At the centre of our world is power. A term referring to the capacity to influence others to materialise your will. As different desires stand in contrast to one another, struggles are a staple of human history. Leading our species to rely on governance – the architecture for power – that is, the norms, rules, protocols and institutions we use to make and enforce decisions, despite differences. In the best case, enabling societies perceived as just and prosperous.
It is redundant to state that societies have changed quickly and profoundly in recent years. We have all seen the exponential graphs describing how everything from population growth to emission rates is booming – in close correlation with technological advances. Yet, our governance structures have stayed remarkably intact. Whereas field after field of human activity has been impacted by digital technologies, no fundamental and agreed upon upgrades to the way we architect power have been made. Cross-pollination between the digital realm and governance design is long overdue.
FOGA was created for this reason: to bring innovation within governance to the forefront. Our aim is to make sure that the next chapter in the history of governance innovation can be less bloody and traumatic than the previous, where revolutions and wars midwifed many of the governance tools we rely on today.
FOGA’s role is that of a communicative link, between people with ideas and those well-positioned to advocate, prototype and implement them. FOGA, on one end, provides ideators with what they need: communication services, ways to package their innovations and give them reach. On the other end, FOGA offers upskilling ideas packages of ideas to actors within the institutions of today. This includes orientating talks, workshops and advisory services.
Lastly, FOGA conducts original research in particularly promising or neglected areas where foresight and governance intersect.
The principle is simple: if you want to round up a thousand nails – or in this case, an array of insightful ideas – rather than picking them up one by one, it’s easier to use a magnet. FOGA is designed to be that magnet.
Tailored talks and workshops
FOGA offers bespoke educational experiences, tailored to fit the needs of the specific organisation, conference or individual we work with. You can find a selection below, providing an overview of topics covered by FOGA's work.
Beyond a focus on emerging governance tools, FOGA highlights those already established. We place this emphasis on general power literacy as we recognise that a prerequisite for improving something is fully appreciating what is already in place, and why it exists.
A selection of these talks and workshops are:
For nearly four decades the open-source and free software contexts have offered creative protocols for collaboration and innovation, resulting in an array of digital solutions we’ve come to rely on. This walkthrough highlights the best practices that have been established and examine their relevance for improving public bodies.
From social credit scores and a plethora of blockchain patents, on a continued journey from one economic system to another, we look at the inner workings that make these major pivots possible and negate the idea that big necessarily means slow.
This term refers to humanity’s capacity to continuously have more and more output, with less and less input. A kind of magic that’s been apparent in the ephemeral digital space. As the proverbial cyberspace has become the place to “be”, one of the building blocks of our current societal construction is being challenged: the idea that the physical territory a person is situated on defines their rights and responsibilities. We take on this abstract topic with concrete cases and focus on the prospects for citizenship.
From e-citizenship and involving support in legislation, this educational experience is the remedy if you’re feeling overwhelmed and out of the loop. 5G, IoT, cyber-attacks, quantum computing, and distributed ledgers – we walk you through the landscape of buzzwords, decipher their meaning, and look at their impact on your context. The goal of this intervention is getting empowered enough to speak and act from a place of calm security rather than stress and impostor syndrome.
On the other side of fluctuating exchange rates, scams and imposing lingo lies a technology enabling efficiency, transparency and accountability. We focus on use cases, power dynamics and the difference between subversive chains and those confirming status quo.
Useful whether you’re a newly appointed MP who needs to wrap your head around your newfound context, a CEO realising you’re responsible for much more than a bottom line, or an upright citizen who snoozed in civics class and woke up to a world you didn’t quite like or understand. This crash course in the fundamentals is designed to give you tools to see both where and how power works.
From augmented reality and tailored propaganda to robot soldiers, autonomous weapons and the threat of an impending AI arms race – this orientation connects the dots and looks at the next generation of conflict in full resolution.
The very same technologies that could grant emancipation and make rules without rulers possible can – and are already – deployed for the sinister purposes. We examine the role of 3D-printers, solar energy, free software, and blockchain registers, examining how the connected world came to be the surveilling world. We look at the tensions, interests at play and the pros and cons of benevolent – and algorithmically supported – dictators.
This orientation looks at digital jurisdictions, participation platforms, net-states, authoritarianism, and post-truth contexts. We explore trends, threats, and possible pathways related to citizen engagement.
As the legal realities of space are being renegotiated, much is still uncertain regarding how settlements on other celestial bodies would be constituted. The clean slate this offers our imagination is the starting point for this workshop. Participants are encouraged to look at the full host of existing governance tools to structure the imagined future society in a manner so ideal it would feel livable to the participants themselves. We host this as a talk, workshop and – in the case of the dinner party – complete the experience with 3D-printed food and astro-aesthetics to match. This experience is suitable at the beginning of conferences or negotiations, as a way to jump-start the level of bold creativity needed to tackle governance gridlocks and bring the participants back to the basic end goals of what our governance design is meant to deliver.
As ideators from every era could report, just because you have something important to share doesn't mean it will be understood or heard. So, if you are at a place where you have a concept, or perhaps a proof of concept, and want to scale it, FOGA offers a host of communicative services.
Please note that FOGA’s services are not widely available. FOGA’s team assesses the ideas for feasibility and potential impact, and only takes on clients that are deemed capable of taking those ideas forward.
FOGA works with partners to conduct original research for new governance models and concrete applications of emerging governance tools. We prioritise projects based on neglectedness, assessed potential impact and feasibility.
Status: Whitepaper Completed
While binding agreements on a national level are generally backed by courts and the monopoly of violence, international agreements have significantly weaker enforcement mechanisms. Accountability often comes down to naming, shaming and acclaiming. Decades of insufficient action by civilisation to define issues like climate change and nuclear warfare demonstrate that this is nowhere near strong enough. FOGA has worked together with normative.io to remedy this, by developing a new means of enforcement.
In this whitepaper, we use the Paris Agreement on climate change to show how a consolidated reputation system – built on transactional data analysis, just like in the FICO score and Chinese social credit systems – can be used to hold companies, states and municipalities accountable. We have the algorithms necessary to produce a score showcasing how well an entity is adapting to the carbon law and requirements of the agreement. The focus of the work, however, lies in how to use that score to control what all emitting companies need: continuous access to capital.
Status: Study Ongoing
As private and public space initiatives indicate the imminent 20s as the decade where our species will be multi-planetary – or at least get a base on the moon – the legal landscape of space is being renegotiated. The Outer Space Treaty, ratified by 109 countries, is still the agreement in effect. It states that celestial bodies outside of earth are commons and that activities in space must be conducted in a way that benefits all humanity. To investigate what this could mean for actual settlements, FOGA’s cofounder Carin Ism has started to apply Elinor Ostrom's principles for the management of commons in Mars simulations. The first part of the study was completed in October 2019, when Ism lived in a simulation at Mount Everest in Nepal at 4,500 m. More simulations are scheduled for 2020 and 2021.
Looking at the future of governance is no small topic. Beginning to change governance protocols is a larger order yet. As such, we are looking to partner and collaborate with actors who have competence and anchoring in many fields. We put more emphasis on culture, aesthetics and popular culture than is the norm among think- and do-tanks today: the reason being how much communication and entertainment have evolved in recent decades, and how thought-leadership has emerged in previously unsuspected spaces. Currently, we are most interested in connecting with people and organisations falling into the following categories:
As FOGA's core is supporting governance innovation, continuously learning from new ideators in the space will be one of our primary activities for years to come. Whether you work in legal innovation, you are a political scientist or you have developed new frameworks for collaboration, we would love to know about your efforts.
Philanthropists today move mountains and rearrange the landscape of trust as a result. Private efforts to improve society have earned a reputation of being threats to public governance. Efforts to strengthen public institutions are indeed not the most common. With the scale of threats humanity faces, however, all resources are needed, and each resourced actor's specific advantage must be leveraged. We want to connect with philanthropists who see the need to support upgrades in our shared governance structures and understand institutions as a feat of human collaboration too impressive to simply override or disregard.
One of FOGA's big projects in 2020 relates to edutainment. We are looking to connect with people experienced in documentary film making, as well as drama production, for film, television, and streaming platforms.
FOGA is releasing an AR-exhibition about the fundamentals of power in mid-2020. Related to this, we are looking to connect with actors curating public and private spaces.
Memes have become a pleasant black swan and cornucopia of the 2010s. Their function as social glue is not to be understated. As such, FOGA is looking for meme curators and creators to carry forward the content FOGA will be releasing in the coming years through this powerful medium of storytelling.