Of the eight dignities, transportation may seem the most out of place. But consider the following. Money and things move freely around the world. People are trapped. Security is the most often cited reason, but if that was our primary concern, would the United States still export hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons every year? The idea that people must be restricted from travel because they could be dangerous is propaganda. We know this because once the individual crosses a certain threshold of wealth, they become cosmopolitan, operating without allegiance to the nation or government and unburdened by laws and restrictions applied to the majority. Freedom of movement should not be restricted to our creations. Transportation as one of the eight dignities is an effort to ensure that the most advanced planetary and space transportation networks reside in public control.
Transportation DAO serves many purposes, from local community networks to global and interplanetary logistics. Accessing transportation is vital to being able to individually actualize in society today. It empowers the expression of our core value of enthusiasm and harnesses our imagination through exploration. No matter how far technology advances, humans will find strength in numbers. Our journey toward individual actualization will be wasted if the individual cannot access the systems necessary to move about the world. We spoke of the freedom goods possess to move across the globe, but even they remain confined to the extractive schemes of profiteers. Shipping networks define access to basic and luxury material goods around the world yet remain in private control. Space travel is making significant progress each year and will play an outsized role in the collective advancement of our species. When we think about the future of transportation, we approach it from the perspective of cooperation and collaboration. How do these networks serve us today, what can we do to improve them, and what are the barriers of private control that must be overcome?
The movement of material goods worldwide is handled primarily by ocean transport. Today the thirty largest shipping companies are privately owned by various international organizations, with the exception being China’s state ownership of the largest collective fleet. Over 100,000 ships move goods around the planet, operating within independent frameworks of objectives and rules. Thirty independent operators moving goods across the world is inefficient and wasteful. Independent for-profit networks ensure that shipping costs will remain stable to generate profits, adding layers of capital extraction that directly contribute to higher prices for the goods. Logistical redundancies such as duplicating routes that could be combined and not maximizing the capacity of each cargo ship are unavoidable within our present organization. It is an industry with little innovation and deeply entrenched players, and the high cost of entry means that there is little incentive to experiment and innovate. The result is a stagnant system of organization and operation, existing for the sole purpose of profit generation without any need or obligation to improve.
Cargo ships are also immense sources of pollution that contribute significantly to the crisis of extinction. It is expected that pollution outputs from cargo ships will worsen in the near future.46 Most cargo ships use heavy oil fuel, a low-cost alternative to diesel with higher sulfur levels understood to be one of the most toxic and polluting fuels available.47 Studies also demonstrate that private cargo ships are also the largest source of oceanic waste, with an estimated 73 percent of the garbage in the Atlantic Ocean originating from Chinese merchant vessels.48
As the arctic ice caps melt, polluting ships are quickly carving out routes in the poorly regulated waters to ship profitable fossil fuel energy resources. Their efforts are accelerating the progress of the climate crisis and creating the potential for disasters that will be incredibly difficult to manage and devastating to wildlife in the area. Functioning in a material world will always require us to move goods and resources, and so long as we inhabit Earth the ocean will be one of the most direct routes. How we do that and under what frameworks are subject to change. So long as global shipping remains under private control, it will be difficult if not impossible to overcome the environmental harm contributing to the crisis of extinction because of a general lack of accountability.
When we approach global ocean transportation through the lens of systemic actualization, we can imagine alternatives that create efficiency, low costs, focused technology advancement, and dramatic reductions in pollution. Our objective isn’t to eliminate all private ocean travel and goods movement, but the significant majority of it will fall under public ownership so that we may create a system of organization where information, goods, and people flow seamlessly around the world.
First and foremost would be consolidation, merging the existing shipping companies and freighters under a single global public infrastructure, ideally the formal transportation DAO. Existing companies and the people who help operate them can remain in place. What changes is ownership, resource distribution, and a shift to a highly collaborative operational model. The transition to a public vertical opens up several opportunities for improvement that can never be realized under our current system of total private ownership. Ultimately, we work toward developing predictive logistics software that receives all incoming shipment requests and determines what ships need to go where.
As the consolidation process begins, we can audit and analyze all existing shipping routes, cargo, and costs over past years. Our objective is to find overlaps. For example, where could the efforts of these various independent companies be combined into one? What are the most common routes, and how might they be made more efficient if the ships operated as cooperative units rather than independent competitors? Are there trends in the amounts and types of cargo transport that might be better organized for fuel consumption and delivery speeds? These are just a handful of questions that could be answered by bringing global cargo transport under public domain, each of which would provide opportunities for dramatic improvement.
Systemic actualization is about becoming more, and under this framework we can instill stricter regulations for ship operations that better align with our core values. Consider the act of throwing trash overboard while sailing in the ocean. Presently, no binding agreement or organization acts to stop this extremely harmful practice. Bringing trash back to port is cumbersome, creates additional labor, comes with financial costs, and is a more complicated process than just tossing it overboard. Organizations like the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations organization, attempt to regulate but are generally unable to enforce the rules they create. There may also be productive costs to keeping trash on board, such as slowing shipments down or being able to carry slightly less cargo. These problems create impossible dilemmas in a private transport model because no profit-seeking entity will risk losing time and money to do the right thing. Public ownership incentivizes the collective good over the profits of a few. It provides pathways to ensure that the individual operator and the larger networked collective agree on priorities. A global transportation DAO would ensure that no one would risk their individual security or well-being for doing the right thing. Systemic actualization creates new frameworks for addressing obstacles that are otherwise insurmountable within our current frameworks of organization.
Surpluses generated within the transportation DAO will funnel into the perpetual advancement of transportation technologies. Our previous examples highlight significant and immediate areas for improvement, many of which have presently available alternatives. For example, nuclear marine propulsion has been used in aircraft carriers and submarines since 1955. Small nuclear reactors have exceptional safety records, create a fraction of the waste of traditional fuel sources, and can travel up to 50 percent faster than their fossil fuel counterparts. These advancements in speed and efficiency have been demonstrated to offset the associated costs of upgrading.49 As a public vertical, we might first work to convert all oil-burning ships to nuclear, setting strict deadlines for ships in accordance with the availability of skilled technicians. Taking any ship out of commission will have economic impacts. Goods won’t be delivered according to their regular schedules, and there will most certainly be opposition from the impacted parties.
Some delays are unavoidable, but this is a necessary cost of transitioning off of these harmful fuels. Because the majority of cargo ships would fall under the public domain, reorganizing delivery schedules and utilizing the full capacity of our global fleets can help mitigate any frustrations caused during the transition. An alternative to nuclear power that may be available at the time of implementation would be to incorporate green energy sources such as solar, wind, and tidal energies into ship power generation. These technologies already exist and can be adapted and experimented with to determine the best route for ocean transport. Our objective is to create a ship that can perpetually power itself, radically reducing the environmental harm and capital costs of moving goods across the ocean. By using the surplus capital generated by these operations, we can create large research and development projects to dramatically speed up innovation and disseminate the results among all organizations.
Ocean transport as a public vertical makes sense because there is no benefit from keeping it privatized. It is a necessary service in the present moment, actively expanding the crisis of extinction. Public ownership provides pathways to advancement currently unachievable within our current system, progress that is funded and shared among all participants. We can make a similar argument for transitioning airplane manufacturing and transport to a global public network. There are thousands of independent airline operators, but even the consolidation of the top ten global firms (five of which operate out of the United States) could radically shift the efficiency and advancement of these verticals. Using data aggregation to determine routes and travel trends and streamlining procurement can build more effective and efficient systems that better serve collective humanity.
Traveling by plane is one of the most convenient ways to travel. It’s fast, direct, and allows people to experience places and people that would be otherwise unavailable to them. Unfortunately, personal air transport in the United States has been struggling for some time. As prices rise, patrons receive less and less. Reduced carry-ons, tighter spaces, and inadequate safety precautions are implemented in an effort to reclaim profits in an era of declining use, the result of which is an increasingly negative experience. Airlines dispel the popular myth that privatization encourages competitive innovation because privately controlled systems always mature toward financialization as their primary objective. The transportation DAO offers a pathway for removing vital global systems from the hands of a small group of rent seekers and placing them under the control and guidance of collective humanity.
In its infancy, the transportation DAO might focus on the creation of driverless electric vehicle fleets to transport people in urban areas. One of the primary challenges with driverless technologies in the present is that they are always subject to the behaviors of irrational human drivers. Therefore, it might be a citywide project, establishing community networks of fleets that integrate with the roads and other vehicles. This might occur in a new community of self-actualizers or an existing city with forward-thinking leadership. We want to personalize transportation but eliminate the need for private vehicle ownership. In the similar context of human movement, the engineering of carbon-neutral continental high-speed rail could fall under certain guilds within the transportation DAO. Given the scope of many transportation projects, the DAO would want to partner with the state or nation to coordinate, facilitate, and resource these developments.
Consider also the emerging field of space technologies and how the most advanced work today is being done by private corporations. When we consider historical public works, we can easily identify why this shift occurred. Whereas the private corporation is free to experiment, fail, and try again, the public agency is subject to intense scrutiny and immense bureaucratic barriers. Political actors are quick to pounce when experiments go wrong, especially if it means denying collective progress for minor fiscal benefits for the extremely wealthy. Space holds material resources and wealth far beyond our presently available options. The future of space mining presently sits in a wild west scenario of first come first serve, with nations gearing up to militarize their efforts and reignite squabbles past.
The idea that we would allow a private corporation to possess full and unlimited rights to space resources is beyond absurd. Still, it accurately reflects our global political climate under the influence of hierarchical systems of meaning and value. Given the extreme abundance available to us in space, the most logical solution is also one with the greatest potential for success: a globalized effort toward the advancement of space-age technologies and resource collection, where the rewards of said investments belong to collective humanity and serve our shared needs. The transportation DAO might prioritize a global space cooperative first because it is the least tainted of all other alternatives. It would also set the stage for deep international cooperation yet unknown to the people of Earth.
Beyond the material and environmental efficiencies that public ownership offers transportation verticals, there is a distinctly more human need for our embrace of transportation as a dignity. Our journey toward self-actualization in the age of crisis through the alignment of individual and system is, at its core, a process of freeing humanity from a past we had no say in choosing. Transportation is one of the most direct and accessible forms of escape for the individual subject to an oppressive birth lottery. Public ownership, access, and agency within our transportation verticals empower the individual to let go of circumstances no longer serving them and begin anew. Transportation as a public good also empowers a great reorganizing of our communities. If we are serious about our commitment to the development of personal divinity, we want to empower the individual to group with those aligned with their visions of the good. The internet has taught billions of people that although they may feel alone and out of alignment with their circumstance, others exist who share their values and aspirations. Today, they possess no alternative other than distanced interactions, no agency in their ability to redirect the course of their lives toward communities that resonate with them.
The public ownership of transportation alongside our dignities of food and water, housing, health care, and education combine to create a borderless individual, one who can group as they see fit and is free to direct their focus and energy toward creative pursuits of their choosing. It is a profound freedom that the vast majority alive today do not know, but one that is within our grasp. Transportation fills a vital gap in the average person’s ability to be secure in their person. It empowers the individual to escape the inheritance of birth lottery and develop their divinity in the directions of their choosing.
These ideas only scratch the surface of how transportation can be integrated into the life of the individual and collective. They are intended to illustrate why transportation is a vital component of the eight dignities. Planetary systems directly impact each of us even when we are not engaging directly with them. Our inhabiting a relational universe of material needs and wants ensures that transportation will continue to be a crucial component of our lives—one that plays a vital role in accelerating us toward or redirecting us away from the crisis. We choose to organize ourselves in alignment with the single truth and therefore claim that every individual has a right to be a stakeholder in the development and direction of our transportation systems.