WAVE network & principles

“WAVE” is shorthand for the idea that a wave of technological and social change is engulfing humanity, and this wave must be used for good. Sometimes WAVE is referred to in terms of an ideology, as “Wavism”, which most broadly refers only to the impetus to cooperate and change things for the better, and to ride the coming wave of change as well as possible. More specifically, “Wavism” can sometimes be used as a synonym for Social Futurism or Techno-Progressivism. That idea can be viewed as a common factor implicitly uniting a range of disparate groups and movements in a much broader historical current.

WAVE is:

  • A coming wave of radical global change, both positive and negative. Things are changing faster than ever before, with convergent technologies and interlocking risks, and we must harness that change for good.
  • A global social movement trying to do exactly that. This movement is not a single organisation but an idea – that times are changing and we owe it to humanity to seize the moment. This movement has no single name, leader, or membership.

WAVE affiliation is informal and non-hierarchical, simply denoting inclusion in a loose network of overlapping and information-sharing organisations. At its most formal, WAVE offers a common set of principles for common use, but whether any organisation or person adheres to the principles is their own choice. Some of the organisations from the broader network of groups and movements (who share ideals, goals, and/or members while not being in any way formally affiliated) are listed below:

  • Institute for Social Futurism
  • The Institute for Social Futurism (ISF) works toward propagation and development of the Social Futurist idea, which is defined as a worldview which combines social justice concerns with the radical transformative potential of modern technology.

  • Social Future Metanet
  • The Social Future Metanet is dedicated to become a platform for people and organisations who want to take part in the great project to shape our collective future, so the world becomes more social and positive in general.

  • Zero State
  • The Zero State (ZS) community works toward the establishment of a VDP (Virtual/Distributed/Parallel) State or “Polystate” committed to Social Futurism and the WAVE Principles. ZS is affiliated with the Institute for Social Futurism (ISF) via the WAVE network.

  • Singularity Accord
  • Singularity Accord is a private organisation dedicated to understanding and preparing for the possibility of Technological Singularity.

  • The Zeitgeist Movement
  • The Zeitgeist Movement is a sustainability advocacy organization, which conducts community based activism and awareness actions through a network of global/regional chapters, project teams, annual events, media and charity work.

  • The Mont Order
  • The Mont Order is a term used to refer to the tradition by which activists and philosophers have historically compared the social and spiritual journey of mankind with the journey to the summit of a mountain.

WAVE interview @ One Love Get Real
Interview with Dr. Amon Twyman
Published on May 1, 2014 by One Love Get Real in the Love Bomb newsletter


01 Social Futurism

A wave of technological change unprecedented in human history is coming, and it will irrevocably transform the world we know. Technological development and its effects on culture are accelerating. Although we cannot predict exactly what will happen, we expect that Artificial and Augmented Intelligence (AI) will be developed to harness the potential to solve the world’s problems, while Virtual Reality (VR), bio- and nano-technologies will similarly be developed to harness the potential to recreate the world and its inhabitants.

Our mission is to transcend our personal and societal limitations through the use of technology, and to help others toward such transcendence where they choose it. Social Futurism is central to our vision of the future of civilization. Social Futurism is defined as a worldview which combines social justice concerns with the radical transformative potential of modern technology. It encompasses an imperative to technologically increase intelligence, expand awareness, enhance our physical bodies, and defeat disease of all types, while working to ensure that just and principled social conditions characterise this transformation.

The full set of Social Futurist ideas which the WAVE Principles are aligned with are explained and explored by the Institute for Social Futurism (ISF).

02 Renewal

The wave metaphor refers to total social, political, technological, environmental, and spiritual renewal. Such renewal must include new approaches to government, individual empowerment, accelerating technological advance, and the world’s problems.

We want a new, healthy society which will embrace the compassionate use of technology to solve problems, reject authoritarianism and unregulated, dysfunctional Capitalism, and embody the principles of freedom, true democracy, and transparency of governance.

Ignorance causes suffering, and so we must work to spread accurate knowledge where it will help others at no significant risk to ourselves. We seek to promote our principles, mutual support programs, increased knowledge, expanded consciousness, good health, and prolonged life. Although false and transitory beliefs can occasionally have utility, we must ensure that rational and critical appraisal is developed, allowing us to detect false beliefs and assumptions, deliberate or accidental.

03 Voluntarism

Access to the movement must be free and open, and participation and membership in all aspects of the WAVE movement are strictly voluntary. We will, however, endeavour to offer full access and membership as widely as possible.

Where any aspect of governance or administration is considered unacceptable, all members and organisations are free to leave WAVE of their own accord, with no influence or interference being permitted on the part of others. Leaders must note such action as a form of valid protest, and duly consider revision of their conduct.

Personal liberty and equality of opportunity are of paramount importance within the WAVE movement, and always apply insofar as such freedoms do not reduce the freedoms of others, whether deliberately or accidentally.

04 Technology

WAVE is a futurist movement, reflecting the impact of accelerating technological growth on society, economics, politics, and the human condition, through science, art, and other means. Technology, knowledge, and the advantages they confer must be preserved as a matter of priority. Unless a certain technology poses specific risks, then fundamental opposition to it on political, philosophical or religious grounds is contrary to the WAVE ethos. Deep consideration and debate of technological risks and advantages is, however, to be encouraged.

We recognize that advanced technologies often pose risks in addition to offering promise. Rather than being paralyzed by precaution, we must work to mitigate risks while maximizing positive outcomes. Maximization of the survivability and value of technology, using it to foster positive social change, is the long-term goal of the movement.

05 Abolitionism

All advantages and rights which apply to WAVE members are automatically offered to all sapient entities within our sphere of influence, including sapient entities which others may consider to be property or non-persons of any sort. No matter what form they take, all sapient entities will be afforded the same rights as any other member of the WAVE movement.

All freedoms and advantages of the movement must be offered to as wide a circle of sentient and sapient entities as appropriate, where possible. Participation must always be optional, but we work to make that option available as widely as possible.

For the purposes of managing relationships between the movement and entities it encounters, we draw a distinction between sentience (conscious awareness) and sapience (higher intelligence). Sentience demands that we seek to reduce involuntary suffering, but nothing more. Sapience allows an entity to fully understand the rights and responsibilities associated with personhood, and to be capable of communicating meaningful assent to an offer of membership in any WAVE organization.

In assessing the sentience of any entity, we will use capacity for suffering as a factor in our judgment. We will not cause suffering to any sentient entity for scientific or any other purpose where there is any alternative, particularly where the alternative encourages technological development, such as advanced non-invasive scanning technologies. We will also promote technological developments increasingly allowing us to spare involuntary suffering as much as possible.

Where there is unwanted suffering, we will seek to abolish it. Our highest goal is to work toward a society in which involuntary suffering has been abolished by the considered, compassionate application of technology. When working toward the abolition of involuntary suffering, we must remember that ‘negative’ emotions should be engineered only insofar as this does not compromise any critical motivational role in behaviour that cannot be replaced. Our aim is not to eliminate ‘negative’ emotions, but to optimize emotional function for minimal involuntary suffering. We seek to instill compassion in ourselves and our sentient creations, which may eventually succeed us in power. This is a matter of not only virtue and leading by example, but potentially of self-preservation.

06 Decentralization

Our work must be based on local models, which can be efficiently scaled up to deal with larger issues. Thus, the local community is always of immediate importance, and efficient communication with others is critical. Where the work in question is primarily based in virtual space, “local” means small groups, as opposed to large organizations. Where WAVE activity has an influence in physical space, “local” refers both to small communities and the geographic areas associated with them.

The movement is intended to be fully distributed, with its Principles being enacted on a local basis. As such, there should be no central point of focus which makes the entire system vulnerable or prone to authoritarianism of any sort. Power is in the hands of the membership in WAVE organizations.

07 Environmentalism & Sustainability

As activity becomes decentralized and locally oriented, waste and environmental damage is to be minimized where possible. This includes local recycling in physical environments rather than export to centralized waste management centres, and an emphasis on telecommuting (working via shared virtual environments and other electronic systems) rather than unnecessary physical travel.

Where possible, WAVE will encourage abandonment of non-replaceable fossil fuels at the first possible opportunity. Where it is possible to combine such initiatives with technological development (e.g. Space Based Solar Power driving a sustainable energy economy), we should attempt to do so.

08 Balance

Science, art, philosophy, and their sub-disciplines are to be regarded as having equal value in our work. This does not mean that scientific and artistic products have been or can be judged by any single criterion, but that technology and scientific process do not exist in a vacuum, but rather in a cultural context. Art and culture influence people, and the ways in which people will relate to technology and science. We afford these processes equal respect as a matter of principle.

Science, art, philosophy, and technology ­ as tools we use to understand and shape the world ­ must be used in a balanced way. Similarly, we must balance innovation and trade with protection of the community and environment.

Philosophies which assert the complete primacy of a single idea, method, force, principle, person, or faction are inherently unbalanced. They sacrifice entire systems or societies for their own, limited concerns. Balance between forces and concerns is critical to the success of any system, and to the wellbeing of citizens in any society.

09 Ethical Governance

The current global economic system is deeply dysfunctional. This dysfunction is not a result of specific crises, but is endemic, designed into the very basis of an unbalanced system. This dysfunction causes widespread suffering, and therefore must be stopped. Removal of dysfunctional systems must coincide with implementation of functional alternatives. Debt trading within and on behalf of WAVE organizations is strictly forbidden.

Insofar as it does not violate other principles, we seek to treat others with respect. We aim to treat them as they would wish to be treated, and will not treat them as they do not wish to be treated. Coercion and aggression are forbidden, but we may act to prevent involuntary suffering, which includes comprehensive action in defence of the movement and its members. Defensive action must only be taken when necessary, and later justified in full to the members of the movement.

Effective governance is unintrusive where it can afford to be, and must have a clearly defined line of jurisdiction. WAVE leaders must only make their presence felt where guidance regarding Principle and action are required in order to achieve the goals of the organizations which constitute the movement.

Transparency of governance and administration is vital to the health of the WAVE movement and its Principles. For that reason, unjustified censorship is permissable under only the most extreme and temporary circumstances, and the appropriate justification for any censorship must be made available upon request by any interested party within the movement. Similarly, all leaders within the movement are to be held accountable for their decisions and actions. In the first instance, such accountability should take the form of transparent decision making where possible.

10 Direct Democratic Action

Considered action is to be emphasized over purely theoretical concerns. Philosophy, conversation, and deep consideration have great value, but to be of utmost value they must eventually be grounded in concrete action of some type.

Philosophy and ideology must serve action toward achieving our goals, rather than distracting from such action. Responsibility for taking Direct Democratic Action and the consequences of that action must be assumed by each individual, working to lead efforts themselves rather than waiting to be told what to do. This point can be summarized as: Just Do It. If any initiative is incompatible with WAVE Principle or rules, affiliates must take action as appropriate.

Direct democratic activity should be embraced locally, with organizational members taking personal responsibility for enacting the Principles. Representative, rather than direct, democracy may only be employed where representatives have clearly limited powers. Such representatives may only exist to facilitate direct, local democracy, rather than replace it.

We believe in working with and using those aspects of society which have value, in order to address those which do not. For example, that we can and should improve the human condition and environment using technology. This desire to develop the positive and eliminate the negative should be understood as being in the spirit of positive, constructive effort.

A principle of construction must be integral to Direct Democratic Action, applied in our discussion, debate, and planning. When any discussant makes critical comments while leaving their own proposals or views unstated, others – even non-members – will be supported in their right to call for immediate and explicit statement of such proposals or views. In other words, we must work to make our speech constructive, and will not engage in or support non-constructive forms of debate.