We thought we were just going to make a multimedia digital book - a tiny first step toward the grander vision behind The Human Project: to create a home for people who see themselves as members of a great species, who dare to dream big about our future, who don't shy away from Herculean tasks, who have the audacity to think they can influence the way our future history is written.
In less than a week, we reached our minimal funding goal and made incredible new connections. Together, we believe we can turn our tiny step into something much more ambitious much sooner than we originally planned. Here is what we are thinking (and rewards will remain the same):
$50K - Universal Access
The iPad app carries the seed of a new Human identity and an organizing framework to get the conversation going. Wouldn't it be great if these conversation starters were available to more people than just iPad owners? If we reach this funding target, we could make these ideas accessible to anyone with an internet connection. In tech speak that means: native apps for iPad/iPhone/Android + HTML5 optimized versions for web, tablet and mobile. In addition, $50K would allow us to widen our appeal with a more imaginative social media strategy, both pre- and post- launch (in addition to our TEDx Dubai talk in October where we launch The Human Project from the stage to an audience of 1,000).
$75K - Human Manifesto 2.0 - We do it together
(All of the above, plus) The Human Manifesto makes the case for a bigger, bolder, 21st century human identity. Two billion of us can now access the entire evolving body of human knowledge through the internet. You don't have to be an anthropologist to glimpse the richness of human experience, a cosmologist to grasp the 13.7 billion year story of our Universe, or a close friend to see what millions of us are thinking at this very moment. All you need is an internet connection, an explorer's mind, and time to piece it all together.
The Human Manifesto 1.0 just talks about it. In The Human Manifesto 2.0, we can all show how it's done. You participate. You would be able to upload your videos and images in response to the question, "What does it mean to be Human in the 21st century?" to YouTube and Flickr (and tag them with #IamHuman), and we'll create a curated content platform, letting you vote and share the content you like most. The Human Manifesto 2.0 can become an evolving declaration of who we are as a species and who we could become.
$100K - I am Human - Feature Documentary Pitch
(All of the above, plus) In 1977 The Voyager Spacecraft launched into interstellar space. On board, it carried the Golden Record, a phonograph containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth - scientific understanding, symphonies, art. The contents were selected by a committee chaired by one of our heroes, Carl Sagan. It was a profound symbol of who we were as a species and what we had achieved.
While only 35 years have passed since the first Golden Record was created, life on Earth has changed radically. We need a new Golden Record - a 21st century version - first and foremost for human consumption on Earth, to create a shared, species-wide identity among the millions of humans who currently self-identify as "global citizens" but remain only loosely associated.
We will combine user-submitted content (from our curated content platform) with professional documentary footage, interviews, licensed imagery, and original music to create a Hollywood-level documentary pitch, which we will use to recruit the necessary partners, raise the necessary funds, ensure international distribution, and see this project through. If possible we'll partner with SpaceX or NASA to create a physical artifact to send into space.
How about this for a first step? Will you join us? Will you help us make it happen?
Topline (Previous Project Description)
We're building a free iPad app. Not just any app. An app to start an epic conversation on the future of our species. We've done three years of exhaustive research. Developed the content. Assembled the team. Now we need your financial support to produce The Human Project App and make it go viral.
Why do we need The Human Project App?
There are so many challenges that confront the species as a whole. The ones that get a lot of press (like climate change, food & water shortages, poverty, war, overpopulation and economic crises). The ones that don't (like comets and asteroids, extreme experiments in science, technological terror and error). The ones that we humans don't even imagine we can solve (like mega volcanoes, mega earthquakes, nearby supernova explosions, a dying sun, an aging universe). And there are plenty of visions too (like a space-faring civilization, transhumanism, zero carbon world, general artificial intelligence, the end of poverty, universal human rights, designing life and matter, zero nuclear weapons, the end of aging).
Everything is so fragmented. Every expert claims their issue matters most. Everyone fighting for their share of attention. So few have the big picture. Nobody seems to have their eye on the species as a whole.
After two and a half years of research it became pretty clear: we humans need a new way to look. We need to see ourselves as one species. Develop a big picture view and a grounded, coherent vision to guide us. We need to start asking the really big questions: Who do we want to become as a species? Where do we want to go next?
The Human Project App is the starting point for answering the really big questions.
What's Inside The Human Project App?
The big idea is to use this app to start a global conversation, not to defend the stakes we have put in the ground. Over the next 40 years, we expect dozens of major rethinks and an ever-evolving stream of changes. But to start the conversation, we need to give people something to talk about, something to push off of.
First, A Human Manifesto that lays out the new, 21st century brand of human. It is a bigger identity. A bolder one. It is a new way to see ourselves.
A Human Story about who we are as a species and how we got from the Big Bang to this moment. It captures broad outlines of evolving human knowledge.
Then we move on to Human Challenges, the ones that threaten the survival and development of the species as a whole.
A Human Vision for 2050 - a bright snapshot of the future we should create given the nature of Human Challenges and the audacity of our imagination.
Finally, a 21st century Human Agenda. The first species wide agenda with an explicit rationale.
Now we need your financial support to produce the app and make it go viral.
What will you receive in return?
See the right side-bar for specifics on how to receive each, but here is a preview:
A limited edition printed copy of The Human Manifesto.
100% cotton "I am Human" T-shirt
100% cotton Human Project jacket.
The limited edition book with color photos. Again, over the next 40 years we expect dozens of major rethinks and an ever-evolving stream of changes. You'll have a beautiful record of how far we have come. (If you like, we can scribble notes to you in the margin).
Early Backer Credit
Executive Producer Credit
A new, curated iPad 2 loaded with The Human Project App, 10 other apps, 20 Kindle books, and videos that we love and have influenced how we see the world.
What will we do with the money?
We'll use the money to produce the app. To really get people talking, to start a global conversation, the app needs to be a moving, human experience. Maybe even art. So we will use the money to produce original photography, original music scores, video, compelling infographics, and beautiful interaction design.
Making an idea go viral is no easy task. We have a couple of things going for us. First, the app is free, so there are fewer financial barrier to gaining access. For those without an app, there will be a free PDF copy. In our own personal and professional network we have access to 10,000 people, who, in turn, have access to 100,000 people.
We've also been asked to launch The Human Project App from the stage of TEDx Dubai in October to an audience of 1,000. The video from that talk will be uploaded to their site in the week following the event. If we are lucky enough to surpass our funding target, we will use the extra money toward our imaginative social media strategy. (Any social media whizzes out there? We're looking. Any Human Project Brand Ambassadors that wish to join our Campaign Head Quarters on Facebook?)
Our iPad app – in its current form – is a multi-media experience of ideas, a digital version of the good old book format. All we can hope to achieve with an iPad app is what one would hope to achieve with a book: make some noise, attract public attention, get people to comment on the ideas. But even in the best case scenario, thousands of downloads, hundreds of reviews and thousands of comments exchanged over dinners or shared online do not of course add up to an organized “conversation” or “global public discourse.”
Our hope is that they can however lead to connections with people who can help us realize one element of the longer-term vision behind the HUMAN Project: creating a 21st century platform where all of us who are interested in the survival and development of our species can engage in shaping answers to the really big questions and experimenting with new forms of organizing at species-wide scale. Internally, we are calling this platform HUMAN Discourse. The iPad app offers a conceptual framework for how we might structure the conversations on this future platform. It does not yet offer the functionality we hope one day to create. But it is certainly a first step towards the longer-term vision.
In addition to an iPad app, we will be publishing a limited edition table book for contributors who pledge at $250 or above. But of course, this does not exactly make access universal. So here is our plan: If we raise enough funds (see http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thehumanprojectapp/the-human-project-app), we will create versions for other platforms, including good old web – so anybody with an internet connection would be able to access the content.
The fundamental ideas that you would be associating with are simply these:
· We need to rethink what it means to be human in the 21st century. Two billion of us now have access to each other and the evolving body of human knowledge. Now more than ever before, it is easier to see ourselves as one species. To think of ourselves as part of a story that started 13.7 billion years ago. To re-conceive of our individual lives as contributions to the ongoing Human Project.
· Now more than ever before, we can have a broad-based discourse on who we are as a species and where we should head next. We can experiment with new ways of organizing at a whole new scale in service of achieving goals that we find worthwhile.
We do offer our own team’s answers to the big questions – to get the ball rolling. But we hold our attachment to these answers very lightly. These answers are simply a push-off point, something we put together based on 3 years of research, 3 years of taking crude looks at the whole, from the perspective of the species as a whole. Our agenda is not to put forward a strong case in favor of a pre-determined direction. Our agenda is to organize and integrate the knowledge and ideas already out there from the perspective of our great species as a whole.
In other words, you don’t need to agree with everything we say – it’s only a matter of time when we would ourselves disagree with our answers—but you do need to agree that thinking seriously about the future of our species is a worthwhile endeavor and you need to believe that together we can write our future history.
As another point of reference, we are inspired by the ideas of such remarkable people as Carl Sagan and Buckminster Fuller. It might take us several generations to start seeing ourselves as one species and to figure out how to run the ongoing human project better, but that’s not a good reason not to give it a serious life-long try!
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