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  • The title of this presentation is "Where Are We Going?"

  • This is actually the second part in a two-part series.

  • The first one was done in London, called "Where Are We Now?"

  • which dealt with the financial system and other attributes you might be familiar with

  • if you follow the work that I do with The Zeitgeist Movement

  • which is the activist and communication arm

  • of another organization called The Venus Project.

  • More on these organisations as we go along.

  • Part 1: Evolutionary Baggage

  • Roughly 10,000 years ago the human species

  • stumbled into a new social paradigm

  • which is now referred to as the "Neolithic Revolution".

  • During this time, it appears we began a transition

  • from predominantly egalitarian societies

  • consisting of hunters and gatherers

  • to an agricultural revolution where deliberate cultivation of food

  • replaced the more passive finding of food sources

  • hence allowing for much more control over production.

  • At the same time, there also seems to be a major push

  • in the advancement of what we call "technology" today.

  • Stone tools were advancing which eventually set the trend for the Bronze Age

  • which used the forging of more malleable copper.

  • And then [came] the Iron Age which enabled more strength

  • and so on. I think we know all these patterns.

  • Since this period, we can look back and recognize

  • a constantly increasing rate of technological development.

  • In fact, it appears to be an exponential increase.

  • This graph here, made by Ray Kurzweil

  • shows an exponential increase in the mass use of inventions

  • specifically communication and computer technology.

  • Next to it is another chart which shows a history of technological invention

  • and the amazing rate of progress in general.

  • I think it is safe to say that this evolution of technology

  • and hence science itself has been and continues to be

  • the fundamental catalyst for progress and change.

  • It is by far the primary factor driving the development of human civilization

  • not only in the facilitation of achieving specific ends

  • but also in the more subtle manifestation of our belief systems, philosophy

  • frames of reference and essentially how we interpret the world around us.

  • The scientific method itself is a form of technological tool

  • and its application has continually advanced our understanding

  • of the world around us, facilitating constant change.

  • Unfortunately, cultural beliefs (beliefs that we all share

  • traditions) are very rarely in tandem

  • with the socially progressive nature of science and technology.

  • This is termed "culture lag".

  • This stems from social identifications with existing traditional values

  • and established institutional practices.

  • These emotional identifications

  • and I apologize for this graphic, but I couldn't resist.

  • These emotional identifications are a source of comfort for us.

  • In fact, I have an anecdote. When I was coming here from the airport

  • I saw the Amish. They evidently live near by

  • and they were driving on the street. It was night time. What did they have?

  • They had electric lights on their horse and buggy.

  • I'm like "Hey! That's cheating!"

  • The thing is that it's really difficult for any traditional establishment

  • to really keep moving forward without eventually giving in

  • to the beauty of the advancement of technology and what it can do for us.

  • As a classic example of this phenomenon

  • which I'm sure many of you have heard before

  • was when the Italian physicist/astronomer Galileo

  • first presented evidence to the political institution of his time and region

  • regarding the earth revolving around the sun.

  • He was met with deep threat and deep opposition by the political

  • religious establishment, for it was very much contrary

  • to their religious texts and hence traditional identifications.

  • In fact the Inquisition banned the reprinting of Galileo's works

  • for 76 years after his death.

  • The reality is, institutional establishments

  • meaning institutions of both traditional codified thought

  • and institutions with societal influence and power

  • meaning philosophy dogmas on one hand

  • and corporations and governments on the other

  • each have a high propensity to engage in denial

  • dishonesty and corruption to maintain self-preservation

  • and self-perpetuation.

  • The result is a continuous culture lag

  • where social progress by way of incorporating new

  • socially helpful scientific advancements is constantly inhibited.

  • It is like walking through a brick wall

  • as the established power orthodoxies continue to perpetuate themselves

  • for their own interests and comforts.

  • To illustrate this phenomenon in a modern context

  • let's examine one of the oldest established orders still in use today

  • the monetary system.

  • When I say the monetary system, I don't mean native monetary policy

  • interest rates, the fractional reserve policy

  • central banks or any other component attribute.

  • I refer to the absolute foundation of the concept

  • being a system of incentive, aquisition, and exchange.

  • So first, let's ask the most fundamental question.

  • Why did we invent money?

  • Contrary to the attitudes of most of the world's population today

  • money is not a natural resource

  • nor does it represent resources.

  • Money is actually a social convention for managing scarcity

  • and rewarding creation.

  • If a person grows a food product on a plot of land

  • that product is given a value:

  • 1) Based on how scarce the product is in the region

  • hence the level of demand versus supply.

  • 2) Along with the amount of labor and time spent to produce that product.

  • Generally speaking, if a product is rare in this society

  • then its value is raised.

  • If the skill set needed by a person to cultivate that product

  • is also rare in the community, then the value is increased as well.

  • This is the basic theory of value, which you'll hear in Economics 101.

  • As innocuous as this may seem on the surface

  • let's now consider some of the unspoken

  • negative retroactions of this system; namely, the profit mechanism

  • and its relationship to establishment preservation.

  • Very simply, problems and scarcity equals profit.

  • Socially negative attributes of society

  • become positively rewarded ventures for industry.

  • The more problems and scarcity there is the more money

  • that can be made off of attempts at solutions.

  • The more efficiency created in society

  • the less opportunities for monetary acquisition.

  • Think about this. In other words

  • and this might sound rather pessimistic and abrupt

  • but there is very little intrinsic reward, and hence motivation

  • to solve any currently profitable problem in existence.

  • The very nature of monetary reinforcement condones

  • the perpetuation of problems.

  • For example, energy is the corner stone of our society.

  • You would think that scarce

  • and depleted oil supplies which is a common speculation

  • at this point in time, "peak oil"

  • would be a dire concern, given our current social dependence

  • posing nothing but negative connotations.

  • No, not in the short term.

  • There is nothing the oil companies want more than consistant scarcity.

  • The 2007/2008 speculative bubble in oil which shut down schools

  • school buses and caused immense hardship for the lower classes

  • for both home heating and transportation, is a classic example.

  • If oil companies know that they can make more money

  • by having their items scarce, the propensity

  • to deliberately limit production and disregard social concern

  • or simply be dishonest outright about available resources

  • is very high.

  • The same goes, unfortunately, for every other socially dire problem

  • such as environmental pollution.

  • The more polluted our water tables and taps become

  • the more industry can compensate by offering profitable solutions.

  • This creates a perverse reinforcement of indifference

  • to environmental concern by industry

  • for the more damage there is, the more money that can be made.

  • It is simply how the game is set up.

  • And the psychological ramifications are sick and profound.

  • Let's consider the medical industry

  • which should be one of the most altruistic

  • and progressive institutions we have

  • as our quality of life often depends on it.

  • However, we need to realize the simple reality

  • that the medical establishment with its millions of employees

  • thrives off of the sickness of the population.

  • The more problems solved in the realm of disease

  • the less money that can be generated.

  • For example, [there's] the cancer industry.

  • This is a massive, multi-billion dollar a year industry

  • a trillion dollar industry with a very large number of people in employment.

  • Suppose for a moment, hypothetically, that a cure for all cancers

  • was somehow achieved, and the method of treatment

  • was simple and easy. In other words, there was no longer a way

  • to make all this money off of the illness by the medical establishment.

  • Do you realize what would happen to the economy

  • to the medical institutions, if that particular problem

  • was actually given a viable solution?

  • And, when you realize that, do you really think that the intent

  • is to cure this illness?

  • It's something to think about.

  • And it would also lay off tens of thousands of people.

  • I mean, keep in mind it's an establishment.

  • The moment you have employees and everything

  • and even if you're working initially for an altruistic cause

  • the moment you're in the position of supporting a group

  • and the group relying on the institution

  • suddenly, motivations change.

  • As another example, what if a company made a car

  • that could last 80 years without service

  • and also runs without the need for perpetual refueling

  • through battery technology?

  • The after-market value of that car would be virtually zero

  • and billions of dollars would be lost due to the now obsolete

  • consumer oil and auto service market industries.

  • I'm sure many of you know that we have the technology now

  • to create electric cars

  • that can go 80 mph for a thousand miles on one charge.

  • You might also know as a case in point that the White House

  • during the Bush administration which was, in fact, the oil cartel in power

  • made sure their corporate constituents in the oil industry

  • were safeguarded against this new reality

  • by helping to just get rid of the idea itself, squashing it.

  • In fact, there is no reason why every single car sold

  • could not be electric right now. They aren't

  • because social progress and human well-being

  • is always second to monetary gain.

  • I'll say that again. Social progress and human well-being

  • is always second to monetary gain.

  • Also, if people cannot make money off of solving social problems

  • they simply will not be done.

  • Take a look at the horrid, dire destitution in Africa

  • or simply the rampant and growing homelessness across the world.

  • I think George Carlin actually put it best.

  • "Have you ever noticed that the only metaphor we have

  • in our public discourse for solving problems is to declare war on it?

  • We have the war on crime, the war on cancer, the war on drugs.

  • But did you ever notice that we have no war on homelessness?

  • You know why? Because there's no money in that problem.

  • No money to be made off of the homeless.

  • If you can find a solution to homelessness where the corporations

  • and politicians can make a few million dollars each

  • you will see the streets of America begin to clear up pretty damn quick!"

  • Most when they think about these kinds of things

  • the word "corruption" comes to mind.

  • Most feel that these are ethical issues.

  • But, it is really corrupt for an energy establishment

  • to want to limit supply, artificially so they can make money?

  • Is it really corrupt for a company to seek

  • indifferent self-preservation at the expense of social progress?

  • Actually no, it isn't. It is simply "business as usual".

  • And this is what I'm trying to point out.

  • And you should expect nothing less than this tendency.

  • The profit mechanism creates established orders

  • which constitute the survival and wealth of large groups of people.

  • The fact is, no matter how socially beneficial new advents may be

  • they will be viewed in hostility if they threaten an established

  • financially-driven institution

  • meaning social progress can actually be a threat to the establishment.

  • To put it into a sentence: Abundance

  • sustainability and efficiency are the enemies of profit.

  • Progressive advancement in science and technology which can solve

  • problems of inefficiency and scarcity once and for all are, in effect

  • making the prior establishment's servicing of those issues obsolete.

  • Therefore, in a monetary system

  • corporations are not just in competition with other corporations

  • they are in competition with progress itself.

  • That is why social change is so difficult within a monetary system.

  • In other words, the established monetary system

  • refuses free flowing change.

  • You really cannot have a social convention

  • where money is made off of inefficiency and scarcity

  • and expect a quick incorporation of new advents