Thursday, 10 February 2011

Zeitgeist Movement: doubts and reservations


In January 2011, the movie Zeitgeist III: Moving Forward was released online, for free and for anyone willing to invest two hours and forty minutes of viewing time. The movie is divided in two distinct parts. The first half analyses the current economic and social condition of humanity as a whole, while the second part presents and proposes a possible solution, known as The Venus Project.

Whether people like the movie or not, one thing is sure, it makes them question themselves and things they take for granted, as well as sparking debate on what is possible. Regardless of whether The Venus Project is the future or not, seeking alternatives to an obviously unsustainable and corrupt system nearing a collapse is, in my view, not only a healthy exercise but an ever more urgent one, if we care about the future.

From what I understood (please correct me if I'm wrong), The Venus Project core, is the idea of a Resource Based Economy. Since we live in a finite planet, all of the world's resources become heritage of everyone on the planet and are then allocated on a per need basis. There are no politicians, as there are no decisions to be made, instead all decisions are arrived at through scientific methods. There's no money in this system as people have always free access to what they need.

After watching the movie, most people seem to agree that the first part is an accurate analysis of our current conditioning and relative problems. However, when it comes to the proposed solution, the consensus is not as prevalent and so the aim of this post is to present the reservations I have regarding The Venus Project also known as The Zeitgeist Movement. These are probably common questions that the Zeitgeist Movement supporters hear on a regular basis, so hopefully someone will be able to jump in and clarify them with ease.

In a resource based economy:
  1. What happens to people who don't agree with it and therefore don't want to be a part of it? We all know we can't please everyone all of the time, so how does it deal with dissent? Or for example, what happens to people who don't want to live in a city, who want to be self-sufficient, growing their own food, generating their own power, etc?
  2. I keep hearing that nobody makes decisions in a resource based economy, that decisions are arrived at. But someone would have to define the education curriculum for example, no? And who would allocate jobs for example? A central computer would? Based on people's qualifications and skill sets? How about skills that can't be accurately measured, say due to their subjectivity? Right now I'm thinking of creativity as an example but I'm sure there are many more.
  3. Who defines and how is it defined, how much is enough? For example, lets say I want or need a second computer? Would I be allowed one? What if someone wants a much bigger house and a swimming pool than everybody else, using therefore more energy and water? Who's going to tell him/her that and they can't have it?
  4. Cybernated Government
  5. Whoever has access to the central resource management computer, has incredible power, be them programmers, engineers, etc. How is corruption prevented in this centralized system?
  6. What happens when there are bugs, errors, breakdowns of the system and what would it be its global impact? Same question goes for an entire society living of the grid, what happens if/when the grid fails? How is resilience achieved in a grid system?
  7. Something that concerns me deeply is Genetically Modified food and I know many who avoid it at all cost. Even if the technology was safe, I would rather not eat GM food for ethical reasons. What if scientists found that this was the only logical way to grow food, despite there being other options? What choice does the individual have? I mean, how do ethics meet logic in a world where scientific progress rules all?
  8. (This is an organic list so expect updates. Update 1 starts here.)
  9. Great, so everyone can choose to be or not to be in the RBE. So this would allow parallel systems to coexist or compete with the RBE? Does the RBE then account for the resources used outside of itself? Would it still be sustainable this way?
  10. The decision making process is still unclear to me. I like all of the examples I read but they don't answer my question specifically. Even if just for the transition period or the duration of construction of the first city, won't someone have to call the shots? I can't see how the project will get off the ground without some sort of leadership and decision making. This is a question that I have seen Jacque 'dodging' before, which seems out of character for him.
  11. It sounds like a lifetime holiday, nobody being coerced to do anything they don't want to do, everyone working and spending their time as they wish, great! In this case, what are the chances that what people want to work on will match the RBE's needs? And what happens when there's a gap in the human skills resource? Yes, because humans are also a resource in the RBE, right?
  12. A few friends told me that if they could live this way they'd love to have large families and just enjoy the time with them. They seem to believe that this is what everyone would naturally do. What's preventing a sharp rise of population? And what happens when/if the population grows beyond the carrying capacity of the Earth?
  13. I understand that a lot of these questions are coming from a mindset of the current system and that in the future people will not want the things we think we want now. However if the RBE is to ever materialise it must account for the transition period where all that people are equipped with is their experience so far. This is why I ask how is calculated the amount of resources each citizen is allowed to use and how is that enforced? I gave the example of a second laptop or a bigger house but it could be anything, at some point someone will want something ridiculous. How do you deal with that?
  14. I'm happy with the open source and transparency approach to the Resource Management System as well as all technology. It seems that alone would have an incredible positive impact in today's world, but how many of you still use windows? (There's no need to answer this, the Ubuntu folks paid me to plug Linux ; ) My point is, there are a lot of personal choices available to us today and I wonder how many in the movement are aware of these.
  15. I was relieved to read that people in the movement are aware of the dangers of Genetically Modified food. Even if the technology ever becomes 'safe' and stable, does anyone care to discuss the ethical implications of taking a gene, lets say, from an animal and inserting it in a plant and then releasing this into nature allowing it to cross pollinate with the local species and eventually extinct what took millions of years to evolve? Fact: 97% of all varieties of food crops in the US have already gone extinct since the industrial revolution. Over 95% of corn grown in the US is already GM, and new GM crops are approved frequently. Isn't the mechanistic approach to nature not just a side effect of the current society but the core of science in general? 
  16.  I see the current human problems as a symptom of human consciousness, or rather the lack of it. However, it's from within the current Zeitgeist that we must try to abstract ourselves from, if we're not to transfer our current inhumanities to the new one. And although I can see the possibility of this happening in small steps, isn't the Venus Project hundreds of years ahead of its time?
  17. (This is an organic list so expect updates.)

The way I understand it, any system is only as morally ethical as the people running that system. Sure, some systems may promote more moral corruption than others, however is a science driven society by definition free from corruption? Isn't science only as accurate and as ethical as the human mind (or ego) of the time allows? My opinion (which in a RBE would have no value) is that decentralization of power, regardless of the system, is the only way to prevent corruption on a massive scale. The Internet is the best example of this today.

Yes, the Zeitgeist Movement is incredibly ambitious but making people wonder about what kind of world they'd like to live on, instead of merely point out the problems, can't be a bad thing. Critics are everywhere (including myself) but I don't hear them coming with better solutions. Even if it never comes to be, the Venus Project is promoting a discussion and a mental exercise long overdue, to dream of a humanity in harmony with the planet and itself. What's the harm in that?

A Venus Project city

34 comments:

Znews RSS said...
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Znews RSS said...
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Douglas Mallette said...

Part 1

As one of the more well known and knowledgeable members of TZM, I will try my best to answer your questions:

1. They don't have to be part of it. Something we always say is that if people want to go live in the woods away from the city, then they can, just like today. No harm, no foul. That decision doesn't harm the capability of another person to live a high standard of living.

In fact, part of the educational foundations imparted on the world is the knowledge to help people live off the grid, on their own, and do their own thing if they wish. True independence, but with the help of technology, not reverting to primitive lifestyles.

However, if someone wants to live a life that does harm someone else, well, that's different. We conditionally accept that today because money governs that scenario. We won't accept that if we want to claim ourselves as civilized.

2. There are really just two main types of decision making/arriving processes in life. Technical ones and social ones. No computer system is going to tell you where to go eat dinner or whom to eat with. But the computer system of the city will help you get instant transportation to get where you want to go, using active algorithms that arrive at the decision as to what automated car is closest to you when you ask for it, and sending it to you. This can be extrapolated to many different examples.

The technical decision arriving processes are largely automated, and they are the processes that govern the operations of a city, like balancing the multi-level electricity grid, ensuring no power is wasted, and that any power surges or overflow are properly stored for future use, and that any power deficiencies are routed properly so no one ever notices and continues on with their life. People don't need to do that...computers can.

The technical decision arriving process also drives manufacturing. Remember, all city systems are independent, having their own manufacturing processes for everything the human race has invented. The only thing shipped around the globe are raw natural resources, not products, and all blueprints and designs are open source. The output is directly governed by the input of the people living there. Statistical analysis can handle this. In fact, it handles this now. Companies conduct product surveys and analysis so they can figure out how many widgets to make for a certain demographic. That same analysis applies in the RBE (Resource Based Economy), but without a price tag motivation, just an efficiency motivation so all people can get what they need based on real demand.

Something one also has to remember is that 'need' in today's world is highly manipulative. Commercials teach people that they 'need' something to make their life better, and usually it's crap that people don't really need, but are meant to "think" they need. It's psychological warfare for selling products by making the consumer feel inadequate. That scenario isn't in an RBE, therefore there is a real difference between manufactured need and real need. Something to remember.

Job aren't allocated in the manner you're thinking. You're still thinking of a boss, or some direct leadership dictating what work needs to get done and who is going to do it. That's not how the RBE works. We do that now because we need people to do a lot of crap work to make the system run, and dishing out crap work only appeals to people getting paid well for it. Money drives the bus here, cuz you have to work to live. But even now that is changing and crap work is also paid bad, but people have little choice. In the RBE, that's not the case. Crap work is automated as much as possible, for the safety of people, for their health, and because human potential is so much greater than mundane, repetitive "dumb" labor.

CONT...

Douglas Mallette said...

Part 2

People work on whatever they like. They can form their own groups and do whatever motivates them, knowing that their quality of life has nothing to do with what they do for work, but that their work can contribute to the advancement of life quality for everyone, including themselves.

There very well could be "companies" in the sense that they all have a workforce dedicated to a particular job skill, like bridge building, or like in my case, the aerospace industry and building rockets. The difference is motivation, not money motivation, but the passion and desire to work that kind of job because you love it.

In such a case, as an example, artists will thrive as never before. No more starving artists, unless they want to try that just for the muse and inspiration of it. I'm well aware that hard times and struggle can lead to people expressing art in a unique way. But in the RBE that's voluntary, not because they could literally die and have no other choice. And art has changed and modified over time anyway, so who knows what new level of art might manifest within the RBE system.

3. You're describing part of the social disease we have these days...the thinking that we "need" a big fat house to feel special. To be honest, there is a scientific calculation that can determine the adequate living space needed to be comfortable and happy. A single person doesn't need a 10,000 square foot home. That's just plain stupid and wasteful. Nor is it right to cram someone in a 500 square foot home either. That's just as dumb.

However, in today's world, we glorify that fat house as success, power, wealth and prestige, and along with it we program the notion that someone deserves that kind of life if they've 'earned' it, but more often than not, the way they earned it is and was at the expense of many others who got squashed along the way. How nice, that one person has such a home that could house 10+ people happily, but instead those other 9 people are homeless and most likely dying. Not civilized.

Now, as for products, like needing a second computer, that's completely different. Note that products would be made differently, to last a LOT longer and have interchangeable parts so that when a new technology comes out, you simply replace that part, not the whole computer. That's wasteful.

Now expand that out and we save a LOT of resources following that process, along with recycling and reuse. So it's not impossible to think that everyone could have a few computers at home. Hell, their whole house could be a computer, where you go to the touch screen on the wall and use it like you would a desktop system, but it's already built into your home. Every home could have this capability...easily.

Our technical capabilities are being wasted in this monetary system, so when it comes to products and such, before you wonder about, "How many of something can I have," it's best to think about, "How much could I have now if money wasn't screwing it up and wasting so many resources."

As for, "Who will tell him/her that they can't have it," that would be society as a whole. Right now society tells people they can't punch someone in the face without penalty. We make laws for that, but in reality it's not laws that dictate that, but a social consciousness that understands that that kind of behavior is wrong. Politicians like to write stuff down, but it's a common understanding amongst society.

Likewise, it will be a common understanding that excess is wasteful and irresponsible. The only real and true dictator is NATURE itself. There literally is a finite amount of stuff on the planet, and if we want to ensure that everyone has a high standard of living...as best as our present knowledge can give if they want it...then that is our real governing system.

CONT...

Douglas Mallette said...

Part 3

4. Excellent question. The resource management computer isn't as central as people think it would be. It's hundreds of computer systems spread all over the globe, working together to monitor the sensors that tell us how much "stuff" we have on the planet to work with. It's not one system, but a network of systems all working together, each managed by different people around the world, but with the same goals...to ensure the entire planet is healthy and that the resources aren't being abused.

Question for you: How can the space shuttle fly with its hundreds of programs and systems without someone mucking it up? How can the ISS float in space without a major accident and killing everyone? Technically speaking, it's all about redundant systems and multiple cross checks by separate entities. In other words, you build in many layers of defense against someone doing that, and given that the entire system is set up to benefit everyone, it will be pretty obvious if something goes tilted and you see a certain group gain advantage over another.

Also, it's all open source. Nothing is secret. People can see how the system works, where things are going, what decisions are being arrived at, etc. That much transparency, mixed with backup protections and a myriad of people around the world working hard to ensure it's beneficial for all mankind (the right mindset) would pretty much squash the ability for some nefariously minded buffoon to mess it up.

5. See my above answer for the bug question...redundancy and backup systems. But to address your energy question, there is no grid in the way you're thinking, with a single source providing the power for the region. One of the things we do a terrible job of today is making buildings self sufficient, because it costs too much. Imagine a city where most buildings and the roads themselves (http://www.solarroadways.com) are power sources, not sinks, meaning they add to the system and not just take away. Now factor in wind power, capacitor systems, battery backups, wind, wave, tidal, etc. and you have a "grid" that has hundreds, if not thousands of power generation sources for the city and all the outlying areas. Not to mention that the outlying areas themselves would be energy independent since they would be their own sources too. Basically, the only thing that would crash the system would be a big fat solar flare heading towards Earth, and if that's happening, the energy grid is the least of our concerns. :)

6. This is a great question, because it leads to the fact that science today is quite manipulated by the monetary system we're in. GM foods are crap, and we do NOT need to do that to grow adequate food for the world. However, scientists are employed (paid) to serve a company to do research that benefits the company. The scientists have to survive in this system, and if, for example, you were to look at the men who made the atom bomb, after the fact many of them admit that they were just doing the science because they enjoyed the science, and never thought about how it would be used. They convinced themselves of this. Likewise for research science that is paid to achieve a certain result. Throw enough money at it and you'll get the results you want, even if they are socially offensive, because today, making money is the goal, not being socially responsible.

In the RBE, science will not be hamstrung by this, and so the cream will rise to the top, there will be adequate debate on all sides of a problem, and nothing can be bought off or sold into silence. It would be different than today.

With that said, I am currently working on a fully automated hydroponic food growth system that is completely organic, healthy, NOT GM, no pesticides, herbicides or anything else. It is scientific, can be done, will be done, and I'll prove it. :) As an engineer and science minded person, I know if what I speak. :)

CONT...

Douglas Mallette said...

Part 4

I hope these answers met your satisfaction. If/when you have time, please watch these two videos:

My lecture in Caux, Switzerland in Aug of 2010: Science , Engineering and Technology for a Sustainable World:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TZMSocialEvolution?blend=2&ob=1#p/c/63055227D85BA223/0/THkIo4PrYzo

And a TV show debate I had recently (Jan 2010) that covers a lot of what we talked about here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TZMSocialEvolution?blend=2&ob=1#p/c/A77541417B4A4681/0/WC4swzsWixY

I hope these help iron out anything else that comes to mind, but if not, just let me know and I'll do all I can to help answer any reasonable questions you have.

Respectfully,

Douglas Mallette
Space Shuttle Systems Engineer
Space Advocacy Speaker
Advocate/Speaker for The Venus Project
Author: Turning Point (On www.lulu.com)
Houston, TX

Cristi Catea said...

all this questions are answered by peter and he put a great deal of time and perspective into answering them so that anyone can understand them.

If you are just looking to argue with someone, not use critical thought and you already took a side, then you fail because none will join you.

all the information you need is already out there, you might want to research a bit before going blind into this kind of discussion.

some advice: try to compare the system that you live in now and the one that we propose and ask try to answer to your questions with the present system

check out http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com, peters radio archives and movies.

Andrew said...

Hi and thankyou for offering some civil discussion, many people on the internet don't seem so patient or polite when criticising an idea they have just heard of :D
I started writing this just before bed last night, thinking I would finish it today and wasn't aware of the character limit, but since Doug as usual has beaten me to the point, I'll just post what I have for now, and if you want further explanation on any of the specific later points or other questions, feel free to get in touch with me and I'll be happy to answer them.
Otherwise I'll only add something after this if I think of something that he hasn't.

1. The Venus Project and members of the Zeitgeist Movement all agree that a principle of non-aggression is not only 'nice and fluffy' or 'desirable' but absolutely necessary. The use of coercive force in any manner, physical or not, has only been shown to result in anger and shame in the victim, resulting in them reciprocating the violence into the ongoing international blood feud that we see today. Prof. James Gilligan who was interviewed in ZMF has written extensively on the subject from his 25 years experience in the US prison system, and I more than recommend any of his books on violence for a good read if you have the time and interest.
If a Resource Based Economy is established, anyone who objects to its principles or simply doesn't want to take part in the community and would rather go do their own thing, would be freely allowed to do so. Of course over here in Scotland we have the recent Findhorn community, etc. For a couple hundred years to the present there have been communities of Anabaptist Christians (the amish, hutterites, etc.) established in America that exist pretty much separated from mainstream society, doing their own little thing, and we respect them for that. While they have been allowed to avoid social security tax by forfeiting their privilege to the benefits, they actually seem to still encounter some level of hostility and persecution from the surrounding communities.
If such communities exist around an RBE, and we're pretty sure they will, we will try to teach everyone to approach them with the utmost respect, understanding and diplomacy, as there is no better way to establish good relations. If a community's value system, e.g. capitalism, leads them to unwittingly do damage to the environment, we will show them with scientific evidence how damaging one part of this planet's ecosystem can negatively affect people in all regions including the one where any pollution etc. started. We will engage people in discussion based on reason and evidence rather than rhetoric or values because that is how we all agree to do things.
If another community finds that it has a food shortage due to poor management, and the people become disorderly and want to invade us for our resources, rather than the typical capitalist response of dropping bombs on them, we would figuratively 'drop food on them' using our reserves and any boost in production that we can get out of hydroponic units, while trying to communicate our best methods of agriculture to them.

We have a member of the movement that runs his own internet talk-radio show and frequently explains these points to people and has shown to be a shining example of how you can have a civil discussion with some people of the most wildly differing viewpoints including free-market capitalists, you can hear a lot of this in his archives at V-Radio.

Andrew said...

2. The statement 'nobody makes decisions' is sadly often made too broadly, but what we mean more specifically when we say that is that nobody gets put in positions of power and makes up decisions that affect many other people's lives based upon their own narrow opinion of things. Not only would nobody have to decide on an education curriculum, there wouldn't be one. Kids learn much better when they are allowed to pursue their own interests with the only true human nature, curiosity. Of course most fields of enquiry and activity require basic understanding of the language we agree to use as a society plus mathematics and any relevant sciences. Rather than cramming a fixed view of history etc. down kids' necks, the only things we will teach to all kids will be critical thinking, i.e. how to ask for and examine sources of information to back up any point, and diplomacy, peacemaking, mediating, or whatever you want to call the set of skills involving establishing and maintaining good interpersonal relationships. For a more in-depth look at this argument, see Alfie Kohn's many books on the subject.
Decisions that mostly only affect an individual, like 'what do I want to do with my life' are of course up to the individual. Nobody can tell you what to do so long as you aren't doing harm to the rest of society, but we can quite easily tell people where the greatest need for volunteers is, and if the field interests them in the slightest then they might decide to research it. When we put as much effort as possible into automating the mundane manual labour tasks that support society, the only remaining jobs will be for the most part creative, and we will have more than enough people to do them.
I can't think of a very concrete example right now, but I can see the old methods of testing aptitude through competitive, graded, standardised timed examinations being pushed aside in favour of more engagement in collaborative learning, knowing that people are ready to continue when they can solve problems of a particular level of complexity when placed in several different groups.

Codie Vickers said...

Your questions are all irrelevant because the zeitgeist movement is nothing but a Peter Merola fan club. The Venus Project is a pie in the sky fantasy Jacque Fresco has been using for decades to fleece people.

Brave New Dawn said...

I'll be glad when we starting building the future and move into it, as I'm sure we don't all want to end up jobless, penniless and homeless!

Leo Alexander said...

@Cristi - Be nice. Ant is being very respectful to us and is only expressing his desire to understand us better. There is nothing wrong with someone asking questions and we shouldn't attack them for it.

Leo Alexander said...

Hello Ant. This will be a long comment, so I have to split it into two separate comments, but I hope to address as many of your questions as possible.

1- Nothing. Not everyone has to agree and participate. Groups like the Amish wouldn't want anything to do with our cities if they can help it. In that case, they are free to live in their own communities separate from the cities according to their own rules and customs. In the event something happens (tornado or hurricane or early frost) and wipes out their crops, homes, etc., they can get what they need from the nearest city to sustain themselves until they can rebuild. Even some members of the Zeitgeist Movement would choose not to live in the cities -- a member of the Maryland chapter has stated that he wants to grow his own food, hunt his own game, build his own house, and generate his own electricity with photovoltaic generators that he built himself.

2- Education is something I disagree with Jacque about. Jacque's opinion is that a classroom setting with a defined curriculum designed to allow each student the best opportunity to learn the material would be best, whereas I believe that the best education would come from allowing everyone unrestricted access to all the world's knowledge and allowing the individual to learn about whatever he or she is interested in according to his or her own desires. For those who develop a deep interest in a particular field, I would support an apprentice-master style of education (not necessarily one apprentice) with hands-on learning instead of passive classrooms where you're taught what people think you should know. Unfortunately I don't have any substantial evidence to solidify my case (I'm studying the results of what is known as Unschooling as well as the Montessori Method), but sooner or later I can provide a worthwhile argument through Zeitblog. As far as jobs are concerned, people would work in the fields that interest them. People will not work if they are forced to, especially if their needs are already met, therefore, we will stand back and let the robot enthusiasts build robots, painters paint, singers sing, bands perform, physicists find the Higgs-Boson, engineers and architects design new systems and structures, athletes play sports and gamers play games. Humans are so adaptable and have such varied interests that any task which either can not or will not be automated will be performed by individuals who are interested in performing that task. If there is a job that nobody wants to do then volunteers will do it until the engineers can automate it -- if there are not enough volunteers then the engineers will have to hurry up and automate it, hahaha.

3- This question assumes things will be owned. In a society where resources are scarce, people purchase and own things to secure their access to those resources. People enjoy cars because they enjoy having access to reliable transportation, but many hate having to repair, maintain, ensure, and fuel their vehicles -- if people simply want access to reliable transportation, design and develop a system that will take anyone anywhere in the world on-demand, or as on-demand as possible, and design support systems that will maintain, repair, and refuel the vehicle automatically. This applies to houses and pools as well: people want access to shelter and recreation and they accept the inconveniences that come with owning the home and the pool. Instead of making one of everything for everyone, we simply develop systems that allow access to these things and automate the maintenance and repair.

Leo Alexander said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leo Alexander said...

4- Corruption of the central computer system by individuals or groups of individuals would be impossible. This situation assumes that the source code would be hidden as it is with proprietary software -- in a cybernated society this would not be so. Every computer system, from cell phones to robots to the resource-management system itself, would be completely open-sourced. Furthermore, because information would be unrestricted, everyone would be given the ability to learn to program these systems, therefore, everyone with an understanding of the system, and the desire to maintain and improve it, would be able to protect these systems and prevent intentional or accidental corruption due to human interests or human error (ie- software bugs).

5- They would be fixed as quickly as possible (which won't take very long when everyone has access to the system's designs and understands the system well enough to be able to diagnose the error). Once the system is restored, an upgrade would be designed and installed to prevent that error from occuring again. The same answer applies to any system -- if it breaks, we fix it, figure out why it broke, then make sure that error doesn't occur again.

6- There is no need to eat genetically-modified food, regardless of whether or not it is safe. I am working with a few members of the Maryland chapter of the Zeitgeist Movement to develop a community-run aquaponic farm to teach the local community about sustainable food production (hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics, in-vitro meat production, etc.) to educate people on alternative means of producing more than enough food for their community. In 1996, global food production was so high it would have fed over 2 trillion people in 1 year. 1/100th the amount of land area used to grow that much food would still be more than enough to feed the world. An aquaponic farm developed by Growing Power grows approximately 1 million pounds of food on 3 acres -- I believe that, through careful research and design, my group could produce the same amount of food in 1 acre, and increase production linearly by simply adding stories to the structure. To simplify all this, we have the ability right now to grow all the food we will ever need using completely natural (meaning no genetic engineering) means. On a side note, genetic engineering in and of itself isn't harmful (as far as I am aware). This claim originated because Monsanto genetically-engineered a soybean to be immune to their pesticide. The specific gene that they developed may be harmful to humans, as are the pesticides used on them and the growth hormones given to the animals that we eat, but genetic engineering itself may not be harmful. In fact, it is quite possible that we could engineer various fruits and vegetables to be more nutritious. However, if science could prove that genetically-modified food is safer, more efficient, and healthier, but various individuals did not want to eat it, they could simply learn to build their own hydroponic/aeroponic/aquaponic/etc. farm and grow their own food.

7- Please email me at leo.gesvantner@zeitnews.org when you update this list. I will be glad to answer your questions as best as I can.

Leo Alexander said...

To address the rest of your post, pure science is completely immune to corruption. Science, if done properly, does not hold on to concepts it has proven to be incorrect. It has no ego nor any self-interest. Science looks at a problem and says, "This works, this doesn't work, and this works even better." It adjusts itself according to the information presented. Science cannot be misused, it can only be used or not used, therefore, a science-driven community cannot be corrupted because it does not allow individual interest regarding the determination of fact and fiction. Moreover, there is no centralized power structure in an RBE. Everyone knows, or is able to learn, how to design and build everything. Everyone knows, or is able to learn, how to read and understand the designs for everything. If either a single individual or a group of individuals attempts to take over or destroy a system, everyone else can simply stop the individual or group and protect the systems. An RBE, if implemented properly, is incorruptible.

Ant. said...

Wow... I'm blown away by the prompt and overwhelming response! Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply so extensively and helpfully, thus making the Venus Project picture a little bit clearer in my mind.

Douglas, I watched both of your videos and the debate was particularly educational because for a while I have considered the advantages in a libertarian, free market philosophy, but I think you made a very strong case for the RBE.

Douglas, Andrew & Leo, instead of replying to everyone point by point (which would take me forever!), I will update the question list with new questions which sparked from reading all of your generous answers.

By the way, I don't want to sound ungrateful but if you could keep future replies more concise, it would probably go a long way in to not scaring readers away when they look at the scrollbar : )

Thank you again for joining me in this mental exercise, I look forward to the answers to the new questions, which I will update on the post above soon.

Lantz said...

i'll answer number 8 since all the other questions are more detailed specific that i personally dont have the answers for.

8. if someone opted out of the RBE they're essentially living on their own. they wouldn't be competing with the RBE since they'd be growing their own food, generating their own power, and collecting their own water. the only thing they would come to town for would be to get what they can't provide for themselves. in other words, they're an extension of the RBE. and unless the person is mining gold in their backyards (which the RBE would keep track of), there wouldn't be a concern for resource usage since food, water, and electricity are all renewable sources. they'd be producing it by themselves, for themselves.

Andrew said...

I'll try to be a lot briefer this time.

I personally find Lantz's answer to 8 to be a bit dubious and unspecific, but that's just my opinion.

The idea of 'competing' with an RBE doesn't have any meaning, since the whole aim of the RBE is to achieve not only a balanced load but reduce waste so much that we have an abundance of our needs. As we have said before, with a group outside of an RBE making their own use of localised resources, we would simply be approaching them diplomatically on the basis of our findings on what efficiency we can achieve with our system. If a different community is sitting on top of a useful resource that we might want, such as a particular mineral, we would firstly be looking at where other reserves of it are located in the world, secondly negotiating a mutually beneficial deal with the community if we have need for the resource, and thirdly using other technological means to meet the ends that the resource would be used for.

9. When you refer to Jacque 'dodging' a question being out of character, and point a link to his interview on Edge Media TV, that is so recent that I wouldn't put it down to him 'dodging' the question so much as not hearing the question he's being asked due to his age, :D and going off on what he thinks was asked instead of clarifying the question, which is a genuine criticism I think he ought to take on board. That's why I don't generally see interviews with him in the last few years as being very useful, especially if the interviewer isn't completely aware of this.
My answer to you is actually a question, "exactly which types of decisions are you talking about?", because without that clarification you might get the answer to a question that's not the same as what you were thinking about deep down.
I'll try one example that I'm very familiar with anyway, when it comes to design and development of systems in the RBE, if you want to know how to manufacture something, you generally use a method where you compare materials and processes based upon their tangible properties and merits. You grade the possibilities based upon which not only meets the problem but best surpasses the specification with the biggest safety factor of strength, lowest weight, lowest energy to process, etc. Some possibilities will be knocked right out on qualitative bases such as "not transparent" or "toxic in culinary use", and quantitative bases such as "not fire resistant enough" or "corrodes too fast".
Such a logical method is applicable to many but not all fields outside industrial manufacture, but the point is, can you challenge us to something that you think cannot be examined and/or quantified scientifically? That will make the answer far more useful, but there are some types of situation where the question is so trivial that it can be left up to local opinion, such as "what colour to paint" something. Unless you're talking about a psychotherapist's office, in which case you might ask researchers which colours make people feel most at ease.

Andrew said...

10. Given the levels of volunteering that exist today within the capitalist wage-labour culture, to quote an old statistic long before the rise of the open-source culture, "In a 1992-released Gallop poll: more than 50% of American adults volunteered with no pay for social causes at an average of 4.2 hours a week, for a total of 20.5 billion hours."
4.2 hours/week each during the 90's? With the disposition of anyone likely to want to participate in the RBE, the starting requirement for maintenance of machines that can't yet self-repair would be far more than met.
When it comes to creative/investigative professions that are lacking in a particular generation, that is a non-need, but you can still put it to the artists of the current generation to inspire the next to advance that field. History has shown that if some research is needed to meet a particular human need, e.g. curing a common disease, people always step forwards with great motivation to fix that problem.
Possibly the greatest examples in series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

11. "A few friends" do not compare to the statistical trend that people in countries with a higher standard of living always tend to have a lower birth-rate, and "believe that this is what everyone would naturally do", if quoted closely to their statements, shows their belief in the common misconception of "human nature". I shouldn't need to dwell on this point if you have seen ZMF, look up the research of those professors interviewed.

Andrew said...

12. "at some point someone will want something ridiculous" Either qualify this statement with evidence or define 'ridiculous'. Generally the answer would be that the person has some psychological condition that they need therapy for, if the ridiculous need is killing people, then the person needs to be restrained insofar as to protect the public while causing as little harm or distress to the individual as possible, and then they need rehabilitative therapy, once again, see James Gilligan's books for more detail on this fine point.

In general the approach is not "how much resources each citizen is allowed to use", but "how can we meet everyone's needs with the least amount of resources". The answer to that as we are saying is a culture in which people are given access to what they need in a similar way to a library. If you want to use a laptop, people who like doing lots of computer work all the time will probably carry a laptop/palmtop/tablet or whatever best meets their individual needs for as long as they need it, and it would be built specifically with durability and upgrade in mind. For anyone who just wants to do something every now and then, there will be public computer clusters just like any modern school or university has. With the free information and art revolution, public storage of large files such as movies will require far less space due to the lack of multiplicity, i.e. more like a universal form of youtube instead of keeping your own hard-drive set aside full of pirated movies... of course none of us do that now so it's a terrible example! ;)
If someone wants to play a game like football, they go to a public recreation centre and pick up high-quality equipment that fits them well, if they want to use a yacht, they go to a marina and pick one up, etc.
If someone wants to hoard something all to themself, then they probably have a lesser psychological disorder that can be solved, such as paranoia and low self-esteem that surfaces as attention-seeking.
People's needs would be met realistically and compassionately.

13. I mostly use windows because I was introduced to it in school, and the majority of the engineering software that I use is still only compatible with it, although I can emulate some of that to some extent in Wine. I have been learning to use Linux gradually over the last few years around my busy life at university, and only in the last year have begun using it for any everyday personal use. I have to say I prefer the Backtrack distros in some situations... ;)

Andrew said...

14. No, in a small way you are asking the wrong question. The use of GM experimentation with food is neither 'just' a result of the current climate or science, but the combination of both.
Science is merely a tool for finding the best solutions to a problem once you specify your conditions. When the conditions are heavily weighed on the absurd ideals of the monetary system, we see huge environmental destruction and damage to plant variety with extremely insufficient tests for releasing modified strains.
When you weigh heavily on the good stewardship of the earth as a condition, you result in the equally valid science of Permaculture, which while having beautifully elegant and clean methods, falls short of some production goals.
When you input the conditions of the RBE that the earth must be preserved while meeting humanity's needs, the use of modern hydroponic technology makes sense in order to provide some of our annual crops, and with that huge jump in efficiency compared to monoculture growing in a field, in partnership with Permaculture strategies, we can restore the earth while easily feeding more than 10 billion people if we need to.

15. TVP being 'ahead of its time' doesn't mean much, for it would be beneficial to start teaching people to treat the management of the world in a rational way as early as possible. However, I would say this is the prime time for it to exist, since we have the current economic downturn to motivate the needed transition, which is becoming urgent as oil wells keep going dry and the remaining havens for biodiversity are are being put under pressure.
If TVP or something like it didn't turn up for a few hundred years, you can bet humanity would have made the planet uninhabitable long before then based on its current course.

Douglas Mallette said...

Ant - "I don't want to sound ungrateful but if you could keep future replies more concise."

I hear you, but short answers are sometimes very difficult, because then they lead to more questions anyway, or someone tries to fill in the blanks with their own incorrect assumptions and projections. Thus why the answers are detailed. After a while of doing this, I have come to learn that if you don't spell out every detail, people will add whatever they want to the mix, and 90% of the time it's incorrect assumptions. Now, onto the questions...

8. I talked about this in my discussion with John Bush, the link I've already provided. How can a system with no form of exchange work alongside a system with a form of exchange? This is the trickiest part of the transition, if the RBE starts to be adopted. There is a major disconnect between the two options.

People in the RBE live for free, in abundance. So then what, someone from another system visits an RBE city, gets 5 TV's for free, then goes back to his/her system and sells them. The RBE did the work, and that schmuck makes a profit in their system. Now yes, we might be able to set up a way to prevent that from happening, but that's a form of personal tracking of people who are RBE and the rest who aren't. That's not exactly a "free" society as we want it to be.

Just look at today. Is there a competing system with the Monetary System? Can a nation work strictly with trade and barter within this system and maintain a high standard of living for its people? No. Why? Because we live in a globally connected world, and the dominant system runs the show.

It's not like the RBE is supporting a different monetary system idea, or a different exchange medium idea. It's supporting NO system of exchange thanks to technical abundance and global resource management, not just local resource management.

Now at first, of course both systems will exist at the same time, but they won't be compatible. Basically for the RBE to work, enough nations with plentiful natural resources will have to be involved so that we're not dependent on anything from a nation that operates with money. We have to be autonomous relative to the other systems.

However, and this is pure speculation on my part (hypothesis if you will) I strongly believe that when a test city is built, and a few nations show interest, the public awareness of how the system works and how amazing it is will be enough to flip the majority of the planet over to the RBE. People will WANT a better life, if it's shown in front of their faces and not just on paper. Once the planet is living in relative abundance, then people can't game the RBE for advantage. However, if there is a 50/50 split between the old system and RBE, and there isn't enough abundance yet, people could game the RBE for advantage in their system, just like people game the system today.

Douglas Mallette said...

9. Ah, I see what you're saying. Let me approach this a different way. People will make decisions on specific things in their life, at "work", etc. What they won't be making decisions on are things that affect the well being of the life quality of others...which is city operations. No person decides who gets water, food, shelter, clothing, transportation, etc. ALL people get that. The computer systems of the cities work to ensure that everything runs smoothly, making on-the-fly decisions when necessary to ensure everything works properly.

Today, when we have larger scale problems, we ask politicians to make decisions for us. Most of the time, there is a technical fix to that problem, but not enough money to do it. In the RBE, that's a non-issue. The problem is logged by someone, the system analyzes the data related to it (like similar problems around the world and how they were fixed) and then implements a solution option to solve the problem based on all relevant data. It arrives at the decision through proper analysis. No one makes a decision based on opinion or money. If that's not feasible, then a request would be sent to ask for help from subject matter experts to get together and study and solve the problem, still using the scientific method. When there's a fire, the firemen are called upon. When there's a technical problem, the relevant technical people are called upon.

Now let's look at your test city question: We're not in the RBE yet, and we don't have a fully integrated globe working together to do this data analysis in real time, so at first, people will make decisions...to a point. There won't be a singular someone calling the shots, as you say, but teams of subject matter experts will work together to ensure that whatever is built is of the utmost quality and technical capability. The baseline would be Jacque's models and ideas. You have to start somewhere. That's the baseline, not necessarily the final design. After proper research and analysis, the final design will be established because it's technically the best option available based on what we're capable of at the time.

It's the same with how we all work on the space shuttle. No one person makes a decision. Teams of people from various disciplines do analysis and give their results, based on the scientific method. You either can or can't move beyond sticking points, and if you have a sticking point, you work to resolve it.

One seriously bad assumption is that the RBE is completely governed by computers in all aspects and that people do nothing at all. Wrong. The RBE is simply a more efficient and streamlined economic system that uses technology where appropriate, not for EVERYTHING. Human creativity, ingenuity and imagination account for everything we've ever developed. No computer can do that, and even if they could, so what?

Part of being human is being a creative being, and no computer system should take that away. The technology is a supplement to help humanity live high quality lives in sustainable ways so we don't harm the planet while living well. Technology is not the governing body, but the assistant.

If tech can arrive at a decision without the need for human intervention, then cool. That frees up people to do other things. If not, then teams of people will work together to solve whatever issues crop up.

Douglas Mallette said...

10. lol. In a way, it is a lifetime holiday, but a holiday where you get to do what you love doing and always live well.

The RBE doesn't really have needs. I mean, when the RBE is up and running, we have abundance of all things that help people live high quality lives. That's the baseline. But as far as what people work on, when the system supports them, they'll support the system. Now, that's not to say that someone might want to do advanced research on the Electric Universe Theory. Does that have anything to do with the RBE? No. Does it reduce the quality of life of anyone living in the RBE? No. So who cares? lol.

Basically, as long as what people work on doesn't harm anyone or wildly waste resources, then they can have at it. In fact, many advancements have come from people working on one thing, but accidentally finding an answer to something completely different. I call this accidental success. lol. In a world where all options are open for discovery, this could happen all the time. As long as the baseline of the RBE isn't mucked with...woohoo! :)

HR gaps can be solved by technical solutions. But this also depends on the quality of educations people receive. Remember, several billion people on this planet have very poor educations. In the RBE, everyone has great educations, so now you have a few billion added people to the mix (relative to today) that can help advance humanity.

I've said this many times...I can't imagine how many potential Einstein's have died in 3rd world nations simply because of where they were born. In the RBE, ALL people have the opportunity to advance their potential, and that will give a very large pool to pull from.

11. I have many friends who would love to travel, explore and enjoy the world and would not want to have large families at all. It all balances out.

Statistical fact that can be found via many creditable sources like W.H.O. and others:

Wealthy nations maintain population equilibrium.

Actually, if you were to look at America specifically, immigration is a big population driver, not native procreation, meaning that if people didn't come into America, our population would have flat lined or declined.

Poor nations overpopulate.

It's really that simple. If life is good, medical care is of a high standard, food is available, etc., people don't overproduce offspring. They are busy living their lives, enjoying mobility, having fun, working hard, getting advanced educations, practicing safe sex, etc.

In poor nations where the odds of dying before 5 yrs old are high, the animal side of humans comes out and makes a lot of babies in the hopes that a few will survive to advance the gene pool. Plus, reflect on the safe sex and education aspect of poor nations and you can see why they overpopulate so much.

In short, when life is good, humans maintain balance.

However, let's assume for the sake of argument that there was a population boom. That's what space exploration is for. At some point, our sun will expand and kill the Earth. We're going to have to move anyway, so be it solar issues, an asteroid coming, or overpopulation, colonizing other worlds and getting off this rock is a solution that will be way more plausible in the RBE than today. There's not enough money on the planet to build Moon and Mars Bases, but in the RBE, we can...and we can use asteroid resources to do it. :)

Douglas Mallette said...

12. It's very hard to answer hypotheticals like this, because there are many variables involved in the transition. The transition is the hardest thing to discuss, because no one knows how people will handle it. I'd like to think that when the majority of people see how their lives could be improved by witnessing a solid, real example in work, then they'd understand and accept all that goes with it...including that the RBE, ergo the planet, cannot allow for ridiculous 'wants' based on old system thinking.

Each person is not assigned a number of lifetime resources. That's not how it works, because new technical and material advancements would totally change any number assigned. That is a restriction, and the RBE is about emergence and advancement. A simple example is this: Today we get a lot more out of a ton of 'resources' than we did 200 years ago, thanks to technical advancement. The specific resource isn't important. What matters is that we've gotten better at using what we've got.

Also, consider that the majority of resources we need are long lasting and renewable, but that we waste an awful lot these days. Clothing can be recycled, food is grown in abundance, shelter is long lasting and plentiful, etc. Now, if someone living within a RBE city (for example) demands 3 homes and 10 cars, that's plain stupid. It won't happen. They won't get it. It will also be obvious that they don't understand what the RBE is about. There is a mental shift required for people to live in the RBE, but people are adaptable and can change.

Also, during the transition, there will still be laws and rules from the old system in place. The goal of the RBE is to dissolve them as quickly as possible by implementing the abundance paradigm, so that eventually the RBE is what it's supposed to be. You can't instantly abolish everything and expect a smooth transition, which is why the transition will be interesting, to say the least.

13. Is Windows really a personal choice? It was already installed on my system when I bought it. It was already installed on my system at work when I got here. When looking at this, you can't ignore the advanced and overbearing impact of marketing in today's system.

If computers were sold naked, and you could get whatever you wanted for free as your OS, and if Linux actually did a better job of promoting itself to the public (which it sucks at), then I bet you'd see different numbers in usage of Windows and Linux. However, when a given OS is already there, and since most people are not computer geeks, they just run with what they've got.

As for personal choice, that's great if people know there are other options out there. I bet if you asked 100 random people in the street what Linux was, 80% of them wouldn't have a clue. Ask them if they know what Windows is...100% would. lol.

Douglas Mallette said...

12. It's very hard to answer hypotheticals like this, because there are many variables involved in the transition. The transition is the hardest thing to discuss, because no one knows how people will handle it. I'd like to think that when the majority of people see how their lives could be improved by witnessing a solid, real example in work, then they'd understand and accept all that goes with it...including that the RBE, ergo the planet, cannot allow for ridiculous 'wants' based on old system thinking.

Each person is not assigned a number of lifetime resources. That's not how it works, because new technical and material advancements would totally change any number assigned. That is a restriction, and the RBE is about emergence and advancement. A simple example is this: Today we get a lot more out of a ton of 'resources' than we did 200 years ago, thanks to technical advancement. The specific resource isn't important. What matters is that we've gotten better at using what we've got.

Also, consider that the majority of resources we need are long lasting and renewable, but that we waste an awful lot these days. Clothing can be recycled, food is grown in abundance, shelter is long lasting and plentiful, etc. Now, if someone living within a RBE city (for example) demands 3 homes and 10 cars, that's plain stupid. It won't happen. They won't get it. It will also be obvious that they don't understand what the RBE is about. There is a mental shift required for people to live in the RBE, but people are adaptable and can change.

Also, during the transition, there will still be laws and rules from the old system in place. The goal of the RBE is to dissolve them as quickly as possible by implementing the abundance paradigm, so that eventually the RBE is what it's supposed to be. You can't instantly abolish everything and expect a smooth transition, which is why the transition will be interesting, to say the least.

13. Is Windows really a personal choice? It was already installed on my system when I bought it. It was already installed on my system at work when I got here. When looking at this, you can't ignore the advanced and overbearing impact of marketing in today's system.

If computers were sold naked, and you could get whatever you wanted for free as your OS, and if Linux actually did a better job of promoting itself to the public (which it sucks at), then I bet you'd see different numbers in usage of Windows and Linux. However, when a given OS is already there, and since most people are not computer geeks, they just run with what they've got.

As for personal choice, that's great if people know there are other options out there. I bet if you asked 100 random people in the street what Linux was, 80% of them wouldn't have a clue. Ask them if they know what Windows is...100% would. lol.

Douglas Mallette said...

14. Why would you insert a gene from an animal into a plant and then randomly release it into the wild? That sounds like a movie plot. lol.

I'm not a geneticist, so I'm not qualified to answer this kind of question specifically, but I'd have to say that via the scientific method, if one can show zero harmful side effects to GM'ing something, and it's an improvement, then so be it. I find that case to be awfully rare though. I think nature has done a good job on its own.

The core of science is to learn about nature and how it works, and honestly, it is very mechanical, whether you like it or not. This is what we're learning. The technology only comes into play to help use nature's methods in a more efficient way to cover human needs. Where nature needs 100 acres to grow a food to feed X number of people, we can use vertical farms and use just 2 acres for feed the same number. Stuff like that.

15. I bet many people thought the Wright brothers we're way ahead of their time too. The reason why I don't believe that TVP is way ahead of its time is because nothing TVP talks about is fiction. Evey technology exists. Every social scientific study has been done and proves our points. Everything is on the table and ready to be implemented. People just need to wake the "F" up and do what's right. lol.

And we never said this would be easy, but doing easy things is kinda boring, no? lol.

Ant. said...

8. Thank you Andrew, that makes sense.

Douglas, I understand the challenge of trading with systems that compete with the RBE, but if people are free to choose they don't want to be in the RBE, it is inevitable that alternatives to the RBE will emerge, or the current ones stay in place.

I don't see them as being "incompatible" since trade can always be achieved, for example by bartering technology or skills. The RBE could exchange some time of their own scientists for some new technology that it hasn't yet developed, or vice versa.

I understand that this is not the goal of the RBE as it wants to include everyone, but while people can make their own choice, this seems to be the only fair path ahead.

9. Douglas you almost answered my question (but not quite), with the following: "There won't be a singular someone calling the shots, as you say, but teams of subject matter experts will work together to ensure that whatever is built is of the utmost quality and technical capability."

We're getting warmer : )
I'll ask again in a different way, what's the process by which the "subject matter experts" are assigned?

Andrew, to give you an example of what type of decisions I'm referring to, I'll answer with something you said on point 12:
"If someone wants to hoard something all to themself, then they probably have a lesser psychological disorder that can be solved, such as paranoia and low self-esteem that surfaces as attention-seeking.
People's needs would be met realistically and compassionately."
This statement disturbs me a bit because, who/what defines what is a "psychological disorder"?! This appears to leave room for a lot of subjectivity, therefore the potential for corruption if not tyranny.

Likewise, how is it defined what is "realistic"?! This is precisely what I was trying to get at when I asked: "how is calculated the amount of resources each citizen is allowed to use and how is that enforced?"

Ant. said...

10. Andrew, I understand that there would be plenty of volunteers in general, but the question was to when there are not enough volunteers for a specific task. Would this need be advertised? I'm just wondering if the RBE would still rely on marketing to meet some of its needs? ; )

Douglas, you say "The RBE doesn't really have needs." - is this really true?! Aren't the RBE's needs the human needs?

"HR gaps can be solved by technical solutions." - yes, I understand it this far. So you're saying that there is no task that a human does today that can't be done by a machine?

11. Andrew and Douglas, it is true that "people in countries with a higher standard of living always tend to have a lower birth-rate". But what is the factor that promotes that? Is it because people are more educated or because it's economically challenging to have a large family while keeping a higher standard of living?

Douglas, I like your thought of colonising other planets, but I'd hope we solve our own planet's problems first. : )

12. Douglas said, "Now, if someone living within a RBE city (for example) demands 3 homes and 10 cars, that's plain stupid. It won't happen. They won't get it. It will also be obvious that they don't understand what the RBE is about."

I agree, this is stupid but it is a possibility. This is why I asked, how is it defined what the limits of wanting something are?! And who defines what is "plain stupid"?

Andrew, please refer to my answer to point 9 above (if you haven't done already).

Ant. said...

13. Andrew, I hear you.

Douglas, it is true that Micro$oft's monopoly has reached a point where people can no longer choose whether to have or not its OS pre-installed in new machines. Even if you want to keep an older Window OS, the price of the new one is already included in the new PC.

However, at the point that we become aware of other alternatives that meet our needs, it does become a matter of personal choice.

As for the lack of promotion of Linux, lets not forget that it's a volunteer movement, it is not backed with billion$ such as the monopolies. If Linux were as good at marketing itself as the monopolies are, wouldn't it just turn into another capitalist trend?

It seems to me that it is up to the people that are aware of the crucial importance of the Open Source movement, to do the best they can to support it. I keep saying that this alone, if adhered to in mass, would have a huge impact even in today's society.

14. "Why would you insert a gene from an animal into a plant and then randomly release it into the wild? That sounds like a movie plot." - precisely, but that is what has happened since the 90's. GM cotton and corn were inserted a gene from a bacteria that produces a pesticide in every cell of the plant. And then we eat this stuff!!

I am not a geneticist either, but do you have to be one to discuss ethics? In other experiments, human genes are inserted in pigs! I mean where does the madness end?! Where are the ethics in science?

Andrew, can you show me the studies that show that Permaculture "falls short of some production goals"? Also are people aware that near deserts and soils depleted by industrial mono-croping can be rehabilitated using Permaculture methods?

I see the appeal of hydroponics for it's ease of mechanization but I'd first like to see, flavour and nutrient levels tests, comparing hydroponics and Permaculture crops.

That's it for now I think. I look forward to your thoughts.

Leo Alexander said...

Regarding Linux v. Windows, Doug is right -- Linux and Linux users are horrible marketers. I bought my system from System76 with Ubuntu Maverick pre-installed. They make their money mostly from hardware sales (I paid $1,300 for my laptop which would have cost about $2,500 through mainstream vendors, simply because all the software was free), but unfortunately Linux still has a reputation of being 'techies-only', even though that is far from true with Ubuntu. Moreover, people either have no interest or no time to learn to use a new operating system and would rather spend thousands of dollars a year on software, etc. to avoid learning to use Linux.

Andrew said...

Thanks for the feedback.
On 9, the problem we have here is one of general semantics; many psychiatrists since their profession has been around have been far too quick to 'pigeonhole' people into syndromes. That is to say, instead of investigating openly each person's individual characteristics and needs, they will try to look for certain symptoms that meet a pre-defined condition, under which they can act on hopefully good advice from their medical training. They make up all kinds of broadly-defined names for sets of symptoms of problems that have occurred during human development, ADHD, AS, paranoia, schizophrenia, kleptomania… The problem with this approach is that after trying to find a word that fits the reality, you begin to treat the reality as fitting the word, and that can lead to huge mistakes.
An extremely good and lengthy book was written on this subject over 70 years ago, and is now available in the public domain. All people who wish to take part in scientific endeavours ought to learn the lessons in this book, yet sadly most don’t, and furthering Jacque’s wise recommendation, I recommend it to everyone: ”Science and Sanity” by Alfred Korzybski
What needs to change in the “psychological” fields of science (aside from becoming more integrated with other sciences in order to aid comprehension of reality) is for its practitioners to look at every patient as an individual, and examine the cause-effect nature of how their past and present environment has shaped their development. Instead of the many wishy-washy definitions that the present field attempts to work around, therapists of the future ought to focus on what really matters; is a person’s constitution, be it “mental” or “physical”, causing damage directly or indirectly to themselves or to others in the community? That question covers everything a therapist should be addressing – i.e. if a person gets into bouts of depression or self-harms, if they hurt others verbally or physically, or if they simply do damage to the systems that support everyone or withhold some benefit from others by hoarding something that they aren’t using – then they need help to figure out their problems.
The action that we would take is to try and figure out with the person what is causing their behaviour, and help them to address it, while trying to prevent people from having to be subject to the negative conditions that caused that behaviour again. No more dictated subjective definitions, just the best practice we can manage based on sound logic. It might not be perfect, but it’s the best we can do right now.

In terms of ‘realism’, everyone needs access to food, water, shelter, transportation, education, healthcare, recreation, and most of all a caring and supportive community. Realism means you don’t need two cars to yourself because you can’t possibly be in both of them at the same time. Utilitarian necessity shows what you’ll need; if you want to use two or more computer terminals at the same time for a piece of work/art that requires it, that’s fine, whether it’s a couple of laptops or a desktop PC with several monitors and more than one mouse, it’ll be made available if the need exists, just so long as you let anyone else at it once you’re done.
As we said, we don’t calculate the specific ‘resources’ each person needs, we ask what their tangible needs are, and then produce enough of the actual tools for there to be more than enough for all the people who use them at the same time.

Andrew said...

Seems the last link I posted didn't go through properly, but here it is:
"Science and Sanity" by Alfred Korzybski

10. Of course if volunteers are needed for something, it could be advertised in the future, probably on whatever form the internet takes. The most plausible situation where I think this could happen would be if a town somewhere outside the RBE is hit by a natural disaster, for example an earthquake, and hasn’t put the necessary systems in place to prevent damage to their infrastructure, there could be a call out to medics and everyone else in the RBE who can spare a hand to go and help.
I guess you misunderstood a couple of Doug’s points here, have a think about the context. The RBE doesn’t strictly “need” all the creative professions once in place, since the automated systems support people. Doug also said in his post that machines can’t do creativity like us yet…
11. How exactly could it be harder to support a large family where some standard of living is available compared to countries with only sweatshops to offer for employment, no public education or healthcare, and ongoing armed conflicts? Please look into the statistics yourself before asking such questions. People put the standard of living before keeping a large family because of the education, which creates a different culture.
12. Answered in 9 as you hinted to.
13. Agreed, and I want to see open-source everything.

14 – Yes, I’ve been aware of the permaculture “greening the desert” programme for a long time, and I absolutely love it, but I don’t have studies on the ‘production goals’ thing, I have only heard anecdotal accounts from permaculturists claiming greater yield/area than monoculture fields, but we know for a fact that we can increase the yield/area of some simple vegetables, like the ones that site I linked you to suggests, as many times as we want by stacking hydroponics systems on top of each other in tall buildings.
I’m going to attempt a home-brew version of those rotary systems as a personal project in the near future, so if I can do a taste-test, I’ll let you know. :)