Functional Design

Evidence shows that life on Earth has evolved from the available environmental factors. We can see that different creatures have different abilities but an orca would not survive on land the same way a horse would not survive in the ocean. Ecological balance may be disturbed due to the introduction of new species, the sudden death of some species, natural hazards or man-made causes. All animals have evolved in natural environments but the human species is the only one with an ability to completely transform the environment in its favor. From an evolutionary perspective it seems that it is not the most intelligent or the strongest that survive but the ones best suited at the time for the change in the environment. It also seems that it is desirable behavior on our part to maintain dynamic balance between all natural and man-made processes because it is vital for our survival. We now have the knowledge, the resources and technical capability to do so. If we are to leave a better world for all, we (Homo sapiens) have to focus our efforts on managing the environment in such a way that it can continue supporting our species, while maintaining and restoring the necessary ecological balance.

Purpose vs. Function

Humans have discovered many different types of materials throughout the millennia and have created different kinds of tools to help them in their daily struggles. From weapons for hunting during the early days of our evolution to the composite materials we use in modern buildings today, most items we use in our everyday life are designed with a specific purpose. Kitchen knives for bread, meat and fish or ovens for lengthy cooking and microwaves for quickly warming a meal. All these devices were designed for a specific purpose – their primary function – that being cutting bread or warming dinners. These devices were continuously used because they did the job as expected.

The Venus Project proposes a design for a global society that has a specific function – maintaining the ecological balance while improving the standard of living for all its members. The current system reinforces dysfunctional behaviors therefore it would be illogical for us to assume that such functional society could come about naturally. We need to consider alternative ways for social management where people are freed from dangerous mandatory physical labour and are offered everything they need to maximize their potential as human beings.

Social Design

When we speak about social management we usually imagine some sort of entity that enforces arbitrary rules and most people just hoping that these rules are fair. Still, this is what happens in most countries simply because the monetary system works under the mechanism ‘survival of the fittest’. This trend has been dominant from the times when we were a frightened species without much knowledge of what the world is. Since the use of the methods of science we have gained enormous amounts of knowledge but we have not applied this to the way we organize society. The Venus Project proposes that we use what we know from science and apply whatever technology is necessary to achieve a highly automated society that works towards environmental preservation and the betterment of everyone on Earth. This would require an environment and an incentive system that would be managed in such a way as to reinforce behavior that improves the world for all people, while of course protecting the environment.

What might this incentive system look like? When a child asks “Why are you working on this project to clean all the rivers, daddy?”, the father might say “Because we want to reduce diseases caused by harmful bacteria in the rivers.” The incentive is less harmful bacteria and safer water.

Productive Procedures

In many professional fields people act very appropriately but it is rare that we see people behaving appropriately in our society. This is because professionals get specific instructions on how to perform optimally in certain situations. These instructions come from continued improvements on the methods of people’s performance in the specific professional field. We tend to step back when we hear the notion of channeling human behavior towards productive habits but this simply means that we enable people to act more appropriately in different situations. For instance, if there is a car accident and the car is on fire but there’s a child in the back seat, the mother may scream and hope that someone will help in time or she can pick up a rock, smash the back seat window and pull the child out of the car. The second case is what we call converting emotions into an action pattern and it is achieved through a more appropriate education.

Nowadays, we have many young mothers who would gladly accept free professional training on how to raise their children. A universal education would be the basis for transforming emotions into productive procedures. Such proposal cannot be properly understood from the perspective that people have free will and only parents know what is best for their kids regardless of their education or prior formal training. It would be difficult for us to discuss such notions if we consider current ethics but we also have to realize that the current understanding of ethics comes from an outdated value system. Discussing the notion of channeling human behavior toward more productive actions also requires that we consider arriving at functional ethics.

Functional Ethics

Discussing new ideas such as the ones we have presented to you so far is a difficult thing to do in a culture that is plagued with moral judgements based on outdated values. From the notion that we can live in a world without money to the idea that we can acquire more appropriate action patterns, people immediately ask if these ideas are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. We cannot consider such simple bipolar categories to be used for the analyst of the proposed complex system. We would need to investigate what works in order to answer these questions. Since everything is a matter of perspective, we need to take as many perspectives into account as possible when we are trying to come up with functional ethics. For instance, a poor woman stealing food for her children might be considered ‘bad’ for a shop owner but how can we talk about morality or ethics when we live under social conditions that produce such behavior? Our entire system is outdated and cannot function the way we need it to. We need to consider a system which provides for the needs of all people on Earth so that the conditions that force people to steal food would be bypassed.