SEVER is the path to a decentralized future in the Arctic frontier

SEVER reframes the Arctic problem

Scientists are unanimous: climate change in the Arctic is irreversible, and the melting of the polar ice cap is now unstoppable. In recent years, the prospect of an open Arctic ocean has drawn many competing interests to the region: geopolitical tensions are on the rise, while the risk of an environmental disaster lures over the horizon. Opposing this new wave of quiet colonisation, environmentalists demand that the Arctic be regarded as a sanctuary, and as such be left untouched. Yet, given the scale of change that an open Arctic ocean would bring to the world's balance of power, a strictly conservative politics is all too easily dismissed by key geopolitical players and stakeholders; as such, it is ultimately ineffective.

We need another approach. Our position is that the development of activities across the soon-to-be open Arctic ocean is not only an inevitable global process, but in fact, a unique opportunity to seize. Rather than resisting development – with virtually no leverage – we propose to accelerate it in the right direction.

SEVER is a vision for a networked Arctic development

With the ice receding, the northern passages will gradually open up, with the potential of turning the Arctic into the new highway of worldwide logistics. The re-routing of global economic flows through the North could bring wealth and prosperity to a long-marginalised region. To this end, a reliable and sustainable infrastructural network needs to emerge across the vast Arctic landscape – one that no single Arctic country can afford to build it on its own.

The Arctic will rise as one integrated territory, or it won’t. Therefore, linking circumpolar cities and ports into a cross-border, distributed network must be part of any serious plan to establish the Arctic as a new center of global exchanges.

A spark is needed to start the shift from a climate of Arctic rivalry to one of cooperation, around the development of a common territory.

SEVER is a territorial strategy on the blockchain

SEVER (SVR) is also the name of a new digital token, whose value increases with the latitude at which it is used. Its location-sensitive architecture is designed to incentivise an influx of capital to the Arctic region. Anyone, anywhere, can purchase SVR tokens; but their optimal economic value is reached when they are used or stored above the Arctic Circle.

The SVR token uses a new proof-of-location protocol to verify transactions. Variations of latitude between users are translated into fluctuation of balances, rewarding transactions that move north. By mediating the encounter between blockchain technology and the Arctic territory, the SVR token creates an area of geo-targeted economic incentive.

As a currency, it will foster exchanges and cooperation across Arctic nations. As a platform, it will support the crowdfunding of Arctic infrastructure, paving the way to a decentralized form of governance.

SEVER is an infrastructure for an automated Arctic industry

SEVER positions itself along a promising alignment: from logistics to energy, through data management, mining, or fishing, the same industries that are starting to reconfigure their operations around blockchain technology are the ones that will benefit the most from an open Arctic.

By providing a common language for machines to communicate autonomously, the SVR blockchain greatly supports the development of automation across industries. Thereby, it will remove the need for much of the human labour currently involved in the same operations. Rather than working themselves in the often hostile Arctic conditions, humans could be primarily tasked with overseeing, collectively, the labour of machines.

Today, there are very legitimate concerns about the environmental impact of large-scale industrial operations in the Arctic. The SVR blockchain can provide a much needed safety net, by enabling to hardcode agreements and standards into the very protocols of autonomous machines.

SEVER is a step towards cities owned and run by their users

An Arctic that runs at the forefront of automation will lend itself to a further experiment: from a decentralized autonomous economy, to a decentralized autonomous governance.

Just like it was largely crowdfunded through a process of initial tokenisation, the physical infrastructure of future Arctic cities will be run by its shareholding citizens. From electing representatives to legislating on rules and policies, the SVR blockchain will facilitate a shift to a collective and transparent model of Arctic governance.

Rather than approaching it as a vulnerable area in need of protection and conservation, SEVER imagines the Arctic as the frontier where our common urban future could be incubated: one that revolves around the logics of decentralisation, automation, and transparency.

Join us

SEVER was developed as a speculative design project. Yet we are serious about getting it off the ground, starting by intervening into current Arctic debates by offering a new vision of its possible future.

If you are inspired, or intrigued, please share ideas and feedback with us. You can help us shape the next steps of the project by joining our conversation on Slack. You can also write us an email. And you can find us on Twitter, where we occasionally post some updates.

Team: Francesco Sebregondi, Alexey Platonov, Inna Pokazanyeva and Ildar Iakubov.

Visual support by Alexey Orlov. Design and code by Denis Drachev, Andrey Drachev. Soundtrack: “Novaya Zemlya” by Thomas Köner (2012).

This project was developed during The New Normal programme at Strelka Institute, with production support from INRUSSIA

SEVER is the path to a decentralized future in the Arctic frontier

SEVER reframes the Arctic problem

Scientists are unanimous: climate change in the Arctic is irreversible, and the melting of the polar ice cap is now unstoppable. In recent years, the prospect of an open Arctic ocean has drawn many competing interests to the region: geopolitical tensions are on the rise, while the risk of an environmental disaster lures over the horizon. Opposing this new wave of quiet colonisation, environmentalists demand that the Arctic be regarded as a sanctuary, and as such be left untouched. Yet, given the scale of change that an open Arctic ocean would bring to the world's balance of power, a strictly conservative politics is all too easily dismissed by key geopolitical players and stakeholders; as such, it is ultimately ineffective.

We need another approach. Our position is that the development of activities across the soon-to-be open Arctic ocean is not only an inevitable global process, but in fact, a unique opportunity to seize. Rather than resisting development – with virtually no leverage – we propose to accelerate it in the right direction.

SEVER is a vision for a networked Arctic development

With the ice receding, the northern passages will gradually open up, with the potential of turning the Arctic into the new highway of worldwide logistics. The re-routing of global economic flows through the North could bring wealth and prosperity to a long-marginalised region. To this end, a reliable and sustainable infrastructural network needs to emerge across the vast Arctic landscape – one that no single Arctic country can afford to build it on its own.

The Arctic will rise as one integrated territory, or it won’t. Therefore, linking circumpolar cities and ports into a cross-border, distributed network must be part of any serious plan to establish the Arctic as a new center of global exchanges.

A spark is needed to start the shift from a climate of Arctic rivalry to one of cooperation, around the development of a common territory.

SEVER is a territorial strategy on the blockchain

SEVER (SVR) is also the name of a new digital token, whose value increases with the latitude at which it is used. Its location-sensitive architecture is designed to incentivise an influx of capital to the Arctic region. Anyone, anywhere, can purchase SVR tokens; but their optimal economic value is reached when they are used or stored above the Arctic Circle.

The SVR token uses a new proof-of-location protocol to verify transactions. Variations of latitude between users are translated into fluctuation of balances, rewarding transactions that move north. By mediating the encounter between blockchain technology and the Arctic territory, the SVR token creates an area of geo-targeted economic incentive.

As a currency, it will foster exchanges and cooperation across Arctic nations. As a platform, it will support the crowdfunding of Arctic infrastructure, paving the way to a decentralized form of governance.

SEVER is an infrastructure for an automated Arctic industry

SEVER positions itself along a promising alignment: from logistics to energy, through data management, mining, or fishing, the same industries that are starting to reconfigure their operations around blockchain technology are the ones that will benefit the most from an open Arctic.

By providing a common language for machines to communicate autonomously, the SVR blockchain greatly supports the development of automation across industries. Thereby, it will remove the need for much of the human labour currently involved in the same operations. Rather than working themselves in the often hostile Arctic conditions, humans could be primarily tasked with overseeing, collectively, the labour of machines.

Today, there are very legitimate concerns about the environmental impact of large-scale industrial operations in the Arctic. The SVR blockchain can provide a much needed safety net, by enabling to hardcode agreements and standards into the very protocols of autonomous machines.

SEVER is a step towards cities owned and run by their users

An Arctic that runs at the forefront of automation will lend itself to a further experiment: from a decentralized autonomous economy, to a decentralized autonomous governance.

Just like it was largely crowdfunded through a process of initial tokenisation, the physical infrastructure of future Arctic cities will be run by its shareholding citizens. From electing representatives to legislating on rules and policies, the SVR blockchain will facilitate a shift to a collective and transparent model of Arctic governance.

Rather than approaching it as a vulnerable area in need of protection and conservation, SEVER imagines the Arctic as the frontier where our common urban future could be incubated: one that revolves around the logics of decentralisation, automation, and transparency.

Join us

SEVER was developed as a speculative design project. Yet we are serious about getting it off the ground, starting by intervening into current Arctic debates by offering a new vision of its possible future.

If you are inspired, or intrigued, please share ideas and feedback with us. You can help us shape the next steps of the project by joining our conversation on Slack. You can also write us an email. And you can find us on Twitter, where we occasionally post some updates.

Team: Francesco Sebregondi, Alexey Platonov, Inna Pokazanyeva and Ildar Iakubov.

Visual support by Alexey Orlov. Design and code by Denis Drachev, Andrey Drachev. Soundtrack: “Novaya Zemlya” by Thomas Köner (2012).

This project was developed during The New Normal programme at Strelka Institute, with production support from INRUSSIA

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