Friday, August 31, 2007

Bucky - futuristic and idealistic?

Dannis Teo, one of my fellow Rotarian wrote:

"Buckminster Fuller (Bucky) does seem to have taken a Global view of Events on Earth, and his philosophy, thinking and ideas seemed very futuristic and idealistic."


Yes, Dannis, you are right.

However, Bucky could be observed in a sense, as a being, from another planet, an ET phenomenon watching humanity from outside Earth, and seeing the folly of man. He sees from very different perspectives.

In my “studying” him, I felt that Bucky took more than a bird’s eye-view, a helicopter view, or even a satellite view, he took a Universal view.

From such perspectives, he saw that our Earth could be "seen" as a Spaceship orbiting our Mothership the Sun, which gives us our energy by radiation and gravity, at approx. 66,000 miles per hour, while spinning on its axis at approx. 1000 miles per hour on the Equator.

So congrats, we are "astronauts" on board a uniquely designed Spaceship, a spaceship called Earth.

As we orbit the Sun, we realize the the Sun does not rise or set, how can it, when we are spinning and orbiting the Sun?
We are actually rolling over to sight the Sun, (the sun is not rising), as it comes into view, and as night approaches, we roll-over to obscure the sun from our view, we experience Sun-clipse, (the sun is not setting). This might seem like quibbling over semantics; however this is more in line with the reality that was discovered more than 500 years ago, by Galileo.
However, even in this day and age, we still seemed to be quite stuck with a paradigm of the Dark Ages.
We still talk of “up” and “down”!!! There is no “up” or “down”. How can it be, when we live on a sphere? There is only IN and OUT. The pilot flying his plane come in to land, and flies out to anywhere.
We are still very much living in a lot of misinformation and thus is mis-oriented.
Bucky in his book, “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” tried to bring us the Truth of the “new” realities. This has been extremely difficult, most of these realities are invisible to us.

We are pretty much stuck in our old mindsets, and refused to let them go.
Our mindsets especially with the older generation, who have gone through the hardship of war and deprivation, is that of SURVIVAL. They experience lack, and not abundance. We have to hoard, destroy food crops if the abundant harvest bring down prices of the commodity.

It is a mindset of scarcity, made worst in 1810 (sic) by the dictum of Thomas Malthus, who knew that Earth was a finite spherical planet, NOT land that extended to infinity, that “there is never ever going to enough for us because mankind seemed to be growing at exponential rate, while resources are finite, or if they are growing, it’s only at arithmetical progression.” On top of that Darwin’s dictum of “survival of the fittest” seemed to strengthen Malthus’ case.

So what happens? Nations appropriate resources to build out their weaponry, depriving their citizens of a reasonably good life. Example? Stalin’s USSR, Mao Tse Tung’s China, currently North Korea. The amount of “monetary wealth” spent on arms is in the region of trillions of dollars per year. Among the biggest culprit? USA!! Humanity seemed to have stuck to a self-fulfilling vicious cycle of Scarcity.

It is therefore a tremendous challenge to humanity to breakout of this vicious cycle.
Bucky saw that the world is “shrinking”. We now circumnavigate the world in a Space capsule in 2 hours at the several times the speed of sound. We now tele-communicate with the rest of the world at the speed of light. It has now become a One-town world with the rest of the world as your backyard. We also have the technology to blow ourselves out to “thy kingdom come”. It is now no longer a “You-OR-Me” world, it is now a “You- AND-Me” world, we either make it together kind of World, or NONE at all. Through his books and talks around the world he did his best to bring this message across.

Bucky saw that politics and religion will not solve the problems facing humanity. They only resort to war.

So you are right, and I quote you here: “Unless a way can be found to conceptualise his philosophy and ideas into a system or methodology that circumvents conventional thinking, the world's problem will remain”.

Bucky approach was via Design Science Strategy. A happy bloodless revolution.

Design artifacts that “Do More with Less”, higher performance with less resources. His Dymaxion Houses, his Dymaxion Car, his Geodesic Domes, etc were practical application of the Generalized Principles operating in Universe. He sought to redesign the “environment”, provide humanity with the necessary tools that if used, would obsolete their old ways, and thus change their behavior to benign ways.
Via the Generalized Principle of Synergy, application of our “know-how,” and “know-what” capabilities to our limited resources we could do so much with so little resources, we would realize that there is Abundance for total humanity. (Economists have not included this knowledge in their Text-book yet.)
One of the biggest problems is because we are playing a big casino game on board our Spaceship Earth, where money has been de-linked from its original function as a medium of exchange, representing value of our real-wealth life-support resources. In this financial game, it is still a Win/lose game, the stock market is but just one example. There is no life-supporting real-wealth created.
Humanity will go unprecedentedly into crisis after crisis, forcing him into emergency. And perhaps at this point, humanity, receiving his wake-up call rudely, will adopt the artifact inventions, the tools, put in place by Bucky, and hopefully man will emerge from his emergency.

Bucky initiated the World Game, a logistic game, and working together with an inventory of world resources, human trends and needs, the Game sought to highlight the state of affairs in the world with up-to-date information, invisible trends, and had it played to help man find ways to make the “World work for Total Humanity, through sustainable development, without ecological offense and disadvantage to anyone”
What came out of the World Game was the realization, that Electrical Energy is Real Wealth. If we could link-out the world with an Electrical Energy Grid System, bringing cheap electrical energy to poor parts of the world, we would raise their standard of living, and stabilized population growth.

Don't believe it? Imagine if right now, all the power stations of the “have” nations round the world were shut down, say due to some natural disaster, the standard of living would drop to zero. Almost everything would grind to a halt. You would realized and agree very quickly electrical energy is real wealth.

For Electrical Energy, we could tap into solar power, wind power, hydro-electicity, tidal power, wave-power, geo-thermal without relying on fossil fuels and atomic energy. There is abundance! We are just tapping a fraction of a fraction of a percentage of these Renewable Energy resources. And we have the know-how, the technology to do so. The people making money with money are obstructing these initiatives, because they have invested much in the current infrastructure to allow them to be obsoleted
Nature has designed our atomic-power plant, the Sun, and place it 93 million miles from us. Why? It’s deadly radiation could kill us quite instantly. If we rely on atomic energy, its like burning our house in deep winter just to keep warm.

Turning to your point about Eastern business, providing jobs during bad times, I’m not so sure. In China, they are so Money-mad, I’m not so sure if they really care about their workers, or the people who use their products.
China is going all out making money at the expense of all care and concern for others. Poor quality products for their customers, low wages, and at the cost of the health of their workers, pollution of their environment.
One of my customer, a Mr. Tan in the Printer Ink Ribbon industry was cursing at how China Chinese do business, they cut their prices to such a level to kill their competitors.
Of course, this does not absolve Western business from their unscrupulous practices. Bucky does not condone their ways. In fact in his book Critical Path, he decries the US and “western” business ways too, including their financial systems, governments, their politics, etc.

Because of his Universal perspectives, seeing things very differently, he became a wellspring of ideas. When he was working for Fortune Magazine, some accountant complained that this Bucky does not produced much but spends his time in the organization talking only. The executive who hired Bucky pointed out ever since Bucky was hired, many of the staff writers became more productive as a result of their chatting with him. They picked Bucky brain and mind for ideas.

Some Ideas in the business world, attributed to Bucky?
The HSBC tagline on their advertisement "The World's Local Bank" probably came from one of Bucky's phrase "Think Global, Act Local."

In my Bucky workshops what I do is introduced people to the Generalized Principles which Bucky has gleaned from his experiences. With these principles we have to find application in our present context, to find new solutions to the challenges facing us.
1. Generalized Principle of Leverage
2. Generalized Principle of Synergy
3. Generalized Principle of Precession
The books I’d recommend you to read, if you wish is:
1. Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth
2. Critical Path
3. The Grunch of Giants

Perhaps at the end of the day we need to have the courage to:
Dare to be Futuristic and Idealistic
afterall we're born of the stars.

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