Announcing MTAConf 2022: Decentralization of Power


MTAConf 2022 website now live.

Philosophers and political scientists have long debated the challenge of balanced and sustainable governance. The problem of collective action or preference coordination has kept power sharing limited. For most of recorded history, humanity has been compelled to choose between anarchy and tyranny, with power usually concentrated within a relatively small group led by a single dictator.

More recently, representative democracy has begun to gain favor over other more autocratic forms of government, improving preference coordination but still demanding significant compromises between expeditious execution and broad consensus gathering. The technologies used for democratic governance haven't undergone significant upgrades since the American experiment nearly 250 years ago.

Recent innovations commonly referred to as Web3 have made it possible to coordinate the preferences of large numbers of people in real time while providing greater information assurance than ever. In addition to preference coordination at massive scale, more complex, novel forms of coordination can be engineered that enable broader variety in the forms that government may take and render obsolete the traditional dichotomy of autocracy vs. anarchy. Constrained by the guardrails of these new technologies, it becomes possible for individuals and communities to pursue their own objectives while also promoting the common welfare. While protocols for decentralized governance are still in their infancy, they already show great promise. These technologies will enable corporations and countries to organize themselves more effectively and to understand the will of their constituents better and more instantaneously than before.

In addition to their potential benefit for the public and private sectors, Web3 technologies offer a solution to the problems posed by today's social media outlets, where centralized control over network infrastructure creates perverse incentives for value capture that weaken the social commons. Adverse outcomes from this value capture include disinformation campaigns, declines in mental health, election manipulation and even genocide. Web3 enables user- and community-owned social media alternatives that facilitate robust social interaction in which stakeholder incentives are properly aligned. A confluence of additional technological innovations are enabling

From an ethical perspective, it seems that the more we are capable of distributing and decentralizing the exercise of power while maintaining effective governance of shared resources, the less potential there will be for abuse of power, bureaucratic inefficiencies, or neglect of disenfranchised individuals.

“I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” — Joseph Smith

As religious transhumanists, we notice compelling theological underpinnings to these trends. Mormon pioneers were well-known for their resourcefulness, industry, and willingness to adopt unconventional methods of governance, establishing numerous settlements in the western frontiers of North America. The restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was governed by "common consent" (D&C 26:2), and the Book of Mormon speaks of the necessity of individual agency and responsibility, exhorting believers to avoid monarchy and "do [their] business by the voice of the people" (Mosiah 29:26). When asked how he was able to govern so many people effectively, Joseph Smith replied, "I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves" (John Taylor, “The Organization of the Church,” Millennial Star, Nov. 15, 1851, p. 339). Beyond its admonitions on earthly governance, Mormon theology teaches that the destiny of every follower of Christ is to be made "equal in power, and in might, and in dominion" to God (D&C 76:95), thus prescribing an optimal degree of power sharing and decentralization in the governance of heaven.

94353911_156250119204569_3885136604990816508_n.jpeg Saturday, 19 March 2022 - Provo City Library 9am - 5pm

catered dinner immediately following

The 2022 annual conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association will explore these topics and others related to decentralization, including:

  • Blockchain technology, distributed systems, conflict-free replicated data types (CRDTs), homomorphic encryption, cryptography, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), offline first apps, tokenomics, decentralized applications (dapps), decentralized finance (DeFi)
  • Fossil fuel divestment, renewable energy, advanced nuclear energy, advanced agriculture, decentralized infrastructure, telepresence, remote work, telecommuting
  • Public policy, governance, international development, charter cities, good urbanism, mass transit
  • Ethical and theological questions emerging from decentralization and governance, checks and balances, federalism and anti-federalism, democracy and representation, power sharing

The conference will take place on Saturday 19 Mar 2022 at the Provo City Library Ballroom from 9am to 5pm. Influential keynote speakers with expertise in these areas are currently being sought after, and we invite members and interested guests to submit papers for presentation at the conference. Papers should be submitted no later than 3 Jan 2022 to [email protected]. Papers should be targeted at an educated but non-expert audience. Accepted authors should plan on preparing a compelling presentation of their paper that lasts no more than twenty minutes. 50% travel reimbursement is available to accepted presenters who are voting members of the Association and live more than 300 miles from Provo. Lodging assistance is available with local Association members. Contact [email protected] for help coordinating a place to stay while you attend the conference from out of town.