One of the most ambitious thinkers in the realm of envisioning the future has to be Jacque Fresco, the ancient futurist responsible for The Venus Project. Coming up on his 100th birthday on March 13th, Fresco has spent nearly a century thinking about the future. One of his key ideas, a resource based economy, has to do with the elimination of money as an economic factor. Although ridding the world of the love that is the root of all evil might seem like a very good thing, figuring out how to allocate resources without it is likewise very hard to grasp.
But while the concept might seem far-fetched, two trends he's identified that seem to lead in that direction are undeniable: the increasing capabilities of machines and the sophistication of the software that controls them. Fresco envisions a world where technology has evolved to the point where it can supply our every need, independently of the need for human intervention. This concept was portrayed in the Pixar animated movie WALL-E, where people had become fat, sedentary and passive in allowing machines to provide. In his vision of the future, Fresco sees buildings that can construct themselves; he imagines software that can orchestrate sophisticated processes at superhuman precision.
While the evolution of technology to this level stretch the imagination, the trends leading to such a state are undeniable. Like the proverbial frog in a pan of water, that doesn’t realize the heat’s been turned up, we’ve been heading down this path for longer than we know. So while we may prefer to dismiss the warning, we need to think seriously about how we fit in such a world. Fresco has.
Even though I may not entirely agree that his vision of the future is our ultimate destiny, the ideas he’s explored are indeed profound and worthy of serious consideration. If his version isn’t to be, then what?