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Jacque Fresco - Re-engineering The World With 'The Venus Project'

Jacque Fresco has been envisioning the future for almost a century. An industrial designer and social engineer, he is a forerunner in the field of Human Factors Engineering, has worked as both innovator and inventor in a wide range of fields spanning aerospace, medicine, architecture, automotive design, psychology and much more. He is the founder of the Venus Project (formerly Sociocyberneering, Inc.), a twenty-one acre research facility in Venus, Florida -- the function of which is to prepare approaches and solutions to major problems that confront the world today. The Venus Project represents the culmination of Fresco’s life work: the integration of the best of science and technology into a comprehensive plan for a society based on human and environmental concern.

Fresco’s talents can only be described as prolific. His accomplishments include a tenure as design consultant for Rotor Craft Helicopter Company, service in the Army Design and Development Unit at Wright Field, a position as Research Engineer for Raymond De-Icer Corp and helped create Revel Plastics Corporation. He was a technical consultant to the motion picture industry, and also worked on the film The Magic Eye, which won the Robert J. Flaherty Award for creative film documentary. He also has taught industrial design at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. He has authored seven books and has written and published numerous articles throughout the world. In addition, he has successfully produced and filmed four educational videos about the future that are distributed to high schools, colleges and libraries worldwide.

Jacque has been a guest lecturer at many institutions of higher learning and conferences. His presentations enable a non-technical audience to grasp the significance of complex social and technical innovations. He speaks dramatically and brilliantly about the urgent transitional problems facing our contemporary society.

Fresco has been featured on countless television shows throughout the world and his world lecture tour in 2010 where he traveled to over 20 countries and gave over 26 lectures was a tremendous success. Academy Award Nominated and Emmy Winning filmmaker, William Gazecki in 1998 produced a major documentary, titled Future By Design, on Mr. Fresco’s life, designs and philosophy. In 2008, the world-renowned film, Zeitgeist Addendum, by Peter Joseph showcased the work of Jacque Fresco. This film was a huge Internet phenomenon receiving 50,000,000 views within its first year.

The Venus Project is a global vision of hope for the future of humankind in our technological age. Television and magazine coverage on The Venus Project has been worldwide. www.TheVenusProject.com

CE: How did The Venus Project start? Could you give us a brief history of the project?

Mr. Fresco: Living through the 1929 Great Depression helped shape my social conscience. During this time, I realized the earth was still the same place, manufacturing plants were still intact, and resources were still there, but people didn’t have money to buy the products. I felt the rules of the game we play by were outmoded and damaging. This began a life-long quest resulting in the conclusions and designs presented in The Venus Project.

Conditions of misery, suffering, war, and war profiteering were the incentive and inspiration for my work. I was also motivated by the seeming incompetence of governments, the academic world, and a lack of solutions from scientists. Many fail as generalists because of their over-specialization on limited aspects of social problems. Scientists, politicians, and academicians see problems from inside the system they’re in, which is what’s responsible for the problems in the first place. I am disappointed with those who worry about terra-forming other planets while our own is still full of war, poverty, hunger, and environmental neglect.

Working with drug addicts, alcoholics, and so-called juvenile delinquents in New York City convinced me that instead of working with individuals, more effective methods would deal with the societal conditions that create dysfunctional behaviors in the first place.

As global challenges and scientific information proliferate, nations and people face common threats that transcend national boundaries. Overpopulation, energy shortages, global warming, environmental pollution, water scarcity, economic catastrophe, the spread of uncontrollable disease, and the technological displacement of people by machines threaten each of us. Although many people are dedicated to alleviating those conditions, our social and environmental problems will remain insurmountable as long as a few powerful nations and financial interests maintain control of and consume most of the world's resources and the monetary system prevails.

If we really wish to put an end to our ongoing international and social problems, we must declare Earth and all of its resources the common heritage of all of the world's people.

Earth is abundant and has plentiful resources. Our practice of rationing resources through monetary control is no longer relevant and is counter-productive to our survival. Today we have highly advanced technologies, but our social and economic system has not kept up with our technological capabilities. We could easily create a world of abundance for all, free of servitude and debt based on the carrying capacity of Earth resources. With the intelligent and humane application of science and technology, the people of the earth can guide and shape the future together while protecting the environment. We don't have enough money to accomplish these ends but we do have more than enough resources.

CE: What are the problems in our current systems?

Mr. Fresco: There are many disadvantages to using this old method of exchange for goods and services. We will consider just a few here and let you add to this list on your own.

1. Money is just an interference between what one needs and what one is able to get. It is not money that people need, it is access to resources.
2. The use of money results in social stratification and elitism based primarily on economic disparity.
3. People are not equal without equal purchasing power.
4. Most people are slaves to jobs they do not like because they need the money.
5. There is tremendous corruption, greed, crime, embezzlement, and more caused by the need for money.
6. Most laws are enacted for the benefit of corporations, which have enough money to lobby, bribe, or persuade government officials to make laws that serve their interests.
7. Those who control purchasing power have greater influence.
8. Money is used to control the behavior of those with limited purchasing power.
9. Goods such as foods are sometimes destroyed to keep prices up; when things are scarce prices increase.
10. There is tremendous waste of material and strain on available resources from superficial design changes for newer later fads each year in order to create continuous markets for manufacturers.
11. There is tremendous environmental degradation due to the high cost of better methods of waste disposal.
12. The Earth is being plundered for profit.
13. The benefits of technology are only distributed to those with sufficient purchasing power.
14. Most important, when the corporation's bottom line is profit, decisions in all areas are made not for the benefit of people and the environment, but primarily for the acquisition of wealth, property, and power.

CE: Could you talk a bit about 'Resource Based Economy'? It seems to be one of the most important aspects of TVP.

Mr. Fresco: To transcend these limitations, The Venus Project proposes we work toward a worldwide, resource-based economy, a holistic social and economic system in which the planetary resources are held as the common heritage of all the earth's inhabitants. The current practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant, counter-productive, and falls far short of meeting humanity's needs.

Simply stated, within a Resource Based Economy we will utilize existing resources - rather than money - to provide an equitable method of distribution in the most humane and efficient manner. It is a system in which all goods and services are available to everyone without the use of money, credits, barter, or any other form of debt or servitude.

To better understand a resource-based economy, consider this. If all the money in the world disappeared overnight, as long as topsoil, factories, personnel and other resources were left intact, we could build anything we needed to fulfill most human needs. It is not money that people require, but rather free access to most of their needs without worrying about financial security or having to appeal to a government bureaucracy. In a resource-based economy of abundance, money will become irrelevant.

We have arrived at a time when new innovations in science and technology can easily provide abundance to all of the world's people. It is no longer necessary to perpetuate the conscious withdrawal of efficiency by planned obsolescence, perpetuated by our old and outworn profit system. If we are genuinely concerned about the environment and our fellow human beings, if we really want to end territorial disputes, war, crime, poverty and hunger, we must consciously reconsider the social processes that led us to a world where these factors are common. Like it or not, it is our social processes - political practices, belief systems, profit-based economy, our culture-driven behavioral norms - that lead to and support hunger, war, disease and environmental damage.

The aim of this new social design is to encourage an incentive system no longer directed toward the shallow and self-centered goals of wealth, property, and power. These new incentives would encourage people toward self-fulfillment and creativity, both materially and spiritually.

Our current system is not capable of providing a high standard of living for everyone, nor can it ensure the protection of the environment because the major motive is profit. Businesses aren't entirely to blame; they are forced to operate this way in order to retain the competitive edge. Additionally, with the advent of automation, cybernation, and artificial intelligence, there will be an ever-increasing replacement of people by automated systems. As a result, fewer people will be able to purchase goods and services even though our capability to produce an abundance will continue to exist. This is well-documented in Jeremy Rifkin's new book The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-market Era (Putnam, 1995). The Venus Project offers a fresh approach that reverses the negative aspects experienced in our current applications of automation and artificial intelligence. This project eliminates the disastrous consequences that such approaches can have on our society, i.e. the displacement of millions of workers, skilled and unskilled alike.

CE: How do you propose transition from the money based economy to the resource base economy?

Mr. Fresco: If enough people find the proposals acceptable and join with us in this new advocacy, we could form the nucleus of an organization to more forcefully implement the aims of The Venus Project.

During the great depression of 1929 when banks failed and people were laid off, things seemed hopeless. Those conditions brought about new organizations to address the many problems--everything from Mankind United, Socialism, Communism, Technocracy, and The World Federalist. They produced social awareness on a large scale. These conditions are sometimes referred to as bio-social pressures or the march of events.

At present, people are not well enough informed to devise a relevant and workable social system through rational methods. The Venus Project will not be installed by today's political leaders who are not appointed to change things but to keep things as they are. It is only through the failure of existing social institutions and political incompetence that people will seek other possible social alternatives. They are mainly motivated only by severe conditions that threaten their safety and existence.

No nation today is about to give up its sovereignty for a social arrangement that has never been tried. Therefore it will take a social breakdown to stimulate the search for alternative social designs. This has been the case throughout human history.

What will bring about the collapse of the world's monetary systems is the infusion of automation and the outsourcing of jobs. This includes not only assembly line workers but also doctors, engineers, architects, and the like. As workers and professionals lose their purchasing power, the industries that depend on them can no longer function. This will bring an end to the monetary system. It is not a question of owners giving up their industries so much as the fact that people will not have the purchasing power to sustain this system. Even the motion picture industry is generating computerized people who will replace many TV announcers and personalities.

This breakdown is already well underway on a global scale.

While these drastic conditions will help produce the motivation for social change, no individual or organization has laid out what changes are necessary and how to bring them about. Our current system is not working. Unless people are aware of, or knowledgeable about what is needed, they will continue to repeat the same mistakes--war, recession, boom and bust, hunger, poverty, and much unnecessary human suffering.

The aims of The Venus Project cannot be achieved until people become aware of its proposals and aims. To introduce to the world this new social direction, the best vehicle is a major motion picture. It will present simply and understandably the advantages to all nations of participating in a resource-based economy. This film will be both entertaining and educational. It would present the limitless possibilities of an evolving society, which surpasses politics, poverty, money, and war.

CE: What would be the problems associated with the resource based economy?

Mr. Fresco: The largest problems would be cleaning up the damage done to people and the planet from the monetary system and Social and cultural lag. All people are always immersed in a culture which is responsible for the levels of education. Today unfortunately most education is designed as propaganda rather than information related to the physical laws that govern all living and non-living systems.

CE: You emphasize a lot on technology to solve problems. Do you think technology & engineering can solve all the problems humans face?

Mr. Fresco: They are the only things that can solve our problem. But this can not be done in a monetary system.

Whether we like it or not, we are depending more and more on technology. Our concern is about whether technology will be used in a society like the one we have now, which is abusive to people, or in one where it can free people and provide them with more constructive options. The scenario you gave sounded like the dictatorial futures artists put forth when they know little about technology. If The Venus Project does not generate a warm, loving, and supportive environment, it will not work. Society would not be organized so as to be subservient to machines but rather, machines would enhance people's lives. We view machines as extensions of our human capabilities. You don't see people getting mad at their washing machines or refrigerators because they are afraid they might take over. Massive construction machines eliminate the need for thousands to toil with low-tech hand tools. I don't think anyone would object to that unless it meant, as it does today, that some may lose their income.

The system we advocate may never be perfect, but it would be a tremendous improvement over the way we organize the provision of goods and services today. It would be an emergent system continuously improving and developing new resources for research to further the process.

CE: Do you think we have enough resources to power machines of the future?

Mr. Fresco: In a resource-based economy many of the shortages that we have today could easily be overcome by technological ingenuity and the reduction of waste. For example, we could use a form of evaporative condensation in all areas where there are water shortages. We could provide canals from the sea into the land and cover the canals for several miles with transparent enclosures. These would be used for evaporative desalinization. In the state of Florida alone we have close to 50 watts per s yard, which is not harnessed at this time by solar heat concentrators. All highways, parking lots, and rooftops in the new cities would be used to heat water for all of the community needs without the burning of fossil fuels. By using geothermal energy alone (the natural heat of the earth), we could propel the world's society for the next thousand years but this is relatively untapped. There is also wave power, wind power, heat concentrators and many sources of untapped power. Science has never been given the assignment of the production of an abundance for the benefit of all of the earth's people.? A high standard of living would mean that all members of society would have access to all of the necessities to sustain life - medical care, education, food, clothing, housing, entertainment, leisure time and more. Man-hours could be reduced considerably until completely eliminated. By eliminating planned obsolescence and the replication of the same products by many different manufactures and by surpassing the need for advertising, sales, lawyers, business personnel, bankers and all of the other non-productive profession we could easily provide many more goods and services to all people. Today's middle class lives better than all of the kings of the past. In a resource- based economy, when the main thrust and total aim of science and innovative technology are directed towards a higher standard of living for all, our life style could far surpass anything imagined today.

Yes. The potential of untapped energy sources is almost limitless if we utilize desert heat concentrators, wind, wave and tidal sources. Even portions of the Gulf Stream, the Icelandic Current, and the Japan Current could eliminate all of the energy shortages in the world today. If we had utilized the money that we spent on military systems for the last 40 years and put it toward developing clean sources of energy, the world would be a far better, safer, and cleaner place for all of humankind.

The potential of geothermal energy is almost limitless and can easily supply enough energy for all of the world's needs. Even if we harness only one percent of the geothermal energy of the earth's outer crust we would have available approximately five hundred times the energy contained in all of the gas and oil reserves in the world. This source of energy gives off little or no sulfur compared to fossil fuel fired power plants and they emit no nitrogen oxides. In addition, geothermal installations require very little dedicated land as compared to other power plants. The drilling of geothermal wells has far fewer environmental impacts than other energy resources, and there is no need for mineshafts, tunnels, open pits, or waste storage.

A great deal of this energy is available in the outer most layers of the earth's crust which is approximately six miles and this potential energy source is available throughout the world from the Andes Mountains in South America to the Gulf of California, The Rift Valleys of Africa, the Mid Atlantic Ridge, and along the Bering Strait.

CE: Does TVP make humans depend even more on machines than we are today? Do you think it could be dangerous?

Mr. Fresco: Yes there will be more use of machines than today but this will not be dangerous. There are many who fear the installations of cybernated systems. This fear is unfounded. It is not technology that is to be feared. Our concern should be with the abuse of this technology, rather than with the inanimate technology itself.

Regarding your concerns about technology bringing out aberrant behavior, note that whether we like it or not, we are depending more and more on technology. Our concern is about whether technology will be used in a society like the one we have now, which is abusive to people, or in one where it can free people and provide them with more constructive options. You fear sounds like the dictatorial futures artists put forth when they know little about technology. If The Venus Project does not generate a warm, loving, and supportive environment, it will not work. Society would not be organized so as to be subservient to machines but rather, machines would enhance people's lives. We view machines as extensions of our human capabilities. You don't see people getting mad at their washing machines or refrigerators because they are afraid they might take over. Massive construction machines eliminate the need for thousands to toil with low-tech hand tools. I don't think anyone would object to that unless it meant, as it does today, that some may lose their income.

The system we advocate may never be perfect, but it would be a tremendous improvement over the way we organize the provision of goods and services today. It would be an emergent system continuously improving and developing new resources for research to further the process.

When computers eventually have sensors extended into all areas of the physical and social complex, we will be able to achieve centralization of decision-making. In a global resource-based economy, decisions would not be based on local politics but on a holistic problem solving approach.

This centralized system could be connected to research labs and universities, with all data monitored and updated constantly. Most of the technology needed for such infrastructure management is currently available. The major difference between today's computer technology and the system we recommend is that our system extends its autonomic nervous system (environmental sensors) into all areas relevant to the social complex. It coordinates a balance between production and distribution, and operates to maintain a balanced-load economy. This technology of industrial electronic feedback can be applied to the entire global economy.

For example, with electrical sensors extended into the agricultural region, computerized systems would manage and control agriculture by monitoring the water table, insects, pests, plant diseases, soil nutrients, and so forth. The information processed will enable us to arrive at more appropriate decision-making based on feedback from the environment.

Computers and artificial intelligence will serve as catalysts for change. They will establish scientific scales of performance. It is doubtful that in the latter part of the twenty-first century people will play any significant role in decision-making. Eventually, the installation of AI and machine decision-making will manage all resources serving the common good.

This will result in a more humane and meaningful approach for shaping tomorrow's civilization that is not based on the opinions or desires of a particular sect or individual. All decisions would be made on the basis of a comprehensive survey of resources, energy, and existing technology without allowing any advantage to a particular nation or select group of people.

This may be accomplished with large-scale, computer-based processors that can assist us in defining the most humane and appropriate ways to manage environmental and human affairs. This is essentially the function of government. With computers processing trillions of bits of information per second, existing technologies far exceed the human capacity for processing information and they can arrive at equitable and sustainable decisions about the development and distribution of physical resources. With this potential, we would evolve beyond political decisions made on the basis of power and advantage.

CE: How can engineers get involved in this project? 

Mr. Fresco: Please check our TVPDesign section https://thevenusproject.com/en/get-involved/tvpdesign and sign up on our professional database https://thevenusproject.com/techdb/register.php

CE: Do you have special expectations from the engineering community?

Mr. Fresco: That some day they may learn to work on social engineering rather than private engineering and understand what that means for them their families and their children’s children. There may be a short-term gain but in the long run it won’t amount to much. Things will have to be dismantled in exchange for social engineering.

TVP has core, design and activism teams. Learn more about them here: https://thevenusproject.com/en/get-involved/global-activism-teams

CE: Could you elaborate on what the TVPDesign Teams are engaged in right now? 

Mr. Fresco: TVPDesign Teams are for Scientific & Technical Professionals who wish to get involved in design related TVP projects to aid the implementation of The Venus Project as directed by Jacque Fresco. Those working within these teams do so as volunteers for The Venus Project. To find out the projects we will be working on and those being done now please check here: https://thevenusproject.com/en/get-involved/tvpdesign

CE: In your opinion, how long will it take for humans to realize your vision of the planet? 

Mr. Fresco: This depends on what others do to learn about this direction, talk to others and help anyway they can. It is not just up to The Venus Project.

CE: Do you see any steps being taken in the direction?

Mr. Fresco: Not by any one else other than The Venus Project who has the blueprints, process levels and methodologies for attaining sustainability.

We are organizing chapters around the world, making books, many videos and other materials to introduce this direction. There have been 3 documentaries about The Venus Project and we have appeared in many others, two more are in the works. We would like to do a major motion picture to show life in the future and how we get from here to there. We recently finished a world lecture tour to over 19 countries giving more than 26 lectures. We have Tour/Seminars here every Saturday when we are in town and Jacque Fresco speaks for many hours and we show you around the grounds and describe the over 400 models.

CE: What is our message to CEans (aka CrazyEngineers)?

Mr. Fresco: Please review our website www.thevenusproject.com , our youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/thevenusprojectmedia?feature=sub_widget_1 and our other materials you can find on our store https://thevenusproject.com/en/store/the-venus-project-store There is a lot of information that can be found there and this helps support the project. If you identify with this direction then join with us.

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