The Evolution of Spaceship Earth, Inc.
By Richard John Stapleton
I argued in my article “Moving Farther West to Escape Problems at Home is No Longer an Option,” published August 29, 2013 in the Intrepid Report, that capitalism and most religions are now almost obsolete; and, given the advent of modern computers, computer programmers, computer software and the Internet, it is now technologically feasible to construct a new economic system vastly more efficient, effective and fair than what now exists around Spaceship Earth.
Reading Buckminster Fuller’s book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1969) back in the 1970s stimulated some of these ideas. He was the first person I read to suggest computers are the best hope for human survival on Earth, that humans should never do work that machines can do better, and that unemployment can be eliminated overnight by governments issuing mind grants to all citizens, paying them to think.
Progressives now argue something must be done about poorly regulated quasi-obsolete economic systems, religious systems, legal systems, and production and distribution systems that have resulted in the richest 20 percent of Earthians consuming about 76 percent of all goods and services produced every year on Earth, with the bottom 20 percent consuming about 1.5 percent of all goods and services, while a small free Earthian elite, about 26 million humans own and control about 40 percent of Earth’s wealth, living in luxury with almost unlimited options for travel and entertainment, living cheek by jowl among billions of humans mired in poverty, owning almost nothing, doing almost the equivalent of slave labor day in and day out all their lives, yet living in constant fear of being fired from their jobs for disloyalty or slackness, who are condemned to poverty by their wages, in most cases within miles of where they were accidentally born, where they grew up with little or no opportunity to learn relevant knowledge about how the world works, in many cases not even having an opportunity to learn how to read.
I am not advocating abolishing capitalism, communism, socialism, atheism, or any religious ism; since I think certain aspects of capitalism and most religions are humane and beneficial, such as the decentralization of production at the entrepreneurial and small business level and the rewarding of people for creating new ideas, products and services. On the other hand, I think the inevitable centralizing of wealth and power in large corporations in the hands of the elite rich caused by capitalism is an incredible abomination, causing many of Earth’s most threatening problems, including global warming and inequality among humans, increasing at a faster rate. But I do not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Here’s an idea I developed using a management science technique to eventually solve the Earthian inequality problem, a major cause of today’s North African and Middle Eastern civil war tragedies. To my knowledge, I am the first Earthian to dream of this, first published in 2008 in my book Business Voyages, a business bible for people who would like to do the right thing for all Earthians.
An Earthian is an individual member of any species of fauna and flora living aboard Spaceship Earth.
Buckminster Fuller first informed me in the 1970s in his Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth that computers would save us; but I, to my knowledge, am the first Earthian to show in some detail how it could be done with computers, computer programming and the management science technique linear programming. Buckminster Fuller invented the appellation Spaceship Earth and the word Earthian.
Here is my schema for how Buckminster Fuller’s general idea might be brought to fruition to save Spaceship Earth from self-destructing, from my book Business Voyages, first published in 2008, from a passage embarking on page 617:
“It still seems to me Buckminster Fuller in his Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1969) that I first read in 1973 had some of the most creative and cogent ideas I have read for getting humanity out of its ongoing mess. One of Fuller’s ideas was that people should not do work that machines can do better. Another of his ideas was that people should be paid to think with mind grants to maintain full employment. Bringing this about in World 1 would require a lot of change, possibly entailing decreasing the human population aboard Spaceship Earth through lower birth rates over time, but it seems to me Fuller’s ideas about the nature of work, full employment, and prosperity for all could be implemented, perhaps within the next 1000 years. According to Fuller (1969), we need more great pirates, modern-day equivalents of world traders of the past who regulated affairs around the globe because of what they learned sailing their trading ships from one world to another.
“I do not think any of the economic ideas I have heard from Republican or Democratic political candidates in the US in the last year (2003-2004) will do anything to solve problems such as overpopulation in poor countries and jobs being outsourced to poor countries. Seemingly politicians of all stripes will not or cannot face up to the fact that wages are low in poor countries because there are billions of poor people in such countries willing to work hard for a pittance compared to wages and salaries in rich countries, and so long as such conditions exist workers in rich countries will experience inexorable downward pressure on their wages and salaries because of the iron laws of economic competition and supply and demand, which can only be temporarily suppressed in the short run by politicians bending the rules of the game for their favored few through measures such as tariffs, subsidies, currency manipulation, deficit spending, tax reductions, interest rate reductions, and money-printing.
“The long-term solution is for all people aboard Spaceship Earth to get rich, free, and friendly, but to reach that happy state of affairs much patience and sacrifice will be required of billions of poverty-stricken people around the globe—social heroes and martyrs who peacefully live their lives knowing they inherited a relatively mean, short, brutish and unfair fate (Hobbes, 1651).
“Although some biological constructivists think humanity is involved in a meaningless drift in the infinity of time and space, it’s possible most people aboard Spaceship Earth could achieve satisfying lives devoid of economic insecurity and threat of terrorism and military attack within one hundred years. It seems to me this is possible with current rates of progress using free enterprise market systems and democratic political processes, coupled with the ongoing evolutionary bottom-up discovery and application of scientific knowledge (Stapleton & Stapleton, 1998), assuming humans do not blow themselves up with weapons of mass destruction or render themselves extinct with environmental pollution in the meantime. On the other hand, it’s possible that new economic, social, and political alternatives can be tried that might accelerate the current rate of progress; assuming human beings are intelligent enough and creative enough to co-construct them.
“Being a good entrepreneur, or any other kind of good human being, is not easy these days. Despite the gathering storm clouds clearly visible ahead and the wind, heat, and choppy water we are now experiencing caused by religious fanaticism, terrorism, overpopulation, energy depletion, and global warming, the entrepreneur remains the captain of his or her ship.
“It is not easy to remain positive and work hard every day running a tight ship dealing with the problems and details of one’s particular daily existence while one is constantly reminded by news media that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. While the world may be going to hell in a hand basket at some time, it is not going to self- destruct today, this year, or this decade. Despite the problems of World 1, there remain myriad opportunities—right now—for entrepreneurs all over Earth to invent, produce, and sell new products, services, and processes, and get rich, as many are doing.
“The problem is that if everyone should ignore global warming, overpopulation, religious fanaticism, energy depletion, and terrorism, focusing solely on her or his personal life problems, goals, and ambitions, problems of global warming, overpopulation, religious fanaticism, energy depletion, and terrorism are sure to worsen; and if negative trends caused by these problems continue indefinitely, the “world” could come to an end as prophesied by religious fanatics. To help insure this does not happen, the time may come when all conscientious and intelligent human beings, including self-interested entrepreneurs in the process of getting rich, must contribute a significant portion of their time and money to solving the world’s problems if “the world” is to continue to exist.
“Solving problems caused by global warming, religious fanaticism, overpopulation, energy depletion, and terrorism may become the moral equivalent of fighting in world wars, as President Jimmy Carter of the US pointed out regarding the energy crisis of the 1970’s, requiring courageous efforts of mythic proportions and the sacrifices of millions of heroes.
“It seems to me a mathematical formulation exists that one day may develop for Earthians power in economics loosely analogous to the power of E=mc2(squared) in physics. This formulation is Max or Min CjXj, subject to, AijXj ≤, =, or ≥ Bi, which is a general form of the linear programming model, which has been around for many years in management science, operations research, and linear algebra courses. It seems to me Max CjXj, s.t. AijXj ≤, =, or ≥ Bi symbolizes knowledge that gives the human species about as much potential power to perpetuate itself as E=mc2(squared) symbolizes knowledge that gives the human species the power to exterminate itself.
“The upshot of this linear programming discussion is that if computers and computer programs become powerful enough, they might eventually store data in matrices for food, clothing, shelter, energy, transportation, and medicine requirements for every single human living on Planet Earth. These requirements could be summed to develop the total requirement for food, clothing, shelter, energy, etc. for Earth as a whole, per week, month, year, or whatever. An Xj matrix stored in a magnum computer system might contain all the various products required by humans, a Bi matrix in the linear programming formulation might contain all the types of resources available to produce the required goods, which will constrain production below some limit, an Aij matrix in the LP model might contain the amount of various resources required to produce one unit of each necessity of life, or Xj, and a Cj matrix in the linear programming formulation might contain the relative utility of each alternative good, or Xj.
“The Magnum Computer System could then scientifically compute the optimum number of units of alternative products to produce for humans then alive on Earth, once data have been read into the requisite data bases, by someone clicking an icon energizing a “Do loop” of the magnum program to do the processing of the Magnum Production Schedule. Once the goods are produced the Magnum Computer System could then scientifically distribute them among all humans living on Earth using another quantitative management science technique known as the transportation model to minimize transportation costs from raw materials to finished products to consumers. Such a process would insure the world’s resources necessary to sustain human life were used in an optimum manner and were consumed in a generally fair manner.
“Computers can not only store and manipulate data in two dimensional matrices in rows and columns on one plane; they can store and manipulate data in three dimensional matrices that not only go east-west in rows and north-south in columns on one plane, but up and down on different planes. Instead of only having an M x N matrix, you can have an M x N x O matrix, and tell a computer to store data in the cell located at the intersection of the Mth row, the Nth column, and the Oth plane, much like you would park an automobile in a particular space of a multi-story garage. And you can have many more dimensions if you like. You can put M x N x O matrices in larger labeled matrices, and put those labeled matrices in even larger matrices, and so on. Xt,k,c,q,n,p,g, stored in a computer, could be a variable representing the gth good required by the pth person, in the nth city, of the qth state, of the cth country, of the kth continent, in the year, entailing accessing data in 7 interrelated matrices, or dimensions. Subscripts attached to variables such as X in this example tell the computer how to track down specific values through the maze of interrelated matrices. Numbers for the subscripts can theoretically increment from 1 to any finite number (the number of cells in the matrix) and entail that many passes through nested do-loops (7 in this example) in the overall computer algorithm (sequence of iterative mathematical steps) to develop aggregate totals. The process is similar to storing data in labeled files on your personal computer, putting those labeled files in labeled folders, and then putting those labeled folders into other labeled folders, etc., and using subscripts to keep track of what value you put in what variable in what file of what folder.
“Writing a computer program to manage a global economy would require many thousands of man-hours of flowcharting and programming time and a magnum computer system. Such requirements for such a project might approximate the man-hour and technical knowledge and skill requirements of the Manhattan project that produced the first atom bomb, or the US space program that put the first man on the moon. Writing such a program would require flowcharting and programming skill many orders of magnitude greater than mine. I have not written a line of computer code since earning my doctorate in 1969, and I learned only one computer language, Fortran IV.
“Using linear programming to schedule world production and distribution of the necessities of life is at present little more than business science fiction, however mathematically feasible this is or shall become as computers and computer software become more powerful and sophisticated. On the other hand, such a system may evolve through time through synergistic learning as more and more humans comprehend what is going on. For more on synergistic learning and comprehension refer back to Buckminster Fuller’s definitions of synergy and comprehension in Chapter 1 of Business Voyages, “Where to Go.”
“It’s possible a computerized global economic system shall evolve for the production and distribution of the necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter, and medicine—with the national identities, cultures, political systems, economic systems, religions, and so forth of the some 200 nations now on Earth remaining intact. Free enterprise could exist for everything but the production and distribution of the necessities of life. I have no idea what are the probabilities of any of these things happening, but it seems to me they are possible, which, it seems to me, is hopeful for all mankind.
“Today in reality the market system, composed of billions of isolated customers voting for the producing of various goods by buying things, is used to decide what to produce and how to distribute the produced items. The market system works pretty well for billions of people on Earth, but poorly for a billion or so, those who go to bed hungry at night. Politicians and bureaucrats spasmodically intervene at various times and places based on impulses, fears, power needs, sympathy, and other motivations to provide charitable aid for fellow humans clearly in need of help, regardless of where the people needing help might have been unlucky enough to have been born on Earth, and regardless of global market determinations, in a loose system of governments and charitable organizations including the United Nations that has enabled the human species as a whole to muddle through.”
“Management scientists using something like linear programming to schedule, produce, and distribute the necessities of life for all humanity as outlined above would prove those in control of the Magnum Computer System truly cared about every single human alive on Earth, creating a World 1 in which every man, woman, and child alive on Earth would know for a fact she or he was truly appreciated and protected by a rational fair global system during her or his infinitesimally short existence on Earth. The implementation of such a system might finally untie the Gordian knot that has kept much of mankind threatened and terrorized by fear, ignorance, poverty, hunger, disease, misery and violence since time immemorial.”
According to the philosopher Karl Popper, quoted in Business Voyages, “World 1 includes hydrogen and helium, the heavier elements, liquids and crystals, and living organisms; World 2 includes consciousness of self and of death, and sentience or animal consciousness; and World 3 includes works of art and science and technology, human language, and theories of self and of death.”
To read inside Business Voyages and read a review and maybe buy yourself a copy go to https://www.amazon.com/Business-Voyages-Schemata-Discovering-Co-Constructing/dp/1413480810.
It seems Earthians must make major changes or live with the probabilities of an environmental catastrophe. Better birth control measures are needed to reduce overpopulation, a major cause of global warming; and changes must be made in economic strategies and belief systems that inevitably cause Earth’s resources to wind up in the hands of fewer and fewer humans while most of Earth’s population becomes poorer and poorer, while the environment is polluted more and more, having possibly already passed a tipping point.
Here’s a an idea for dealing with the over-population problem, which would peacefully shrink Earth’s human population from generation to generation until a sustainable population level is reached, by Earthian women deciding to have no more than one child each, of either sex, assuming they had the power to do so.
A solution for the Earthian plight, if there is one, probably entails humans inventing a bottom-up religion and a spiritual god, similar to the god and religion advocated by Michael Adzema and Native American Elders. Adzema defines a spiritual god as the highest moral, ethical and spiritual state individual humans are capable of achieving, becoming an Atman, using pure subjectivity. Native American elders conceive of god as the Great Spirit that exists in all nature, spiritually present in Earth itself, in its waters, mountains, and animals. These gods are not commanding gods ruling from above, but rather exist in the minds of humans who feel their presence here on Earth.
Native Americans worshipped their ancestors, sensing, feeling and reliving the ego states, beliefs and behaviors that had been interjected into their neuronal networks from earliest childhood, probably from even the perinatal process, from first-hand exposure to mothers in their wombs and their parents and grandparents who showed and used them after birth, which were passed like a baton between runners in a track race every generation since time immemorial, causing the last generation produced to feel, think and do in the here and now much as their ancestors had, which like all human processes on Earth produced both good and bad effects from one perspective or another depending on circumstances.
Both the old God of the Book and the new US surveillance and drone technological god of computers and the Internet rely on threats, fear and intimidation to cause humans to do the right thing in the opinion of the gods, using top-down quasi-legal systems with built-in punishments for wrongdoers. The old God also promised a fantastical reward in a heaven throughout eternity as his major incentive for sinners who signed up for his program and who met his expectations and requirements when alive on Earth.
One can build the case what humans need now is a non-commanding bottom-up belief system that supports the decisions of all Earthians capable of producing learning that will cause them to do the right thing for themselves and others, causing them to do what is necessary for all to survive and experience a modicum of satisfaction during their infinitesimally short lives, simply because the right thing is the right thing for all species on Earth, with no thought of earning a fantastical eternal reward in some sort of heaven.
The old God fostered economic and legal systems that encouraged the selfish acquisition of land and goods; the new bottom-up god would peacefully encourage the sharing of resources so as to enhance the welfare and survival of all Earthians, not merely the richest, most powerful, most manipulative, most callous, most hypocritical, most deceitful and most obedient.
From a practical standpoint, a program similar to the one above would probably entail the internationalization of most large corporations and industries so as to produce and distribute the necessities of life in a fair way. This would entail an overhaul of the way people work and live and their human relationships. In this New World all humans would be born free and empowered; and, like those born truly rich today, they would not have to worry about ever having to work for a living as long as they live.
Under this new regime, everyone born on Earth would inherit at birth the same number of stock shares in Spaceship Earth, Inc., which would pay sufficient dividends to provide a decent life year after year until death.
Some onerous repetitive maintenance jobs in house cleaning, health care, farming, construction, manufacturing, and the like probably can never be fully automated; and some humans will have to do these jobs; but many humans could be motivated to do those jobs by allowing the market system to take care of this much as it does now, if there was no risk of workers doing this work losing their Spaceship Earth, Inc. dividend checks.
On the other hand there are countless service jobs that cannot be automated, and the market system could also take care of this as it does now for the above reasons.
Anyone lucky enough to inherit strong fast muscles, height, weight and good coordination and a will to win with a willingness to train and work hard could still make extra money playing professional sports. The same goes for people lucky enough to inherit artistic and entertainment talents of all sorts. I guess it might be fair for some of these athletes and entertainers to get filthy rich as they do now, retaining their Spaceship Earth, Inc. dividend checks, but the main thing would be to make sure every Earthian born had a guaranteed good life with Spaceship Earth dividend checks.
This, surely, would finally get rid of the need for large expensive military forces and wars to keep people employed and kill people off.
Most Earthians satisfied with their dividend checks from Spaceship Earth, Inc. could spend their time reading, writing and solving math problems, visiting with one another, communicating on the Internet, doing scientific experiments, mowing their own grass, perhaps growing some of their own eggs, milk and vegetables, cooking their own food, attending plays and art shows, and traveling now and then on trains and airplanes to see firsthand new, beautiful and inspiring sights around Earth.
For ramifications see Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds, a business bible for people who would like to do the right thing for all Earthians.
Richard John Stapleton is an emeritus professor of business policy, ethics and entrepreneurship who writes on business and politics at https://www.effectivelearning.net. He is the Editor & Publisher of the Effective Learning Report and The Earthian.
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