Vol. 36, Iss. 1, 
p. 33-36
Jan.-Feb. 2002


A project under development in Florida attempts to prove one thing: The future can work.

The Venus Project is an alternative social direction of the future envisioned by engineer/designer Jacque Fresco and his partner, Roxanne Meadows. As Fresco wrote in THE FUTURIST (May-June 1994), the Venus Project is a global social design that incorporates a proposed city built on the principles of sophisticated use of technology and sustainable use of resources. Now, he has built new models of the technologies to show how they will be used in creating and managing the cybernated city he envisioned. His conclusion: We can get there from here.

Technology is now on the verge of realizing the goal of a world in which resources are fully available to all of humanity. Futurists such as Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec have argued that machine intelligence may surpass human intelligence during this century, perhaps even within the next three decades. In the meantime, we should be harnessing that machine intelligence and developing new powers to create a better world, suggests Fresco.

"As artificial intelligence rapidly develops, machines will be assigned the tasks of complex decision making in industrial, military, and governmental affairs," Fresco believes. "This would not imply a takeover by machines. Instead, it will be a gradual transfer of decision-making processes to machine intelligence as the next phase of social evolution."

In Fresco's vision of the cybernated city, machine intelligence will be linked to all the social and environmental information needed to analyze issues and generate ideal options for decision making. Like an electronic, autonomous nervous system, the cybernated city will extend its sensors out into the social complex, then coordinate production and distribution on the basis of human needs in full accordance with the carrying capacity of the earth. Machine intelligence will direct massive machines to dig canals and tunnels, build bridges, and erect buildings, using all resources efficiently and for the common good of all humanity.

Among the technologies Fresco and Meadows envision are:
  • Mega-machines to perform such tasks as lifting and inserting prefabricated housing components into place.
  • Automated construction systems composed of robotic equipment that receives instructions via satellite.
  • Automated tunnel assembling machines to lift prefabricated tunnel segments into place for use in high-speed maglev transportation systems.
  • Self-erecting skyscrapers constructed of carbon-fiber-reinforced and pre-stressed concrete and supported with massive columns providing stability against earthquakes and high winds.
  • Mariculture and sea farming systems that cultivate fish and other seafood to meet the world's nutritional needs. The structures permit free flow of water throughout and, as integral parts of the marine environment, are noncontaminating.
  • Floating mega-structure, to be assembled entirely by robots. Large enough to incorporate a city, these structures could be towed to new locations.
  • Artificial islands in the sea to serve oceanographers and support water-based recreation without disturbing the balance of the marine environment.
  • Ocean mining mega-structures would be sea cities devoted to harvesting a wide variety of resources, such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, fertilizers, metals, oil, natural gas, drinking water, tidal and wind energy, and more.
As these and other advanced technologies give humans ever greater power to collect the earth's vast resources and distribute them to all, we may see a new social structure in which "the age-old failures of war, poverty, hunger, debt, nationalism, and unnecessary human suffering are viewed not only as fully avoidable, but also totally unacceptable," says Fresco. He refers to this as a "global resource-based economy where all of the earth's resources are declared the common heritage of all the world's people."