Chapter 9. Trends and Progress – Leading Positive Change

1896: Neoslavery Defeated (Reconstruction II)

Blackmon (2008)

Blackmon (2009)

In STEEPS categorization, this is a Political, Economic and Social counterfactual. There are many examples of regressive Supreme Court rulings, from Citizens United in 2010 right back to the start of our Republic. But some stand out as particularly poor, and we can only imagine how much better things might have eventually been if we’d gone a different direction. Let’s look at one now.

As the Pulitzer prize-winning author Douglas Blackmon explains in Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2009), an “Age of Neoslavery” emerged in America, in the aftermath of the civil war right up to the start of World War II, and discrimination of course continued after the war as well. See also Sam Pollard’s lovely PBS documentary, Slavery By Another Name (2012), which brings to life this shameful era of US history.

Pollard (2012)

Pollard (2012)

The North had outlawed slavery in all of its states by 1818. It took a Civil War, 1861-1865, the most terrible war we’ve ever had to fight by far, to get the South to understand it was subject to federal laws on this issue. Early after the Civil War, in a decade known as Radical Reconstruction (1867-1877), blacks were granted the right to vote, we had our first black congressman, Hiram Revels, 1877, fourteen black men served in the House of Representatives, and more than 600 served in Southern State legislatures, and blacks began attending state constitutional conventions. The end of Reconstruction in 1877, removed federal laws that provided civil rights protections in the south. White southerners organized paramilitary groups to push blacks out of government, and when federal troops finally withdrew from the south in 1877, violence against blacks escalated. It took a while for the bigots to kill off a decade of black advances. In the 1880s, a few blacks were still being elected to local offices in the South, but between 1890 and 1910, ten of the eleven former Confederate states passed new constitutions and a series of Jim Crow laws, including poll taxes, grandfather laws, and literacy tests, that progressively disenfranchised black voters, laws and actions designed to reverse every advance of the emerging black middle class.

jimcrowcarcartoonThe injustices continued to grow, and a key turning point was an 1896 Supreme Court challenge, Plessy vs. Ferguson, to policies of racial segregation in public facilities. This was a decision where the court could have turned the tide, noted the growing unfairness of treatment of blacks, the always inferior condition of black facilities versus white ones, which journalists lampooned in cartoons (right), and drawn a line in the sand. Instead, Plessy upheld the fiction that racial segregation could be “separate but equal”. It was approved in a 7 to 1 vote. In hindsight, two things are obvious. First, the Supreme Court was too conservative to make any other decision at that time, and second, the decision was obviously unfair, and would clearly legitimize all sorts of future discrimination. We human beings are incapable of creating separate but equal facilities. The very act of separating people, by force, into into two communities of unequal resources and upbringing, automatically creates and reinforces social inequalities.

School segregation was finally banned in another Supreme Court decision almost sixty years later, Brown vs Board of Education in 1954. Even then, it took another decade of civil rights activism, and more lives lost, before we finally started to see segregation ending in the South. Meanwhile restrictive housing covenants, real estate agent discrimination, educational discrimination, job discrimination, and many other forms of racist discrimination against blacks and other minorities emerged in the Age of Neoslavery. Milder forms of such discrimination persist and continue to be a stain on our society today. As recent news and the Black Lives Matter movement remind us, American blacks continue to be treated far worse by law enforcement and our criminal justice system, and by several indicators, are doing worse, not better, over time. For just one example, the wage gap between black and white workers is worse today than in 1979.

In our counterfactual, it would have taken a presidential order, and the reintroduction of troops into the South, as a reaction to the Plessy decision, to stop the continued rise of institutionalized racism and other forms of Neoslavery. Our congress would have had to initiate a smaller, second phase of Reconstruction, to acknowledge the backsliding that occurred since the first, and to resolve to do better. This kind of action would have had precedent. An earlier heartless and bigoted Supreme Court decision, Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1857 had argued that all blacks that were descendents of slaves were in fact “property”, and so could not be American citizens, and furthermore it was “unconstitutional” for the federal government to try to regulate slavery in the states. Dred Scott was destined to be radical no matter the decision, and it was only the second time the Supreme Court had ruled an Act of Congress to be unconstitutional. The ruling was widely reviled at the the time, as Northerners had expected the court to finally settle the slavery question against slaveholding, rather than ducking it as they did. Dred Scott is widely regarded as the worst Supreme Court decision ever, and became one of the major catalysts of the Civil War.

The Presidential election of 1896 was a complex and narrow race. The business-oriented Grover Cleveland barely edged out the populist, William Jennings Bryant. Bryant would have been more likely to stand up to Plessy, but in reality, either could have decided at that point to care about black Americans. The recognition of injustice has no party affiliation. In our counterfactual, the newly-elected president decided to display moral leadership after Plessy, by reminding Americans of the hateful Dred Scott decision, and by arguing that the court had again let down a large number of her citizens, after so terrible a price had been paid to secure their liberty. He could have then immediately moved troops back into the South, as a force to counter lynchers and the Klan, claiming that the violence and discrimination was again becoming threats to American security, and he could have worked with congress on a more modest and targeted second Reconstruction, with more handouts to cooperating Southern pacifists, and strategies to to address issues surrounding the violence and discrimination against black Americans, as well as the disenfranchisment of the poor of all races across America.

When unaccountable committees, like our Supreme Court justices, occasionally don’t do what they should do, the people and the leaders can still step up and fix the problem. This may be a very low-probability counterfactual, but we relay it nonetheless, as an example of a better past, and a much better present, that might have been. 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