Sunday, Feb. 4, 1996: p. 3


by Ric Liljenberg

Jacque Fresco of Venus has been coming up with new ways of doing things for years. He's an author, an aircraft design consultant, technical consultant for the motion picture industry, lecturer, educator, and notable futurist.

An industrial and social engineer: Fresco invented the airbag used in vehicles, systems for noiseless and pollution-free aircraft, an electrostatic system for the elimination of the sonic boom and types of aircraft controls. He also developed and built a three-wheel automobile consisting of only 32 parts, equipment ranging from three-dimensional X-ray units to electronic surgical instruments and a technique for viewing 3-D motion pictures without the use of glasses.

He's an author, an aircraft design consultant, technical consultant for the motion picture industry, lecturer, educator and notable futurist.

As such, Fresco sees a day coming when machines will perform most of the services and produce nearly all of the products – and most people will have no jobs as we know them today.

While he's not an advocate of a jobless society, he does see the world entering what he calls a period of transition, during which many of the established economic means and social manners will change or disintegrate altogether. "I am not a doomsayer," he said. But he's alarmed by the disregard " for re-examination of our values and the very nature of what it means to be human."

Discontent with merely drawing his dreams on paper or simply writing futuristic essays, Fresco's latest project stands beyond a steel gate adjacent to a Highlands County road, down a winding, grassy lane between stands of palms, pines, and palmettos.

Fresco and associate Roxanne Meadows have been designing and building the future for almost two decades, and are working on a feature movie about the Venus Project.

This is his application of technology, from structures built of steel and concrete impervious to wind and fire, to food handling that is completely computerized. Seven buildings nestled in the shrubby scrub and planted by banana palms and tropical plants, the Venus Project covers about 25 acres.

In a model of Fresco's Cybercity, the buildings are domes equipped to make life more interesting and convenient.

His city of the future is like a wheel with computerized "spokes" that are really avenues for transportation. The avenues cut wedges – residential areas where each home is nestled in surrounding foliage.

At the hub of the city are a library, science building and buildings for art, music, research, exhibition, entertainment, dining, and conferences.

"The Venus Project is a proposed city that would combine the most sophisticated utilization of available resources and construction techniques," he said. Cybercity would operate with a minimum expenditure of energy to obtain the highest possible standard of living for everyone.

The city's residential rim would be beautifully landscaped and feature lovely lakes and winding streams, Fresco said. Technology inside the homes would provide computerized food preparation, climate control and entertainment congregated in the wall.

The Fresco scheme discards ignorance, assumptions, and prejudice by giving future citizens access to information. He said, "The greatest limiting factors of our present-day culture can be traced to our archaic language, social customs, and values, which were conceived in earlier times."

The Venus Project is based on Fresco's belief that the culture as we know it is going through a rapid change. What he offers is a practical and pragmatic alternative where only the manufacture and distribution of products would be required.

"If all the money in the world were destroyed, as long as topsoil, factories, and other resources were left intact, we could build anything we choose to build and fulfill any human need," Fresco said. "It is not money that people need, but freedom of access to most necessities without ever having to appeal to a government bureaucracy or any other agency."

For example, if a group of people were stranded on an island, their gems and cash would be useless without the resources for survival.

The foundation that supports the undergirding of the project includes his contention that "there are no plans in government or industry to make the necessary economic adjustments to deal with the issue of the displacement of people by the coming automated technology."

Residents of the city would be provided the time and opportunity to explore new dimensions in human existence through the pursuit of knowledge in any area of their choosing.

Fresco's ideas and his inventions are designed to not only raise everyone's standard of living and quality of life, but also to design and build the culture of the future that offers "a highly successful, peaceful, and desirable life."

He calls history, "the march of events" – the bicycle makers who developed the airplane, the eccentric who created the electric lightbulb. The Fresco-Meadows team is cut from the same cloth.