Frequently Asked Questions
The following is a Q&A to helping in understanding The Venus Project/Zeitgeist Movement.
They are answered directly by Jacque Fresco.(unless otherwise noted).
- What is the foundation of this idea?
- What inspired this direction?
- What is the basis of your designs in general?
- What is The Venus Project ?
- How does The Venus Project compare with Communism?
- Will there be a government?
- What is The Venus Project going to do with people of aberrant behavior?
- Do you advocate killing anyone people with aberrant behavior?
- Isn't it just decent people that we need in government?
- Would The Venus Project be for deviants?
- What would the education be like?
- Wouldn't change come about through a reasonable and logical progression?
- Is there a plan for the overall design of The Venus Project?
- What is the approach to professionals running this new society?
- How do you see the collapse of the present system occurring?
- Wouldn't there be Resistance of the Rich and Powerful?
- Is The Venus Project a Utopian society?
- What do you consider a "high standard of living", which everyone in the world is entitled to? And who is the one to decide this?
- Who makes the decisions in a resource based economy?
- Will people who do more work, such as doctors, demand more resources then someone like an artist?
- What about religion?
- In a system where everything is available without a price tag, would this eliminate incentive?
- Isn't this against Human Nature?
- Do we have enough energy to eliminate scarcity?
- What is the Plan?
- How are Resources Distributed Equitably?
- What Guarantees People The Right Of Participation?
- How are Learning, Cooperation, and Gaining Health, Built into the System?
- How can the use of Laws be eliminated?
- What is the role of Cybernation as Decision Makers?
- How would one choose a home?
- What is the role of the family?
- What types of pressures would be alleviated in The Venus Project's designs?
- What is the single most important aspect of the project?
- Why is this concept superior to other intentional community projects?
- Could individuals live outside the cities?
- How is the distribution of food and/or other objects of desire, like telephones or computers or book?
- Are there any non-automated vehicles (cars or airplane-like), and how does the society prevent miss-use if there are?
- Why do you feel that an approach as revolutionary as The Venus Project is necessary?
- Why are you against money?
- In this new culture, do you propose to utilize a technical elite that would decide the direction for society?
- Why the emphasis on the cybernated approach to the social operation?
- What will people do?
- What are the safeguards against abuse of power in the society you envision?
- Why place great emphasis on human behavior as opposed to human nature. Would you define both?
What is the foundation of this idea?
Social problems result from scarcity. When a few nations control most of the world's resources, there are going to be international disputes no matter how many laws or treaties are signed. If we wish to end war, crime, hunger, poverty, territorial disputes, and nationalism, we must work toward a future in which all resources are accepted as the common heritage of all people.
Our problems cannot be solved in a society based on money, waste, and human exploitation. Today, money is used to regulate the economy for the benefit of the few who control the financial wealth of nations. Unless the underlying causes of planned obsolescence, environmental neglect, and outrageous military expenditures are addressed, we are bound to fail. Treaties, blockades, boycotts, and the like used in the past have not worked.
Many believe that ethical standards and international laws will assure a sustainable global society. Even if the most ethical people in the world were elected to political office, without sufficient resources, we would still have the same problems. What is needed is the intelligent management of Earth's resources for the benefit of all and protection of the environment.
Earth has plentiful resources. Rationing resources through monetary control is dysfunctional and counter-productive to survival. Today, we have highly advanced technologies but our social and economic development has not kept up. We could easily create a world of abundance without servitude and debt through the creation of a global, resource-based civilization.
What inspired this direction?
Living through the 1929 Great Depression helped shape my social conscience. During this time, I realized the earth was still the same place, manufacturing plants were still intact, and resources were still there, but people didn't have money to buy the products. I felt the rules of the game we play by were outmoded and damaging. This began a life-long quest resulting in the conclusions and designs presented in The Venus Project.
Conditions of misery, suffering, war, and war profiteering were the incentive and inspiration for my work. I was also motivated by the seeming incompetence of governments, the academic world, and a lack of solutions from scientists. Many fail as generalists because of their over-specialization on limited aspects of social problems. Scientists, politicians, and academicians see problems from inside the system they're in, which is what's responsible for the problems in the first place. I am disappointed with those who worry about terra-forming other planets while our own is still full of war, poverty, hunger, and environmental neglect.
Working with drug addicts, alcoholics, and so-called juvenile delinquents in New York City convinced me that instead of working with individuals, more effective methods would deal with the societal conditions that create dysfunctional behaviors in the first place.
What is the basis of your designs in general?
I first ask what do I hope to accomplish and what is the simplest approach to a given problem. By simplest approach, I mean given the tools and information available. If I were to design the least expensive airplane, using minimum materials with maximum strength, and a wide margin of safety, I would select a flying wing. The flying wing eliminates fuselage, tail, rudder, and stabilizer. The passengers are seated in the wing. I designed many variations on flying wings in the early 1930's.
Social designs must be based on the carrying capacity of Earth's resources, and not on the philosophy, desires, aesthetics, or advantages of particular people. For example, the circular design of cities is based upon a minimum expenditure of energy for maximum social gain. Architecture, when intelligently designed, will use the least amount of material for the safest and most efficient structure possible. As materials improve and change, so will architecture and the designs of cities. This will not limit advantages, but will expand amenities and the goods and services available to everyone.
What is The Venus Project?
It's useless to criticize the culture without providing alternatives. The Venus Project proposes plans for social change that work toward a peaceful and sustainable global civilization. It outlines an alternative social design where human rights are not just paper proclamations, but a way of life. The Venus Project has a vision of what the future can be if we apply what we already know to achieve a sustainable world civilization. It calls for a scientific redesign of our culture in which war, poverty, hunger, debt, and unnecessary human, suffering are viewed as not only avoidable, but unacceptable. Anything less will result in a disastrous continuation of the problems inherent in today's world.
Simply stated, a resource-based economy focuses on resources rather than money, and provides an equitable distribution thereof in a humane and efficient manner. It is a system in which goods and services are available without the use of money, credit, barter, debt, or servitude.
The first objective is to eliminate scarcity. A resource-based economy overcomes scarcity by using renewable sources of energy, plus computerized automated manufacturing and inventory. It would design safe energy-efficient cities with advanced transportation systems, and would provide universal health care and more relevant education.
The aim of this new social design is to encourage an incentive system based on human and environmental concerns, and to avoid the shallow and self-centered goals of individual wealth, property, and power. These new incentives would help people evolve self-fulfillment and creativity, both materially and spiritually.
How does The Venus Project compare with Communism?
Communism used money and labor, had social stratification, and elected officials to maintain the communists' traditions. Most importantly, Communism did not eliminate SCARCITY nor did they have a blueprint or the methods for the production of abundance. Machine production rather than labor will dominate the future. Perhaps through no fault of their own, they also had to maintain huge military expenditures to protect themselves from invasion of fascistic and capitalistic institutions.
Communism being similar to a resource-based economy or The Venus Project is an erroneous concept. Communism has money, banks, armies, police, prisons, charismatic personalities, social stratification, and is managed by appointed leaders. The Venus Project's aim is to surpass the need for the use of money. Police, prisons and the military would no longer be necessary when goods, services, healthcare, and education are available to all people. The Venus Project would replace politicians with a cybernated society in which all of the physical entities are managed and operated by computerized systems. The only region that the computers do not operate or manage is the surveillance of human beings. This would be completely unnecessary and considered socially offensive. A society that uses technology without human concern has no basis of survival. Communism has no blueprint or methodology to carry out their ideals and along with capitalism, fascism, and socialism, will ultimately go down in history as failed social experiments.
Communism is a political system managed by a form of ideology, which does not necessarily relate to human or environmental needs. Communism uses money, banks, armies, police, prisons, charismatic personalities, social stratification, and is managed by appointed leaders and uses indoctrination. The Venus Project's aim is to surpass the need for the use of money. Police, prisons, banking, advertising, stockbrokers, military, and government would no longer be necessary when goods, services, healthcare, and education are available to all people. The Venus Project would replace politicians with a cybernated society in which all of the physical entities would as quickly as possible be managed and operated by computerized systems. The only region that the computers do not operate or manage is the surveillance of human beings. This would be completely unnecessary and considered socially offensive. A society that uses technology without human concern has no basis of survival. Communism has no blueprint or methodology to carry out their ideals and along with capitalism, fascism, and socialism will ultimately go down in history as failed social experiments. One of Communism's concerns is the condition of labor and the working class. The Venus Project's major concerns are producing products with limited labor and eventually eliminating labor and at the same time giving people all the amenities of a prosperous, high energy society. It is not our aim to produce a society that does nothing but enjoy leisure time. Instead people will be introduced to limitless opportunities to explore, create, participate, and learn.
The Venus Project offers science and technology in the service of humankind on a global scale and eventually helps to eliminate all the artificial boundaries that separate people. The system uses no money and makes goods and services available without a price tag, debt, barter, or servitude of any kind. If we use our technology intelligently, we can create an abundance of goods and services for the entire planet. We use machines and automation to produce and distribute all manufactured products, which will be available at distribution centers to everyone. The purpose of this high technology is to free people so they can pursue their own interests and fulfillments.
We would surpass the need for human participation in the production of goods and services. There is no taxation or obligation of any kind. We advocate no government by human systems. They have always proved inadequate. Computerized systems and cybernetics would be applied to the social system and must comply with the carrying capacity of our global resources. The machines' main purpose is for the manufacturing and distribution of goods and services while maintaining a clean environment with service to all and profits to none. When people have access to resources, most crimes will disappear. The need for police, military, and prisons will eventually vanish with it. Of course this will coincide with the necessary changes in education. I hope this helps to clarify some points. We realize this is a simplified description of how it differs from communism.
Will there be a government?
As to the need for government, only during the transition from a monetary based society to a cybernated high-technological resource based economy of common heritage would it be necessary to utilize the services of systems analysts, engineers, computer programmers, etc. They will not dictate the policies or have any more advantage than other people. Their job will be to carry out the restoration of the environment to near natural conditions as possible on land and in the sea. They will also economically layout the most efficient way to manage transportation, agriculture, city planning, and production. This too is always in the process of modification and updating to fit the needs of an ever-changing civilization. There are no final frontiers.
What is The Venus Project going to do with people of aberrant behavior?
Aberrant behavior is produced by aberrant social conditions, malnutrition, minimum wage, lack of motivation, poor role models, and lack of relevant education. People always reflect the influences of environment. Even the wealthiest people today suffer from intellectual poverty. They too commit crimes such as exploitation of the environment and other human beings. We do not consider gambling casinos offensive today as a criminal institution, but in the future they will certainly be looked upon as part of our aberrant society along with thousands of other aberrant patterns we consider right and normal today.
Do you advocate killing anyone people with aberrant behavior?
By "mentally unstable" or "aberrant people" do you mean those of GE who are some of the biggest polluters of the environment and knowingly exposed their workers to carcinogens that caused their deaths, or those that manipulate money for profit without contributing to the well being of people's lives, or those who lend money for an automobile for example and if the person cannot pay off the last payment they do not take a tire and the steering wheel equivalent to the payment, they take the whole car? Or perhaps you may mean judges who put people in jail for life for killing over resources, yet the leaders of nations bomb and kill entire cities and countries for resources and to secure markets and then put statues in parks to honor the ones who carry out this procedure?
There would have to be an awful lot of killing going on if a saner society wanted to rid itself of "unstable" or "aberrant" behavior. No, we do not advocate killing anyone. We think that this system is like a cancer on a cat that is eating its host and it will do away with itself in time. The mere march of events of technology will eventually do away with jobs that enable people to buy the goods turned out, and new social designs will have to emerge. We feel that at that time a military dictatorship will most likely occur. We would like to introduce the concepts of a resource-based economy to the public so they will understand that there are other possible alternatives.
Monotonous and dangerous jobs will inevitably be done away with by the advance of technology. People in a resource-based economy will be given the opportunity to study, travel, work to help others, design, create, etc. - or work in the arts or sciences - if they desire. I find it so sad when people ask, "What will people do?". Their brains have been so flattened that they have no other options in their lives other than a job and in most instances it is one that they do not like. Children, when they are young, are curious about everything and if nurtured they could have a much greater range of interests and abilities. This culture does a wonderful job of limiting peoples' interests, opportunities, and abilities, and it conditions them to be lazy. People are not born that way any more than they are born with bigotry, hatred, prejudice, or particular values. We are aware that it is the environment that shapes people and if the culture is not changed there will be little change in human behavior.
I worry about people whose main motivation is money. For instance, if this is the motivation of a doctor instead of the desire to solve problems in the field of medicine and health and enhance people's lives, to many others, and me the services are not very trustworthy. It is a tremendous myth perpetrated on people in a monetary system that people are mostly motivated by money to achieve and produce. I could give you endless examples of people who fought, studied, created, and excelled without the allure of money as a reward, there are much more meaningful rewards than that. It depends on the value system that one is given and the culture that one is raised in that reinforces what is meant by a reward.
Isn't it just decent people that we need in government?
It is not enough to criticize, point out the shortcomings of society, or advocate that people of high moral character be elected into office; this would do little to advance civilization. What is needed is the intelligent management of the world's resources, and a comprehensive and workable arrangement of environmental and social affairs that are in strict accord with existing resources and the carrying capacity of our planet. Even with the election of men and women of impeccable character into government, without available resources and advanced technology, war, poverty, and corruption will prevail no matter how many new laws are passed or treaties signed. It is not democracy that elevated our standard of living, it is our resources, water, arable land, and new technology. Rhetoric and paper proclamations are irrelevant in the management of human and social affairs.
Would The Venus Project be for deviants?
James Harvey Robinson believed that the proper study of man was man. There is no evidence to support this statement. A plant cannot grow of it own accord. It requires an environment of soil, nutrients, sunlight, etc. Any plant put in the polar regions will not grow no matter how well endowed it is genetically. Human beings are subject to the same physical laws that govern the entire evolutionary process. Human behavior and values are not self-generating; they are byproducts of culture.
Perhaps future historians will look upon us as deviants with our artificialities, violence, and superstitions, a society that spends a great deal of its income on military expenditures when the methods of science could be applied to bridge the difference between nations. Deviant and socially offensive behaviors are byproducts of deprivation or the fear of it.
The Venus Project proposes the redesign of education in which people will be provided with the interrelationship of living systems as a symbiotic whole. Children brought up without bigotry, racism, or greed, will no longer manifest patterns of behavior that are socially offensive. For example, even the most sophisticated of German families were fighting over food in garbage cans near the end of World War II. Mass lynching in the south was also a byproduct of indoctrination.
The question that remains is how much of our value system is programmed by our society's values designed to perpetuate existing and established institutions. It is not human nature but rather human behavior that we have to be concerned with, and that can easily be changed by an appropriate and relevant education and environment, which coincides with the carrying capacity of the earth.
If you elect honorable, ethical people to office but there is no support in the environment to implement the decent laws passed, they cannot be adhered to. For example, if there is not enough arable land to grow food, then behavior will revert to steeling, and corruption to attain what food there is.
In terms of the decline of perfection, this is like trying to reach Utopia and there is no Utopia, we are always in transition and learning new things. The survival of any social system ultimately depends upon its ability to allow for appropriate change to improve society as a whole. The patterns we choose determine whether or not there is intelligent life on earth.
What would the education be like?
Education should be more than the presentation of many facts to be memorized by students. The first aspects of an innovative education should have an emphasis on communication and the ability to resolve and avoid conflicts. This can be accomplished though an exposure to general semantics.
Although books and computers will be used in the future of education, an exposure to basic science is an absolute necessity. This would include an exposure to the scientific method and how it applies to everyday living. But most of all, science and technology must be applied with environmental and human concern, without which technological development in itself would be meaningless.
Another portion of education that should be emphasized is the contributions of many different nations to the arts and sciences that are used in the world today. The tendency to use education to enshrine a particular nation is more of a propaganda approach than the presentation of genuine information. It is not possible for people to understand other cultures without an overview of many of different cultural practices. No civilized culture today has lifted itself by it's own bootstraps. Instead all nations evolved as a result of many creative people throughout the world that have contributed to the arts and sciences.
A high emphasis would be placed on education. The better informed children are, the richer everyone's life could be. Every child shooting up drugs today is a wasted life that you and I will ultimately pay for. Although books, videos, computers, and virtual reality would be used, most of the educational processes would be of a participatory nature in which students could interact directly with the physical environment. They would become aware of the symbiotic interrelationships between plant and animal life. They would learn by doing in a hands-on approach in which education and the communicative sciences would be brought into sharp focus, enabling the student actually to grasp the significance of physical phenomena in a much more concrete way. Above all, they would learn how to interact effectively with others, to share experiences, examine alternative approaches to problems, and accept ethnic and cultural differences, replacing intolerance with understanding.
A comprehensive overview of the history of all civilizations would be essential to understanding other cultures, values, and the forces that shape them. The generalist education, as proposed by The Venus Project, will enable students to gain a better understanding of cultures that differ from their own, leading to a better understanding of the advantage of all nations joining together for the preservation of life on planet Earth. With emphasis on a world viewpoint, it would be more difficult to persuade anyone to engage in aggressive, offensive, or belligerent behavior toward individuals and other nations. With this broader education, children would come to see that the Earth is a fantastic and bountiful place where all nations can share and prosper.
Wouldn't change come about through a reasonable and logical progression?
The solutions to our problems will not come about through the application of reason or logic. We do not live in a reasonable or logical world. There is no historical record of any society that deliberately and consciously modified their culture to fit changing times. The real factors responsible for social change resulted from biosocial pressures inherent in all social systems. It is brought about by natural or economic occurrences that immediately threaten large numbers of people.
Some of these conditions responsible for social change include limited resources, war, overpopulation, epidemics, natural disasters, economic recession, downsizing on a mass scale, technological displacement of people by machines, and the failure of their appointed leaders to overcome these problems.
Change can come from disasters or from major technological advances. The introduction of agriculture brought about a significant change in society, as did the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of the medium of money to the exchange process. From a historical perspective all of these appear positive. At the time of their inception, however, people lost jobs, new skills were required, and entire ways of life disappeared.
The direction change takes is not always for the better or for the improvement of the human condition. Change is risky. Deprivation or scarcity that is artificial or real drives the economy. Power-seeking leaders command weapons powerful enough to annihilate entire populations and render our planet uninhabitable. Humankind's potential for creativity and innovation far exceeds its inclination to destroy, yet every time that we exercise destructive power, we take a thousands steps backward for every few forward.
History shows that not all change has been beneficial to humanity or to the integrity of the planet's life support systems. For this reason, many people desire a return to earlier and simpler times.
I am not advocating that these older institutions be overthrown: it is just that they are becoming unworkable. Unfortunately, it will most likely take a social and economic breakdown to bring about the demise of the old system and its institutions. At this point the only significant social change will probably occur when a sufficient amount of people, through economic failure, lose confidence in their elected officials. The public will then demand other alternatives. While we would like to think that this could usher in a bright new chapter in the human drama, it is far more likely that the most probable course will be a form of dictatorship, perhaps even an American brand of fascism, ostensibly presented to the people as a way of protecting them from the products of their own inadequate culture.
However, it is not enough to point out the limiting factors that may threaten the survivability of all nations. The challenge all cultures now face in this technological age, some more than others is to provide a smooth transition towards the introduction of a new way of thinking about ourselves, the environment and the management of human affairs.
It is now mandatory that all nations engage in a joint venture, planning on a global scale for new alternatives with a relevant orientation toward social arrangements. This is the only option if we are to avoid the unavoidable decline of the civilized world. If humankind is to come together toward a mutual prosperity, universal access to resources is essential.
Is there a plan for the overall design of The Venus Project?
Along with a new orientation toward human and environmental concerns, there must be the methodology for making this a reality. If these ends are to be achieved, the monetary system must eventually be surpassed by a world resource-based economy. To effectively and economically utilize resources, the necessary cybernated and computerized technology must be applied to ensure a higher standard of living for everyone. With the intelligent and humane application of science and technology, we will be able to guide and shape our future for the preservation of the environment, ourselves, and for generations to come.
It is not enough to advocate the cooperation of all nations. We need a global society based upon a practical blueprint acceptable to all of the world's people. We also need an international planning council capable of translating the blueprint and the advantages that would be gained by world unification.
The design must be based upon the carrying capacity of our planet, its resources and the needs of its inhabitants. To sustain our civilization, we must coordinate advanced technology and available resources within a humane systems approach.
What is the approach to professionals running this new society?
Many of the professions familiar to us today will eventually be phased out. With the rate of change now taking place, a vast array of occupations will become obsolete and disappear. In a society that applies a systems approach, these professions will be replaced by interdisciplinary teams - the systems analysts, computer programmers, operation researchers, and those who link the world together in vast communications networks.
We have the skills and the knowledge to apply interdisciplinary teams to problems. However, only in times of war or national emergencies do we call upon and assemble interdisciplinary teams to help find workable solutions to social problems. If we mobilize the same resources for our social problems as we do during a war, beneficial effects on a large scale can be achieved in a relatively short amount of time. This could easily be accomplished by utilizing many of our universities' training facilities and staffs to best determine possible alternative methods to solve these problems.
This approach would be an important initial phase to define the possible parameters for the future of all civilization.
The process of social change must allow for changing conditions that continuously update the design parameters, and for the infusion of new technologies into emerging cultures. Design teams, utilizing socially integrated computers, can automatically be informed of any changes in conditions.
How do you see the collapse of the present system occurring?
Government and industry will continue to assign more and more responsibility for decision making to intelligent machines. Today's machines handle trillions of bits of information per second, far more than is manageable by any number of industrial or political decision-makers. They can also assemble and assign constantly updated information.
The other side of this trend is that so many people will be replaced; we will no longer have the purchasing power needed to sustain a monetary-based system that burdens the entire population and government with insurmountable debt.
As the old monetary system begins to displace more and more people by its reliance on automation, these people will cease to respect the authority of industry. The time-honored pattern of living in all industrial countries, the balancing of work and family interest, would become impossible to maintain for the majority of people displaced by automation.
As artificial intelligence develops, machines will be assigned the tasks of complex decision-making in industrial, military and governmental affairs. This would not imply a take-over by machines. Instead, it would be a gradual transfer of decision-making processes to machine intelligence as the next phase of social evolution.
Many people believe that government leaders bring about change with a deep concern for the well-being of their citizenry. Nothing could be further from the truth, nor did past shifts in society come about as the results of changes in the schools or the home. All established government systems tend to preserve and uphold their own interests and power-base.
The real forces responsible for change have more to do with unforeseen, external events or biosocial pressures that physically alter our environment and established social arrangements: for example, the infusion of machines and processes that replace people and remove their means of making a living, adverse natural conditions of drought, flood, storm, and earthquake, manmade disasters of economic oscillations, or some outside threat of hostile nations.
Wouldn't there be Resistance of the Rich and Powerful?
What you had to say about the rich and powerful being resistant to such a society in many cases is true, however if they keep using automation in their industries, as they have to in order to compete, millions of people will be replaced by machines. This includes not only the assembly line workers but also doctors, engineers, architects and the like. As they loose their purchasing power, the very industries that depend on them can no longer function. This will bring an end to the old outworn monetary system. It is not a question of them giving up their industries; it is that their greed will eventually render them obsolete.
Only when science and technology are used with human concern in a world in which all of the earth's resources are held as the common heritage of all of the earth's people can we truly say that there is intelligent life on earth.
Is The Venus Project a Utopian society?
The Venus Project is not a Utopian concept. We do not believe in the erroneous notion of a utopian society. There is no such thing. Societies are always in a state of transition. We propose an alternative direction, which addresses the causes of many of our problems. There are no final frontiers for human and technological achievement - it will always undergo change. Even if we can design a society having all of the modifications to improve the lives of people and protect the environment we will still be at the beginning of the next phase.
What do you consider a "high standard of living", which everyone in the world is entitled to? And who is the one to decide this?
In a resource-based economy many of the shortages that we have today could easily be overcome by technological ingenuity and the reduction of waste. For example, we could use a form of evaporative condensation in all areas where there are water shortages. We could provide canals from the sea into the land and cover the canals for several miles with transparent enclosures. These would be used for evaporative desalinization. In the state of Florida alone we have close to 50 watts per sq. yard, which is not harnessed at this time by solar heat concentrators. All highways, parking lots, and rooftops in the new cities would be used to heat water for all of the community needs without the burning of fossil fuels. By using geothermal energy alone (the natural heat of the earth), we could propel the world's society for the next thousand years but this is relatively untapped. There is also wave power, wind power, heat concentrators and many sources of untapped power. Science has never been given the assignment of the production of an abundance for the benefit of all of the earth's people.
A high standard of living would mean that all members of society would have access to all of the necessities to sustain life - medical care, education, food, clothing, housing, entertainment, leisure time and more. Man-hours could be reduced considerably until completely eliminated. By eliminating planned obsolescence and the replication of the same products by many different manufactures and by surpassing the need for advertising, sales, lawyers, business personnel, bankers and all of the other non-productive profession we could easily provide many more goods and services to all people. Today's middle class lives better than all of the kings of the past. In a resource- based economy, when the main thrust and total aim of science and innovative technology are directed towards a higher standard of living for all, our life style could far surpass anything imagined today.
Who makes the decisions in a resource based economy?
No one does. The decisions are arrived at by the introduction of newer technologies and the carrying capacity of the earth. Computers could provide this information with electronic sensors throughout the entire industrial, physical complex.
Will people who do more work, such as doctors, demand more resources then someone like an artist?
When resources are available to everyone without a price tag and not rationed, human values undergo considerable change. Most of us have been indoctrinated in civilization immersed in scarcity - artificially generated with planned obsolescence. I am highly suspicious of those whose incentive is motivated by money.
There would be no need for any high stressed jobs; there could be a large enough rotation of personnel to practically eliminate any high stress jobs until they can be phased out by innovative technology.
What about religion?
The concepts presented by The Venus Project are in no way inconsistent with most of the religious teachings of the world. Perhaps the major difference is that we would like actually to transform these lofty ideals into a working reality for the nations of our planet.
In a resource there is material gain for everyone if their country participates in a project called common heritage which will advance all nations. Those that refuse to participate will miss the advantages gained.
Everyone is free to practice whatever belief system they have but can not force it upon others. Everyone can go anywhere they want to without restrictions of any kind. If they fail to behave constructively they are helped rather than put in prison or punished. There will be a constant effort to help present the advantages to even those nations who feel that they want to go it alone.
This will not interfere with their religious beliefs, social customs of traditions. These can not be forced out, you can only educate out beliefs that are irrelevant. We prefer to use that approach rather than a military one. Although it may take longer, we feel they will eventually see the advantages of this point of view of joining together and sharing resources, just as all of the United States joined together and the fighting between borders stopped.
All of these countries have resource shortages and we feel they will see the advantages. Nothing is forced upon them.
In a system where everything is available without a price tag, would this eliminate incentive?
The free-enterprise system does create incentive to achieve, however it also breeds the incentive for corruption, theft, and greed. Our aim is to encourage a new incentive system, one no longer directed toward the shallow and self-centered goals of wealth, property, and power. Today, financial barriers place enormous limitations on innovation, individual creativity, and personal incentive. In The Venus Project, money would not be required to help one achieve or create, as facilities would be made available to serve everyone's needs.
We do advocate that all people have access to all goods and services, medical care, education, shelter, food and so forth.
It is not enough to provide the necessities of life alone. We feel that our proposals will generate a new incentive system. Human beings need challenges in order to evolve intellectually and maintain a high level of curiosity and a need to overcome shortages. The type of education that we advocate is the intelligent use of existing resources and the protection of the environment.
The shameful thing about the free enterprise system is the wasted lives of many people - young girls standing behind counters in department stores waiting for a sale, men and woman working in industrial plants using a small part of their mental capabilities. In the schools of tomorrow people will learn how to relate to others intelligently, cooperate and share ideas to help make the world a far better place, and not to squander resources in wars and military expenditures.
If you fail to grasp the significance consider this: when the states joined together the militias disappeared at the borders and Americans were free of territorial disputes. This same process can be applied globally where all science and technology are utilized for the benefit of all of Earth's inhabitants.
These concepts are based upon years of cumulative data. If we fail to do our own thinking and conform to established social institutions, others will do our thinking for us. I also believe in the incentive system but not the shallow, self-centered incentives perpetuated by our monetary-based institutions.
The question "why are we here?" is a philosophical question which has no reference. Attempts have been made by theologians to answer this. Our answer is that we are here as a by-product of evolution. The scientific response is not a question of "why are we here," it is "what are the processes that generate different life forms." We also go into this in the book The Best That Money Can't Buy, by Jacque Fresco, above on page 19 in the chapter "From Superstition To Science."
You have been brought up to believe people are inspired by rewards or money.
In essence all of the people we have admired in the past, Michael Angelo, da Vinci, Bell, the Wright Brothers, Darwin, and many others worked because they were interested in problem solving, not financial gain. This in some cases was a by-product. Usually money-oriented people become business men, or stock brokers; they are rarely creative. I have always felt threatened by people whose sole motivation is financial gain. On islands in the South Pacific, people had more than enough resources. Although banana, coconuts, fish and breadfruit were abundant, the natives worked continuously building navigation equipment, canoes, huts, and weaved cloth. Although no money was used, their incentive improved their standard of living.
In the early days in America a man and wife could build a log cabin in several months. Today it takes 30 years or so to pay off a house with the additional funds to bankers and others that actually have nothing to do with the building of the house.
If you examine your statements carefully of people who have access to all the necessities of life you will find that many wealthy people do not eat 25 meals a day even though they have access to it and they do not stuff their environment with hundreds of musical instruments and accumulate hundreds of cars. It is not the availability of resources that is disturbing to people, it is the lack of resources that is responsible for most crimes, embezzlement, deception of all kinds, etc.
Consider this when few nations control most of the worlds resources and exploit other nations with their positions of differential advantage.
All of the technical staff and everyone else will have access to a very high standard of living; the incentive, which will propel people, is the end of war, territorial disputes, economic hardship, debt, and the basis for most crimes as they will all be eliminated. In this new society as proposed by The Venus Project, the environment in which people are raised and educated will be based upon the fundamental principles of science and the comprehensive knowledge of the interrelationship between people and the environment, which sustains all life.
Isn't this against Human Nature?
From H. G. Wells, "The anti-progressives of the early twentieth century loved to assert that "Human Nature" never altered; to imagine that the men of the Stone Age felt and thought like bank clerks picnicking in a cave, and the ideas of Confucius and Buddha were easily interchangeable with the ideas of Rousseau, Karl Marx or De Windt. They were not simply ignorant, but misinformed about almost every essential fact in the past experiences and present situation of the race."
The New Utopians by Robert Boguslaw: "As Norman R. F. Maier (and others) point out years ago, the term "Human Nature" is characteristically used as a screen to hide our ignorance about man in general. And one of the more elementary oversights made in discussions of human behavior consists of ignoring the fact that the actions of men are set in motion by external as well as internal forces."
As Arthur C. Clark and many other forward writers have pointed out, anyone who brings up the human nature question is naÃ¯ve.
From the book Looking Forward, by Jacque Fresco:
"When little was known about cultural anthropology, sociology, and psychology, it seemed quite valid to resist proposed reforms by saying, "it won't work. It is against human nature." It is difficult for many people to appreciate the fact that what they call "human nature" just doesn't exit. People are like mirrors they largely reflect their surroundings. If people were to come into the world with a fixed "nature" consisting of automatic responses, civilization would be impossible. Like the ants, we would live out our lives in patterns that are modified but little with the passing of time. The wonderful thing about us is that we come into this world with maximum flexibility."
From The Best That Money Can't Buy, Page89, by Jacque Fresco
Bigotry, racism, nationalism, jealousy, superstition, greed, and self-centered behavior are all learned patterns of behavior, which are strengthened or reinforced by our upbringing. These patterns of behavior are not inherited human traits or "human nature" as most people have been taught to believe. If the environment remains unaltered, similar behavior will reoccur. When we come into the world we arrive with a clean slate as far as our relationships with others are concerned.
In the final analysis, any judgment regarding undesirable human behavior serves no purpose without an attempt to alter the environment that creates it. In a society that provides for most human needs, constructive behavior would be reinforced, and people who have difficulty interacting in the community would be helped rather than imprisoned.
Aspiring to a particular ethical behavior has to do with human aspirations and ideals. Functional morality is the ability to provide a process level to achieve a sustainable environment for all people. By this, we mean providing clean air and water, goods and services, and a healthy and innovative environment that is emotionally and intellectually fulfilling. It is difficult to conceive of any solutions that would serve the interest of the majority in a monetary-based system. None of this can be accomplished without a comprehensive redesign of our social system and eventual replacement of the monetary-based system by a resource-based economy.
Do we have enough energy to eliminate scarcity?
Yes. The potential of untapped energy sources is almost limitless if we utilize desert heat concentrators, wind, wave and tidal sources. Even portions of the Gulf Stream, the Icelandic Current, and the Japan Current could eliminate all of the energy shortages in the world today. If we had utilized the money that we spent on military systems for the last 40 years and put it toward developing clean sources of energy, the world would be a far better, safer, and cleaner place for all of humankind.
The potential of geothermal energy is almost limitless and can easily supply enough energy for all of the world's needs. Even if we harness only one percent of the geothermal energy of the earth's outer crust we would have available approximately five hundred times the energy contained in all of the gas and oil reserves in the world. This source of energy gives off little or no sulfur compared to fossil fuel fired power plants and they emit no nitrogen oxides. In addition, geothermal installations require very little dedicated land as compared to other power plants. The drilling of geothermal wells has far fewer environmental impacts than other energy resources, and there is no need for mineshafts, tunnels, open pits, or waste storage.
A great deal of this energy is available in the outer most layers of the earth's crust which is approximately six miles and this potential energy source is available throughout the world from the Andes Mountains in South America to the Gulf of California, The Rift Valleys of Africa, the Mid Atlantic Ridge, and along the Bering Strait.
What is the Plan?
It is far more efficient to build new cities as self-contained systems from the ground up than to restore and retrofit old ones. New cities can take advantage of the latest technologies and be clean, safe, and desirable places to live. In many instances, a circular arrangement will be utilized.
We need a current survey of all available planetary resources. The first experimental city or planning center will conduct a global survey of arable land, production facilities, transportation, technical personnel, population, and all other necessities required for a sustainable culture. This survey will enable us to determine the parameters for global planning for humanizing social and technological development, based on the carrying capacity of Earth and the needs of its people. This can best be accomplished with a constantly updated, computerized model of our planetary resources.
The function of the first city is to test the validity of design parameters and make necessary changes as needed. It will further this new social direction on many fronts with books, magazines, TV, radio, seminars, theater, and theme parks , as well as designing and experimenting with automated building processes for the next city. Research will also seek the development of clean alternative energy sources, and to overcome shortages through the development of new materials
The new system will provide all the necessities required to support people during the transitional period. To sustain civilization, we must coordinate advanced technology and available resources within a humane global systems approach. For instance, the characteristics of the population in a given area will determine how many hospitals and schools are built and the equipment needed. Some medical systems will be mobile and others will be prefabricated on land and sea.
During the transition, scarcity regions will be provided with heat concentrators for cooking and sterilizing water. Food for those areas can be dehydrated and compressed to save shipping space. The packaging will be biodegradable and may double as non-contaminating fertilizers. Regions without arable land will use hydroponic farms, land-based fish farms, and sea farming. Energy will come from wind, solar, heat concentrators, photovoltaic, wave, biomass, geothermal and other sources.
An interdisciplinary team of qualified personnel, in line with the project's requirements, will work on automated systems to produce and supply goods and services on a massive scale. These can be the armies of the future, a large peaceful mobilization to restore and preserve the earth and its people. This has never been done before and can only be done when money is no obstacle. The question is not do we have the money, but do we have the resources and means to accomplish this new direction.
How are Resources Distributed Equitably?
Distribution of goods and services without the use of money or tokens would be accomplished by establishing distribution centers. These centers would be similar to expositions, where the advantages of new products are explained and demonstrated. Exhibition centers will display what is new and available and will constantly be updated. If you visited Yellowstone National Park, you could check out a camera or camcorder, use it, and then return it to another distribution center or drop-off, eliminating storage and maintenance.
Besides computerized centers throughout the communities where products would eventually be displayed, there will be 3-D, flat-screen imaging in each home. If you desire an item, an order can be placed and the item automatically delivered directly to your place of residence without a price tag, servitude, or debt of any kind. This includes whatever people need such as housing, clothing, education, health care, entertainment, etc.
Raw materials for products can be transported directly to manufacturing facilities by automated transportation "sequences" using boats, monorails, mag-lev trains, pipelines, and pneumatic tubes. An automated, computerized inventory system would integrate the distribution centers and manufacturing facilities, coordinating production to meet demand. In this way, a balanced-load economy can be maintained. Shortages, over-runs, and waste could be eliminated. Eventually goods and services will be mass-produced in such abundance as to be too cheap to monitor.
Today there is more than 75% waste in the production of material goods. In a resource-based economy, all waste would be recycled. A priority would be designing things of the highest quality so that products would last longer and require little or no service. Many electronic parts will use plug-in components for convenient repair. There would be no planned obsolescence just to sell the latest designs or fashions. This would eliminate considerable waste.
Energy can also be conserved in the loading and unloading of materials in transport systems. For instance, instead of unloading separate containers, an entire freight section will be disengaged from a cargo ship and replaced with another so that the ship does not waste time at the dock during loading and unloading. The same method can be applied to trains and planes. There will be one compartment for passengers and baggage, which can be disengaged from the plane or train as a new section is loaded, so that the vehicle is more effective and conserves time and energy. All transportation will be operated electrically.
In a cybernated society, people will have more time for individual interests such as going back to school, working in the arts and sciences, traveling, etc. There will be many choices for exploring, studying, enjoying, and participation.
Professions that are non contributing, such as banking, insurance, advertising, marketing, sales, the military, lawyers, stockbrokers, etc., will evolve into activities that are more useful.
What Guarantees People The Right Of Participation?
Without vested interests and the use of money, there is little to be gained by squelching opinion, falsifying information, or taking advantage of others. There are no underlying rigid social barriers limiting the participation of anyone or restraining the introduction of new ideas. The main objective is full access to information and the delivery of goods and services to all people.
Today, any child hanging out at a street corner or mall, or shooting up drugs, is a wasted life that society ultimately pays for. In a resource-based economy, there will be places for children to go, to learn, and to experiment. The more intelligent our children are, the better everyone's life will be.
How are Learning, Cooperation, and Gaining Health, Built into the System?
If we want children to achieve a positive constructive relationship with one another, and become contributing members of society, an effective way to accomplish this is by designing an environment that produces the desired behavior. For example, when the children want to learn how to assemble a small motor vehicle, the design would require four children to lift the car while two others attach the wheels. The rest of the car would be assembled in a similar manner, needing the help and cooperation of all to complete the vehicle for use. This enlightened form of education would help students appreciate the advantages of cooperation.
Exercise in our schools would not be mandatory, monotonous, or involve competition, but would be incorporated directly into the classroom experience. For instance, a craft shop the children enjoy using might be located on a hilltop in the middle of a lake. To get there, the children would have to row a boat, and then climb the hilltop. This not only provides exercise, but also a sense of achievement, which improves mental health and incentive.
How can the use of Laws be eliminated?
Today we try to control human behavior by enacting laws or signing treaties without changing the physical conditions responsible for aberrant behavior. When Earth's resources are seen as the common heritage of all people, irrelevant laws and social contracts will vanish.
In a resource-based economy, social responsibility would not be a function of artificial laws or force. Safeguards against abuse could be designed into the environment. An example of this is the proposed design of cities where people have free access to resources without debt. This would eliminate theft. Such measures are not a matter of passing and enforcing laws to prevent and punish abuse. Rather, they are a means of designing the flaws out of any social venture, thus eliminating the need for many laws.
We are proposing doing away with the systems that cause corruption and human suffering in the first place. In a city with safe, clean, mass transportation, we do not need police to monitor drivers' speed, behavior at stop signs, or proper papers.
Other examples are the air and the water. Although both are necessary to our well-being and survival, there are no laws regulating how many breaths are taken per hour because we have such abundance at this time. No one monitors a gushing spring to see how much water is taken from it, although fresh water is absolutely necessary for the support of life. If it is abundant, no one monitors it.
I must emphasize that this approach to global governance has nothing in common with the present aims of an elite few to form a world government with themselves at the helm, and with the vast majority subservient to them. This newer vision of globalization empowers every person on the planet to be all they can be, without living in abject subjugation to a corporate governing body.
A society with human concern "designs out" laws and proclamations by making all things available to all people, regardless of race, color, or creed. When governments make laws, we are led to believe that these laws are made to enhance people's lives. In truth, laws are byproducts of insufficiency.
The question is, "can we grow beyond thinking that "someone" has to make decisions for us?"
A better understanding of natural law involves human's relationship to the environment, which supports all life. All of nature is subservient to natural law. Natural law cannot be violated without serious consequences to individuals or societies. Natural laws dominate all living systems. For example, without water, sun, or nutrients, plants and animals die.
An environment of scarcity, hunger, and poverty is a threat to everyone.
What is the role of Cybernation as Decision Makers?
When computers eventually have sensors extended into all areas of the physical and social complex, we will be able to achieve centralization of decision-making. In a global resource-based economy, decisions would not be based on local politics but on a holistic problem solving approach.
This centralized system could be connected to research labs and universities, with all data monitored and updated constantly. Most of the technology needed for such infrastructure management is currently available. The major difference between today's computer technology and the system we recommend is that our system extends its autonomic nervous system (environmental sensors) into all areas relevant to the social complex. It coordinates a balance between production and distribution, and operates to maintain a balanced-load economy. This technology of industrial electronic feedback can be applied to the entire global economy.
For example, with electrical sensors extended into the agricultural region, computerized systems would manage and control agriculture by monitoring the water table, insects, pests, plant diseases, soil nutrients, and so forth. The information processed will enable us to arrive at more appropriate decision-making based on feedback from the environment.
Computers and artificial intelligence will serve as catalysts for change. They will establish scientific scales of performance. It is doubtful that in the latter part of the twenty-first century people will play any significant role in decision-making. Eventually, the installation of AI and machine decision-making will manage all resources serving the common good.
This will result in a more humane and meaningful approach for shaping tomorrow's civilization that is not based on the opinions or desires of a particular sect or individual. All decisions would be made on the basis of a comprehensive survey of resources, energy, and existing technology without allowing any advantage to a particular nation or select group of people.
This may be accomplished with large-scale, computer-based processors that can assist us in defining the most humane and appropriate ways to manage environmental and human affairs. This is essentially the function of government. With computers processing trillions of bits of information per second, existing technologies far exceed the human capacity for processing information and they can arrive at equitable and sustainable decisions about the development and distribution of physical resources. With this potential, we would evolve beyond political decisions made on the basis of power and advantage.
How would one choose a home?
An example of the wide range of choice available in a resource-based economy is the way one selects a house. For instance, a man and woman may visit an architectural design center and sit in front of a clear hemisphere approximately six feet in diameter. The woman describes the type of house she would prefer and her areas of interest. The house appears as a 3-dimensional image in the center of the hemisphere. It rotates slowly to present a view of the interior and exterior. Then the man describes his major interests and preferences and suggests a larger balcony. The 3-dimensional image is adjusted. When they have finished requesting changes, the computer presents various alternatives to consider. They will also enter a sensorium to experience a walk-through of their preferred design and continue to make changes.
When they arrive at a final design, construction procedures are set in motion. The computer selects materials for efficiency and durability. None of the architecture is permanent and can be modified and updated at the request of the occupants.
This is real individual choice. In a monetary system, most live near their work with a house, car, and lifestyle they can afford (or all too often cannot afford), rather than one they prefer. Today we are only as free as our purchasing power permits. Lacking a true sense of self worth, many buy houses as status symbols just to impress others.
A resource-based economy changes the nature of our dwellings from that of status symbol, or just basic shelter, to a reflection of individuality and personal interests.
What is the role of the family?
At present, both husbands and wives work. Monetary economics has undermined family cohesion and childcare. Parents have little time to spend with their children, and they are constantly stressed by ever-rising medical bills, insurance payments, educational expenses, and cost of living expenses.
In this area, one of the most profound benefits of this new civilization can be realized. Shorter workdays will provide greater opportunity for family members to pursue areas of personal interest. Free access to goods and services will make the home a pleasant place, without the economic stress that causes so much family turmoil.
Would people be happier in this kind of society? Perhaps it isn't happiness that we seek: happiness is relative to each individual's distinct nature, and is thus individually defined and achieved. We seek to create a society where people are free to choose their life's work, develop hidden potential, and pursue dreams without government intervention or financial constraint.
A resource-based economy would provide art centers, music centers, theater projects, and opportunities for people to return to an educational environment, allowing them to pursue their interests. Although people would be economically secure, they would still find real challenges that would maintain incentives and enhance creativity.
What types of pressures would be alleviated in The Venus Project's designs?
The greatest lesson we might learn could be that human beings free of debt, insecurity, and fear become much more amiable. No one will be out to sell anyone anything or to deprive another of possessions or money. In a resource-based economy, the basis for unhealthy human aggression will be outgrown. People will no longer be burdened by the nagging concerns that consume so much of our attention, such as mortgages, health care costs, fire insurance, economic recession, the loss of jobs, recession, depression, and taxes. With the elimination of these burdens and the removal of the conditions that create feelings of envy, greed, and competition, our lives would be far more meaningful. For the first time we may begin to know what it means to be human.
As we enhance the lives of others, protect our environment, and work toward abundance, all our lives can become richer and more secure. If these values were put into practice, it would enable all of us to achieve a much higher standard of living within a relatively short period of time; a standard of living that would be continuously improved.
People would be free to pursue whatever constructive endeavor they chose without the economic pressures, restraints, and taxation that are inherent in the monetary system. By constructive endeavor, we mean anything that enhances the lives of the individual and others. When education and resources are available to all without a price tag, there will be no limit to human potential. With these major alterations, people would eventually live longer, more meaningful and healthier lives. The measure of success would be the fulfillment of one's individual pursuits rather than the acquisition of wealth, property, and power.
What is the single most important aspect of the project?
The single most important aspect of the project is the social direction of all nations working together on the restoration of the environment in a resources-based economy. The aim is the common heritage of all Earth's resources by all of the world's people. This we see as the only process to end the present cycle of events of war, poverty, hunger, political corruption, and environmental degradation. The technology that we present can make it possible for the global population to obtain a very high standard of living one higher than ever imagined possible.
Why is this concept superior to other intentional community projects?
Intentional communities attempt to have a better standard of living within our current system but we see this as patch work. If there is an economic break down, the intentional community falls apart. From our point of view it is not a feasible solution, it is patchwork of private capitalism for a selected few. We are not against intentional communities, but it does not address the problems, it avoids addressing national and international conflict, unemployment, displacement of people by machines, environmental degradation, political corruption and all the other artificialities of our civilization.
Could individuals live outside the cities?
Yes people can live where ever they wish especially when there is more research done on self-sustaining houses in terms of energy, but there are would be so many advantages of living in this type of city.
What the new city would provide is a total environment, with clean air and water, health care, good nutrition, access to information and education for all. The city would have art and music centers, fully equipped machine shops, science labs, hobby and sports areas, and manufacturing districts. These new cities could also provide all manners of recreation within a short distance of the residential district. This type of technology is inevitable. Waste recycling, renewable and clean power generating systems, and all manner of services would be managed by integrated, cybernated methods. The management of human affairs, such as life styles and personal preferences, are totally selected by the individual.
Of course, people will be free to live wherever they choose. But these cities are planned with plenty of open country, parks, and wooded areas. In the areas for individual housing there will be enough vegetation and trees between houses to impart a sense of privacy.
Our proposal for a city of the future represents an achievable, sustainable, and sophisticated environment, one that is designed to help bring out the best in the human potential. These cities will not only provide resources and information but will be university cities of continuous growth, designed to encourage individuality, creativity, and cooperation, with concern for the total person and the environment in which they live.
It is not the intent of The Venus Project to foster uniformity. It is our intent to provide the best tools and information relevant to the needs of each individual. The system also welcomes constructive criticism of its proposals, architecture, and all other aspects of the social system.
How is the distribution of food and/or other objects of desire, like telephones or computers or book?
Distribution of goods and services without the use of money or tokens would be accomplished through the establishment of distribution centers. These distribution centers would be similar to expositions, where the advantages of new products could be explained and demonstrated. For example, if you visited Yellowstone National Park you could check out a camera or camcorder from a distribution center, use it and then, if you choose to, return it to another distribution center or drop-off, eliminating storing and maintenance.
Besides the computerized centers throughout the various communities where products would eventually be displayed, there will be 3-D, flat-screen imaging capabilities in each home. If you desire an item, an order can be placed and the item automatically delivered directly to your place of residence.
All raw materials for the manufacture of these products can be transported directly to the manufacturing facilities by automated transportation "sequences" such as boats, monorails, mag-lev trains, pipelines, and pneumatic tubes. An automated inventory system would be connected to both the distribution centers and the manufacturing facilities, thus coordinating production to meet demand and providing a constant evaluation of preferences and consumption. In this way a balanced-load economy can be maintained. Shortages, over-runs, and waste could be eliminated.
Are there any non-automated vehicles (cars or airplane-like), and how does the society prevent miss-use if there are?
Yes there are non-automated vehicles that have built in regulations for safety. If the driver violates them the machine pulls over and reviews proper procedures with the driver. If they are still not adhered to then help is on its way. This help is not in the form of a militant police force but people who are helpful to the situation.
Why do you feel that an approach as revolutionary as The Venus Project is necessary?
Our current system is not capable of providing a high standard of living for everyone, nor can it ensure the protection of the environment because the major motive is profit. Businesses aren't entirely to blame; they are forced to operate this way in order to retain the competitive edge. Additionally, with the advent of automation, cybernation, and artificial intelligence, there will be an ever-increasing replacement of people by automated systems. As a result, fewer people will be able to purchase goods and services even though our capability to produce an abundance will continue to exist. This is well-documented in Jeremy Rifkin's new book The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-market Era (Putnam, 1995). The Venus Project offers a fresh approach that reverses the negative aspects experienced in our current applications of automation and artificial intelligence. This project eliminates the disastrous consequences that such approaches can have on our society, i.e. the displacement of millions of workers, skilled and unskilled alike.
Why are you against money?
If all the money in the world were destroyed, as long as we have sufficient arable land, the factories, the necessary resources, and technical personnel, we could build anything and even supply an abundance. During the Depression, there were vacuum cleaners in store windows and automobiles in car lots. The Earth was still the same place. There was just no money in people's wallets and very little purchasing power. At the beginning of World War II, the U.S. had about 600 first-class fighting aircraft. We rapidly overcame this short-supply by turning out over 90,000 planes per year. The question at the start of World War II was: Do we have enough funds to produce the required implements of war? The answer was No, we did not have enough money or gold, but we did have more than enough resources. It was the available resources and technical personnel that enabled the U.S. to achieve the production and efficiency required to win the war. It appears that the real wealth of any nation is in its natural resources and its people who are working toward a more humane life-style through the elimination of scarcity. All social systems, regardless of the political philosophy, religious beliefs, or social mores, ultimately depend upon natural resources -- i.e. clean air and water and arable land area -- and the industrial equipment and technical personnel for a high standard of living. The money- based system was designed hundreds of years ago and was hardly appropriate for that time. We still utilize this same outmoded system, which is probably responsible for most of today's problems. I have no doubt that even the wealthiest person today would be far better off in the high-energy society that The Venus Project proposes.
In this new culture, do you propose to utilize a technical elite that would decide the direction for society?
No. The Venus Project calls for a cybernated society in which computers could replace the outmoded system of electing politicians that, in most cases, represent the entrenched vested interests. Technology will never dictate or monitor individuals' lives, as this would be considered socially offensive and counterproductive. Motion pictures such as 1984, Brave New World, Blade- Runner, and Terminator 2 have spawned fear in some people regarding the takeover of technology in our society. The Venus Project's only purpose is to elevate the spiritual and intellectual potential of all people while also providing the goods and services that will meet their individual material needs.
It has been said that many people employed by private corporations feel they serve in private dictatorships from the moment they step though the door and punch the time clock. The Venus Project, on the other hand, would utilize the best of technology to better the lives of everyone. In the proposed system, the workday will be shortened, thus providing individuals with more leisure time, a healthier life-style, and a stress-free environment.
Why the emphasis on the cybernated approach to the social operation?
There is sufficient evidence to show that technology is evolving in this direction. As computers and artificial intelligence continue to evolve through environmental feedback, computers can arrive at more appropriate decisions in the operation of our social system. Today, automated systems can launch and guide the flight path of spaceships to distant planets. In a cybernated society with sophisticated technology, we will ultimately surpass the need for human participation in government, manufacturing, and distribution of goods and services. Through cybernated systems, a balanced-load economy can easily be maintained. This will free human beings from the boring and monotonous tasks of the work-day world. Yes, most jobs will eventually be phased out.
What will people do?
They will engage in all manner of research and development, the creative arts and crafts, travel and exploration, and participation in all of the other limitless horizons the future has to offer. The ultimate realization of the potential of cybernated and computerized technology solely to improve people's lives could produce the most revolutionary system ever to evolve. It will eventually eliminate all superficial boundaries set up by nations; as we are beginning to witness with the introduction of satellite communication and personal computers, it is almost impossible for nations today to censor ideas and information.
What are the safeguards against abuse of power in the society you envision?
In a resource-based economy, we surpass the need for money which is the basis for most corruption. The society we envision makes all goods and services available for everyone without a price tag. This is what the function of government could be, by surpassing the need for politics in the management of human affairs. At present, governmental decisions have always been subject to the influence of the power elite. The cybernated complex would only manage and improve the distribution of resources, to provide clean air, clean water, and all of the amenities that enhance human life. Again, it does not control people or manage the lives of individuals -- on the contrary, it could encourage the development of individual initiative and creativity far beyond that of our present-day money- oriented culture.
There are many who fear the installations of cybernated systems. This fear is unfounded. It is not technology that is to be feared. Our concern should be with the abuse of this technology, rather than with the inanimate technology itself.
Why place great emphasis on human behavior as opposed to human nature. Would you define both?
There is no such thing as human nature in the conventional sense of being a set of predetermined, preprogrammed behaviors and values to which all human beings are predisposed. What we are concerned with is human behavior and values, which can certainly be changed. If they could not, we would still be living in caves.
The question we should be concerned with is, "What are the factors that shape human behavior?" We feel that human behavior is just as lawful as any natural phenomenon. Our customs, behaviors, and values are by-products of our culture. If the environment is unaltered, similar problems and behaviors will reoccur. The Venus Project proposes to provide an environment that will bring out the best in human behavior and to extend maximum courtesy to all nations.
Take, for example, the situation witnessed after W.W. II: even the most respectable families could be seen fighting over scraps of food. When people's basic needs are not met, they resort to whatever behavior is necessary to ensure the necessities of life for themselves and their families. By making the necessities of life available to all in this participatory democracy and through a meaningful and productive education, we can dramatically reduce counterproductive behavior.