I watched the 2nd and 3rd Zeitgeist movies last night on Netflix. They advocate the abolishment of capitalism and the monetary system, for a “resource-based economy” that is environmentally friendly and equal for all people.
So far, so good. Since I identify as a social-anarchist myself (in truth, I’m a centrist realistically-speaking, with social-anarchism being an ultimate goal for our species), the things mentioned in the documentary hit home with me. They spoke truth about the evils of the modern times.
But at the second part of the two documentaries the “Earth/Venus Projects” were mentioned (full documentary), which is about a technocratic, and rather utopian society (even if the creators of the project hate the word “utopia”). Nobody will have to work, machines will do our jobs, with only 3% of the population needed to maintain the machines (volunteers). It’s a society where there is no market, no State, since everything available is available to all, while more complex machines are time-shared (e.g. cars). Art is free, services are free & mechanized.
“Three Minutes to Nirvana”
My artwork about the journey humanity must take towards ascending into a higher state of being. Full explanation here.
As much as I would love such a society to exist, it can’t happen. It won’t work. Here’s only a two reasons why, out of thousand reasons:
First Point: The failures of community development
This is the biggest point: Machines don’t design themselves. Technology does not invent itself. We are not living in a Singularity, and as such, human engineers are required to design new robots to do specialized jobs. So if nobody is required to work, who the heck is going to design/redesign/fix these machines, or build new ones that are more advanced?
The obvious answer here is “community development”, similar to that found on the various Linux projects (especially since all source code and hardware designs will be free for all to dive into).
As the ex-editor in chief of OSNews.com who dealt with Linux and its surrounding projects on a daily basis for many years, I can tell you this: it’s not possible to maintain such level of complexity with community projects. The Linux ecosystem has shown that this does NOT WORK.
There is nothing as LARGE and cohesive as Android or iOS today, made by community development alone.
GNOME, KDE, Linux itself, is getting the vast majority of code fixes and updates from COMMERCIAL COMPANIES, not from volunteers (for example, GNOME had Red Hat behind it in his heyday before it fell from grace, KDE had SuSE, and Google is now the biggest contributor for the Linux kernel). The volunteers are here to just make half-assed contributions most of the time. There are VERY FEW independent developers who are super-serious in providing daily, serious work to their pet open-source project. The rest, reply to you when you report a bug like this: “look man, I do this in my free time. If you don’t like it, write the code yourself”.
And we all know the kind of quality we get from projects that don’t have a company, or strong leadership behind them: they’re buggy, they’re slow, they’re often difficult to use, incompatible, broken dependencies, don’t follow a standard UI/rules, and very often behind in technology. For example, The GIMP was supposed to have full 16bit editing in 2002, but 11 years later, it’s still in alpha/half-assed mode. Not to mention the slowness this app has compared to Photoshop…
The reason for all this is because community developers DO NOT WANT BOSSES OVER THEIR HEADS. They don’t want to listen to a product manager, and they don’t want to listen to a UI designer, and they don’t want to spend 3 weeks to debug a bug that’s difficult to track down (that’s how long it can take to trace a race condition). They want to add FEATURES. As it has been said many times in the last 10 years, when Linux was trying to make it to the desktop, that there’s no glory in fixing bugs. The glory is in new features. But the person who pays afterwards for the half-assness is the user.
So how the heck do the Zeitgeist people expect the community to work as cohesively, as driven, as focused, as a REAL COMPANY would? It can’t! Not when there are no de-facto leadership. Community-driven open source developement has shown that it can’t compete in quality and speed of development with most commercial companies! Again, don’t forget that I’m talking about 100% community development here, not open source projects where big corporations make the most contributions.
And not to mention that when people get pissed off about some code or some feature they don’t like, or because of some asshole in their team, THEY LEAVE and THEY FORK the code (which can create major incompatibilities, something that the Zeitgeist people fight against, since they advocate for full compatibility among the various technologies).
But that’s only half the story.
The other half is that the complexity of the technology advocated by the Zeitgeist guys is just TOO COMPLEX. To create something like Android, Google had to not only skyrocket the number of developers it employed, but they had to stand on the shoulders of OTHER SW and HW COMPANIES that create their own little thing that is part of the whole, and so on. It’s also of no surprise that Apple had to pull developers off Mac OS X and onto iOS. These things are complex! This is NOT 1967, where a CPU can be designed in a garage, by hand. This is an era where the complexity *requires* SPECIALIZATION (something that the documentary also thinks it’s evil).
I highly suggest you read an article by my husband, a Google Android engineer. But before you, Zeitgeist advocates, shut down my and his article just because he happens to work for Google, know this: JBQ is the “community” guy, responsible for the open sourcing of Android. He’s THE guy who has one foot inside Google, and one foot in COMMUNITY development. So he knows the story INSIDE-OUT. He knows how the WHOLE thing works.
This is his article about today’s technological complexity, please read it before continuiing reading this article.
There’s a reason why the LiMO and OpenMOKO failed, there’s a reason that the VERY FEW open source hardware efforts have failed EVEN more than software equivalents. The complexity is so high, that it requires perfect co-ordination with too many other aspects in the whole process! Something that can’t happen on the volunteer-basis, without at least SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. Picking up another person’s code (if the original coder quit) is NOT EASY either! It can take MONTHS to get up to speed!
The point is, that without STRONG leadership (at multiple levels, for interoperability and building on top of other tech), complex work can not be done. Nature can teach us this same thing too. Think of ants, think of bees. These are among the few animals that create COMPLEX STRUCTURES. Oh, that’s right! These animals live under some extreme hierarchical rules, and they all have specialized JOBS. What does that tell you?
If the Zeitgeist people don’t agree with the above statements, it means that they have never worked in the SW or HW industry, and they simply talk out of their ass.
And after writing all this, we still haven’t mention medicine, and medical research, which is AS complex. Just because there won’t be patents and copyrights in such a utopia, doesn’t mean that NEW science can exist without massive amounts of work from vast amounts of people who work on schedule, and with specialization, and under a grand PLAN.
If this is not addressed, then within one generation, there won’t be people who would know how to operate, maintain or design new machines. Everything will just get old, unmaintained, and people will have fewer things than they had before. The system as described by the Venus/Earth project, will fail by natural decline, IF it worked at all.
Second Point: The jobs that no one wants to do and robots can’t do
In the documentary, we’re shown automated agriculture, veggies grown on skyscrapers and other such stuff. First of all, veggies that don’t touch the ground, just like humans and animals, become un-grounded from Earth’s EMF field, which makes them sick. But that’s just a kinda new point to the whole “health” puzzle.
So let me ask you this instead: Who the heck is going to milk and skin the cows? There’s no way to have pastured-raised cows (as they’re SUPPOSED to be, in an environmental- and animal-friendly society), and have robots chasing them all day long to milk them, or to kill them for food consumption. There are just too many variables in such a situation, that today’s robotic AI is not good-enough for it, because it’s not the same repetitive action they have to do all the time (you never know how a cow would react — these are all things that the AI must address).
Don’t forget that the documentary says that we have the required robotic technology TODAY to create such a utopia (in fact, the creator of the Venus Project was saying on TV in the 1970s that we already had the required technology back then, which is of course even more laughable). And as someone who has worked in the AI field, I’m telling you, that NO, WE DO NOT have the right technology for everything depicted. As demonstrated with the cow example above, our AI today is pretty dumb, and it would not be able to deal with wild cases. Self-driving cars (also shown in the documentary), won’t be ready for years to come either.
Or, are we’re supposed to be vegetarians in that utopian world of yours? Because you will get the meat and fish from me over my dead body. I didn’t spend 10 years being sick as a dog, just so I can eat wheat again, to kill me for good (wheat nearly killed me, EVEN if I’m NOT a celiac. The documentary proudly shows WHEAT in some of its shots!). The thing with wheat is that 95% of people are allergic to it, especially the unfermented US variety. People DO NOT know that they’re allergic to it, just because they’re not celiac. But brand new research in the last 2-3 years shows that wheat is POISON for EVERYBODY. It’s NOT a food we evolved with, it arrived with agriculture only 10,000 years ago. And yet, there we are, in a utopian society where we would have to eat wheat as a staple, and where animals are not even suggested as food (which is the food that we EVOLVED with).
The documentary talks about the psychology of today’s people, and how mentally ill they are because of how society runs. This is true. What is also true is that wheat is a huge factor on making people mentally sick. People who have gone to try the gluten-free Paleo-ketogenic diet (that includes offal, game, pastured-raised meat, greens, bone broth, animal fats, wild fish/shellfish, fewer carbs), had not only their auto-immune, inflammatory conditions reversed, but also their mental issues. So in a utopia where people are supposed to be healthy, the kind of foods we evolved with must be available. This is nowhere mentioned in the documentary, instead they take the WRONG approach of “whole grains”.
So, if the Venus/Earth Project is going to push such kinds of foods as grains, or vegetarianism, I can tell you right away: you can shove these projects in your ass. I prefer to live under today’s fascism, than eat wheat. Because even after living under fascism, I have BETTER CHANCES of living a healthy life, than in a utoprian society where I have to eat wheat and no WILD or PASTURED meat/fish (no farmed fish please). The 10 years of terrible health and pain I had before I went all-natural and hunter&gatherer-style diet are still too strong in my mind.
And not to mention that we would need hunters. The kind of meat available today in the US is laughable. It’s just cows, chicken and pork. Where’s horse? Where’s deer? Where’s antelope, wild sheep and wild goats? Where’s actual, real game and wild birds? These are foods that we EVOLVED with, so they should be part of the normal diet in a utopian world! These foods ARE utopia for me. So who the hell is going to go HUNT for everybody else (since everyone is supposed to have an equal share)? Or are you going to unleash robots for that too? Good luck with that.
So anyway, to go back to the point of robots chasing cows/hens in the field: we will need humans for these types of jobs. Until we reach singularity, there’s no way this kind of job can be done without humans. And I fail to see how someone would donate his/her time to get into dirt, and milk cows, and get farted upon by them. They won’t. Nobody would want to do such a job without some form of payment. Everyone would prefer to just “do art”, or maybe write some code, in the confy of their room.
In closing, I believe that maybe one day we will be close to such a system, but there will still be jobs and bosses. They have to. But instead of money, maybe the incentive should be “reputation points”. Instead of having pop-stars, in such a society, people who contribute the most become “star citizens”. Points would be equal for a cow-herder, and a doctor or scientist, as long as people who offer what it’s expected of them. So in my opinion, what is required is equality of job “payment”, not “no jobs” at all.
There is an ancient Greek saying: “Many people hated money, but no one hated glory“.
Maybe that’s the incentive required to have people do the needed work, almost daily, and under a somewhat strict management. Not money necessarily, but honor among peers.