Part of the project on Mutually Assured Production
"We are nowhere near the height of human civilisation.
Not even close. Our present culture is conditioned by centuries of scarcity that ought to have disappeared by now considering our technical capabilities.
However automation is surging forwards in terms of sophistication and ability, and in parallel we are developing ever more effective ways of collaborating and openly sharing knowledge. This means it will become increasingly unacceptable to let needless scarcity continue in the face of what is possible – new thinking and tools are emerging that could change everything.
Via the internet a new fluid grouping of minds is evolving that is adhoc, distributed and mutually sharing – a system that is potentially far more effective at problem-solving and creative technical development than anything that has come before. It is the new enlightenment. In some areas, notably software development and knowledge gathering, it is well under way – but this is just the beginning. These 'open' peer-to-peer activities are about to burst out into the physical world enabling us to do things both technologically and economically that have not previously been feasible. AdCiv.org is exploring the emerging possibilities, focusing on concepts that could take us to the next logical phase of civilisation – namely an ecologically sympathetic post-scarcity age where abundant resources, tools and knowledge can be freely shared. It may sound far-fetched to the uninitiated but the technologies to enable this are developing rapidly, so you might want to prepare yourself..." (http://www.adciv.org/Main_Page)
"Open collaborative design involves applying principles from the remarkable free and open-source software movement that provides a powerful new way to design physical objects, machines and systems. All information involved in creating the object or system is made available on the Internet – such as text, drawings, photographs and 3D computer-aided design (CAD) models – so that other people can freely re-create it, or help contribute to its further evolution. It is essentially the same principle that is used to progress scientific knowledge.
An essential element of this development model is a principle called 'copyleft' which is a way of applying copyright to a creative work in a way that makes sure that anyone can freely use it or build upon it. Copyleft licenses usually state that derivative works must inherit the same terms, ensuring anything based on the original is freely available too. This principle means that 'copylefted' items – whether they are designs, text, artwork or computer code – are effectively gifted to humanity, adding to an ever increasing universal 'commons'. Because this principle is to the benefit of everyone, it completely changes the way that many people think about contributing their time and effort to this type of project. It already works very effectively with many high profile, successful software projects, so this is not merely wishful thinking.
Open collaborative design is a nascent field that has huge potential to radically alter the way we create goods, machines and systems – not only for personal items but all the way up to components of national or global infrastructure."
"Advanced automation here refers to sophisticated systems capable of self-maintainance and repair, needing almost no human interaction to operate, apart from top level guidance. Not being reliant on human effort to scale, these systems when linked together (using an automated transport network) would hugely magnify our capability for production, allowing us to create as much of anything that is needed while releasing people from mindless labour.
In Western countries many industrial process are becoming highly automated already, but human effort is needed for construction and commissioning as well as maintenance and repair. In developing nations, there is not much automation at all due to labour being so cheap; however this is a great waste of human lives. These self-repairing systems are based on technologies and knowledge that we already possess. No fictional concepts or unattainable artificial intelligence are required to make this happen. We have the ability today to create systems that provide for the global population's basic needs and far beyond, while minimising our impact on the environment – these two aspects are not mutually exclusive."
"The post-scarcity age is an anticipated era where advanced automated technology combined with efficient use of natural resources and effective co-operation could create a great abundance of the material items, goods and services required by a global population. As these highly automated processes continue to evolve, the results are likely to be achieved with ever diminishing harm to the environment.
Mankind's ever-increasing technical sophistication, will mean that people should not have to die or suffer unnecessarily due to a lack of basic necessities like food, clean water and medicine which is still the case in many parts of the world; and additionally humanity can undertake projects that were previously impossible or economically unfeasible.
Additionally due to this physical abundance society may lose some of its obsessive preoccupation with material possessions, meaning it could become a post-materialistic era also. This is hard to see while sitting in the middle of the current consumer culture and is a debatable point, but even if people's taste for goods does not subside, old goods will be easily recycled into new.
It has been promised for decades but the technology and culture to enable a true era of abundance could finally free people from working in jobs they have no particular interest to them except for the wage that it gives. People would be free to pursue their interests, learn and have far more time to be with the people who are important to them. Among other things like personal happiness, this is vital in restoring genuine communities and all the richness and support that gives to those living within it.
The bigger picture being painted here may sound rather idealistic, but the enormously powerful enabling technologies and co-operative frameworks that make it possible need to be understood in order for this to make any sense... "
Simple slides at: http://www.adciv.org/Slides
Advanced Civilization (alternate spelling)