Empowering Technogenesis for Globally Connected Insular Environments

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  • Meeting: Insular environments, empowering technogenesis for a global continent_Report of a round table discussion with a presentation by Michel Bauwens

Meeting Summary

Report of a round table discussion, by Ilias Kontakos and Lampros Pyrgiotis:

"On the 7th of November 2014, the Greek Society of Regional Scientists (SEP) and the Social Lab of Greek Engineers (KEM) co-organised a round table discussion with subject «Insular environments, empowering technogenesis for a global continent».

Michel Bauwens, invited guest, provided an introductory presentation concerning the similarities between P2P communities and insular regions or islands.


The key arguments discussed are:

1. The insular approach in development shows how production and innovation may emerge without central control. Characteristics such as common language, shared values, goals and incentives, common value creation and mutuality, along with the inherited value of sustainability, can help us to understand the relevant transitions in the production and innovation models.

2. P2P resembles the concept of insularity and thus has the potential to gain from the parallelism with islands.

3. P2P and distributed commons-motivated activity is changing the way we produce as it:

a. substantiates accessibility to knowledge;

b. makes smaller markets more attractive for their members;

c. allows for "domestic" production.

4. Classic dependencies on space, physical resources and scale can be challenged on a new distributed world thanks to new capabilities offered by ICT networks.


Following a vivid discussion on the mentioned arguments, the following remarks were made:

With focus on the global agenda:

1. In a resource constrained world, it’s now necessary to decouple growth from more energy and materials use. P2P models can offer such an approach as they focus more on the dynamism of the unlimited intellectual, immaterial co-operation that is evolving rather than on the scaling up of the physical means of production.

2. Frameworks that are based on knowledge and creativity mutualisation are highly technogenetic. They seem to extend the capacity for research and development and suggest radical and long lasting innovation. Such frameworks can be considered for a discussion against the present material dependent models, which are controlled and determined by short, incremental innovations or even opportunistic ideas’ replications though allied to profits maximisation and rapid growth.

3. Such alternative frameworks involve forms of mutual accommodation between central and distributed, interconnected productive nodes, making possible economies of co-ordination and transaction, thus broadly achieving "economies of scope".

4. In the sphere of physical production, smart electricity grids organised in aggregated micro-grids are representatives of forms in which system operation is shared between central and distributed generators. Prescribing a promising future, a unique feature of micro-grids is that they can be automatically transferred to islanded mode and resynchronised. The emergence of smart grids may be critically attributed to the world-class innovativeness of the Greek islands' electricity system.

5. The idea, however, that "economies of scope" exclusively lay with mutually aggregated distributed production rather than large scale corporations as "ray economies of scale" is challenged in economic terms. Namely, evidence of productivity growth due to this shift (P2P, commons-centred production) is required. Undoubtedly, distributed production is a contested terrain with the risk that these same platforms enable large corporations to become increasingly powerful while at the same time minimising their costs.


With focus on Greece and the islands:

1. Greece is under necessity. Innovation pessimism is apparent, with the notion that economic growth has been ground to a halt despite the world rapidly advancing technologies and hyperconnected economies. In itself is an island, extremely in need of communication with outside world.

2. Bridging the communication gap is a matter of knowledge and creativity. Knowledge institutions have to uncover extroversion, creativity and collaboration and to infuse them into youth which demonstrate an inherent flexibility, mobility and willingness to drive change. Greek State and society have to give youth a dominant role to play in leading the shift into a decentralised, globally distributed and interconnected productive platform. Institutions have to adapt to the rules and norms of such productive communities. All available resources have to be focused on a youth-inclusive high-employment sharing economy, globally connected.

3. In order to capture the development paradigm discussed thereby, we should express innovations and the new concepts in a comprehensive language.

4. Radical change out of necessity should not be confused with uniform rapid growth. Growth was worldwide slow during the periods of major technological changes. Slow growth, however, may be a long lasting and better distributed (in terms of equality), stable growth.

5. Greek islands exhibit a world-class innovativeness as far their electricity system and a remarkable resources and quality balance. Mutual exchanges with collaborative platforms in a global context are envisaged.


Further, the discussion proceeded with recommendations addressing the following:

1. Better understanding of the new evolving paradigm from a conceptual standpoint. A comprehensive communication platform should be elaborated.

2. Provision of explicit economic documentation of all alternatives.

3. Provision of physical experimentation with islands and insular regions.


Participants:

  1. Michel Bauwens - P2P Foundation, Commons Strategies Group, FLOK project
  2. Costas Bissas - Independent researcher, ΚΕΜ
  3. Theodor Goumas – Energy professional, KEM
  4. Nikolaos Hatziargyriou - Professor NTUA
  5. Stamatis Kalligeros - Lecturer Hellenic Naval Academy
  6. Ilias Kontakos - Policy and Investment Advisor
  7. Ioannis Margaris – Researcher NTUA, FLOK project
  8. Stavros Messinis - Business initiator
  9. Dimitris Papalexopoulos - Professor NTUA, Fab Lab Athens
  10. George Papanikolaou - Lecturer Harokopio University, P2P Foundation
  11. Gregory Papanikos – ATINER, Honorary Professor University of Stirling
  12. Lampros Pyrgiotis - Independent researcher, ΣΕΠ, ΚΕΜ, Fab Lab Athens
  13. Michalis Vrachopoulos – Professor TEI Sterea Ellada, KEM
  14. Themistoklis Xanthopoulos - Professor Emeritus NTUA, ΚΕΜ