Notes from RadicalxChange Singapore’s first meetup
A designer, a developer, a community organiser, a data scientist, a marketing executive, an asker of questions, a historian, a computer science student, and an astronomer walk into a shophouse on Jln Pinang…
On the last day of February 2019, a group of 18-odd people came together on the third floor of a shophouse in Singapore’s historic city centre, to talk about existing political and socioeconomic systems, and to engage with new ways of thinking about them. Here are some ideas that emerged from RadicalxChange Singapore’s first meetup:
We were a diverse group, ranging from students to Gen-Xers, across non-technical and technical interests, and wide-ranging motivations (including healthcare, human-centred design, and active citizenry). The fact that we did not agree on a set of universal axioms — for instance, less than half of us had read Radical Markets — grounded our conversations in real-world concerns and pushed them beyond platitudes and echo chambers. Assumptions were challenged through questions like “Why are these solutions all software-related?”, or “Why should the average person on the street care?”
Locality: the Singaporean context
Our discussion was rooted in Singaporean politics and socioeconomic trends: for instance, the Land Acquisition Act and extensive public housing defining the property market; attitudes and regulations around free speech and activism; affluence and inequality, to name a few. To seriously consider radical ideas is to inform them with local context. Proposals like Harberger taxes, quadratic voting, and immigration markets will look very different in Singapore than in North America, where much of the RxC movement originated.
Locality also offers the advantage of physical human-scale communities. Dunbar’s number is the theory that human organisations have a natural optimal group size. Meeting up in “meatspace” offers a natural limiting factor to the group size; we’re excited to see pockets of alternative spaces become more numerous in Singapore.
Governance and open organisations
In many ways, each RxC chapter offers an experiment in self-organisation. One of the main questions which emerged was how a diverse group can meaningfully engage with each other. Frameworks for open organisations, such as colony.io and aragon.org, have been gaining popularity in many open-source software and blockchain projects. Open-source forums like Discourse have also allowed for transparent collaborative discussions and working groups.
As a start, we’ll be using Telegram (t.me/rxcsg) for shortform communications, and the RadicalxChange Discourse forum (forum.radicalxchange.org) for longform collaborative discussions about project ideas and meetup resources (which will hopefully be useful to other chapters as well).
List of project ideas
We started the meetup with a high-level discussion on systems, trends in politics and socioeconomics; later on, a list of concrete project ideas emerged from a freeform discussion. We list them here as an overview, and direct the reader to https://forum.radicalxchange.org/t/rxc-labs-project-ideas/119 to continue the discussion.
Modelling and communication
- Agent-based modelling of COST
- one of us had mentioned that initial toy experiments with COST Monopoly had led to runaways/winners emerging in spite of the Harberger tax;
- further numerical explorations (for instance, with different information models and distributions of wealth) could be informative.
- More accessible infographics for Radical Markets ideas; digital brochures covering use-cases in local context
Governance and discourse
- Exploring models for RxC Decentralised Autonomous Organisation
- the design space could include subdomains, reputation, governance, funding, time/reward tokens, etc.;
- on-chain governance and open-source software projects (e.g. colony.io, aragon.org) can serve as good references.
- Quadratic opinion polling on public policies
- quadratic voting for attitudinal research has been studied as an alternative to traditional Likert scales;
- experimenting with quadratic opinion polling in Singapore (not during or near elections, due to the Blackout period for election survey results).
Facilitating Radical Markets
- Scarcity and licensing for digital art
- Open Art Consortium and Chemistry have been scoping out a way to tokenise digital art and track its usage and payment;
- the project is moving forward and looking for technical perspectives from engineers and develop.
- Coercion-resistant quadratic voting with zkSNARKs
- Semaphore and mixnets can enable coercion-resistant voting with zkSNARKS;
- adding a quadratic voting element and considering Sybil resistance would be interesting.
- Smart contracts for liquidity and licensing in bone marrow donor registries
- many bone marrow donor registries face bottlenecks in raising money to recruit donors;
- #DeFi instruments to allow small registries to raise funds and enter licensing agreements with investors could improve liquidity and efficiency of registries
Some “proto-ideas” (general directions without specific projects) also came up:
- better healthcare: mitigating the profit motives of big pharma
- moving beyond charity: more sustainable community initiatives for the poor and elderly
Our next meetup
We are collaboratively deciding on an agenda for our next meetup. Preliminary ideas include: a showcase on data sovereignty projects (e.g. mesh networks, p2p file sharing); a guest lecture on mechanism design; an overview of blockchain projects in #DeFi, privacy and identity, and open governance. If you have an idea or a project to share, don’t hesitate to reach out (see next section for communication channels).
In any case, save the date 11 April 2019 and sign up at https://www.meetup.com/RadicalxChange-Singapore/events/259425910/.
Join the conversation
Leave us comments for the first meetup at tinyurl.com/rxcsg, or on this Medium post.
Join our Telegram group t.me/rxcsg for shortform communications and questions; join the wider conversation at forum.radicalxchange.org for longform collaborative discussions on projects and chapter resources.
We’ll be posting minutes for all our meetups on our open Github repository, https://github.com/RadxChangeSG/RadxChangeSG/tree/master/meetup-minutes.
Do you know of other communities and people we should get in touch with? Do you want to find out more or get involved? Let us know at email@example.com.
Finally, do apply for a community scholarship for RxC Detroit (if that’s accessible to you).
Thank you to: everyone who came, and also those who meant to come but couldn’t make it; Chemistry for their invaluable support their beautiful shophouse; the wider RxC community for their guidance and inclusivity.