A conscious approach to Web3
How Highvibe Network is charting the path towards a more humane internet
Friends, we’re taking a new tack this time around. This is Part I of Medium Energy’s first sponsored company ‘deep dive’. This series will be a trilogy, with Part II and III releasing in early Summer.
The origins of this essay trace to my favorite Medium Energy piece, ‘The Ultimate Promise of the Metaverse’. It explores how immersive tech and Web3 could be used to heal some of our greatest human afflictions; a lack of connection, a lack of meaning, and a lack of imagination, inspiration, and growth.
Recently, the founder of a company called Highvibe Network pinged me and said, “Hey, that vision from your essay? It’s real. We’re building it. Let’s chat.”
This is Highvibe’s story…. and this is why I’m so optimistic about our digital-first future.
“To become more conscious is the greatest gift anyone can give to the world; moreover, in a ripple effect, the gift comes back to its source.”
— David R. Hawkins
We've all experienced it. You plop on the couch after a long day, filled with some ups and downs. Without any conscious intent, you pull up your phone and tap open your favorite social media app. A giggling girl cuts her fork into an oozing chocolate soufflé, an exuberant bro shills a crypto token that made him millions, a stunning blonde with the perfect body jumps off the back of a yacht into crystal clear water, someone flashes an obnoxiously large engagement ring, a mainstream media goon shouts about their latest cancel culture victim, a financial 'expert' warns of a falling sky; with a mix of inflation, global debt, and political unrest. Your eyes dart, your pupils dilate, and you scroll, and you scroll, and you scroll.
Thirty minutes passes in a blink. How do you typically feel? Smarter? Peaceful? Re-energized? Motivated? Ready to process your problems, wake up, and do it all again?
We've all fallen victim to the doom scroll. Be it Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram; name the social media dwelling of choice. It was never our intention, but all too often, we succumb to these finely tuned machines of seduction. Machines trained to hijack our attention, backed by business models designed to extract the maximum value from its creators.
Some people are better at avoiding this trap than others. Some can tune out the sudden craving for dessert, the longing for a tropical vacation, the bias of mainstream media, or the shame of not being able to afford that yacht or ring. And perhaps the occasional creator can break away from the shackles of centralized platforms, drawing their audience to a domain they own/operate. But on a macro scale, this is not the case. Exploitation and extraction (of our attention/time) is the digital water we swim in. The bulk of the social internet has been designed from the ground up to facilitate these types of experiences, leading to a proliferating narrative that tech is bad for our humanity.
Now, if our 2D internet is such a mess, can you imagine an immersive, 3D internet (aka: a metaverse)? Amplifying digital garbage all around us? I hear this fear all too often. Heck, who am I kidding.... It's a fear I have as well. I don't have kids yet. But I imagine one day I will, and I am indeed terrified of a version of the metaverse that will strip them of their humanity. A version that will shape them into biological versions of the very algorithms weaving the fabric of these formative social domains. And that's coming from a metaverse guy!
When these thoughts creep up, or when someone laments, I try to point to examples of the metaverse done right. Examples of the internet being redesigned from first principles. There are many compelling projects emerging, across both Web2 and Web3. But my go-to example is a project called Highvibe Network.
I recently asked their founder, Faiz Nazarali, about this problem. He used an old Native American story to frame his answer:
One day an old Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson. He said, "There are two wolves fighting inside all of us - the wolf of fear and hate, and the wolf of love and peace." The grandson listened, then looked up at his grandfather and asked, "Which one will win?"
The grandfather replied, "The one we feed."
The point being; technology at its core is neutral. It's neither good nor bad. But its inputs are important. Like the wolf, it will become what we feed.
An imagined alternative
Now let's imagine an alternate scenario…
You plop down on the couch after a long day, filled with ups and downs. You tap the Highvibe app on your phone and switch your glasses to VR mode. Suddenly, you're immersed not in an algorithmic social feed, but a place. A virtual place of your own imagination; reflecting your values, your aspirations, and your passions. This place facilitates solitude and provides time to pause and process the afflictions of your day (not numb them). Within these initial minutes, time doesn't disappear into a black hole of diffuse attention. Time becomes an ally, producing a narrowed attention filled with intentionality and reflection.
As you settle in, you become awash in waves of soothing music, surrounding you entirely via spatial audio, wrapping you with a sense of calm. The music is tuned to high vibrational frequencies proven to heighten emotional states and soothe the nervous system. The melody is beautiful; a blend of ancient hymns with modern instrumentals. Who is this artist?
You summon their profile and click on the album, produced by a group called 'Uma Sai'. The artist’s name is Nawashahu, from the Yawanawa people of the Brazilian Amazon. The album appears to be a collaboration with a diverse group of global artists; funded by an NFT collection and showing transparent royalties passed back to a treasury for the tribe.
You tap on the collection. It's an array of immersive experiences, with visuals that bend and flow with the melody of the music. One of the top collectors is your favorite mindfulness creator. His profile is glowing, indicating he's hosting a live speaking session. You jump into the session and are transported into a new virtual realm, sitting on a platform amidst the tree tops of a luscious rain forest. It's a tropical tree house of sorts, complete with a rooftop lounge. The sun is setting behind the canopy of trees, casting an auburn glow over the sea of green and glistening off the backs of flocking birds, spiraling in unison this way and that.
The creator’s avatar is hosting a virtual panel. Other avatars are sitting all around, listening with intent. With him are leaders from the Yawanawa tribe, explaining their culture, the healing power of their music, and their ancient wisdom that holds an eerie relevance and antidote to the digital first world. You learn their singing techniques, you learn how they embrace impermanence of all things, you learn how they slow themselves down to listen to their intuition. The conversation refers to these practices as our 'ancient future'; critical wisdom and skills from our ancient past that are needed to thrive in a hyper digital present (and beyond).
Compelled by this newfound knowledge, you share the session out to your network. A faint signal appears in the top of your field of view: +5 $VIBES tokens for this contribution to the network. An old friend suddenly appears next to you. You haven't seen him since college. As the speaking session ends, you both head down into the common area of this tree house and catch up on lost time. He's become a prolific writer, educating the world on the psychological and spiritual impact of technology at both the individual and societal level. His writing focuses on how AI, immersive tech, and online connectivity can enhance the human experience, exploring how we can cultivate the promise and avoid the perils.
He shares his first white paper on the topic (which comes with +50 $VIBES tokens upon reading to completion). As you say your goodbyes, he also invites you to join a DAO that helps fund and support more ancient and living cultures like the Yawanawa; funding their art, educating them on the tech, and helping them monetize their unique cultural expression within this new digital economy. The DAO views this knowledge as an ancient technology, holding the keys to retaining our humanity as technology continues to fuse with our sense of self.
As you materialize back into your personal den, you're struck by curiosity. This friend was not the same person you remember from college. He's much wiser, much more grounded. How did he transform himself in such a way? How was he able to uncover such a clear sense of purpose? You switch your glasses into AR mode and come back into the physical living room. You anchor a virtual panel in front of you with his social profile. It reveals his personal social feed. It's a shared 'playlist' of his favorite content and experiences on the network, not one of those generalized, algorithmic feeds of the past. You filter the feed to the experiences that yielded him the most Vibes tokens: +200 for a seminar on using AR experiences to enhance relationships, +50 for reading an article on training your personal AI to better understand your emotional state and needs, + 400 for a weekend meditation retreat. You bookmark them all and share with your partner to explore each as a couple. +10 $VIBES tokens for the share.
A subtle gong rings, gently reminding you to wrap up your session. The system knows your preferences and helps ensure you don't spend too much time plugged in.You remove your AR glasses and glance at the clock. Only forty minutes have passed. Just in time for supper with the family. You head down stairs, energized, recharged, and eager to share your newfound knowledge with your partner and kids.
Attention in Web3
Upon first reaction, our second scenario might seem far fetched and fantastical. Especially in contrast to how we typically allocate our attention online today. Sure, immersive tech needs to improve an order of magnitude to produce the fidelity required for lasting emotional impact and connection. But given the current pace of acceleration, is it so hard to believe we'll be there within the next 7-10 years? I see the most cutting edge companies in this space on a daily basis and I'm telling you now; we're on the cusp. This timeline is not too far fetched.
With disbelief suspended... Perhaps these experiences are indeed possible. Perhaps the challenge doesn't lie with the technology, but rather in finding leaders willing to re-examine the value of our attention. After all, is attention not our most valuable asset? Is it not the individual's most finite resource in the world? Attention is how we achieve agency over our focus, our thoughts, and our heart space. It's how we design and build a life with intention, and a life of purpose. If we believe this to be true, then what happens to the human experience as we live increasingly 'online'?
These are the questions inspiring the mission of Highvibe Network, and the vision of its founder, Faiz Nazarali.
Faiz is a rare soul amidst a sea of profit seeking tech entrepreneurs. He combines the humanistic values of an artist and a shaman, with the pragmatic, commercial sensibilities required to build something of scale. His vision is eerily similar to the imagined future in my last essay on this topic, 'The Ultimate Promise of the Metaverse'. It explores how immersive tech can help people find connection and ‘meaning’ on-demand; tapping into transcendent experiences that 'nourish the soul' and 'reconfigure the imagination'. Experiences like the astronaut’s ‘overview effect’, shocking the system and resetting perspective. Experiences that heal people of despair. Walker Percy has a beautiful quote that best encapsulates this idea.
“The search is what anyone would undertake if they were not sunk in the everydayness of their own lives. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be on to something, and not to be on to something is to be in despair.”- Walker Percy
Today's social media can cause forms of self-hypnosis; a trance of anxiety and depression, incessant mental loops powered by obsession with self, conceived of made up stories about our individual problems and abilities, or about our futures and perceived pasts. In this state of mind, we become 'sunk in the everydayness' of our own lives, forgetting who we are, what we’re capable of, and what makes us truly happy. The only remedy is to ‘become aware of the possibility of the search’, aware of that kernel of light and possibility within.
Faiz believes properly designed and curated immersive experiences in the metaverse can shine such a light. He also believes in the power of attention to heal, not extract. He's seen how attention can send energy across a room during ancient medicine ceremonies, shifting and healing people in ways that are difficult to comprehend. This might sound too mystical or 'hippie woo woo' for your liking. But I too have seen this happen first hand within medicine ceremonies, and it is very real, indeed.
What if we could amplify this power of attention with augmented/virtual reality; using it to transcend space and time to impact people in entirely new ways, all over the world? What if we could use tokens and well designed incentive mechanisms to shift the internet's business model, and in turn, the behavior of all participants? Moving the web from one powered by a misaligned, attention based economy, to a fully aligned, experience based economy? Or at least, towards a system designed to align our attention to things we care about. Not things we're led to believe we should care about. Before exploring these questions, let's address why this shift in business model is so needed.
The 'Adversarial Web' vs. The 'Aligned Web’
Our opening scene is an emergent property of 'the attention economy'; the dominant paradigm of today's web (aka: Web2), particularly the properties that rely on ad-based business models. Unfortunately, this is the majority of Web2 and it has led to what writer/technologist Jon Stokes calls the 'adversarial web'; one that relies on intense data collection to analyze you, identify you, and experiment on you in order to modify your behavior. In doing so, its sole intent is to shape your attention into a biddable consumer in the form of a data graph. As Stokes says, "this system doesn't care if you become a white supremacist or a BLM activist, as long as you're hitting certain engagement and behavioral metrics."
Stokes goes on to summarize the core problem of Web2 better than I ever could, recapping his experience in educating his daughter on Web2 vs. Web3.
"The intelligent, adaptive machinery of the ad-driven, adversarial web doesn't know about positive concepts like excellence, empathy, virtue, civic duty, truth, health, or beauty, nor does it recognize negative ones like vice, strife, indolence, ugliness, decay, or lies. It functions in an entirely different universe of abstractions (engagement, conversion, time on site, net promoter score, reach, viral coefficient, etc.) that's just totally unrelated to most of the things we're trying to teach her at her age. Web2 pursues its own agenda on its own terms, and what happens to the spiritual and physical health of her and her generation is largely irrelevant to it. It simply does not care because it wasn't ever designed to."
This outcome is not the result of demonic Web2 entrepreneurs and leaders, twisting their evil mustaches in an ivory tower. Per Stokes, it happened due to a misalignment of incentives, rooted in how money flows through the system. In a sentence, running privately owned, global internet infrastructure (aka: data centers) at scale is incredibly expensive. And if we want social media services to be free, someone has to pay the piper. That ‘someone’ is a brand in exchange for your attention. Jon's article is a must read, and a great way to understand how his money flows today vs. in Web3 (Web3: The Rise of the Aligned Web).
I know what you're thinking. The Highvibe vision and an 'aligned' web sounds a bit utopian and too good to be true. Plenty of ambitious founders have tried to thread the needle of altruism with technology and a bold vision. Most have failed. And many in spectacular fashion. So what makes Highvibe Network different? We'll start with HVN's mission, and then cover why Web3 is the right approach.
Mission: In a sentence, HVN's mission is to help humanity align our inner technology with our external technology.
Alongside the ongoing boundless innovation in high tech, there's an ongoing explosion in wellness, mental health, and conscious living. Consumers are waking up to the power of what HVN calls 'inner tech'; things like the breath for mindfulness, the microbiome for our emotions, the default mode network for our self-perception, the nervous system’s response to nature, and play/wonder to increase wellbeing and connection.
HVN understands the risk of a metaverse that disconnects us from these things and our humanity. To mitigate this risk, HVN is empowering a growing ecosystem of creators, wellness practitioners, entrepreneurs, and mystics who excel at harnessing this inner tech. Particularly, by providing Web3 tools to better build and scale experiences that satisfy our deep human needs of growth and connection. These tools are accompanied by bridges and tunnels between Web3 apps, along with game mechanics to facilitate connection and aligned interests. The end result is the wonderfully emergent properties of free market dynamics (many of which we can't yet predict), within the largest interoperable wellness community in the world; an inspiring milieu of Visual Art, Music, Wellness, DeFi, NFTs, Virtual Experiences (VX), Festivals, Online Learning, Personal Development, Sustainable Living, Nutrition, and more.
In Part II, I'll discuss exactly what these Web3 tools are, how they work, and what use cases they'll enable. But first, let's address the 'so what' of Web 3. Why is Web3 needed to bring this to fruition, and what are the implications?
The primary breakthrough with this Web3 based approach are tokens, of both the fungible ($VIBES) and non-fungible variety (NFTS). Combined with permissionless networks, and open/transparent ledgers, these assets also give rise to new forms of human coordination and resource allocation.
At the platform level, tokens align a network of participants around a common interest. Everyone has shared skin in the game, and everyone benefits from the network's growth.
Tokens also enable the evolution of internet business models, and in turn user behavior, eroding an attention based economy in favor of an experience based economy. One in which the platform, the users, and the creators are incentivized to provide experiences that steward our fragile, caveman emotions versus - hijacking and manipulating them. In contrast to needing ad dollars to fuel attention extraction (at any expense), HVN can fund its business with nominal transaction fees to fuel attention nourishment. Where TikTok, YouTube, and Meta keep the lights on with ad dollars, HVN takes a 3% marketplace transaction fee: 1% to fund its DAO treasury, 1% to fund network operations, and 1% to the Highvibe Impact fund (which is governed by the $VIBES Token Holders). The goal is to become completely decentralized, letting the DAO takeover operations of the network. This is a common Web3 playbook; start centralized to achieve escape velocity, and then hand the reins to the community upon entry into orbit.
At the end-user level, tokens allow anyone to become an investor, anyone to access or provide capital with ease, and anything to be turned into an asset. They also help the supporters of a creator coalesce as a community, own a piece of the project's success, and gain increasing rewards for adding value to that project (rewards that can be both virtual and/or redeemable for something in the real world). In turn, the creator is empowered with an army of evangelists (what I often call a ‘marketing swarm’) and the ability to bootstrap any project they imagine, no permission required. They will also have a direct relationship with their fans, controlling how they choose to engage and transact, and even allowing fans to influence and shape a project. In short, these Web3 building blocks enhance the three primary pillars of a creator's success: community curation and management, content monetization and distribution, and audience engagement.
DAOs: The future of human coordination
DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) are effectively an internet native company, minus the hierarchy, minus the top down power structure, and minus the rigid roles/responsibilities. Powered by blockchains, tokens, and smart contracts, DAOs enable a digitally native form of resource accrual, management, and allocation; allowing anyone to organize a community with a sense of purpose, backed by a treasury to fund its efforts.
This could be something philanthropic like wildlife conservation, something social like festival curation, something opportunistic like investing in other creators, or something educational like an online school or course. This is often referred to as the 'collectivization of finance'; bringing together a group with shared interests to better support each other and a project. In doing so, the probability of success is increased and the downside diminished.
Within these groups, DAOs are the form of coordination and governance, Discord and Twitter are the new board rooms, smart contracts the means of execution, and blockchains/crypto the rails and engines for value transfer and accrual. All of which can be brought to life with an internet connection and a few clicks, in an entirely permissionless way. It doesn't matter if you're a 14 year old learning to program, or a 70 year old looking for a new-age hobby. There's no boss granting you permission. No one judges your potential skills. Anyone can jump in, start rowing, and earn tokens for whatever output they can muster.
It's meritocracy at its finest, and a compelling case study in the future of remote/gig work. For an enjoyable and digetable primers on DAOs, check out this article by Mario Gabriele, “DAOs: Absorbing the Internet”.
Making functional entertainment more viable
As traditional jobs decline over the next decade, the tokenization + financialization of media, experiences, and group interests is going to become increasingly important.
With the advent of AI and robotics, many believe entertainment and creative expression could become how large swaths of people make a living. This could be as both a creator or a 'consumer'. Play-to-earn games within Web3 are a current example, in which players are making a real living off the tokens they earn and the assets they trade. And while games may tap into our human need for connection and play, they more often than not fall into the category of seductive entertainment. Especially with the more casual mobile games. You'll get quick hits of dopamine and serotonin, but rarely do they help you feel good at a deeper, more emotional level. These are the dominant experiences today because of the lucrative business models to support them at scale. But what if we could create better incentives and business models for experiences that contribute to self improvement. Media that aligns you to your purpose while elevating your emotional state? HVN strives to make this the litmus test for content and social experiences. They call it 'Functional Entertainment': content that feels good and is good for you. And not just with a focus on pleasure, but also content that pushes you to the edges of discomfort. Discomfort that represents growth.
Functional entertainment, combined with tokens, could also be an antidote to our ever diminishing attention spans. At its best, this combo flips screen time on its head. It elevates your emotional state, strengthens your focus, and helps you grow towards your best self, all while using Web3 based incentive mechanisms for time well spent. In contrast to play-to-earn within traditional games, HVN calls this 'play-to-elevate', i.e. participating in learning programs or challenges, and earning tokens or NFTs along the way. HVN is locked on to a trend here. Functional entertainment is increasing in popularity, across numerous domains and demographics. Think about Peloton classes, Masterclass programs, or the rise in YouTube/TikTok educators (e.g. Microsoft Excel influencer & educator, Kat Norton, earning in six-figures on a daily basis). This type of content is primed for token dynamics and economics.
The deeper problem
To wrap Part I of this deep dive, let’s return to the power of our attention. On an individual scale, it's easy to think the occasional dip into the 'adversarial web' can't be all that bad. But on a macro scale, when summed up across billions of people, the ripple effects are proving profound and the problems increasingly well known. The Netflix film, The Social Dilemma, has been one of the primary propagators of this awareness. Seen by over 100M people, in 130 countries, and 30 languages, the film is a colorful expose on how big tech is locked in an arms race for our attention, from which the primary second order effect is addiction and manipulation of our deeper human emotions and instincts.
So now that we know the problem exists, the obvious next question is.... so what do we do about it? These are multi-trillion dollar market cap organizations, whose core business model is to continue doing what they've been doing. It can feel like an impossible shift. One that feels especially impossible amidst an increasingly complex world, with increasingly advanced technology. Sophisticated algorithms are creating tunnel vision, myopic points of view, and cult like behavior. Deep fakes create videos that cloud the truth and seem all too real. Publicly available AI tools can create fake photos and articles that muddy facts, breeding virality and triggering social unrest. It feels like tech has become a runaway train, speeding up the complexity curve and decreasing our ability to make sense of the world. And the truth is our limited, merely human minds are not designed to keep up and make sense of all the noise.
It can seem hopeless. Like we're in a death spiral with no way out. Fortunately, organizations like the Center for Human Tech (CHT) are charting a course (literally and figuratively). The CHT produced the Social Dilemma, and one of its founders, Tristan Harris, is the film's protagonist. He gave a talk this past SXSW in Austin, TX, addressing the questions, 'so what now?' And 'is there hope?' His answers make for the perfect conclusion to this essay.
Tristan opened his talk framing the challenges with the complexity gap mentioned above, and with a quote from Edward O. Wilson that he uses often to anchor his thesis. It's one I use often as well (who am I kidding, I stole it from him...). It goes...
“We have paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology”.
Tristan goes on to explain how wisdom is the key to closing this gap. He used a powerful line to encapsulate this idea. "You can't have the power of gods without the wisdom, love, and prudence of gods."
The previous 'wisdom' of the tech industry is no longer holding up. All too often, today's tech is undermining our ability to have wisdom. Tristan points out, “we're all so worried about a future in which AI takes our jobs and exceeds our human strengths. But we are missing the earlier point on the timeline when tech undermines our human weaknesses”. Social tech has hacked into our dopamine system and created addiction. It's hacked into our social validation and created a comparison driven, influencer culture. It's hacked into our confirmation bias, spawning fake news. It's hacked into our outrage, yielding polarization. Perhaps most dangerous of all, it's hacked into our basic heuristics, with bots and deep fakes clouding our trust. And these are just the surface level problems. Tristan points out deeper, psychological problems underpinning all of this. The primary being 'perception gaps'.
Perception gaps measure the ability for one group of people to estimate the beliefs of another, e.g. what Democrats think the beliefs are of Republicans. As an example, Tristan references a study in which Democrats are asked, "What percentage of Republicans think racism is still a problem today?" Democrats answered that less than 50% think racism is still a problem. Turns out they're wrong. Actually around 80% of republicans think it's still a problem. Another question was, "What percentage of Republicans make more than $250k per year?" Democrats thought more than 33%. The actual answer is only 2%.
Tristan highlights how today's social media exacerbates these perception gaps. Why? If you take all the voices on social media, you get hit by a double whammy of misperception. The extreme voices post more often than the moderate ones, with more polarizing commentary that gets more reach and more virality. This leads to a distinct over representation of the extreme views, causing many to believe that this is in fact what the other side believes. In reality, the moderate voices vastly outnumber the extreme ones. They just don't post very often. The result is extreme confusion about what the other side truly believes, leading society to become, as Tristan says, “stuck in a hall of mirrors, fighting with phantoms on the other side”.
Tristan goes on to fortify this problem. He points out how even if we know this problem exists, we often still hold our views about the other side. He uses the illusion below, and explains that DARPA has a 'social warfare' term for this called 'reality jamming'.
Even though we know these lines are parallel, our brain just can't see it. We're trapped 24/7 in a magic trick of our own mind. Anil Seth calls this being 'cognitively impenetrable'. Meaning, even if you know how the magic trick works, you still can't escape the bias and illusion. It's simply how our brain is hardwired. This keeps us trapped in said hall of mirrors, leading to less and less empathy for each other, and keeping us stuck in extreme, bad faith views about who the other side is, and what they believe. This is the primary thing we have to snap, says Tristan. He continues, stating that wisdom means knowing the limits of how we actually work. Wisdom is about having self-awareness, and then designing tech in a more deep, ergonomic way. Wisdom is about building more humane tech that shines a light on our reality versus distorting it.
Tristan brings the presentation home with a rhetorical question. What would a humane technologist do?
A humane technologist would understand how our emotions work and respect human vulnerabilities. A humane technologist wouldn't just shrug and say "every tech has positives and negatives, and the world is inherently polarizing. That's just the way it is." They would recognize when polarization is being dumped into what Tristan calls, 'the balance sheet of society', and they would act to minimize harmful externalities, before it's too late to reverse cult-like behavior.
Rather than tailoring for content that creates the most virality and extreme reactions, humane technologists would strive to create shared understanding. There are voices online who are terrific mediators, stepping in to help find common ground. But today, people are 'paid' in more likes/follows for shitposting on their fellow countrymen. A humane technologist would change this currency and incentivize new behaviors, rewarding those who build bridges between people, foster empathy, and uncover truth. Instead of obsessing over growth metrics, human technologists would obsess over helping people thrive and tracking metrics of well-being.
There are many details and nuances to this vision for humane technology; what it concretely looks like and how it can be put into action. To do so, CHT has created a course called 'Foundations of Humane Technology'. It's free and available on their website here. Their goal is to have 100k humane technologists trained in this new paradigm of thinking within the next year. They also aim to build a community around their students, helping people connect with shared values and visions for the world. Imagine if this modern tribe can successfully spread these values, seeping into big tech and overwhelming rigid corporate values from the bottoms up. Or stepping into the greenfield space of Web3 to influence the innovation before old Web2 values re-emerge (of which there's real risk amidst such a competitive and fervent gold rush).
If this came to be, Tristan suggests that perhaps instead of an influencer culture, we'd see a wisdom culture. One in which people are rewarded for nuanced thinking and sensitivity to the experiences of others. Perhaps instead of rewarding quick hit dopamine bursts and shallow content, we'd reward content that helps us learn and grow, while expanding our attention spans to aid a healthy information diet (one that will inherently require focus to go deep and comprehend).
Highvibe Network is the first and only Web3 project (that I've seen to date) designed to accomplish exactly this. The platform is primed for fostering communities just like CHT students and humane tech evangelists. The course completion certificate could be minted as an NFT, forever hosted on a wallet and ingrained as part of their digital identity, creating a halo effect wherever they go. This NFT would be proof of who they are and what they believe; enabling token-gated access to places, communities, and things.
Over time, the community of 'Foundations of Humane Tech' NFT holders could evolve into a DAO, coordinating to secure resources within a treasury, and using decentralized governance tools to decide where/how to deploy. This DAO could also help CHT scale beyond the resources and reach of its small team, while giving the movement an opportunity to outlive its founders. The DAO resources could be used to fund both internal and external projects; paying people in the DAO to come up with new curriculum for specific domains (e.g. the metaverse or Web3), funding physical infrastructure such as a next-gen high school campus for 'humane technologists' (see CabinDAO), or deploying funds towards philanthropic projects; maybe prizes for people building experiences with the ultimate empathy machine, virtual reality.
These VR experiences could put people in the shoes of a Syrian refugee trying to console terrified children, a Russian soldier being forced to the front lines against their will, or an African farmer impacted by climate change with a starving family. Smart contracts could be designed to distribute micropayments in tokens to reward people who consume, or ongoing royalties back to the creators of the VR experience as it spreads and view counts increase. At last, perhaps this type of media can have economic tail winds, and businesses for creating 'shared understanding' and empathy could thrive.
The design space for this Web3 approach is wide open. There is no playbook, and bringing this vision to life will be chock-full of challenges. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
In this effort, we should boil it down to its essence: building systems that align our attention to things we care about. Towards this end, society and technologists are at a fork in the road.
One path is a continuation down the existing road. One in which we invest our attention in things we're made to think we care about, but all too often don't; from click bait in our search engines, to sensationalist news in our inbox, to overpriced V-necks in our social feeds.
The other path gives us better agency to make choices around investing our attention in things we do care about, with user experiences that enable, incentivize, and empower. Sure, this path might seem hard. Similar to Kennedy's vision to land man on the moon, you might even think it's seemingly impossible. But again, it doesn't mean we shouldn't try. The pursuit will rally great minds behind a single arrow, create unforeseen technological progress, and create a global culture of innovation, hope, and purpose.
And who knows, we just might escape the gravity of the current paradigm. Finding ourselves in greater connection and dancing amidst a cosmos sparkling with possibility and new modes of human experience.
I know which path I'm choosing. Hope to see you there along the way.
In Part II, we'll explore this path in more detail, how the platform works, additional use cases its enabling, and why it's well positioned to capitalize on a perfect storm. A storm born from an explosion in wellness and conscious living, a shift in consumer sentiment towards big tech, and business model innovation with Web3; the confluence creating the ideal conditions for a company like HVN to emerge and succeed.