Our current socioeconomic system is unlikely to bring about a hi-tech transhumanist future in the long run if we just sit back and wait for it to happen. I propose that we build the foundations of a society that can realize our dreams.
Star Trek offers a vision of the future in a post-scarcity, moneyless society. I would also envision it as a sustainable society which holds science in high regard. Such a future civilization would maintain a high standard of living in a high tech society. This gives us some vision or goal of a type of a society that we could achieve: an ST-type (Star-Trek-type) socioeconomic system. But perhaps we could do even more? An ST-type of economy doesn’t fully utilize advanced technologies, for example, such as transhumanists would envision. So, if we combine an ST-type socioeconomic system with transhumanist-familiar technologies, we have a system that perhaps we wish to aim for: ST+type socioeconomic system.
But why do we want to aim for such a system anyway? Isn’t our current socioeconomic system heading in such a direction anyway?
Why build a new civilization?
I would argue that these aren’t valid concerns. Our current socioeconomic system has a number of serious flaws, which all have their roots in the fact that we try and maintain exponential growth using a finite resource base. No physical system can sustain such growth and it will either change to something else or it will collapse. Collapse doesn’t represent a viable alternative as we are less likely to end up with a high tech civilization if we lived in the ruins of our current society. Change can work to our advantage if the change goes toward creating a sustainable hi-tech socioeconomic system but we have no guarantee that will happen. We could easily change to an anti-science theocracy if we let things take their own course.
Our current system also drives the system to maximize profits here and now rather than think of the long term projects we could achieve. As such it wouldn’t head towards a transhumanist future. For evidence of that, consider: why don’t we have moon bases or colonies on Mars now? Certainly not due to lack of technical skills, resources or vision.
I would argue that if we want to see a sustainable hi-tech civilization in the future, one that can support a transhumanist vision, then we cannot sit back and wait for it to happen.
We need to build it ourselves.
Building the future
How would we build the future with very little resources? Marshall Savage proposed one such method in the “Millennium Project”. With eight steps, he envisioned a plan that would take us from today to a future civilization out among the stars. It starts with the idea of forming companies to fund development and include sea-steading and moon colonies. A group did attempt to implement the project but failed. I think the approach looks good but runs into problems with implementation due to very little happening for a very long time. Also, such projects tend to have inter-personal conflicts and individuals who want to do things their own way with their own ideas.
I would like to propose something that we have worked on in EOS; stepping stones. In some ways the idea of stepping stones mirrors Marshall Savage’s ideas but here we start small with a small group. We aim to build on a small scale something that we can achieve. We still have grand plans but nothing breeds success like success. Through building a small project and getting it working we hope to use it as a stepping stone to a larger project, which in turn would form the foundation to an even larger project and so on till we have a sustainable society that works; a society that could form the foundation for a hi-tech world around ST+type of socioeconomic system.
We first aim to build a bio-dome. A bio-dome is a type of green house in the form of a geodesic dome where we would grow plants using aquaponics. We already have a model built and have had hydroponic and aquaponic systems successfully up and running. We have land and we have started to progress to the point of building the actual dome.
Building one dome gives us a realistic target and from one dome we would then progress to building a number of domes. From many domes we would continue on to building an eco-village; stepping stones.
The project will still take a long time. It is in the nature of such projects that it will take a long time before things start to take off. But as they do, they will gain speed in a type of snow ball effect. Working with others will speed up the process as we work in parallel teams.
Cooperation forms one key element in building a future ST+type of socioeconomic system, but here we run into the problems caused by people and their egos and their need to do things their own way. Some times when I talk about cooperation to people the old joke comes to mind; “how can we cooperate if you don’t do as I say?”
Cooperation in this case would have to work when people can agree on a common vision and a common plan. We don’t always have to agree all of the time. When we disagree or wish to do something different we go our own ways. When we do agree on the vision or project then we work together. This also takes some leadership skill because even when cooperating we have to take into account disagreeing viewpoints to work towards a common goal.
Our current system is not sustainable. This is not good if we want a hi-tech society. Such a society is unlikely to occur if we sit back and wait for it to happen.
Set the vision; what type of society do we want?
Through a process of cooperation and stepping stones we can move towards implementing this vision.
It will be a long journey and will take a long time before we see the fruits of our labor, but if we keep our eyes on the goal then reaching it will be fruitful indeed.
* image used from: http://www.startrekdesktopwallpaper.com/new_wallpaper/Star_Trek_Jupter_Station2_freecomputerdesktopwallpaper_1920.shtml