The End Of Government?

The End Of Government?

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There is a really interesting debate going on in my island nation community of Guernsey at the moment. There is large review of government tax and spending.

There is a suggestion that the cost of government will need to move from 25% to 28% of GDP. Our government rightly argues that ours is already one of the lowest cost governments in the world, yet our population is highly dissatisfied with current performance.

Like many countries, we have an aging population. We are told that rising healthcare costs and pension costs, combined with a reducing workforce, will make this shift unavoidable. We are told that efficiencies will be made, but taxes will still have to rise. We are also told that services will be cut and we can see that quality of life will reduce as a result of this. This is not good news, and our population is rightly dissatisfied.

In fact, populations all over the world are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their government. There is a wisdom in the crowd. No matter what governments say, no amount of rhetoric spun will get populations to believe that they are being well served. And the truth is – they are not.

Take my home island of Guernsey, as an example. We currently have healthcare costs of £111 million per year, to deliver to 65,000 people with a life expectancy of 85. Some would think that is one of the best national healthcare systems in the world. That may be, but I am someone who thinks that the best healthcare system in the world is only delivering a fraction of the potential that is already possible today.

I spend my life looking at the extremes of human potential. Whether in individuals, organisations or the world, I am constantly researching the best approaches to allow the human race to deliver on its true potential. And this brings me to the power of incentivisation: prize competitions and the ability for communities to use them to change the world. Incentivized competitions are the most effective methodology in the world to solve big problems and drive global innovation.

Prizes were commonly used to drive innovation in the 18th, 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. They disappeared for the while until 1995 when the Xprize launched their competition to restart the space race. We are now starting to see fruits of that prize, with companies like Virgin Galactic, Space X and Blue Origin taking orders of magnitude out of the cost of space travel. The prize movement is starting to take off  again, and spread. Within a decade, it will be one of the main mechanisms used  to drive innovation in the world.

So let me give an example of how it would work in my community, to transform the future of government. If I put a £10 million pound prize competition out into the world, with my friends at HeroX (a spin-off from Xprize), asking entrants to create a healthcare system to deliver a life expectancy of 100, for £50 million per year, I would get a workable/implementable answer that could be delivered within 2 years.

If I ran the same competition but challenged people to deliver on a life expectancy of 120 for £25 million per year, a workable/implementable solution could be delivered in 10 years.

My government’s figures (similar to most governments’) forecast our healthcare costs doubling over the next two decades, whilst only predicting a life expectancy of something like 90.

So here is an example of humanity’s potentiality gap – and why I believe government is the world’s biggest challenge.

You see, the biggest trend in the world is being missed. That is, the exponentially developing technology curve and its impact. No government in the world is set up to deliver that kind of potential. I am not sure any government has worked out that this is even possible.

Social entrepreneurs and innovators within communities have to start the real revolution. Not through violence and revolution in the traditional sense, but through innovation and positivity.

Remember what Amazon did to the book industry? Populations will start to work out that they can come together and drive technological innovation, rendering their own governments irrelevant.

The world’s toughest problem is government and bureaucracy. In this era, that problem is becoming solvable. Most people underestimate the scope of my work at The Dandelion Project and The World FIX, but my day-to-day work is all about tackling that problem. I have no intention of failing in this mission.

I believe that in two decades’ time, we will see the emergence of the first country without a government in the traditional sense. The first incarnations of that will occur in small nation states like my home country of Guernsey.

So, the real question is, does anyone have £10 million to catalyse the step change transformation in 1 country’s healthcare system? Better still, does anyone have £100 million so we can look at creating prizes for everything that my government does?

Yours, in mischief.


P.S. A global impact organisation – GPrize – will be launching soon, incentivized by prize competitions to solve the island nation of Guernsey’s Grand Challenges, with the purpose of accelerating government performance, globally.

If you are interested in getting involved in this project please send an e-mail to

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  1. What is your take on basic production, from agriculture to metals, that serves as a basis of everything from preventive medicine to right livelihood? The discussion of the underlying raw productivity is missing for me in your analysis, please enlighten the world on how the two are integrated.

    • Agriculture is something we are focused on with a recent launch of Edible Guernsey project. We wish to use community farming models combined with vertical farming technology to bring food costs down to zero over time with all production being local. This will in itself integrate with the health objectives.

      As for manufacturing I am actually interested in creating a prize to convert land fill into 3D printing materials. This is not something that we have put into motion as yet.

  2. “So let me give an example of how it would work in my community, to transform the future of government. If I put a £10 million pound prize competition out into the world, with my friends at HeroX (a spin-off from Xprize), asking entrants to create a healthcare system to deliver a life expectancy of 100, for £50 million per year, I would get a workable/implementable answer that could be delivered within 2 years.”

    Where do those numbers come from ? In this ballpark estimation, how many people are you supposed to cover ?

    Besides, there is an interesting argument to have about how “Populations coming together and serving their needs through technology” would not be a government (just, a very decentralized one.) And mentionning “Amazon” and “government” in the same sentence makes me shiver, but hey, that’s juste me.

    • It is just an example to make people think about alternative approaches. I do not suggest it as the exact approach.

      • Then maybe I misunderstood your wording :

        > “If I put a 10 million poud prize…. I *would* get a healthcare system…”

        Am I correct to think that what you mean is :

        > “If I put a 10 million poud prize…. I *might* get a healthcare system…”

        The vast nuance is that your first sentence implies the “unavoidability”, and somehow (but maybe only to me), the “simplicity” of the task.


  3. John Hollis says

    I am all for reinventing (or eliminating) government by eliminating bureaucracy to the maximum amount sensible.
    I have the following points for you:
    1. You claim Guernsey wants to raise taxes from 25% of GDP to 28% of GDP. This is taken from one proposal relating to a Pensions, Benefits and Tax Review. My understanding is that it does NOT wish to raise taxes, because it has virtually balanced its budget already, and that the 28% figure quoted is an upper tax cap for the future, which is in line with recent history. So from where have you conjured 25% and false claims of a 3% increase?
    2. I see government’s (and communities’) objectives as relating to quality of life, not just longevity.
    3. I think believing that reliance on mass public decisions via technology is lacking in its perception of ‘quality of decisions.’ California learnt that when it went bust in the 1990s. As an example, would I want a mass vote on how my surgeon should approach my heart transplant? You bet I wouldn’t! Nor would I want ‘Facebook-quality’ voting on many other complex decisions warranting focussed expertise.

    • Hi John,
      To clear a few things up:
      1. The figures are indicative and are not necessarily the point. We see cost of government radically reducing to below 10% within a decade.
      2. The Dandelion Project’s mission is to make Guernsey the best place to live on earth by 2020. It is a quality of life based project. Life expectancy of 100 is one of a number of outcomes that we work on to achieve that.
      3. At no point am I suggesting that quality should reduce. We should demand that the crowd’s wisdom provide solutions to step change increase quality in all cases. Otherwise what is the point? The problem is that our current systems are holding back quality significantly. My personal experiences of the health system in Guernsey show me massive opportunities for quality improvements whilst saving cost. This does not need to be either or. Why can’t it be and?

  4. Bruce Lloyd says

    Very interesting idea …. and it should help move us in the right direction but it is unrealistic to expect it will solve all our problems.
    One area that needs much more discussion is the key question: How does Government add value to Society?

  5. “As talks aimed at slowing global warming drag on, researchers are pushing new ideas that some are calling last-ditch attempts to avert the worst effects of climate change.
    Some proposals are uncontroversial, such as using charcoal to lock carbon dioxide into soil or scattering carbon-absorbing gemstones.
    Richard Branson, the billionaire chairman of Virgin Group Ltd., has offered a $25 million prize for the best solution in the field known as geoengineering.”

    Richard Branson – love him or hate him, he’s certainly a step ahead. And climate change, a more passionate topic of mine, is certainly progressing to the forefront of all of our minds and must be dealt with.

    I entirely agree that incentive is what makes people move. A wage, for example, to work is nothing more than an incentive to work or to work harder. However, this still requires an elitist model. One to provide the incentive (which, presumably, would always be of negligible cost to him/herself) and a winner, whom is then promoted above their colleagues. The incentivist here has invested interest in the winner – it is likely the incentivist is rich because he/she is business savvy, or their parents’ were. By this assumption, they would more than likely be assuming profit from the winner, whom they are effectively sponsoring.

    I think Richard Branson is a real entrepenuer and providing a model for you to base your idea, but I’m skeptical how we can create a society with equally shared benefits when there is always that one guy on the top of the pyramid.

    It’s a toughy. A collectivised incentive maybe? An ‘initiative tax’? Would be a great option for all aspect of government, and then public vote on the best plan. Although this is now just starting to sound a lot like that same old democracy again, just a lot more dis-jointed.

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