I envision a digital nation – an online community of citizens, for citizens, and by citizens that operates as America Online – that allows us to merge the physical and digital worlds by creating the technology infrastructure that allows us to create and manage the real world. This technology representation of the nation will connect Citizens, who will collectively work to build the product in alignment with citizen needs and values. The goal of this community is to unite citizens first and foremost, after which we can start to add our sub-communities, like states and cities, to the product, so they too can be united. In short, before we are a United States, we are a United Citizens with a shared purpose of creating a system that aligns with what we want, need, and value.

Since we are building a system that allows our nation to operate online, we should view the product as a web-based operating system. This operating system should connect citizens, much like social networks, and ideally would have a payments system underneath for a digital version of United States Currency, which I believe should be the Cent. We will start rebuilding the value of the dollar by increasing the value of the Cent in digital form. I call this system that combines these concepts an Incentivized Operating Network (ION).

We should view our nation as a technology accelerator, similar to Ycombinator in many ways, where citizens, either directly or through representatives, are investing in technology teams to do research and development and build new capabilities that meet the needs of citizens. The technology can be licensed by organizations – public sector, civil society, and private sector – operating in the nation as a new version of Software as a Service, which I view as Government as a Service or Community as a Service. There are several ways the nation can leverage this tech stack. One option is to require an equity percentage from all organizations operating on the network, and that equity is used to back the value of the Cent. Another option is one where Organizations subscribe to capabilities that they want to use, the Value-Add Tax percentage charged on all payments for their products or services increases by a percentage point assigned to each capability.

The nation should operate as a Learning Organization (in addition to being a Product Organization), where organizations and representatives learn about the wants, needs, and values of citizens so they can build in alignment with them. One major capability will be that digital nation’s version of central (or decentral) intelligence, which logically evolves into artificial intelligence (AI). As the number of citizens scales to a global or universal level – and enabling a citizenship for everyone should be a ultimate goal of “America Online” – machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement learning, and other AI-enabled learning – will become critical capabilities to supplement the learning organization to fully understand and validate what citizens are telling us about themselves so that we can get an accurate picture of what the true values and needs are for the nation. Continuous learning that scales is critical to providing the right solutions.

The highest value part of the digital nation is the Citizens, to whom organizations operating on the system are granted rights to access. Citizens, through elected representatives and their teams, will have a team creating digital policies for the online product to protect their rights and interests. A key part of this will be access rights licenses to the data owned by the citizens, thereby creating a universal basic income. The highest value part of citizen, however, is not the data. It is the ability for organizations to engage with and leverage citizens as participants in the process for building and transforming organizations and their products. Citizens are valued as critical members of the process, and their contributions, both as employees and contributing consumers, should be incentivized.

As citizens, we have an opportunity to build a community into technology that accelerates the transformation of the current day system into one that properly protects our rights in the online and physical worlds and operates in alignment with our needs and values at all levels of community and organization within it. We are capable of being the change we want to see. It starts with a decision to leave partisanship behind and operate as a non-partisan, united citizen. Make America Online, Again.