Chapter 9. Trends and Progress – Leading Positive Change

1000 CE: A Norse Democracy in America

Leif Erikson explores and settles North America, 1000 CE (Christian Krogh, 1893)

Leif Erikson explores North America, 1000 CE (Christian Krogh, 1893)

In STEEPS categorization, this is a PoliticalEconomic and Social counterfactual. In 1000 CE, could the Norse Vikings have successfully colonized Newfoundland Island, bringing North America a Norse democracy, 700 years before the United States? It certainly looks to be the case. Norse democracy began in Iceland in 930 CE. The Norse Greenland settlement began in 980, and it lasted for an amazing 500 years. One thing you could say about the Norsemen, is that they were tenacious. At its high point, the Norse Greenland settlement had at least 400 low-producing farms and a community of 2,500 souls.

The Norse loved islands, places where their sailing skills gave them natural advantages. As recorded in the Icelandic Sagas, and later partly verified via archeology, Leif Erikson scouted and wintered on the northern tip of Newfoundland in 1001. His brother Thorvald sailed there again in 1004, wintering at Lief’s camp. Thorvald was killed in hostilities with the Native Americans. In 1009, Thorfinn Karlsefni took a three ship settlement from Greenland to Newfoundland with between 160 and 250 settlers. They settled at L’Anse aux Meadows, again on the northern tip of Newfoundland. L’Anse was a strategic and easy-to-find location, on the tip of a peninsula watching the Gulf of St. Lawrence separating the island from the mainland. In 2015, satellite imagery and magnetometer readings discovered a likely second Norse settlement on Newfoundland, an iron-working camp on the southwest coast at Point Rosee.

Like Thorvald’s expedition, the L’Anse aux Meadows settlement started peacefully, and included trading with the local Native Americans, but it also eventually ended in violence, with a local tribe attacking them in force, and the only known baby dying in the process. We have no written or historical evidence of Norse settlements in North America after this.

Josephy (1994)

Josephy (1994)

Yet the Norse were so close to succeeding! If at any point over those 500 years the Norse had had the foresight to run two or three settlements in parallel, each on different islands in the North America, they would have been in different Indian territories, and they very likely would have thrived there. Each Indian tribe was very different in the way it interacted with outsiders, and communication between tribes was often quite sporadic. Some tribes would have become great allies of the Norsesmen, and others enemies. Even if all the tribes had eventually attacked the outsiders, they would have attacked at different times, as their cultures, practices, beliefs, and languages were often quite different from each other. Alvin Josephy’s lovely book, 500 Nations: An Illustrated History of North American Indians (1994), and Jack Leustig’s six-part documentary, 500 Nations (2007) are an excellent introduction Native American history and how different various Indian cultures were. 

The Norse abilities to navigate and trade over long distances along the shoreline, to create outpost camps, and to move their settlements via ship, was an undefeatable strategic advantage. Had Norse leaders recognized this, while also recognizing the diversity and political differences in the indigenous peoples at each campsite, they could have always had a few parallel North American settlements going at any time. There were many islands available to settle south of Newfoundland, including Fogo Island, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton Island, Martha’s Vinyard, and of course the Bahamas and the Caribbean Islands. There were likely also many less-inhabited areas of the mainland whose use could have been negotiated with local peoples.

If Norse settlements and Norse democracy had flourished in North America, beginning in 1000 CE, would the Norse have treated the indigenous peoples better than we did in the USA, Canada, and Australia, giving them space for their own culture rather than forcing them into ours? If you’ve ever met the Finnish Sami peoples, you can imagine a very different past and present for Native Americans than American Indian boarding schools, the reservation system, the trail of tears and Indian gaming casinos that emerged in our own shameful treatment of indigenous Americans. We also would have had a complex technological democracy on the vast, fertile, and geographically isolated North American continent 700 years earlier than we did.

What a different and better world we might have had! Again, foresight matters!

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Table of Contents


Chapter 2. Personal Foresight – Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 2: Personal Foresight

Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 4. Models – Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 4: Models

Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 7. Acceleration – Guiding Our Extraordinary Future

Chapter 7: Acceleration

Guiding Our Extraordinary Future (In Process)

II. Global Progress: 5 Goals, 10 Values, Many Trends

Innovation: Our Abundant Future
Intelligence: Our Augmented Future
Interdependence: Our Civil Future
Immunity: Our Protected Future
Sustainability: Our Rebalanced Future

III. Universal Accelerating Change

Great Race to Inner Space: Our Surprising Future
Entropy&Information: We’re Running Down & Up
The Puzzle of Meaning: We Have No Einstein Yet
Trees, Funnels & Landscapes: Intro to Evo Devo
Big Picture Change: Five Scales of Accelerating ED
Transcension Hypothesis: Where Acceleratn Ends?
IDABDAK: Social Response to Accel & Developmnt
We’re On a Runaway Train: Being Accelaware

IV. Evo Devo and Exponential Foresight

Seeing It All: Accel., Diverg, Adapt, Convrg, Decel.
Natural (I4S) Innovation: The Evolutionary Drive
Natural (I4S) Intelligence: The Human-AI Partnership
Natural (I4S) Morality: Why Empathy and Ethics Rule
Natural (I4S) Security: Strength from Disruption
Natural (I4S) Sustainability: The Developmental Drive
S-Curves: Managing the Four Constituencies
Pain to Gain: Traversing the Three Kuznets Phases
Hype to Reality: Beyond Hype Cycles to Reality Checks
Exponentials Database: Measuring Accelerations
TINA Trends: Societal Evolutionary Development
Managing Change: STEEPCOP Events, Probs, Ideas
A Great Shift: A Survival to a Sentient Economy

V. Evo Devo and Exponential Activism

Building Protopias: Five Goals of Social Progress
Normative Foresight: Ten Values of Society
Top & STEEPCOP Acceleratns: Positive & Negative
Dystopias, Risks, and Failure States
Three Levels of Activism: People, Tech & Universe
A Great Opportunity: Exponential Empowerment


Chapter 8. Your Digital Self – The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

Chapter 8: Your Digital Self

The Human Face of the Coming Singularity (In Process)

I. Your Personal AI (PAI): Your Digital Self

Digital Society: Data, Mediation, and Agents
Personal AIs: Advancing the Five Goals
PAI Innovation: Abundance and Diversity
PAI Intelligence: Bio-Inspired AI
PAI Morality: Selection and Groupnets
PAI Security: Safe Learning Agents
PAI Sustainability: Science and Balance
The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

II. PAI Protopias & Dystopias in 8 Domains

1. Personal Agents: News, Ent., Education
2. Social Agents: Relat. and Social Justice
3. Political Agents :  Activism & Represent.
4. Economic Agents:  Retail, Finance, Entrep
5. Builder Agents :  Work, Innov. & Science
6. Environ. Agents : Pop. and Sustainability
7. Health Agents :  Health, Wellness, Death
8. Security Agents :  Def., Crime, Corrections

III. PAI Activism & Exponential Empowerment

Next Government: PAIs, Groupnets, Democ.
Next Economy: Creat. Destr. & Basic Income
Next Society: PAI Ent., Mortality & Uploading
What Will Your PAI Contribution Be?

Chapter 10. Startup Ideas – Great Product & Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs

Chapter 10: Startup Ideas

Great Product and Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs (In Process)

I. 4U’s Idea Hub: Building Better Futures

Air Deliveries and Air Taxis: Finally Solving Urban Gridlock
Ballistic Shields and Gun Control: Protecting Us All from Lone Shooters
Bioinspiration Wiki: Biomimetics and Bio-Inspired Design
Brain Preservation Services: Memory and Mortality Redefined
Carcams: Document Thieves, Bad Driving, and Bad Behavior
Competition in Govt Services: Less Corruption, More Innovation
Computer Adaptive Education (CAE): Better Learning and Training
Conversational Deep Learning Devsuites: Millions of AI Coders
Digital Tables: Telepresence, Games, Entertainment & Education
Dynaships: Sustainable Low-Speed Cargo Shipping
Electromagnetic Suspension: Nausea-Free Working & Reading in Cars
Epigenetic Health Tests: Cellular Aging, Bad Diet, Body Abuse Feedback
Fireline Explosives and Ember Drones: Next-Gen Fire Control
Global English: Empowering the Next Generation of Global Youth
Greenbots: Drone Seeders and Robotic Waterers for Mass Regreening
High-Density Housing and Zoning: Making Our Cities Affordable Again
Highway Enclosures and Trail Networks: Green and Quiet Urban Space
Inflatable Packaging: Faster and Greener Shipping and Returns
Internet of Families: Connecting People Over Things
Kidcams: Next-Gen Security for Child Safety and Empowerment
Kidpods: Indoor & Outdoor Parent-Assistive Toyboxes
Microdesalination: Democratizing Sustainable Fresh Water Production
Noise Monitors: Documenting and Reducing Noise Pollution
Oceanside Baths: Sustainable Year Round Beach Enjoyment
Open Blood Scanners: DIY Citizen Health Care Sensor Tech
Open Streaming Radio: User-Centered Audio Creation and Rating
Open Streaming Video: User-Centered Video Creation and Rating
Open Values Filters: Social Rankers, Arg. Mappers, and Consensus Finders
Personal AIs: Your Private Advisor, Activist, and Interface to the World
Pet Empowerment: Next-Gen Rights and Abilities for Our Domestic Animals
Safe Closets: Fire-, Earthquake-, and Intruder-Proof Retreat Spaces
Safe Cars: Reducing Our Insane 1.3M Annual Auto Deaths Today
Safe Motorcycles: Lane Splitting in Gridlock Without Risk of Death
Shared Value Insurance: User-Centered Risk Reduction Services
Sleeperbuses and Microhotels: Demonetized Intercity Travel
Space-Based Solar Power: Stratellite Powering and Weather Management
Stratellites: Next-Gen Urban Broadband, Transparency, and Security
Touch DNA: Next-Gen Home Security and Crime Deterrence
View Towers: Improving Urban Walkability, Inspiration, and Community

Chapter 11. Evo Devo Foresight – Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Chapter 11: Evo Devo Foresight

Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Appendix 1. Peer Advice – Building a Successful Foresight Practice