The Best That Money Can’t Buy is the ultimate synchronicity of spirituality, science, technology and the environment to create a better world for everyone. Fresco envisions a global civilization in which science and technology are applied with human and environmental concern, offering a standard of living far beyond anything ever imagined in the past. It is a new vision of hope for the future of humankind in this technological age. This book presents an alternative vision for a sustainable new world civilization unlike any social system before. It offers a possible way out of our recurring cycles of boom and recession, famine, poverty, a declining environment, and territorial conflicts where peace is merely the interval between wars. It outlines an attainable, humane social design of the near future were human rights are not longer paper proclamations but a way of life. The Best That Money Can’t Buy is a challenge to all people to work toward a society in which all of the world’s resources become the common heritage of all of the earth’s people.
Prologue (eighth edition)
As our environmental conditions are becoming more dire, humanity needs a unified direction to mobilize and work toward.
A social system where people, technology, and the environment can co-exist to achieve dynamic equilibrium.
This means using our technology wisely in order to achieve abundance and provide everyone with equal access to all goods and services without depleting the natural resources upon which we all depend. This, of course, means that we will have to outgrow the monetary system that limits such possibilities for all. As Jacque would say, “then we will begin to know what it really means to be civilized.”
Most problems we face in the world today are of our own making. We must accept that the future depends upon us.
Interventions by mythical or divine characters in white robes descending from the clouds, or by visitors from other worlds, are illusions that cannot solve the problems of our modern world. The future of the world is our responsibility and depends upon decisions we make today. We are our own salvation or damnation. Solutions that will shape the future depend totally on the collective effort of all people working together.
Science and technology race into the future, revealing new horizons in all areas. New discoveries and inventions appear at a rate never seen before in history and the rate of change will continue to increase exponentially in the years to come.
Few can envision a social structure that enables a Utopian lifestyle, as compared to today’s standards, or that this lifestyle could be made available without the sweat of one’s brow. Yet, thanks to our labor-saving machines and other technological advances, the lifestyle of a middle class person today far exceeds anything that even the kings of the past would have experienced.
Since the beginning of the machine age, humankind has had a love/hate relationship with its mechanical devices. We may like what the machines do for us, but we don’t like what they do to us. They take away our means of making a living, and sometimes our sense of purpose, which derives from thousands of years in which hand labor was the primary means of meeting human needs.
No one can predict the future with precision.
There are simply too many variables.
New inventions, natural and man-made disasters, and new uncontrollable diseases could radically alter the course of civilization.
While we cannot predict the future, we will most surely live it. Every action and decision we take –or don’t –ripples into the future. For the first time, we have the capability, the technology, and the knowledge to direct those ripples.
Given the advances in science and technology over the last two hundred years, one may well ask, “Does it have to be this way?” There is no question that the application of science and technology can carry us with confidence and assurance into the future. What is needed is a change in our direction and purpose. Our main problem is a lack of understanding of what it means to be human and that we are not separate from nature. Our values, beliefs, and behaviors are as much a part of natural law as any other process. We are all an integral part of the chain of life.
Chapter 1 – A design for the future
The future is fluid. Each act, each decision, and each development creates new possibilities and eliminates others. The future is ours to direct.
In the last fifty to a hundred years, technology and social change accelerated to such an extent that governments and corporations now consider change management a core process.
First, we must survey and inventory all of our available planetary resources. Discussions about what is scarce and what is plentiful is just talk until we actually measure our resources. We must first baseline what there is around the world. This information must be compiled so we know the parameters for humanizing social and technological development.
This can be accomplished using computers to assist in defining the most humane and appropriate ways to manage environmental and human affairs. This is basically the function of government. With computers processing trillions of bits of information per second, existing technologies far exceed the human capacity for arriving at equitable and sustainable decisions concerning the development and distribution of physical resources. With this potential, we can eventually surpass the practice of political decisions being made on the basis of power and advantage.
Eventually, with artificial intelligence, money may become irrelevant, particularly in a high-energy civilization in which material abundance eliminates the mindset of scarcity. We have arrived at a time when the methods of science and technology can provide abundance for all. It is no longer necessary to consciously withhold efficiency through planned obsolescence or to utilize an old and obsolete monetary system.
We recognize that technological development has been misdirected, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
Not only must we rebuild our thought patterns, but much of our physical infrastructure, including buildings, waterways, power systems, production and distribution processes, and transportation systems must be reconstructed from the ground up. Only then can our technology overcome resource deficiencies and provide universal abundance.
If we are genuinely concerned about the environment and our fellow human beings, and if we want to end territorial disputes, war, crime, poverty, hunger, and the other problems that confront us today, the intelligent use of science and technology are the tools with which to achieve a new direction. This approach will serve all people, and not just a select few.
The purpose of this technology is to free people from repetitive and boring jobs and allow them to experience the fullness of human relationships, denied to so many for so long. This will call for a basic adjustment in the way we think about what makes us human. Our times demand the declaration of the world’s resources as the common heritage of all people.
In a hundred years, historians may look back on our present civilization, as a transition period from the dark ages of ignorance, superstition, and social insufficiency, just as we view the world of one hundred years ago. If we arrive at a saner world in which the maximum human potential is cultivated in every person, our descendants will not understand why our world produced only one Louis Pasteur, one Edison, one Tesla, or one Salk, and why great achievements in our age were the products of a relative few.
Either we learn to live together in full cooperation, or we will cause our own extinction. To fully understand and appreciate this coming age, we must understand the relationship between creation and creator: the machine and, as of this writing, that most marvelous of mechanisms –the human being.
Chapter 2 – Changing values in an emerging culture
The challenges we face now cannot be addressed with antiquated notions and values that are no longer relevant.
If you believe today’s values and virtues are absolute and ultimate for all times and all civilizations, then you may find our projection of the future shocking and unacceptable. We must feel and think, as freshly as possible, about the limitless possibilities of life patterns humankind may explore for attaining even higher levels of intelligence and fulfillment in the future.
Deeply rooted cultural norms that assume someone must lose for someone else to gain (scarcity at its most basic) still dictate most of our decisions.
At this turning point in our civilization, we find problems complicated by the fact that many of us still wait for someone to save us; perhaps a messiah, the elusive “they,” or an extraterrestrial. The irony of this is that, as we wait for someone to do it for us, we give up our freedom of choice and movement. We react, rather than act, towards events and issues.
The future is our responsibility, but change will not take place until the majority loses confidence in their dictators’ and elected officials’ ability to solve problems. It will likely take an economic catastrophe, resulting in enormous human suffering, to bring about true social change. Unfortunately, this does not guarantee that the change will be beneficial.
Somehow, in an era of plenty, we approve punishment as an answer to all problems. One symptom of insanity is repeating the same mistake, over and over again, and expecting a different outcome. Our society is, in this sense, truly insane.
The Manhattan Project developed the first atomic device to be used against human populations and launched the most intensive and dangerous weapons build-up in history. The Manhattan Project was also one of the largest and best financed projects ever undertaken. If we are willing to spend that amount of money, resources, and human lives in time of war, why don’t we commit equal resources to improving lives and anticipating the humane needs of the future? The same energies that went into the Manhattan Project could be used to improve and update our way of life, as well as to achieve and maintain the optimal symbiotic relationship between nature and humankind.
If our system continues, without modification involving environmental and social concern, we will face an economic and social breakdown of our outdated monetary and political system. When this occurs, the established government will likely enact a state of emergency or martial law in an attempt to prevent total chaos. I do not advocate this, but without the suffering of millions, it may be nearly impossible to shake our complacency about the current ways of life.
OUT OF THE DARK AGES
Many of the dominant values shaping our present society are medieval. The idea that we live in an enlightened age, or an age of reason, has little basis in fact. We are overwhelmed with valid information concerning ourselves and our planet, but have no inkling of how to apply it. Most of our customs and modes of behavior have been handed down to us from the Dark Ages.
The twenty-first century will reveal what most people never suspected, which is that the majority of us have the potential of people like Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, and Madam Curie, if we are raised in an environment that encourages genuine individuality and creativity. This includes all the other characteristics thought of as the special and privileged heredity of great men and women. Even in today’s so-called democratic society, fewer than four percent of the world’s people have supplied us with the scientific and artistic advances that sustain social systems.
SHAPING HUMAN VALUES
Humans in the future, though similar in appearance, will differ considerably in their outlook, values, and mindset.
Perhaps when the history of the human race is finally written, it will be from the viewpoint of individuals in an alien and primitive culture who sought change in a world that had great tenacity to maintain things as they were.
Conformity in a population makes control of society much easier for its leaders. Our leaders pay lip service to the freedoms that democracy provides, while actually supporting an economic structure that imprisons its citizens under more and more debt.
Propaganda is so effective that an average citizen is not insulted when categorized as a consumer, as if a person’s only worth to society is as a user of goods. These patterns are gradually being modified and challenged by the internet and the World Wide Web.
The most disruptive period in a transition, from an established social order to an emergent system, comes when people are not prepared emotionally or intellectually to adjust to change. People cannot simply erase all the beliefs and habits that they’ve acquired in the past, as these constitute their self-identity. Sudden changes in values without some preparation will cause many to lose their sense of identity and purpose, isolating them from a society they feel has passed them by.
Work and the new leisure
From early civilizations to the present, most humans had to work to earn a living. Most of our attitudes about work are a carry-over from these earlier times. In the past, and still in many low-energy cultures, it was necessary to fetch water and carry it to one’s dwelling place. People gathered wood to make fires for heating and cooking, and [for] fuel to burn in their lamps. It would have been very difficult, and still is for some, to imagine a time when water would rush forth in your own dwelling at the turn of a handle; to press a button for instant light would seem to be magic. People of ancient times probably wondered what they would do with their time, if they did not have to engage in these burdensome tasks that were so necessary to sustain their lives. In most developed countries, tasks that were once so vital to people’s very survival are no longer necessary, thanks to modern technology.
Today, people attend schools to acquire marketable skills that enable them to earn a living in the work-a-day world. Recently, the belief that one must work to earn a living has been challenged. Working for a living to supply the necessities of life may soon be irrelevant, as modern technology can provide most of these needs.
As a result, many jobs have gone the way of the iceman and the elevator operator.
The idea of freedom from work should include the elimination of repetitive and boring tasks that hold back our intellectual growth. Most jobs, from blue-collar assembly worker to professional, entail repetitious and uninteresting tasks. Human beings possess an untapped potential that they will finally be able to explore once they are free of the burden of having to work to earn a living.
It is imperative that we explore alternatives so as to improve our social constructs, beliefs, and quality of life to secure and sustain a future for all.
Chapter 3 – Language of relevance
Of the many entrenched barriers to positive change, communication is one of the most intractable. Language has evolved over centuries through ages of scarcity, superstition, and social insufficiency; and it is continuing to evolve.
Words have various shades of meaning.
Many of us lack the skills to communicate logically when we are emotionally invested in an outcome.
The language of science
Ambiguity may help lawyers, preachers, and politicians, but it doesn’t work in building bridges, dams, power projects, flying machines, or in space travel. For these activities, we need the language of science.
It’s a semantic jungle out there
When we read and discuss new ideas, the information is automatically filtered through previous experiences and patterns of associative memory.
We must learn to outgrow our egos in exchange for constructive dialogue, rather than debate.
Humans, as yet, are not rational beings.
Our current values of right and wrong, or good and bad, are the products of older social systems.
Chapter 4 – From Superstition to science
To find meaningful answers, one must first know what questions to ask.
People pose complex questions without first having fundamental knowledge of what it is they are seeking. In science, which is close to the physical world, it is acknowledged that there are no absolutes. If science were to accept absolutes, scientific inquiry would come to an end.
We can only experience the world with our receptors and the degree of linguistic precision that our culture affords us. No one can view anything with the certainty that they perceive it as it really is. If a mouse could talk, it would describe a dog as an enormous creature, but a giraffe would say it is a tiny creature from his point of view. They are both telling the truth as they see it, but only from their own point of view.
The only meaning life has is what we humans give it.
Scientific individuals present findings without regard to whether people like them or not. Often at the risk of their social standing, careers, or even their lives.
There is no way for refugees from reality to perceive the actual state of affairs without tremendous effort and inquiry, in order to translate their wishes and dreams into reality. It takes honest effort to understand the nature of the world we live in.
There is really no such thing as a pure scientist, since all data is filtered through our senses, personal background and experience. Some are scientific in their specialized disciplines, but in other areas of science, they may be illiterate. Formulating conclusions outside of one’s discipline could even be a violation of the scientific method.
Science should not be used to conquer nature but rather should point out our interdependence and connectivity to nature, and explore how to utilize our knowledge to live in accordance with the natural order of things. When we as a nation spend nearly five hundred billion dollars annually on defense and only two billion on understanding our environment, one must question whether there is actually intelligent life on Earth.
The only hope for developing a new civilization is to accept responsibility for improving our lives through knowledge, understanding and a deeper comprehension of humanity’s relationship to natural processes of evolution. Our future is determined by the effort we put forth to achieve this transition.
When we outgrow assumptions about superior and inferior races and realize the unity of humankind and its true relationship with the planet, we will achieve the full potential of science for humane development. This could serve as a unifying global force for achieving a sustainable world. Not knowing where we are, how can we possibly know where we are headed?
Chapter 5 – New frontiers of social change
In our dynamic universe all things change, from the farthest reaches of outer space to the movement of continents. Change occurs in both living and non-living systems.
The history of civilization is the story of change from simple to more complex. Human ingenuity and invention are examples of this fact. No system can remain static for long. Unfortunately, changes are not always for the best.
Although we accept the inevitability of change, humans also meet change with considerable resistance. Those in charge, whether religious, military, socialist, capitalist, communist or tribal, will attempt to hold back change because it threatens their control.
Even those oppressed may support a system and the status quo because it is familiar and known. No matter how oppressive one’s surroundings, there is comfort in the familiar.
The history of humankind is one of change, which is either brought about by natural circumstances or by human intervention.
The established social order seeks to perpetuate itself. Those in positions of power are able, and highly motivated, to delay developments that would advance society as a whole.
In just a few decades, the transfer of information moved from telegraph to radio, to television, to wireless transmission computers, to satellites that store trillions of bits of data and transmit it to any part of the globe instantly. We forget that less than forty years ago, a pair of wires could carry a dozen conversations. Twenty years later, one cable carried thirty thousand conversations simultaneously. Today, a single laser beam carries more than a million. This explosion of technology can no longer be stopped.
Common crises create common bonds. While people seek individual advantage during good times, shared suffering draws people together.
In a money-based economy, the benefits go to a relative few.
Physical resources – not money –are what matter in the ability of a social system to sustain its people.
If humankind is to experience mutual prosperity, universal access to resources is essential.
The monetary system must evolve into a world Resource Based Economy.
Chapter 6 – The inhumanity of a monetary system
In a monetary system, the major aim is profit: maintaining a competitive edge and ‘the bottom line’ is all that matters.
Any social need that may be met is secondary to acquiring a profit for the business. If the profit is insufficient, the service will be withdrawn. Everything is subordinate to increasing the profit margin for shareholders. It does not serve the interest of a money-based society to engage in the product of goods and services to enhance the lives of people, just as man-made laws enacted do not protect the lives of citizens.
All of the world’s economic systems – socialism, communism, fascism, and even our free enterprise capitalist system – perpetuate social stratification, elitism, nationalism and racism, based primarily on economic disparity. As long as a social system uses money or barter, people and nations will seek differential advantage by maintaining their economic competitive edge or by military intervention.
War is not the only form of violence imposed on people by inadequate social arrangements. There is also hunger, poverty and scarcity. The use of money and the creation of debt foster economic insecurity, which perpetuates crime, lawlessness and resentment.
But focusing our efforts on non-productive and non-creative endeavors wastes lives as surely as war. Throughout history we have lived through ages characterized by wasted lives, in which the abilities of a great many have not been fully realized or utilized. Time, effort and minds are wasted on the pursuit of money in occupations that contribute nothing to the human intellect or condition. From earliest civilizations to the present, most humans have had to work to earn a living. Our attitudes about work may be a carryover from earlier times.
During the thousands of years of the monetary system, most workers have been paid just enough to make it necessary that they return to work, even when higher wages have been possible.
Even the highly educated and affluent who live in expensive homes and drive expensive cars have to appear at a place of work if they wish to maintain their standard of living. All of us, even top executives, are slaves of the monetary system. Most of us lack a meaningful existence. We stay at jobs we hate in order to buy more gadgets we don’t need, or to build up earned time off so we can escape from the reason we need a vacation in the first place.
Although many take home more money today, inflation has decreased purchasing power for most people. We are caught up in the game of getting ahead without thinking about what or whom we’re trying to get ahead of. Most of us do not take time to think about our own lives and how we relate to one another, or to what and who we really are.
Even those who achieve economic security are addicted to the media’s image of personal success. When we achieve our first economic goal, we want more—the cabin cruiser, the vacation house and the trip abroad. In the monetary world even our dreams are rationed.
At each successive gain in this endless chain of dissatisfaction, we acquire more and more material wealth, but it’s never enough to make us happy. We live in a world of unfulfilled dreams in which we never really come to know or understand what constitutes a meaningful life.
In a monetary system, democracy is an illusion perpetuated to give the populace a feeling of participation in a so-called democratic process. In general, people nominated for public office are preselected by the power elite to serve the interests of the highest bidder.
The country’s actions and decisions are made by and for major corporations, financial interests, the wealthiest and the military industrial complex. As long as money and a monetary system prevail, true democracy will be nothing more than an illusion.
We are only as free as our purchasing power permits. With money concentrated in the hands of so few, even this freedom is illusory.
In the words of the Earl of Caithness, in a speech to the House of Lords in 1997,”…our whole monetary system is dishonest, as it is debt-based…We did not vote for it. It grew upon us gradually but markedly since 1971 when the commodity-based system was abandoned.”
Despite its title and treatment by the media, the Federal Reserve System that controls our currency is not an agency of the federal government nor is it run for the benefit of the public. Rather, the “Fed” is a private institution run solely by and for private profit. Even the amount in reserve is questionable.
The Federal Reserve, not the government, has complete control over the lending of money. It sets interest rates thereby wielding tremendous political influence.
But the Federal Reserve System is not the only private institution that manipulates our economic system. Banks use a process called “fractional reserve baking” which enables them to loan more than they have on deposit to cover the loans. They then charge interest on money they don’t have. Through this process, banks lend out at least ten times more than they have on reserve, which reduces the value of money and leads to inflation. It is no wonder the newest and biggest buildings in cities belong to banks. If we behaved like banks, we would be charged with fraud.
As Ralph G. Hawtrey, former Secretary of the British Treasury stated, “Banks lend by creating credit. They create the means of payment out of nothing.”
Whenever money is involved, there is elitism.
Many years ago, the American people were taxed to build roads for automobiles. They did not vote for this development. The automobile and bus industries, real estate lobbies and the military greatly influenced the development of freeways and roads because of the potential for automobile and land sales represented by the expansion of the highway system. Many cities had transportation systems that were far cleaner, more efficient and more economical than automobiles, but these were sold and dismantled by vested interests representing the automobile industry.
Many heroes from the past are honored for their self-sacrifice in attempting to make the world a better place. Thousands have sacrificed their lives, and others have been tortured and imprisoned, during their attempts to better the lives of others. These people often acted as they did without thought for monetary rewards.
Planned obsolescence, where industries deliberately create products that break and require replacement, or unnecessary repairs.
Money has no influence where resources and access are not limited. It is only when resources are scarce that a monetary or barter system can function. In other words, if a person wants goods and services, he or she is obliged to submit to the control of others. When a person goes to work in industry today, he or she enters a private dictatorship from the moment they punch the time clock to the time they leave the premises.
Chapter 7 – When money becomes irrelevant
In this chapter we discuss a straightforward approach to the redesign of culture, in which war, poverty, hunger, debt and human suffering are viewed as not only avoidable, but totally unacceptable. This new social design seeks to eliminate the underlying causes of our problems, but they can’t be eliminated within the framework of the present monetary and political establishment.
The major corporations’ first concern is profit. This narrow concern will ultimately result in the demise of our economic system.
If the monetary system continues, we face ever-increasing technological unemployment, as seen in downsizing. We need fewer people with greater skills to support production. Everyone else becomes irrelevant, except as consumers. It is only a matter of time before automation replaces people in almost all areas, resulting in a lack of purchasing power to buy the goods turned out. Even in an expanding market, this will bring about massive and unmanageable problems.
We live in a culture that seems to work collectively only in response to a crisis. Only in times of war or national disaster do we move beyond money and apply the necessary resources and interdisciplinary teams to meet a threat.
Rarely, if ever, do we employ concerted efforts to find workable solutions to social problems.
If we applied the same efforts of scientific mobilization toward social betterment as we do during a war or disaster, large-scale results could be achieved in a relatively short time. More time and effort must go into the collection of experimental evidence to support innovative social arrangements.
The Earth is abundant with resources; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counterproductive to the well-being of people. Modern society has highly advanced technologies and can easily provide more than enough for a high standard of living for all by implementing a Resource-Based Economy. Simply stated, a Resource-Based Economy uses existing resources rather than money, and provides an equitable distribution of goods and services in a humane and efficient manner for the entire population. It is a system in which all natural, man-made, machine-made, and synthetic resources are available without the use of money, credit, barter or any other form of debt. A Resource-Based Economy uses resources from the land and sea, physical equipment, and industrial plants to enhance the lives of the total population. In an economy based on resources rather than money, we can easily produce the necessities of life and provide a high standard of living for all. In a Resource-Based Economy the world’s resources are held as the common heritage of all people, eventually outgrowing the need for artificial boundaries that separate people. This is the unifying imperative.
We must emphasize that this approach to global governance has nothing in common with the present aims of an elite to form a world government with themselves and large corporations at the helm, and the vast majority of the population subservient to them. Our vision of globalization empowers each person on the planet to be the best they can be, and to not live in subjugation to a corporate governing body.
It is an irony that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whose function is to conduct research into ways of achieving higher crop yields, actually pays farmers not to produce at full capacity while many go hungry.
The monetary system does not always apply known methods that would best serve people and the environment.
In our search for more, we have blinded ourselves to our personal responsibility for challenging these absurdities.
A resource-based society considers us all equal shareholders of Earth. We are responsible both for the planet and for our relationship with each other. In a Resource-Based Economy, the human condition is of prime concern with technology subordinate.
In such an economy, production is accomplished totally by machines and the products are available to all. The concepts of work and earning a living become irrelevant. The focus is on having a life. In a money economy, when the human consequences of automation are neglected, it renders the advances of science and technology meaningless except to a select few.
To better understand a Resource-Based Economy, consider this: if all the money in the world suddenly disappeared, but topsoil, factories, and other resources were left intact, we could build anything we chose to build and fulfill any human need. It is not money that people need, but access to the necessities of life without having to appeal to a government bureaucracy or any other agency. In a Resource-Based Economy, money is irrelevant. What’s required are the resources, manufacturing and distribution of the products.
In a monetary system, purchasing power is not related to the capacity to produce goods and services. For example, in a recession, there are computers in store windows and automobiles in car lots, but people do not have the purchasing power to buy them. The rules of the monetary system are obsolete, and create needless strife, deprivation, and human suffering. In today’s culture of profit, we do not produce goods based on human need. We do not build houses based on population needs. We do not grow food based solely on demand, nor do we practice medicine solely to cure diseases. Industry’s major motivation is profit.
Our only shortage is a lack of creative thought and intelligence in ourselves and our elected leaders to solve these problems.
The most valuable untapped resource today is human ingenuity.
Money is only important in a society when resources for survival are rationed and people accept money as an exchange medium for the scarce resources. Money is a social convention, an agreement if you will. It is neither a natural resource, nor does it represent one. It is not necessary for survival unless we have been conditioned to accept it as such.
Love and extensionality
Extensionality at its most basic is an act of kindness one does without debt being incurred by the other person. the more people become extensional to one another, the richer the civilization and the interaction between individuals become. In the future, instead of asking, “Do I love this person?”, one might instead identify the specific areas of extensionality that one shares with them.
Chapter 8 – The next phase of evolution: Machine Intelligence
If the outmoded, unquestioning and emotion-driven methods used by our government and economic systems today had been applied to the sciences, we would have made very little technological progress.
The advent of cybernation can be regarded as the real emancipation proclamation for humankind if used humanely and intelligently. Cybernation could enable the highest conceivable standard of living with practically no labor. It could free people for the first time from a highly structured and outwardly imposed routine of repetitive day-by-day activity. It could permit one to actually live the Greek concept of leisure, where slaves did the work and citizens cultivated their minds.
While many people feel uncomfortable about machines making decisions, everyone demands a weighing scale be used when they purchase quantifiable goods. To preclude a power failure in a hospital, people expect back-up emergency generators that automatically switch on with the least amount of inconvenience to staff and patients. We are so used to machines making decisions about climate control, directing traffic lights, answering our phones.
Forwarding our messages, managing our calendars and the like, that we no longer consider them remarkable. Today, people want and expect many aspects of modern life to be handled seamlessly and invisibly by so-called “intelligent machine decisions.”
While some fear machines, there has never been a single deliberate act or plan by machines to hurt anyone. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of human beings.
Almost all life forms of the past, including plants, animals, and even humanoid forms, have been replaced during the process of evolution. There are no permanent structures in nature. The assumption that the human being is the final product of evolution is based upon a narrow self-centered projection. The human being is not a separate self-sufficient entity: we are integrated into and dependant on nature to survive.
It is arrogant and unrealistic for us to believe that man is the final product of evolution. More and more we see the merging of human ingenuity with machine intelligence.
To remain at the forefront of technology one must update one’s methods; discard outdated technology, and examine new paradigms.
Cybernation will prevail. As an old Chinese proverb says: The dogs may howl at the moon, but the moon will continue on its honorable journey.
Machine emotions in a cybernated society.
Machines have no emotions. They do not feel ambition, love, or hate. They do not seek power over people, nor do they harbor any repressed desires to harm or enslave anyone. They won’t make demands on their users or seek revenge if misused. They will not hold a grudge, complain, or manifest guile and deceit. These are human traits.
With no understanding of, or sensitivity to, human emotions such as love and trust, machines guide aircraft, ships and spacecraft to their destinations, and make decisions about how to avoid troublesome weather. With no concept of charity, machines provide an abundance of food and preserve it by refrigeration. They heat and cool our homes. They sound alarms in the event of fire, and warn us when hurricanes and tornadoes threaten.
The fact that machines have no emotions may, in some ways, make them superior to human systems.
Nanotechnology to come
Nanotechnology will eventually control and direct the building of molecular structures, atom by atom, into any molecular configuration we desire. By such a process, we will be able to rearrange matter and eliminate shortages forever.
As nanotechnology advances, machines could have a transmorphic capability, being able to change shape to the most efficient form to accomplish any given task.
The downsizing of the gods
All will eventually supplant antiquated notions about gods and demons. As our own powers increase, there will surely be a corresponding decrease in humankind’s tendency to seek answers and solace in religion or superstition.
We are at a time when mathematical logic and computers can assist us in unraveling the processes of human thought. Our growing understanding will enable us to enhance future computer technology. Existing economic and political structures and processes no longer provide the support needed to keep up with and implement changes in technology. The focus on profit, secrecy and competition runs counter to the possibilities for positive change afforded by the current broadening of technology. The internet makes possible a spirit of collaboration and open exchange of information. It is time to put new social and economic structures in place.
Chapter 9 – When government becomes obsolete
Visionaries have sought to improve the lives of people by instigating changes within the established social order. Semanticists called for improvements and clarifications of meaning in our language. The Communists advocated state-ownership and the end of capitalism and human exploitation. The Fascists created a dictatorship of the rich and powerful. Socialists called for a reordering of our priorities to serve humanity by a more equitable distribution of existing resources. Religious groups crusaded for a return to simpler times, to family values and the teachings of their charismatic leaders. We call for the establishment of scientific scales of performance applied to the social system, for the benefit of all.
Established government systems seek to preserve and uphold their own interests and power-base.
The real forces responsible for change have to do with external events or biosocial pressures that physically alter the environment and established social arrangements.
The industrial revolution did more than move the centers of population from small farms to large cities. It changed how we relate to our communities. World War II changed the roles of women in this country. Droughts and wars in Africa today are moving whole populations from their ancestral tribal lands into cities, destroying entire cultures almost overnight.
Laws are, at best, attempts to placate or control a population, and they work only sporadically. Another method designed to control human behavior is early indoctrination toward a given set of values, such as patriotism, propaganda in the national interest, or nationalism. In this way, the citizenry is “programmed” to support an existing government and unaware that other options are available.
Another safeguard used by and for politicians is the pushing of the concept of personal responsibility; that we are all responsible for our own shortcomings, failures and misfortunes. In fact, in accordance with natural laws that govern all activities, most of our actions are determined by the circumstances that surround us. Many so-called free choices are greatly influenced by the culture and values of our times.
People cry out for laws to relieve hunger, poverty, war, oppression and scarcity, but the answer lies in removing the conditions that are responsible for these problems.
All nature is subservient to natural law. Natural law cannot be violated without serious consequences to the individual or to societies. Natural laws dominate all living systems. Without nature’s water, sun or nutrients, plants and animals would die.
A society with human concern “designs out” the need for laws and proclamations by making things available to all, regardless of race, color or creed. When governments make laws, we are led to believe they are made to enhance people’s lives. In truth, laws are the byproduct of insufficiency.
Today, we control human behavior with laws and treaties without changing the physical and social conditions responsible for aberrant behavior. When Earth’s resources become the common heritage of all, the necessity for irrelevant laws and social contracts will vanish.
Concerning who will govern, the more appropriate question is, “How will people be governed?” People do not have to be governed and do not require leaders unless they are ignorant, captive, wage slaves or subject to a dictator. If the free enterprise system does not include job security, medical care and the other necessities that secure the population as a whole, a wide range of conflicts and unmanageable human behaviors will result, no matter what laws are passed.
No “one” will decide who gets what. Perhaps the closest analogy within our present culture would be the public library, where anyone has access to any book of his or her choice. Goods and services could be made available in a similar manner across the entire economy.
In the near future, because of advances in technology like artificial intelligence, cybernation and nanotechnology, we can achieve a global community and share a common vision for humanity. Computerized technology will unite people and eliminate scarcity better than have all of the world’s religions and democratic ideals combined. We can transcend the limitations of a monetary system, and outgrow our need for politicians and artificial man-made laws intended to preserve and perpetuate the status quo.
This newer vision of globalization empowers each and every person on the planet to be all that they can be, without living in abject subjugation to a corporate governing body. The question is, can we grow beyond thinking that someone has to make our decisions for us?
Chapter 10 – Who will make the decisions
Throughout history, the societal decision-making process has gone through a number of changes. At one time, primitive tribes and their ruling chieftains and kings decided upon a set of laws, beliefs and mores, designed to support and defend the ruling oligarchies. As primitive cultures joined together, possibly for mutual protection, the chieftains of the various tribes shared some decision-making.
With the advent of nations, councils were appointed to participate in decision-making, to prevent any one of the leaders from dominating. The less privileged were not included in this process. As the ruling classes imposed greater hardships on their subjects through taxation and other abuses of power, uprisings, sabotage, and assassinations by the oppressed people forced changes in the laws of the land. Governing bodies were then appointed to carry out and uphold laws.
Although wealth has always ‘bought’ political office, it was at the beginning of the nineteenth century that financial interests began in earnest to play the leading role in inappropriate decision-making.
Human systems fail, obviously, to serve the needs of humanity. This is true across the entire spectrum of human administration: the church, the government, the military, and the banks. In the past, most social designs were unsuccessful for the majority, because their designers were unable to transcend the limits of their own environmental conditioning. We tend to bring our past into the present and project it into the future.
Today, the laws that govern society are not based on truly comprehensive and scientific studies. They are based on opinions and traditional practices. For example, our approach to dealing with an increase in crime is to build more prisons, rather than later the conditions responsible for socially offensive behavior in the first place.
Chapter 11 – Clean Sources of Energy
Some claim that limited resources prevent us from achieving a society of abundance. This is simply not so. We still have more than enough resources to achieve a high standard of living for everyone.
Fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, allowed our civilization to progress to its present state of development. However, these energy sources are limited and non-renewable, and pose many environmental dangers.
In designing a new civilization, we must harness energy, a major sources of material well-being for all nations. This is a double-edged sword. When placed in the hands of private interests, energy can be used for destruction. The current stock of atomic weapons can destroy the world many times over. However, fusion power and other forms of clean energy, when used intelligently with human and environmental concern, could provide all of the nations of the world with clean, unlimited energy sources, and a standard of living unattainable today.
Chapter 12 – Changing human nature
Much of the behavior acceptable today would be socially offensive in a saner or more logical social arrangement. But whatever better values, ideals and behavior people aspire to cannot be fully realized when there is hunger, unemployment, deprivation, war and poverty. People deprived of income will often do whatever is necessary to provide necessities of life for themselves and their families. Their values may be exemplary but their behavior will reflect the reality of the situation. After World War II, for example, even the most respectable German families could be seen fighting over scraps of food in garbage cans to survive. In a scarcity-oriented society, generosity is a rare occurrence.
When we examine human behavior in the same manner as any other physical phenomena, we will better understand the physical factors responsible for shaping our values and behavior. In the natural sciences, all physical phenomena are acted upon by resident forces. For example, a sailboat does not sail of its own accord; rather, it is activated by the wind. A telephone pole does not just fall to the ground; it is acted upon by rain, gravity, wind, and a number of other variables.
Human behavior in all areas is just as subject to natural laws and the actions or external forces. It is generated by the many interacting variables in one’s environment.
What we call our ‘conscience’ and ‘morality’ are not determined by an invisible higher self. They are largely determined by geography, the times, and an individual’s upbringing.
One of the greatest limiting factors in human systems is our inability to grasp the significance of resident forces, and the extent to which that environment shapes our thinking, values and/or behavior. When we speak of environment, we mean all of the interacting variables that are the prime contributors to our mindset.
In many instances, our collective values are influenced by an existing social structure or sub-culture within society. For ill or well, social systems generally tend to perpetuate themselves as well as their strengths and shortcomings. In our era of mass-communication, the media controllers and established institutions influence the national “agenda”, which, in turn, influences much of our behavior, expectations and values.
Whether they realize it or not, most people are constantly manipulated through the media.
Our most cherished beliefs are influenced by books, motion pictures, television, religions, role models, and the environment we live in. Even notions of good and evil, and concepts of morality, are part of our cultural heritage and experiences. This method of controls does not use physical force and has been so successful that we no longer recognize or feel the manipulation.
The dominant values of any social system rarely come from the people. Rather, they represent the views of the dominant control group, such as the church, the military, the banks, the corporations, the power elite, or any combination thereof. These entities determine the public agenda, the courts, taxes, etc., all of which serve their own interests and perpetuate the illusion that society’s values are determined from the ground up. Governments suppress or explain away any deviations that may threaten them.
People know less about their own behavior than they do about the physical world around them.
If the population exceeds the resources of the land, then what we call criminal behavior arises as a result of scarcity, whether artificial or real. A psychiatrist once said that if he could open a drawer and give each of his patients $200,000, eighty percent of his clients would have no need to see him anymore.
Bigotry, racism, nationalism, jealousy, superstition, greed, and self-centered behavior are all learned patterns of behavior, which are strengthened or reinforced by our upbringing. These patterns of behavior are not inherited human traits, or “human nature,” as most people have been taught to believe. If the environment remains unaltered, similar behavior will reoccur. When we come into the world, we arrive with a clean slate as far as our relationships with others are concerned.
Functional morality is the ability to provide a process that achieves a sustainable environment for all people. By this, we mean providing clean air and water, goods and services, and a healthy and innovative environment that is emotionally and intellectually fulfilling.
As long as superstition and ignorance prevail, humanity will fall short of eradicating war, poverty, and hunger. Only when humans accept the fact that they are not separate entities in the vast symbiotic process of nature, can we truly say that there is intelligent life on Earth.
Scientists have no way of avoiding responsibility for problems encountered. While some people shun accountability, and justify mistakes by pointing out that to error is human, most scientists and engineers seek to minimize the probability of error.
As we explore human behavior and the influence environment has on us, one question always arises: do we really think? This is a circular question that cannot be answered, unless we define what we mean by thinking. Thinking is, at its simplest, talking to oneself. The term “thinking” evolved as a not wholly successful means of describing a mental process that was poorly understood at the time. Thinking is influenced by the process called associative memory. Any judgment we make, value system that we uphold, or preferences that we express, is always based upon associative memory. It is essentially reflective of the environment and the experiences we have had.
Associative memory identifies objects, places, or people. The same process applies to hearing, touch, smell, feelings, judgments, and opinions. All decision-making systems are based upon associative memory. This is essentially how we formulate decisions of right, wrong, good, and bad, and how we measure aesthetics and beauty. Beauty lies not in the eye, but in the associative memory of the beholder.
No human being can overcome the influences of his or her environment; this includes all of one’s experiences. Ample examples of this exist in our own culture.
A caring society of the future will remove the conditions responsible for greed, envy, hate, revenge, and other undesirable human emotions. It will use technology to make certain emotions irrelevant, by getting rid of the problems that cause them.
In a Resource-Based-Economy, when people no longer live in fear of losing their jobs or being insecure in old age, and when they have access to things that were not available to them in a monetary system, then love will not be merely a word, but a way of life. When humans learn to live in harmony with nature and with one another, then spirituality will be a way of life rather than just empty talk. In a more sophisticated and humane society, emotions would be harnessed and expressed in appropriate behaviors or action patterns.
Chapter 13 – Technophobia in a cybernated age
This book proposes a partnership between scientific accuracy and imaginative projections that may lead to an age in which intelligence is no longer solely associated with human beings. Despite fears to the contrary, potential problems are not between humans and machines, but rather with the limitations of the human intellect in a time of explosive technological development.
It is not technology that is at fault, but the inhumane use of technology for private profit. Humans contribute to this misuse of technology when they buy stock in, and products from, companies that show little concern for humans or the environment.
Machines are not the danger, we are. As long as we fail to take responsibility for our relationship to fellow human beings and the intelligent management of our planetary resources, we remain the greatest danger to the planet.
Science and technology have created none of our problems. Our problems arise from human abuse and misuse of other people, the environment, and technology.
Chapter 14 – Education: Minds in the making
The more intelligent our children, the better our lives and the richer our culture will be.
The development of a new civilization involves not only the construction of new cities for living, but also the building of positive and caring interpersonal relationships. The young and old of this new civilization will learn to live in harmony with one another. Education plays the most important role in achieving this goal, particularly in children.
In the redesign of education, the first questions asked are: What ends does education serve? In a cybernated world society, how do we determine the direction of education?
Some goals might be:
- Realizing the world’s resources as a common heritage for all.
- Living in accordance with natural law.
- Surpassing money-based nationalistic economics with a global resource based economy.
- Reclaiming and restoring the environment to as nearly a natural condition as possible.
- Sharing and applying new technologies for the benefit of all.
- Continuously developing and using clean, renewable energy sources.
- Outgrowing nationalism, bigotry and prejudice through education.
Schools of tomorrow
Education will undergo considerable improvements. Children will be given time to explore their own interests, while also participating in cooperative behavior and interaction with other children and the environment. Hands-on experiments and tours of the natural environment, production plants, and other industries will provide ongoing laboratories of learning.
The learning environment would encourage actual participation on simplified levels.
Students would learn that no single nation has all of the answers, nor an answer for all situations. Society is in a constant process of change. Students would understand that there are no final frontiers. They would also realize that each phase of society will evolve a set of values appropriate to that time.
Today children are not taught how to ask questions and examine ideas. Education consists primarily of rote learning, of simply memorizing concepts and propaganda. In the future, children will not be satisfied to accept ideas without an in-depth exploration and understanding of them.
If we want children to achieve a positive constructive relationship with one another and become contributing members of society, we must design an environment that produces that desired behavior.
There is an old truism that says, “Once one can correctly state the problem, a solution is not far off.”
Children would learn not to get discouraged with failures, and that they are an inherent part of all research and development.
No single individual manages one great leap in technology or science, without first taking several strides. Each invention is a result of a series of progressive refinements, one upon another. Every success results from the failures and successes that have preceded it.
Chapter 15 – Cities That Think
Architecture in an emerging culture
We recommend that architecture also be redefined to fit the needs of an emerging future. The questions we should concern ourselves with are, “What ends are these new cities to serve?” and, “What are the prime considerations in designing a place of residence?”
In simplified form, a home is any enclosure that protects people from varying weather conditions, and provides for most of the occupant’s primary needs; a place to rest, sleep, work, and carry out the business of ordinary living.
The transition to this social arrangement will not be an easy one. Never in human history has there been a smooth transition from one social system to another. Any major change engenders resistance. The most effective way to implement change is through the use of worldwide media, seminars and workshops during the initial design stage.
In the final analysis, talk proves little. Since all new ideas go through a process of maturation and development, we expect our experimental City of the Future to gradually gain acceptance by fulfilling its promise as a successful, peaceful and desirable place to live. As newer communities develop and become widely accepted, they will provide the basis of a new society through a process of evolution rather than revolution.
Chapter 16 – Lifestyle in the future
At present, it is necessary for both husbands and wives to work. Monetary economics have, to a large extent, undermined family cohesion and childcare. Parents lack time to spend with their children and they are constantly stressed by ever-rising medical bills, insurance payments, educational expenses, and the cost of living.
Free access to goods and services will make the home a more pleasant place, and remove the economic stress that causes so much family turmoil.
All people are culture-bound. We are victims of indoctrination and our social customs. Most of us would be bewildered and uncomfortable with the flexibility of a new orientation. Today, most of us live in economic and mental straitjackets that limit our ability to work through our problems.
In a monetary system, most of us live near our work with a house, car, and a lifestyle we can afford (or, all too often, cannot afford), rather than the one we prefer. We are only as free as our purchasing power permits. Even many wealthy people today select a residence mainly to impress others with their status. Lacking a true sense of self worth, many live to impress others.
Chapter 19 – Beyond Utopia
Although many of the concepts presented in this book may appear to people of the early twenty-first century to be unattainable goals, all of these concepts are based upon known scientific principles. The only limitations on the future of humankind are those we impose upon ourselves.
Some of the technology we use today, such as televisions, radios, aircraft, and automobiles, are in a constant state of improvement and modification. Yet, our social system remains largely static.
An inscription on one of our government buildings reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The major reason for resisting change is that it threatens vested interests. The fear of social change is unfounded, because the history of civilization is one continuous experiment.
Our future does not depend on present-day beliefs or social customs, but will continue to evolve a set of values unique to its own time. There are no Utopias. The very notion of Utopia is static. The survival of any social system ultimately depends on its ability to allow for change to improve society as a whole.
Chapter 20 – The Venus Project Direction
The Venus Project is an organization based on the ideas, designs, and directions presented in this book, representing the life’s work of its originator and Project Director, Jacque Fresco.
Its 21-acre research and design center is located in Venus, Florida, where the future is taking shape now. The Venus Project’s purpose is to design, develop, and prepare plans to build the first experimental city.
The Venus Project calls for a straightforward redesign of the culture in which war, poverty, hunger, debt, environmental degradation, and unnecessary human suffering are viewed not only as avoidable, but totally unacceptable. If we are sincere and genuinely concerned with resolving our problems, we must strive toward having the Earth’s resources declared as the common heritage of all the world’s people.
To transition from our present politically incompetent, scarcity-oriented, and near-obsolete culture to a more humane society will require a quantum leap in both thought and action.
One group of incompetent leaders simply replaces another. The problems we face today cannot be solved politically or financially. Our problems are highly technical in nature, and require fundamental changes in our thinking and values. There is not enough money available to pay for the required changes, but there are more than enough resources. This is why The Venus Project advocates the transition from a monetary society to the eventual realization of a resource-based world economy.
The money-based system evolved centuries ago. All the world’s economic systems-socialism, communism, fascism, and even our free enterprise system – perpetuate social stratification, elitism, nationalism, oppression, and racism, based primarily on economic disparity. Power relates to an individual’s or group’s ability to withhold food, shelter, health care, education, and resources from the poor and disadvantaged. The basic sustaining factors of life are held hostage for hours of labor as represented by a salary. As long as a social system uses money or barter, people and nations will seek to maintain the economic competitive edge. If they cannot do so by means of commerce, they will attempt to do so by means of boycotts, blockades or military intervention.
The Venus Project asserts that the necessary technology already exists to begin making maximum resources available and to provide food, clean air and water, comfortable housing and transportation, quality health care, environmental stability, and unlimited opportunities for personal growth to all people, not just a select few. Our understanding of technology suggests the possibility of eliminating scarcity by applying renewable sources of energy.
Humane and intelligent resource management, along with cybernation, will help maintain a balanced-load economy and a far more equitable distribution of the world’s resources. Machines will monitor production and delivery of goods and services, and protect the global environment. They will not monitor people. In a Resource-Based Economy, monitoring people is not only socially offensive, but also counterproductive.
Today, financial barriers place enormous limitations on innovation, development, individual creativity and incentive. In the world envisioned by The Venus Project, people are free of the constraints of profit and control, and are able to explore new dimensions in human existence and pursue knowledge in the arts, sciences, and other areas of their choice. There is tremendous undeveloped potential in all human beings, which is not nurtured in a monetary society.