Monday, March 26, 2012

The big question

Peter Joseph, film-maker/producer of the Zeitgeist movies and founder of the Zeitgeist movement, introduces us in this ten minute talk entitledThe Big Question”, to what many see as the root of some of the biggest problems facing human society today.

Focusing on thevalue warthat arises from the clash between our monetary-market economics and the natural physical and sociological order, that he names as Earth economics, he describes some of the clearly opposing principles that rule and define them. For example, he cites the clear differences between the needed obsolescence that drives market economics (be it intrinsic obsolescence or planned obsolescence) and the optimum design that should be followed in alignment with Earth economics; going on to explain why it is environmentally irresponsible to design products that will not last.

Following that same line, he points out the differences between consumption (a basic drive of market economics) and preservation (a goal of Earth economics). He then makes the case that, if we were living in a small island with limited resources we would not dare to live by a system that drives you to consume and waste as much as you possibly can. To cunningly extrapolate upon this idea, saying that we, as a human species, live on a small island called Earth that sits on a big cosmic sea, highlighting that Earth´s resources ARE finite.

During the rest of the talk he also mentions that growing problems like unemployment, social stratification, rising energy and food costs and most sociological problems are derived from these inherited values that drive our current society.

He then closes by asking the audience the big question: “What would you do?”. What would you do to raise awareness about these problems, about this war, and what would you do to promote changes to address this?

I guess what I would do is try to talk about it whenever I have the chance, in the hopes of making other people see the problem and make them start to think about possible solutions.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Define Change While Thinking About the World as a Whole

Article first published as Define Change While Thinking About the World as a Whole on Technorati.

With people in Middle Eastern countries revolting against their dictators and trying to end decades of oppression; you can only wonder, what does change mean for those willing to risk their lives to obtain it?

There could be lots of answers to this question. A short definition for the word change could be as simple as making something different from what it is.
On the other hand, someone may argue that change could even mean life. Since without the state transitions, or changes, between energy and matter that any organism requires to sustain itself, there would be no life. And a universe reaching a state of equilibrium and maximum entropy would leave no possibility for any change becoming a postcard of a giant dead-frozen bubble.

To a country and to those people who had suffered dictatorships, change would probably just mean to become a democracy. To them this meaning would be self-evident, as it usually is for those who need it the most.

Through out history a need sometimes added to the growing realization of the possibility of a change for the better, sparkled revolutions. In other countries, living under other realities, where we may enjoy democracy and better conditions of living, we sometimes fail to see how much others may need a change. Even for example when we know there are those who suffer poverty or other problems. Gandhi once said that poverty is the worst kind of violence. The need to change the conditions under which his people lived, to stop that intrinsic violence, must have been self-evident to him and his followers.

Yet poverty, growing inequality, are not the only things that we fail to see as a problem of humanity as a whole. And that under a different light may become self-evident.

Sometimes it seems, when people enforce their power to vote in any democracy, that all the options that they may end up choosing from are either some government that leans to the right or some other that leans to the left. But if history, and never ending cycles of booms and busts, had anything to teach us, is that it doesn't matter much which way you chose, in the end you will probably suffer the same problems again.

Is that what we really want?. Couldn't it be possible to find better alternatives?.

If we stop to think about this for a minute, taking a closer look you could see that any of those options are still based on, and they all have in common, the same underlying monetary system. A system that was initially devised as a way of easing trade, but that soon enough replace common sense with a need of its own, making profits. Since the accumulation of money inevitably translates in a direct accumulation of power, the only real motivation and goal of such a system becomes also a necessity required to stay in the game, the necessity of obtaining money.

While this became the main goal of those using the system, any other goal, as for example the well being of the whole, would be usually trumped over by the ambitions of the individuals or the more immediate needs to keep the ball rolling.

If you don't believe this to be true just consider a very clear and simple example. We all know the world will eventually run out of oil. That's why it is called a finite resource. And still, the efforts made to this day to move away from it are insignificant.

Why? Well, there is no profit on switching to a more expensive alternative. Oil is cheap if you compare it with other forms of gathering proportional amounts of energy. So, although it would be in the best interest of all human kind to try to remove our dependence on oil, we are not doing it. Period.

Why would we use nuclear power and put reactors on a seismic island called Japan if we could agree that we, humans, don't want to take that risk and that other more "expensive" alternatives could be better for all?. There is no sensible answer, but the realization of an inherent problem in our organization.

It is at the point where you start to realize that there could be a problem related to how our whole world is organized, that is rooted so deep that no government would even touch it, that you may start to see a self-evident needed change. If you see it now, let me welcome you to the land of those who chose to open their eyes.

Many great people in history dreamed of and saw, at least in their minds, a different world. A world with less inequality, less poverty, less violence, less oppression, and more common sense. From those many, the ones who dared to consider it possible, who didn't disregard their dreams as utopian, became part of a change that end up changing the world.

Instead of standing in front of their dreams like just any another obstacle, they made them real.

Have you ever wonder if there could be better alternatives to the way we are organized today as a society?

If the answer is yes then you should be open to think about alternatives. The good news is that alternatives have already emerged from human imagination (we still don't have the singularity Skynet nor Hal 9000 and Wolphran Alpha can't even play jeopardy as Ibm's Watson; so don't expect a machine to give us a better idea soon).

One of those alternative ideas is a society based only on resources, where the focus is set on making the world a better place for everyone in an intelligent way, hopefully without killing us all in the process.

An overcoming idea if you consider it next to the current mainstream ones. Mainstream ones like the classic: "Let's just exploit the hell out of the planet until all hell breaks loose! We'll let our children deal with the rest on the future!". But probably hardly implementable, from the point of view of requiring the whole world to agree on a plan. Did these geniuses ever had neighbors???.. :)
Sure enough, eventually depleted global resources could make the need for a change absolutely evident, but reaching such a point unprepared would probably spell catastrophe for humanity as a whole.

It would also not be fair to overlook some other weaknesses of that idea, like the almost despotic conclusions and seamless manipulation of how some of those are reached based on "science", and the apparently intentional disregard of the individual will to disagree with how they are reached.

Yet, even taking in mind those observations, it's an idea worth considering. And if you think you would like to hear more about it, you could watch a movie like the one below. Who knows.. you might even like it and end up thinking a little change could be a good thing.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Status Quo vs Wikileaks, Status Quo vs Common Good

The cause of recurring errors should be looked for in the system and not in the people, Deming said. Poverty is a recurring error (ok, this is mine).

He may have used different words, but his ideas were as clear as this. To get some context, you should understand Deming started pointing this out after Taylorism had already concluded that workers (many of whom were probably immigrants at the time who had trouble communicating in English) were stupid and needed to be told how to avoid errors and do a better job, and to be paid extra to work hard because.. -ironic mode on- of course, they were lazy too -ironic mode off/-.

Capitalism, suffers from the same basic belief. That we are essentially bad, as western religions teach as (you shouldn't have bitten that apple), and we need a carrot in front of our noses to push society forward. A system propelled by the dream of reaching the joys of excess, failing to see the problem of unlimited accumulation of wealth (ever saw a bank account overflow and drop even a penny onto others?..). The idea crumbles when confronted with the unmet basic needs of the many (“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one”.. thank you Mr Spock).
And its stupidity (not Spoks, capitalism stupidity) seems unmatchable when confronted with some plain facts.
So when I read that the first private spacecraft, SpaceX's Falcon 9, has finally reached orbit, I cannot help to hear that voice in the back of my head that says: "So what?.. Haven't humanity already reached the moon?". Sure, by a capitalist system, that currently is suffering a bit.

There are some things that from my point of view should belong to humanity as a whole. For example, knowledge. Knowledge should be freely shared to allow humanity to move forward as a whole.
If we were able to reach the moon almost 50 years ago, imagine where we could be now if that knowledge would had been shared. Imagine how faster research to cure illnesses could move forward if there was full collaboration between lab researchers instead of the need of isolation to prevent the loss of an strategic advantage that could turn into profit.

The value of life clashes against consumerism, and yet we accept if. Or most of us do. And from inaction we support the status quo. And when common good collides with profits it hardly wins, because common good is not an objective of the system nor of the those in power.

On the other side no communist system has been able to escape from becoming some sort of dictatorship, just falling behind, or finishing in a combination of both, that just exploits its people almost as slaves (hello China). And more moderate socialist states seem mere puppets of a financial system that makes them roll over their alleged ideals.
Alternative ideas for better systems exist, but have not yet proven that they could work, nor that they could prevent the problem of becoming another form of dictatorship (or technocracy..).

And yet, under any of these systems, we tend to say nothing when faced by problems. Maybe because deep inside we believe we must also be partially guilty of that latest bust of the financial/economic bubble. Sometimes just turning into disbelief of the systems we live under.

So when the status quo, in this case democratic governments (please tell me who voted for a war against wikileaks?), forget about their high ideals of freedom, free speech and free press, to attack an organization that just doesn't play for their best interest because it can bring to light facts that can turn the masses against them, we can't allow ourselves to not say anything.
When we notice that governments worldwide seem to converge into increasingly policed states and human rights fall behind, we can't indulge ourselves with the luxury of inaction.

Please sign the Wikileaks petition.

To access Wikileaks just do a search in any search engine for "wikileaks mirror" or search for related articles.
Here you have one list (wikileaks has lost its domain and this page could be lost in the fire of the ongoing cyber war):

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Zeitgeist movie coming

The Zeitgeist movement and his global coordinator Peter Joseph, who was also the producer of the previous two Zeitgeist films, are preparing for the simultaneous release, in over 60 countries and in more than 20 languages, of a new movie/documentary called "Zeitgeist: Moving forward".
With a launch scheduled for early 2011 , this new movie/documentary promises to explore the controversial subject of the need to transition from the current global monetary socio-economic system to a resource based and scientifically-lead one (that probably Socrates would approve).
With a trailer that gives a preview of more emotionally engaging and thought provoking imagery that will string along with facts about current social problems and ideas on how to resolve them -in line with the Zeitgeist style-, this promises to be an interesting addition to the saga. And one that followers and those interested in a good documentary will certainly welcome.

Zeitgeist: Moving Forward | Official Trailer

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

For the people who live oblivious to the future

An excellent video from sociologist David Harley, that points out the problems with the current system based on profits from which our world suffers an endless sucession of crisis after crisis and growing inequality.

Don't miss it if you have 10 minutes to spare before you have to run after your next profit.. :p

David Harley - The Crises of Capitalism Animated

Monday, May 10, 2010

Memristors and the future of computing

A non-volatile, fast, cheap, low-consuming, long-lasting and highly-scalable memory.
Think about those conditions for a moment and you'll immediately understand that those would be the ideal features that a computer designer could dream of.
That, in a nutshell, is what memristors promise for the future of computers.
None of the memory devices used today in computers can combine all of those in a single device.
That's why computers today have at least a hard disk, non volatile, but slow (in relation); and a RAM memory, volatile, but faster and more expensive (in relation).
Add to that the possibility of in-memory processing an essentially you are describing a human brain. And guess what.. memristors could do just that.
So, what is a memristor?.. Essentially you can think of it as a resistance that can be set to a value, or state, and it stays that way, remembering it.. A resistance with memory. An essentially passive electronic component predicted by L. Chua many years ago.

If you want to know more about them and about some of the people who are making this a reality, spend some time watching this video:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

People die thanks to a new economic crisis

The inevitable succession of bubbles of economic growth followed by their implosion into crisis that the monetary and financial system produces (by its need of endless economic growth that is impossible to sustain in the long run without unlimited resources..) shows its bad side again killing 3, including a pregnant woman.

This has happened so many times.. remember the .com bubble?... the big depression in the US?.. the tequila effect?.. the Asia crisis?.. Argentina in 2001?..

How the hell can't we think of a better alternative?...

Do we really prefer to just condemn ourselves and our future to live with this failed system and suffer this again and again?

May be there could be better alternatives out there..

And the irony is that they will probably get "helped" by increasing their debt ! LOL