Solving the 'Social Dilemma'


The Social Dilemma has just hit Netflix. We’ve got friends and colleagues in this documentary. We’ve been looking forward to its release for a while.

The purpose of this blog isn’t to cover the content of the film. It’s about what to do after the film. It’s about the actions we need to take if we’re to start #MakingBetterTogether

Let’s dive in.

Today, institutions are failing us

‚ÄúThere is no correlation between the cultural values a company emphasizes in its published statements and how well the company lives up to those values in the eyes of employees.‚ÄĚ

Donald Sull - MIT Sloan School of Management and cofounder of CultureX
Let’s provide a few distinct examples:
  1. ANZ Bank (one of Australia’s Big 4) often talks about environmental sustainability. But, they’re also the ‘friendliest funder’ of the fossil fuels industry
  2. Microsoft is pushing hard on things like Self Sovereign Identity and Personal Data Agency. But they also sell surveillance technologies and have a variety of business functions that could easily be considered ‘surveillance capitalism’
  3. The Heart Foundation is trying to promote a heart healthy lifestyle. This is awesome. Heart disease kills more people than any other lifestyle disease today. But, rather problematically, they still have processed red meats (high in saturated fat, dietary cholesterol and a human carcinogen according to the WHO) in some of their recipes  

There’s more context and nuance on this systemic issue in this post.

This is distinctly important in the context of this documentary because we live in an information age. Data is all around us. Everything we do becomes data. This data is processed. It’s utilised. Sometimes is helps us. Sometimes it doesn’t. For the most part – and this is one of the more concerning aspects of our current state – we have very limited agency. We can’t influence the outcomes of data processing activities today. Organisations are in the drivers seat. Individuals are (apologies for the crude analogy) blind folded passengers.

But no one seems to be telling the whole story

When people are surveilled, they change their behaviour. This can be somewhat obvious, as is highlighted by experiments that expose the Panopticon Effect. Other times it can be far more subtle. ‘We’ don’t even realise it effects us.

I’m calling this out because each and every time we ‘expose’ issues like this, it has the potential to change the way people behave. It’s unclear exactly how, but it does happen.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t promote systemic failures. I’m just saying that this type of communication has consequences.

Moving on…

Actions always speak louder than words

What we say kinda matters, but it pales in comparison to what we do.

I recently told people to step up. And I put myself into this category. I and we are not immune from scrutiny. we all need to step up.

We can no longer sit on the sidelines. We can’t let disempowerment lead to apathy. We cannot remain complicit.¬†

We don’t need goals. We need Radical Change Actions (more in another post).

We need to design systems of living that empower people, enable cooperation, support actual sustainability and use technology as a force for good.

This is exactly why we’re building a platform ecosystem. It’s the purpose of Greater Than Learning.

You might get to then end of the documentary thinking, whoah, things are [email protected]#!$d! But they don’t have to be this way. We can design for better.

If you’re one of the people who watched the documentary, paused, the got up motivated to act, this message is for you. Don’t wait around. Join your ethical change making peers and start #MakingBetterTogether.

Our private beta is now live. Start solving the ‘social dilemma’ here.