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Sunday, July 9th, 2006



Understanding GIFTegrity

Timothy Wilken, MD

Tensegrity is the pattern that results when push and pull have a win-win relationship with each other. The pull is continuous and the push is discontinuous. The continuous pull is balanced by the discontinuous push producing an integrity of tension and compression. This creates a powerful self-stabilizing system. The term tensegrity comes from synergic science.

The gifting tensegrity is a newly invented mechanism for the exchange of human help. Let us begin by describing how a GIFTegrity might be structured and how it could work. Every member of a synergic help tensegrity would participate in two roles. That as a giftor and that as a giftee.

The continuous pull of the giftees’ needs are balanced by the discontinuous push from the giftors’ offers  of help. Again we see as an INTERdependent life form, there will be times when we will help others and times when others will help us.

The GIFTegrity works on trust. I give help to those in need and trust that when I am in need there will be those who will give me help. Synergic Trust was discovered long ago, and was once known as:

The Spiritual Principle Of Giving And Receiving

“When we give to one another, freely and without conditions, sharing our blessings with others and bearing each other’s burdens, the giving multiplies and we receive far more than what was given. Even when there is no immediate prospect of return, Heaven keeps accounts of giving, and in the end blessing will return to the giver, multiplied manyfold. We must give first; to expect to receive without having given is to violate the universal law. On the other hand, giving in order to receive–with strings attached, with the intention of currying favor, or in order to make a name for oneself — is condemned.”

And while, The Spiritual Principle of Giving and Receiving relies on “Heaven to keep account of giving.”, the Gift Tensegrity relies on a public database to keep account of giving.and receiving. This database of the synergic help exchange is a public space where the exchanging of help is made visable to all members who are participants in good standing.When you join a Gift Tensegrity you sign in and register as a Giftor-Giftee. You will fill out two profiles. The first profile is for your role as a giftor. Your giftor profile is the list of the types of help you would like to give to other members of the synergic help tensegrity.

The second profile is for your role as a giftee. Your giftee profile is the list of the types of help you would like to receive as gifts from other members of the synergic help tensegrity. A third profile will develop as Giftor-Giftee members use the synergic help exchange. This is the personal history of each member’s giving and receiving. This profile is transparent. It can be seen by all members who are particpants in good standing. It shows all the gifts you have given, all the gifts you have received, and any comments made by other members of the synergic exchange tensegrity that you have interacted with in relation to the exchanging of help. Every exchange generates a Giftor’s comment rating the Giftee, and a Giftee’s comment rating the Giftor.

Now once a new member has completed their Giftor and Giftee registration and entered all their data into the data base, the computer sorts and matches gifts of help with needs for help.

Now initially within the Gift Tensegrity, the role of Giftor is active. The role of Giftee is passive. This means that once the computer has completed sorting and matching registered gifts of help with registered needs of help, the lists of matches are presented to the Giftor. These matches are not available for viewing by the Giftee.

The list of matchs are sorted with those who have the highest ratio of giving/receiving and most positive comments being sorted higher on the list than those who have lower ratio of giving/receiving and negative comments.

Freedom of Choice in the Synergic Help Exchange

However, the Giftor is free to offer his gift to anyone on the list regardless of the order presented. The Giftor is in control of his giving. Once the Giftor has made his choice and selected a Giftee to receive his offer of help, then the Giftee is notified that an offer of help has been made.

The Giftee is then presented with a list of offers of help from those Giftors that have selected them for offers. With these offers of help comes access to the profiles of the offering Giftors. The giftee is then free to examine the offer carefully, read the profile of the Giftor and decide whether to accept the offer or not.

Freedom of choice is an absolute tenant of the GIFTegrity. The Giftor decides when and to whom to offer a gift of help. The Giftee decides when and from whom to accept a gift offer of help. Giftors are unknown to Giftees unless the Giftor offers help. The Giftee is under no obligation to accept an offered gift. At this point the Giftee may contact the Giftor with questions or clarifications about the offer. If the Giftee accepts the offer, than that action is recorded as a synergic help exchange and both profiles are updated. Both Giftor and Giftee can make comments about the interaction then or at a later time if more appropriate. If the Giftee declines the offer of help, the Giftor is notified so they can offer their help to some other member.

What you might give or receive…

How do you registering the types of help you might choose to give or like to receive?. It would seem that almost any good or service could be exhanged in a synergic help tensegrity. I would suggest three general classes of Gifts as a way of organizing the data base. Also considerations of Local, Regional and Global come into play.

1) Human Knowing — KNOWLEDGE: Expertise, Consultations, Counseling, and Advise.

Those humans with expertise in almost any field can make that expertise available to others as a gift. Physicians, Attorneys, Accountants, Engineers, Scientists, Teachers, etc., etc., etc.. Location may be less important with telephone and internet communication.

This can also be available in the form or books, art, courses, online files, etc., etc., etc..

2) Human Action — WORK: Sevices, Projects, Labor (skilled and unskilled), Jobs and Tasks.

This could be as simple as baby sitting, or giving someone a ride to as complex as building a room on someone’s house or writing a custom software program, etc., etc., etc.. It could be a million and one different forms of helping provided by humans in action. Location is very important. Many services would only available locally.

For the third category, I have borrowed the term lever from synergic science. It means any device that provides the user with leverage.

3) Human Levers — THINGS: Tools, Appliances, Equipment, Automobiles, Trucks, Tractors, Lawnmowers, House Furniture, Household Goods, Furnishings, Materials, Supplies, etc., etc., etc..

And, you can give these things away fully or only gift the use of them for a specified time. Location is very important for the gift of using a tool or appliance, perhaps less important if the item is given away fully. Shipping costs might make a difference, but you can Gift an item with the provision that the Giftee pay shipping.

In fact you can gift anything with conditions. A gift is an offer of help. The giftee is under no obligation to accept the offer. Synergic exchange is fully voluntary. The giftor makes offers of help when and to whom he chooses. The giftee accepts offers of help when and from whom they choose.

Conditional Gifting

If I gift the use of a tool for a weekend, I may do so with the condition that it be returned in clean and in good condition. Conditions of gifting is both intelligent and synergic.

Things that are gifted can be new or used. Working or not working. The important thing is to describe the offered gift accurately. A television repairman might like the gift of an old TV, that he will repair and use or gift to someone else.

Since your giving-receiving profile is based not on the number of gifts offered, but rather on the number of gift offers accepted, it is of great importance to have a good relationship with the giftee. That means your discriptions of an offered gift needs to be very accurate. No one will be criticized for gifting junk as long as they describe it accurately as junk. Those seeking junk will be happy. Remember one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Status in the GIFTegrity

Your ranking on the help offer lists is determined in part by your ratio of giving-receiving. Everytime your offers of help are accepted your ratio goes up. Those who give the most to others will be the most honored members in the community of the GIFTegrity. So you will want to give as much as you can. Likewise every time you accept a gift offering from others your ratio goes down. So you will want to accept others gifts carefully and only when you truly value them.

The other factor in determining your ranking on the help offer lists is your comment mean. This the average score for comments made about you during help exchanges. Every encounter will be rated. +10 for it couldn’t have been any better to -10 if couldn’t have been any worse. To be successful in the gift tensegity you need to give and interact in a positive way with other members. This means you want to accurately describe your offered gifts and make sure those accepting your gifts get what they expect from your descriptions. You also want to be courteous and friendly in your encounters. If you have an encounter that earns you a low comment from an exchange partner, you will want to repair that encounter as quickly as possible so that that exchange partner will modify or withdraw their low comment.

For instance, if I gift a used computer to someone and it doesn’t work as described, I need to be willing to take it back at my expense if the giftee paid for shipping. Or pay for disposal and give up my credit for the gift. Remember, every exchange effects ratio of giving-receiving for both the giftor and giftee.

Gifting — Local, Regional & Global

Knowing is one of the most global of gifts. With the internet and modern communication devices, I can help people all over the world.

Human action will usually need to be local, occasionally regional, and rarely global.

Levers and especially use of levers will usually be local. However, it may make sense to gift a major appliance or automobile regionally. And rarely, smaller lighter items might be shipped globally especially if they are unusual one of a kind.

Bringing Dead Wealth to Life

One major advantage of the GIFTegrity is that it resurrects Dead Wealth. Dead Wealth is that wealth within the human community that is not being used to help self or others. Dead Wealth is found in all three forms — Knowing, Action and Levers.

Knowing — Almost all of us have significant expertise in some areas. Some knowledge of how to solve problems that we have encountered in our lifes. However, in our present world we trade the hours of our lives to others for just enough money to earn our livings. Our employers don’t want our expertise and knowledge unless it applys to the limited task they hired us to perform. Yet in the larger context of community our unwanted expertise and knowledge could help others. The GIFTegrity gives us an outlet for sharing that expertise and knowledge.

Again, this might be in the form of knowing and action joined together such as consultations, couseling, analysis and real time problem solving, or it may be available in the form of knowing and levers such as reports, books, video or audio tapes, artwork, photos, computer files, etc., etc., etc..

Action — We all have some hours in our lives that could be available to help others. The Gift Tensegrity gives me an outlet for all of those other skills and abilities that I am not currently trading to some employer for money. Some of us can do home and automobile repair, handyman work, cleaning, cooking, sewing, child and elder care, teaching, etc., etc., etc..

Or, it might be that if we knew what help others needed, we could combine their errands with our own when we are out running around anyway. The Gift Tensegrity allows you to quickly find out how you can turn those wasted hours into help for others.

Levers — And finally, we all have lots of perfectly good things we have in boxes in our garages, attics, and closets. Used tools, appliances, furniture, clothing, furnishings — things we never use but are too good to throw away. Now they can be easily liberated by simply describing them acturately and gifting them away. Or how about just gifting away the use of some those great tools you only use one day a week or one day a month.

GIFTegrity Servers — Local, Regional & Global

Because so much of our need for help is a need for local help. I see the need to establish Neighborhood GIFTegrities. This is where you will get help with household repair, automotive service, child and elder care, transportation, etc., etc., etc..

I envision this being started when someone with the time and interest decides to gift the use of their home computer and DSL line to run a neighborhood GIFTegrity Database. Then anyone in the neighborhood could use a computer with dialup connection to the internet to connect to the local GIFTegrity and enter into synergic help exchange.

These Local GIFTegrities servers would then be linked to Regional Gift Tensegrity servers which in turn would like to Global Servers. This would lead to a disseminated system with high level of redundancy.

This system will work easily with today’s home computers and off the shelf database software.

Need Help — Look First to the GIFTegrity

The GIFTegrity is a synergic help exchange. And as INTERdependent form or life, we all need help. As a synergic help exchange that means that the relations between the members of that exchange will be synergic. Remember synergic relationships are those that make me more productive, more effective, and more happy. When I need help, this is where I will look first.

In the beginning the gifting tensegrities will not instantly replace the fair market. It will begin as simple an alternative to the fair market. I will begin to meet some of my needs at the GIFTegrities. As I begin gifting and finding that some of my needs are met this way. I will have less need to sell the hours of my life for money to use in the fair market.

Once I am gifting 10 hours a week.I will then be able to reduce my working week from 40 to 30 hours. This is how the transition will occur.

Out of Work — Look to the the GIFTegrity

The gifting tensegrities can be enormously important to those individuals finding themselves out of work. When there is no market for the hours of your life. There is still no shortage of people who need your help. The gifting tensegrities acts as an immediate outlet for those with help to Gift, but no market for their help to Sell.

In fact the GIFTensegrity becomes a new type of insurance for all humans who are at risk for losing their jobs. In this society, that is all of us.

GIFTegrity — Not Just for Individuals

Synergic TeamNets are groups of individual humans that form themselves into Synergic Teams for the purpose of performing a larger and more complex task than they can perform as individuals. These individuals co-Operate through a network based on synergic relationships and synergic compensation mechanisms to accomplish those larger and more complex tasks. Barry Carter has written extensively about this concept in his book Infinite Wealth. And, I have developed a mechanism for organizing Synergic Production Teams called the Ortegrity which is available elsewhere.

TeamNets can register with a gifting tensegrity and list the Needs of their TeamNet Project. They may be able to attract the help they need thought the free synergic gift exchange, or they can attract help, by inviting others to join their team for Synergic Revenue Shares if the project produces revenue.

Read the Scientific Basis for the GIFTegrity

Specifications for a GIFTegrity



Synergic Economist Wayne F. Perg, Ph. D writes:

“My concept and understanding of the GIFTegrity is one of a radical move away from trade-oriented or materialistic sort of exchange.

“In the GIFTegrity there is no accounting, there are no prices, there is no barter (no tit for tat), and there is no medium of exchange! For me, it is the road to a post-monetary, post-barter economy.

“Barter and monetary economies both tie together giving and receiving. One cannot be done in the absence of the other. It is this “tying together” that is the ultimate source of “dead resources” and unemployment.

“The GIFTegrity frees giving from receiving and receiving from giving and will, as it is implemented, bring all resources to life and eliminate unemployment.

“The GIFTegrity does this by creating transparency, i.e., by creating good information on the SEPARATE giving and receiving actions of all members of the gifting tensegrity. Because there is no trading, only gifts given with no requirment of payment, there are no market prices and no accounting of trades. What there is is an open exchange of information on needs and resources available to fill those needs and ongoing individual negotiations around actions that will meet those needs.

“I see the GIFTegrity bringing the exchange relationships of a living organism to human society. As Elizabet Sahtouris has pointed out, the heart does not hold an auction for the supply of oxygenated blood and it does not withhold blood from those organs who are currently unable to pay.

“I see the GIFTegrity as a powerful new vehicle for first supplementing and then eventually replacing our present exchange economy that relies on money and barter to facilitate exchange.

“I see the GIFTegrity as a powerful step forward from money systems and barter because it separates the acts of giving and receiving whereas both money systems and barter tie giving and receiving together into formal exchange transactions. It is this tying together of giving and receiving that creates “landlocked” resources and unemployment.

“I do not see the GIFTegrity replacing informal, undocumented and recorded giving and receiving within families, groups and communities within which all participants are known to each other and within which trust is well established. In fact, I see the operation of the Gift Tensegrity increasing the number and size of the groups within which informal, undocumented giving and receiving is the norm.

“It is my understanding that, in the GIFTegrity, I do not make any commitment to giving in advance. As a giver, I have access to information on the needs of those who are seeking what I have to give, but potential receivers of my gifts have no access to me as a giver until I offer my gift to that person, organization, or community to which I decide that I would like to give.

“Also, given my big picture vision for the GIFTegrity, I see givers and receivers including organizations (including for-profit businesses) and communities as well as individuals.”

Read the Scientific Basis for the GIFTegrity

Specifications for a GIFTegrity.

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Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

Declaration of INTERdependence

Timothy Wilken, MD

Stop reading! Take a few moment to examine the contents of your pockets or purse ……

Can you find any item there, that you obtained without the help of someone else? Look around you. What do you see? Did you make the clothes you wear? Did you grow the food you eat or the tools you use. Look around your home or workplace. Can you find anything that you made. Do you know the names of those who did make all these things? Do you ever know upon whom you depend. Can you find anything in your environment that was obtained without the help of someone else?

I am not talking about ownership here. I will grant that you own your possessions. But would you have them if they had not been for sale. I would argue that nearly everything modern humans possess was obtained with the help of others.

As I examine my world I discover that I depend on others to to grow and produce my food. I depend on others to design and build my home. I depend on others to generate my electricity. I depend on others to supply my water. I depend on others to deliver my mail. I depend on others to educate my children. I depend on others to entertain my family. I depend on others to manufacture my automobile. I depend on others to refine the gasoline for my car. I depend on others to care for my family when we are sick. I depend on others to protect us from crime and war. I depend on others to………. I depend on others, I depend.

Human INTERdependence is made less visible by our present economic exchange system. I go to work and help my employer. He depends on me. At the end of the month he pays me for my help. I depend on him. I can then take some of the money from my paycheck to pay my house rent. While I depend on my landlord for the roof over my head, he depends on me to pay the rent promptly. Sometimes I depend on others and sometimes others depend on me. When we buy and sell in the economic marketplace we are really exchanging help. When I help others they owe me. When others help me I owe them. Money is just the present accounting mechanism we use to settle up. Arthur Noll explains:

“People are interdependent, social beings. We do not, and cannot, live as the independent tiger, or orangutan, coming together only to mate briefly, all child care and education provided by the mother.

“This has seemed obvious to me, and probably it is obvious to most, but it is such an important principle to base further observations on, and logically it is often ignored in the present scheme of things, so I think we should look at the reasons. Lets start with your naked body. Can you manage to clothe and feed and shelter this body, with no hands touching any article except your own hands? If you can make your own tools and live independently for just a few weeks or months, this is interesting, but of course real independence would be a lifetime of this, a reproducing lifetime, so it does fall considerably short of the mark. Additionally, it is an interesting thing that we are communicating, I have written and you are reading this paper. Independent organisms don’t behave like this, if you were independent, your only concern for me should be to tell me to get out of your way, or that you want to mate, and you need no language beyond what the tigers and orangutans use for this. I have heard people say, that they could live independently if they chose. To those few who feel that way, well, you haven’t chosen that path if you are reading this, so if you want to choose it now, then I think you ought to take off your society made things and go. We will send a biologist to study how you live – if you live.

“Next question, is a male- female unit capable of independence? The answer is quite important to the issue of reproduction.

“I have never heard of this being done, and I don’t believe it can be done. Working together, a man and woman with the proper education might make primitive tools and cover some basic needs, if resources are abundant. But wherever resources are abundant, you are going to find competition. Predators can be a serious problem with just primitive weapons, and just two people, one of which might be pregnant or holding an infant. It is true that most large predators are afraid of human beings at the present time, but animals of all kinds eventually test the limits. Domestic animals can be very sensitive about electric fences, for example. You can turn off the fence for weeks, after they learn about wires giving shocks. But they eventually test and learn, and are out. You would not likely find it workable to stay together all the time, either, and the one carrying the child would be alone and vulnerable. And of course, human predators working as a pack, a social group, certainly exist and are the most powerful threat of all. While fantasies are common about individuals and couples escaping social groups, the reality is different. Groups of people have made the rules for individuals for a long time.

“It is interesting to note that walking on two legs has not been all that uncommon in the history of life, but I can think of no other species that has attempted pregnancy on two legs. Two legged creatures have always been egg layers, or marsupials, have never attempted the balancing act of a pregnancy on two legs. I think it is only possible within a social group.

“Further problems are having very little backup for minor sprains or illness. Loneliness can be a big problem, even for couples, as most of us eventually crave other people in our lives.

“The genetic and archaeological evidence indicates that we split off from chimpanzees, which are social creatures, and that we stayed social.”

This may come as a surprise to most readers, but humans are not and cannot be independent. We are an interdependent species. We rely on each other for nearly all our wants and needs. Independence from other is not available to the richest man with the most affluent life style. He is as dependent on the staff of servants who wait on him as they are dependent on him for their livelihoods. Only the poorest of hermits with a quality of life poorer than a cave man can achieve true independence from others. True independence from other humans, requires that he must grow and cook all his own vegetables. He must hunt, kill, skin, dress, and cook all his own meat. He must build his own home using only the materials he can gather and prepare by himself aided only by tools that he made for himself.

We humans are not an independent life form. Despite the common desire of most of us to be independent, human independence is not possible in any scientific sense. Our bodies do not contain chlorophyl and we cannot get our energy directly from the Sun. Other plants and animals serve as our source of energy. We are as dependent on others for our survival as are the animals are for theirs. We can ignore this fact of science by calling the other plants and animals — food and cooking in ways so we are not reminded of the source of our food, but we are still not independent. When we further examine our relationships with other humans, we discover that even here we are not independent. In summary then, we can say that in the lives of plants — the independent class of life, other plays no role . In the lives of animals — the dependent class of life, other serves primarily as a source of food. And finally in the lives of humans, the interdependent class of life, other is very important. Our bodies are as dependent on others for food as the animals, but socially, psychologically and economically, we depend on others and others depend on us. We humans are interdependent.

INTERdependence means that we are dependent on the actions of others to meet our needs. And, others are dependent on our actions to meet their needs.

Once, we accept the reality of our human INTERdependence, then we can get on with winning. The secret of winning then is to get others to help us. Let us examine these options through the lens of synergic science.

Receivers-Givers — partners in survival

The human condition of INTERdependence means all humans need help. This is important enough that it can not be said too often. All humans need help unless they wish to live at the level of animal subsistence. INTERdependence means sometimes I depend on others and sometimes others depend on me.

Sometimes self is a giver of help. Sometimes self is a receiver of help. Sometimes other is a giver of help. Sometimes other is a receiver of help.

Sometimes my actions help others meet their needs. Sometimes other’s actions help me meet my needs.

The bottom line: We humans need each other.


Read more by Timothy Wilken on INTERdependence

Read Arthur Noll’s Harmony

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Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

Front Page

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Reposted from the Buckminster Fuller Institute.


Accelerating Acceleration

Buckminster Fuller

And we’re at a point where I now have what would seem absolutely incredible to generations before. I’ve now completed thirty-seven circuits of our Earth–kind of zig-zagging circuits, not straight around. Not tourist. Just responding to requests to appear here and there, to lecture at universities or design some structure, or whatever it may be. So that is in the everyday pattern, that I am circuiting that earth. Certainly makes evidence that we are dealing in totality of humanity not the–up to my generation–completely divided humanity, spread very far apart on our planet.

My father was in the leather importing business in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States, and he imported from two places, apparently–Buenos Aires and India, for bringing in leather for the shoe industry, which was centered in that time in the Boston area. His mail, or a trip he would like to make to Argentina, took two months each way. His trip to India, or the mail, took exactly three months each way. It seemed absolutely logical to humanity when early in this century Rudyard Kipling, the English poet, said “East is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet.” It was a very, very rare matter for any human being to make such a travel as that, taking all those months. There were not many ships that could take him there.

All that has just changed in my lifetime, to where I’m not one of the very few making these circuits of the Earth, but I am one of probably getting to be pretty close to twenty million now who are making, living a life like that around our planet. And very much the whole young world is doing so. I keep meeting my students of various universities from around the world half way round the world again. They’re all getting to be living as world people. This is a very sudden emergence of some new kind of relationship to our Universe being manifest. None of it was planned. There was nobody in the time of my father, my mother, in the time I was brought up, prophesying any of the things I just said.

The year I was born, Marconi invented the wireless, but it did not get into any practical use until I was twelve years of age, when the first steamship sent an SOS, when it was in distress, by wireless. Think of it. Great many miles–and the world began to know the ship was in distress, and a ship then rushed to its aid. Absolutely unexpected. My father and mother were saying, “Wireless? Nonsense!” And, when I was three the electron was discovered and nobody talked about that; it wasn’t in any of the newspapers. Nobody was interested in the electron, they didn’t know what was the electron or whether it was discovered. I was brought up that humanity would never get to the North Pole. Absolutely impossible. They’d never get to the South Pole. On Mercator maps, it didn’t even show anything up–the northernmost points were a very rugged kind of a line, if you see it, with nothing beyond that. When I was fourteen, man did get to the North Pole. When I was sixteen, he got to the South Pole. The “impossibles” were happening.

Like all other little boys, I was making paper darts that you make at school–boys must’ve been making them for a very long time. And we were hoping it might be able to get to flying. Parents would say, “Darling, it’s very amusing for you to try that, but it’s inherently impossible for man to fly.” So when I was seven, the Wright brothers suddenly flew, and my memory is vivid enough of seven to remember that, for about a year, the engineering societies would try to prove it was a hoax, that it was absolutely impossible for man to do that.

So then, not only was there radio, but when I was twenty-three–which I guess many in this room are not twenty-three yet,–when I was twenty-three, the human voice came over the radio for the first time. That’s an incredible matter. I was forty-five when we had our first television. It couldn’t be a more recent matter, and yet, nobody thought at that time, they didn’t know you were going to have transistors. They didn’t know man was going to have satellites going around the earth, they didn’t know we were going to have radio relay satellites, with programs coming out of any part of the Earth to any other part of the Earth. Not one of these steps was ever anticipated by any of the others.

So having experienced that, I also experienced living with my fellow human beings who, I find, no sooner does it happen, says “I knew it all the time. I’m not one of those to be surprised; I was totally in on it, you know, I was a little bit responsible.” There’s a strange vanity of man, I think the vanity that he has was essential to his being born naked and helpless and having to make the fantastic number of mistakes he had to make in order to really learn something. I think he is so disgruntled, so dismayed by the mistakes and the errors that he would never have been able to carry on–would’ve been absolutely discouraged. So he was given this strange vanity to say–to continually make himself exempt, that he was some kind of privileged and always in, and he is able to quite clearly deceive himself a great deal. So I find everybody today–let anybody do that unless it is absolutely simple and logical.

The first census of the population of the United States was taken in 1790, just after the war was over. In 1810, the United States Congress decided we ought to have a census of the wealth of America, so the Treasury Department had a very large survey made of people to determine their wealth. In 1810, there were a million families in America. In 1810, there were a million human slaves in America. It’s a very sad and very dramatic fact to be revealed if you go back into the records. It looks like every family having a human slave; that was not correct. Very few families owned a slave, comparatively. But the point is that kind of a figure.

So I found that in 1940, in contradistinction to that kind of condition, there were a number of energy-slaves working in the economy rather than human slaves. And I found that–you can go back and look at Fortune Magazine 10th Anniversary Issue, 1940, and you’ll find the number of energy slaves operating per each person, per family. The number of energy-slaves operating in the United States per person was thirty-nine energy slaves per person. Every individual, if you have a family of five, you come pretty close to two hundred slaves working for each family. But energy slaves are really inanimate, in contradistinction to a million–one slave per family–of human slaves. Suddenly you have two hundred non-human slaves doing the work. An enormous step up in the standard of living is represented, as well as doing away with the inhumane idea of the human being being the muscle machine to be commanded. That that change had taken place in such a short period of time–about a hundred and thirty year change–I felt I was discovering something very, very dramatic.

And now I went into the figures in 1940 even more deeply because by then World War II was thoroughly looming, and a great deal of the energy being generated in the United States was going toward war production. So I deducted from the total energy that I would be considering any energy that could be identified as going toward anything that had to do with war. To see then how much energy was actually benefiting the family, the human beings; if the energy was producing a highway for them to go on, I made that primarily for them and not for the war, whatever that might be. I made as strict an accounting as I could to see what was really benefiting the family. So then, I found out how many net energy slaves were really supporting a peaceful life of human beings in America. What I found was one hundred energy slaves per family, approximately–I came to two hundred at the time, and about half of them were really working for the human family itself; the other half were getting ready for war.

I took the criteria of a hundred energy slaves per family as being the criteria for what I call a “have” family. This represented people who were enjoying a really comfortable standard of living. So my criteria for a “have” family: a hundred energy slaves per family.

Now in 1900, taking the total human population, far less than one per cent were in what I called “industrial have” family. So less than one per cent of humanity in 1900. As a consequence of World War II, and the technology I spoke about that was introduced in World War II, it came out four per cent of all humanity were suddenly “industrial haves”which was a very big jump from nothing. In 1951, I was taking a new point on the curve, and I found we’d gotten up to twenty eight per cent of humanity.

I now had enough points on my curve–I had three points–to be able to discover, there’s a radius of change, so I made a constant radius of change, and I extended that radius. And I found that curve was increasing so rapidly that the curve in exactly 2000 AD, we came to 100% of humanity would be enjoying a high standard of living. I saw that that curve could be accelerated, so I made an acceleration curve on my 1951 publishing of this curve and when I took the slower rate, the constant rate of radius, and I found that (this 1951), as of 1970, the curve went through fifty per cent of humanity.

Historically, ninety-nine per cent and more of humanity were
“have-nots’” they were in dire need, and revolution was really rampant. The many would say the fewer are enjoying unfairly, and we have to get up and do something about it. When you go by fifty per cent, I saw for the first time in history, the majority begins to be “haves”, rather than “have-nots.” This would bring about a different way of looking at things. Those who were “haves” would probably find much more information than they ever had before, found they really couldn’t enjoy that “have-ness” as long as they had awareness of the dire
“have-not-ness” of the others. At any rate, this would be a critical point where, for the first time, you would not have the majority rising up to pull down the top. You might really have, then, the tendency of the majority, being on top, to pull the bottom up. This seemed to be, probably, a very new relationship.

In 1951, I marked on my chart, the critical year would be 1970. Using my acceleration it could be somewhere between 1970 and 1975 The most accelerated point would be 1970 and the least accelerated would be 1975. This is the critical period and the curve really did get exactly there at 1970. So we crossed, we’ve been going through a very, very critical time right now. Because this is the point where, I say, it is now being clearly demonstrated to humanity that something is going on, if he is not so myopic and shortsighted as not to really look at such curves. I am really astonished at how little people will look at them.

This kind of awareness that made me want to develop what I called a World Game to try to make it as quickly as possible to make it clear to all humanity what its options were, that changes are going on. There are very big things going on in nature here. I spoke to you about our all coming out of some common womb of permitted ignorance, with enough cushion of resources by which, by trial-and-error to make mistake after mistake, to learn what we’re learning. And this is a very extraordinary moment, I find; suddenly there is–all around the world–literacy. This wasn’t there when I was young.


Front Page

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

Win Wenger is a good human. He is always seeking to help his fellow humans solve their problems. The following article was first written in 2004, and then revised in December 2005. 


The Ideal School

Wen Wenger

Throughout the past century, schools have not been willing to accommodate change and meaningful reform. This is partly due to lack of incentive. Bureaucratic structures are not well noted for being results-oriented. Any change represents also change in power relationships, by definition. Those currently at advantage in power relationships can be understandably less than enthusiastic about such changes. There is little in the incentive structure of bureaucracies to offset that factor. The powerful have strong incentive to cling to the status quo.

Widespread dissatisfaction with the results — and the costs — of schooling, all levels public and private, has placed strong pressure on schools to improve. Throughout modern times, however, this has merely resulted in widely ballyhooed “reforms” which were window-dressing only and changed nothing substantial, even though each of those window-dressing “reforms” was hailed at the time as the salvation of education.

These conditions are not expected to change in the near future, except for the worse — as public support erodes and schools begin to break down. We can expect no substantive new reforms to succeed, though a few more window-dressing reforms, each hailed as the salvation, might cycle through before the end.

When sufficient outside pressure is brought, schools do change. Witness the effect of technology giving rise to distance learning though this, in turn, could be made far more effective. Once distance learning is made more effective, existing schools will face severe Darwinian-type pressures, in addition to their self-inflicted difficulties.

Or, we can turn some effort toward creating alternative educational programs and schools, alternatives which model a far better way of educating. One may create the examples to which people can turn. With live alternative examples visibly in place, when the sudden startling collapse of American public education comes, people can jump to the alternative models instead of panicking and making matters worse.

Let us sample some of the options from among the various proposed alternative educational models —

Improve existing systems

  1. Improvements in input to the learner
    1. Intellectual improvement —

      • Jerome S. Bruner’s “Spiral Curriculum” and the integration of knowledge. See our summer school proposal.
      • General systems theory as a “Rosetta Stone of Knowledge.”
      • Sequencing issues, e.g., the Waldorf schools of Rudolph Steiner (see also “Models of Human Development, below).” Specifically, the issue of matching style and content of instruction to specified stages of human development and functioning.
    2. “Wholistic” improvements to the learner —
      • Summerhill didn’t produce any leaders — did its program eliminate drive?
      • Attempts to emulate Walden Two have run into serious psychological problems.
    3. Specific curriculum goal reforms —

      • Schools and proposed schools based upon environmental learning.
      • Schools and proposed schools for peace, for social reform, for other specific social aims.
      • Religious and “new age” and/or revealed knowledge schools and proposals.
  2. Improvements in the learner
    1. Models of Human Development — enhance learner’s ability to learn and to get value from the learning.
    2. Modern, Project Renaissance, methods for improving learner ability.
    3. Special disciplines, especially physically-based, such as oriental Martial Arts.
    4. Proposals for wielding incentives to higher performance.


  3. Improvements in Method
    1. “Learn by doing” (John Dewey) and feedback (Montessori, O.K. Moore, S. Ramon y Cajal, Marion Diamond).
    2. Learn by output from the learner — Socratic Method.
    3. Learn by observing sensitive-to-data inner imagery (Einsteinian Discovery Method).
    4. Learn by observing “strays” and “sidebands” of awareness.
    5. Bodies of specific techniques, such as Georgi Lozanov’s Suggestopedia or Luis Machado’s Emotopedia.
    6. Cooperative and team-learning systems.
    7. Technology-assisted instruction, including AV aids and computers.
    8. The solution to all school problems is to go over entirely to phonic reading — or — The solution to all school problems is to go over entirely to “look-say” reading methods. (This is “the Hundred Years’ War” in American education.)
    9. Aiming instruction to individual learning styles and to Gardner’s various multiple intelligences, not only educational levels. These differentiated needs are all too real, but can any teacher, much less teachers generally, serve them by present didactic methods?

  4. Improvements in delivery
    1. Various mixes of human and technology-based instruction.
    2. Automated learning systems.
    3. Are schools really the best delivery system for education in the first place? What are all the possible alternatives we can think of? Which of them might be interesting?
    4. The Home Schooling Movement
      o   Pros and cons

      • conditions in the schools
      • uncontrolled conditions at home
      • compared costs for the results gotten
      • intellectual advantages of the students
      • social development issues
      • moral development issues
      • safety and security
      • citizenship issues
      • costs to parents, including opportunity costs

      o  Possible ways to facilitate

      • Possible ways to collaborate between schools and home-schools, to the learner’s benefit.
      • Are there ways everyone can come out ahead on this?

What level school?

  1. The younger the child, the greater lifetime difference the intervention will make.

  2. For historical reasons, Project Renaissance methods are presently best developed for older children and adults, though their principles apply at all levels. Some existing methods would have to be interpolated and adjusted for use with younger students.

  3. Graduate schools have the advantage as regards the convenience of having your alumni graduates reporting back immediately from science, the professions, and commerce into which they recently graduated.

  4. If the new school is a university, it can serve all other levels of education by building “lab schools” at those other levels. It also makes sense for a university-based lab school system to test out more than one model for whatever level, even though no university lab schools to date appear to have done that, only rarely testing even specific methods or techniques side by side. Multi-model testing would be a basic feature of the lab schools created by the proposed Renaissance University, itself a proposed alternative model new school.

Strategies for getting an ideal school going …(subject of a later article)

Alternative Models

  1. Discover your own system and/or method and/or basis for an alternative model school. Set up specifically for this purpose is the procedure that is posted on a self-taught basis for Toolbuildering. To succeed in inventing your own powerful basis for an improved way of educating, training, or childraising, let yourself be surprised by the experience you find there in “Toolbuilder.”
  2. Select which model(s) you want, and the strategies for bringing them into being.

O

This has been a partial listing of various proposed ideal educational models, some of them desirable/workable/do-able and some of them perhaps not so. The need of a preferred ideal alternative model school is highlighted by the continued self-inflicted difficulties of the present school system, which are not expected to change for the better.
This writer’s strong preference is for the proposed Renaissance University, whose preliminary draft prospectus is cited, but other models are also possible and desirable. An even stronger preference would be for existing schools to examine and test out some of the many various Project Renaissance methods, saving us the arduous labor of creating schools, but thus far that has not happened.
O

We also seek allies and partners — preferably with their own strong clear vision of an ideal school — together with whom we can co-create something much better for our children than the existing schools. And we need to create something much better for ourselves as well, not only for our children, in a changing world economy where the average American adult has to change careers every few years, learning a new field or profession.

Distance Learning

  1. The main change needed to make distance learning far more effective, is
    1. to require several students together at each terminal, and
    2. to cue them to “buzz-group” prior to answering on the chief points of the lesson — points which have been made into questions.

    Students need to interact with each other for all the same reasons as they need to interact with lesson context, only more so and face-to-face. Keyboard and screen are too narrow a context — interaction with fellow students broadens that context greatly, rendering much easier the transfer of learning from initial context to other situations. Motivation is also a key factor, in an industry where the rate of drop-out exceeds 90%.

  2. Some various of these are on display, in self-taught form, throughout much of this website.

  3. Can, however, most teachers — or even any teacher — really do that? On the other hand, with Socratic drawing-forth, each student comes from his or her own strengths, reinforces these and builds around them, with no special effort required on the teacher’s part. Thus, modern Socratic Method is a much easier answer to this consideration.

  4. Please see the very preliminary prospectus for Renaissance University posted here for comment.


An earlier version of this paper was prepared for the 2004 annual conference of Project Renaissance, Double Festival XIII, Pasadena, Maryland.

O

©2004-2005 Project Renaissance


Visit Wen Wenger’s website.

Front Page

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

From the SynEARTH Archive I have written elsewhere about my belief that humans could form the thinking cells for GAIA. Think a moment of how our brain functions — the neurons of our human brain focus entirely on the needs of the whole body, and in turn discover the whole body takes care of them.  They have no concerns and give no attention to maintaining their own temperature, to acquiring their own nutrition, to oxygenating themselves, or even in protecting themselves from bacteria or virus.

The neurons place their trust in survival of the whole.  By making decisions which keep the body healthy and safe, they  insure the body is capable of meeting all the needs of the neurons.  By serving the whole the neurons find themselves served.

I have taught that humanity is evolving. We evolved from the animals. Animals are space-binders. Their lives are dominated by adversity. Early humans lives were dominated by adversity. Humans who commit to adversity could be called Adversans. I explained to escape the Adversary world, humans invented Captitalism and the Great Market. This is a Neutral mechanism. Humans who commit to Capitalism and the Market could be called Neutrans. I have explained that if humanity is to have a future that we must give up the hurting of Adversity — give up the ignoring of Neutrality, and embrace the helping of Synergy. Humans who commit to Synergy could be called Synergans.

Now imagine that the Earth including all of life is a single organism — GAIA.  Further imagine the entire humans species  —  all of humanity — organized in a single organizational tensegrity. This evolved form of humanity could be called Synerganity.  Synerganity then could be the brain of GAIA.  Each human being functioning as a neuron within GAIA’s brain.

Synerganity could care for GAIA — care for all of life on and of the Earth—You, Me, Others, Plants, Animals, Natural Resources, and the very Planet itself.  We humans could function as neurons.  We could care for the whole and discover ourselves to be cared for as a part of  that whole—GAIA.  If Synerganity makes the choices that protect GAIA, then those decisions will meet the needs of all of life including us humans,  just as now our brains make decisions that meet the needs of all the forty trillion cells contained in our bodies.


We Earth Neurons

Daniel Dennett

Some years ago a friend of mine in the Peace Corps told me about his efforts on behalf of a tribe of gentle Indians deep in the Brazilian forest. I asked him if he had been required to tell them about the conflict between the USA and the USSR. Not at all, he replied. There would be no point in it. They had not only never heard of either America or the Soviet Union, they had never even heard of Brazil! Who would have guessed that it is still possible to be a human being living in, and subject to the laws of, a nation without the slightest knowledge of that fact? If we find this astonishing, it is because we human beings, unlike all other species on the planet, are knowers. We are the ones–the only ones–who have figured out what we are, and where we are, in this great universe. And we are even beginning to figure out how we got here.

These quite recent discoveries are unnerving, to say the least. What you are–what each of us is–is an assemblage of roughly a trillion cells, of thousands of different sorts. Most of these cells are “daughters” of the egg and sperm cell whose union started you (there are also millions of hitchhikers from thousands of different lineages stowed away in your body), but each cell is a mindless mechanism, a largely autonomous micro-robot, no more conscious than a bacterium, and not a single one of the cells that compose you knows who you are, or cares.

Each trillion-robot team is gathered together in a breathtakingly efficient regime that has no dictator but manages to keep itself organized to repel outsiders, banish the weak, enforce iron rules of discipline–and serve as the headquarters of one conscious self, one mind. These communities of cells are fascistic in the extreme, but your interests and values have almost nothing to do with the limited goals of the cells that compose you–fortunately. Some people are gentle and generous, others are ruthless; some are pornographers and others devote their lives to the service of God, and it has been tempting over the ages to imagine that these striking differences must be due to the special features of some extra thing (a soul) installed somehow in the bodily headquarters, but what we now have figured out is that there is no such extra ingredient; we are each made of mindless robots and nothing else, no non-physical, non-robotic ingredients at all. The differences between people are all due to the way their particular robotic teams are put together, over a lifetime of growth and experience. The difference between speaking French and speaking Chinese is a difference in the organization of the working parts, and so are all the other differences of personality–and knowledge.

Four and a half billion years ago, the earth was formed, and it was utterly without life. And so it stayed for perhaps as long as a billion years. For another billion years, the planet’s oceans teemed with life, but it was all blind and deaf. Simple cells multiplied, engulfing each other, exploiting each other in a thousand ways, but oblivious to the world beyond their membranes. Then much larger, more complex cells evolved–eukaryotes–still clueless and robotic, but with enough internal machinery to begin to specialize. So it continued for more than two billion more years, the time it took for the algorithms of evolution to hit upon good ways of banding these workers together into multi-cellular organisms composed of millions, billions and, (eventually) trillions of cells, each doing its particular mechanical routine, but now yoked into specialized service, as part of an eye or an ear or a lung or a kidney. These organisms (not the individual team members composing them) had become long-distance knowers, able to spy supper trying to appear inconspicuous in the middle distance, able to hear danger threatening from afar. But still, even these whole organisms knew not what they were. Their instincts guaranteed that they tried to mate with the right sorts, and flock with the right sorts, but just as those Brazilians didn’t know they were Brazilians, no buffalo has ever known it’s a buffalo.

In just one species, our species, a new trick evolved: language. It has provided us a broad highway of knowledge-sharing, on every topic. Conversation unites us, in spite of our different languages. We can all know quite a lot about what it is like to be a Vietnamese fisherman or a Bulgarian taxi driver, an eighty-year-old nun or a five-year-old boy blind from birth, a chess master or a prostitute. No matter how different from one another we people are, scattered around the globe, we can explore our differences and communicate about them. No matter how similar to one another buffalos are, standing shoulder to shoulder in a herd, they cannot know much of anything about their similarities, let alone their differences, because they can’t compare notes. They can have similar experiences, side by side, but they really can’t share experiences the way we do.

Even in our species, it has taken thousands of years of communication for us to begin to find the keys to our own identities. It has been only a few hundred years that we’ve known that we are mammals, and only a few decades that we’ve understood in considerable detail how we have evolved, along with all other living things, from those simple beginnings. We are outnumbered on this planet by our distant cousins, the ants, and outweighed by yet more distant relatives we share with the ants, the bacteria, but though we are in the minority, our capacity for long-distance knowledge gives us powers that dwarf the powers of all the rest of the life on the planet. Now, for the first time in its billions of years of history, our planet is protected by far-seeing sentinels, able to anticipate danger from the distant future–a comet on a collision course, or global warming–and devise schemes for doing something about it. The planet has finally grown its own nervous system: us.

We may not be up to the job. We may destroy the planet instead of saving it, largely because we are such free-thinking, creative, unruly explorers and adventurers, so unlike the trillions of slavish workers that compose us. Brains are for anticipating the future, so that timely steps can be taken in better directions, but even the smartest of beasts have very limited time horizons, and little if any ability to imagine alternative worlds. We human beings, in contrast, have discovered the mixed blessing of being able to think even about our own deaths and beyond, and a huge portion of our energy expenditure over the last ten thousand years or so has been devoted to assuaging the concerns provoked by this unsettling new vista. If you burn more calories than you take in, you soon die. If you find some tricks that provide you a surplus of calories, what might you spend them on? You might devote person-centuries of labor to building temples and tombs and sacrificial pyres on which you destroy some of your most precious possessions–and even some of your very own children. Why would you want to do that? These strange and awful expenditures give us clues about some of the hidden costs of our heightened powers of imagination. We did not come by our knowledge painlessly.

Now what will we do with our knowledge? The birth-pangs of our discoveries have not subsided. Many are afraid that learning too much about what we are–trading in mystery for mechanisms–will impoverish our vision of human possibility. This fear is ill-considered. Look around at those who are eagerly participating in this quest for further knowledge and embracing the new discoveries; they are manifestly not bereft of optimism, moral conviction, engagement in life, commitment to society. In fact, if you want to find anxiety, despair, anomie today, look among the undereducated young people scavenging their dimly understood heritages (or popular culture) for a comfortable identity. Among intellectuals, look to the fashionable tribe of postmodernists, who would like to suppose that modern science is just another in a long line of myths, its institutions and expensive apparatus just the rituals and accouterments of yet another religion. That intelligent people can take this seriously is a testimony to the power that fearful thinking still has, in spite of our advances in self-consciousness. The postmodernists are right, of course, that science is just one of the things we might want to spend our extra calories on. The fact that science has been the major source of the efficiencies that created those extra calories does not entitle it to any particular share of the wealth it has created. But it still ought to be obvious that the methods and rules of science–not just its microscopes and telescopes and computers–are the new sense organs of our species, enabling us to answer questions, solve mysteries, and anticipate the future in ways no earlier human institutions can approach. The more we learn about what we are, the more options we will discern about what to try to become. We Americans have long honored the “self-made man” but now that we are actually learning enough to be able to re-make ourselves into something new, many flinch. Many people would apparently rather bumble around with their eyes closed, trusting in tradition, than look around to see what’s about to happen. Yes, it is unnerving; yes, it can be scary. After all, there are many entirely new mistakes we are now empowered to make. But it’s the beginning of a great new adventure for our knowing species–and much more exciting, as well as safer, if we open our eyes.


This essay was originally published as an academic paper on August 15, 1999. It was reposted on KurzweilAI.net  on September 18, 2001.

More about Daniel Dennett

Front Page

Monday, June 12th, 2006

From the SynEARTH Achive — This morning, I repost another article from KurzweilAI.net. There is something missing from the discussion of the technologic singularity, says James Bell: the true cost of progress will mean the unprecedented decline of the planet’s inhabitants — an ever-increasing rate of global extinction, some warn.


Technotopia & the Death of Nature

James John Bell

There is no question that technological growth trends in science and industry are increasing exponentially. There is, however, a growing debate about what this runaway acceleration of ingenuity may bring. A number of respected scientists and futurists now are predicting that technological progress is driving the world toward a “Singularity” — a point at which technology and nature will have become one. At this juncture, the world as we have known it will have gone extinct and new definitions of “life,” “nature” and “human” will take hold. “We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth,” San Diego University Professor of Computer Science Vernor Vinge first warned the scientific community in 1993.
“Within 30 years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will end.”

Some scientists and philosophers have theorized that the very purpose of life is to bring about the Singularity. While leading technology industries have been aware of the Singularity concept for some time, there are concerns that, if the public understood the full ramifications of the Singularity, they would be reluctant to accept many of the new and untested technologies such as genetically engineered foods, nano-technology and robotics.

Machine Evolution A number of books on the coming Singularity are in the works and will soon appear. In 2003, the sequel to the blockbuster film The Matrix will delve into the philosophy and origins of Earth’s machine-controlled future. Matrix cast members were required to read Wired editor Kevin Kelly’s 1994 book Out of Control: The Rise of Neo-biological Civilization. Page one reads, “The realm of the born – all that is nature — and the realm of the made – all that is humanly constructed — are becoming one.”

Meanwhile, Warner Brothers has embarked on the most expensive film of all time — a $180 million sequel called Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. The film is due out in 2003; a good decade before actual machine evolution is predicted to accelerate “out of control,” plunging human civilization towards the Singularity.

Central to the workings of the Singularity are a number of “laws” — one of which is known as Moore’s Law. Intel Corp. cofounder Gordon E. Moore noted that the number of transistors that could fit on a single computer chip had doubled every year for six years from the beginnings of integrated circuits in 1959. Moore predicted that the trend would continue, and it has — although the doubling rate was later adjusted to an 18-month cycle.

Today, millions of circuits are found on a single miniscule computer chip and technological “progress” is accelerating at an exponential rather than a linear growth rate.

Stewart Brand, in his book The Clock of the Long Now, discusses another law — Monsanto’s Law — which states that the ability to identify and use genetic information doubles every 12 to 24 months. This exponential growth in biological knowledge is transforming agriculture, nutrition and healthcare in the emerging life-sciences industry.

In 2005, IBM plans to introduce “Blue Gene,” a computer that can perform one million-billion calculations-per-second — about 1/20th the power of the human brain. This computer could transmit the entire contents of the Library of Congress in less than two seconds. According to Moore’s Law, computer hardware will surpass human brainpower in the first decade of this century. Software that emulates the human mind — “artificial intelligence” — may take a few more years to evolve.

Reaching Infinity The human population also is experiencing tremendous exponential population growth. Dan Eder, a scientist at the Boeing Artificial Intelligence Center, notes that
“human population growth over the past 10,000 years has been following a hyperbolic growth trend … with the asymptote [or the point of near-infinite increase] located in the year 2035 AD.” An infinite number of humans is, of course, impossible. Scientists predict our numbers will hover around 9 billion by mid-century.

Eder points out that the predicted rise of artificial intelligence coincides with the asymptote of human population growth. He speculates that artificial life could begin to multiply exponentially once biological life has met its finite limits.

Scientists are debating not so much if it will happen, but what discovery will set off a series of Earth-altering technologic events. They suggest that advancements in the fields of nanotechnology or the discovery of artificial intelligence could usher in the Singularity.

Technologic Globalization Physicists, mathematicians and scientists like Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil have identified through their accelerated technological change theories the likely boundaries of the Singularity and have predicted with confidence the effects leading up to it over the next couple of decades.

The majority of people closest to these theories and laws — the tech sector — can hardly wait for the Singularity to arrive. The true believers call themselves “extropians,” “post-humans”and “transhumanists” and are actively organizing not just to bring the Singularity about, but to counter what they call “techno-phobes” and
“neo-luddites” — critics like Greenpeace, Earth First! and the Rainforest Action Network.

The Progress Action Coalition (Pro-Act), which was formed in June 2001, fantasizes about “the dream of true artificial intelligence… adding a new richness to the human landscape never before known.” The Pro-Act website features several sections where the strategies and tactics of environmental groups and foundations are targeted for “countering.”

Pro-Act, AgBioworld, Biotechnology Progress, Foresight Institute, the Progress Freedom Foundation and other industry groups that desire accelerated scientific progress acknowledge that the greatest threat to technologic progress comes not just from environmental groups, but from a small faction of the scientific community — where one voice stands out.

The Warning In April 2000, a wrench was thrown into the arrival of the Singularity by an unlikely source — Sun Microsystems’ Chief Scientist Bill Joy. Joy co-founded Sun Microsystems, helped create the Unix computer operating system and developed the Java and Jini software systems — systems that helped give the Internet “life.”

In a now-infamous cover story in Wired magazine, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” Joy warned of the dangers posed by developments in genetics, nanotechnology and robotics. Joy’s warning of the impacts of exponential technologic progress run amok gave new credence to the coming Singularity. Unless things change, Joy predicted, “We could be the last generation of humans.” Joy has warned that “knowledge alone will enable mass destruction” and termed this phenomenon “knowledge-enabled mass destruction” (KMD).

The Times of London compared Joy’s statement to Einstein’s 1939 letter to President Roosevelt, which warned of the dangers of the nuclear bomb.

The technologies of the 20th century gave rise to nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) technologies that, while powerful, require access to vast amounts of raw (and often rare) materials, technical information and large-scale industries. The 21st century technologies of genetics, nanotechnology and robotics (GNR) however, will require neither large facilities nor rare raw materials.

The threat posed by GNR technologies becomes further amplified by the fact that some of these new technologies have been designed to be able to “replicate” — i.e., they can build new versions of themselves. Nuclear bombs did not sprout more bombs and toxic spills did not grow more spills. If the new self-replicating GNR technologies are released into the environment, they could be nearly impossible to recall or control.

Globalization and Singularity Joy understands that the greatest dangers we face ultimately stem from a world where global corporations dominate — a future where much of the world has no voice in how the world is run. The 21st century GNR technologies, he writes,
“are being developed almost exclusively by corporate enterprises. We are aggressively pursuing the promises of these new technologies within the now-unchallenged system of global capitalism and its manifold financial incentives and competitive pressures.”

Joy believes that the system of global capitalism, combined with our current rate of progress, gives the human race a 30 to 50 percent chance of going extinct around the time the Singularity happens. “Not only are these estimates not encouraging,” he adds, “but they do not include the probability of many horrid outcomes that lie short of extinction.”

Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen contends that if chemists earlier in the last century had decided to use bromine instead of chlorine to produce commercial coolants (a mere quirk of chemistry), the ozone hole over Antarctica would have been far larger, would have lasted all year and would have severely affected life on Earth. “Avoiding that was just luck,” stated Crutzen.

It is very likely that scientists and global corporations will miss key developments (or, worse, actively avoid discussion of them). A whole generation of biologists has left the field for the biotech and nanotech labs. As biologist Craig Holdredge, who has followed biotech since its early beginnings in the 1970s, warns: The science of “biology is losing its connection with nature.”

Yet there is something missing from this discussion of the technologic singularity. The true cost of technologic progress and the Singularity will mean the unprecedented decline of the planet’s inhabitants — an ever-increasing rate of global extinction.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN), the International Botanical Congress and a majority of the world’s biologists believe that a global “mass extinction” already is underway. As a direct result of human activity (resource extraction, industrial agriculture, the introduction of non-native animals and population growth), up to one-fifth of all living species — mostly in the tropics — are expected to disappear within 30 years. “The speed at which species are being lost is much faster than any we’ve seen in the past — including those related to meteor collisions,” University of Tennessee biodiversity expert Daniel Simberloff told the Washington Post.

A 1998 Harris poll of the 5,000 members of the American Institute of Biological Sciences found 70 percent believed that what has been termed “The Sixth Extinction” is now underway. A simultaneous Harris poll found that 60 percent of the public were totally unaware of the impending biological collapse.

At the same time that nature’s ancient biological creation is on the decline, artificial laboratory-created bio-tech life forms — genetically modified tomatoes, genetically engineered salmon, cloned sheep — are on the rise. Already more than 60 percent of food in US grocery stores contain genetically engineered ingredients — and that percentage is rising.

Nature and technology are not just evolving: They are competing and combining with one another. Ultimately there could be only one winner.


James Bell is a writer for Sustain, a national environmental information group based in Chicago.This article is excerpted from his forthcoming book. For more information visit www.technologicalsingularity.info or contact jamesbell@sustainusa.org. An earlier version of this article was published in the Samhain (November/December 2001) issue of the Earth First! Journal. (c) 2001 by James Bell.

Front Page

Monday, June 5th, 2006

From the SynEARTH Archives.


Synergic Trusting & Synergic Trusts

Timothy Wilken, MD

Trusting is not a new behavior for humanity. It was invented long ago when the world was dominated by the adversary way. Trusting meant that I could rely on you not to hurt me. Trusting meant it was safe to assume that you were not my enemy.

Synergic trusting means means more. It means that while I can rely on you not to hurt me, I can further rely on you to help me. It is not only safe to assume that you are not my enemy, but I can count on you as a friend.

Synergic trusting is a behavior that is required for a time-binding class of life.

What is meant by Time-binding?

The most unique fact about humans, from a scientific perspective, is our ability to understand and to transfer our understanding to each other. This unique ability is what distinguishes us from all other forms of life. Alfred Korzybski coined the term Time-Binding as the human ability to understand and to transfer that understanding to other humans.

Time-binding is that unique human ability to pass that ‘knowing’ from one generation to the next generation. Both animal and human offspring begin their lives in nearly total ignorance. The differences that exist between them are small, but what advantage in knowing that does exist belongs clearly to the animal.

While the animal seems to begin life with a greater store of inherited knowing, it possesses little ability to learn from its parents. The animal is condemned to rediscover over and over, every generation must discover anew the knowings of its parents. The wise old owl may know a great deal, but he has no way to pass what he knows to his offspring and they have no way to receive it.

We humans are very different in that respect. We can and do pass our knowing from one generation to the next. As Alfred Korzybski explained:

“Human beings possess a most remarkable capacity which is entirely peculiar to them—I mean the capacity to summarise, digest and appropriate the labors and experiences of the past; I mean the capacity to use the fruits of past labors and experiences as intellectual or spiritual capital for developments in the present; I mean the capacity to employ as instruments of increasing power the accumulated achievements of the all-precious lives of the past generations spent in trial and error, trial and success; I mean the capacity of human beings to conduct their lives in the ever increasing light of inherited wisdom; I mean the capacity in virtue of which man is at once the inheritor of the bygone ages and the trusteeof posterity. And because humanity is just this magnificent natural agency by which the past lives in the present and the present for the future, I define humanity, in the universal tongue of mathematics and mechanics, to be the Time-binding class of life.” 1

What do I mean by a Synergic Trust?

The collective term we humans use to describe what we value is “wealth”. I define Synergic Trust as wealth that comes to us as a gift. Synergic Trust can be divided into three categories.

1) The Life Trust –which is life itself, and the plants and animals which are gifts from God, and Nature. And, our human bodies which are a gift from God, Nature, and our Parents.

2) The Earth Trust–the sunshine, air, water, land, minerals, the earth itself all of which come to us freely. This wealth is provided to us by God and Nature.

And, 3) The Time-binding Trust — the accumulated “knowing” from the time-binding of all the humans who have ever lived and died. Our inherited Wisdom, Knowledge, and Information including Architecture, Art, Literature, Music, Science, and Technology. It is the Time- binding Trust that forms the basis of all human progress.

We humans are beneficiaries then of three major trusts–the Life Trust, the Earth Trust and the Time-binding Trust.

Trusts are not Property

We, humans can not and do not own these trusts. They are not derived from our lives. They are not the product of our mind or labor. We have not paid for them. There is no moral or rational basis for us to claim ownership. They are not property.

Therefore, if we wish the privilege to use and control these trusts, we must act as trustees, and act responsibly for the benefit of all humanity. As responsible trustees, we must preserve and protect these trusts. We must act as conservationists.

“Conservation is the sustainable use of natural resources–soils, water, plants, animals, and minerals. The natural resources of any area constitute its basic capital, and wasteful use of those resources constitutes an economic loss. From the aesthetic viewpoint, conservation also includes the maintenance of national parks, wilderness areas, historic sites, and wildlife.

“Natural resources are of two main types, renewable and nonrenewable. Renewable resources include wildlife and natural vegetation of all kinds. The soil itself can be considered a renewable resource, although severe damage is difficult to repair because of the slow rate of soil-forming processes. The natural drainage of waters from the watershed of a region can be maintained indefinitely by careful management of vegetation and soils, and the quality of water can be controlled through pollution control.

“Nonrenewable resources are those that cannot be replaced or that can be replaced only over extremely long periods of time. Such resources include the fossil fuels (coal, petroleum, and natural gas) and the metallic and other ores.” 2

The Life and Earth Trusts are perishable. They must be protected for our children, and for all future children.

The Time-binding Trust is less susceptible to damage by the user. Using knowledge or technology designs does not diminish their future value, but they must be used responsibly. We must not hurt others with any trusts that we control.In fact, we should help others to whatever the extent we are capable.

All humans are trustees. We are of course the Life Trustees of our own bodies. We should take good care of ourselves. Take care with our health and nutrition. We are also the Time-binding Trustees of all the knowledge and skills that we personally have mastered from our study of the past. We must strive not to hurt others with this knowledge and skill. We should try and help others to whatever extent we are capable. For while Time-binding grants us humans the power to understand, it does not insure that we will use our understanding wisely.

Much of our knowledge is embedded in our tools. Human knowledge grows continuously and without limit. As we incorporate evermore powerful knowledge into artifacts, we create evermore powerful tools.

When we use tools to hurt others, they are called weapons.

If we incorporate evermore powerful knowledge into the tools we use to hurt others, we will create evermore powerful weapons. This pathway leads inevitably to the destruction of all humanity.

We humans have a choice. We can choose humility with our gift of Time- binding. We can choose responsibility as the moral requirement for using our power of understanding. We can choose to join together and protect our Synergic Trusts. Only this pathway will guarantee us a future.


1 Alfred Korzybski, Manhood of Humanity, 1921 

2Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation, 1963-96

The Give Help to Get Help Wheel was developed after an original concept of Daniel Quinn’s first presented in his book My Ishmael.

Front Page

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

From the SynEARTH Archives. … Daniel Quinn, the author of  Ishmael, has some provocative ideas about how change is really effected. In a speech which Quinn delivered before a group of young environmentalists one year ago, Quinn quoted Buckminster Fuller: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”


Changing our Minds

Daniel Quinn

Yesterday a teenager sent me an email letter in which he said, “I feel cheated that it’s all UP TO ME. By being in the younger generation, I have to save the world before I can even begin to think of building a life for myself, or there will be nothing to build my life on.”

I think this is a profound statement and a statement of profound importance to this particular audience. I’ve known several generations of kids your age, and I can tell you that feeling cheated is something NEW, and something new is always worth paying attention to.

The kids of my own generation didn’t feel cheated, we felt terrified. We grew up in the coldest part of the Cold War, cowering in the shadow of the H-bomb, expecting at any moment to see the world come to an end in a nuclear holocaust. All we knew was that we had to get down to the business of getting as much of the good life as we could before the end came. We were the Silent Generation, and all we wanted was to get out there and get a job, a career, a marriage, a family, a house in the suburbs, squeezing in as much as we could before it all went up in smoke.

The kids of the sixties and seventies didn’t feel cheated. They were just fed up with their parents’ idea that the best life was the one the Silent Generation was struggling to get–the job, the career, the marriage, the family, the house in the suburbs. They wanted to LIVE, to have a little fun, and to hell with the goddamned H-bomb. Who could blame them?

Michael feels cheated, he says, because it’s all up to him. If you haven’t yet been told that it’s “all up to you,” believe me, you will be. Of course, this business of it all being up to you is pretty standard commencement day rhetoric. Every commencement day speaker worth his or her salt has got to say, one way or another, “The future is in your hands. Today the torch passes from one generation to the next,” blah, blah, blah. This in itself is not new. I heard the same thing when I was your age.

But it meant something different when I heard it. It really was just commencement day rhetoric back then. Nowadays it means something different.

Nowadays it means something like this. My generation and my parents’ generation and their parents’ have really screwed things up here, and that’s no joke. I can’t even bring myself to look at the latest WorldWatch Institute estimate of how much time we have left to turn this around before we head down a slide from which no recovery is possible. It was 40 years the last time I DID have the nerve to look, and that was about ten years ago.

What does this figure mean? It doesn’t mean human extinction in forty years. It means we have 40 years to find a new path for ourselves, and if we let those 40 years go to waste and just go on the way we are, the momentum that is carrying us forward to extinction will be too great to overcome. So that date is not the end of it all, it’s just the point of no return — Irreversible.

So when people tell you now that it’s all up to you, they really mean “If you can’t find what we were unable to find and our parents were unable to find and their parents were unable to find (which is another way for us to go), then you may very well live to see the extinction of the human race.”

I’m sure you haven’t failed to notice what a monstrous copout this is.

Oh yes, we–your parents and their parents and their parents–have screwed up the world royally, and we admit it!! But if YOU don’t find a way to FIX what WE’VE done, then it will be YOUR fault! Not OUR fault, because we have an excuse. We were just dumb and greedy. And because WE’VE been dumb and greedy, YOU’RE going to have to be smart and self-sacrificing. Got that?

Michael puts it in a nutshell: “By being in the younger generation, I have to save the world before I can even begin to think of building a life for myself, or there will be nothing to build my life on.”

Your parents didn’t have to save the world before building a life for themselves. Maybe it would’ve have been a good idea–but they didn’t HAVE to. So they didn’t.

You HAVE to, because if you don’t, as Michael says, there will be nothing LEFT to build your life ON.

So that’s the deal. Forget about having fun. Forget about taking up some career just because it happens to appeal to you. Forget about getting the good things in life that your parents have. Forget about the six-figure salary. Forget about the BMW. Forget about the 8000 square foot house. Those things are okay for people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and Donald Trump and Steve Case, because they belong to the same old, unregenerate generation as your parents. They can AFFORD to be dumb and greedy. They don’t HAVE to save the world first. YOU DO.

Is it any wonder that Michael feels cheated?

When he speaks of being cheated, Michael unconsciously brings into play the language of games. I mean that Michael dimly recognizes that a game IS being played with him, and I’d like to take a few minutes to examine the game that’s being played with him–and with you when people tell you that “It’s all up to you.”

In his book, The Book: or, The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Alan Watts examines the notion of the “double-bind.” “A person,” he writes,
“is put in a double-bind by a command or request that contains a concealed contradiction. ‘Stop being self-conscious!’ ‘Try to relax.’ . . . Society, as we now have it, pulls this trick on every child from earliest infancy. In the first place, the child is taught that he is responsible, that he is a free agent, an independent origin of thoughts and actions. He accepts this make-believe for the very reason that it is not true. He can’t help accepting it, just as he can’t help accepting membership in the community where he was born. He has no way of resisting this kind of social indoctrination. It is constantly reinforced with reward and punishments. It is built into the basic structure of the language he is learning. . . . we befuddle our children hopelessly because we–as adults–were once so befuddled, and, remaining so, do not understand the game we are playing.”

I hope you’ll leave here today with a better understanding of the game that is being played with you. “The child,” Watts says, “is taught that he is responsible, that he is a free agent, an independent origin of thoughts and actions.” This is what you’re hearing when people of an older generation say, “It’s all up to you.” You might say that this is HALF of the game. They themselves were told, “It’s all up to you,” when they were your age. But if you watch them in action, you’ll see very clearly that they don’t act as if it were all up to them. They act as if it were all up to SOMEONE ELSE. They were taught, just as you were, that they are responsible, that they are free agents, but they know perfectly well that this is make-believe. SOMEONE ELSE is responsible for saving the world. SOMEONE ELSE is a free agent CAPABLE of saving the world. It may not come to mind immediately who this SOMEONE ELSE is, but you’ll certainly recognize it when you hear it.

Who is everyone WAITING for to save the world? Who is EVERYONE waiting for to save the world?

They are waiting for our LEADERS, of course. This is the other half of the game. The first half of the game is: It’s all up to you. The second half of the game is: they don’t have to do anything because they’re waiting for the President to save the world. They’re waiting for the Secretary General of the United Nations to save the world. They’re waiting for some unthinkable industrial giant to save the world. They’re waiting for some great thinker to save the world. They’re waiting for Mikhail Gorbachev to save the world. They’re even waiting for Daniel Quinn to save the world!

Someone UP THERE, someone in AUTHORITY!

Well, guess what, folks. There is NO ONE “up there” who is remotely CAPABLE of saving the world. Most of the people I’ve just mentioned aren’t even THINKING about saving the world. Trust me, you will never hear Al Gore or Bill Bradley or George Bush utter one word about saving the world. And whichever one of them is elected our next President, he will not spend a single minute of his administration thinking about saving the world. This is not something they should be blamed for, in all honesty. We don’t ELECT presidents to save the world, and any candidate that campaigned on that basis would be laughed off the stage. We elect ALL our political leaders to address SHORT-TERM goals.

The kids of your grandparents’ generation were told, “It’s all up to you”–and they waited for SOMEONE ELSE to save the world.

The kids of your parents’ generation were told, “It’s all up to you”–and they waited for SOMEONE ELSE to save the world.

Now the people of your parents’ and grandparents’ generation are continuing the game by pointing at you and saying, “It’s all up to YOU.”

I’d like to try to persuade you to REFUSE to play the game. Don’t let anyone get away with saying, “It’s all up to you.” No. It’s all up to EVERYBODY. Refuse to accept your parents’ and grandparents’ copout. It’s not good enough to say, “We’ve failed, so it’s all up to you.”

Tell them, “STOP failing!” Which means stop WAITING!

Tell them, “There’s nothing to wait for. There’s no ONE to wait for. No one is going to save the world but the PEOPLE of the world, and you can’t make it the sole responsibility of MY generation. We are the ones with no experience, no clout, no connections, no power, no money–and it’s all supposed to be up to US… What are YOU going to be doing while WE save the world?

Obviously in the few minutes I have here I can’t give you a blueprint for saving the world. But I can give you a couple of fundamental notions that I think you can follow with complete confidence. The first of these might be called Quinn’s First Law. It won’t surprise you. It may even strike you as obvious. Here it is. No undesirable behavior has ever been eliminated by passing a law against it.

The second is Buckminster Fuller’s Law, which is this: You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

Most of the time when people write to me to ask what they should be doing to save the world, there is in the back of their minds two general notions of how change takes place. One is the notion that passing laws makes things change. The other is that fighting makes things change. We’re trained to think that you really are DOING something if you’re out there fighting and getting laws passed.

But if you heed these two laws, you may think differently about this. Once again they are Quinn’s First Law, No undesirable behavior has ever been eliminated by passing a law against it, and Fuller’s Law, You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

Here is Quinn’s Second Law: What people think is what they do. And its corollary: To change what people do, change what they think.

At the present time, there are six billion people on this planet pursuing a vision that is devouring the earth. That’s our problem. Our problem is not pollution. Our problem is not consumerism. Our problem is not capitalist greed. Our problem is not conservative selfishness or liberal utopianism. Our problem is not lack of leadership. Our problem is a world-devouring vision that six billion people are pursuing.

Now what can we do about this vision? We can’t legislate it away or vote it away or organize it away or even shoot it away. We can only teach it away.

If the world is saved, it will be saved by people with changed minds, people with a new vision. It will not be saved by old minds with new programs.

Vision is a flowing river. Programs are sticks set in the riverbed to impede the flow of the river. But I don’t want to impede its flow, I want to change its direction.

Is it so easy to change a cultural vision? Ease and difficulty are not the relevant measures. Here are the relevant measures: Readiness and unreadiness. If people aren’t ready for it, then no power on earth can make a new idea catch on. But if people are ready for it (and I think they are), then a new idea will sweep the world like wildfire.

In our culture at the present moment, the flow of the river is toward catastrophe, and programs are sticks set in the riverbed to impede its flow. Our path of hope is not to add more sticks to impede the flow. Our path of hope is to change the direction of the flow–away from catastrophe.

I think people are ready for this new idea.

Don’t pay attention to people who talk as if saving the world is someone else’s business–bigshots in international politics or bigshots in international commerce. I say again: If the world is saved, it will be saved by people with changed minds, and anyone can change a mind. I mean that. Back in the seventies, a lot of eight-year-olds came home and told their parents, “By God, you’re going to stop smoking!”–and they made it stick. Back in the eighties, a lot of eight-year-olds came home and told their parents, “By God, we’re going to start recycling aluminum cans!”–and they made it stick.

I’ve changed lots of minds, through my books–but the absolute fact is that my readers have changed more minds than my books have. A lot more. One by one, readers did the work. Not me–people like you. Having done this work, having carried the word to parents, to children, to teachers, to friends, to relatives, even to strangers, they would then sit down and write me to say, but how can I help save the world? And I’d write back and say, “Look, you’re already doing it!”

If the time is right, a new idea will sweep the world like wildfire.

Let me share with you the most inspirational story I’ve heard in a long time. This story comes to me from a high school teacher in Alaska who was using Ishmael in a third-year science course. One of the students in his class was recognized as a probable drop-out. She was a lukewarm student at best–indifferent and uninterested. But instead of dropping out, after reading Ishmael, this young woman did the strangest thing anyone had ever heard of, including me. She took it upon herself to buy copies of Ishmael for her parents and to organize a week-long seminar in her own living room that her parents were commanded to attend in order to engage in a Socratic dialogue on Ishmaels themes. From that point on, she never looked back, and no one thinks of her as a probable dropout any more.

Let me make it clear that I’m not telling this story to because I’m proud of what Ishmael did. I’m proud of what this seventeen-year-old girl did! She found a path of hope for the future–all on her own. She didn’t ask me, she didn’t ask her parents, she didn’t ask her teachers, she didn’t ask her friends, she didn’t ask anyone.

If the time is right, a new idea will sweep the world like wildfire–because of people like this seventeen-year-old girl.

Because of people like you.

Because of this seventeen-year-old girl, there are two more people in the world with changed minds. That’s no small thing, believe me. Because where there are two with changed minds, there can be four. And where there are four, there can be eight. And where there are eight, there can be sixteen. All because of that one that started the whole thing by saying, “I’ve got to change these two minds.”

That’s exactly how new ideas sweep the world like wildfire–and that’s how I see it.

That’s our path of hope for the future…


Daniel Quinn’s Website

Front Page

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Hey Guys and Girls out there in American, and the rest of the world. Ready for the big Memorial Day weekend? Take a look at James Howard Kunstler’s neat essay on Summer Fun. After that quick read, if you would like to look at something that just might work better take a look below. … From the SynEARTH Archives.


Synocracy & Sociocracy

Unanimous Rule Democracy is a much more powerful mechanism of decision making than the majority rule of present day democracy.

Synergy means working together—operating together as in Co-Operation—laboring together as in Co-Laboration—acting together as in Co-Action. The goal of synergic union is to accomplish a larger or more difficult task than can be accomplished by individuals working separately.

However true synergy, which gives us humans the opportunity to accomplish more together than we can accomplish separately, also requires more from us. It requires synergic consensus. For any group of humans, synergic consensus can provide a much more powerful mechanism of decision making than even the best majority rule democracy carefully following Roberts Rules of Order.

Synergic consensus occurs when a group of humans sit as equals and negotiate to reach a decision in which they all win and in which no one loses. In synergic science this is called heterarchy or an equality circle. That means all members of the deciding group sit on the same level as “equals”. All decisions within a truly synergic group are made within the equality circle. An equality circle is made up of a group of humans with common purpose. The minimum number is 2 the maximum number is presently unknown. I believe the ideal size may be ~six or seven individuals. The group is organized horizontally with all individuals sharing equal authority and equal responsibility.

Most Western humans are familiar with the democratic committee system. It is very different from the decision heterarchy. While both are methods of organizing human individuals to make decisions for group action. Committees are filled with conflict and highly ineffective. In a committee no individual is held responsible for the actions taken by the group. And decision is made by majority ultimatum. A desenting minority member is forced to support the action he voted against or leave the committee. Heterarchy within a synergic group, in contrast organizes individuals to have equal authority to decide on joint action with equal responsibility for the resultant that is produced by that joint action.

Synergic consensus occurs when a group of humans sitting in heterarchy negotiate and reach a decision in which they all win and in which no one loses. In a synergic heterarchy, all members sit on the same level as “equals”. No one has more authority than anyone else. Every one has equal responsibility and equal authority within the heterarchy. The assignment for the heterarchy is to find a plan of action so that all members win. It is the collective responsibility of the entire heterarchy to find this “best” solution. Anyone can propose a plan to accomplish the needs of the group. All problems related to accomplishing the needs would be discussed at length in the heterarchy.

The proposed plan of action for solving a problem is examined by all members of the heterarchy. Anyone can suggest a modification, or even an alternative action to solve the problem. All members of the heterarchy serve as information sources for each other. The heterarchy continues in discussion until a plan of action is found that will work for everyone. When all are in agreement and only then can the plan be implemented. The plan insures that all members of the synergic heterarchy win.

Synergic Veto

All members are required to veto any plan where they or anyone else would lose. This is not an arbitrary veto. This is a veto to prevent loss. The heterarchy is seeking to win together. Plans causing loss need to modified to plans that insure winning.

Therefore all vetoes are immediately followed by renegotiation to modify the plan of action so that loss can be eliminated.

Synergic consensus is unanimous consensus. Unanimous consensus is protected by the judicious use of the synergic veto. Synergic relationship requires that when any party within a group is losing, the action causing the loss must stop. But again all vetoes are immediately followed by renegotiation to modify the plan of action so that loss can be eliminated, and action can continue.

Thus synergic consensus is a two step process. 1) consensus–to find mutual agreement, and 2) consent–to find specific disagreements and eliminate those through modification and re-negotiation of proposed plans. This second step is initiated by use of the synergic veto.

After I designed Ortegrity, which uses the process of synergic consensus and synergic veto, I learned about Sociocracy . It is from Sociocracy that I have borrowed the term consent for the second phase of synergic consensus.

Sociocracy

Originated in the Netherlands in 1945 by Kees Boeke, a Dutch educator and pacifist, Sociocracy was a way to adapt Quaker egalitarian principles to secular organizations.

It uses the decision-making process of consent which is different than most systems of  ‘consensus’.

Consent looks for disagreement and uses the reasons for disagreeing to come up with an amended proposal that is within everyone’s limits. Consensus looks for agreement.

If a group wants to paint an outbuilding, consensus would require everyone agreeing on a color. Consent would require everyone defining their limits and then allowing the choice to be made within those limits. The painter might end up with 10 colors that are within everyone’s limits and then choose from those.

Synergic Consensus as described in ORTEGRITY seeks both consensus and consent by utilization of the synergic veto. When any member of the deciding group is in conflict and vetos a proposed plan, they are asked how would they change the proposal to accomodate their objection. Let’s take a deeper look at Sociocracy to see what we can learn. I will mark my annotations with an asterick.

The Four Principles of Sociocracy

1) Governance by Consent: The consent principle says that a decision can only be made when none of the circle members present has a reasoned, substantial objection to making the decision. The consent principle is different than
“consensus” and “veto.” With consensus the participants must be “for”the decision. With consent decision-making they must be not against. With many forms of consensus a veto blocks the decision without an argument. With consent decision making, opposition must always be supported with an argument.

* Synergic veto always requires renegotiation to find a plan of action that will solve the group problems without causing loss. Veto is never arbitrary in Ortegrity.

Every decision doesn’t require consent, but consent must exist concerning an agreement to make decisions regularly through another method. Thus, many decisions are not made by consent. Rather, with consent, persons or groups are given the authority to make independent decisions. Consent can also be used with non-human elements.

2) Circle Organization: The organization arranges for a decision making structure, built from mutually double-linked circles, in which consent governs. This decision-making structure includes all members of the organization. Each circle has its own aim, performs the three functions of directing, operating and measuring (feedback), and maintains its own memory system by means of integral education. A good way to evaluate how well a circle is functioning is to use 9-block charting. Every circle formulates its own vision, “mission statement” and aim/objective (which must fit in with the vision, mission and aim of the organization as a whole and with the vision, mission and aim of all the other circles in the organization).

* Circles are equivalent to heterarchies. In ORTEGRITY, they are similar to Decision-Action Tensegrities.

3) Double-Linking: Coupling a circle with the next higher circle is handled through a double link. That is, at least two persons, the supervisor of the circle and at least one representative of the circle, belong to the next higher circle.

* Decision-Action Tensegrities as described in ORTEGRITY are single linked by the Organizers-Organized or the O-O.

Org6:

Using a double link would add redundancy, security and allow more information to flow between Decison-Action Tensegrities–two heads are better than one, but at a price of decreased efficiency.

4) Sociocratic Elections: Choosing people for functions and/or responsibilities is done by consent after an open discussion. The discussion is very important because it uncovers pertinent information about the members of the circle.

* In Ortegrity, once the primary synergic task is defined and unanimously elected by the heterarchy, then a plan for synergic action must be developed using synergic negotiation. Now the members of the heterarchy will accept hierarchical roles with individual responsibility and authority.

In addition to the four main principles of Sociocracy, there are also these guidelines:

  • No secrets may be kept  (*Transparency in Ortegrity)
  • Everything is open to discussion – limits of an exec’s power, policy decisions, personnel decisions, investment policy, profit distribution, all rulesÖ.
  • Everyone has a right to be part of a decision that affects them.
  • Every decision may be reexamined at any time

* I am in agreement with most of what I read about Sociocracy. In many ways Sociocracy and Ortegrity are complimentary mechanisms with lots of similarities.

Sociocracy accomodates growth by creation of new circles that are then connected by double linking. Sociocracy can be regarded as a fractal structure, which means that the same patterns occur at different levels in the structure. That is why, once the basics are understood, the procedures at the highest level are as clear as the procedures at the grassroots level. It also doesn’t require very many levels to include a great number of people.

ORTEGRITY grows by shreddng out. If the primary synergic task is within the abilites of the primary Decision-Action Tensegrity to accomplish it,then they accomplish it operating in action-hierarchy. When they are done, they reconfigure back into decision-heterarchy to define their next synergic task.

If however, the synergic task is too large for the primary Decision-Action Tensegrity to accomplish, then part of the primary synergic task will be to make the Ortegrity larger. This is accomplished by having the primary members recruit and organize secondary D-A Tensegrities.

TopDown Self-Organization

Once all members have agreed to a primary plan of action, they then divide it into smaller secondary plans for distribution among themselves. This results in the self-assignment of tasks. The members of the primary tensegrity, then divide labor through the voluntarily formation of a action-hierarchy to implement the plan. Each “organizer”, the term “manager” is scraped altogether, then takes his task down to the secondary tensegrity which he is responsible for organizing.

The pattern of organization is from the top down. This is not the “other-directed” hierarchy of American Capitalism. The process of organization is from the top down, but the mechanism is “self directed” heterarchy. Only when synergic consensus has been achieved at the higher level can the organizational focus move down to a lower level.

Within the Ortegrity, most “organizers” will function at two levels of tensegrity. Within the primary tensegrity, they are “organized” by the primary “organizer” — the synergic alternative to a CEO. In addition these members are also the “coodinators” of their own secondary tensegrities which they are responsible for organizing.

Within the Ortegrity, those individuals operating at two levels are then both organized and organizers. As members of the primary tensegrity, they are organized by the “primary organizer” — the O’ (called the O prime) and they are also the organizers of their own secondary tensegrities. Each of these is therefore an “organized-organizer” — the O-O  (called the double O).

An organization can have any number of Decision-Action Tensegrities. These Decision-Action Tensegrities can be on different levels. Large organizations would include several levels of Decision-Action Tensegrities. These different levels are referred to simply as first level, second level, third level and so on in synergic terminology.

Compound Tensegrities

The following illustration is of a base five, level two O.T.. Twenty five employees with one five-member primary DA-Tensegrity and five (five-member) secondary DA-Tensegrities.

Org5:

The central DA-Tensegrity is the primary Tensegrity it is demarcated with the Omega symbol. It divides the primary tasks of the company into secondary tasks, these are then carried down to the secondary Tensegrities for solution by the O-Os, “organized-organizers”. In this example the O’ functions as both primary organizer and one of the O-Os.

Ultimately Flexible

No known system of organization is more flexible and adaptive then Living systems. The Ortegrity is a pattern of life.

The Ortegrity is ultimately flexible. There can be two to twenty individuals within the base D-A Tensegrities. Bases can be regular — all with the same number of members or irregular — all with different numbers of members or any mixture of regular and irregular.

There can be any number of levels, and any number of branches on each level. The system is so powerful that twelve levels looks like enough for most of our needs.

The following chart is based on a base seven regular tensegrity. All DA-Tensegrities would have seven members.

LEVEL # of base tensegrities # of individuals
1 1 7
2 8 49
3 57 343
4 400 2401
5 2801 16,807
6 19,608 117,649
7 137,257 823,543
8 960,800 5,764,801
9 6,725,601 40,353,607
10 47,079,208 282,475,249
11 329,554,457 1,977,326,743
12 2,306,881,200 13,841,287,201

A level 12 Ortegrity would be adequate for organizing the entire humans species within a single organization. Recalling that the larger a tensegrity the more powerful it will is. Synergic science predicts this will also be true for human organizations structured as Ortegrities. Therefore, I would expect a trend towards very large organizations.

Imagine, what could be possible if the entire human species were a single organization. No conflict, no wars, no crimes. Is there anything we could not accomplish?

Synocracy—Unanimous Rule Democracy

Any group of humans organized as an Ortegrity are using synocracy. If a nation of people chose to organize as an ortegrity they would have a synocracy. If all of humanity were organized as an Ortegrity, we would have world wide synocracy.

Synergic consensus is unanimous consensus. I can hear the objections now. “That’s impossible, you will never get everyone in the group to agree.” “Decisions will never get made.” “It is hard enough to get a majority to agree.”

A Japanese business heterarchy is slower at making decisions than a single manager in an American business hierarcy. It takes longer for a group of individuals to discuss, negotiate, and come to agreement than it takes for a single American manager to decide all by himself and order his subordinates to follow his instructions. If the speed of making decisions is the only criteria for choosing a mechanism of decision making then the dictatorship—the rule by one is the clear standout.

However, humanity has moved beyond dictatorships for reasons of fairness and justice. Majority rule democracy is not a rapid decision making process. Individuals within a group deciding—whether the group is a small committee or a large nation choosing a President—are seeking to gain the majority of support. This takes time—sometimes a lot of time. Our national elections often take place over an entire year. The focus is on lining up votes—working deals—in a word—politics. This process is anything but rapid. If all decisions in American businesses were made by majority rule, decision making would probably be even slower than in Japanese companies using heterarchical consensus.

Synergic consensus is not commonly availability to humanity today. We do not yet know how fast it will be at making decisions. But, I predict that unanimous rule democracy will prove faster than majority rule democracy. Synergic consensus elimates conflict. Recall conflict is the stuggle to avoid loss. Conflict is at the very heart of majority rule democracy. The focus of synergic consensus is very different. The entire group knows from the outset that they cannot lose. They are focused on choosing a plan of action that serves the needs of all the members in the group—to choose a plan of action that causes no one to lose.  The synergic veto is not invoked capriciously. The only basis for synergic veto is to prevent someone from losing. This is a mechanism to eliminate loss—to choose the very best plan of action for everyone. This may well speed up the process of decison making. In any event regardless of the speed of decision, implimentation will be rapid. There is no conflict. This is a major advantage over majority rule democracy.

Life Utilizes Synergic Consensus

Today, mind and brain scientists have made enormous progress in understanding how the human brain works. There has been many surprises in these recent advances. But the biggest shocker is that the brain doesn’t decide what to do. Decision making is not controlled centrally in the brain. The mind-brain appears to act as a coordination and consensus system for meeting all the needs of the cells, tissues, and organs of the body. The brain doesn’t decide to eat. The cells of the body decide to eat, the brain coordinates their activity and carries out the consensus will.

Our human brain stores the gathered information from the body’s sensing of its environment, the brain presents opportunities for action reflective of both the sensing of environment and the needs and goals of the 40,000,000,000 cells it serves. The brain is not the leader of the body, it is the follower of the body. It is a system that matches needs of the body with its sensing of opportunities to meet these needs by action within the environment. The brain is a ‘synergic government’ that truly serves its constituents—the cells, tissues, and organs that make up the human body. The body is governed by a unanimous rule democracy that has survived millions of years.

The apparent ‘I’ is not real. It is really a ‘we’. We humans have mistaken the self-organization of synergic consensus for the directed organization of an ego decider.

If the human body can using unanimous rule democracy and synergic consensus can organize and coordinate the actions of 40,000,000,000 cells so totally that we identify the whole organism as a single individual, then we humans should be able to use these same mechanisms to organize our species and solve our human problems.


More on Ortegrity More on Sociocracy Read a  Synergic Version of Robert’s Rules of Order


References and Acknowledgements:

Barbara Hubbard originally coined the term Synocracy to refer to a not yet defined future system of “rule by the people” in a co-Operative society.

Barry Carter the author of Infinite Wealth also independently created the term Synocracy. He writes: “Barbara Marx Hubbard created the term synocracy. Having never read her book, I independently created the synocracy concept by way of mass privatization. When people are owning partners in a mass privatization organization they must participate because owners operate on profit and loss. As mass privatization communities work together we move beyond representative democracy and even beyond consensus democracy to create synergy-ocracy and synthesis-ocracy or synocracy. Infinite Wealth shows mass synocracy to be the new system of social order for the information Age to replace representative democracy. It even replaces the notion of government with the broader notion of social order. Just as learning is driven internally where education is driven externally representative government is external and where as self-organizing mass synocracy is internally driven.”