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Jun 01, 2005



If you're interested in this, you'll want to pick up a copy of Fuller's Critical Path.

In this work Fuller outlines many of the ideas behind World Game (and how he came to the concept), as well as casually tossing out some astonishing engineering ideas.

My favorite is the "floating sphere." Build an enclosed sphere big enough (say, a diameter of half a mile or so) and let the air inside be heated slightly, and the whole thing will float since it displaces the colder air around it -- it's basically a community-sized hot-air balloon.

Not only is this fascinating technologically (imagine hundreds or even thousands of city-sized spheres floating across the world), there are some interesting political ramifications: once a citysphere heads out over international waters, could it declare itself to be a sovereign entity? What are the probable interactions between such entities and the older ground-based nations? Unlike SeaLand, would a citysphere be large enough to be able to defend itself from most attacks? Would we call such a thing a "Death Star"? Or a "City in the Clouds"?

Fuller had a habit of emitting such concepts. It makes his stuff fun to read. (Although some of his writing is pretty tough sledding -- I still can't wrap my head around Synergetics. Ow.)

One personal note (with which others are free to disagree): I find it a little sad that Fuller's work is being appropriated by the greens, the Malthusians, and suchlike. Yes, he expressed concern for how we use the resources of "Spaceship Earth," but IMO Fuller had more in common philosophically with Julian Simon. Both men had an optimistic view of the universe as resource-rich and of humanity as capable of solving its problems (including those we create for ourselves), rather than the pessimistic "humanity is a cancer" attitude of ZPG believers and their idealogical allies.

So after reading the comments of the participants in the latest attempt to develop a World Game, I have to wonder how likely it is that this version will reflect Fuller's positive outlook. Will it hardcode pessimistic and anti-human green assumptions into the model? Or will its developers strive to be aware of their biases and try to fairly include human/universal assets in their model along with our perceived liabilities?

Should I be optimistic? ;-)





Spaceship Earth, an Apprpriate Song to di with the times ahead, by an Irish Singer songwriter.


Regarding Flatfinger's comments about Fuller having much more in common with Simon than the greens who has successfully coopted his ideas... We are usually selective in how we view reality taking what is convenient and reinforcing to our preconcieved notions of reality.

In my view Fuller was talking about an optimistic paradigm shift and Simon was talking about supporting business as usual and defending the corporate status quo. Rendering this down to its essence the idea is basically this: let the markets do their thing and everything will be a-okay. This thinking is nothing new it can traced back to Adam Smith himself in the Wealth of Nations.

I would think that it would be very Fullerian to say that innovation or the marketplace itself does not solve problems, but rather it is the human intention to go deeper into the design process and redesign and rethink how we live on this planet and interact with our world that is vital to not only our continued survival - but our long term prosperity. This view is very different than what Simon put forward. Most extreme were his absurd notions that the exponential growth in human numbers and consumption on this planet was not an issue that should concern us. He rejected any questioning of economic growth as an ends in itself and this seemed like it on an intellectual level made him a lapdog for the pro-business as usual establishment/status quo.

The current reductionistic mentality of modern capitalism was however an issue for Fuller. He did not rule out the possibility for humanity to innovate its way out of current ecological problems, yet he was aware of the core issues that are leading to questions to emerge about the long term sustainability of the current economic system and its driving mentality.

The point of Fuller's work was that badly designed human systems needlessly waste precious natural resources, reducing the carrying capacity of the planet to sustain human life. The solutions are there, our will to work together to make a sustainable a reality is what is needed. Once we address the issue of human collective intelligence on a practical level, humanity can then begin to realize its fullest potential and see itself as truly a Infinite Resource of spiritual power and wellbeing. Read more about realizing human potential to address World Urgent Issues Here.

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