Venus Project

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URL = http://www.thevenusproject.com/


Contents

Description

"The Venus Project presents a bold, new direction for humanity that entails nothing less than the total redesign of our culture. There are many people today who are concerned with the serious problems that face our modern society: unemployment, violent crime, replacement of humans by technology, over-population and a decline in the Earth's ecosystems. As you will see, The Venus Project is dedicated to confronting all of these problems by actively engaging in the research, development, and application of workable solutions. Through the use of innovative approaches to social awareness, educational incentives, and the consistent application of the best that science and technology can offer directly to the social system, The Venus Project offers a comprehensive plan for social reclamation in which human beings, technology, and nature will be able to coexist in a long-term, sustainable state of dynamic equilibrium.

The plans for the Venus Project offer society a broader spectrum of choices based on the scientific possibilities inherent in current technology and direct that knowledge toward a new era of peace and sustainability for all cultures. Through the implementation of a resource-based economy, and a multitude of innovative and environmentally friendly technologies directly applied to the social system, The Venus Project proposals will dramatically reduce crime, poverty, hunger, homelessness, and many other pressing problems that are common throughout the world today.

One of the cornerstones of the organization's findings is the fact that many of the dysfunctional behaviors of today's society stem directly from the dehumanizing environment inherent in the existing monetary system. Moreover, the currently utilized random implementation of automation and other technologies have resulted in a fragmented, self-defeating trend occurring throughout the manufacturing and high-tech sectors of today's global economy--namely the technological replacement of human labor by machines. The Venus Project proposes a social system in which automation and technology would be intelligently applied and integrated into an overall social design where the primary function would be to maximize the quality of life rather than profits. This project also introduces a set of workable and acceptable human values that are more appropriate and in balance with our present state of technology."

Evaluation

By Eric Hunting:

"The Venus Project was founded by futurist, architect, and inventor Jacque Fresco sometime in the 1960s but only started publishing media in the 1980s. It is named for Venus Florida, the home of Fresco and the location of his 'research compound'. It's quite a lovely place from what the images suggest, featuring some of Fresco's less ambitious ferro-cement based organic/Modernist architecture set in an idyllic tropical landscape -with huge numbers of raccoons!

The core premise of the Venus Project vision of the future is the idea of Cybernation; a society based on the creation of a centralized supercomputer which 'scientifically' manages all world resources in response to human demand moderated by environmental sustainability. This massive expert system manages all resource extraction/collection, distribution, and production through advanced Total Automation and a scientifically rational urban architecture. Thus it arrives at a post-industrial culture -though Fresco had no specific concept for such a culture other than the idea of a 'scientifically rational culture'- where people can have anything they want within reason for free and pursue whatever vocations they find personally rewarding without being paid for it. This, of course, is not an original idea. What's interesting with Fresco's version of it is how elaborately and compellingly -yet frankly naively- he has illustrated it in diverse media. He's a brilliant illustrator, designer, and modelmaker -even though his style tends to be anachronistic.

Fresco is a 'classic' mid-century futurist in the sense that he presents a vision of the future without any evolution. It springs fully-formed from a vacuum with no explanation of where it came from. The future as concept car design. And like futurists of that era his models of technology are very Industrial Age in style; gigantic machines, gigantic infrastructures, gigantic vehicles, gigantic master-planned cities, and everything is sleek, streamlined, shiny, spotless, and suburban. His concepts of industrialization are definitely from the mass production Total Automation notions typical of the 1950-60s -whopping-great Santa Claus machines as big as a city by themselves. He also sometimes gets into very fuzzy physics with some of his proposed technologies and got stuck in some completely wrong interpretations of more contemporary technology ideas. His descriptions and depictions of nanotechnology, for instance, make absolutely no sense and, in a decade, no one has ever corrected him on this. Yet despite all this he's often spot-on in underlying premises and a few of his designs remain relevantly advanced despite their great age. His car designs, for instance, could compete with anything contemporary concept cars offer as well as inform some open source car projects. Looking at his work is very much like comparing Werner von Braun's depictions of the future of space to current space capability and planned missions. He was pretty spot-on even if the form and style were largely off and there really wasn't anything you could say was implausible. It's just that the specific technologies evolved to produce a slightly different look to everything. For instance, Fresco is quite right about the significance of the sea as a source of renewable energy and resources. It's just very unlikely that any settlements we actually build there will be the big monocoque donuts on stilts he envisioned -although a surprising number of his designs for such things were directly lifted by Disney Corp. in their creation of the 1980s Horizons futurist exhibit and ride.

The lack of depth to Fresco's model of the future has left his Venus Project a bit lost in implementation. His attitude tends to be; "I'm the visionary. It's other people's job to figure out how to make this stuff happen." This attitude is mirrored in his view on the role of inventors, who he feels should never be burdened with the additional task of being industrialist or entrepreneur. How he's made a living remains something of a mystery, though he did sell a number of inventions for medical equipment. So for 40 years the Venus Project has been marketing this vision and a proposal for a model Cybernated city with no concrete plan for how to implement anything. It's as though his plan has been to just get enough people to desire what he's depicted in images, to convince them of what is possible, that it compels the civilization to spontaneously manifest it. If only it were so simple... This sort of notion seems common among other architect/futurists."


Robin (sharewiki):

"The project wants to take over governments and corporations and unite them in one-world government that is ruled by a computer. In its activist guide [1], it states humans are not capable enough to make decisions. Instead algorhythms could be designed to do this for us. "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." [2]

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." [3]

Its ideas resemble a lot those that Kurt Vonnegut describes in its dystopian novel Player Piano, a story that takes place in a near-future society that is almost totally mechanized, eliminating the need for human laborers. (http://sharewiki.org/en/Venus_Project)

Discussion

Prescription for Survival

By Jacque Fresco, founder:

Looking at the challenges facing society today, you can safely conclude that it is high time we reexamined our values, and evaluated some of the processes and assumptions underlying our culture and society. Such an analysis would question the very nature of what it means to be human, what it means to be a member of a "civilization," and what choices we have that would ensure a prosperous future for all people.

At present there are few alternatives. Yesterday’s answers are no longer relevant. Either we continue as we have with outmoded social designs, customs, and habits of thought--in which case our future is threatened--or we apply a set of values more relevant to an exponentially changing society.

Experience tells us that human behavior can be modified either constructively or destructively. This is what The Venus Project is all about: directing technology and resources positively for the maximum benefit of people and the planet by seeking out new ways of thinking and living that emphasize and celebrate the vast potential of the human spirit.

We have the tools at hand to design and build a future worthy of our human potential. The Venus Project envisions a bold new direction for humanity that entails nothing less than the total and conscious redesign of our culture. It is not based on wishes, ideals, or any particular philosophy, but rather on the humane use of science and technology, applied to how we live, so as to benefit all the world’s people.

What follows doesn’t attempt to predict what will be done--only what could be done. The responsibility for the future is in our hands, and depends on the decisions we make today. The greatest resource available today is our own ingenuity. While social reformers and think tanks formulate strategies that only treat superficial symptoms without touching basic social operations, The Venus Project approaches these problems differently. We feel we cannot eliminate our problems within the framework or conventional paradigms of the present political and monetary establishment. It would take too many years to accomplish significant change. Any proposed basic changes would most likely be watered down and thinned out to such an extent that they would be indistinguishable from what we already have. Depending on the political party in power, changes taking years of struggle to achieve might be reversed in an instant.

The Venus Project advocates an alternative vision for a sustainable new world civilization unlike any social system that has gone before. It is a fresh approach – one dedicated to human and environmental concerns for all the world’s people. Although this description is highly condensed, it is based upon years of study and experimental research .

The Venus Project calls for a straightforward approach to the redesign of our culture in which war, poverty, hunger, debt, environmental degradation and unnecessary human suffering are viewed not only as avoidable, but as totally unacceptable. Many people today believe that we need a higher sense of ethical standards, and international laws and treaties to 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 many of the same problems we have today. What is needed is the intelligent management of Earth’s resources. But as long as a few nations control most of the world’s resources and the bottom line is profit, the same cycle of events will prevail.

One of the basic premises of The Venus Project is that all the Earth's resources are the common heritage of all the world's people[4]. A less comprehensive view will simply result in a continuation of the same catalog of problems inherent in the present system. The problems we face today cannot be solved politically or financially because they are highly technical in nature. There may not be enough money available to pay for the required changes, but there are more than enough resources. This is why The Venus Project advocates a transition from our money-based society to the eventual realization of a resource-based global economy. We realize that transitioning from our present culture--which is politically incompetent, scarcity-oriented, and obsolete--to a new and more humane society will require a quantum leap in both thought and action.


An Obsolete Monetary System

The money-based system began centuries ago[5]. All of the world's economic systems - socialism, communism, fascism, and even the vaunted free enterprise system - perpetuate social stratification, elitism, nationalism, and racism, primarily based on economic disparity. As long as a social system uses money or barter, people and nations will seek an economic competitive edge If they cannot get it by means of commerce, they will try to by military intervention. We continue these same outmoded methods today.

Our current monetary 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[6]. Strategies like downsizing and toxic dumping increase profit margins. With the advent of automation, cybernation, artificial intelligence, and out sourcing, there will be an ever-increasing replacement of people by machines, and a corresponding loss of jobs. As a result, fewer people will be able to purchase goods and services even though our capability to produce an abundance will continue.

Our present outmoded political and economic systems are unable to apply the real benefits of today's innovative technologies to achieve the greatest good for all people, and to overcome the inequities imposed upon so many. Our technology is racing forward while our social designs remain static. In other words, cultural change has not kept pace with technological change. We now have the means to produce goods and services in abundance for everyone.

Today, science and technology are diverted from achieving the greatest good for all in favor of self-interest and monetary gain through such strategies as planned obsolescence, which is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency. For example, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, whose function is presumed to be conducting research into ways of achieving higher crop yields per acre, actually pays farmers not to produce at full capacity. The monetary system tends to hold back methods that we know would best serve the interests of people and the environment.

In a monetary system purchasing power is not related to the capacity to produce goods and services. For example, in a depression there would still be computers and DVD's on store shelves and automobiles in car lots, but most people wouldn’t have the purchasing power to buy them. The earth is still the same place, but the rules of the game are obsolete and create strife, deprivation, and unnecessary human suffering.

Monetary systems developed years ago as devices to control human behavior in environments with limited resources. Today, money is used to regulate the economy not for the benefit of the general populace, but for the benefit of those who control the financial wealth of nations.


Resource-based economy[7]

All social systems, regardless of political philosophy, religious beliefs, or social customs, ultimately depend upon natural resources, i.e., clean air and water, arable land, and the technology and personnel necessary to maintain a high standard of living. Simply stated, a resource-based economy focuses on existing resources rather than on money, and envisions an equitable method of distributing these resources in the most efficient manner for the entire population. It is a system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter, or any other form of debt[8] or servitude.

Earth has abundant and plentiful resources; today our practice of rationing resources through money is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival. Modern society has access to highly advanced technologies. It can make food, clothing, housing, medical care, and a relevant education, available to all. It can develop limitless supplies of renewable and non-contaminating energy from geothermal, solar, wind, tidal, and other sources. It is now possible for everyone to enjoy a very high standard of living with all the amenities a prosperous civilization can provide. This can be accomplished through the intelligent and humane application of science and technology.

The prime motivation and objective is to eliminate scarcity. A first step would be the surveying of available planetary resources and personnel so that planning can be based on physical realities. This information would be the database for ascertaining parameters for humanizing social and technological development. This can be done with today’s fast high capacity computers which will assist us in defining what we have, what the earth can supply, and how we can humanely and equitably manage environmental and human affairs. A resource-based economy would use technology to overcome scarce resources with renewable sources of energy, and computerized and automated manufacturing and inventory. It would design safe, energy-efficient cities, advanced transportation systems, and would provide universal health care and a relevant education. Most of all, it would generate a new incentive system based on human and environmental concerns.

Many people believe there is too much technology in the world today, and that technology is the major cause of our environmental problems. This is not the case. It is the abuse and misuse of technology that should be our major concern. In a more humane civilization, instead of machines displacing people, they would shorten the workday, increase the availability of goods and services, and lengthen vacation time. If we utilized new technology to raise the standard of living for all people, then machine technology would no longer seem a threat. It also would not be used to monitor people which would be seen as socially offensive and non-productive.

To better understand the concept of a resource based economy consider this: if all the money in the world were destroyed, so long as topsoil, factories, and other resources were left intact, we could build anything we choose to build and fulfill any human need. It is not money that people need; rather, it is free access to the necessities of life. In a resource-based economy, money is irrelevant. All that is required are resources, manufacturing, and the distribution of products.

When education and resources are made available to all without a price tag, there is no limit to human potential. Although this is difficult to imagine, even the wealthiest person today would be far better off in the resource based society proposed by The Venus Project. Today the middle classes live better than kings in times past. In a resource based economy everyone would live better than the wealthiest of today.

In such a society, the measure of success would be the fulfillment of one's individual pursuits rather than the acquisition of wealth, property, and power.


The Choice Is Ours To Make

Human behavior is subject to the same laws as any other natural phenomenon. Our customs, behaviors, and values are byproducts of our culture. No one is born with greed, prejudice, bigotry, patriotism, and hatred; these are all learned behavior patterns. If the environment is unaltered, similar behavior will reoccur.

Today, much of the technology needed to bring about a global resource-based economy exists. If we choose to accept the limitations of our present monetary-based economy, then it is likely that we will continue to live with its inevitable results: war, poverty, hunger, deprivation, crime, ignorance, stress, fear, and inequity. On the other hand, if we embrace the concept of a global resource-based economy, learn more about it, and share our understanding with friends, this will help humanity evolve beyond its present state.

The only limitations are those we impose upon ourselves. It is not enough to criticize our culture without offering a sustainable alternative. The Venus Project is neither utopian nor Orwellian, nor does it reflect the dreams of impractical idealists. It presents attainable goals requiring only the intelligent application of what we already know. What is missing today is a direction to work toward.


More Information

The Venus Project, 21 Valley Lane, Venus, FL 33960, USA

tvp@TheVenusProject.com


  1. Strong critical statement at https://groups.google.com/group/openmanufacturing/browse_thread/thread/638fd845033204e0/9365cdc0b50c5cff?hl=en&lnk=gst&q=venus&pli=1

See Also

On Economics

On Transition

On Villages