The Algosphere Alliance is a coalition of people and organisations working for a world that prioritises the alleviation of suffering.
The Algosphere1 Alliance is a coalition of people and organisations working for a world that prioritises the alleviation of suffering. Suffering is defined as a feeling of unpleasantness and aversion. When suffering is deemed sufficiently light, there may be other priorities than alleviating the suffering.
The Algosphere Alliance was created in 2011 by a small group of individuals who recognised the necessity for a new structure focused on this most universal of needs, the alleviation of suffering. It was designed according to a simple set of principles, allowing it to function as a strictly non-hierarchical, directly democratic organization and to grow in size and influence through human connections, dialogue and consent.
The only requirement for individuals to join the Alliance is that they consider the alleviation of suffering in the world to be an ethical priority. For organizations, the requirement is stricter: they must view the alleviation of suffering in the world as their highest priority. Organizations interested in joining the Alliance are therefore encouraged to reflect on their underlying ethics and adapt them if necessary. Joining the Alliance gives an individual or organization the status of “ally”. There are no dues to be paid or any constraints, and allies are free to leave the Alliance at any time.
The heart of the Algosphere’s functioning is its Centers of Interest. These are groups of allies focused on specific themes or issues, and that can collaborate, share information and develop projects in any way they choose. A Center of Interest can also make proposals for consideration by all of the Algosphere’s allies. The existence of a Center of Interest does not in any way imply official endorsement of its goals by the Algosphere or its allies. Only specific proposals that have been accepted according to the decision-making process described below can be considered to have the backing of the Alliance.
Centers of Interest communicate internally and interact with each other through a web-based collaborative platform, allowing them to exchange documents and information.
The Algosphere’s decision-making process, carried out within a space called the “Agora”, is democratic and decentralised, and based on the principle of consent rather than simple majority. Consent is obtained when no one says no, as opposed to consensus, which is only obtained if everyone says yes. Proposals are submitted for consideration by all the allies and only accepted once any objections raised have been withdrawn, if necessary after modification of the initial proposal. However, to avoid decision-making paralysis, if an objection that cannot be removed through debate is considered by an ally to be contrary to the interest of the Alliance, they can demand a simple majority vote on the proposal or, for constitutional decisions, a vote requiring a 2/3 majority.
All allies have an equal right to make decisions and the opportunity to raise objections to any proposals made, as well as to participate in internal discussions and contribute ideas to the Alliance and its functioning. A small group of allies are involved in developing and maintaining the infrastructure of the Alliance, according the principles outlined here. Allies interested in participating in these processes are welcome to do so.
Joining the Algosphere
Every individual in the world is considered to have the status of “invitee” of the Algosphere, and has the right to make proposals and participate in discussions, though not to make decisions. An invitee becomes an ally after a welcoming process in which an existing ally — provided for them by the Alliance if they do not already have a contact — introduces them to the functioning of the Alliance and confirms that alleviating suffering in the world is also an ethical priority for them. This welcoming process is intended to reinforce the human bonds that form the backbone of the Alliance, and to promote the growth of the Alliance through a self-replicative process dependent on human interaction. The process is flexible and informal, and may take the form of one of more conversations, according to the needs of the invitee and their accompanying ally.
Organizations can become allies through a similar process, but they do not have the right to make decisions.
The Algosphere’s only official vehicle for external communications is its website. Individual allies may not speak officially on behalf of the Algosphere, although designated spokespeople may be named for specific issues on a case-by-case basis. The Algosphere publishes a collaborative newsletter called the AlgoNews that gives allies and invitees a space to express their own ideas and opinions about various issues, without necessarily reflecting the Alliance’s official positions.
The name “Algosphere” was created from the two Greek roots for domain (“sphere”) and suffering (“algo”). The Alliance’s logo represents the world (the Earth) with neurons and synapses, which symbolise both suffering and a circle of mutual aid. ↩︎