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Project Witness: simulating alternate economic models through science fiction

Webinar Virtual

The Science Fiction Economics Lab has created a space for participatory world-building with the objective to generate economic models that offer alternative policy options to late-stage capitalism. The intention is to leverage technology and alternate reality simulations of complex policy issues to move beyond mainstream options, many of which crumbled in the wake of COVID-19, and instead seed different conversations and possibilities for value creation.

It is difficult to plan a transition to a world we can’t imagine. Witness is a project in which participants collaboratively create scenarios where alternative economics thinking is connected to the creative processes used by science fiction authors to create detailed, plausible worlds.  Through this world-building experiment, we examine, reimagine and accelerate more resilient structures to sketch out what societies built on those frames would look like.  

  • What do the cities who adopt an alternative development plan like Donut Economic Models look like?
  • What different forms can help us reimagine the tourism industry in the wake of COVID-19 or social protection policies in the wake of growing informality?       
  • How do different societal groups prepare for uncertain futures and unprecedented events like COVID? [at #IID21 we explore this last question with ASU and alternate-reality simulations in 6 cities.]
  • Are you exploring how to test the implications of policies on different society groups and economic sectors?

The floating megacity of Witness is a space where the answers to some of these questions are emerging in real time as a result of interactions between thousands of citizen ‘players.’  Set in a post-climate catastrophes future, it has weathered the worst of climate change, and is now home to tens of millions of humans. It is large and diverse enough to support several Distrikts, each with its own economic model: Nordic social-democracy on steroids, Hayekian-libertarian, anarcho-communitarian and so on. To find out more, check out the blog post.

During the #IID21 conversation on 22 April, we discussed what policy options are being flushed out in the megacity Witness, how it works and what are some possible options for you to engage with the Science Fiction Economics Lab (several UNDP teams are already plotting new world-building initiatives).