When a person can't find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.

(Viktor E. Frankl)

In a world teeming with astute critiques of the erosion of the liberal order by populist demagogues, we find ourselves grappling with the spectral remnants of a dismantled societal governance system. Analysis unveils a critical vacuum—a void where chaos breeds in the absence of a viable alternative to the liberal order, a construct that, despite its inherent flaws, has sought to harmonize individual freedoms within a collective societal fabric. This essay endeavors to delve into this existential quagmire, proposing a paradigmatic shift towards a viable vision where prosperity is reimagined as a tapestry woven from the threads of ethical reflection, sense making, and the valorization of human experience.

At its core, the liberal order has been a bulwark against the encroaching shadows of totalitarian ideologies, striving to maintain an equilibrium where personal liberties are safeguarded within the ambit of collective security. This delicate balance is continually threatened by the resurgence of fascist ideologies, which thrive on the distortion of perceptions for tactical gains. The metaphorical interpretation of identifying trees by their leaves as a legitimate cognitive process for understanding our world is usurped by a tactical ideology that seeks to redefine the essence of truth by exploiting strategic lacunae. This ideology's pernicious nature is laid bare when it prosecutes the transformative utilization of a tree into a boat as a heretical obliteration of "tree truth," a farcical endeavor that only serves to highlight the absurdity of pursuing trivial egotistic victories at the expense of universal truths.

The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and its indelible imprint on the socio-economic fabric heralds a new epoch, I termed "The Age of Sapiocracy." This new era envisages an economy of meaning that transcends the conventional metrics of prosperity, championing a nuanced appreciation of experiences and values over material accumulation. This essay seeks to illuminate the intricate pathways through which the economy of meaning can distill clarity from the deluge of information that inundates our daily existence, advocating for an economic renaissance predicated on ethical reorientation and the enrichment of human life.

The sapiocratic model posits a governance architecture where wisdom and collective insight supersede mere efficiency, charting a course towards an ethically enlightened polity. This model challenges us to redefine governance in the information and AI age, questioning the resonance of wisdom amid the digital cacophony. The transition towards an economy of meaning signifies a profound transformation in decision-making processes, advocating for a harmonization of algorithmic precision with humanistic values and a forward-looking enabling vision.

Reflecting on the sapiential legacies of ancient wisdom councils and philosophical academies, this essay explores the feasibility of recreating these forums within our contemporary digital agora. In this envisioned landscape, AI emerges not as an overlord but as a sagacious counselor, augmenting the human quest for ethical excellence. The integration of AI into our ethical frameworks embodies the highest aspirations of human values, transforming potential existential threats into embodiments of collective wisdom and ethical achievements.

The economy of meaning also confronts the dichotomy between falsifiable knowledge and the rise of conspiracy theories as cultural artifacts of complexity reduction. This philosophical discourse transcends conventional political spectrums, situating itself within a multidimensional framework of multiple order cybernetics. It articulates a vision where the economy of meaning is not an extant reality but a contested domain of meaning substitution models.

This essay posits the economy of meaning as a beacon for the future, where prosperity is not merely quantified by financial metrics but is deeply interwoven with the richness of human experiences and the ethical advancement of society. Anchored by the tenets of Sapiocracy, it envisions a symbiotic coalescence of humanity and AI, setting a new benchmark for progress. As we teeter on the brink of this new dawn, the economy of meaning emerges not merely as a theoretical construct but as a tangible roadmap towards a future where human potential is the ultimate currency of value, redefining prosperity in the most profound sense.

In an era distinguished by an unprecedented flood of information and an efficiency increase in the control over tools, simultaneously challenged by the potential for technological infrastructures to become autonomous through Artificial Intelligence (AI) as biological organisms do, the economy faces the necessity to detach from redundant, power-driven narratives. This transition, exemplified by Shoshana Zuboff in "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism" (2019), and explored through call for a radical Enlightenment (Marina Garcés in "Nueva ilustración radical", 2017) against contemporary credulity, among other works, accentuates the imperative to reevaluate the foundations of economic value creation. The challenge transcends a system dominated by the pragmatics of collective action and complexity adjustment, moving beyond trade practices infiltrated by logic and finances distorted by power. Instead, it calls for the establishment of a realm where meaning and the expansion of human cognitive potential are paramount. Inspired by advanced cybernetic concepts in the context of systemic thinking (Glasersfeld, in: Tsvasman, 2006), and based on my own research findings in "AI-Thinking", "Infosomatic Turn", and "The Age of Sapiocracy" (Tsvasman: 2019, 2021, 2023), these considerations aim to intertwine system-theoretical and cybernetic approaches with the innovative paradigm of the economy of meaning.

This endeavor to redefine the economy highlights the increasingly pivotal role of Artificial Intelligence and technological autonomy while emphasizing the importance of ethical and meaning-oriented approaches in economic discourse. It seeks to forge a new understanding of the economy that integrates current technological advancements and their impacts on society and the economy, placing human creativity and potentiality at the forefront.

Strategic meaning versus tactical chimera

At the heart of our contemporary discourse on knowledge lies a tripartite categorization, each bearing profound relevance to how we navigate our world. Firstly, functional, or viable, knowledge represents the cornerstone of pragmatic-positivist philosophy. This form of understanding involves correlating observable elements, such as the leaves of a tree, within a cohesive framework, enabling the construction of valid theories or reality constructs. For instance, the classification or characteristics of trees and wood types can be discerned for practical applications in construction and shipbuilding through coordinated human action. This perspective is broadened by technological aids like microscopes or telescopes, enhancing our perceptual capabilities and reinforcing a pragmatically positive worldview.

Conversely, the second category, meaning-oriented knowledge, transcends the mere functional to embrace the potentiality inherent in all things. This acknowledges that not everything can be immediately apprehended, even with sophisticated instruments, given the dynamic state of becoming that defines the natural world. This orientation seeks to understand one's role as a conscious being within this continuum, aspiring for a sense-oriented action that inherently includes ethical considerations. It is a recognition of the quest for meaning as a fundamental human endeavor, acknowledging that truth encompasses more than mere empirical validation.

The third, and increasingly pervasive in our power-distorted world, is tactical knowledge or the epistemological falsehoods that plague our discourse, manifesting as fake news or manipulative ideologies. Such knowledge is not aimed at understanding or bettering the human condition but at consolidating power by exploiting gaps in collective understanding or fabricating divisive narratives.

The dangers of tactical ideology become starkly evident when ideological purity is defended through absurd justifications. Persecuting someone for repurposing nature (a tree into a boat) under the guise of destroying a supposed "tree truth" epitomizes the farcical nature of such ideologies. It highlights the tragic comedy inherent in fighting over trivial gains or ideological purity, especially when these battles distort the fabric of truth and freedom that liberal societies strive to uphold.

So what delineates meaning? It surpasses simple pragmatism and diverges from the collective's diluted truths, often disseminated through swarm intelligence or distorted by power dynamics. Meaning embodies the journey of an individual deeply engaged in unraveling the web of potentialities. It emerges as a scarce, yet pivotal, economic asset, driving value creation, especially when focus shifts towards potentiality—a concept deeply intertwined with love. However, is meaning inherently tangible? In the realm of the analog, perhaps not. But, as we cross the threshold into a digitally transformed era, what I call the infosomatic shift, meaning gains palpability. This ushers in the age of Sapiocracy, marking the dawn of data-driven self-regulation within a biosociotechnological ecosystem that caters to human intrinsic yearnings. This perspective aligns with Maslow's hierarchy of growth needs, sidestepping the trappings of externally imposed, manipulable "deficit needs" beyond essential physiological demands. Within this framework, Maslow's concept of self-transcendence, envisioned as the apex of human aspirations, is reinterpreted not as self-effacement but as a liberation from simplified, contentious identities. This evolution paves the way for the true subjectivity of a being attuned to meaning, ready to recognize and engage with the entirety of their potential.

Contrary to Garcés, my approach underscores authentic, evolved intersubjectivity, appreciating diversity as the genuine and unique emergence of individuals in their subject-potentiality, based on structural unity ("structural coupling" in cybernetics). This perspective steers clear of chimeric intermediaries or a reductive interpretation of the collective's plurality. In response to her question of what divides us, my answer points to the chimeric substitutes for meaning created by power-distorted, de-subjectifying entities, including collectively and sociocratically distributed, hollowed-out responsibility.

Prosperity redefined: beyond the control paradigm

From a strategically relevant viewpoint, prosperity transcends the mere ability to control or possess. True prosperity, especially in the context of societies grappling with basic survival needs, hinges on the collective capacity to secure these needs—a challenge historically faced by virtually all societies. Yet, the advent of AI presents a unique opportunity to transcend these limitations, provided we can overcome the inability to establish a common ethical foundation. This failure is often not due to a lack of effort but to the pervasive influence of redundant, power-driven ideologies that reject the pursuit of a shared ethical ground.

Intersubjective meaning emerges from the earnest attempts of all participants to seek not just a viable but an expanded form of knowledge. This knowledge should be capable of preventing power distortions and should be recognized as truthfully and spiritually enriching in an ethical sense. It should aim to broaden the possibilities for all involved parties and all beings, rather than constricting them. This task, while daunting, remains the only meaningful pursuit, with human culture and its creations uniquely predisposed to this end. The culture of shared potential and the expansion of understanding, economically rooted in the fulfilling sense of meaning, contrasts starkly with the despair of lost meaning—a despair familiar to poets, musicians, philosophers, and the insincerity of dictators who anchor their existence in power lust.

Remarkably, as discussed in "The Age of Sapiocracy," the culture of a totalitarian society makes sense only by consistently rejecting the distortion of tactical substitutes for meaning. Only then can individuals within such a society begin to perceive and embrace meaning. This approach underlines the necessity of discarding manipulative and divisive tactics in favor of fostering a collective understanding and appreciation of our shared humanity and the ethical pursuit of knowledge. In essence, navigating towards a society where knowledge and freedom not only thrive but intertwine is a journey marked by challenges and imperatives, yet it resonates with a profoundly sensual and poetic fulfillment. This pursuit mirrors the creative act of an artist bringing a masterpiece to life, echoing the innate satisfaction of a creature in nature, albeit within a spiritual and sensory dimension. It guides us towards a future where prosperity is sculpted by the intersubjective wisdom born from our genuine ethical engagement with the world.

This profound sense of meaning, transcending the physical yet deeply anchored in a secure truth sense, emerges within us through cultural formation and creation, beyond the compulsions of power and the substitutes of meaning. It is the realization we humans are to be enabled to reach, following the establishment of routines in technological self-regulation that operate independently of our attention and the imperative of efficiency over humanity. This shift allows our focus to gravitate towards the culture of such a sense of truth or orientation certainty. An economy of meaning will unfurl around this core sense of truth, not as a substitute for control but through a renewed perception of intersubjective unity in an emancipatory sense.

Cybernetics as the foundation of the economy of meaning

Cybernetics, significantly shaped by Norbert Wiener and further developed by thinkers like Ernst von Glasersfeld, offers a solid foundation for understanding complex, goal-oriented systems. This approach underscores the importance of self-organization and autonomy in human thought and action, deeply rooted in cybernetics and its application to human systems. By linking cybernetic principles with our comprehension of human cognition and interaction, a concept emerges that honors individual talents and abilities and recognizes the pursuit of knowledge and understanding as an essential part of the human experience.

These developments culminate in the concepts of sapiocracy and sapiognosis, as depicted in my philosophical research, laying the groundwork for a new era of co-evolution between humans and AI. This research paves the way for realizing our intersubjective potential as a beacon for a fairer, more sustainable, and enlightened society. We enter the realm of sapiognosis with the awareness that the journey towards the ethics of potentiality is a collective endeavor.

Attention and its role in the economy

Traditionally viewed as a means to enhance efficiency in industrial economics, attention, as Kevin Kelly discusses in "The Inevitable" (2016), undergoes a reevaluation in the economy of meaning. Here, it's seen as an essential resource for creative and innovative processes, a perspective supported by Yuval Noah Harari in "Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow" (2017). This reassessment allows a shift from its instrumental use to an understanding that promotes creative and meaning-making processes in the economy.

With the advent of the attention economy, the nature of money is reinterpreted not just as a medium of exchange or store of value but as a dynamic information system. My works, such as "The Age of Sapiocracy" (Tsvasman, 2023), argue that in an era dominated by data streams and digital presence, money transcends its conventional functions. It becomes an information medium that reflects our collective efforts to measure and channel power, understood as a redistribution of the self-regulating force embodied by attention, driving the growth of rapidly evolving infrastructures.

Redefinition of value creation

In the economy of meaning, we witness a fundamental redefinition of value creation. The focus shifts from traditional economic measures to quality, significance, and contribution to human development. This re-evaluation emphasizes the importance of creative, innovative, and ethically valuable contributions, highlighting that true progress extends far beyond material production to the ability to create meaningful and sustainable solutions for societal challenges.

Technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), plays a central role in this new economy. AI is viewed not as a threat but as an amplifier of human creativity and decision-making capability, contributing to a deeper and more holistic economic approach. These technologies, when correctly applied, have the potential to enhance both efficiency and human potential without neglecting ethical and human aspects.

Regarding the principle of performance in work, in the profoundly analog world, conditioning and trivializing were tactically and economically sensible, with a tendency towards—currently increasing—inspiring and enabling, shifting from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation.

In the context of implementing an economy of meaning, our current practical outlook involves the concept of philosophical investing. This approach could be proposed to all entities capable of leveraging capital as a tool, symbolically representing banks but encompassing a wider array of financial actors. The redefinition of money's role is pivotal here, transforming it from a mere quantitative entity in the analog world to a form of information that stems from self-regulation. This shift aims to emancipate money as a tool for enabling emancipatory processes, moving beyond its traditional quantitative constraints to support actions that are symbolically relational. This approach necessitates an in-depth exploration within the relevant context, presenting specific challenges and opportunities that transcend the conventional role of financial institutions and delve into the depths of the economy of meaning.

Conclusion: perspectives for a viable future

In my research, I propose the economy of meaning as a blueprint for reimagining value creation, one that merges economic prosperity with valid ethical values, meaningful innovation, and the boundless creativity inherent in human nature. This model employs system-theoretical and cybernetic principles to navigate and elucidate the complexities of modern economic systems, advocating for a robust, streamlined, and scalable approach to economic activities. By eliminating redundancies and focusing on scalability, it paves the way for a resilient and meaning-centric economic order that places human potential and well-being at its core.

Facing us is the formidable task of shifting from an economic paradigm dominated by immediate gratification and short-term gains to one deeply rooted in ethical considerations and groundbreaking innovation in how we conceive and create value? This entails not only a radical overhaul of our economic models but also a profound cultural and educational realignment. Embedding the principles of Artificial Intelligence and advanced cybernetic theory within the fabric of our societal structures is essential for nurturing the ethos of a sapiocratic society—a society that aspires to leverage the synergistic potential of human intelligence and AI for the greater good.

This envisioned transformation is comprehensive, aiming to unleash the full spectrum of human intelligence and creativity. It envisions a society where each individual's talents and capabilities are recognized, nurtured, and fully deployed in service of a collective pursuit of sustainable, ethical, and innovative solutions to our most pressing challenges. In essence, the future we strive towards is one where economic success is inextricably linked with the cultivation of a deeply meaningful, ethically grounded, and creatively rich human experience.

Like every piece I share here, this text is a product of inspiration, tracing the contours of life's complexities in pursuit of understanding. It does not purport to offer final answers or embody my definitive viewpoint; rather, it is an exploration, open to interpretation and devoid of claims to absolute truth. My aim is not to garner accolades from those captivated by simplified consensus. Instead, I strive to champion the nuanced intelligence inherent in each individual, advocating for its unobstructed expression in our world. Your grasp of these ideas will be shaped by your own dedicated search for insight. Engaging with a range of referred sources will undoubtedly deepen your understanding and broaden your perspective.


1 Tsvasman, L. (Ed.) (2006). Das große Lexikon Medien und Kommunikation. Kompendium Interdisziplinärer Konzepte [The Large Encyclopedia of Media and Communication. Compendium of Interdisciplinary Concepts]. Ergon Verlag, Würzburg.
2 Tsvasman, L. & Schild, F. (2019). AI-Thinking: Dialog eines Vordenkers und eines Praktikers über die Bedeutung künstlicher Intelligenz [AI Thinking: A Dialogue Between a Pioneer and a Practitioner on the Significance of Artificial Intelligence]. Ergon (Nomos Gruppe), Baden-Baden.
3 Tsvasman, L. (2021). Infosomatische Wende: Impulse für intelligentes Zivilisationsdesign Infosomatic Turn: Impulses for Intelligent Civilization Design. Ergon Verlag (Nomos Gruppe), Baden-Baden.
4 Tsvasman, L. (2023). The Age of Sapiocracy. On the Radical Ethics of data-driven Civilization. Ergon Verlag (Nomos Gruppe), Baden-Baden.