution of the topics are the focus in the talks I give to businesses, NGOs, IGOs and beyond. I highlight the new tools at out disposal, which are yet to be fully integrated in the bureaucracies that still define how our societies are constructed. Having found myself at the centre of governance innovation when leading the world’s biggest competition in social sciences, I draw from the 14,000+ teams that registered and express belief in their capacity to update the governance models at our current disposal.

 

 

TOPICS

How to rule a world?

To decide how we could better to rule the world, first, we must know how it is ruled today. This talk will provide you with an overview of old and new tools of governance. From classics - like the rule of law and social engineering - to next-generation mechanisms, featuring, among others, tokenised trust, prediction markets, teal for teal or liquid democracy.

Interplanetary Governance

New frontiers – whether the New World, Antarctica or, soon, outer space and other planets – have always provided green pastures for reflections on governance. These new worlds provide us with opportunities to design new systems of governance rather than tweaking the old. So, when we get to celestial bodies – be it our moon, Mars, the Galilean moons or beyond, how should we structure our governance? And who should be in charge? This talk provides an overview of the ideas currently being explored for the governance of other planets, as well as the key stakeholders involved.

A world of global citizens – What it looks like, what it calls for

Telecommunications, transport and global supply chains have brought people from across the planet closer together than ever. Yet in this world where messages, goods and people are more mobile than ever, the law remains closely tied to territory. How can we develop a new model of citizenship for these times of unprecedented mobility, offering a peaceful alternative to the rise of ethnic nationalism anchored in outdated forms of collective belonging? This talk offers an introduction to the various models that are currently discussed and developed, from ‘pop up’ citizenship models managed through decentralised online systems to new forms of global insurance systems - reflecting both on the practicalities of technical mechanisms and the underlying narratives and beliefs that guarantee their legitimacy.

Power in the 21st century

Weak mandates, a shifting geopolitical balance and technological disruption are shaking the foundations of power in the 21st Century. Building on the complementary work of leading contemporary thinkers – particularly the different voice of Moses Naim, Francis Fukuyama and Naomi Klein – this talk provides a walk through the changing characteristics of power today.

Bureaucracies, businesses and bold ambitions – The patchwork of global governance

As the role of the nation-state is waning, civil society, corporations and citizens are picking up the slack – not least due to the universal ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals. This talk offers a roadmap to navigate the increasingly complex and distributed landscape of global governance, including a walkthrough of key anchor institutions and their mandates.

Global catastrophic risks – A walkthrough of the world’s greatest threats and how to better address them

Averting global catastrophes – including nuclear war, catastrophic climate change, or risks associated to a destructive artificial intelligence – is among the most complex and pressing tasks of global governance. Collaborating with world-experts over the past three years, I led work at the Global Challenges Foundation surveying the global catastrophic risk landscape in an annual report. In this talk, I provide an overview of those risks and identify the main avenues to reduce or mitigate them.

The price of privacy lost – From Panopticon to Cambridge Analytica

From the Panopticon of the Victorian era to today’s Cambridge Analytica, surveillance has always been one of the central levers of power. With rapid technological advances paired with an overwhelming number of citizens more or less consciously trading privacy for convenience, the surveillance has become more granular than ever. This talk details the current state of mass surveillance and includes an optional workshop on how to navigate this reality while better protecting your data.

The architecture of trust – Blockchain 101

Trust is at the very core of any governance system. Ten years ago, a new technology revolutionising trust was widely introduced: blockchain. To understand its implications, we need to understand the technology itself. In this expose, this transformative new technology is explored in details, as well as its potential implications on trust and governance, and some of its most interesting applications.

How to start a state

This talk offers a 101 on starting a new state – or creating a virtual nation. From the sudden emergence of special jurisdictions and the now over 4,000 economic zones, to the dreams and realities of seasteading, this talks explores the seemingly eternal search for virgin territory and the possibility to start anew.