Liberatory Technology

Aden Van Noppen
Founder and Co-Director, Mobius
Aden Van Noppen
Founder and Co-Director, Mobius
Davion Ziere
Co-Director, Mobius
Davion Ziere
Co-Director, Mobius
Dr. Sará King
Scientist and Entrepreneur
Dr. Sará King
Scientist and Entrepreneur

What is liberatory technology? How might we enable a technology ecosystem that centers our collective well-being?

Show Notes

Our guests for this episode are Aden Van Noppen, Davion Ziere, and Dr. Sará King, the team behind Mobius. With historical and current advisors such as Jack Kornfield, Dr. Angel Acosta, and Krista Tippet, Mobius's mission is to activate a tech ecosystem focused on healing and well being. Mobius' work prioritizes support for Black, Brown, Indigenous, queer, youth, and others who are marginalized by the dominant tech sector.

In this conversation we discuss their vision for the technology sector and how Mobius' work seeks to enable it.

  • Sará, Zi, and Aden's visions for the technology sector [3:36]
  • Learnings form Mobius 1.0 [11:05]
  • Defining liberatory technology [16:56]
  • Mobius' theory of change [26:41]
  • Structures of accountability [32:04]
  • Mobius' trust and governing structures [34:46]
  • Sará's work with Mind Heart as an example of a liberatory technology [42:28]
  • Establishing Liberatory technology foundations [50:00]

Davion Zire (DZ): “What does liberation look like for each person listening today, and what aspects of you are oppressed or suppressed or depressed? And how might we liberate ourselves in such a way so as to restore the sense of – for people, it’s very important for us to feel a sense of choice and self-value. These are things that are very easy to skip over in our society, but we know that they affect every single person. Because when people don't feel like we have worth or value, or when our worth or value is always defined by someone paying us, someone grading us, or someone outside of ourselves. It's very easy for our value to be manipulated.”


[00:00:52] Jenny Stefantti (JS): That's Davion Zire, he’s a social entrepreneur, and I call him a visionary. You might recognize his voice from last week’s episode. This is the Denizen Podcast. I'm your host and curator, Jenny Stefanotti.

In this episode, we're talking about liberatory technologies, and how we might foster a technology ecosystem centered on our collective wellbeing instead of profit. Our guests are the team behind Mobius, whose mission is to activate a compassionate, accountable tech ecosystem that centers our collective, holistic wellbeing and empowers more of our planet and its people to thrive. So, their thesis is by activating a tech ecosystem focused on healing and liberation, they will usher in an era of collective wealth and wellbeing.

Our guests are Aden Van Noppen. She's the Founder and Co-director of Mobius. She was also a fellow at the Harvard Divinity School and a senior advisor to the US CTO in the Obama administration. So, her work is really integrating contemplative and religious traditions with tech. And as you heard at the top again, we have Davion Starchild Zire, who we affectionately refer to as Zi. He is co-director of Mobius with Aden. He's also an entrepreneur and founder of Origyn, an online community-based marketplace, and a recording artist, a true polymath who has also traveled the world studying various indigenous traditions.

Finally, Sará King, who is a thought leader at the intersection of social justice, neuroscience, and technology. She was a co-director at Mobius alongside Aden and Zire. The three of them have really crafted a significant strategic pivot that we talk about in this conversation. She is currently a fellow at Mobius, an entrepreneur and founder and CEO of an organization called Mind Heart that will speak to. She's also a certified yoga and meditation teacher, but I love that on her website, the first thing that she describes herself as is a mother.

So, in this very rich episode, we discuss all of their respective visions for technology's role in society. Aden's initial work at Mobius started with working directly with big technology companies, so I asked her about her learnings from that phase which led to their recent strategic pivot. I asked for clarity on what liberation technology means to them, Mobius’ theory of change, and how they put their visions into practice at Mobius. And we talk about Sará’s work at Mind Heart, as an example of what a foundational liberation technology looks like.

As always, you can find our show notes on our website, There you can also sign up for our newsletter, where we bring our content to your inbox alongside other announcements from the Denizen community. Subscribers are invited to join the Denizen community in our online home, and also at various online and IRL events. With that, I hope you enjoy this rich and insightful conversation.


[00:03:36] JS: So, I want to start actually asking what your visions are for technology's role in society? I’d just love to hear authentically from each of you as a starting point, what your visions are. Sará, I'd love to start with you.

[00:03:54] Sará King (SK): Thank you so much, Jenny. It's just really wonderful to be a part of this community. And I would say that in many ways, I am a newcomer to the tech space. I've been working in academia, in so many different fields, but most recently, specifically in neuroscience and neurology, and it was really in that space that I started to familiarize myself with the wide variety of digital biomarker measures that are being produced in this space – not only to look at brain activity, and heart activity, and general health and wellness – but also looking at, what is the neural substrate of love? What are the neural substrates of compassion or forgiveness or gratitude?

A lot of these emotions that are really fundamentally the basis of a lot of what we seek to cultivate in contemplative practices are emergent from so many different ancient wisdom traditions from around the world. So, my interest in technology as of late, and AI specifically, is really looking at the fact that AI is fundamentally biased because of its design. It always will be. Because of that fact, can we bias AI towards the development and promotion of greater loving awareness in the world? And what would that do to really promote healing inside of our society and maybe at like a real macro level, to actually give us the capacity to develop a model of our collective nervous system, the collective nervous system of humanity, and actually be able to track the movement of love as it is developing and evolving through our species.

And then within that, I think in the tracking and the development of love amongst us, we also have to really get into the nuances of tracking suffering and pain in our collective nervous system, and understanding that the way to treat suffering and pain for each individual person is going to be completely unique. So, how can AI really begin to tap into this very personalized zone of what it means to support the development of healing and love in individuals and in the collective for the benefit of all sentient beings, is what I'd say my interest is in.

[00:06:21] JS: That's beautiful. Do you want to add to that, Zi? 

[00:06:26] DZ: I'll just start by saying that technology absolutely should be something we can operate in harmony with, as we are evolving into a world where there's a lot of this direction of autonomous technology, automation. I actually think that doesn't have to be a bad thing, it just depends on whether we are in harmony with it. Do we share resonance with the direction of automation, supporting us doing less technical work, so we can focus on doing things that are truly more creative and soulful and heart filled? We can actually spend more time being intentional with our wellbeing, with the wellbeing of the communities around us, and the environment around us? How might we ultimately be in harmony in a way that liberates us from having to spend so much time doing things that really are not speaking to our hearts or our souls and allow technology to really be a wonderful support. Allow it to be something that can be a bridge to new possibilities, where things are more useful, even from the financial aspect.

With all the potential of technology, we could do literally anything we decided to. It's just a matter of what values we are centering in the work. And our hope is to absolutely recenter things like compassion. So, we're sharing this experience. We should center things like shared prosperity, and wellbeing, holistically so. That means that we have to be considerate of what is a part of holistic? What is a part of the whole? And that would be each different trait that makes up a person, each experience that's also being considered of differences, similarities, and how both people relate to the world and how people self-define. There's a lot that can be mind, body, spirit, heart, if we want to be pragmatic and granular. We could get even deeper into that, like keep going into things Sará beautifully covered once you talk about things that are covered by her work directly, actually.

I mean, there's just so much potential for it. Right now, we know that we center profit maximization. That is the focus. That's the center. It's just really important to be clear about what is the center and what we're moving to.

[00:08:35] JS: That's always a hot topic around these parts. And of course, we'll get to that in the conversation. Aden, let's hear from you.

[00:08:43] Aden Van Noppedn (AVN): Yes. Well, I'm loving hearing Sará and Zi articulate their visions. I feel like tech amplifies the best and worst of humanity. So, that's on the individual and collective level. So, collectively amplifies all the systemic oppression and bias and extraction and so many things. On the individual level, it also fractures us internally. It can so often numb us out, take us away from presence, increase trauma, as opposed to heal.

When things are built within the context of extractive capitalism, we tend to see, I believe, more of the worst of humanity individually and collectively, being amplified by tech. But that to me is not, it's not a given. It's sort of the conditions, the foundations that the dominant tech sector is built upon and that can change. The vision that I hold for tech is one that is truly healing, that actually brings out the best in us. As Sará said, it's biased towards that. And in her definition of justice as loving awareness in action, that to me feels like such a beautiful compass for holding what's possible with technology. That it supports us in our individual cultivation of loving awareness, and then moving towards that towards action at the collective level.

I think it's essential that tech draws on many ways of knowing many forms of knowledge, ancient knowledge, ancient wisdom, the knowledge of the Earth, the wisdom of the Earth, that when we are building the emergence that we are not leaving behind all of that ancient wisdom, and that feels absolutely essential to creating technology that is healing, that brings us closer to wholeness. And some of that actually led to the origins of Mobius 1.0, which I could speak to later.

But yes, I think, when technology does that, it does bring us into balance and harmony, as I said, and as opposed to dividing us, it can increase empathy and compassion versus dehumanization, and oppression, and wholeness as opposed to fracturing us internally and across our communities. There's so much more I could say, but we hold that vision of what's possible together, knowing that there's a lot that's broken in our world, and in our systems right now, but that it doesn't have to be that way.

[00:11:05] JS: I love all of that and I love hearing it from each of you. It also feels like such a beautiful vision in such a daunting task of shifting from where we are now to there, which was what I'm very excited to get into with you for the rest of the conversation.

But Aden, your comments are actually a great segue into just talking a little bit more about the early days of Mobius and the work that you did, because you were in the belly of the beast working within technology companies, understanding the incentives there, but also the intentions – and good intentions there. So, I'd love to just hear from you a little bit more about that era of your work. What were the going in assumptions that you had in doing that work? And what were the learnings that have ultimately led, and we'll talk next about it, the pivot in Mobius’s work?

[00:11:57] AVN: Yes. Well, it's been quite a journey these last couple of years, and really began with time that I spent as a fellow at Harvard Divinity School, where I was looking at the intersection of technology, ethics, spirituality, and justice.  I was housed within the context of this institution that exists for people to learn the skills of and study many different religious traditions that have to do with care of our souls in many ways. And yet, there was no conversation happening between those that were steeped in that practice and study at the Divinity School in this context, at least, and those that were down the road at the MIT Media Lab or across the street at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. There was no exchange and conversation around what these teachings have to offer to the design of the future of what it means to be human.

So, I really felt this disconnect in the conversation, and whose perspectives were in the room for the design of technology, that was one big piece of the origin of Mobius. We really, as you said, Jenny, we began with wanting to bring some of those perspectives as well as really speak to and support the folks within big tech who we felt were really aligned with some of our values and concerns around wanting to see significant shifts within what was being prioritized within many of the dominant tech companies to really alongside profit, prioritize the wellbeing of people who are using these products, which is most of the world.

At that time, I believed that it was possible to build community amongst people who were doing that work inside of big tech and inside of leadership positions, and to provide them with access to advising services, essentially, that brought in different perspectives into the room to help them to actualize visions that they may have, or how the products they're working on can be more ethical, could care for people more deeply. There was a lot of really deep work that happened, both in the advising work that we did, as well as through the community building.

But ultimately, a couple of things motivated this major shift in our strategy. One was that I started to see that at the company level, the tradeoffs really weren't being made that were needed to shift things as much as they needed to be shifted. There's incredible work happening, much of it isn't visible around harm reduction. But ultimately, my vision and energy was around bigger transformative solutions that shift the incentives and I just wasn't seeing that happening. Another reason for the shift is that it felt like we were ultimately propping up existing power structures and I want to see those power structures shift. I want to see power shift towards people who have been marginalized by the dominant tech sector who ultimately, I feel, have the deepest insights into what needs to change and how to change it. We weren't doing that. So that felt out of integrity. 

I felt that making that shift, also, meant that the team needed to change. At the time, we were an all white leadership team and our perspectives were not the ones that would create this transformation. So, it really was a both a shift towards wanting to support transformational solutions that have the values baked in from the outset, that center, justice, and love, and compassion, and that we are explicitly shifting power attention resources towards people who have been marginalized by the dominant tech sector who have visions for how to do that.

Still, there's throughlines that are really important, such as bringing in many different forms of knowledge and wisdom to support that transformation, as well as the power of community, that continue to be very central to how I believe change can happen and how we can develop greater moral courage together. We learned a lot. I think we did some powerful things and some important things. But ultimately, it was the foundations, the conditions, the DNA that needed to shift in order to have the change that I believe is really needed.

[00:16:18] JS: I really appreciate that, and I also very deeply appreciate that your pivot included shifting leadership, and understanding that to actualize this, Mobius needed to embody it in its own power dynamics and perspectives of what you’re asking others to bring to the table. And yes, I'm always asking questions about those fundamental incentive structures. At the same time, there are some really interesting questions about how change happens, and how it happens within large companies in tandem with things happening in other parts of the ecosystem, which I know is where your attention is focused now and I want to turn us to that. When we talk about liberation technology, or liberatory technology, I know we talked about it a little bit in your visions, but I want to hear more explicitly what that means to you. Zi, let's start with you, and then Sará, I'd love to hear you build on it.

[00:17:10] DZ: Yes. So very simply, we really just kind of break down each word or highlight each one and understand like, what is liberation? What does liberation look like for each person listening today? And what aspects of you are oppressed, or suppressed, or depressed? And how might we liberate ourselves in such a way so as to restore the sense of – for people, it’s very important for us to feel a sense of choice and self-value. These are things that are very easy to skip over in our society, but we know that they affect every single person. Because when people don't feel like we have worth or value, or when our worth or value is always defined by someone paying us, someone grading us, or someone outside of ourselves, it's very easy for our value to be manipulated. And so that's really key.

Then, the choice piece is key, which we all know is huge, especially in a space like technology, where consent is just – we know it's very difficult for people to feel like we have any sort of real ability to consent without that meaning that we can't participate in the greater ecosystem of technology at large, just using regular apps that you would want to use to talk to loved ones and your rights are essentially, we're just like, yes, we're just signing it away. And then another piece of that is, and we've talked about this, Jenny, that also leads into things like ownership and whatnot, right? But you're not going to have that sense of ownership, if you don't feel like you have a choice. You definitely aren’t going to feel like you have a choice if you don't have this sense of our own value, our ability to make decisions.

All this to say, right now there's just so many aspects of just like even on our rights, our respect for ourselves as people, that are often stripped. Well, what if we restored these things and then what's interesting, have a conversation on what we said a little bit earlier, which was holistic wellbeing. So, liberatory technology is centering our holistic wellbeing, factoring in things like our ability to choose, our confidence in ourselves, and having constant affirmations of our value, and not being so lopsided and imbalanced in the ecosystem.

Yes, essentially, those are the sorts of building blocks that lead us to a space of shared prosperity. I love the quality of where the individual flourishes, so does the whole. So, holistic is also encapsulating the whole in of all of us.

[00:19:42] JS: Zi, in the conversation that came out with Bobby Klein, I mentioned you in it, he talks about all the lies that we tell ourselves, and he says the biggest lie that we tell ourselves is that we're not worthy. I mentioned you, because you always talk about our worthiness because of our being.

[00:19:59] DZ: Simply. Yes, we always say by birth on Earth, we are valid. It's funny, because we have a famous phrase of, “To be or not to be? That's the question.” It's funny, because at this point, it's so ingrained that we wouldn't even know why it's so significant. We would just say it just because for some reason, to be or not to be. Yes, that is an interesting question. Or it's inserted into, like, the art. It’s said to be like, what is the greatest of our time or of our lives, but it is really an essential thing. If we are to be, then how are we to be? Hopefully, well, hopefully, we are well. I'm pretty sure everyone here wants to be able to say that in our life, in your life, you want to be well. You love to be able to feel secure, and safe, comfortable in your own skin, in your own being, in your own body, in your community.

These are needs. So, how many of our needs can we truly respond to with care and love at the center of it? That sort of approach is what lends itself to liberatory technology, because that's what the focus of the technology is. I mean, just imagine that, right? Everything being built is actually constructed, centering our need to care. It’s just a very different perspective.

[00:21:14] JS: This is what Tristan was trying to get at with time well spent in the early days of his work – I don't know if you knew that. But the early framing around it was time well spent. It is a language that Zuck actually picked up at Facebook, although obviously, the incentives of quarterly earnings are a tidal wave against the little drips in that direction. Sará, I'd love to hear from you. Do you want to build on that?

[00:21:37] SK: I just am always so enamored with the way that Zi describes his perspective on liberation, and particularly when he's talking about concepts around worth, and choice, and self-value. As a neuroscientist, one of the things that is a really deep part of my focus is trauma. And when I talk about trauma, I'm actually talking about the trauma response that is built into our autonomic nervous system that causes us to go into fight or flight or freeze or faint.

And one of the primary ways in which the trauma response is activated inside of us, is, whenever we have some sense that our choice is being taken away, whenever we have a sense that we're entering into a space where we do not experience belonging, when we are – because of the body that we have been born into – made to feel that we have to question constantly our self-worth and our self-value.  It can be very challenging to have a really deeply intrinsic sense of, exactly like Zi said, that by the fact of my birth on Earth, I'm worthy of being here, right?

I think that a lot of what we're seeing right now in the conversation with the negative impacts of social media, for instance, is that a lot of these feelings of disenfranchisement, and separation from this intrinsic sense of self-worth, is really being heightened by a lot of the imagery that is being reflected back to us, and this imagery is really telling a story that is antithetical to our capacity to really feel into our fundamental aliveness, right? So, I'm really fascinated with this concept that just because you are technically living, doesn't mean that you are connected to your aliveness.

What is subjectively speaking, the felt qualities of aliveness that we feel when we're in flow, when we're falling in love, when we're connected to deep feelings of curiosity and awe, and particularly interconnection. And interconnection, interconnectedness is something, it's a very essential part of the fabric of being human that is being so worn away right now, when we're having all these conversations about this epidemic of divisiveness that is so politicized. That is really resulting in very, very real, very literal harm, death, and just a total lack of psychological, emotional, and physical safety for a lot of particularly marginalized human beings across the planet, right?

To me, this speaks to the idea that one of my mentors likes to say, that one of the greatest lies that is operating currently is the myth of the separate self.

[00:24:32] JS: This comes up a lot.

[00:24:33] SK: Especially in this hyper individualistic culture that is so embedded into the cultural climate of technology, and it really is this dog eat dog mentality. And then we're looking at this epidemic of loneliness, which is also tied to so many of the acts of violence that we see – particularly in the United States when you're just looking at mass shootings. So, I think that there is a huge call, there's a huge quest to understand what types of technology can reconnect us to one another, to our original fundamental state of being, which in a lot of indigenous communities, and in a lot of ancient traditions, say that love and awareness of ourselves as love, is our original state. So, how do we get back to that? I think that liberatory technology really is a huge part of the key to the answer to that question.

[00:25:30] JS: That's such a beautiful provocation in the current state where technology is doing the exact opposite. The provocation is: How can it bring us back to ourselves and one another?  I really appreciated the comments you made about connecting to our aliveness, that it's not just the hyper individualism that disconnects us from each other, and leads us to optimize for ourselves and our own accumulation, but also the disconnect from ourselves. It's almost like an epidemic of capitalism, as I see it, right? Which obviously rose from the intellectual traditions of the Scientific Revolution and The Enlightenment – we talked about that in some of our earlier conversations as well. But also, this disconnection from ourselves, and we lose our aliveness. Because when we connect to that, it's when we have those flow states, right? And I love how much all three of you are so versed in traditions that bring us back to that internal knowing of who we are. And that's really the Denizen provocation – what does it mean to be a denizen of yourself, and your community, and the planet? Our logo is three Ds embedded to represent those things. So, you're really speaking my language today. Thank you so much for that.

I want to talk about, so we've got the big vision and we've got clarity, and more specifically, around what we mean by liberation technology. Let's talk about your thoughts on how we get there. So, what's the theory of change that underpins the work that Mobius is doing now? Aden, can you take that one?

[00:26:58] AVN: Yes, sure. Well, I will say building off of what you just named, Jenny, about being a denizen of ourselves. Mobius, is named after the Mobius strip, which is a shape that has the mathematical property of having no separation between the inside and the outside of the shape. It breaks down the illusion of the separation between our inner life and what we create in the world. That has always been and continues to be absolutely core to what we believe in how we believe change happens.

So, a big piece of that is beginning with embodying the conditions of liberation ourselves, and embodying the elements that we would hope that the wider world and the tech sector also embody. So, all of these things that Zi and Sará just named, and that means not moving at the speed of capitalism. That means not moving at the speed of whiteness. It means all of these things that are really a deep, deep practice for myself, the deepest practice of my life has been, alongside Zi and Sará, really deepening that integrity and embodiment. So, it all begins with that, in terms of the theory of change. And then, in terms of the strategy, we really believe that –

[00:28:18] JS: Can I just say, though, how important that is, and how often that is overlooked. Many well-intentioned interventions don't realize that they're not reforming to the core, and they're inadvertently replicating the very things that they seek to change. So, I just want to applaud you for that insight in your work.

[00:28:36] AVN: Yes, it is such a big part of why this world is sick in the way that it is. So, our hope is to be some of that medicine for ourselves, and then therefore be medicine for others and for the systems that we're trying to transform. And yes, you're absolutely right, that is oftentimes not what happens, even when people are deeply, deeply committed to similar visions. So yes, Zi, were you going to jump in there? 

[00:29:03] DZ: I was going to say, we can change the color of the hat and not change the fabric. It's just, if it's still wired into it, I just love that you're really unpacking the threads of it. Because you're absolutely right. There's a lot of things that we're even saying right now and today where I feel like, there's so many of these types of statements, and a lot of them really just deserve time to sink, like the fact that by birth on Earth, we’re valid, how do we actually bring that to life?

A lot of times we focus on the branding of something as opposed to that reconstruction, or allowing for something new to emerge all together. We'd rather just paint over something than really understand how to attend to what's already there.

Aden, please continue. I just really wanted to riff with you all on that, about slowing down to really acknowledge some of those points.

[00:29:48] AVN: Yeah, there he goes, embodying it. Embodying the slowing down. So good. Thank you, Zi. Yes, and I would just say that in terms of our theory of change that we really believe that the people, the capital, the wisdom, the technology, the imagination that's needed to transition to a more liberatory tech ecosystem, all of it already exists in abundance, but it's disconnected, it's not resourced, it's not recognized, or holistically supported. So, we believe that those things need to be connected, resourced, and that the people who are creating this ecosystem need to be supported in their whole beings.

So, Mobius is, we're home for people, products, systems, and stories that are centering wellbeing and our holistic thriving. It's really a home for unlocking the liberatory tech ecosystem, focusing on the people first, really. So, we're designing support structures for those people, primarily through structures of community and trust, a financial trust, that I will speak more to, and both of those things really centering our wellbeing and compassion versus extraction and profit maximization. So, really demonstrating and embodying an alternative way of creating a foundation for a tech ecosystem that is liberatory and healing. That takes the form of giving rise to liberatory tech products, to frameworks and protocols, and to new narratives and stories about what's possible.

[00:31:23] JS: The pivot from Mobius 1.0 or 2.0 reminds me of that Buckminster Fuller quote, it's actually front and center on the Denizen website, that you don't change the existing system, you design the new system that makes the old system obsolete, right? So, you were in –

[00:31:38] AVN: That you’re visible.

[00:31:40] JS: Yes. So, you're like, let's let that broken tech system do what it's doing. But let's create a supportive ecosystem for this different way of being and figure out how to resource that and how to give it a competitive advantage, if it's possible, over the highly extracted, big tech, runaway, degradation-of-society ecosystem that we're all familiar with.

[00:32:04] SK: If I may just jump in really quickly, because I think there's one detail that's super important to add to this conversation which is – I think that a lot of people listening to this conversation could probably relate to what I'm about to say. There really aren't a lot of structures of accountability that exist in practice.  And I would go so far as to say that this statement applies across all sectors, when it comes to having real relational practices of accountability that center healing, this question of “How do we heal ourselves individually and together?,” and the process of really excavating what it means to heal. I'm talking about healing – holistically, spiritually, physiologically, emotionally, psychologically – and the kind of depth of vulnerability that is required to share about those processes, right?

I think for some people, healing is a little bit of a dirty word. It's like, “Oh, no, if I admit that I need to heal, that's admitting that I'm broken. It's admitting that something is wrong.” So, there can be a real shying away from that. And what I have experienced inside of the Mobius ecosystem is this real depth of prioritizing the creation of an accountability structure, grounded in healing together such that all of the actions that we are producing in the world, whether it is about actual product development, or narrative shift, whatever it is, really is coming from this deeply felt psycho spiritual, cellular place of our process of healing together. I just don't think that that's something that we can honestly say is happening in a lot of the big tech sector, quite frankly.

[00:33:55] JS: I think you used a really important word, which is also vulnerability, and so much of human, deep human connection comes in that space. Whereas the default is somehow “I'm less than, if I show my humaneness and my need to heal.”  So, I very much appreciate your comments there. Of course, any of you, at any time, feel free to jump in.

Aden, do you want to speak any more to the theory of change? Or should we hand it to Zi to talk about the trust and actually how that's instantiated in the work that you're doing?

[00:34:28] AVN: Nothing else I would say about the theory of change itself, except just to acknowledge how central Zi and Sará have been to the development of this part of this evolution of the strategy. And that happened a little over a year ago, and both of them were a deep inspiration to me even before that “officially” happened.

[00:34:46] JS: Let's talk about the trust. This is the part where I get really excited. Let's talk about legal structures and governance because this is where the rubber hits the road.

[00:34:56] DZ: This has been a wonderful opportunity to talk about things like, why are we living? Are we truly alive? And how alive are we while we're here? We've been able to talk about choice, ownership, and self-worth. We've also been able to talk about liberatory technology and liberatory products, narratives, the people that are actually doing the work, and how we're centering the unlocking of this ecosystem, where things aren't focused on profit maximization or extraction, where we look at everything as a commodity, but we're able to really look at, well, “How can we share and care for what's here together?”

So, it's a really fundamental shift that depending on the community we even grew up in, some of us say, we'll say that the indigenous communities carry this as important. And this is absolutely true. And also, we can know that just from our life experiences, we appreciate being loved. We appreciate being cared for. We appreciate being in spaces where we feel safe. We appreciate feeling like we have the ability to choose, so on and so forth.

These are all things that we're considering, as we look at holistic wellbeing, and we look at the whole of us all, and how do we actually build for that centering these sorts of values. One way that is very important, is one that actually enables us to be funded to build this ecosystem, right? And a big hang up for people who are investing or funding, and that could be anyone here. That can be what we might consider the world's billionaires or people who are looking to grow their portfolios.

A huge hang up, even though their hearts might say, sure, I would love to do something that would not be so ill aligned with communities or people, it doesn't feel great to just exploit people's pain and traumas and things like that. Industries feel about these things. But how would I actually still protect and preserve myself when it comes to putting my resources in that direction? How can I still live and prosper while I'm here?

So, the trust is a response to these sorts of things and built with consideration for that. Right now, we are in the early stages of constructing a pilot, where we create a special purpose trust that transitions us from transaction-based relationships, to then being trust-based, and from this is mine, this is my mine, got to get it for me. To a true we, in terms of who's considered to be a part of the commonwealth. So, we're going from like, the private piece to like, shared wealth, right?

In it, there's like a lot of questions like, well, so imagine, a very simple thing is, okay, so I'm a part of this – so I’ve poured resources into this trust, right? How am I actually taken care of? I have put money or my ideas, or my land, or whatever resources, my support a liberatory tech ecosystem, and we're going in this direction together. But how do I – what's my return? What's my reward? It's a very natural question. I actually think it's a good question, because –

[00:38:10] JS: A tough question too. Very non-trivial.

[00:38:15] DZ: Yes. And ultimately, what do we need from it, too? Something that we skip over a lot of times is our needs, and what those things really actually are. Our lives are so full of things far beyond our needs that we've re-associated with needs.

[00:38:29] JS: Yes. I mean, I also feel like the answer to that question is a function of relative need.

[00:38:35] DZ: Yes. Absolutely.

[00:38:35] JS: Like, what is collective abundance?

[00:38:39] DZ: Absolutely. So, that's what are our needs, and in order to insert, fill in the blank. And so, our hope would be that from this pilot, we would have basically introduced an evolutionary financial instrument that is compatible with preexisting corporate forms. So, everything from the formation of an LLC, to the formation of a B Corp, to the formation of a nonprofit or not for profit, to being able to receive funding from various sources, whether that be a family foundation, an angel investor, whatever. However, you might fall into the space of the pouring side of the ecosystem, right?

And then, ultimately, one really important thing about this trust is, what are the terms that we are agreeing to here? It's a very fundamental piece, if it is to be that we are sharing prosperity. Well, there's some definitions that we have to say, as to what that actually looks like, what that means, and we have to agree to start. In that, that's something that we can continue to build on, continue to grow, terms can be updated. Imagine that there'll be new forms of things that are similar in terms of trust, given its effectiveness and its ability to prove that literally we are one trust away, if you will.

I want to draw this point really quickly about trust and Jenny, you heard, I stated this before, and it's written – a body that can’t trust its parts shuts down. So, without trust, nothing is really fluid or able to function in flow, even if there's information that needs to be passed through your body, even if there's information that needs to pass through the body of other people, or of a country. So, it’s the same thing, if we're applying it over to a space like technology, we're not able to really have the sort of flow that really enables life, when everything is so transactional. Actually, it takes up a lot of time. It's actually really tedious and it's annoying. Who wants to do that all the time? I know that some of us might say that we're passionate about this sort of space, but it's like, just for a second, slow down, breathe, imagine an ideal day where you just feel good, or remember a day where you felt good.

Also, if that's not the case, if you didn't have a day where you felt good, reflect. It's important for us to allow ourselves to create and imagine from a space of, “Okay, yeah, this feels really good.” There's not all these extra, “Oh, I got to go in here and prove my worth. I got to go in here and state the worth. I got to go in here and negotiate that out.” So on and so forth. You're not playing the value game all the time, which is such a huge part of our reality with everything. You allow people to know that you're valuable, allow us to know for ourselves. I won’t to say you allow. We allow ourselves. And also having technology that complements and reminds, and enables, and encourages, and empowers.

A huge point of technology is making it simpler for us to be able to accomplish something else. So, what is it that we're making it simpler for us to actually reach and access? I believe that trust is also, it's effectively a form of a technology as well. It's something that enables us to step into a certain direction. Of course, we're talking about piloting right now. It would be really nice to see more models like this emerge over the next decade.

[00:42:20] JS: I love that you're walking the walk all the way down to the structures and experimenting with that, and hopefully, it will inspire others to follow suit. I wanted to talk to Sará a little bit more about your work to just close out the conversation because you are a Mobius fellow and CEO and founder of Mind Heart. Just to land us in a very concrete example of a liberation technology, and maybe you could speak a little bit too, to how sitting in the Mobius ecosystem is supporting your work?

[00:42:53] SK: Yes, absolutely. I think it's really important to mention that me being a Mobius fellow is actually a very recent pivot. So, I was Co-Director of Science and Healing inside of the Mobius space, up until fairly recently, when we started to really get deeply into the question of
“How do we open up this incredible space of practice and healing and experimentation with liberatory tech foundations,” of which Zi has been such a powerful author, “to others who could really benefit from what it is that we have been beta testing amongst ourselves?”

And then, we realized that right in our midst was this process that I was undergoing of developing a liberatory technology. So, through Mind Heart, I am developing the world's first 3D Interactive, AI integrated map of human awareness, which is extraordinarily exciting to me that it just really feels as though all of the different types of technology that I need in order to create this map, have really come together at the same point in time, historically speaking.

So, this map is meant to really harvest two different types of data. It takes qualitative data from what it is that you communicate to it, either through speech or through text. And this is so important to mention, because when Zi is talking about the importance of really feeling as though all of our experiences of being alive are incredibly valid, I really can't think of technology that exists where literally any experience that you communicate to it is meant to be treated as having the utmost of value, especially in terms of how it is that we're cultivating awareness of our internal states of wellbeing, and how those are impacted by collective wellbeing external to us. And that it's also going to take that qualitative subjective information about our awareness of our wellbeing, and sync it up with digital biomarkers from a wearable.

So, it's really going to be looking at things like heart rate variability, and blood pressure, and movement, and just all of these different wonderful measures that can be captured right now in terms of our health behavior, and it's really going to look at and examine and produce beautiful data visualizations to show us in a moment by moment basis, the incredible complexity of the experience of aliveness as it relates to our wellbeing that we're having inside of our body.

One of the things that I think is so unique about this map of human awareness is the way in which it integrates the data of the experience of our identity, as identity really is – it's huge. It includes all of this information about the ways that we experience ourselves as intersectional beings, right? It includes all of this intergenerational information, right? So, information that is coming from all of the experiences of our ancestors, as they have been moving and shifting and behaving through space and time. And then, it's also going to be looking at epigenetic factors. 

One of the things that we're so excited about is that all of this information, number one, this is very sensitive data, right? We're talking about, literally, all of the data that can be gathered, from the perspective of one's awareness, being aware. We want to house all of this data on the blockchain, so that any person who is coming to the Mind Heart platform to interact with the system space awareness map, really feels a sense of total ownership and choice over their own data.

First, you get a systems-based awareness map. But the point of this map and these gorgeous data visualizations is not just that people be aware, right? Awareness is important. Because what you aren't aware of, you really don't have any capacity to heal or to attend to, right? 

Once you get this data visualization around what you are aware of, or the gaps in your awareness in terms of your experience of wellbeing, this will produce what we're calling a loving awareness map. And the loving awareness map is going to connect you to a wide variety of digital or IRL wellbeing services that are being suggested to you, whether this is AI generated art therapy, or sound healing, or you're getting connected to yoga therapists, or acupuncturist, or medical doctors, or even connecting you to community-based services, that are going to really deepen your feelings of meaning and belonging.

Any of the services or places or spaces, even out in nature, that could be recommended to someone on this platform to support their wellbeing are going to be incredibly personalized on the basis of this data of human awareness. So, in truth, this is the liberatory technology that as a fellow, I'm really being held as I create it inside of the Mobius space. And I would also be remiss not to mention that Zi has been really spending a lot of time looking at what he describes as liberatory tech foundations.

[00:48:25] JS: I'm about to comment, yes.

[00:48:26] SK: – to describe from his point of view what those are. But really looking at, with every single level of this creative process, of generating this map of human awareness that the fundamentals of trust, and liberation, and freedom and loving awareness, are built into every single operational capacity, all the way down to our business practices, our marketing, every single aspect of the business is really going to be seeded with this incredible liberatory framework of size.

I think that that's really important to mention, because it's so wonderful to have the opportunity to be building a liberatory technology company from the ground up with these incredible liberatory principles really baked into the DNA of everything that we do. Because in my experience, there are a lot of companies right now that are really having to try to, if you will, reverse engineer liberation, or healing, or well-being of some sort, into their business practices. And that can be really difficult to do when that isn't prioritized from the very beginning, and prioritized all the way to the level of how it is that we are embodying the process of liberation ourselves, and our relationships with one another inside of the space.

I'll stop there, in case Zi wants to hop in and speak a little bit to these liberatory tech foundations because I think it would be a really beautiful opportunity to hear a little bit more about that.

[00:50:00] DZ: The liberatory tech foundations are essentially a reassessment of the approach that we take to creating all together, as it relates to things that we're going to launch into the world. So, from a technological framework, like, how are we building? What materials are we building with? What sort of things do we need to be considerate of? How are we viewing those that we serve? Are you viewing them as consumers or users? Are we viewing them as shareholders? As a member, a participant, an active participant in a community?

So, it's really foundations that enable greater choice to be in alignment with more compassionate values. If you so chose, you could actually continue to, if you're like, “Hey, I just like capitalism. I just like extraction. I like to do the whole – the take and this is the way that I know and this way I want to do it.” You could absolutely continue to choose to. But this is ultimately, for those that are opting in for, “Hey, we have a surplus of resources, how might we actually share? How might we share?”

So, it's enabling choice and consent as protocols, in order for us to be able to kind of vote in a direction actually, with our choices.

[00:51:20] JS: You know how I strongly feel about that theory of change.

[00:51:24] DZ: Yes, right? It's both for the builders, it's for everyone that's a part of the ecosystem is who it's for. So that, again, that would be those that are, capital not as strict as cash, but from an investment perspective, that would be those who might consider themselves investors. But I think that it's key that we even look at stuff like that with our foundations, right? With our foundations, we will – and are – publishing works around the terms, like traits of liberatory technology, things to consider.  And the term investment for an investor, for instance, everyone here is an investor, right? You're investing your time or your energy in listening to this. You are investing your time or energy into work at a company. You're investing a part of your life in almost every exchange, right? Some of us have gotten really good at investing in a way that kind of freezes time, and it goes, “Hey, this is the deal around me putting my time and my energy into this thing.”

So, those are the kinds of things that we factor in for the foundations, and we hope that this enables things. Sará mentioned data. We hope that this enables people to even be rewarded simply for sharing our most authentic data. So, we just have data pools of genuine information about people and about our experiences. Why is that important? So, we can actually have the clarity around how to really provide care and to really understand who we are and what our needs are, and how we meet them with technology and technology that's built on pure, genuinely shared information that people are rewarded for.

I mean, just imagine that? Imagine sharing your information, and just being rewarded for it. Because you're being honest. You're being rewarded for sharing your honest life story, or parts about yourself that you feel comfortable sharing. Today, we don't even get necessarily pure information in that way, authentic information, because so much of it is actually, so much of information that is grabbed about us is grabbed in a cycle around commerce, and how we can game you to best understand you and your impulses to play off of those, to get you to drive our profit margins. And that's very different from just like, “Hey, honest conversation, this is exactly how I'm actually feeling. This is what I'm really experiencing. These are my challenges.” You know what I mean? It’s such a huge –

[00:53:58] SK: That’s what the platform is about, exactly.

[00:54:00] DZ: Absolutely. So, imagine just an entire ecosystem of technologies that take us further in this direction, that are able to utilize information from the works of Sará and a system-based awareness map, and the support that that's able to provide. Just there being an entire ecosystem of things that you've been able to utilize that sort of information, where it's like, people are just really sharing in real time.

I'll pause there and leave space, but it is so important that we, who are here, can be able to slow down and recognize our active participation in the development of foundations and platforms and technologies that further our progress towards a world we’re in and communities, really communities, where we can be ourselves and be well. That's a powerful shift.

[00:55:01] JS: We opened with a question for all three of you. I'd love to close with one for all three of you, which is just what gives you hope? Aden, we haven't heard from you in a bit. Would you like to start?

[00:55:09] AVN: Sure. What gives me hope? I describe myself as an optimist. But I also hold deeply the grave realities of these times that we live in. What gives me hope is that I feel like there is a collective waking up that's happening right now. With waking up to how dire things are, but also the opportunity and the need for things to change. That doesn't mean that change is easy, or that that desire is shared. But it feels like many of us have been living in the trance of the religion of capitalism, of the trance of white supremacy and patriarchy, and that there is a certain amount of that trance starting to dissipate for many people.

That is, to me, it's just the beginning of the kind of transformation that we need. But it is such a necessary ingredient to realize that the way that we have been living is a choice. It is not inevitable.

[00:56:09] JS: Sará.

[00:56:09] SK: Yes, I'd love to jump in here and just say that, as a mother of a 15-year-old girl, the youth give me an incredible amount of hope. I also want to really uplift everything that Aden just said, so incredibly. But the youth of today have such an extraordinary capacity to view their vulnerability as strength. And they seem to be extraordinarily empathetic and compassionate and attuned to how important their individual wellbeing is, but also how it is tied into the whole, to collective wellbeing. And I think that they're extraordinary and I really look forward to the opportunity to have their voices and perspectives really uplifted and empowered inside of a liberatory technology space like Mobius.

[00:57:00] JS: I really appreciate that. Zi, you want to take us home?

[00:57:04] DZ: Yes, absolutely. I really just feel like it's important for us to remind, as we close the conversation, that we are here today, and this is what we're talking about. I think it's really powerful, because this is actually something we're dedicating our time and our lives, our life energy to. And that is an incredible act. We know that there's community around this work, and we know that we are slowing down to embody the practices of what we hope for the outcomes to be. It's one thing to hope for the outcome and not love the practice that we really are slowing down to learn, to listen, to release practices that are not healthy or supportive of our aliveness. Just us really living and being able to do so together.

Again, this is not an individualistic thing. But it does prioritize the individual. So, it also prioritizes each of us. So, that's super inspiring to know that we're even here, talking about this, doing this work in real life, today. And that there are plenty of models across history where we have been able to actually be in full alignment. There's so much we don't know, too, stories that haven't been shared, because that wasn't what was favorable to building this system of extraction that we have today. So yes, listen, at the end of the day, our wellbeing is essential for life and how are we.

[00:58:41] JS: I just appreciate you three so much. You're all so brilliant. You're such an incredible, brilliant team together. I'm grateful for your work and for your wisdom and I'm excited to share that with our community and audience and also support your work.

[00:58:57] AVN: Thank you so much, Jenny, for having us and for everyone who's taking the time to listen.

[00:59:03] SK: Absolutely.

[00:59:05] DZ: Thank you.


[00:59:04] JS: Thank you so much for listening. And thanks to Scott Hansen, also known as Tycho, for our musical signature. In addition to this podcast, you can find resources for each episode on our website,, including transcripts and background materials for our most essential topics like universal basic income, decentralized social media, and long-term capitalism. We also have posts summarizing our research, which make it easy for listeners to very quickly get an overview of these particularly important and foundational topics.

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