Human history is a mix of excellence and terror - but the good news is that humanity appears to be moving forward. This book is about a personal experiment of making a better world - a lifelong experiment much like Ghandi talked about in his autobiography - or like Buckminster Fuller described in his Critical Path. Both were guinea pigs in a paradigm of change, and so is Open Source Ecology - so that my logos, pathos, and ethos are consistent.
In 2004, I started a group called Open Source Ecology - and our tangible project is the Global Village Construction Set. We design and build open source industrial machines and publish the plans on the internet for free. The goal is lowering barriers to progress - progress being defined as transcending artificial scarcity. The GVCS is a specific outcome - and a testbed for developing a more general product: a paradigm for collaborative, open source product development in general. As a means to the open source economy.
Humans have abundant resources - from first principles the sun shines 10k more times power to the surface of the earth than we currently use. Abundant energy paves the way for abundant material prosperity. With material prosperity, there should in principle be the chance for all people to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives. It is not controversial that as a civilization - we should be able to do better than we are doing now.
This book is nothing new. Our goal is to synthesize human knowledge to explore what has worked historically to make a better world - and build on this knowledge to make a brighter future. Our unique value proposition is that this is not only a thought experiment - but an experiment in practice. In this book we propose a certain set of values and principles - and we aim to build enterprises and communties- based on these principles. The tangible outcome is the global villages of tomorrow - productive engines and building blocks of civilization. We are a civilization reboot experiment.
Many attempts in this direction have been taken. From the soviet kolkhoz to the modern university campus which is like a city on its own - from the secular religion of technology as the new savior - to Disney's failed attempt of a futuristic city that ended up in the form of Epcot Center - to Ebenezer Howard's Garden Cities of Tomorrow - to successful economic free zones such as Hong Kong - or Gaviotas - the Village to Reinvent the World, and many others. The quest for a practical utopia exists.
Instead of utopias - we think of a practical transitions and evolution of humanity - teh adjacent possible and the exponential new. We believe that the key element that is missing today in various systems is sharing - the distribution of wealth. This sharing thing is something we learn in kindergarten, and forget once we enter the workforce where dog eats dog. Humans have mastered production - but the missing link is distribution - wealth distributed far and wide like Jefferson democracy. Our way to that distribution is entrepreneurship - towards distributed production and distributed economies. With advanced technology of today, there should be enough for everyone, and the pie can grow bigger - and it can be more networked, distributed and decentralized.
We think that the most critical missing link in today's economy is that bit of love, caring, and sharing - and that love can be expressed on the economic playing field as the open source economy. By the open source economy - we mean a paradigm where all innovation is open innovation - where we actually collaborate as a society. No hidden agendas - all knowledge is free - and then everyone has access to use that knowledge for productivity. George Gilder - seminal economic thinker - talks about surprise as the core of human entrepreneurial innovation. Opening the economy up for open collaboration could be the best surprise that came about since Smith, Hayek, or Marx. Open collaboration can be the next great transition in society.
In theory, the practice is simple: we collaborate as humanity an all innovation. All research, private, public, or corporate - is availabl to everyone and is made public - or open source so that everyone who chooses so can benefit. This model has already been shown with open source software and Linux. The barriers to this are stiff for the material world of non-software. But they are simply human culture - they are cultural. We are not used to sharing - we learn it in kindergarten, but forget it once we enter the work force. Even though we use open development for software - we stumble at the application to the broader economy.
As such, this is a call for human growth - the next revolution will not happen without people increasing their capacity for love and compassion - expressed in their ability to share. On the economic playing field, that sharing is known as the open source economy.
This message is eclectic and intended for all audiences. We are into the unbridled power of free enterprise - but do agree that improved enterprise must include more elements of the human enterprise - including the environmental and social aspects of our world. This has been improving. Slavery was abolished in 1864. Amory Lovins et al have proposed Natural Capitalism - in 2000 - proposing that we include environmental and social accounting in capitalism. Open collaboration has been proposed in the world of software in 1984 and 1991 - and now libre and open source software is the dominant paradigm. Our goal is to extend this trend to hardware - the physical infrastructures of the world. Linux and open source software is now an $2T market - but hardware - mining and manufacturing - is 10x as large. In the information world, physical resources still rule human existence. These must be solved - in terms of better distribution of the fruits of production.
That physical resources still rule contradicts information theory, which states that knowledge is the new power. How do we reconcile that? By understanding that knowledge is what makes wise use of physical resources. Thus, the knowledge that we create for the next economy should be knowledge of hardware - or open source product design.
As social and environmental issues have been getting internalized into accounting systems - we propose that distribution of wealth should also be internalized into our accounting systems as well. We can do this by shifting the paradigm from proprietary to open source economic development. We believe that collaborative development can make more people happy - while not alienating the super ambitious. Growing the pie means that there will be excess for the ambitious, and a possibility of material security for everyone else.
Lest we get lost in the theory - we make the road by walking. Here we dive into open source eonomic development and product design. How do we create the processes and infrastructures for unbridled human cooperation - like linux or Wikipedia - but applied to all things of economic significance? How do we get to open source semiconductor fabrication, or any of the most advanced forms of technology? We believe that open source everything is desirable because this would be a rising tide that lifts everybody's boats.
This book is a blueprint that we propose - not in theory - but for the sake of action. After a decade since starting Open Source Ecology - we move on to clarity in our operational model. We are absolutely committed to open source as the keystone of an ethical economy. While we can pivot strategy at any time - our current revenue model is education - immersion training workshops were we produce machines in one day - while providing immersion training experience. The concept is - we train and produce at the same time - and if we produce items of huge economic relevance - then the market for this is large. Our competitive advantage is the collaborative advantage: as Linux has shown - open collaboration is the preferred route to creating superior products. By combining education with collaborative production - we believe that we can incubate trillions of dollars of economic activity. This can be a trojan horse that displaces proprietary development. Once sufficient production is created by open source methods - the movement may swell and become the preferable method of development.
The first question that most people ask is how we will make money when all of our material is open source. We publish both our product designs, and the enterprise models behind them. What prevents knockoffs? Nothing. We believe in free enterprise. In our world, we rely on surprisal - constant innovation. We are entrepreneurs, and create an entrepreneurial organization. As George Gilder defines an entrepreneur -
We do not believe in technological determinism. Information theory, quantum mechanics, and books from Mumford's Technics and Civilization to Piore's Second Industrial Divide make it clear that the choice of technology and economy is ours. We can have a proprietary economy, or an open economy, it's up to us.
Let's dive in. Part I is the background. The first chapter expands on the business model of open source to clarify what is possible. Chapter 2 discusses the State of the World - what the current institutions look like, how they got there, and what is now disrupting them - across the fields of education, production, governance, innovation, and technology. We focus on what these would look like in the open source economy. Chapter 3 then moves into one particular pain point and sector - the history of war, its nature and causes, and the possibility of a peacetime economy. That leads directly to Chapter 4 on the human condition - who are we in our psychology, needs, pains and conflicts, and self-determination. How do we attain peak performance and transcend our ills? With this background, we move into the practical infrastructures that we can build - which can support the positive possibilities presented in Part I. Chapter 5 introduces the Global Village Construction Set technologies. Chapter 6 focuses on what new critical infrastructures could look like - a practical proposition of how we keep house on planet earth to meet our needs without compromising our natural resource base. This is not throwing the baby out with the bathwater - we build on industry standards and improve upon them to build an antifragile and regenerative technosphere. The point here is that we are not proposing theoretical infrastructures - but ones that we are planning to build. That leads us to entreprenuership in Chapter 6. How do we reach a tipping point towards an open source civilization? From our simple calculation - it takes about one trillion dollars of economic activity to reach the tipping point. What is a potential roadmap for getting there? How do we innovate on a modular growth model that can retain cultural integrity and avoid evil?
The approach throughout this book is a pragmatic one. We filter our words through the perspective of what we can do in our lives - and in our lifetimes - by creating improved human enterprises and infrastructures. This is also a blueprint for what we are actually going to do over the next few years.
This book in its entirety is Part I of a 4 part series to be published every 10 years - with results and updates on progress. We aim to address the productive infrastructures over the first 10 years. If the open source economic base is built, then in the second decade, it is clear that we can reinvent the money system - backed by real production. Medicine, healthy life extension, and space travel can follow. But that's just speculation - we'll tackle that when we get there. The concept is - tranformation of civilization can happen on a 20 year time scale - the span of a human generation. As such, this is a call to action, and especially for those who want a deep dive into this program. We are hiring.
This book is a call for action. Our intent is to act on all the information presented here. We go throught the Global Village Construction Set - the 50 tools that can be used to build civilization from scratch - and then propose how these tools are applied to build the OSE Campus - as a global village to reinvent the world. This includes both mundane and exciting aspects of technology - mundane in that some people may not consider open source tractors exciting - and exciting in that we aim to push the frontiers of regenerative design. Let's dive in.
Imagine if we could all shift our mindset overnight and rebuild civilization. Where war is not acceptable, where we open up education, and we get rid of the central bank...