Zeitgeist /Jaques Fresco


Hi FOS and Deb
I just finished watching the latest Zeitgeist “Moving Forward” movie.

It has some really good stuff in it, and it also has a lot of serious errors and unwarranted assumptions.
We have some things in common, and a lot of things different.

In the first hour the word should occurs a lot – I didn’t count it, and I estimate probably over 50 times.
Shoulds are coercive, coulds are empowering.

At 55 minutes in it states that “every life system is in decline” – which is clearly false. Every life system is in a state of change, total biomass of complex animals and plants is reducing (on average over time – and the rate of that reduction has slowed, and may soon turn). Most developed nations are seeing significant recoveries in fish stocks, and the marine mammals that depend upon them. Here in Kaikoura, seal populations are exponentially increasing, and I suspect that is true in the USA also.

A lot of half truth around the idea of mineral usage.
We do not need to, and indeed don’t, consume matter (with the exception of uranium, which we use in nuclear reactors).

With improvements in technology which are very close, we will be able to recover and recycle over 99% of all minerals. Nano technology is heading that way. We are not there yet – not yet “economic” (ie there is more money to be made from using high concentration ore bodies than there is from recycling waste).
That will change.

At around 1:30 assessment and system controls. I reject the arguments.
They are a possible way of going, and I do not believe that they are necessary nor even desirable.

At around 1:34 they talk about systems theory, but they are dealing only with simplistic surface level models.
They need to look really closely at systems theory, at Games Theory, and Theory of Moves (ToM – which is more like theory of dynamic strategy development). These things indicate what sorts of strategic mixes can work over time; what is stable and empowering of individuals, and what is unstable, and disempowering of individuals.
What happens at the systemic level is critically important.
It is not sufficient to say that your centrally controlled systems are designed to empower the average individual, if those systems actually remove and restrict real choice of individuals. You end up with suboptimal solutions increasing, leading to systemic collapse, as individuals stop being responsible for their actions.

@ 1:35:20 they make the claim that there is no logical alternative to a “Global resource management system” – which is a nonsensical claim. Of course there are alternatives. Empowering individuals with all the tools they need to produce everything they need, locally, from local rock and locally harvested solar energy, is a viable alternative. And it is decentralised, which is anathema to the command and control ideology found as much in Jacques Fresco’s vision as in capitalism, just in a different form.

The idea of universal interchangeability is false too. In the technological realm things are evolving too fast. An interface designed 10 years ago would now be far bulkier than the machine it is interfacing to. Interfaces have to adapt, over time.
And certainly, we could design and build systems that are completely self repairing and self maintaining, and there would be little profit to be made from them – therein lies the problem.

The problem is one I have highlighted many times, that is not even mentioned in this movie, that money is not a measure of real human values, it is only a measure of exchange value, and is thus related to scarcity. There is no economic value in universal abundance, and thus no economic system will, in and of itself, ever deliver universal abundance (to achieve universal abundance by definition the price point must be zero – ie all people have access even those with no “means” {exchange values they possess}).
If we are to have universal abundance, then it can result from the use of a monetary system as a tool, but the money system itself will not deliver.

Around 1:39 they talk about automating to maximise efficiency. Certainly there are some efficiency gains to be had from automation, and the idea that automated systems can judge the requirements of the whole of an evolving system is a nonsense. The algorithms will need to be updated periodically – such is the nature of expansion in the infinite realm of the possible (that is going beyond automation and into intelligence – a very different realm).

At 1:40:40 they talk of the spectrum of human needs, as if it is some sort of constant. It isn’t, it evolves and changes over time, and most people have little idea of what their needs actually are, so surveying them isn’t going to get far.
Mostly people need freedom, the opportunity to try out new things, and to make their own mistakes.

Getting a balance between allowing people to make mistakes, and limiting the worst of the consequences of those mistakes, is not a trivial task – it has taxed the greatest minds humanity has produced in every age.

1:42 they talk about ownership being illogical, which it isn’t.
While it is true that most of the time, there are far more goods in existence than there are in use, there are times when everything is used at once.
Demand is rarely symmetric over time. Usually it is highly asymmetric, and having only enough to meet average demand can cause real problems at time of high demand (life threatening shortage in times of emergency).
Many systems need a lot of redundancy for security. (It is a major misunderstanding of probability to ignore low probability events. If one is planning for the long term, then even the lowest probability events become certainties, with unknown time of occurrence, thus planning must be able to cope with all possibilities. This requires massive redundancy under “normal” circumstances.)
That is one of the major dangers in our current economic system, it is so “just in time” that the lack of redundancy in the system is a real threat to survival in times of emergency.

At 1:46 Jacques Fresco says we need to change or perish.
Guess what, we are changing – every day. Systems change, constantly.
Certainly, we need to get away from seeing money as a goal, and start viewing it simply as a tool, and once we do that, most other issues will resolve relatively quickly.

1:52 JF is still strongly wedded to the idea of central control. Not required.
Empower individuals and they will optimize.

50 story food production buildings is a nonsense. In most cases, a single layer of plants (each plant with multiple layers of leaves) can collect all the sunlight available.

@ 2:11:50 he talks about people being victims of culture, which is true to a point, but only as far as we let it be true. Every individual is capable of making moral choices, it is just that most are out of the habit, it being easier to follow rules (and of greater utility to those in control).

Ideas of not believing in political action become self fulfilling prophecies.
I do believe in political action, and it does take real choice by real people – and that choice has risk.

We do not need multiple planets, all we need is appropriate technology, and appropriate social coordination systems. Money alone is clearly insufficient, and it can be a useful tool.
Awareness is key, followed by choice.

Some good ideas in there, and mixed with a lot of poorly disguised business as usual – central control, strategic options.

What I am about is something else completely.

I am about decentralisation, and massive redundancy of systems – not centralisation and “efficiency”.
What efficiency.
We are not short of mass – there is more than enough for everyone.
We just need appropriate technology, to harvest energy and to manipulate matter.

We are close, and we need to be more proactive in the transition.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
This entry was posted in economics, Our Future, Philosophy, Politics, Technology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Zeitgeist /Jaques Fresco

  1. Pingback: A response to a critique of “Why Capitalism Creates Pointless Jobs” | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

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