Hello, my name is Franky. I work also with
an organization called The Zeitgeist Movement as you already know.
I would like to welcome everybody
from far and wide; everybody did come. Thank you very much.
I would like to take this opportunity to especially thank
the teams of The Zeitgeist Movement.
Teams meaning the Linguistic Team, the Web Team, the Technology Team,
the Activism Team and also the Project Team that
coordinated this project.
The whole German chapter did a great job
with establishing this event within a month.
I would like to thank everybody personally.
Good to see you here.
I think Peter Joseph doesn't need any introduction.
I think everybody here knows who he is.
So, short and precise: thank you.
I hand the microphone over to Peter.
You can turn this mic off since I'm not going to use it.
Ah, so it's the other mic.
How's everybody doing? [Audience in unison] - Good!
I really appreciate you all being here.
I want to thank Franky and the Berlin team
for moving so fast; it's really phenomenal.
Having put on many events myself over the years, it's not an easy task.
I'm always reminded when I travel these days,
that The Zeitgeist Movement is truly a global phenomenon at this stage, right?
No matter where any of us end up on the planet,
you don't have to go very far to find friends who share similar values
in this pursuit of a better world.
The title of this talk is "Economic Calculation
in a Natural Law/Resource-Based Economy (NLRBE)."
For the past five years or so
The Zeitgeist Movement has put out quite a bit of educational media
with respect to its advocation,
and the learning curve has been rather intense.
There's been a tendency to generalize
with respect to how things actually work technically.
This is the contents of this presentation.
In Part I and two I'm going to refine
the inherent flaws of the current market model
regarding why we need to change
along with relaying the vast prospects
we now have to solve vast problems,
improve efficiency, and generate a form of abundance
that could meet all human needs.
The active term which has gained popularity in the last couple years
is called "post-scarcity,"
even though that word is a little misleading semantically as I'll explain.
In Part III, I'll work to show how this new society
generally works in its structure and basic calculation.
I think most people on the planet know that there is something
very wrong with the current socioeconomic tradition.
They just don't know how to think about the solution,
or more accurately, how to arrive at such solutions.
Until that is addressed, we're not going to get very far.
On that note, in a number of months, a rather substantial text
is going to be put into circulation, available for free
and also in print form or download form
at cost (it's a non-profit expression).
This will be finished hopefully by the first of the year
and will be the definitive expression (in the condensed form)
of the Movement, something that's been long overdue.
It's called "The Zeitgeist Movement Defined" and it will serve as both
an orientation and a reference guide.
It will have probably over a thousand footnotes and sources.
Once finished, an educational video series will be put out
in about 20 parts to produce the material along with a workbook
to help people who want to learn how to talk about these ideas because
we basically need more people on an international level
to be able to communicate, as I try to do.
It's a very important thing, and I think the future of the Movement
rests in part on our capacity to create a well-oiled
international educational machine with consistent language
coupled with real design projects and their interworkings.
Part I: Why are we even here?
Is this type of large-scale change-
what the Movement advocates- really needed?
Can't we just work to fix and improve the current
economic model, keeping the general framework of money,
trade, profit, power, property and the like?
The short answer is a definitive "No,"
as I'm going to explain.
If there's any real interest to solve the growing
public health and environmental crises at hand
this system needs to go.
Market capitalism, no matter how you wish to regulate it
or not regulate it, depending on who you speak with,
contains severe structural flaws
which will always, to one degree or another,
perpetuate environmental abuse and destabilization,
and human disregard and caustic inequality.
Put another way, environmental and social imbalance
and a basic lack of sustainability both environmentally and culturally
is inherent to the market economy, and it always has been.
The difference between capitalism today and say, the 16th century
is that our technological ability to rapidly accelerate
and amplify this market process
has brought to the surface consequences which simply couldn't be understood
or even recognized during those early primitive times.
In other words, the basic principles of market economics
have always been intrinsically flawed.
It has taken just this long for the severity of those flaws
to come to fruition. Let me explain a little bit.
From an environmental standpoint,
market perception simply cannot view the Earth
as anything but an inventory for exploitation.
Why? Because the entire existence of the market economy
has to do with keeping money in circulation
at a rate which can keep as many people employed as possible.
In other words, the world economy is powered by constant consumption.
If consumption levels drop, so does labor demand,
and so does the available purchasing power of the general population
and hence, so does demand for goods as money isn't there to buy them.
This cyclical consumption is the lifeblood
of our economic existence.
The very idea of being conservative or truly efficient
with the Earth's finite resources in any way
is structurally counterproductive
to this needed driving force of consuming.
If you don't believe that, ask yourself why
virtually every life support system on this planet is in decline.
We have an ongoing loss of topsoil, ever-depleting fresh water,
atmospheric and climate destabilization,
a loss of oxygen-producing plankton in the ocean
(which is critical to marine and atmosphere ecology),
the ongoing depletion of fish populations,
the reduction of rain forests, and so forth.
In other words, an overall general loss of critical biodiversity
is occurring and increasing.
For those not familiar with the critical relevance of biodiversity,
billions of years of evolution
has created a vastly interdependent biosphere of planetary systems.
Disturbing one system always has an effect on many others.
This, of course, is no new observation.
In 2002, 192 countries in association with the United Nations
got together around something called "The Convention on Biological Diversity."
They made a public commitment to significantly reduce this loss by 2010.
And what changed eight years later? Nothing.
In their official 2010 publication, they state:
"None of the 21 sub-targets accompanying the overall target
of significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010
can be said definitively to have been achieved globally."
"Actions to promote biodiversity receive a tiny fraction of funding
compared to infrastructure and industrial developments."
(Hmm, I wonder why?)
"Moreover, biodiversity considerations are often ignored
when such developments are designed.
Most future scenarios project continuing high levels of extinctions
and loss of habitats throughout this century."
In a 2011 study published which was in part
a response to an general call to isolate and protect certain regions
to insure some security of this biodiversity,
found that, even with millions of square kilometers of land and ocean
currently under legal protection, it has done very little
to slow the trend of decline.
They also made the following highly troubling conclusion
combining this trend with the state of our resource consumption:
"The excess use of the Earth's resources or overshoot is possible
because resources can be harvested faster than they can be replaced.
The cumulative overshoot from the mid-1980's to 2002
resulted in an 'ecological debt'
that would require 2.5 planet Earths to pay.
In a business-as-usual scenario, our demands on planet Earth
could mount to the productivity of 27 planets by 2050."
And there's no shortage of other corroborating studies that confirm,
to one degree or another, we are indeed greatly overshooting
the annual production capacity of the Earth,
coupled with pollution and collateral destruction
caused by industrial and consumer patterns.
Again, this kind of research has been published for many decades now.
Why is it that with all this mounting data
we can't seem to curb life support depletion
and our overshooting consumption trends?
Is it because there are too many people on the planet?
Is it because we're just utterly incompetent
and have no conscious control over our actions?
No. The problem is that we have a global economic tradition still in place
rooted in 16th century pre-industrial handicraft-oriented thought
that places the act of consuming,
buying and selling as the core driver of all social unfolding.
The best analogy I can think of is to consider the gas pedal on a car:
the more consumption of fuel, the faster it goes,
and buying things in our world is the fuel.
If you slow down consumption, economic growth slows,
people lose jobs, purchasing power declines
and things become destabilized and so forth.
So I hope it is clear that the system simply does not reward or even support
environmental sustainability in the form of conservation.
In fact, it doesn't even reward sustainability in the form
of any kind of earthly or physical efficiency
as I will talk more at length of in a moment.
Instead, it rewards servicing, turnover and waste:
the more problems and inefficiencies we have,
not to mention the more insecure, materialistic
and needy the population becomes, the better it is for industry,
the better it is for GDP, the better it is for employment,
regardless of the fact that we may literally
be killing ourselves in the process.
My friend John McMurtry, a philosopher in Canada, refers to this state
as the "Cancer Stage of Capitalism,"
a system which is now destroying its host, us and the Earth,
almost unknowingly because very few today really understand
how unsustainable the core driving principles of the market really are.
The second structurally inherent consequence I want to mention
is the fact that market capitalism is indeed
empirically socially destabilizing.
It creates unnecessary and inhumane inequality,
along with resulting unnecessary human conflict.
In fact, I would say capitalism's most natural state
is conflict and imbalance.
I would categorize two forms of conflict in the world:
national and class.
I'm not going to spend much time on the causes of national warfare
as it should be fairly obvious to most of us at his point.
Sovereign nations which are in part protectionist institutions
for the most powerful forces of business have often engaged
in the most primal act of competition- systematic mass murder-
in order to preserve the economic integrity of their national economies
and select business interests which invariably comprise
the political constituency of any given country.
All wars in history, while often conveniently masked by various excuses,
have predominately been about land, natural resources,
or geoeconomic strategy on one level or another.
The state institution has always been driven
by commercial and property interests, existing as both a regulator
of the basic day-to-day internal economic operations
in the form of legislation and as a tool for power consolidation
and competitive advantage by the most dominant industries
of the national or even, in fact more importantly, global economy.
There are many people in the world that still look at this causality in reverse.
In some economic views, state government is deemed the central problem,
as opposed to the self-interest and competitive, advantage-seeking ethos
inherent to market capitalism.
As the argument goes "If state power was removed or reduced dramatically,
the market and society would be free of most of its negative effects."
The problem with this argument is that it forgets
that capitalism is just a variation of a scarcity-driven
specialization and property-based exchange system,
a system which actually goes back millennia in one form or another.
Early settlements naturally needed to protect themselves as resource
and land acquisition moved forward over time.
Armies were created to protect resources from invading forces and the like.
At the same time people were working to engage
agriculture and handicraft,
and it revealed labor and exchange value in a very primitive form.
Hence property value, in the midst of this scarcity,
demanded regulation and laws,
not only to protect property, but to protect commerce
and also avoid scams and fraud in transactions.
This is the seed of the state!
The market is a game and people can cheat.
You need regulation.
This is the basic problem.
The market also allows- and here's the punchline-
that regulation to be purchased by money.
Therefore, there is no guaranteed integrity.
The state and the market both battle each other
and compliment each other.
You will always have regulatory power centers in a market economy.
The state and the market are inseparable;
they go hand-in-hand.
Now, as an aside, people often challenge this reality
with moral or ethical arguments,
which, I'm sorry to say, are entirely culturally subjective.
In a world where everything is for sale,
where the reward reinforcement, the operant condition,
is directly tied to seeking personal advantage and gain,
who is to say where the lines should be drawn in that process?
This is why moral principles without structural reinforcement
In the end, the question isn't what is morally right or morally wrong.
The question is what works and what doesn't.
And sometimes it takes a great deal of time
for the truth of such patterns to materialize.
For example, most people, rightly so, see
abject human slavery historically as a morally wrong condition,
but let's dig deeper into the characteristics and think more deeply.
I think it is much more productive to recognize that slavery didn't work
in the sense that it was culturally unsustainable.
Bigotry in all forms is not just ugly,
it is culturally unsustainable because it generates conflict.
I'm not aware of any slave-owning society
that did not undergo large slave rebellions.
It's unstable and again, therefore, unsustainable.
Market capitalism is on the same path.
There are more slaves in the world today,
operating within the bounds of the market economy,
than anytime in human history.
And I have little doubt that if we get through this rough period of time
without destroying ourselves by war,
uprisings or ecological collapse,
people in the future will look back at our world today with the same disgust
regarding our human-rights-violating economic system
as we today look back upon the period of abject human slavery.
This leads as well into the subject of class warfare
and socioeconomic inequality.
The long history of so-called "socialist" outcry has largely been about
this constant and inhumane imbalance on one level or another.
A great deal of time has been spent by many critics of capitalism,
describing how it is indeed a system of exploitation,
which inherently separates a society into stratified economic layers
with a higher class given dominance over the lower, structurally.
It's structurally built right in.
If you're one of those people that doesn't agree with this reality,
ask yourself why there has been one labor strike after another
in the past 300 years, why worker unions even exist, why CEOs
often tend to make hundreds of times more money than the common worker,
or why 46% of the world's wealth is now owned by 1%,
which are almost exclusively of what we could call
the capitalist ownership class.
Inequality and class separation is a direct mathematical result
of the market's inherently competitive orientation,
which divides individuals in small groups
as they work to compete against each other for survival and security.
It is entirely individualistically oriented,
driven by a core incentive system based around isolated self-preservation,
assuming the need to constantly reinforce one's security financially
since the market climate (the environment) gives no certainty whatsoever
of well-being in and of itself: fear and greed.
The rich get richer because the model favors them,
and the poor basically stay the same
because the system works against them by comparison.
It is structurally classed.
Those with more money have more options and influence than those with less.
You are only as free, as they say,
as your purchasing power will allow you to be.
The credit system is a perfect example.
Money is treated as nothing more than a product
in the credit/banking system.
Money is sold by banks via loans for profit
which comes in the form of interest.
If you miss payments or violate your contract,
often the interest rate, does what? It goes up
because you are now considered a higher risk consumer.
If you fail to meet that interest or future payments,
you might default on the loan.
Your punishment is the ruining of your credit rating or reputation
in the financial circles.
Once that happens, your financial flexibility is even more stifled
as your economic access is limited.
People see this as just "the way things are"
but they don't realize how insidious this is.
This pounds the lower classes to stay low
for reasons and forces of coercion that are built into the structure
that are beyond their control! I could give many other examples.
Everything in this system works against you if you're not affluent
in this society. And guess what?
These financial policies were created by ...
self-interest-oriented market logic,
not some politician or some government.
I won't even go into the fact that the interest charged
for the sale of money today doesn't even exist in the money supply itself,
which creates a kind of system-based social coercion
forcing in the inevitability of credit default over time,
along with acts of economic desperation such as
selling property you rather would not, to meet your basic needs
or taking labor positions that you do not appreciate.
The market generates desperation as its method of coercion.
This leads into another very common "free market" confusion
I often see in the very popular laissez-faire community.
They talk about free trade as trade that is entirely voluntary
as though such a thing could ever exist in an empirical sense.
All decisions to trade come from influences and pressures.
Only perhaps the super rich, who literally have no need
to worry about basic survival due to their wealth
could possibly be said to engage in the act of voluntary free trade.
For 99% of the world, we either trade or we don't survive,
and that pressure is empirically coercive.
And no, it doesn't have to be that way,
which is the whole point of this new social model.
So with all that aside, and with this understanding
that wealth inequality is inherent to capitalism itself
- you can't regulate it out -
the main issue I want to address here has to do with what
class separation and social inequality does to us
in the context of public health.
It isn't just a simple issue of some having more than others,
and others suffering the mere material inconvenience,
or pressure to engage in labor or trade they'd rather not have to.
It goes way beyond that.
Socioeconomic inequality is a poison,
a form of destabilizing pollution
that affects people's psychological and physiological health in profound ways,
while also very often accumulating anger towards other groups,
and hence, that generation of social instability.
The best term I know of that embodies this issue is "structural violence."
If I put a gun to someone's head,
say a 30-year-old healthy male, pull the trigger and kill him,
assuming an average life expectancy of say 84,
you can argue that possibly 54 years of life
was stolen from that person in a direct act of violence.
However, if a person is born into poverty
in the midst of an abundant society
where it is statistically proven that it would hurt no one
to facilitate meeting the basic needs of that person,
and yet they die at the age of 30 due to heart disease
which has been found to statistically relate to those who endure
the stress and effects of low socioeconomic status –
is that death, the removal of those 54 years again, an act of violence?
The answer is "yes, it is."
Our legal system has conditioned us to think
that violence is a direct behavioral act.
The truth is that violence is a process,
not an act, and it can take many forms.
You cannot separate any outcome from the system by which it is oriented.
This is virtually absent from the way people think
about cause-and-effect in a socioeconomic system.
The effects of market capitalism cannot be reduced-
or I should say cannot be deduced- logically
from local or reductionist examination.
[It's] like things are working like a clock:
the market is a synergistic system, the economy is a synergistic system,
and the behavior of the whole, meaning large-scale social consequences
such as the perpetuation of inequality or violence,
can only be assessed in relationship to that whole.
This is why there has been one big dichotomy between
what market theorists think is supposed to happen in their world
and what is actually happening.
For example, there is no doubt that poverty and social inequity
is and has been causing a vast spectrum of public health problems,
both in the context of absolute deprivation, which means not having
the money to simply meet up with basic needs such as nutrition,
and in the context of relative deprivation,
which is a psychological phenomenon related to the stress-
the psychosocial stress- of simply living
in a highly-stratified society.
One of the greatest predictors of reduced public health
is now to be found as social inequity,
If you compare developed nations by the level of wealth inequality
you will find that those more equal nations have much better health
than those with less equality.
This includes physical health, mental health,
drug abuse, educational levels, imprisonment, obesity,
social mobility, trust or social capital, community life, violence,
teen pregnancies, and child well-being on average.
These outcomes are significantly worse
in more unequal rich countries.
Yet, if you tried to reduce and analyze a single person
for any of these noted public health factors,
you could never know for sure if that person is actually a victim
of the psycho-stress or the absolute or relative violence condition itself.
The causality can only be understood
on the large scale, probabilistically,
which is the importance of statistical analysis.
So again, the market can only be perceived
as a whole to gauge the truth of its effects.
This is why our legal system is so base and primitive.
That aside, I would like to detail a few more examples of structural violence,
as it obviously takes many more forms.
When we see 1.5 million children die each year from diarrheal diseases-
an utterly preventable problem that isn't resolved
due to a financial limitation across the world,
we are seeing the murder of 1.5 [million] children by a system
that is so inefficient in its process it cannot make
the proper resources available in certain regions,
even though that they are there.
Drug addiction, which has become a plague
of modern society across the world, not only causing death,
but also a spectrum of suffering, has been found to have roots in stress.
It has to do with a lack of support which creates
a psychological chain reaction that leads to
fill your feelings of pain with self-medication.
You will rarely find a study on addiction patterns
that does not see a direct correlation
to unstable life conditions and stress.
What is perhaps poverty's most dominant psychological feature?
Feelings of insecurity and humility.
Even the vast majority of behavioral violence as we know it
arises due to preconditions which have been tied
to poverty-induced deprivation and abuse.
Former head of the Study of Violence at Harvard, Dr. James Gilligan,
was a prison psychiatrist for many decades
analyzing the reasons for extreme acts of murder and the like.
In virtually all cases, high levels of deprivation, neglect, and abuse
occurred in the life history of the offenders. And guess what?
Poverty is the single best predictor
of child abuse and neglect.
In a US study, children who lived in families
with an annual income less than $15,000
are 22 times more likely to be abused or neglected
than children living in families with an annual income of $30,000 or more.
Aristotle said "Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime."
Gandhi said "Poverty in the worst form of violence."
The interesting thing about all this is
is that we are all possible victims of its effects,
for every time you hear about an act of theft,
violence, murder, or the like,
chances are the origins of that behavior were born
out of a preventable form of deprivation.
I say preventable because today
there is absolutely no technical reason for any human being
to live in poverty and resource deprivation.
Solving social inequality is not just a nice thing to do,
it is a true public health imperative.
Just like making sure our water isn't polluted,
so we don't get diseases.
And each of us have no idea when we might be subjected to say,
the violence bred by this deprivation.
It's a form of blowback.
Just like how some social theorists think about the reasons
for modern terrorism from abused countries.
A country like the United States bombs some town;
the people in that town lose everything. Certain people are deeply affected
and find no other emotional recourse
but to act in the most violent way that can in revenge.
The next thing you know, a bomb explodes at a coffee shop in your city,
killing your sibling.
In short, if you want to produce a violent criminal or gang mentality,
let them be raised in an environment where they are reinforced
with the sense that society doesn't care about them.
And hence they have no need to care about society.
This is the trademark,
this is the core characteristic,
of the capitalist social order.
As a final aside before I move on, I find it incredibly interesting
that the vast majority of the civil rights institutions today,
or human rights institutions today,
which still demand more race, gender, creed and political equality,
tend to do very little to address the roots of economic inequality.
It's a very interesting contradiction. I'm firmly convinced
that as time moves forward, economic equality will morph
into the same role as gender and race equality,
where meeting human needs and facilitating a high standard of living
will be an issue of human rights, not market expedience,
and the social Darwinism to which it is based.
Part II: Post-Scarcity.
I would like to spend a moment clarifying
what an "Abundance Focused Society" actually means
and give some tangible, statistical extrapolations
to confirm this potential.
A Natural Law/Resource-Based Economy is not a utopia.
The Zeitgeist Movement seeks a high, relative, sustainable abundance
relieving the most relevant forms of scarcity.
Many who hear such distinctions immediately dismiss
such qualifications as mere opinion.
The fact is, it's not opinion when it comes to life support
or empirical human needs.
Relative sustainable abundance
means seeking more than enough to meet all human needs and beyond
while keeping ecological balance.
The most relevant forms of scarcity means we differentiate
between scarcity as it relates to human needs
and scarcity as it relates to human wants,
as they are not the same.
Unfortunately, market logic pretends that they are.
The market cannot separate needs from wants.
And this gets to the root of the life-blind, value-system disorder
which continues to distort our culture.
The logic goes like this: If there exists
any form of scarcity of anything on any level,
then we need money and the competitive market to regulate it.
Let me explain this a little bit more.
One of our international lecture team members, Matt Berkowitz,
did a radio interview with a very popular Austrian economist a little while back,
and when the subject of scarcity came up this economist responded with
"Not everyone can have a fancy steak or a Ferrari!"
This was his definitive view of what scarcity means.
Now that may be true. Not every human being
can have a 500-room mansion with three jets parked in the front lawn,
with half the continent of Africa as his or her back yard.
In theory, we could conjure up anything
and use such luxury-based scarcity defenses
to support the existence of the competitive market.
So what are human needs? Are they subjective?
Human needs have been created
by the process of our physical and psychological evolution.
Not meeting these virtually empirical needs results, as noted before,
in a statistically predictable destabilizing spectrum
of physical, mental and social disorders.
Human wants, on the other hand, are cultural manifestations
which have undergone enormous subjective change over the course of time,
revealing in truth something of an arbitrary nature.
This isn't to say neurotic attachments can't be made to wants,
so much so that they start to take the role of needs.
That's a phenomenon that occurs readily in our materialistic society, in fact.
This is exactly why the previously noted wealth-imbalance issues,
namely the psychosocial-stress response
resulting from social comparison, is what it is.
It's a part of our evolutionary psychology in many ways.
But this is partly why more unequal societies also
are the more unhealthy societies, because we perpetuate it.
The Zeitgeist Movement is not promoting an infinite universal abundance
of all things, which is clearly impossible on a finite planet.
Rather, it promotes a "post-scarcity'" or "abundance" worldview,
with an active recognition of the natural limits of consumption
on the planet while seeking equilibrium.
And what separates the world today from the world of the past
is that our scientific and technological capacity
has reached an accelerating point of efficiency
where creating a high standard of living for all the world's people
based on current cultural preferences, in fact,
is now possible within these sustainable boundaries
without the destructive need to compete through the market mechanism.
This is made by what has been called "ephemeralization,"
a term coined by engineer R. Buckminster Fuller,
and the recognition is very simple.
The amount of resources and energy needed to achieve any given task
has constantly decreased over time,
while the efficiency of that task has increased, paradoxically.
An example is wireless satellite communication
which uses exponentially less materials
than traditional large-gauge copper wire
and is more versatile and effective.
In other words, we are doing more with less continually,
and this trend can be noticed in all areas of industrial development
from computer processing or Moore's Law
to the rapid acceleration of human knowledge or information technology.
And it isn't just physical goods.
It also applies to processes or systems.
For example, the labor system, via automation today,
shows the exact same pattern.
Industry has become more productive with less people,
ever-increasing machine performance,
with ever-decreasing energy and material needs over time per operation.
As a brief tangent, some might have noticed
I keep saying this phrase
"High Standard of Living. " What does that mean?
Who is to say what a high standard of living should be?
The answer to that question is not "who," it is "what."
And "what" determines our standard of living
is the current state of technology in many ways,
and what is required to keep
social and environmental sustainability on a finite planet.
That's basically the equation.
If we as a society wish to keep the value of constant materialism,
growth, and consumption, promoting the virtue of having infinite wants
then we might as well just kill ourselves right now,
as that is going to be the end result if we continue to push past
the limits of the physical world with respect to our resource exploitation
and the loss of biodiversity.
So I want to make it very clear: this new economic proposal
isn't just about seeing how the market is obsolete per se,
given our new powerful awarenesses of technical efficiency;
it is also about the fact that we need
to get out of the market paradigm as fast as we can
before it causes even more damage.
The four categories I want to cover in detail regarding this
are food, water, energy, and material goods.
Please note that for food, energy, and water
this is actually a very conservative assessment,
using statistics and measures based only
on existing methods that have been put into industrial use,
not theoretical things that people talk about all the time.
And all I'm going to do is scale this out,
applying a systems theory context.
According to the United Nations, one out of every eight people on Earth-
nearly one billion people- suffer from chronic undernourishment.
Yet it is admitted that there is enough food produced today
by traditional market methods alone,
to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories per day
which is more then enough to maintain basic health for most.
Therefore, just in principle right now,
the existence of such a large-scale number of chronically hungry people
reveals at a minimum that there is something fundamentally wrong
with the global industrial and economic process.
According to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers,
"It is estimated that 30-50% of all food produced
never reaches a human stomach
and this figure does not reflect the fact that large amounts
of land, energy, fertilizers, and water have also been lost
in the production of foodstuffs which simply end up as waste."
While there is certainly an imperative to consider the relevance
of these waste patterns, it appears that the most effective
and practical means to overcome this global deficiency entirely
is to update the system of food production itself
with the most strategic localization
in order to reduce the waste caused by inefficiencies
in the current global supply chain.
Perhaps the most promising of these arrangements is something called
vertical farming which I assume many are familiar with.
Vertical farming has been put to test in a number of regions
with extremely promising results regarding efficiency and conservation.
This method of abundant food production will not only
use less resources per unit output, causing less waste,
have a reduced ecological footprint,
increase food quality and the like,
it will also use less surface of the planet,
uses less land area than we're doing today.
It can even be done offshore- it's that versatile-
enabling types of food as well, that certain climates and regions
simply couldn't produce because it's enclosed.
A vertical farm system in Singapore, for example,
custom built, a transparent enclosure,
uses a closed loop automated hydraulic system
to rotate the crops in circles between sunlight
and organic nutrient treatment,
costing only about $3 a month in electricity for each enclosure.
This system also has reported to have 10 times
more productivity per square foot than conventional farming,
again, using much less water, labor, and fertilizer.
Students at Columbia University in the US
determined that in order to feed 50,000 people, a 30-story farm
built on the size of a basic city block would be needed,
which is about 6.4 acres.
If we extrapolate this in the context of the city of Los Angeles, California
(where I'm coming from) with a population of about 4 million,
with a total acreage of about 318,000
it would take roughly 78 structures to feed all residents.
This amounts to about 0.1% of the total land area of Los Angeles,
to feed the entire population.
If we apply this extrapolation to the Earth
and the human population of 7.2 billion, we end up needing about
144,000 vertical farms to feed the whole world.
This amounts to about 921,000 acres of land to place these farms
which, given about 38% of the Earth's land
is currently being used for traditional agriculture,
we find that we only need about 0.006%
of the Earth's existing agricultural land
to meet production requirements.
Let's be a little bit more consistent.
Within that 38% land-use statistic for agriculture,
much of that land is also used for livestock cultivation,
not just crop cultivation.
So, if we were to theoretically take
only the crop production land currently being used,
which is about 4 billion acres, replacing land-based cultivation
by dropping these 30-story vertical farms side-by-side in theory,
the food output would be enough to meet the nutritional needs to feed
34.4 trillion people.
Given that we only need to feed about 9 billion by 2050,
we only need to harness about 0.02% of this theoretical capacity, which
it could be argued, makes rather moot any seemingly practical objections
common to the aforementioned extrapolation.
In short, we have absolute global food abundance potential.
According to the World Health Organization about 2.6 billion people-
half of the developing world- lack proper sanitation
and about 1.1 billion people have no access
to any type of clean drinking sources.
Due to ongoing depletion, by 2025,
it is estimated that almost 2 billion people
will live in areas plagued by water scarcity
with 2/3 of the entire world population living
in water-stressed areas.
The cause? Obviously waste and pollution.
But I'm not going to talk about that-
the details, causes and prevention; that's not the point of this.
Rather, let's take again, a technological capacity approach only,
considering modern purification and modern desalination systems
on the macro-industrial scale.
The average person today globally uses about 1,385m³ of water per year.
This factors in all industrial activity as well, such as agriculture.
For the sake of argument, let's consider what it would take to purify
all the fresh water currently being used in the world on average annually.
Given the global average of 1,385m³
and a population of 7.2 billion,
we arrive at a total annual use of about 10 trillion m³.
Using a New York State USA UV-disinfection plant as a base measure,
which has an output capacity of roughly 3 billion cubic meters a year,
taking up about 3.7 acres of land,
we would need 3,327 plants
to purify all the water used by the entire global population,
taking up about 12,000 acres of land.
Needless to say, there are many other factors that come into play,
such as power needs, location, and the like. That's fair enough.
However, this is a minor inconvenience.
12,000 acres is nothing compared to
the 36 billion acres of land on the planet Earth.
To give this a more practical example, the US military
alone has about 845,000 military bases
and buildings, I should say, as well.
This has been reported to take up about 30 million acres of land globally.
Only 0.04% of that land would be needed
to disinfect the total fresh water use of the entire world
if that were even needed, which of course it is not.
Let's run the same theoretical extrapolation on desalination.
The most common method of desalination used today is called reverse osmosis,
and according the International Desalination Association,
it accounts for 60% of the installed capacity globally.
There are a lot of other methods that are emerging quite rapidly
with high levels of efficiency [which] can move water much more quickly.
But I'm not going to talk about that. I want to stay only
within the common methods applied today.
But keep in mind that everything I'm speaking of
has dramatic improvements coming very soon.
There's an advanced reversed osmosis
seawater desalinization plant in Australia
that can produce about 150 million m³ of fresh water a year
while occupying about 50 acres.
Given the total annual water use of the world today,
- it's about 10 trillion cubic meters again -
it would take about 60,000 plants to produce
current global water usage in total.
Using the dimensions of that plant, which is quite large,
such a feat would take about 18,000 miles of coast land,
or about 8.5% of the world's coast land.
Obviously, that's not really ideal, that's a lot of coast land,
but this exercise is about proportion.
Clearly, we do not need to desalinate all water used,
nor would we bypass the use of purification processes
or ignore the vast reforms needed to preserve efficiency and fresh water
or, equally as important, the reuse schemes that are coming to fruition
where buildings are able to use water in multiple ways
by recycling water that comes from a sink into toilets,
and other mechanisms that unfortunately go unused for the vast majority.
Let's do a slightly more practical real life extrapolation,
combining only purification and desalination
with actual regional scarcity statistics.
On the continent of Africa, roughly 345 million people
lack access to freshwater.
If we apply the noted global average consumption rate
again of 1,385m³ a year,
seeking to provide each of those 345 million people that amount,
we would need about 480 billion cubic meters produced annually.
If we divided this number in half and use purification systems
for one section and desalination for the other,
the desalination process would need about 1.9%
or 494 miles of coastline for desalination facilities,
and only about 296 acres of land for purification facilities,
which is a minuscule fraction of Africa's total land mass
of about 7 billion acres.
So, this is highly doable even in this crude example.
In all cases, we would strategically maximize purification processes
since it is clearly more efficient
while using desalination for the remaining demand.
In short, it's absurd for anyone on this planet
to be going without freshwater, not to mention, as an aside,
70% of all freshwater used today
is used in agriculture in our grossly wasteful agricultural methods. 70%!
If we, for example, apply again vertical farm systems
which have been noted to reduce water by upwards of 80% in comparison,
we would see an enormous freeing up
of this unnecessarily scarce resource as well.
Moving on to Energy.
We live in one massive perpetual motion machine known as the Universe.
The fact that we still use polluting fossil fuel stores in the Earth
or the incredibly unstable nuclear phenomenon
which gives very little room for human fallibility
is truly frightening.
There are four main large capacity
"base-load," as they would say, renewable energy means
which are currently most ideal
as per our current state of technological application.
These are geothermal plants, wind farms,
solar fields, and water-based power.
Due to time I'm not going to explain what these mediums are
as I assume most know. I'm just going to run through
the abundance comparison.
A 2006 MIT report on geothermal found that
13,000 zettajoules of power are currently available in the Earth
with the possibility of 2000 zettajoules being harvestable
with improved technology.
The total energy consumption of all the countries on the planet
is only about half a zettajoule a year.
This means literally thousands of years of planetary power
could be harnessed in this medium alone.
Geothermal energy also uses much less land than other energy sources.
Over 30 years, a period of time commonly used to compare
the life cycle impacts from different power sources,
it was found that a geothermal facility
uses 404 m² of land per gigawatt hour
while a coal facility
uses 3,632 m² per gigawatt hour.
If we were to do a basic comparison of geothermal to coal
given this ratio of m² to GWh
we find that we could fit about 9 geothermal plants
in the space of one coal plant.
And that isn't accounting for the vast amount of land
that is currently used for coal extraction-
you know, those huge holes that we see in the earth.
By the way, the beauty of geothermal, and in fact,
all of the renewables I'm going to speak of, is that extraction
or the harnessing location is almost always the exact same place
as processing for the power distribution as well.
All hydrocarbon sources on the other hand require both extraction
and power production facilities almost always in separate locations,
sometimes refineries as well, in separate locations.
In 2013, it was announced that a 1,000 megawatt power station
was to begin construction in Ethiopia.
We're going to use this as a base, theoretical for extrapolation.
If a 1000-megawatt geothermal power station operated at full capacity
24 hours a day, 365 days a year,
it would produce 8.7 million MWh a year.
The world's current annual energy usage is about
153 billion MWh a year, which would mean it would take in abstraction
about 17,000 geothermal plants to match global use.
There are over 2,300 coal power plants in operation worldwide today.
Using the aforementioned plant-sized capacity comparison
of about nine geothermal plants fitting into one coal plant,
the space of 1,940 coal plants would be needed in theory
to contain the 17,000 geothermal plants
or 84% of the total in existence.
Also, given that coal accounts for only 41%
of today's current energy production,
this theoretical extrapolation also shows
how in 84% of the current space used by coal plants,
geothermal could supply 100% of total global power supply.
It's been calculated that today with existing turbine technology,
which is improving rapidly, that Earth could produce
hundreds of trillions of watts of power, many more times
than what the world consumes, overall.
However, breaking this down, using the 9,000 acre
Alta Wind Center in California as a theoretical basis,
which has an active capacity of 1,320 MW of power,
a theoretical annual output of 11 million MWh is possible.
This means 13,000
9,000-acre wind farms would be needed to meet
total global demand of 153 billion MWh.
This requires about 119 million acres of land
or 0.3% of the Earth's surface
to power the world in abstraction.
However as some may know, offshore wind
is typically much more powerful than land-based.
According to the Assessment
of Offshore Wind Energy Resources for the United States, a report:
4,150 gigawatts of potential wind turbine technology-
turbine capacity- from offshore wind resources
are available in the United States alone.
Assuming this power capacity was consistent for a whole year,
we end up with an energy conversion of 36 billion MWh a year.
Given the United States in 2010
used 25.7 billion MWh,
we find that offshore wind harvesting alone
could exceed the national use
by about 10.6 billion MWh or 41%.
And axiomatically, extrapolating this national
level of capacity to the rest of the world's coast lines,
also taking into account the aforementioned land-based statistics,
it is clear that we can power the world many, many times over
with wind, and quite practically.
If humanity could capture 0.1% of the solar energy striking the Earth,
we would have access to six times as much energy
we consume in all forms today.
The ability to harness this power depends on technology
and how high the percentage of radiation conversion is.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric System in California:
it's a 3,500-acre field
with an annual stated generation of about one million MWh.
If we were to extrapolate using this as a theoretical basis,
it would take about 142,000 fields or about 500 million acres of land
to theoretically meet current global energy use.
That's about 1.5% of total land on Earth.
Deserts cover about 1/3 of the world or about 12 billion acres,
and they tend to be fairly conducive to solar fields,
while often less conducive to life support for people.
Given the roughly 500 million acres
theoretically needed to power the world as noted,
only 4.1% of the world's deserts would be needed
to contain these fields,
land that pretty much just otherwise sits there.
There are five dominant types of water-based power: wave, tidal,
ocean current, osmotic,
ocean thermal, and water course.
Overall, the technology for harnessing ocean in general
is in its infancy, but the potential is vast.
And based on traditional estimates
here is what the accepted global potentials
have been estimated at using existing methods;
we're not applying advanced technology that's not in application yet.
This all figures up to be about 150,000 TWh/year
or 96% of current global use
of the half of a zettajoule,
pretty much enough to power the world in one medium alone if applied.
However to give a sense of growing technological potential
(because I think this is important considering how technology
and water-oriented power is deeply in its infancy)
recent developments in 'ocean current' harnessing technology
(the currents that go underneath the ocean)
which can embrace much lower speeds now than they used to,
it has estimated that ocean current alone could now
theoretically power the entire world if applied correctly.
So, let's recap.
Wind, solar, water and geothermal have shown,
as large scale, base-load renewable energy mediums,
that they are capable, individually, of meeting or vastly exceeding
current annual global energy consumption at this time.
And obviously a systems approach, harmonizing an optimized fraction
of each of those renewables strategically is the key
to achieving a global, total energy abundance.
For example, it's not inconceivable to imagine
a series of man-made floating islands
off select coastlines which are designed to harness, at once,
wind, solar, thermal difference, wave, tidal and currents,
all at the same time and in the same general area.
Such energy islands would then pipe their harvest back to land
for storage and distribution.
It is only up to our design ingenuity to figure things like this out.
Localization and Reuse.
The final energy factor I want to mention,
which builds upon this systems-thinking explicitly,
has to do with localization and re-use schemes.
Localized energy harnessing isn't given a fraction
of the attention it needs today.
Smaller scale renewable methods which are conducive to
single structures or small areas
find the same systems logic, regarding combination.
These local systems could also, if need be, connect back into the larger
base-load systems, creating a total, mixed medium, integrated network
which happens sometimes today with solar.
There are many localized systems out there which can draw energy
from the immediate environment: there's solar power arrays,
there's small wind harvesting systems,
localized geothermal heating and cooling
and even architectural design that just simply makes
natural light and heat/cool preservation more efficient.
Buckminster Fuller was great with his dome structures
and how they actually contained energy quite well. Same idea.
Extending outwards to city infrastructure
we see the same wasted possible efficiency almost everywhere.
A simple technology called piezoelectric
is able to convert pressure and mechanical energy directly into electricity.
It's an excellent example of an energy reuse method with great potential.
Existing applications have included power generation
by people simply walking on these engineered floors and sidewalks,
streets which can generate power as automobiles cross over them,
and train rail systems which can also capture energy
from passing train cars through pressure.
It has been suggested by people who have studied this
that a stretch of road less than one mile long,
four lanes wide, a highway,
and trafficked by about 1,000 vehicles per hour
can create about 0.4 Megawatt of power,
which is enough to power 600 homes.
Now extrapolate that out to the bulk of all the highways in the world;
you have a very, very powerful regenerative energy source.
Overall, if we think about the enormous mechanical energy wasted
by vehicle transport modes and high-traffic walking centers alone,
the potential of that possible regenerated energy is quite substantial.
It's this systems-thinking once again that is needed
in order to maintain sustainability,
while also pursuing this global energy abundance.
The final more complex subject, energy aside,
will be the subject of material abundance
and creating life-supporting goods.
Unlike the prior, more simple post-scarcity categories of food,
water and energy, the creation of a broad material abundance
of all basic goods, which comprise the current average, you could say,
of what is culturally considered a 'high standard of living' today
is substantially more radical in its need
for industrial revision and change.
As expressed before, the current highly inefficient methods
we use in industrial design, production, distribution and regeneration
is one of the main reasons we are in a constant state
of global resource overshoot
and destabilizing biodiversity loss.
Also as noted prior, there is no market incentive
for advanced states of efficiency,
as efficiency always reduces the amount of labor,
resources and service needed for a given purpose;
and hence, reduces monetary circulation.
I can't reinforce that enough.
Therefore, a new synergistic systems-view of industry
focused explicitly on material and labor efficiency,
along with an optimized strategy for sustainability, is in order.
For the sake of time and as a lead-in to the final section on calculation,
I'm going to focus on a few principles or protocols
and how each protocol assists efficiency
towards this post-scarcity abundance.
Otherwise it would take an enormous amount of time;
it's not as simple as the prior extrapolations.
However, in this book that I mentioned there will be a whole chapter
dedicated to this issue in great detail.
(1) Access, not property.
A property-based society incentivizes the preference to own
a given product, rather than rent,
or gain access to as needed.
I'm a filmmaker and while I do rent some things occasionally,
it's much more cost-effective and smart to buy things
because they have resale value.
This incentive of universal ownership is incredibly wasteful
when we examine actual use time of a given good.
Facilitating a means of access where things can be literally shared
will allow many more to gain use of goods they otherwise could not,
along with there being less production of those goods in proportion.
In a Natural Law/Resource Based Economy
we seek to create an access abundance, not a property abundance
which is inherently wasteful.
As an aside, it's also important to note that property
is not an empirical concept.
Only access is empirically valid.
Property is a protectionist contrivance.
Access is the reality of the social and human condition.
In order for you to truly say "own" a computer,
you have to have had alone
come up with the entire technological process that made that thing
along with the ideas that comprise the tools
you might have used to make that computer.
This is literally impossible
and is what destroys the early labor theory of value
(property is stuff that's put forward by classical economists).
There's no such thing as property. There is only access and sharing,
no matter what social system you employ.
(2) Designed-in Recycling
Contrary to our intuition, there is no such thing as waste
in the natural world.
Not only from the standpoint of the biosphere which reuses
everything in its process,
the 92 main naturally occurring elements in the periodic table
that comprise all matter cannot be exhausted.
Humanity has given very little consideration to the role
of material regeneration, and how all of our design practices
must account for this recycling.
In fact, as some may know, the highest state of this recycling
will eventually come in the form of nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology will eventually be able to create goods
from the atomic level up and disassemble them right back down
to the almost virtual starting point.
It is the ultimate form of recycling. By the way, I'm not suggesting this.
I'm not suggesting that nanotechnology is even needed at this time,
as though that that's what we're doing right now.
It's just [that] this is a great principle to reference
as far as regenerative importance.
Today, industry has little sense of synergy in this context.
Recycling is an afterthought. Companies continue to do things
such as blindly coat materials with chemical paints, and the like,
that distort the properties of those materials,
making the materials less salvageable,
or maybe completely unsalvageable, to current recycling methods.
It happens all the time. So long story short,
strategic recycling just might be
the most core seed of a continued abundance.
Every landfill on earth is just a waste of potential.
Number 3: Strategic conformation of good design
to the most conducive
and abundant materials known.
You will notice this efficiency qualification in what I just said:
conducive and abundant.
Conducive means most appropriate based on the material properties.
Abundant means you weigh the value of conduciveness
against the value of how accessible and low-impact the material is,
compared to other materials which may be more or less conducive.
This is a synergistic efficiency comparison.
(I'm sorry if the language sounds a little bit complicated.)
Probably the best example of this is home or domicile construction.
The common use of wood, bricks, screws and the vast array of parts
that is typical of a common house is comparatively, vastly inefficient
to more modern, simplified pre-fabrication or moldable materials.
A traditional 2000 square-foot home requires about
40 to 50 trees, about an acre.
Compare that with houses that can be created in prefabrication processes
with simple, earth-friendly polymers,
concrete, or other easily formable methods.
3D printing, for example, is on pace.
These new approaches have a very small footprint as compared to
our destruction of global forests which continue, for wood.
Home construction today is one of the most resource intensive
and wasteful industrial mediums in the world,
with about 40% of all materials collected for construction
ended up as waste in the end.
Number 4: Design conduciveness for labor automation.
Now this is very foreign to many.
The more we conform to the current state
of rapid, efficient production processes,
obviously, the more abundance we can create.
If you read texts on manufacturing processes,
they typically divide labor into three categories.
There's human assembly, there's mechanization and there's automation.
Human assembly means handmade,
mechanization means machines assist the laborer,
and automation means no human action.
Imagine if you needed a chair and there were three designs.
The first is elaborate and complex, and could only be done by hand.
The second is more streamlined where its parts could be made
mostly by machines, but would need to be assembled by hand.
The third chair is produced by one process, fully automated.
The latter chair design would be the design goal
in theory of this new approach.
What this would do is reduce the complexity of the automation process
with little to no human labor.
Imagine a production plant that not only produces cars,
it can produce virtually any kind of industrial product
comprised of the same basic shared materials.
This is very feasible.
This would increase output substantially.
In other words, we are optimizing the means of production.
And as an aside, many who see stuff like this
think that this means there's not going to be any variety in the future,
that it's just going to be cold and uniform and everyone gets the same thing.
No. I'm just using this as an example to make an efficiency point.
Being conducive to automation does not mean universal uniformity
of design because the incredible amount of variance possible
in our current automation technology is amazing and accelerating.
Modular robotics, there's many different self-changing machines
that can create a great amount of variance.
All this means is the existing processes in their current state
should be respected to ease production.
Don't confuse this with the idea that everyone just gets the same everything.
What they get is the same basic sustainability principles,
which come in many different forms, if you can understand that.
These four parameters set in motion, along with the basic intent
to assist the trend of ephemeralization on all levels,
there is little doubt that every human being
could have a very high standard of living.
It is simply about converting all of the inefficiency we have
straight into productivity, strategically.
I will conclude this section by noting that R. Buckminster Fuller
is probably the only human being that has ever attempted
to account and quantify the state of resources and their potential
within the past hundred years and, while primitive,
he was able to arrive at the following conclusion in 1969:
"Man developed such intense mechanization in World War I
that the percentage of total world population that were industrial 'haves'
rose by 1919 to the figure of 6%.
This was an abrupt change in history.
By the time of World War II, 20% of all humanity
had become industrial 'haves.'
At the present moment the proportion of 'haves' is at 40% of humanity.
If we up the performances of resources from the present level
to a highly feasible overall efficiency of 12% more
(increasing by 12%, our use, holistically, on average)
all humanity can be provided for."
The exponential increase in information technology since 1969,
along with the applied technology and advanced
synergetic understandings we have today,
I suspect, now far exceeds-...
we are way beyond the 12% efficiency increase that he saw as needed.
The problem now is conforming to industrial conduciveness appropriately
which is currently not done.
This leads us to Part III: Economic Organization and Calculation.
If you're wondering why I spent so much time
on the prior points of post-scarcity
and those two core problems inherent to market capitalism-
social imbalance and environmental imbalance-
it's because you cannot understand the logic of the economic factors
involved in this model without those prior awarenesses.
A Natural Law/Resource Based Economy is not just a progressive outgrowth
of our increased capacity to be productive as a species,
as though we would just gradually evolve out of the market system
step-by-step into this approach.
No. The dire need for this system's removal
needs to be realized once again.
It has to become a part, in fact,
of the incentive structure of the new model:
the historical understanding that if we do not adjust in this way
we will revert right back into this highly unstable period
we are in right now.
An economic model is a theoretical construct
representing component processes by a set of variables or functions,
describing the logical relationships between them.
If anyone has studied traditional or market-based economic modeling,
a great deal of time is often spent on things such as price trends,
behavioral patterns, utilitarianistic functions,
inflation, currency fluctuations and so forth.
Rarely, if ever, is anything said about public or ecological health.
Why? Because the market is, again, life-blind
and decoupled from the science of life support and sustainability.
It is simply a proxy system.
The best way to think about this economy is not in the traditional terms,
but rather as an advanced production,
distribution and management system which is democratically engaged
by the public through a kind of participatory economics
that facilitates input processes, such as design proposals
and demand assessment, while filtering all actions
through what we will call sustainability and efficiency protocols.
These are the basic rules of industrial action
set by natural law, not human opinion.
As noted prior, neither of these interests are structurally inherent
in the capitalist model, and it is clear that humanity needs a model
that has this type of stuff built right into it for consideration.
Structural System Goals.
All economic systems have structural goals
which may not be readily apparent.
Market capitalism's structural goal, as described, is growth
and maintaining rates of consumption high enough to keep people employed
at any given time, and employment requires also a culture of real
or perceived inefficiency, and that essentially means the preservation
of scarcity in one form or another. That is its structural goal.
And good luck getting a market economist to admit to that.
This model [NLRBE] goal is to optimize technical efficiency
and create the highest level of abundance we possibly can
within the bounds of earthly sustainability,
seeking to meet human needs directly.
One of the great myths of this model is that it's centrally planned;
I'm sure many of us have heard this.
What this means based on historical precedent is that it is assumed
that an elite group of people basically will make the economic decisions
for a society.
No. This model is a collaborative design system: CDS.
Not centrally planned.
It is based entirely upon public interaction
facilitated by programmed, open-source systems
that enable a constant dynamic feedback flow
that can literally allow the input of the public on any
given industrial matter whether personal or social.
Now a common question, when you bring that up they say
"Well, who programs this system?"
The answer is: Everyone and no one.
The tangible rules of the laws of nature as they apply
to environmental sustainability and engineering efficiency
is a completely objective frame of reference.
The nuances may change to some degree over time,
but the general principles remain.
Over time, the logic of such an approach will also become more rigid
because we learn more as we perfect our understandings,
and hence, less room for subjectivity
in certain areas that might have had it prior.
Again I'll be describing this more so in a moment.
Also the programs themselves will be available in an open source platform
for public input and review, absolutely transparent.
And if someone noticed a problem
or unapplied optimization strategy, which will probably be the case,
it is evaluated and tested by the community
kind of like a Wikipedia for calculation,
except much less subjective than Wikipedia,
without the moody administrators.
Another traditional confusion surrounds the concept
which has become to many the defining difference
between capitalism and everything else.
And it has to do with whether the means of production
is privately owned or not.
This is replete throughout tons of traditional
literary treatments on capitalism when they describe
how it's the ultimate manifestation of human behavior, of society.
If you don't know what this means, the means of production
refers to the non-human assets that create goods such as machines,
tools, factories, offices and the like.
In capitalism, the means of production is owned
by the capitalist by historical definition, hence the origin of the term.
I bring this up because there's been an ongoing argument for a century
that any system which does not have its means of production owned
as a form of private property is just not going to be as economically efficient
as one that has or maybe not even efficient at all.
This, as the argument goes, is because of the need for price:
the price mechanism.
Price, which has a fluid ability
to exchange value amongst virtually any type of good
due to its indivisibility of value, creates indeed a feedback mechanism
that connects the entire market system in a certain narrow way.
Price is a way to allocate scarce resources amongst competing interests.
Price, property and money translate, in short,
subjective demand preferences into semi-objective exchange values.
I say "semi" because it is a culturally relative measure only,
absent most every factor that gives true technical consideration
to a given material or good.
It has nothing to do with what the materials or goods are;
it's just a mechanism.
Perhaps the only real technical data, in fact,
that price embraces very crudely
relates to resource scarcity and labor energy.
Resource scarcity and labor energy.
You can basically find that in price.
So in this context the question becomes:
Is it possible to create a system that can
equally, if not more efficiently,
facilitate feedback with respect to consumer preference, demand,
labor value and resource or component scarcity
without the price system, subjective property values or exchange?
And, of course, there is.
The trick is to completely eliminate exchange
and create a direct control and feedback link
between the consumer and the means of production itself.
The consumer becomes part of the means of production
and the "industrial complex" becomes nothing more than a tool
that is accessed by the public to generate goods.
In fact as alluded to prior, the same system
can be used for just about any societal calculation,
virtually eliminating the state government, in fact,
and politics as we know it.
It is a participatory decision-making process.
As an aside, as far as the fact that there will indeed always
be scarcity of something in the world,
which is the very basis of existence of price, market and money,
human beings can again either understand the dire need
to exist in a steady-state relationship with nature
and the global human species for cultural
and environmental sustainability, or not.
We can either continue down the same path we are now
or become more aware, responsible to the world and to each other,
seeking post-scarcity and using natural law rules of sustainability
and efficiency to decide how to best allocate our raw materials, or not.
But I think the former is the most intelligent path.
I state that because again, this resource argument
always comes down to the abstractions ... of scarcity.
It never qualifies what scarcity is in certain contexts.
It doesn't separate scarcity and that's its fatal flaw,
between human needs and human wants.
Also, I want to point out another fallacy,
which of this private ownership of the means of production,
a fallacy of this broad concept is its culture lag!
Today we are seeing a merger of capital goods,
consumer goods and labor power.
Machines are taking over human labor power,
becoming capital goods, while also reducing in size
to become consumer goods.
I'm sure almost everyone in this room has a home paper printer.
When you send a file to print from your computer,
you are in control of a mini-version of a means of production.
What about 3D printers?
In some cities today there are now 3D printing labs
which people can send their design to print, in physical form.
The model I'm going to describe is a similar idea.
The next step is the creation
of a strategically automated industrial complex
localized as much as possible
which is designed to produce, through automated means,
the average of everything any given region has found demand for.
Think about it: on-demand production on a mass scale.
Consider for a moment how much storage space,
transport energy and overrun waste
is immediately eliminated by this approach.
I think the days of large, wasteful mass producing economies
of scale are coming to an end, well, if we want them to.
This type of thinking: true economic calculation,
by the most technical sense of the term, I can't reiterate that enough.
We are calculating to be as technically efficient and conservative
as possible which again, almost paradoxically, is what will facilitate
a global access abundance to meet all human needs and beyond.
Structure and Processes.
I'm going to walk through the following 3 processes:
(1) the collaborative design interface and industrial schematic,
(2) resource management, feedback and value
and (3) general principles of sustainability and the macro-calculation.
The collaborative design interface is essentially the new market;
it's a market of ideas.
This system is the first step in any production interest.
It can be engaged by a single person; it can be engaged by a team
if you have friends and you want to put it together, sort of like
how businesses think; it can be engaged by everyone.
It is open source and open access,
and your concept is open to input from anyone interested
in that good genre or anyone that's online that cares to contribute.
Obviously it comes in the form of a website, as I stated;
and likewise, whatever exists as a final decision,
whatever is put into production, even though in theory
everything will be under modification at all times,
but what has been approved, if you will, is digitally stored
in a database which makes that good available to everyone.
Sort of like a goods catalog,
except it contains all of the information digitally
that is required to produce them.
This is how demand is assessed.
It's feedback and it's immediate.
Instead, of course, of advertising
and the unidirectional consumer good proposal system, which it is,
that we have today where corporations basically tell you what you should buy
with the public generally going with the flow,
favoring one good component or feature, using price,
if they don't like something then clearly they won't produce it anymore
to weed out supply and demand.
This system works the opposite way.
The entire community has the option of presenting ideas
for everyone to see and weigh in on and build upon.
Whatever isn't of interest simply won't be executed to begin with.
There's no testing here such as you would see with marketing,
which is incredibly wasteful. It's as simple as that.
The actual mechanism of proposal
will come in the form of an interactive design interface
such as we see with computer-aided design, or CAD as it's called,
or more specifically computer-aided engineering
which is a more complicated synergistic process.
As an aside, some see computer-aided design programs as they exist
as having an enormous learning curve, and they do.
But just as the first computers
were very difficult code-based interfaces
which were later replaced by small little programs
in the form of graphic icons that we're all so familiar with
the future CAD-type programs could be oriented in the exact same way
to make them more user-friendly.
Obviously, not everyone has to engage in design.
Some people, like most people today, appreciate what's been created prior.
They absorb and they use what other people have come up with.
So there's a diminishing law of returns in a lot of ways, if you will.
Not everyone has to get in there and has some role to do this.
But many will and many will enjoy the process.
And you can customize things as you go which is a great point.
There's minor things that can happen with a product that someone doesn't know
anything about, but maybe they just want to change the color and that's it.
Obviously, that doesn't take a lot of education.
More importantly, technically speaking,
the beauty of these design and engineering programs today
is that they incorporate advanced physics
and other real-world, natural-law properties.
So a good isn't just viewable in a static 3D model.
It can be tested, right there, digitally.
And while some testing capacity might be limited today,
it's simply a matter of focus to perfect such digital means.
For example, in the automotive industry, long before new ideas are built,
they run them through similar digital testing processes,
and there's no reason to believe
that we will not eventually be able to digitally represent
and imitate and set in motion virtually all known laws of nature in time,
and being able to apply them to different contexts.
Similarly, and this is critical,
this design that's proposed in this system is filtered
through a series of sustainability and efficiency protocols
which relate to not only the state of the natural world
but also the total industrial system,
in as far as what is compatible.
Processes of evaluation and suggestion would include the following:
strategically maximized durability,
standardization of genre components,
strategically integrated recycling conduciveness, as I mentioned before,
and strategically conducive designs themselves,
making them conducive for labor automation.
I'm going to go through these, each quickly.
Durability just means to make the good as strong and as long-lasting as relevant,
the materials utilized comparatively assuming possible substitutions
due to levels of scarcity or other factors
would be dynamically calculated
likely automatically, in fact, by the design system
to be most conducive to an optimized durability standard.
This means that the highest state of flexibility
for replacing component parts is made.
Has anyone seen this thing called "phonebloks?"
In the event a component part of this good becomes defective
or out-of-date, whenever possible the design facilitates
that such components are easily replaced
to maximize full product life span.
Standardization of genre components.
All new designs either conform to or replace, if they're updated,
existing components which are either already in existence
or outdated due to a comparative lack of efficiency.
Many don't know this, but a man named Eli Whitney in 1801
was the first to really apply standardization in production.
He made muskets and back then they were handmade,
and they were not interchangeable, so the musket parts,
if anything broke, you couldn't take a part from something else.
He was the first to actually make the tools to do this,
and he basically started the entire process of standardization,
and the US military was now able to buy huge things of muskets
and interchanged them and, much more sustainable,
even though they were killing people.
Which is interesting for the military because if you think about it,
the military is one of the most efficient systems on the planet
because it's absent the market economy.
If you really want to look to where industrial efficiency was born,
as much as I dislike it, the military is where it becomes,
where it's been harnessed the most, excuse me.
Anyway, this logic not only applies to a given product,
it's applied to the entire good genre: standardization.
By the way, this efficiency will never happen in a market economy
with its basis in competition, as proprietary technology
removes all such collaborative efficiency. No one wants that.
No one wants to share everything like that.
Otherwise, people wouldn't have a need to go back to the root company
and buy the part; they would go somewhere else
where they'd have access to it through other means.
As noted before, this means every design must conform
to the current state of regenerative possibility.
The breakdown of any good must be anticipated
and allowed for in the most optimized way,
and made conducive for labor automation.
This means that the current state of optimized
automated production is directly taken into account
seeking to refine the process-
excuse me- seeking to refine the design that's submitted
to be most conducive to the current state of production
with the least amount of human labor or monitoring.
We seek to simplify the way materials and production means are used
so that the maximum number of goods can be produced
with the least variation of materials and production equipment.
It's a very important point.
These five factors will be what we can call in total
the optimized design-efficiency function, if you want to be technical.
Keep this in mind as I'm going to return to all of this in a moment.
Moving on to the industrial complex, the layout.
This means that the network of facilities, which are directly connected
to the design and the database system I have just described.
Servers, production, distribution, recycling is basically it.
Also, we'd need to relate the current state of resources,
critically important, as per the global resource management network,
another tier, which I'm going to also describe in a moment.
Production- this means of course actual manufacturing-
would evolve, as expressed before, as automated factories
which are increasingly able to produce more
with less material inputs and less machines: ephemeralization.
If we were to consciously design out unnecessary levels of complexity,
we can further this efficiency trend greatly
with an ever-lower environmental impact and resource use
while maximizing, again, our abundance-producing potential.
The number of production facilities,
whether homogeneous or heterogeneous, as they would be called,
would be strategically distributed topographically
based around population statistics, very simple stuff.
It's no different than how grocery stores work today
where they try to average distances as best they can
between pockets of people and neighborhoods.
You could call this the 'Proximity Strategy'
which I'll mention again in a moment.
This can either be directly from the production facility
as in the case of on-demand custom one-off production,
or it can be sent to a distribution library
for public access en masse,
based on demand interest in that region.
The library system is where goods can be obtained.
Some goods can be conducive to low demand
and custom production and some will not be.
Food is an easy example of a mass production necessity,
while a personal tailored piece of furniture
would come directly from the manufacturing facility once created.
I suspect that this on-demand process,
which will likely become equally as utilized as mass production,
will be an enormous advantage.
As noted, on-demand production is more efficient
since the resources are going to be utilized for the exact-use demand,
as opposed to the block things that we do today.
Inventory is accessed in a dynamic direct feedback link
between production, distribution and demand.
If that doesn't make sense to you, all you have to think about is
how inventory accounting and tracking works
in any major commercial distribution center today
with, of course, a few adjustments made in this model.
We're already doing this type of stuff already.
Regardless of where the good is classified to go,
whether it's custom or not, libraries or to the direct user,
this is still an access system.
In other words, at any time the user of the custom good
can return the item for reprocessing,
just as the person who obtained something from the library can, as well.
Since, as noted, the good has been pre-optimized
(all goods are pre-optimized for conducive recycling)
odds are the recycling facility is actually built directly in
to the production facility or the genre of production facility,
depending on how many facilities you need to create the variety of demand.
So again, there's no trash here: whether it's a phone,
a couch, a computer, a jacket, a book,
everything goes back to where it came back from, for direct reprocessing.
Ideally this is a zero-waste economy.
Resource Management, Feedback and Value.
The computer-aided and engineering design process
obviously does not exist in a vacuum.
Processing demands input from the natural resources that we have.
So connected to this design process, literally built into the
optimized design-efficiency function noted prior,
is dynamic feedback from an Earth-wide accounting system
which gives data about all relevant resources
which pertain to all productions.
Today, most major industries keep periodic data
of their genre materials as far as how much they have,
but clearly it's difficult to ascertain
due to the nature of corporate secrets and the like.
But it's still done.
To whatever degree ... technically possible this is,
all resources are tracked and monitored,
and in as close to real time ideally as possible.
Why? Mainly because we need to maintain equilibrium
with the Earth's regenerative processes at all times
while also, as noted before, work to strategically maximize
our use of the most abundant materials
while minimizing anything with emerging scarcity.
As far as value, the two dominant measures,
which will undergo constant dynamic recalculation
through feedback as industry unfolds,
[are] scarcity and labor complexity.
Scarcity value without a market system
could be assigned a numerical value, say one to 100.
One would denote the most severe scarcity
with respect to the current rate of use, and 100 the least severe.
50 would mark the steady-state dividing line.
For example, if the use of wood lumber passes
below the steady state level of 50,
which would mean consumption is currently surpassing the Earth's
natural regeneration rate, this would trigger
a counter-move of some kind,
such as the process of material substitution,
hence the replacement for wood in any given future productions,
And of course, if you are a free market mindset listening to this,
you are likely going to object at this point by saying "Without price,
how can you compare value of one material to another or many materials?"
Simple: you organize genres or groups of similar-use materials
and quantify, as best you can, their related properties
and degree of efficiency for a given purpose,
and then you apply a general numerical value spectrum
to those relationships, as well.
For example, there are a spectrum of metals
which have different efficiencies for electrical conductivity.
These efficiencies can be quantified,
and if they can be quantified, they can be compared.
So if copper goes below the 50 median value regarding its scarcity,
calculations are triggered by the management program
to compare the state of other conducive materials in its database,
compare their scarcity level and their efficiency,
preparing for substitution, and that kind of information
goes right back to the designer.
Naturally, this type of reasoning might indeed get extremely complicated
as again: numerous resources and numerous efficiencies and purposes
which is exactly why it is calculated by a machine, not people.
And it's also why it completely blows the price system out of the water
when it comes to true resource awareness and intelligent management.
This simply means estimating the complexity of a given production.
Complexity, in the context of an automated-oriented industry,
can be quantified by defining and comparing
the number of process stages, if you will.
Any given good production can be foreshadowed
as to how many of these stages of production it will take.
It can then be compared to other good productions,
ideally in the same genre, for a quantifiable assessment.
The units of measurement are the stages, in other words.
For example, a chair that can be molded in three minutes
from simple polymers in one process will have a lower
labor complexity value than a chair which requires automated assembly
down a more tedious production chain with mixed materials.
In the event a given process value is too complex
or inefficient in terms of what is currently possible in production,
or too inefficient by comparison to an already existing design
of a similar nature as well, the design, along with other parameters,
would be flagged and would be re-evaluated.
And again, all of this comes from feedback from the design interface;
and there's no reason to assume that with ongoing advancement
in AI (artificial intelligence),
we wouldn't be able to feedback not only the highlight of the problem
but would also create suggestions or substitutions
for you to understand in the interface.
Let's put some of this reasoning together.
I hope everyone can bear with me.
If we were to look at good design
in the broadest possible way with respect to industrial unfolding,
we would end up with about four functions or processes
each relating to the four dominant, linear stages of design,
production, distribution and recycling.
The following propositions should be obvious enough as a rule structure.
All product designs must adapt to optimized design efficiency.
They must all adapt to optimized production efficiency.
They must adapt to optimized distribution efficiency,
and they must adapt to optimized recycling efficiency.
Seems redundant, but this is how we have to think about it.
Here is a linear block schematic and the symbolic logic representation
which embodies the subprocesses or functions
I'm now going to very generally break down.
Process 1: The Design.
Optimized Design Efficiency.
A product design must meet or adapt to criteria set
by what we have called the current efficiency standards.
This efficiency process has five evaluative subprocesses,
as noted before earlier in the presentation:
durability, adaptability, standardization,
recycling conduciveness, maximized automation conduciveness.
Further breakdown of these variables and logical associations
can be figuratively made as well, of course,
which I don't think is conducive for this type of presentation
because we're going to get lost in ever- reductionist minutia.
But for more detail this stuff will be developed much more and be put
into this text as I've just described which will be available for free.
I'm going to try to do my best to give the general efficiency process here.
In the end, when it comes to this Design Efficiency process set,
we end up with this design function at the top.
Just to see it, I'll list all of the function meanings at the end.
We move on to process 2: Production Efficiency.
In short, this is the digital filter
that moves design to one of two production facility types.
One for high demand or mass goods
and one for low demand or custom goods.
The first uses fixed automation,
meaning unvaried production ideal for high demand,
and the second: flexible automation
which can do a variety of things, but usually in shorter runs.
This is a distinction that's commonly made
in traditional manufacturing terms.
This structure assumes only two types of facilities.
Obviously there could be more, based on the production factors.
But if the design rules in the process are respected,
as expressed before, there shouldn't be much variety.
Over time things get simpler and simpler.
So to state this, I'm just going to run through it for those that
like to hear things spelled out like this.
All product designs are filtered by a
demand class determination: process D;
the demand class determination process filters
based on the standards set for low demand or high demand.
All low consumer demand product designs
are to be manufactured by the flexible automation process,
all high consumer demand product designs
are manufactured by the fixed automation process.
Also both the manufacturing of low consumer demand
and high consumer demand product designs
will be regionally allocated as per the proximity strategy
of the manufacturing facility. This simply means
you keep things as close to you as possible, as close to the average
of any given demand as far as what type of facility you're using.
And this will change over time as populations change,
so you keep updating.
Once process 2 is finished, the product design is now a product
and it moves towards optimized distribution efficiency.
In short, all products are allocated based on the prior
demand class determination as noted before,
so low consumer demand products follow a direct distribution process,
high consumer demands follow the mass distribution process
which would likely be the libraries in that case.
Both low consumer demand and high consumer demand products will be
regionally allocated per the proximity strategy, as noted before.
And process 4, very simple, the product undergoes its life span.
Ideally it's been updated and adapted; ideally it's been used
to the highest degree and made as advanced as it could within its life cycle.
Once it's done it becomes void and moves on to process 4
which is simply optimized recycling efficiency.
All voided products will follow a regenerative protocol
which is a subprocess that clearly I'm not going to go into
because it's deeply complicated
and is the role of engineers to develop over time.
This is just a simple macro representation;
again these subvariables or subprocesses go on to quite a large degree.
Keeping all of this in mind, again, a lot of this will be in the text
and hopefully others, I think, can see this stuff,
that are fluent with this type of thinking, and hone in
and perfect these equations and relationships.
What I tried to do here is to give a broad sense
of how this type of thing unfolds.
As a concluding statement, more or less, the way
this extrapolation of sustainability and efficiency-
it's really quite a simple logical thing.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see how things work on this level.
Creating a real program that can factor in
what are hundreds if not thousands of subprocesses in algorithmic form,
as they pertain to such an economic complex is indeed
a massive project in and of itself, but it's more of a tedious project.
You don't need to be a genius to figure this stuff out.
I think this is an excellent think-tank program
for anyone out there that's interested in projects.
I have a number of little projects that I'm trying to get going
when I have time; one is simply called The Global Redesign Institute,
which is a macroeconomic approach to redesign
the entire surface of the planet, basically.
And in this other programming concept, we create an open-source platform
where people can begin to engineer this very program
that I'm describing.
That's it. I was going to make a conclusion to this talk
but it was already way too long.
So I just hope this gives a deeper understanding of the model,
how it could work and thank you for listening.