Sunday, March 21, 2010; p. 10


by Jay'Arief Rahman

It has been 70 years since the closing of the 1939 World Fair in New York. The event displayed visions of the World of Tomorrow, a world where science and technology would produce futuristic devices and solutions for humanity.

Today these visions are labeled science fiction and "just in your imagination" theories, but 93-year-old social engineer and futurist Jacque Fresco and his Venus Project have looked into the world of today to redesign the world of tomorrow.

Of the many issues people face today, most city-dwellers are highly concerned about transportation issues that seem to have a never- ending line of problems. Problems from car crashes to heavy Jakarta traffic jams and of course our metropolitan pollution. However, the cities of tomorrow promise no more car crashes, as technology will prop up our human inadequacies and not just prevent but also eliminate any form of crashes.

Elsewhere, it currently takes 18 hours to fly to the United States, but in the world of tomorrow, people who are afraid of flying will be saved by the Maglev train, a frictionless, non-polluting form of transportation that will make the trip from Jakarta to Los Angeles in just two hours. This will be the future of continental and intercontinental transportation.

This is only one of many futurist visions Fresco and the Venus Project have dreamed up.

Imagine circular self-sustaining cities, underwater communities, high- tech and disaster-proof housing, safe and non-polluting transportation, free energy to power the world for thousands of years and, most importantly, imagine having a non-corruptible cybernetic government.

Imagine no more, as Fresco and the Venus Project introduce designs and technologies to solve global problems such as hunger, poverty and unemployment, as well as raise standards of human life, leaving no one left behind.

Fresco has devoted his whole life to envisioning the future based on technological development with scientific methodsfor social change, creating technological and science-based solutions for the most serious social problems humanity faces today. One of these problems is the energy crisis, where fossil fuels are growing scarce and the alternatives at hand are incapable of becoming mainstream any time soon.

But the question is, are we really that short of energy? The Venus Project believes we can produce up to 4,000 years of free energy from just geothermal energy, not to mention other renewables such as wind, solar, tidal and wave power. If our energy crisis is solved, then everything else falls into place.

Experiencing the world of tomorrow.. la Venus Project would probably leave us feeling like Alice in Wonderland. What we see today and what looms in the future will be very different, and to some extent "sci-fi trippy". Cities will become machines controlled automatically by a computerized central artificial intelligence (AI) system, enabling self- diagnosis of urban problems and self- remedying, with no interference from humans. In addition, to solve the overpopulation crisis, cities will be located in the sea, both on the surface and beneath. This will also allow sea farming and oceanic conservation and research. These new cities, whether land- or sea-based, will of course be automated and computerized. Housing will also be a unique combination of futuristic architecture and disaster-proof blueprints. With the use of sustainable materials and scientific designs, it will be possible to build houses in seconds to last a millennium.

This leaves us with the one most frequently asked question: What about the government? To live in such a future, it would only be logical for there to be no government. Who makes the decisions, then? Who's in charge and rules the world? Leaving behind the conspiracy theory of a New World Order under one government, the answer is simple. The Venus Project's vision of the world of tomorrow is one where the power to make decisions will not fall to a body or an institute, but instead a cybernetic government (AI-based system) where a super computer will be able to analyze the world's major problems, such as overpopulation, food production and allocation of goods, and cross-reference them with the Earth's capacity.

Subjective humans will no longer be responsible for seeking solutions to human problems; human creativity will be backed by an automated system to solve problems based on scientific methods and rational human recommendations. Solutions will no longer be in a language subject to interpretation, but will be based on scientific research. This will be the future of global decision-making, leaving no space for corruption, collusion or nepotism.

Looking at the Venus Project's future technologies and visions of what the world could be, it leaves us the problem of how to get there technology-wise. Unfortunately we live on and continuously support the monetary system, leading to a profit-based economy that leaves no room for technical abundance, efficiency or sustainability. Producing a future society like the one proposed above would just not be profitable in our monetary system. The world does not have enough money to create this future, but the world has more than enough resources. It's not a question of how much it costs, but rather the question of "Do we have the resources?", and yes we do.

The Venus Project refers to a new economic system called the Resource- Based Economy (RBE), which purports to shift our current civilization toward a new frontier of social evolution. The RBE is an economic concept where the world comes together and claims the world's resources as common heritage for all humans. The RBE is basically the intellectual management of the world's resources using applied scientific methods for social change. It uses the current innovation of science and technology to an unlimited extent where the concepts of self-interest, scarcity and profit are obsolete.

The future society that Fresco talks about is brought to life in William Gazecki's documentary Future by Design (2006). Meanwhile, Peter Joseph's Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008) emphasizes our current monetary system and proposes the Resource-Based Economy, while an animated documentary, Earth 2.0, set for release in 2012, will illustrate the process of shifting toward this future society. The technologies seen in these films and discussed above may seem to come from sci-fi feature films, but documented designs and future technology are currently being developed by Fresco and the Venus Project. It is a non-imaginative future that could be brought to reality by today's generation, and the selling point of this concept is that it has no price tag.