A Tool Library for Building Civilization
When tasked with creating a global village to reinvent the world, we need some tools. Naturally these tools must include building, manufacturing, agriculture, and other productivity. But how do we come up with such a list - as the number of choices is so large? Which exactly are the most critical for producing a modern standard of living, attained in balance with the laws of nature and in harmony with natural life support systems? Is it even possible to come up with such a small list?
Part of the difficulty of answering that question is that human knowledge has become so disciplinary and narrow, that a typical individual cannot take a holistic, systems thinking approach. A wide range of Knowledge beyond the grasp of any single individual is required for this task. The technological juggernaut is so formidable that very few have any real understanding. Yet in this book, we aim to untangle the hairball of technology to show underlying patterns - that indeed a rather small tool set can produce modern existence. This is important because if want to be in control of our own lives - we have to undrstand technology. We must understand our technology as individuals. Otherwise technology controls our lives, instead of serving them. We cannot control something that we do not understand. Appropriate technology is thus not a warm and fuzzy concept - it is a moral imperative if we want to attain a healthy and prosperous society.
We propose that in order to attain a modern level of material prosperity, only a small number of productive tools will indeed suffice. What is the problem statement? What technology does is simply to take rocks, sunlight, plants, soil, water - and turning them into the lifestuff of modern civilization. We are just transforming materials into more useful forms.
How does this happen? The myriad choices of productive processes and tools leave us paralyzed if we aim to distill them to a small set. That is - unless we distill a core set of values and principles that guide our technological choice. Thus selecting technology really means that we are selecting values. These values are captured in the OSE Specifications.
The more values that we select, the more they will narrow our technological implementation. But the selection and refinement process does not end there. Even though we may have specific choices clearly lined up - we won't know if they really work. This is because we cannot claim to have provided the ultimate Civilization Starter Kit - until we build and test it in its entirety - with real people thriving within it. Further, innovation will occur with time, and the specific choice of tools may change in its details. But as of the first half of the 21st century, the tools outlined are definitely in demand.
Lest we become paralyzed with the number of choices - even though we filter them with the OSE Specifications - we must simply take an informed guess and dive in - making the road by walking. Yet we must also design the global village economy in such a way that it can be bootstrapped. This is because we are looking for world transformation - and the revolution can not be bought. The scale of this enterprise is too large. We will discuss this bootstrapping in the Enterprise chapter.
Why 50 tools, as opposed to a different number? 50 is a manageable number. But is it enough? It is if the 50 is a generative set - if these tools can be used to produce other tools. For this reason, the 50 tools are called a Construction Set. Global Village Construction Set in particular - as they are designed to build modern civilization from local and recycled materials.
environment for themselves.
Simply put, the world would be made up of many of such Global Village building blocks - just like tiny Lego blocks can be used to build large structures. Could a village still build roads, trains, airplanes, bridges, and semiconductor manufacturing facilities? Sure. We will discuss what immersion, generalist learning can do to make people more skilled and capable than at any time in human history - in the enterprise chapter. With truly efficient technology and all our needs provided - what do we do with our ample spare time? We work on things that are most important to us - we keep evolving higher values including empathy and understanding. We have no problem spending just a little bit of time on what's required for us to live - and what's required for the social contract of the Global Village.
Can a global village really have the governance, financial, productive, and social institution to sustain a rich and meaningful, connected yet autonomous life? Can one such locus live in harmony with the surrounding world? We know some of the challenges of these questions from observing modern society. To answer this question, we can only try. We know that technology can allow this to happen at an unprecedented small scale. If we try and succeed, that can be sufficient for such a model village to spread like wildfire, making avoidable suffering obsolete.