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Global Sustainability: Science, Engineering and Technology for Human Concern
Welcome everybody and thank you for coming to this lecture by Douglas Mallette.
He is the CEO of the Cybernated Farm Systems,
LLC,
and also a former systems engineer on the
NASA Space Shuttle Program.
Let's give him a warm welcome.
[Applause]
All right. Thank you very much.
I appreciate all of you who took time out of your day
to come here and listen to what I'm going to talk about today.
As was mentioned, I am the CEO of Cybernated Farm Systems.
It's a company I just recently started.
We'll talk a little bit about it later as it has some relevance to the topic.
I'm not here really to talk about that so much.
I am a former Space Shuttle Systems Engineer.
I worked with a Boeing subcontractor in Houston, Texas,
and I did that for a little over 3 years
before they decided to start systematically shutting everything down
(so everybody all got laid off at periodic times)
at which point I decided I can go play with missiles, bombs and guns
because that's really what aerospace is starting to move towards
(in my neck-of-the-woods which I'm not interested in),
so I decided to do something a little more humanitarian.
I'm the author of 'Turning Point',
a book that talks about space exploration and development
in a non-technical, user-friendly way.
Unfortunately a lot of people have this mindset,
not due any fault of their own. The media does not do a very good job
of promoting space exploration and what it means to your everyday life,
but they don't find a lot of relevance as to what space exploration means
for mankind and their day-to-day operations.
Throughout the course of today's lecture we're going to touch base on that concept,
and what it means on how we operate on this planet.
We are going to talk about space exploration and sustainability.
What exactly do the two have to do with each other?
Sustainability in space increases sustainability on Earth.
There's nothing that we've ever invented for the space program
that doesn't, in some way, find its way
on to everyday Earth-based operations.
Whether it's the CAT scan machine or MRI's
or advanced materials that go into tires,
advanced systems for brakes, for telecommunications.
There's a gamut of possibilities
of industries that are affected by space exploration.
What we're going to do to start off with
is called a Gedanken experiment, or a thought experiment,
on what would be needed to build a base on Mars
and how it would facilitate the needs of the astronauts. How will they live?
How are we going to provide everything that they need?
On Mars there's no grocery store,
and so we have to think about how an astronaut would be able to live.
There's no grocery store down the street for them to resupply.
You can't just waste and go to the store and pick up a refresh.
Logistically that's near impossible to pull off in a sustainable way,
so what we look at is: Okay, what can we implement onto a Mars-based system?
This is also used on the ISS, so
these concepts actually don't just apply to Mars, but they would apply to the Moon
or a long duration space craft or the International Space Station, the ISS.
All these systems exist, today,
but we don't use those derivative technologies down here very well.
So, what are some of the things that you would need
to maintain a human being's biological requirements,
biological necessities of life? Anybody throw anything out.
[man from audience] - Water and seeds. - Seeds? You mean food, right?
Yes, ok. Food, water, what else? Yes? - Oxygen.
Air, yeah. Clean breathable air.
- Controlling too high/low temperatures.
- Climate control? Right, ok.
Waste reclamation and the proper handling of that, ok.
Now what about quality of life needs?
Things that enhance the quality of life beyond just the biological requirements?
A lot of people don't think about those
because we're immersed in them all the time. Yes?
- Safety?
Social needs, people to talk to, to feel like you're a part of something. - Being connected with other people, ok.
What kind of technical systems might be a quality of life?
- Media. - Media?
Oh, yes, ok. Entertainment and stuff like that. Right, and back there?
Energy? Absolutely. That's a good one. What else?
Transportation? All right! Yes?
- Production. - Production, manufacturing,
things like that, to get the things that they need on a local level.
It's kind of hard to do the resupply so it helps to produce as much as you can.
Now you guys kind of get some of the concepts, all right?
Basic necessities of life.
What are they? In a nutshell: air, food, water,
sleep and medical care.
Sleep and medical care seem to miss people, if you think about it.
You don't think about "You need to sleep!"
If sleep deprivation is a serious biological problem
for people, it can cause you to go crazy or you can get really sick.
In medical care, obviously if you hurt yourself,
if you don't take care of that issue, that infection,
your biological-ness will go 'prrrrrt' and you're done.
So, you've got to make sure those things are covered.
Now you've got your necessities for a high quality of life.
Here are some of the most pedestrian things: shelter,
clothing, education, energy, transportation and communication.
If you think about how you interact with the world today
you're involved with these on a regular basis,
in different ways.
Shelter on Mars, is actually more of a biological requirement
than it is a quality of life enhancer, because
you can't just go for a crisp walk in the Martian air.
It doesn't work that way.
On Earth you could technically live without shelter.
You could exist as a human being; it wouldn't be very comfortable.
In fact, you can exist without all of these, but your quality of life isn't very high.
If you think back to the nomadic, hunter-gatherers,
of 50,000 years ago,
they lived but they didn't live that great.
They moved around a lot. Nature could mess with them pretty easily,
but they survived.
When you're looking at a Mars Base, you will think to yourselves
(or we in the space industry have given a lot of thought to)
"All right, how can we provide those necessities
on a level so that the astronauts
aren't reduced to being just stewards of their environment?"
See, it's one thing to provide these things.
It's something else if you have to use a lot of human labor
to constantly maintain them all the time,
because after all, that's not why we would be sending astronauts to Mars
in the first place, right? The point of them going there is to get out,
go explore, do their science and do their research.
Their job is not to be Farmer John or Farmer Jill.
Their job is not supposed to be the manual labor force
to create their water supply or to do anything like that.
So what you'll want to do is to automate, computerize,
and make technical as much of those processes as possible,
so that the astronauts have the free time
to go do what they're supposed to be doing: to go be astronauts.
When you look at this on a level of "Ok, this is what we have to do on Mars,"
a lot of these problems have been addressed and are already overcome.
The International Space Station operates
in a highly automated fashion.
That way, the astronauts that are on board
don't have to, as much, maintain their environment directly.
Another key thing, especially on Mars,
would be having more than enough to suit their needs,
having an abundance of their requirements.
You can't afford to have a shortage in a place like that,
because if you run out, people die. Same thing on the space shuttle:
you have to make sure that you have more then enough of what you need
so that you can complete the mission.
And likewise on the ISS, on the space station.
If you think about it in terms of Earth,
it's by far the most important word
with respect to mankind's ability to live peacefully.
I draw up the scenario like this: If I took
this group of people in this room right now,
and I put you on a deserted island with nothing but 1 coconut tree,
how long do you think you reasonable people would last
before 'it [the shit] really hit the fan',
before people started going after each other,
started manipulating each other,
started fighting each other to get to that food?
You don't think of yourselves as aggressive, mean, nasty people,
but if you're put in an environment that has that level of scarcity,
you will turn into aggressive, mean, nasty people to survive.
That's how it works.
So conversely, what if we put 500 coconut trees on this island?
[It's] way more than enough to cover everybody's needs for food.
Do you think you're going to exhibit those negative behaviors?
[It's] much less likely. You might quibble over other things,
but you're definitely not going to fight over food,
or at least over the coconuts.
It's an important aspect when people talk about this
human nature versus human nurture argument, I mean.
It's kind of a quasi-combination of both,
but our behaviors are highly modified
by the environment that we're stuck in at the moment.
You put us in a high stress, high scarcity environment,
then we're not going to behave very well.
You put us in a more relaxed, low stress,
more abundant environment for the things that we need,
and we're less likely to exhibit these aberrant behaviors,
these negative behaviors.
Now we move, as far as Mars is concerned, to technical abundance,
being able to create an abundance without the heavy use
of human labor as the primary driver.
Throughout the course of most of human history,
the largest labor force on the planet has been human muscle.
Then we started using animals a little more efficiently,
but then we got to the point where we started developing technologies
and machines to do a lot of the heavy lifting for us.
Now we're in the 21st century where we can do a whole lot more
with a whole lot less,
and we're seeing some of the ramifications of that
in our socio-economic 'hiccup' if you will;
but on a Mars base it's an absolute necessity,
because as we go back to it, there's only so many astronauts
that can go there at any given time. They don't have a labor force of 100 people.
You're looking at a Martian mission of 5 - 7,
and so if they want to live, work and cooperate together,
there's a different mental structure to those astronauts
as to how to work together. There's also a different environmental structure
that allows them to live and work together in such a place.
What kind of technology do we have today
that can cover biological needs in abundance?
Air, looking at the Earth.
That's readily abundant, as long as we don't pollute it all.
We're not doing a very good job at keeping clean air, but
we are trying to get better at setting up regulations to cover that.
Water: desalinisation plants,
rain collecting systems,
an example of which would be NASA's spin-off
from 2008, a portable nano mesh.
Basically, it's a water bottle with a filter built into it,
and you can go to the nastiest mud hole in Africa,
push through and you'll get clean drinking water on the other end;
and you can drink it right out of the same bottle you just dumped
because the technology involved (and when people think technology
they're only thinking computers and bells and whistles and Star Trek),
it doesn't always have to be that high tech.
It can be as simple as a nano mesh material
that allows you to get clean drinking water relatively easily.
NASA creates these spin-off magazines every single year.
They're online, they're free, and they show
technological progress that either NASA directly invented
to help people out for the consumer market,
or they've helped companies
develop technologies to a higher level, using NASA know-how.
Food.
This goes slightly towards what I'm focusing on right now in my life:
high tech farming, aquaponic and hydroponic systems.
Who here is familiar with aquaponics or hydroponics?
Ok, for those who don't know,
basically it's the ability to grow plants
vegetables, fruits, things like that,
without dirt, without soil.
It's using a liquid-based platform, and the plants work just fine.
It's already a proven existing technology.
Imagine having such a robust system
in a 3rd world nation where the land is arid and dead.
That's effectively what I'm doing,
but I'm adding some bells and whistles to it a bit, to make it easier
for the population that we're serving.
What CFS is doing, my company,
is building self-sustaining, fully automated, aquaponic farm buildings,
that are about 464m2 in size,
solar and wind powered with a battery-bank, backup system.
I can feed 1600 people 10 different fruits and vegetables each,
in that 1 building;
and it's completely self sustaining, collects its own water,
maintains its own energy balance.
It does not need an infusion of extra nutrients because it's aquaponic,
which means it has a small little fish farm built in.
What that means
is that the fish make the water dirty, through all their waste.
Well, guess what? The plants actually like that.
So, you take the dirty water. You send it over to the plants.
They suck out all the nutrients. That cleans the water.
Then you run that water back to the fish tank,
closed loop, symbiotic system.
And the fish,
the food that they eat is another plant that grows in the water,
so that is its own closed-loop system.
You don't have to add fish food. You don't really need to mess with it.
In fact, when the building is all put together, you just turn it on and walk away,
and it starts cranking out food: leafy greens, baby tomatoes, baby cucumbers.
I affectionately call it a salad factory.
It's really what it is, but it's a start.
I mean, it will put food in the bellies of people
who are literally starving to death by the thousands, every single day.
I'm going to work with governments and humanitarian organizations
to get these systems in place.
Not just drop them on a village and feed and walk away,
but teach these people how the system works:
get them educated, increase their level of knowledge;
work with them on how to be stewards of their own system
to the highest degree possible, including 3D printing systems,
that will manufacture their own parts from local materials,
but we'll get to that in a little bit.
Sleep: Well, that comes a lot easier when you're a lot less stressed.
If you have a quality life environment where your food,
your shelter, your water, your clothing, all of your needs are met,
sleep is a lot easier to come by, but it needs to be addressed.
You don't want to be stressed and sleepless.
Medical Care: This is an amazing machine!
It's called the 'Da Vinci' surgical assistant.
You can look it up on Youtube and see all kinds of videos on it. In fact,
I have a source sheet for all of the technologies that I'm showing you,
links to various aspects of these technologies that you can look up.
If anybody is interested in getting that source sheet,
I don't talk about anything without having sources
(that's the engineer scientist in me; I prove everything I say).
If anybody is interested I have a sheet. You can give me your email address
and I'll send an email to everybody, because I did not print them.
I didn't know how many people would be here, so...
It's much more ecologically sound if I just
write it down and send it to you with electrons.
This system allows a surgeon to manipulate a couple of handles
and do surgery in a way that
increases recovery time by 50 to 75% for the patients.
The incisions for various medical terms that I don't even understand...
They can do cardiac work, lung work, all kinds of work on the human body
using this machine, and it basically is
the ultimate assistant for the surgeons themselves.
It can be done remotely
where this system could be put in a village or a place
where it's hard to get doctors to, or unrealistic,
but we have telecommunication systems that are pretty amazing.
I skype with my wife pretty much every single day on this trip,
so if we can do that, we can do this.
What about technologies for quality of life?
What kind of things can we develop on this world
to create an abundance of our quality of life needs?
Shelter. I really got involved with contour crafting
and got to know the man who developed the technology.
He's a professor at the University of Southern California,
and it really all started after the Haitian earthquake a couple of years ago.
Now many of you, I assume, are familiar with what happened in Haiti,
with the earthquake that basically demolished the vast majority of the country.
A lot of those people are still living in tents,
2 years later! How dumb is that?
We live in the 21st century and we can't
swipe and rebuild faster than that?
What's wrong with us? This,
is a robotic, self-erecting, fully automated system,
which can build a 2000 square-foot house,
which would be, what? 200 square meters, maybe?
I'm terrible at the conversion, in my head.
It'd probably be about a 200m2 house in 24 hours,
an entire house, including plumbing and electrical,
because it has additional side arms that can plumb and do the electrical as it goes.
And, it can...
It's mobile so it basically plops a house, moves along,
plops a house, moves along,
does rebar, sets the roof, does it all;
and he already has. You can see on the other picture here, on the side
where you can see how he can do complex diometries, if necessary.
I mean, for a place like Haiti that just got destroyed,
it would be really easy to just plop a bunch of square blocks at first
and build a quick little village, in what? A couple of days? Maybe a week,
especially if you have 3 or 4 of these machines set up to just create that?
You can recycle a lot of the materials that are there. Yes?
How has this technology been tested out to build full houses?
He doesn't have the funding yet to do that. Funding,
we'll get to the money-bit later.
That's the road block he's running into:
getting the funding to build the full scale prototype,
but he's already worked out so many of the minute details
that it's all about scaling after that,
which in and of itself is an engineering challenge, yes,
but not something that's insurmountable. If we can build spaceships in space
then we can do this.
Clothing and other products, textiles, anything that you would need,
3D printing, automated sowing systems.
Imagine being your own clothing designer.
Instead of going with the latest fashion trend
of what somebody else says is popular or just going with the flow,
imagine taking 3 or 4 designs on your home computer,
merging them together, resizing it to be exactly your size
(not everybody is exactly a small, medium or large).
Make it your dimensions, your requirements,
and have that locally produced down the street so you can go pick it up.
Clothing on demand, if you will. We have so many other on-demand things, don't we?
Movies on demand, we do phone,
we've got all these little things on demand we can do.
We can watch a little movie on our iPhone, yay!!
"I watched Transformers 2 when I wanted to!"
Why can't you print your own clothes? Be your own designer?
I mean, yes, you could get stuff from other people if you really like that
level of fashion; but if you wanted to be your own designer, you could,
or the own creator of your products. Make your own bowls,
be a potter, in a way, or you can use a 3D CAD system
and design your own textiles.
You see this cute little sculpture here
was drawn up on a CAD program and completely printed from one block,
and it ran through the system and created that.
The geometry that 3D printing can create can be quite complex:
moving gear systems, a crescent wrench that works
and is strong enough to actually tighten bolts
and handle sheer stress loads and torque loads just fine.
Education. It's hard for us to disagree with the fact that
education today in the 21st century is pretty much more accessible now
than it has ever been throughout the history of mankind.
That ties directly in with communication.
The ability to learn is only limited by your access
to those technologies that allow you to learn.
One that I am highly in favor of more than anything else
is an on-line free platform called KhanAcademy.org.
How many people here are familiar with Khan Academy?
All right! That's the biggest group of hands I have seen yet!
It's an amazing software package that allows you to learn on your own.
You get to watch a 10-minute video on a subject of your choice
and then you do a couple of questions and if you pass it,
congratulations, you graduate to the next level on the tree.
I'm going to give you an example of how this works in a really fun way.
I have an 8-year-old daughter.
When she was 6 we put her on Khan Academy,
so it really wasn't too long [ago]; she just turned 8.
This really wasn't too long now; she was about 6.5 at the time.
We got her on there to do some math, starting with the 1+1 is 2,
and going through single digit math, double digit math,
all on her own, self-directed.
Daddy's orders were "30 minutes, go to Khan Academy, start there and just...
go for 30 minutes and I'll come and get you when you're done."
"Ok!" Do dido dido and goes and does it.
About 20 minutes into it, she comes up to me and says: "Daddy, I don't know a word."
And I go "What's the word? " And she goes "obtusé"
"Obtusé? Obtuse!?
As in acute, obtuse, right angle, trigonometric identities, really?"
"Yeah." That's exactly what she was doing.
She had brought herself all the way down to the intro
to trigonometric identities, angles, right angles;
she had already passed the lessons on degrees and gradients, and she had moved...
Did I have anything to do with that? No.
It's amazing what kids will teach themselves if given the freedom to do so,
and now the Khan Academy is being used
in California with the school system (they partner together),
so that the students are kind of quasi-teachers of themselves.
The teacher is more like a referee. They just kind of walk around the room
and all these computers and these kids are talking to each other,
and they're helping each other and collaborating, and they're cooperating.
The kids that get it are helping the kids that don't get it
and things like that, in a very open source, 'Linux' kind of way
(we'll get to that analogy in a second)
and it has shown amazing results!
There are 8th graders doing differential calculus.
They're in 8th grade!! They don't know they're not supposed to be doing it
because the teachers are not giving them limits.
They're not telling them "No, you're not suppose to learn that until high school."
They're like "Go, whatever! Learn whatever you want. As long as you pass it,
and you can explain it, and you can help your fellow class mates,
do it!" And they are.
There's a lot of social studies out there indicating that
the current methods of education, this industrial
factory- line kind of model that we have,
is actually counter-productive to how the human brain works
and how we process information and truly learn.
There's a difference between rote memorization
and actually learning the foundations of a subject
so that you can then repeat it over and over again.
Now we get to Clean Energy Systems.
An absolute necessity on Mars, they can be achieved in a lot of different ways,
but here on Earth, we actually have a little bit easier time of it
because we have more dimensions to our clean energy access.
You have solar, which most people are aware of.
Then you have wind. Now when most people think wind power
they think big giant turbine fans that take up hundreds of acres of land,
spinning around this way.
Vertical farms, vertical wind farms (Verfs)
would be much more efficient. They take much less footprint,
and if you put magnetic bearings in the bottom,
that wind vein actually floats, with much less friction
than using straight-up gears,
which means you could blow on it and it will spin.
The cut-in wind speed is drastically lower
with magnetically-levitating, vertical wind systems.
So, you can then install all over the place
things like you see on the right picture
these vertical wind farms built into the lights,
so when a car drives by, what does it create?
A nice, good gust of wind. So, that makes the fan turn,
which then charges the battery, which then runs the lights.
Every car that goes by basically keeps the system going.
If we have a high volume traffic area or just a breeze during the day,
it'll charge up the battery so it will last all night long.
The only thing you've got to change is a battery once every decade,
if you have a good battery. So there you go, great independence,
or at least one option of it.
Bloom energy, with fuel cell systems:
It's an amazing technology that he just came out with recently.
You can look this up (I have links to it anyway).
Basically it's a fuel cell system derived out of sand.
I think we have got enough sand on this planet,
so there shouldn't be too much of a shortage of being able to build these things.
That's what makes it so brilliant, is what it's made out of,
and it's highly efficient.
Now we get to transportation systems, clean transportation systems
that are powered by the clean energy that we just reviewed.
There's more energy systems then just what I've showed. There's geothermal,
wind, wave and tidal.
There are different clean energy sources.
It's not about one holy grail energy,
cold fusion or something like that
to power the entire planet with one thing.
Realistically you would want a more dynamic energy grid anyway
that's not so centralized and dependent on just one source.
You would have every building in the city with a little bit of wind
a little bit of solar, geothermal if you can tap it,
a kind of marriage of these different systems
so that you are more robust in your capabilities for power generation.
This is what we do on the ISS or the space shuttle.
The space station doesn't just do solar.
It has fuel cells built into it as well.
Solar is the primary force because it's up in space
and solar access is a lot easier,
but it's not just one thing. You don't single source.
When it comes to transportation there are things like 'ULTRA'
which is a little automated vehicle that doesn't have a driver.
You just hop in and punch where you want to go
and it pulls out. It has GPS and
it has the whole path programmed into it, and it goes.
This exists right now at Heathrow Airport.
They're already running tests on it right now
and it's doing quite well.
Electric cars: I've picked the fancier version to show.
Of course, they don't have to be sports cars like Tesla.
You've got the Nissan Leaf, which has recently come out,
and I'm sure more of the car industry
is going to jump on the electric vehicle bandwagon,
and as the push for that starts to become more serious,
one of the biggest detriments that we have right now
is the infrastructure to recharge the electric cars.
But in the same way that we ended up putting gas stations
all over the planet, you can put recharge centers all over the planet.
You can convert gas stations to recharge centers,
or instead of that, why not battery swap centers,
which is also another technological option that's out there.
You don't recharge your battery while you're sitting there
because that takes several hours. You just pull up,
a machine goes underneath, pulls your battery out the bottom,
takes it off to go to a recharge station built into the center
and it puts a brand new freshly charged one in.
(They're all inter-compatible) and you just take off.
That takes five minutes. By the time you go in, get a soda,
go to the bathroom, grab a candy bar, you come back out
and your car has been switched out, just like at the gas station.
Other transportation options will be fully automated cars
that drive themselves. Stanford University
is working on a vehicle that drives itself.
[It] learns and studies traffic patterns and knows what a red light means,
how 4-way traffic would work at a stop sign,
things that you can program in, test, and fine tune.
Google car is also another one that they're working on.
There are many projects involved with automated vehicles
that can take themselves around.
Imagine you have to go somewhere
and you just hop on your iPhone or smartphone,
and you start punching in the request for a vehicle
and it pulls up on its own. You hop in,
and it takes you where you want to go, and then you hop out.
Transport on demand,
Maglev train systems:
They're well-known. They're just not out there enough.
Asia is really big on them, and they work rather well.
You can clean-energy power these.
Imagine putting mini-vertical wind turbine systems on the train itself,
so as it sped by at 200 mph, you have these wind veins on the top going ballistic
that will basically power all the internal systems of the train as it went,
so then the only thing you really have to power is the Maglev system itself,
which also could be solar, wind and clean-energy powered
in stations along the track.
Communication: It'd be hard pressed for anybody to disagree
with how robust our communication systems are these days.
I don't really have to hammer that point too much.
I'm actually surprised nobody is texting now. [Laughter]
This guy is annoying. [Laughter]
Let's go hypothetical a little bit, but
the technologies are real. We just covered all the biological
and the quality of life needs that could be met with technical abundance
so that everybody has access to the things
that would make their lives great.
After such abundant solution sets are implemented,
can the current system that we live in handle that?
Does our current socio-economic model take into account
our ability to advance to an abundance paradigm?
- Technology contracted towards the system economy, I would say.
Sustainability...
- I would venture to say no.
Our current socio-economic model can't handle this,
and the reason why is because the current socio-economic model
could not have predicted the world that we're in now.
People don't seem to realize that
what we use as our modern form of economics
is basically 200 - 300 years old
and has been twisted and manipulated here and there over time,
but it was designed, the root foundations of it were designed
during a time and age where scarcity and deprivation
and haves and have nots were pretty much the dominant force on the planet.
The only way you can create anything was by people serving people;
other people had to do it.
We can go back thousands of years for the basic root systems
of what markets were, what economics had been turned into.
Even though, by definition, economics is supposed to be household management:
the most efficient, sustainable way to handle
the resources that you have at hand.
It's pretty obvious we are not doing a very good job
of managing our economics when you see the planet start to stress;
you see people start to stress.
There are a lot of issues built into what we have now
versus what we are capable of accomplishing.
We can do a 'now in need' comparison
and just think about these topics in that way.
Right now we have a system based on scarcity, haves versus have nots.
Whether that scarcity is natural or artificial pretty much doesn't matter.
Some people can manufacture scarcity
by limiting the amount of a product in the market
thereby driving its value up artificially;
or a natural disaster could mess with the orange crop,
so the orange value goes up, something like that.
What we need is a system based on technical abundance
that can mitigate a lot of those negatives,
prevent natural disasters from affecting crops
by doing more climate controlled systems.
Things like I'm doing with my buildings where it doesn't matter
if its -10 degrees outside or a 105.
The building will still produce quality food
at a nice temperature of about 72.
What we have is a system based on inefficient human labor
as the main driver of how we get things done:
how people are paid, labor for income, things like that.
What we need is a system based on efficient technical labor
as the main driver,
because it's pretty obvious that the machines we've invented
are way better than us at a lot of things.
People don't put cars together by hand anymore.
Why would you do that? It's not as efficient
and you can be a lot more safe, a lot more accurate with technical systems.
Now, we're talking about dummy systems, we're not talking about
AI, robot, computer, you know cyborg stuff here.
That's a completely different topic.
We're talking about systems that don't think; they just do
a particular assigned task.
What we have now is a system based on cyclical consumption
for constant growth.
What we need is a system based on sustainability and balance.
How many planet Earths do we have?
How can you cyclically consume
and expect constant growth on a finite world?
Either better find another planet
and better find a way to get there really soon, that you can live on,
or you have to change what you're doing
on the one-and-only world you've got at the moment, anyway;
and if we don't, the planet's going to be fine.
It will continue on for another couple of billion years till the sun expands,
sucks in the inner solar system and then goes nova and
blows us all out in a big beautiful explosion of particles.
It's going to happen anyway.
The planet doesn't care, but as George Carlin would say
"We're screwed
if we don't fix it."
We have a system based on ownership and control.
What we need is a system based on usership (I made that one up;
and it's difficult to say, too. I going to change the word. I'll figure it out later.)
and open access. OK?
Where did ownership come from?
It makes sense if you go back several hundred years
to the notion of agriculture.
If you go back even further in time, we didn't have that hiccup.
We didn't have ownership as a primary requirement.
Nomadic hunter-gatherers didn't care about owning anything.
They moved too much. They were in smaller groups that just
went down the river. They didn't stay anywhere. They kind of
did what they had to in that zone when the plants and the foliage...
couldn't eat anything any more. The hunting was gone.
They would move down into a different location,
so they didn't really own the land. They used the land.
They were usership. They just got what they needed.
That was natural abundance: not a whole lot of people, big old giant planet.
It worked out well, in that paradigm,
but as we got more advanced and population began to grow,
and it really grew a lot when we had the agricultural revolution;
now you had land that you had to cultivate.
So, I must put a fence around that land
so I can protect it from somebody else coming in and taking control,
or trying to mess with all the hard work that I put into it.
So, now I've got this land that I've got to protect.
I can't always do it myself, so maybe I should hire a couple of guys
to do it for me, and I'll pay them with food, but I'll get them some clubs.
So, now we have the police and military coming into effect.
If you start looking at how all these systems propagate themselves,
that's where you get the kind of world we have today.
Mine, I own it, I'm going to protect it,
and if you try to take it I'm going to whack you over the head with a club,
or shoot a missile at you, or whatever. Right?
21st century version of club.
Think about this in terms of usership:
Do you want to own a car, do you need to own a car,
or do you just need on-demand access to transportation
to go where you want, when you want?
Anybody who lives in a city that has a good public transportation system,
like Oslo or Stockholm
(where I just recently was a couple of days ago)
there are a lot of people (or Manhattan in New York)
who don't own cars at all, and they haven't owned cars for years.
I've got a friend who lives in New York. He hasn't had a car for over 5 years.
Why? Don't need one! Go anywhere you want, whenever you want,
the mass transit system is pretty good.
It's not as clean or efficient as it could be
if you'd put in Maglev systems, automated vehicles
shared cars, things like that,
but it's not bad. So, people don't need cars.
What you would need a car for is if you're going to a remote area,
but could you not maybe check out a car
like you would check out a book at a library?
Check out a vehicle, use it for when you need it, bring it back.
Have the respect and understanding, the proper educational foundation
to understand that that vehicle is
everybody's to use; just like the library book would be.
Do you grab the library book, go home, and use it in the fireplace?
No! Because you've been taught to respect the book
and other people can read it and enjoy it.
Same idea with the vehicles or other commodities
that we think we need to own.
Statistical fact: A car sits and does nothing for 80% of its life.
It's parked.
If you look at how many hours a day you actually drive
versus how many hours a day it sits,
it's about 20 to 25% of the time that you actually use it.
Yet you spend how much money on a car?
Like in America you are averaging $20,000 - $30,000
for a big complex piece of machinery
that you drive 25% of the time.
Don't you think that's kind of a waste of resources,
a waste of potential for that vehicle?
It's something to think about.
What we have now is a system based on outdated
multi, century-old ideologies and institutions.
What we need is a system based on forward-thinking
adaptation and emergence.
We're always getting more data, more knowledge.
Let's see:
First, the Earth is flat. Yes, it is.
I can see that it's flat. It's flat! You're going to fall off.
You do a little scientific analysis, OK, maybe not so flat.
New data, new way of thinking about how we work in the world,
different behavioral, adjustment shift.
No way we're ever going to go into space. Are you kidding me?
First of all, that looks flat too.
I mean, you just see stuff move around a little bit; but no,
that's never going to happen. Forget it!
And... touchdown,
Tranquillity Base. Now we are on the Moon.
Now we're in space on a regular basis.
OK. Forget that old data point, absorb the new data point,
change our way of thinking, and move forward.
You could probably go through 100 different scenarios like that
of we thought was one thing and we behaved a certain way,
and then we got new data, we adjusted and we moved on.
But you notice how there's one thing that never seems to change
and that's how we socio-economically operate on this planet,
at least for the past 5000 years or so.
It's almost as if money, market, economics
and that methodology of governing resources
has and always will be.
In the beginning God created Heaven, the Earth, banks and the markets.
Right?
Not exactly.
So, if all these other things can adjust and shift,
why can't we develop a better operating system
to adjust and shift to the new capabilities that we have?
A system based on hostile competition, secrecy and differential advantage,
versus a system of cooperation and collaboration of ideas
and information for mutual benefit.
One of the leading examples of what we need
kind of exists today with Linux,
and how that is an open source, interactive platform
that everyone can contribute to as an operating system for your computer,
up to and including inventing software packages that mimic Windows.
So if you really think about it in a way,
the Earth is currently still running Windows 1.0
and we need to upgrade to Linux.
Hostile competition.
I'm OK with competition. I like sports.
I'm still keeping track of the NFL play-offs, (Go Patriots!)
things like that,
but that doesn't kill anybody.
Economic competition can kill people,
and if that isn't very obvious in how
people are starving that shouldn't be starving,
how people are impoverished that shouldn't be impoverished,
how people don't have access to education or energy
or anything to live in a decent quality of life,
I don't know what other indicator you need.
Economic competition can kill people.
Friendly competition, two scientists going after each other:
"I'm going to solve this problem before you. "No you're not! "All right, fine!"
Go against each other, somebody wins.
All right. One: problem solved.
That's a bonus for mankind whatever that technical problem might have been,
and at the end of the day, they'll probably go have a beer together anyway,
right?
So, that's fine,
but when you live in a world where differential advantage:
having control over somebody else by hoarding resources
or monopolizing their extraction or monopolizing their use
or creating a whole bunch of products,
that is a gigantic waste of resources as a way to manipulate the system.
That's not good for us in the long run.
We live now in a system where political opinion
influenced by financial contributions
dictate the ebb and flow of global operations to benefit a select few,
which has kind of been the case throughout the dawn of mankind.
Well, not the dawn of mankind, not the hunter-gatherers, but
if you look at monarchies or any kind of top-down system,
it's a scarcity driven environment.
What we need is a scientific method
used in conjunction with human experience and technical foundations
to enhance the lives of all people.
There should be no reason why everybody on the planet
can't start off having a pretty good way of life
which enables them to acquire the educations on what they're passionate about,
whatever that may be, whatever influences them over the course of their life,
to be able to do whatever they want,
positively, to share with other people,
make the world a better place for themselves and those around them,
and never have to worry about the roof over their head
or the food in their stomach.
Mankind needs to move to a new and upgraded global operating system
typically refered to as the Resource-Based Economy,
which is where we use our technical foundations in a way
to better the life of all people.
This includes an educational shift, a value shift,
going from materialistic: "I am special if I own the most stuff",
or "I have the fanciest car" or "the most jewelry",
to a more sustainable platform of value system that says:
"I know that the technical systems that we've invented can benefit everyone.
I can contribute to that or I can benefit from it,
and in the meantime I can create something that somebody else might enjoy,
even if I'm an artist."
If I'm a painter or a musician,
and I'm not so good with technology (I understand how it works,
but I can't really contribute that way), that's OK
because what is going to happen is that scientist
who has a really stressful day trying to solve a problem and doesn't get it
is going to end up going to an art show with his wife, in a couple of days,
and he's going to see a piece of abstract, funky art that the artist created,
and they're going to accidentally see something weird in it
that's going to make them think about work,
and they'll go "Oh crap, why didn't I think about that?"
and the next day they're going to go back to work and end up solving the problem.
Accidental successes:
seeing things in the arts that you might not have otherwise seen;
hearing a piece of music that relaxes you.
All those things add up as a community, as a society,
that work together, where everybody ends up benefiting
out of everybody else's
contributions;
but it is not a direct contribution like...
What's that good old Marxian term?
Forget it.
What? Each to their labor, to their need, or whatever the case may be.
Going back to good old fashion socialism and communism,
failed experiments that couldn't work anyway,
because they were enforced. They weren't evolved.
You see, we're living in a world now where we can,
if we came together in the right kind of way, we could make this stuff happen
because we have technical capabilities to do so. Before, we didn't.
Now we can let the technology do the vast majority of the labor for us,
so that we can actually hang out with each other,
so we can get to know each other better as a species,
and so that we can advance ourselves even beyond just living on this planet.
But remember,
there are no Utopias. This isn't about making everything perfect.
There's no such thing as perfect anyway.
There are always going to be new challenges and new problems
to tackle and to overcome.
There are going to be new tools and capabilities that are required
for new ways of thinking.
For example, try to explain
to a hunter-gatherer from 50,000 years ago, indoor plumbing.
Come on!
You take it for granted today,
but try to explain to them how the plumbing works.
They're going to look at you like "OK, wait.
I can use this thing called a tap,
and I can turn it any time I want and get hot or cold water?
I don't have to get a bucket and go down.. .It's in one place.
What's a building? What's a home? " OK, well now I have to explain what a home is.
"OK, so you've got this home that you live in and it is climate controlled."
"What's climate control? It's cold outside. I have to deal with it."
"No, actually you can regulate the temperature."
You start adding these things up and that
hunter-gatherer is going to call you a Utopianist.
"Are you crazy? That's nuts! There is no way we can live in a world like that!
I'm a hunter-gatherer. That's what I do. It's what I've always done.
It's what my granddad did and their granddad did, and all the way down the line.
We just nomadically go everywhere, and that's what we do."
But we didn't stay that way.
It just so happens that in the 21st century our jumps are coming a lot faster.
We don't have to wait 50,000 years to go to the next level.
The next level is right in front of us,
but we have to make it happen.
So, how do we get there from here?
That is a very complicated question,
but it's actually not so bad.
Do what you love to do
with the notion in your head that whatever you are passionate about
is going to help better the lives of all mankind.
Sounds like a big task,
but if you're really passionate about what you're doing,
you will find ways to use your energy and use your knowledge to that end;
and there are a lot of ways you can do it.
You can join groups and organizations like Open Source Ecology,
which is doing amazing work on
how to build a civilization from the ground up,
using very crude, rudimentary technologies;
but it is still an amazing thought concept.
The Zeitgeist Movement, which were the people that allowed me to be here today.
I'm also a member of The Zeitgeist Movement,
but I also advocate any organization that is thinking
towards the betterment of mankind, The Venus Project.