Socratic conversation—discussing this in the style of philosophers with hypothetical conversations and monologues. As we drive away from the Jacque Fresco lecture that I made my father, an evolutionary scientist, attend, he frowns and squints through the rain, preparing to say something but never saying it. Q) I’m sorry. He mutters finnally. Q) It’s just when they start talking about no money, that’s when they’ve lost me. I decide to take the approach that works. It’s going to be a long commute. A) You’ve seen the film Dad, we’ve talked before. Q) *grunt*
A) Now… Pretend you’re already in a global resource based economy, all that this entails, and remember this means we’ve done away with money and a system based upon this: a monetary system. Q) Who’s going to build my house? A) It isn’t who, but how. This sentence is the true question, your question is a very timely one that is completely limited to the state of technology and knowledge it came from. We don’t pay the ice man to come to our homes anymore, we don’t do this because we freeze water ourselves. ‘Who’s going to freeze my ice? ’ No-one. Q) Well yes, through a freezer that you have to buy.
So how? You can’t pay the builder, so how? A) We do this via systems engineering. Pre-fab living spaces are built in half an hour with extrusion technology in a home that’s built as a single unit. Gone are the days of bricks and mortar. You could always build it out of choice. Ultimately when you study this particular aspect of Fresco’s ideas, it becomes quite clear that when it comes to living in such an environment, homes would be built with minimum of risk, maximization of efficiency of materials, easily, quickly, and very much personalized.
Q) Fine, but who pays for this process? A) The premise of this exercise was first to assume we live in a non-monetary, Resource Based Economy, but if you want to discuss how we evolved towards this we can discuss that. Needless to say, this is a very different world from the one you and I inhabit now. We live in a world where the primary mechanism is the mechanism of profit. This drives our society now, it won’t in the future. The profit motive actually retards the progress f technology, as well as other aspects of human social wellbeing, creates endless waste, inefficiency, planned obsolescence, and compromises individuals and aggregate institutions (corporations, etc) to pursue profit without regard to the human and environmental consequences, without regard to its relevance to the actual operations and processes of the planet, its relevance to enhancing the lives of men, and gears the true innovative powers of humans towards exactly that: turning a profit.
This is where the majority of current ‘innovations’ occur at present. It is an abhorrent system, mechanism, and state that we live in. The profit motive as a driving mechanism of society, rather than the scientific method, will eventually be the end of us. You know this.
This is the problem, this is the pivotal cause—the cause of wars, indifference to certain catastrophes and genocides, to mass pollution, mass over population in tiny spaces when we have ample room, planned obsolescence, plundering the planet, destroying natural habitats irrevocably, leeching off of entire ecosystems until we have sucked them dry like a virus, which we have done with Mediterranean fisheries, homelessness, people being denied healthcare, loosing their livelihoods, terrible standards of living, 1 billion starving, people forced to work in mindless, stressful, endless jobs, and on, and on.
It compromises science, technology, medicine, people, the environment, as well as things that will one day be irrelevant, such as traditional politics. Let me say the previous point again, and really try to make it as apparent to you as it should be: our current driving mechanism in global society is the mechanism of profit, not the scientific method. We will discuss that later, needless to say, very few people have ever stopped to consider this. You are a scientist. Really stop and think about that when you have some time. Q) Fine, can you tell me how we get to this, though? I don’t hear a lot of that.
A) Here we go. It’s both simple and complicated, and, if one is a pessimist, we may not get there. As technology evolves, as with our understanding, goods and services will continually be automated and cybernated. This process is ongoing and the trend will continue whether you like it or not. Goods and services will continually be made more efficient, more productive, and available at lower and lower costs: through the work of engineers and technicians, and essentially the application of the scientific method toward particular problem solving (the problems in this context are framed within the monetary ystem—the problems of increasing productivity, and lowering costs). At our current state, this process was born solely in order to provide goods and services at a cheaper, faster rate for the producer. He could now build 10 toy horses in the time it took to make 1, with half the employees. Two things give a product or service value: the labor involved, and the scarcity of the resources employed. Where is the value in a letter I write to you? The limited trees, processed into paper are the resource, and the man carrying it to you is the labor.
What about an email? There is no resource, it is binary code in ones and zeros, and is no longer relevant within this very framework. There is no labor, lest we decide to anthropomorphize the digital process and pay the code for arranging itself on your screen. Incidentally, this email I sent you was free. No scarce, withheld resource, no labor. It is free. Please understand this relationship. As this occurs with more and more things, the economic meltdown of this system is kept on a constant heat.
You once had the majority of the labor force in agriculture, but this was phased out with high degrees of automation and more efficient farming: cotton was once entirely picked by people, now, in industrialized countries, it is entirely automated. In western countries, the labor force flocked to the industrial production centre. This ended when mass, more productive and efficient and cheaper mechanical automation took over in all aspects. Machines making machines.
Would have sounded too fanciful 100 years ago, but this is the case ubiquitously. The population in countries like the US and Britain were forced to find new work, and what occurred was a mass flock to the service sector. Without this the masses would have been jobless, and the economy would have completely foundered. Now, this sector represents the overwhelming majority of the labor force. And this sector is falling prey to technological unemployment dramatically.
The invention of automated bank tellers, which we call ATMs, has phased out the majority’s use of tellers as a means of banking, combined with its cybernation on the internet, where internet banking and phone banking, conducted with automated phone-banking systems, sees next to zero need for human employees. The phone service aspect of the sector is dancing in its own grave. It is all automated at this point. There are no needs for secretaries to do this anymore, and the entire industry is getting rid of them one by one. The internet has redefined retail. It is systematically putting many ace-to-face businesses out of business and on shaky grounds. Digitized media have crippled the music, film and software industries irrevocably. Not many children now, who you have to understand are more tuned into this than you and I, pay for their music, movies, games or software. It is all stored on binary code, which is totally abundant, should be free, and is infinitely copy-able and distributed and even altered. I could give many examples, as a last one I will say that my local supermarket is automated. I don’t buy from checkout counter girls, I go to an automated checkout and do it myself.
Q) It’ll put the people behind it out of work. A) That’s my overall point. This is a process of phasing out human labor, so absolutely, yes. This is the highest form of efficiency available and possible—technology and what we can make of it. It is not good for the monetary system. But it is the most efficient, productive, and faster moving. Can you understand and appreciate this relationship? Our own social evolution has birthed this, and it is now taking the baton and running with it, exponentially faster, eventually leaving outmoded institutions in the dust.
It is already in direct competition with human labor, jobs, and the less efficient market system itself. Future generations will understand this fact, it will be abundantly clear to them. The monetary system is reaching a cancerous stage, is structurally paralyzing at this point, and is a hindrance to social and technological progress. Q) And this process will lead to a resource based, non-money based economy? A) It is part of the process, a very important part. Q) Don’t you think the solution is just to improve the structure of the system?
Go back to the gold standard, reign in the bankers, have more transparency, and so on? A) Let’s nip this in the bud. If you assassinated Rockefeller, disbanded the secret societies people fear, reintroduced the gold standard, hanged the bankers and danced with the Ewoks at the end of Return of the Jedi, this thing of ours would continue, unabated, on its trajectory of strategic dominance, acquisition, and conquering, and following that single powerful driving mechanism of profit.
All of the problems discussed and that we will continue to discuss in this conversation will be inherent and will continue unabated. It will not solve the problems to, for instance, bring back the gold standard. This will be a very temporary measure to help in certain aspects, a band aid. It is not about patching holes in a box that is inherently flawed, it is not about placing some ointment on a cancerous growth and handing the patient back his pack of cigarettes, it is about realizing the entire system is built on foundations of clay.
We will still have a totally flawed, unsustainable, self-destructive, exploitative, maladaptive, socially and technologically retarding system that creates incentives for corruption, wars, inefficiency, denying key goods and services, that plunders the planet with no reference to natural processes, laws, and what is available. It is still an infinite growth paradigm, on a finite world. It is still monumentally stupid, and primitive. Our arguments are far more sophisticated and fundamental than saying ‘if only we could return to the gold standard’, or ‘if only we could stick the bankers with harsher laws’.
Monopolies, oligarchs, corruption, domination of resources, exploitation of labor, massive-scale corprotocracy projects—these things are all products of socio-economic evolution within the monetary paradigm. They are born from this. Any such measure as the gold standard or particular auditing laws, and so on, will not stop this inherent nature of this system. Q) Moving on, because you have not yet satisfactorily answered this. How can something be made for free?
A) It is possible to produce something with such efficiency that its monetary value is next to nothing, undermining the monetary economy and the incentive to charge and even do it: it requires the automated process to have no forced human labor, no scarce resources, and to be designed in such a way that breakdown, rather than being inherent as it is in our current cheap shoddy, planned obsolescence products that are built to be bought and sold for profit, would have a truly maximized lifespan, truly efficient function and use of power, and eventually self-repairing, just as our own bodies are.
Q) Self-repairing machines? Hmm… A) And this is an important point actually: such a society is holistically designed and built on the same premise as an organism like the human body: it does not compete with itself, undercut itself and it is connected through a central nervous system. This is what is meant by a ‘systems approach’ and that’s complex so no need to delve into that right now. Cities and societies of the future, as technical creations, will resemble something closer to an organism, or a cell, than the inefficient, entropic entities we exist in today.
What we have now, forget these terms we’ve all been brainwashed with—Capitalism, freedom, democracy, ‘free trade’—this is what it is. Ready? It is conquering. It is a big, grand system based on conquering, not freedom: conquering. We do it on main street, Wall Street, between companies, corporations, countries, everywhere and everyday. We compete for wealth, conquer, and take it. And we convince ourselves and other that we are somehow ‘free’ that we think it’s the right way to be, and that we are civilized.
To recap and emphasize my previous point, which I want you to internalize, through automation and cybernation, goods and services will continually be made more and more productively with increasingly lower costs, and its value goes down in correlation. In fact, true peak efficiency in the creation of something renders it valueless in a monetary system, such as communication (this has already occurred). With this constant march of technology, the phenomenon of technological unemployment and the decreasing cost and hence value of production and services, we will be left with a social dilemma of enormous proportions.
Technological evolution is in direct competition with the monetary system, and hence this current system of allocating goods and services is in competition with progress itself. It will implode in this fashion. It will only be able to maintain itself, as it has done, through cyclical consumption and hence will require the steady employment of most of the population. However, technological unemployment will continually phase out the latter, which will in turn drastically undercut the former. And hence, an economic and social breakdown will commence, as it has been doing.
Not only can the planet not sustain such a system, but the system cannot even maintain itself. This is what happens in reality, things change and move on into new paradigms. Once the system’s integrity is really compromised like this, a necessary shift to something like a Resource Based Economy will be needed. Or we can do to ourselves what the Easter Islanders did. And finally on this note, the process of the global monetary system is set up in such a way, and evolves as such, that it pulls wealth and ownership and hence power into the hands of the few.
But make no mistake, it isn’t an evil cabal of devil worshiping bankers, or that Rockefeller sold his soul or a ‘New World Order’ elite who plan secretly from a castle in Bulgaria to dominate the planet. The existence and persistence of a very small sector of society having most of the wealth and hence power is an end result of the way the very system operates. It is a system of dominance and conquering, the bigger shark swallowing the smaller shark. Monopoly is the success story and end result of ‘capitalism’ and money invariably ends in the hands of the few who own most of the world’s land, wealth, and resources.
This is a sinister system, and the issues raised by people like John Perkins, are people and organizations simply following the profit motive. Q) Fair enough, I’m aware of that. But right now people still need jobs. A) Please ask yourself this question, should the focus of society be to create and maintain jobs, or to maximize productivity and create abundance? I hope it becomes increasingly clear to you that we cannot and will not have both. The more automation occurs, the more productivity and unemployment occurs. Why has this occurred?
Q) Why has automation and that kind of stuff occurred, to build things faster, more efficiently, and cheaper? A) To make more money. Yes. This is the reason it was done in a monetary, profit incentive-based system. But, ironically, it has and will put so many people out of work, and birth higher forms of technology, which it will undercut the very system it emerged from. Please appreciate that with this fact, we belong to a system that is in direct competition with higher productivity and efficiency. That we are in competition, as humans, with machines. But, wait a minute, how ridiculous can you get?
We shouldn’t be in competition with machines. That’s preposterous and the more I think about it, the more irritated I am that I was born now and not, say, 300 years from now. Automation is the emancipation proclamation for the human species. Gone are the days of having to march miles to fetch dirty water, toiling in a cotton field, and any other form of servitude for subsistence or money. Q) Yes but it is a problem, because we don’t have that job as an opportunity to make money anymore once it is automated. A) Yes, it is a problem in this system. But it isn’t a problem if it is freeing humans up from monotonous labor.
That task is now done by a more productive, faster, drone. And you are not a drone. You should never be knee high in filth in a sewer, your whole damn life, you should never be leaning into an iron ore furnace, supplying it with raw materials, you should never be doing such a thing when we have the technology for an actual drone to do it. When you have an elevator man, who used to crank those levers to make the elevator go up and down, and technology saw to it that all you needed to do was walk in and press a button, the ‘elevator man’ as a job was phased out.
Now that’s a problem for him, because he still needs monetary units to survive. When a dangerous British industrial cloth-making factory fazes out the (many missing digits) children from the factory floor with machines, they should be better off, yet what the fuck do they leave it for? They need and don’t have money, and hence are left hungry, homeless, and desperate. When a machine processes cotton with zero human labor, the cotton pickers have a problem, because they need money to have a dignified life. But what is the real problem here? Have you spotted it yet?
You cannot stop technology. We are doing our best, to limit it’s use in all sectors, to maintain energy infrastructures that are retarding progress and are dangerous and outmoded, God knows we are trying, but we cannot stop it. And why would anyone want to? Why? Why stop a machine from cleaning disgusting sewers? Why stop an automated factory from producing the pipes for that sewer? Why stop a drone from harvesting cotton all its long life? Because we exist in something called a monetary system. This will be studied by future generations with interest.
You believe, and so does the majority of this planet, that automation and cybernation is a bad thing in a major way. Q) I don’t, really. A) In so many words you’ve admitted that you do, though I’m convinced not with complete conviction. The monetary system is the real problem, because when you’ve been freed up from picking cotton, standing at a checkout, working in a factory, you aren’t actually free—you need to pool what we call money from the circulating supply. Without this, you won’t have electricity, food, water, or a shelter.
We’ve invented electricity scientifically, but you won’t have it without first having money. We’ve invented clean, abundant tap water, but you won’t have it easily without first getting money for a shelter. Fewer and fewer jobs exist as more and more and more of them are phased out and automated. Q) So you’re saying the system will collapse, essentially? A) I’m saying that’s very possible, and also I want to drill this point in that it isn’t automation that’s the problem, it’s the economic system. It’s very simple. How much unemployment can a place have and absorb efore the integrity of the system is undermined? 40%? 50%? 60%? Q) I agree that the system will self-destruct in many ways. But I don’t really see this other option as working. A) Well, that’s because you haven’t lived in it. I think you would like it. Q) But something will always have some kind of monetary value, no matter how efficient. A) From the perspective of the producer (though they do not likely understand this consciously), true efficiency—true peak efficiency—of the production of something will render it valueless in a monetary system, as I said.
The digitized medium birthed by computers is so efficient that it cannot be priced without first forcing artificial barriers and limits on the movie, music, software or website. Youtube and Wikipedia are totally free, as is the PDF of any given paper, but to make it have a monetary value now we will have to restrict the technology, introduce passwords we only give to ‘paying customers’, and create laws and imprison people for breaking them. What would this be? What would this action, this turn of events, really be?
Except the un-knowing participation in the self-preservation of the current monetary paradigm, and the current status quo. You have to understand that, ultimately, change is the only constant: mountains rise and fall, the Universe ever expands, organisms live and die, organisms evolve, societies change and evolve, technology is exponentially moving on, etc. And eventually, come what may, the monetary system, and by this I mean the use of money in the creation and distribution of goods and services, is ultimately in direct competition with technological progress.
This is because it is ultimately a false institution—one that will seek to preserve itself to no end. It was a necessary aspect of human social evolution, but to assume it is the apex of human achievement, and will always be here, is nothing less than utopian. Q) As I said, not everything can be free though because not everything is actually abundant. A) To move into a resource based global economy would require declaring the world’s resources the common heritage of all of humanity. We would need to do a global resource survey, which has never been done.
There are some things that are comparatively scarce, maybe some kind of mineral that we extract an element from to make touch screens. The aim is to use science and technology to create abundance, not target scarcity for money. This does not mean going without. This is what occurs right now. So, imagine we only had enough of a resource to create 100 state of the art touch screens. This isn’t true by the way, but imagine. Our aim is what? To hoard that resource, like a squirrel, and make those 100 touch screens, and sell them to the highest bidder? No. What a petty, primitive solution to that problem.
The challenge is to produce touch screens and hence we will seek solutions that do not use this resource, or that artificially recreates this resource. This is not an incentive now. The incentive is to maintain scarcity. It’s why OPEC exists, why we burn and hoard diamonds, and create the notion that something is scarce. That will be the challenge of the future, how to create abundance, not maintain scarcity—we’ve got it the wrong way around. Q) So we will all be wallowing in 7 acre mansions, with golden limousines and leer jets, having everything in abundance and for free?! A) Of course not.
Q) So it would not really be possible to have this society then would it? A) Let me make this very clear. It absolutely would not be possible, desirable, or anything less than disgusting to have such an attempted world. Ironically, this is what we are aspiring towards collectively now, and this premise is so far removed from the tenets and ideas of a resource based economy that you may as well ask if we’ll all be Paris Hilton in such a society. Q) But you said everything would be free, and in abundance. A) Bear with me. The system we live under now is built upon the premise of infinite growth.
This occurs under a finite planet. It is in direct empirical contention with the way things actually work, the resources of the planet, and its symbiotic processes that we are wholly reliant upon. It cannot work. It is doomed to fail, fail us, or transition to a different paradigm eventually. We cannot plunder the planet for corporate profit endlessly. This is the model our emerging modern human society has built itself upon, and it cannot continue indefinitely. Do you appreciate the starkness of this fact? If you were an Easter Islander, would you eschew these comments?
If you were on the Titanic, would you search for lifeboats, tell me to piss off, or fall on your knees and start praying? The paradigm of infinite growth is not possible. It is in conflict with natural law. Constant, endless consumption for profit is doomed to fail. It will be subordinated by the prevailing laws I am referencing. It is a false system, this is what is meant by that statement. No we cannot all have the Donald Trump existence. This is a profoundly ego driven value to aspire towards, and is the product of human ignorance, not inspiration, not innovation, nor knowledge, nor education, nor any insight or understanding.
It is point blank the end result of the embarrassing kind of vane, consumerist, artificial and selfish ideology of success imposed upon us by this rather sick system and the values that coevolved alongside it. It is literally impossible to do so. Ted Turner owns more than 2 million acres of land. Of course we cannot have this: this is a preposterous result of paid acquisition of land for private ownership, and ownership itself is an outgrowth of scarcity: a state that we have lived under since our evolution.
The only way for this setup to exist, whereby one man owns as much land as a third of a continent, another has 7 leers jets, and the latest rapper has golden toilet seats, 5 mansions, and 60 rooms, is for it to exist where the overwhelming majority suffer with far less, creating a repulsive and socially offensive system of severe comparative advantage in mobility, property, access to goods and services, and overall dignity and quality of life. This existence will never occur for the rest of us.
It is rather like having Mr. Creosote eating all the food in a restaurant. Of course if he does this, there will have to be far less consumed and enjoyed by the other patrons, for his gluttony to be possible. And the patrons, raised and groomed in this gross system, either bow down to Creosote, saying they are not worthy to be as he is, or as in the West they have a phony ideology of empowerment and think that everyone in the restaurant should be Mr. Creosote.
In fact it will even be the undoing of those very limited few who have the majority of the world’s wealth, because it is the culmination and result of a highly flawed system that is not integrally linked to the actual processes of the planet and its resources: it is so disconnected from this that, speaking with optimism, future generations will see it with the same privileged perspective you and I consider the religious governments attempted upon this world.
But of course you and I are not indoctrinated into this. Then consider the difficulty of how indoctrinated a conservative Muslim is when I need so much time and effort to introduce the possibility to you, a highly educated, traveled, liberal scientist that you and I are also indoctrinated into a false arrangement. Entertain this notion for one moment. If you cannot even do this, than please sympathize with the majority of humanity. Q) I get it, we can’t all live like Paris Hilton.
So would the standard of life be as good as we can hope to achieve now? A) It would be an order of magnitude better. Free housing, with the best materials we can attain, free water, food, free access to emergent technology that races forward unhindered by the crippling monetary paradigm, free travel to see and experience the world… Q) Stop, this sounds like a fantasy utopia. A) There is no such thing. As Fresco explains, there is no perfect laptop.
Of course, if the original computer could have spoken (it was the size of a house and required hundreds to operate), it would have laughed at your projection that one day its current computing power would be housed in something the size of a grain of rice, held in a portable communication and ‘internet’ device by a five year old. It would have called this nothing less than a fanciful computer utopia. Now imagine you go back in time and meet your great, great, great+ grandfather.
You see him as a far younger man than you, ill under a tree, teeth rotted out, watching his mate climb the horizon with a makeshift container of water to quench his thirst. She has walked 4 hours to find it. You turn to him and tell him that you are over twice his age, with all your teeth, that you move at speeds he cannot fathom in a man-made creature that also sings your favorite songs to you, and that your wife, rather than risking health, life and limb, and using most of her day to go and get water, presses a magic button and it comes out, fast and cool as the freshest stream.
And the other button, it sends it out hot, just for kicks. He will deem you a liar, a madman, a utopian wizard. The point is, you see, that what we consider ‘utopia’ is culturally and historically relative. An Inuit has no use for the latest stainless steel refrigerator. He wants a fine hunting season. If you told him about a giant building called a ‘supermarket’ with every form of meat in abundance, and all you need to do is go and pick it up, he would call you a utopian madman. So what do you and I live under?
What system, what arrangement? We have to submit to employment to pool monetary credits from the general circulation, and guard it jealously, and use it to attain food, living spaces, items we desire, and leisure time. We have ‘buying power’ from it. The more we have, the more choices, more freedom. So to you and I, in this existence, we perceive a lack of this striving as utopian, just as the Savannah hunter gatherer did with the lack of striving you experience. We lack the frame of reference, just as he did.
I will end by telling you that a utopia is a fixed state, and this goes against our very premise: one of change, constant change. ‘Utopia’ can slot alongside other primitive human imaginings, like heaven. Q) Okay, but to be honest, the more I listen, the more it just sounds like Communism. A) Okay? Dad, you’re an evolutionary scientist. Q) Uhuh? A) What you think if you started explaining evolution to me, and I said “Gosh, that sounds a lot like Social Darwinism. ” Q) I’d say that’s besides the point.
A) You see, you can find overlaps in certain idea, but that doesn’t make them synonymous, you know that. The fact is, the philosophy of ‘Capitalism’, which is economic survival of the fittest through competition and everyone for themselves, sounds an awful like ‘socio-economic’ Darwinism, does it not. Q) *chuckle* A) This is a very reoccurring argument that comes up and, you not being indoctrinated into a generation of Communism witch hunts, are not truly sincere in some kind of fear that leads you to label something like this Communism, surely? Q) Well…
A) Supposing you were. Here’s the deal. It isn’t Communism. The argument is quite funny actually, in that it makes the claim that what we are proposing has been tried before, it was called Communism, and it doesn’t work. Having a global Resource Based Economy, utilizing the scientific method for the driving mechanism of society rather than the profit motive, has never been tried before. Karl Marx did not for see the technological and scientific innovations and capabilities that are the foundations of our arguments. His arguments were not even in the same cosmos.
He did not understand, as it didn’t exist, the insight of replacing drudgery of forced servitude with automation, and was not advocating the intelligent management of the earth’s resources and applying the scientific method to society. When have we done this before? Never. How can you call it Communism? There are certain broad concepts that overlap, others that are similar, while others that incongruent with one another. This being addressed, The Venus Project and Communism, as you brought up, are no more the same thing as a rectangle is the same thing as a triangle.
Look at the US Constitution… All men created equal… That’s Communism! What about Jesus… Love thy neighbor? Give away possessions? He’s a Communist! Here’s the thing, people are taking certain broad ideas, labeling them Communist, and thereby boxing them into a corner, painting them with a broad brush, and negatively stigmatizing them. It’s called ad homonym, and it is entirely unhelpful, and not the product of higher learning or understanding, it is a knee-jerk mischaracterization, and its ultimately meaningless. It isn’t saying a damn thing.
Needless to say, a key aspect of Marx’s idea was in empowerment of the labor force. This is in fact, in complete conflict with the ideas of the Venus Project, which is about eliminating needless, unnecessary human labor with automation, a process that was not apparent to Marx as it is now, a process that is occurring whether anyone likes it or not. Fresco’s ideas are based on upgrading society and its outmoded institutions to our current, cutting edge technology and scientific knowledge and capability. Do you understand that we are in a quite preposterous state of not actually being up to date?
You know people look at their old Operating System for their computer and say “wow, time for an upgrade! ” We do that with a piece of grey, inanimate hardware, but not with our living, breathing organism that we call society. We want forced servitude of labor for monetary units to be replaced with…you’ve guessed it…automation, and a system of intelligently managing the earth’s resources, while maximizing abundance via the scientific method. Least of all we can highlight that Communism used money and labor, had social stratification, and elected officials to maintain the communists’ traditions.
Most importantly, Communism did not eliminate SCARCITY nor did they have a blueprint or the methods for the production of abundance. Machine production rather than labor will dominate the future. Perhaps through no fault of their own, they also had to maintain huge military expenditures to protect themselves from invasion of fascistic and capitalistic institutions. Communism being similar to a resource-based economy or The Venus Project is an erroneous concept. Communism has money, banks, armies, police, prisons, charismatic personalities, social stratification, and is managed by appointed leaders.
The Venus Project’s aim is to surpass the need for the use of money. Police, prisons and the military would no longer be necessary when goods, services, healthcare, and education are available to all people. The Venus Project would replace politicians with a cybernated society in which all of the physical entities are managed and operated by computerized systems. The only region that the computers do not operate or manage is the surveillance of human beings. This would be completely unnecessary and considered socially offensive.
A society that uses technology without human concern has no basis of survival. Communism has no blueprint or methodology to carry out their ideals and along with capitalism, fascism, and socialism, will ultimately go down in history as failed social experiments. And make no mistake, Dad: we are talking about science and technology in the service of humanity, not in some diabolical contention with it, some kind of sinister 1984 or any other cartoon reality dreamt up with a particular frame of reference. Q) How do you even think we’d transition into such a world?
A) You have me there. I worry that it will be a painful and bumpy process. In fact, ‘transition’ is the only real state of existence. We exist in a perpetual state of transition. But how this will occur may require heavy disruptions in the system. You can thank our Pleistocene brain for that: we respond with more urgency to problems that appear on our radar as considerably urgent. Q) Look, despite what you’ve said, we cannot provide things in abundance for the whole world, with no-one having to work. A) Yes we can. This is a challenge to be met by technology and science.
We have the resources and know-how to construct the best facilities so that the entire world is housed, fed, educated, and taken care of. Take food, for instance. We construct areas of hydroponically grown food, which is transported to what we now call ‘supermarkets’. We do that already. It is done with a minimum of human involvement and with very little time, can be done with absolutely zero human labor. Q) You’re telling me something like the Empire State Building or World Trade Center will be built entirely by machines? Pull the other one.
A) Well of course that could be automated, through systems engineering of self-erecting structures, but I don’t think such a thing will be in the society we are proposing in this conversation. Think about it—please just indulge me and imagine such a society, without the forced submission of labor for monetary units… just imagine you’re in it for this moment, don’t say you can’t, just imagine this while I make my following point. You are in this society, in this non-monetary Resource Based Economy. Now… why the fuck would you want to build and spend your time in a 110 story building?
Q) Well… A) Don’t tell me overpopulation. Overpopulation of this mostly unpopulated blue planet is not so drastic that, with our wit and wisdom and coming up with the BEST solutions science and innovation and human creativity can conceive, we need to build 110 story monstrosities, side by side. What ridiculousness. It is madness. But when you are born into madness, you seldom question it, and just accept it as normality. But it isn’t, you see. It’s deranged. Q) So why do we have these enormous skyscrapers then? A) That question is very easy to answer. Here’s why we have them.
The way that large scale, sedentary, monetary society has evolved is that the centers of commerce—trade, business, the hallmarks of a monetary system, of our current system, of commercial life—occurs in this place we call a city. The majority of any country is not inhabited by humans; the majority actually inhabits very small areas called cities. And in these areas, a downright peculiar phenomenon has occurred that will be looked at with something between fascination and amusement in the future—the natural response to such unbelievably high real estate prices, and completely tiny units of land, is something called the skyscraper.
They cannot expand horizontally, they have only one way to go—up. In a non-monetary society that does not remotely resemble our own, there is no incentive, no requirement, nothing to cause any decision to make us construct such huge skyscrapers. The only thing that we will likely do, is create high-rise buildings for living spaces, where necessary, however nothing like the Empire State Building as you denoted. Q) But we would still need large buildings to house people, not everyone can live in a sprawling estate.
Not even that…not everyone can live in a house. A) Where population necessitates this, efficiently constructed high-rises may be needed. Q) So who would get the summerhouse by the beach, and who would get the sweaty high-rise? You see, there will always be value in things that gives them monetary value and scarcity, this wouldn’t really work. A) First off, what I’m asking you to imagine is a dramatically different society, with different values to our own. Q) *sighs*
A) It’s rather like having a hunter-gatherer hearing about a future where all food and water are provided without having to hunt and gather, and saying, as he rolls his eyes, “yes but we will always need to hunt for something on a daily basis, and what will we even do with our time? What will we do with our spears? ” Your questions are not coming from a position of more objectivity; they are so firmly rooted in this current frame of reference that they are basically irrelevant in this environment we are considering. Q) I still think the question’s valid.
We can have some people living in mass living areas, others by the beach. Not everyone can live by the beach. A) I’m just going to come out with it fairly bluntly without too many illustrations. In this environment we have all goods and services provided for free. This includes living spaces. This includes travel. You have no need to hoard on a mass scale. You have no need to engage in the primitive behaviors that are in fact outgrowths of scarcity. Science and technology have done away with that. You are in this environment I’m proposing, imagine. You look back at previous civilizations with pity.
Q) Okay… A) So you have a completely different set of values, very different. There is no need for you and me to go out and hunt for subsistence anymore. Due to tap water, there is no need to travel 15 miles to gather it, nor any need to hoard it, since it is abundant. Q) And? A) And there is no incentive to steal this thing that’s in abundance. When were the last time you had your house broken into and the thieves headed for the taps? Q) So? A) Please think about the relationship of scarcity to hoarding, to stealing, and to the values that coevolved along with this.
If you think this side-point is not related to your beach question, you’re not engaging with the overall points. Q) I was talking about having the house by the beach. Not everyone can have that, no matter what you say. A) No, not every single human being on the planet can live on the coast of Maui. Everyone could live on or very near the coast. But stop and think about that. Are we genetically hardwired to want to live near the beach? No, there are African tribes who didn’t know the sea exists. Highland Papuans didn’t know they were on an island.
It’s a social value. Why is it a value? In our God awful, stuffy, inefficient, polluted cities around the world, we have culminated an ideal, through movies, advertising, and cultural practices of holidaying by the sea, which is very recent, and Western, to crave this kind of place as a symbol of getting away from it all, away from these overpopulated, ugly cities. The beach areas are prime real estate—I mean the areas where the majorities have flocked to, ironically. New Zealand beaches are often far nicer, and pretty empty.
Many of the sought after beaches have real estate that is expensive, secluded, of course beautiful and peaceful (ideally though not in the most popular spots). Q) And you think this won’t be a desire in this imaginary society? A) In a nutshell, no. Not to the same extent it is now. Do you know why I don’t want to piss off to some bullshit resort in Spain or Majorca, checking in at the Casa Del Sol and ordering the biggest tourist trap tropical fruit cocktail before plunking myself on an overcrowded beach to gawk at pretend breasts, but the majority of Britons do?
Because you raised me around the world, and without sounding arrogant, I had my perspective expanded and my consciousness rose. In a world of free transport, goods, services, and living, I, and my enlightened counterparts, would revel in traveling the world, in never remaining in one place without it being a firm true choice, in flitting from garden city to desert expanse to, if desired, the coastline. After all, the planet is my home. There are so many things to be done, to learn, to see and experience.
The beach, whose transport and residence will be free, is one. You see, if there is anything to enjoy about the coastline, it is not the rather predictable current value of owning a piece of it that no-one else can enjoy, and having a living space there to house our many, heavy things that we must hoard—it’s the bloody coastline! So, if the whole world moved to the coast, so be it. The areas that were too crowded would mean that some people would say ‘hey, I came here for the solitude and now look, I’m off to the prairies’.
But understand that I am not presupposing a world dominated by our current values, incentives, infrastructure, daily codes of commercial conduct, and fairly scarcity-driven behaviors. You ask what we will do about the beach dilemma, which is my answer. This is not the first time, nor the last, that I will hear this. Q) So you wouldn’t live near the beach? A) I wouldn’t have to live permanently anywhere and I wouldn’t, nor would anyone. So you’re telling me as a ‘non-hunter gatherer’ you wouldn’t live near the best hunting grounds?
We would be a fundamentally different species. Just as we are fundamentally different from the ancient hunter-gatherers. Different modes of existence, different values, different necessities in daily life, different understandings, different social arrangements, so unbelievably different… In this environment, you don’t have to work yourself to the ground to afford a living space. You can enjoy the coastline for free. You will be able to rest in accommodation in a University-like city, and equally travel, for free, to a coastline to stay there, for free.
Q) This all sounds ridiculous to be honest, it would never be possible. A) Sit in a darkened room and think about that for as long as you care to, and really explore why it is ridiculous. That is essentially a degrading thing to think. So stop and think why it would never be possible, and find out if the barrier is your own knowledge and perspective, or the reasons, whatever they are, you presume it to be. I will add one final thing on this ‘living by the beach’ thing I hear.
Aside from the other fairly blunt but necessary points that needed to be made, we have this concept in our current society of leisure time. This is a current value, whereby economic slaves have a bit of time, set aside, where they no longer have to submit to labor. They are tired, they are burnt out, and now have a slave’s time off, like Thursday for Apartheid South Africans that they called “Sheila’s Day”. So we go to a place that is economically, geographically feasible, and that we have been conditioned to value and desire, and we lie around and do nothing. Can you blame us?
This sequence of behaviors is nothing innate, nothing predestined, and nothing that will tear down the logic of these ideas of a Resource Based Economy and the other aspects in the Zeitgeist Movement and Jacque Fresco idea’s. This sequence of behavior, these values, and cyclical vacation process are products of our current socioeconomic environment. The behavior and values in this society I’m proposing to you will be a product of their different socioeconomic environment. Q) And what will those be? A) Well, you’re a learned man and amongst other things, basically an anthropologist.
You know that in one environment, in one time, we have a value whereby we share wives, where women have multiple husbands, where rights of passage find individuals maiming and abusing each other, where others never kill, while others ratchet up skulls with pride, where some are egalitarian and abhor upstarts, while others extol greed, where we may constantly move in nomadic fashion, or remain sedentary with vast ownership of land and resources, where people are fed to lions, rare animals are fed to royal people, where cannibalism is abhorred, while in other places it is practiced as a sign of funerary respect, where people are put to death regularly, and where death penalties are ruled out as completely primitive.
There were pre-Western contact tribes in parts of the world where there was a very loose concept of husband and wife, and total promiscuity with no real concept of jealousy. Post contact and enculturation saw this change dramatically. So what will the behaviors and values be in this different environment? They will be different. Think about it yourself for a while, on how different they may be. Entrenched notions of property out the window. Indentured labor gone. Crime essentially phasing out to something very peripheral. Homicide reaching a point of peculiarity on a par with necrophilia. Social pathology not the mass concern it is now. Not inherent. Considerably less stress. Values of sharing.
Dramatically empowering values of studying for its own sake, and even more dramatic values of contributing to society. What values does business perpetrate? Selfishness. Self-interest. Manipulation. Exploitation. Game strategic conquering. What about being a lawyer? At its worst, the pursuit of monetary gain without moral concern, and at its most general, semantic manipulation on all accounts. These are the people, by the way, as you know, who run our current world. In this future society, contributing to the common good will be a self-interest, and a higher good sought after by far more than we have now. It will be the incentive, along with studying for human knowledge.
These will be some of the values you asked about. Better than now. Not perfect, but definitely better. Q) So you don’t think people will just lie around and do nothing? A) In our current system, as I’ve explained, many would. Because they get time off from a mundane job they don’t really like, they are exhausted, and they fulfill a rudimentary fantasy of going to a less congested habitat and exerting no energy. It’s that basic. Q) Look, if you were given 50 million dollars, or most people were, would you bother doing anything? A) I’m hoping by now you’re internalizing the fact that such a question is completely moot. This is not within the frame of reference of the society we are imagining.
In such a society, if you tapped someone on the shoulder and gave him a note for 50 million ‘pounds’, ‘euros’, or ‘dollars’, he would likely look at it curiously on both sides and take it home to put on the mantelpiece, more likely place it in a museum, just as you would do now if I handed you, with reverence, beads that were extremely valuable currency to societies passed. Q) So you think that, if people didn’t have to work, they will still contribute? A) Yes. Consider the most profound contributions to human progress. Einstein. Newton. Tesla. Jonas Salk. Louis Pasteur. These men did not contribute the profound knowledge and innovations they did for monetary gain. Q) Not everyone can be Einstein or Louis Pasteur. A) DRAMATICALLY more than we currently have enjoyed. There is a man, right now, staring at a mules ass in Cambodia on a muddy rice field, who could have cured Polio.
You think he’s a mule whippier because he’s mentally encumbered? Q) Of course not. A) Well there you go. Q) So you think most people will be scientists? A) Most people are scientists now. They don’t know it, but when they buy a car, observe their nutrition, consider their health, speculate on nature, discuss their computer’s operating system, predict weather patterns, and wonder about the cosmos, they are lay scientists. The only change will be that people will be more aware of this demographically, will be able to follow their interests more which will, with varying degrees of difference, be more aligned with this thing we call science, than the majority of irrelevant jobs we see today.
This society being proposed is one that applies the scientific method to social and environmental problems. The scientific method applied to society as a whole. So understand that the infrastructure, the framework, the modes of understanding, the avenues to joining in on a going thing…will be science. That’s the operations of the society. Joining in on other aspects, music, performance, the things we’ve done alongside invention and innovation since before Homo Sapiens, will occur too, just by choice as it is now. And what is science but studying, observing the world and Universe all around us and applying it to problem solving and technological innovation. It is the most efficient means of, for instance, going to space.
I have a strong feeling that a future generation in such a proposed society would have the incentive to contribute meaningfully, and to have a fascinating time of it. Are you going to tell me scientists across the board, do what they do for the money? It must be lucrative, studying the eating behavior of the Howler monkey, or the calling behavior of whales. Even for applied science like marine engineering, or nanotechnology, it is profoundly hard work, mentally taxing, requires genuine interest, and is a financial struggle throughout. Business on the other hand, is a meaningless game. The money is great. And it should be, because what else would the reward be? What else would the incentive be?
The pleasure of selling sugar water all your life?? The joy of obsessing over stock options and screaming on a trading floor? It’s the money. And the chase. The chase for money and strategic conquering and acquisition. It’s a game. Q) The fact is, most people are not interested in such things (science, etc). A) Yes and no. Currently, far fewer are than there should be. But regardless, in this environment they would be due to the lack of meaningless jobs, irrelevant educations, and a meaningless direction. Now can I ask you something, you are a scientist, yes? Q) Yes. A) Tell me, when you want to understand an aspect of the natural world, what do you do?
Q) I use what you can call the ‘scientific method’: I observe, quantify, relate to experience and knowledge on the subject from a body of scientific knowledge, create hypotheses, I test and experiment, potentially construct theories, and so on. A) And a person who solves problems by inventing and applying technology, what are they doing? Q) You mean like engineers? They are doing the same thing and applying it to practical solutions, that’s applied science. A) That’s how we have hydro-electric damns, rockets for NASA, computers… Q) Yes, of course. A) In fact that’s why we have anything technological, even the most mundane things. Q) What’s your point here? A) If you were to study something, would you consult a priest or an imam, or try to have a religious revelation to solve it? Q) I think you know the answer to that.
A) In an academy of science, would you interject in a discussion of whether the moon might have deposits of ice with frozen, ancient extremophile bacteria in them, and say “everybody who thinks it has organic life in the ice say ‘I’”, count the vote, and decide whoever has the most is the official result, have it written down, sanctioned, and put in the text books. Q) Don’t be ridiculous. A) Would you wait for the progress of market exchange to occur and see if it creates the monetary incentive to, say, discover the formula……? Q) No. A) So, in other words, when trying to understand the natural world…which is, in fact, reality around us, and when trying to solve a problem within it, you would not use the ‘religious method’, the ‘political method’, or the ‘monetary method’? Q) Hmmm, I suppose not, no. A) You would use the scientific method. Q) Yes.
A) Because that’s what you are: a scientist. Q) Yes. A) What we are proposing here is a society constructed in this manner. Not constructed from the profit motive, nor organized through traditional ‘politics’, nor religious theocracy, obviously. We are proposing a society who’s only organizing theme and guiding principle is applying the scientific method—which is the closest and most rational approach to understanding reality and solving its problems—to society as a whole. You help heart disease this way, construct bridges and roads this way, make resources and food and water available this way, increase the quality and dignity of life this way.
You feed and house Africans this way, make water clean, invent and distribute drugs, go to space, explore the world and the Universe, build houses, and on and on, this way. You do the most rewarding, fascinating, productive, efficient, cutting edge things this way. It would be global, called a ‘systems approach’. I’m not sure how else to illustrate this to you, except perhaps simply stating that from what you’ve said, whether you realize it or not, you are in agreement with these ideas I’ve been thus far discussing. Q) I am about some aspects. A) Only the founding, fundamental tenets of it. Q) hmm… A) And the logic and rationality of it. Q) … A) And it’s empirical train of thought. So what are you in opposition to? Be more specific.
Q) Not everything can be done for free, we will always need people doing things they don’t like. A) Not true. In the interim, we’ll need people contributing, but scientifically, as engineers and the like. Nothing will get done without contributions. Q) Uhuh, and where’s the incentive? A) Where is your incentive for what you do? Did you write that book on Gorillas for the Swiss bank account and the leer jet on 24 hour standby? Q) *Chuckles* obviously not. A) So where is your incentive, I don’t get why you did it? Q) Because I’m interested in it. A) Did Einstein, Pasteur, Tesla, Jonas Salk, and the Wright Brothers do what they did for the pot of gold waiting for them? Q) No. A) They were following another incentive.
The incentive of curiosity, interest, to find out, to study, to learn, and, yes, I know this is a strange concept in our current world, but the incentive of serving society, doing something that made them feel good and was right, like working on curing Polio, and the true cutting edge joy of inventing, like the Wright Brothers and inventing something to break the barriers of knowledge like the mad men behind the Large Hadron Collider. We are not money-maximizing computation machines by nature, we are programmed that way via socialization, via our social system. It is incentivized, and boring, and mind numbing. Why do you think a child looks at adults and thinks, on a very regular basis ‘what a bunch of mind-numbingly boring fuck-wits’? Why?
Because they leave you to climb a tree and see what’s happening with the butterfly chrysalis, before poking a dead toad (which isn’t dead it turns out), watching your favorite cartoons, and going to a graveyard to play hide and seek, so that they can sit behind a desk in a gray room, with a gray phone, going “mortgages, insurance, bank draft, mortgages, vocational guidance councilor, can someone please fetch the mortgage dividend fact checking sheet from the snore cabinet, it’s in the stockroom with the financial files and the gray paint that isn’t dry yet, please watch it while you’re there. ” Nobody in their right mind would do almost any of the jobs the human race currently does if they didn’t have to and if there wasn’t money at the end of it. But you would.
Pasteur would have done. Jonas Salk and Dawkins and Hamilton, cosmologists and physicists and NASA people would have done. Interesting. Not only would they have done it, but they would have done it even more! They would have spent more time doing their work, rather than their side job, or having to stop another year of lab work because they needed to work in a new job in administrative crap to earn money, or not going to Mars because of the war on “fill in the blank”. Q) Okay, but to get from here to there, where the only jobs necessary are ones people will offer to do, may not be possible. A) It may be that we destroy the planet and one another, yes.
Q) But will people want to help maintain machines, and design a better sewage system? Would they really? A) Yes. Not everyone, but not everyone would need to. Revolving interdisciplinary teams will help maintain and improve the state of things. In fact everyone will have input, constantly. The reward is in serving society, because that is the real self-interest. That is the reward. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not each others’ suffering. If there is a problem to be solved, it is in our interest ultimately to help. Q) Doesn’t that sound like a dangerous reality—technicians ruling the world? A) They aren’t ruling the world at all.
Q) But they make the real decisions, and they can be corrupted and selfish with this power. A) They aren’t making the decisions, decisions are arrived at via the scientific method. I explained before about the concept of a centralized database holistically connected with production and services, and input, requests and suggestions possible from anyone. There is likewise no incentive for corruption in a non-monetary system. Your frame of reference is coming out of a system where corruption and its incentives are inherent; this wouldn’t even be an issue in the society we are now contemplating. Government decisions today are based on self-interest, just as they are of corporations. They are creations of the monetary system.
You cannot have a truly ethical government anywhere under this current system, as long as we have the use of money to influence the entire process and its participants. As I have stressed, decisions in this non-monetary resource based global economy are not arrived at via self-interest, in an environment predominated by scarcity and financial incentive and hence, financial incentive for corruptibility. You simply don’t have the same arrangements and incentives in this different environment and hence your fears of it would be unfounded and if you were transported there, that would be one of the early things they reassure you about. There is no reward for corruption here, is that clear?
Any hands-on scientific application from these interdisciplinary teams is not paid with money. As I previously emphasized, their reward is the reward of society as a whole, in that truly empowering faculty of having cutting edge knowledge and technology to solve problems. Believe me, if I were in this environment, I would put aside a summer quite gladly, to figuring out how to implement desalination plants immediately all around the world, if I had the training. The reward is working on something positive. The reward is actually feeling good. The reward is the continual improvement of society, for all. Q) So you think people would actually care, and contribute, and do so for a sense of honor, I suppose? A) Oh, absolutely.
Yes, my studies and research and understanding undeniably points the other way from conventional ideas of humans as purely self-interested, money mongrels. I know from human behavior studies, ethnographies and hunter-gatherer research on cooperation, as well as common sense, that the idea that we are ‘money mongrels’ inherently is totally laughable. You know this isn’t true. And yes, we evolved in small, highly cooperative groups where the individual interest was inextricably tied with that of the collective, and yes, we evolved what you might call ‘pro-social emotions’, whereby we feel guilt and shame for transgressing, harming others in an unfair way, and so on, and powerful rewards for contributing, cooperating, doing good, and so on.
We are capable of such great things, and such terrible things, and the difference is not hardwiring, or being evil, or being a genetically psychopathic species, it is environmentally contingent. By the way, have you ever thought what a peculiar phenomenon the News is? Q) I suppose. What do you mean? A) Every morning we wake up to it, in the evening we end with it. We tune in and pick up the paper and hear and read of the most awful events and tragedies and problems. “Ten dead in a bus crash,” “100,000 homes destroyed in the latest tornado”, “the war in the Congo tears apart its society yet again. ” Why is it there? Well, for many reasons. We are pre-wired in a way to prick up our ears like a dog and go ‘what’s that? What’s the bad news? A problem? An immediate problem? What is it? ” It’s a Pleistocene reaction I think.
And our global society is positively rife with it. We don’t run a society to effectively solve problems at present, so they are everywhere. Starvation, war, poverty, homelessness and disasters are all terrible things. The grand irony is that, while we sit there saying everyone’s selfish, we have this phenomenon we call ‘the News’, which is directly related to the fact that we care and want to know about problems. We are primed to seek them out, tell others, and to try to do something, or at least, feel something about it. But ‘news’ just means any kind of reported information. In the future, they will look back and gawk at this state of affairs.
They will say “My goodness, they had this thing they called ‘the News’” chuckling wryly, “and it was all the most profoundly god-awful problems you can imagine, and they weren’t being solved. It’s like they knew something was wrong, and had to say it, but could not see the wood for the trees. What a strange, difficult, harsh world they lived in. ” Next time you turn on the news, stop and think about this. Stop and think about how, in the future, people will look back at our current society and see this phenomenon as an outlet for an un-empowered, emerging young and still primitive species, who didn’t have the setup at that time to properly solve problems. And, after all, the end of the 20th century onwards is the beginning of data stored as visual films. So they will have ample access to seeing exactly what it looked like.
On that note, we will be the obscure part of human history, where they say “Hmmm, go any further back now, and visually filmed evidence ends. ” Now, you referenced a better sewage system. People would indeed get together and contribute to such a thing, but as I’m about to explain, the integration with machines in decision making and production will be profound, so do not picture a man shrugging and saying ‘guess it has to be me’ and heading down to the pipes with a pickaxe and some blueprints. So, here is how it will work. We will have a massive, centralized computerized database, with all knowledge and information of natural laws, processes, global operations, resources and production stored in it. And it will be interactive.
We already have its primitive, amoebic beginnings: the internet and search engines, and primitive computing engines like Mathematica, which right now can take the probability that you will have a cup of coffee, divide it by Japans GDP for the last 50 years, and multiply it by the corn yield in Poland, plus the coefficient for the static friction of steel. It can take this, graph it, represent it a thousand mathematical ways, and store it as the “Alan coffee-GDP-corn yield-steel friction formula”. With a primitive element of artificial intelligence like this, we have this system connected, holistically, with all operations on the planet in regards to automated production and resources.
This is done in a variety of simplistic, emergent ways right now: farmers can have a vast region that is assessed and monitored via electrodes that tell them the quality of the soil and whether it needs to be watered, which sets off automated, enormous watering systems cyclically. On an everyday level, it’s done with your inkjet printer. Globally, this is called a system’s approach. It is done via system’s engineering. The world is a giant, organic system. Everything on it is inextricably linked. Removing all of the rainforest of one area would end rainfall in another and change the composition of the atmosphere overall, while depleting the fish of one ocean would wipe out its ecosystem in a variety of ways, and on and on. The only way to efficiently, effectively, and sustainably operate this planet, which is our home, and an organic spaceship, is via this approach.
So we go onto the database via the internet, which no-one could have predicted 20 years ago except certain scientists who were regarded with suspicion at the time, and we make suggestions. This is governance, if you like. Q) No politicians? A) No politicians. No elected leaders. Q) Who makes the decisions? A) Decisions are not made by one person, nor a group of sanctioned people. Decisions are arrived at, via the advanced technology and process of the scientific method. I’ve already explained, I think quite clearly, that to understand a real issue and to solve a real problem, we use the closest approximation to the truth that we know of, and this is science.
We use the least subjective and flawed languages we have available to use, which are mathematics and science. We update society to current knowledge and technological capability, which would resemble something dramatically different from what we have now, and we go from there. At that point, it is humanities move. Q) So no elections? A) No elections. Q) We could go on forever discussing this, but what about, say, greed in this environment? A) I will try to communicate this as effectively as possible. First… what is greed? Q) You’re asking me? Well, selfishness, wanting more and more, taking from people and… A) Greed is an English word. It’s a fairly ambiguous, ill-defined word in popular usage. It generally denotes a hoarding behavior.
And I can tell you, that if we are going to talk about anything as monumental as a fundamental aspect of humans that will prevent such a society from emerging, we need to discuss the behavior, not the ambiguous, subjectively defined, word we call ‘greed’. The English language, like any, is a very old, imperfect and highly subjective method in denoting empirical truths. That’s why we use science and math to really do that. So you say greed. We’ll break it down. We can disaggregate it, and actually analyze it in a meaningful way. Greed generally implies a hoarding behavior. Hoarding is a survival mechanism, and hoarding, along with private property, is an outgrowth of scarcity.
Hoarding a piece of food occurs due to its relative scarcity in the environment. To hoard something abundant, and readily available, is non-sensical. Do you obsessively store tons of tapped water into bottles and hide it under the bed, in the walls, take it to a bank and put it in vaults? No, because it is abundant. The only possible way you would do this, ever, is in anticipating its scarcity due to technological failure from a natural disaster. This is why we have a few bottles put there by mum in the larder. She is anticipating its scarcity, due to technological failure. Right now it is in abundance, thanks to technology. It’s as simple as that.
As Jacque Fresco says, if it rained gold for one hour we would be running around the streets, stuffing it in our pockets and storing it in boxes in the attic, but if it rained gold torrentially for a week, we would be sweeping it out of the house. Hoarding, or greed so to speak, is a direct result of the environment. Q) Yes, but what about mad things like golden toilet seats, and having 5 limousines? A) This behavior is pretty basic, at the end of the day. The values that are related to this have coevolved with large scale, sedentary, monetary civilization. We value hoarding, we value greed. Why does a nomadic Pleistocene hunter-gatherer not hoard thousands of yams and spears and so on?
Because he is nomadic, and this would be a deranged, functionless and maladaptive thing to do. It makes no sense. But to be greedy and hoard a lot of a certain resource or product in our system does make sense, temporally, because you can make money from it, because it has some kind of real or believed value to it. Hoarding crap, with no value, is the result of living sedentary lifestyles, where we amass tons of crap, and place some kind of imagined value on it. It is nothing inherent to our species. If something is made readily available, you have no incentive to hoard it. You have no incentive to steal it. Why do thieves not steal tap water when they break into a house?
If, say, golf clubs are free at all golfing resorts, in that environment, no-one has to pay for that particular standard club. So, if you steal it, you cannot even sell it! Why buy it? When you go to the resort, they are there, free for members. So why steal it? Because someone has an obsession with stealing golf clubs, just for it’s own sake? That person is mentally unwell. And anyone who stole such an item would only be bringing a burden onto themselves, the burden of having to take it, of storing it somewhere, and of feeling any potential guilt. Greed refers to real behaviors that are an outgrowth of scarcity, plain and simple, and the strange values we have today are perverse outgrowths of this, that are directly a result of our current economic setup.
Anyone who thinks it’s innately human to burrow around for as much gold as they can find and then store it jealously and kill people who want it too, has never cracked a single page of any human studies from anthropology. It is just plain wrong. Q) And what about religion? How would such a society occur with religious nutcases, who you cannot deny are out there and would not be reasoned with. A) Well, that is a real problem. Q) Yes. A) Here’s my view in a nutshell. Peculiar and irrational beliefs not with standing… Aggressive, violent, destructive behavior is directly related to deprivation and abuse. This society we are proposing, this way of dealing with problems, would never deprive and abuse people.
It would see them enjoying a far more dignified life than we do now. There is actually no incompatibility with being a religious person and existing in this Resource Based Economy. Morals and values are fluid and evolving, this is why you have Arab women wearing Burkas, and Gucci underneath. This is why you have Evangelical Christians preaching the 10 commandments, and committing adultery. This is why you have people saying the Universe didn’t start with a big bang, and using cell phones who’s static is due to picking up its outer radiation. What is the difference between a religious person who blows himself and others up, and another, like my flat mate, who would never do such a thing?
It is directly related to that person’s state of deprivation, stress, inequality, abusive environment, and subordination. It is also due to education, without a doubt. No Christian I know of sells his daughter into slavery, stones people to death for violating the Sabbath, or considers that he will go to hell for eating shellfish. Their morals and actions don’t really come from the bible. They cherry-pick certain aspects, but a shifting moral Zeitgeist external to their old text guides their lives, and they don’t even know it! The most negative interpretations and enactments of religious teachings do not occur inherently, they occur due to real or perceived subordination, suffering, and terrible deprivation.
It is something to consider, but it is not the problem it is perceived to be. It is not going to definitely happen regardless of the external state of affairs. Q) I understand your point, but to be honest, Muslim nutcases would convince themselves to bomb people just because they are not Muslim. A) Maybe, maybe not. I think this is an uncertainty, not a certainty. And here’s a final point that you will not hear from anyone else on this. All religious people are not the real deal. They have all compromised their beliefs, they have all altered, changed, reinterpreted, and stepped down from true fundamentalism. They use cell phones, cars, science and modern knowledge and lifestyles. They engage in ‘capitalism’.
They engage in a constant, emerging, negotiation of their texts, a semantic bubble that is inherent in these highly subjective texts with multiple interpretations. They live in a world of exponentially changing technology, that holistically shapes and changes their environment in every way, and a perpetually increasing interaction with other cultures and systems of operation that are not built upon their religious foundations. They hence must, by necessity, compromise many aspects of their texts. And here’s the key thing, technology moves at such an unbelievable pace that it has taken over as the key shaper of society. It has taken over from religion as the real shaper, from politics, from any other aspects of culture, and from traditional economics.
Technology changes so fast that nothing else can keep up. Genes could not keep up with culture, and culture cannot keep up with technology. The fact of culture and anything related to it not being able to keep up with the rapid change in technology is called ‘culture lag’. These institutions, slowly, over time, will be watered down, irrevocably altered, muted, and slowly, selected out. They try and stay cutting edge, they cling on: they digitize the Qur’an, Christians use the TV to evangelize and send text messages of biblical quotes, but guess what? They will never be as cutting edge as the phenomenon and process of technology itself. It will leave them in the dust.
Consider this quote: “The tremendous and still accelerating development of science and technology has not been accompanied by an equal development in social, economic, and political patterns… It is safe to predict that… such social inventions as modern-type Capitalism, Fascism, and Communism will be regarded as primitive experiments directed toward the adjustment of modern society to modern methods,” (Dr. Ralph Linton). Such institutions seek self-preservation, but they cannot compete. Theirs is a slow, kicking death. In the interim, I firmly hold that a better quality of life and approach to managing and problem solving will not be annihilated because Muslims, or anyone else, will blow everyone up due to religion.
In fact, the highest danger of this disastrous outcome, is not religious folk but a military industrial complex that has an economic incentive to start more wars, and finally someone rears up and says ‘enough is enough’, like China, starts a real war, and we end in a nuclear holocaust. This will be how it ends, not some story-book idea of Muslims blowing everything up because it isn’t Islamic. Q) Well, it is always possible that it will never happen because of nuclear war or something like this. You can’t argue with that. A) No I can’t. We can end the conversation with that if you want. Yes, you’re right, it’s possible. If it happens, nature will cover us over with the same cold indifference it covered over the trilobites and the Dodo. The earth won’t take very long to recover, and the experiment that non-randomly selected intelligence will start again.