"All the World's a Stage We Pass Through" R. Ayana

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Can Buckminster Fuller’s Vision of the Future Help Save Humanity?


Can Buckminster Fuller’s Vision of the Future Help Save Humanity?

bucky-fuller


by Amy L. Lansky, PhD


All over the world and over many centuries, one of the objects that most captures the human imagination is the globe. Globes sit in living rooms and in children’s bedrooms, serving as vehicles for outward expansiveness and inner hope and imagination.

But what if globes were alive in some way? What if we could say to our globe: show me the growth and movement of humanity (or any animal or plant population) over the course of history; show me the development of weather patterns over the past month or year; show me earthquakes (or any earth-based data) over the past 5 years; show me the movement of various natural resources as they are mined, utilized, and recycled; show me all the troop movements and wars and skirmishes going on; show me the movement of airplanes and boats; show me who is watching a particular TV show or YouTube or buying a particular product over a particular region during a particular period of time; show me how content is spreading through social media. The possibilities are endless.

And what would be the impact of such a tool on humanity? The mere image of the Earth from the perspective of the Moon changed the consciousness of everyone on the planet. How much more so might this kind of tool change us?

The description I just gave provides merely an inkling of the possible functionality and impact of an idea first conceived by visionary inventor Buckminster Fuller over 50 years ago. Explaining the full scope of Fuller’s work in a short article is impossible, but let me try, as briefly as I can, to get across the flavor of the man and the humanity-saving potential of one of his as-yet-unrealized but long-sought-after dreams: the Geoscope.

 

Who Was Bucky Fuller?

 

 

Somewhat forgotten in today’s world, but never forgotten in the annals of history, is the groundbreaking and mind-blowing work of R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). Although he is most well-known for his invention of the geodesic dome, Bucky (as he liked to be called) was so much more than a visionary architect and inventor.

Buckminster Fuller was the epitome of the home-grown genius and free thinker. Groomed for the Ivy League, he was quickly ejected from that world due to his nonconformist thinking. Bucky always started from first-principles and relied on his own intuition. The very core of his being rejected conformism to “accepted wisdom”. In his designs, he liked to use the natural world as a model and inspiration, reasoning (correctly) that nature always chooses the most efficient path.

Bucky was also a futurist, and tenaciously studied the long-arc of human society and planetary evolution in order to understand the possible futures that lay before us. His response to this research was to direct his own work toward what he called “anticipatory design” — to create, 50 years before they would be needed, sustainably producible physical objects that could serve the greatest number of people with the least use of energy and material. He strongly believed that it was futile to change anyone’s mind about anything. However, if one created an object that was obviously the best tool for a given purpose, people would naturally adopt it. Thus, in order to effect positive change for humanity, Bucky felt that the best path was to alter the human environment in some way that led to that change. Think about the world-transforming effect of the internet or of the iPhone and you get the idea.


bucky-ball


The most well-known anticipatory-design artifact that Bucky invented was the geodesic dome. Its amazing ability to house humanity (it uses the least amount of material to create the largest volume of space, naturally creates a healthy atmospheric habitat inside, and can be scaled up to city-size) has not even been tapped yet — but it likely will be in the future. There are dozens of other Fuller creations as well.



Guinea Pig B

 


Of course, Bucky was subject to the conformist pressures of his world, just as anyone else is. Don’t forget, he was born in 1895. He attempted several times in his life to “earn a living” for his family, but these efforts were repeatedly unsuccessful. In his early 30s, after his first child died and his wife and new infant daughter obviously needed care and support, the architecture and construction company he had founded went belly-up. On the verge of committing suicide, Bucky experienced a spiritual crisis and received direction from some higher source. He decided to conduct the rest of his life as an experiment, calling himself “Guinea Pig B”.

From that point on, Buckminster Fuller dedicated his life, not to helping himself and his family, but to helping the most of humanity he could. He refused to work for any corporate entity or organization (with the exception of the Navy during WW II). Bucky wanted to see what one small average man could accomplish on his own, that no government, corporation, or large organization could achieve. He reasoned that “Universe” would naturally support activities that most fostered its own positive evolution. And when he dedicated all his efforts according to these principles (instead of to “making money”), he met with success. Over time, his brilliant ideas and influence extended throughout the world. He had particularly tremendous influence on a global level after WW II. By the late 60s and 70s, Bucky had even become a kind of Yoda-like guru to the student movements of that period.

 

The Geoscope

 


Fuller envisioned something much like the living globe I described earlier, way back in the 1950s, and he called it the Geoscope. Bucky knew that humans could not easily perceive global trends over time. His conception of the Geoscope was as a tool that would enhance our perception, providing a literal “scope” (like a telescope or microscope) to see and understand what Bucky called Spaceship Earth (Geo). He believed that if we could see this information, especially collectively, we would also begin to see and understand patterns that could help humanity.

When Bucky first conceived of this idea, he imagined it as a large exhibit for a World’s Fair. A huge geodesic sphere would be suspended in a stadium, covered with an accurate image of the Earth. Then, slowly, the tessellated sphere would open, creating a flat rendering of the Earth that would descend to the floor. This unique Earth projection was also a Buckminster Fuller invention, called the Dymaxion Map. Unlike other projections, it preserves the relative sizes of the land masses and also fosters an awareness of the interconnection between them. On this map, various forms of animated data would be depicted for all to view.


dymaxion-map-300x150


Although this vision was never implemented, Bucky kept promoting the idea of the Geoscope until he died in 1983. One of the most well-known implementations he lobbied for was a giant 200-foot diameter geodesic sphere suspended over New York’s East River, in view of the UN building and covered with lights. He envisioned the UN officials looking at this depiction of the Earth and the various data animated by the lights upon it, who then would make more informed decisions that would help the world. He also imagined viewing platforms within the Geoscope. From this perspective, people could accurately view the outer universe of stars and galaxies from different points of view on Earth.

Although a few small-scale Geoscopes were built, none accomplished anything like Bucky’s vision. The technology was simply not there yet — but it is now. Once again, Bucky may have been envisioning something over 50 years in the future. And that future is now.

Imagine this. What if we combined something like Google Earth with VR technology, advanced data visualization techniques, and modern media? Put on your VR goggles and see the Earth in all its glory — close up or from far away. Spin it. Project it as a Dymaxion Map. Ask for any form data to be presented to you, over any period of time, at any place on Earth. Speed it up. Slow it down. Correlate it with other data. Ask for hidden correlations to be revealed to you. You might even run simulations or projections of the future (which Bucky called “playing the world game”). This technological framework would comprise the Geoscope itself.

Next, put the Geoscope out there for everyone to play with. Artists, scientists, movie-makers, any kid in his or her bedroom, could make content using Geoscope data.

Finally, use global media to create collective Geoscope experiences. Geoscope TV. Geoscope Movie Theaters. Social media networks and blogs focused on Geoscope content.

Now ask yourself: How would it change humanity if we could accurately perceive what is really going on and communicate with each other about it? How would our consciousness change? What would we do?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Indeed, Bucky’s goals with the Geoscope coincide with many of my own in writing Active Consciousness. Just as meditation can allow each of us to enter a “witness” state and see ourselves and our stories for what they are, perhaps the Geoscope will enable humanity to enter into a state of global mass meditation in which we really witness ourselves as a whole. The resulting shift in consciousness would be magnificent!

After having spent some time familiarizing myself with his life and work, I believe that Buckminster Fuller was a truly enlightened visionary who would not have spent decades promoting an empty idea. Bucky knew the Geoscope was important to humanity. And the time is now to build it.

As we all sit in our respective post-election worlds, perhaps it’s a good time to focus on something real and substantial that could fundamentally change our world for the better. Just as digging into the earth and planting seeds can help us feel grounded and hopeful, working toward something that could improve humanity’s perception of and connection to the Earth and its global civilization might also serve to be grounding and fill us with a new sense of invigoration and hopefulness. If you are inspired by this article, please share it, talk about it, write to me, or help make it happen in some way. Let’s take this moment in history, get grounded, and plant a seed that could really grow into something wonderful!


About the Author
 

Amy Lansky was a NASA researcher in artificial intelligence when her life was transformed by the miraculous homeopathic cure of her son’s autism. In 2003, she publishedImpossible Cure: The Promise of Homeopathy, now one of the best-selling introductory books on homeopathy worldwide (www.impossiblecure.com). Since then, Lansky has broadened her investigations to include ancient and modern teachings about consciousness, psychic phenomena, synchronicity, meditation, and our collective power to evolve and transform our world. The result is her second book, Active Consciousness: Awakening the Power Within, published in 2011 (www.activeconsciousness.com). Lansky was also featured in the recent movie about synchronicity, Time is Art. Her blog can be found at: www.amylansky.com.





Thinking Out Loud: Buckminster Fuller
(1:30:54)

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Friday, 30 December 2016

Omnipresent Virtualities: Virtual reality releases solitary dreamers into the collective dream


Omnipresent Virtualities
Virtual reality releases solitary dreamers into the collective dream

 Skyhooked by R. Ayana

 

by Star Larvae

As waking and sleeping converge in the enriched brains of our extraterrestrial descendants, the conscious and unconscious experience of those descendants should fuse into an undifferentiated mode of subjectivity.


Immersive media look like they're just about ready to facilitate the colonizing of the dream state. Already, digital wizardry approaches in style and content the surrealistic hyper-reality of the dream. Hollywood movies, with increasing fidelity, capture the unearthly fly-around perspectives and temporal elasticity of dreams. In its advertising, television, notably when promoting sugar to children, evokes the zany, weightless world of dreams.


Jump Start comic strip from http://comics.com/jump_start/2010-09-23/


For its part, the dream world acknowledges new technologies as they come on line. Cars, airplanes, telephones, radios, and now computers insinuate their ways into the dream milieu. Surrealist fantasies of a culture of the unconscious look today like a premonition of the computer age, in which any scene or sound can morph into any other.

But the extroverted among humankind’s extraterrestrial descendants might cringe at the prospect of terminal, albeit spectacular, introversion in the dream, even the lucid dream. For the extroverts, the networked dream might provide relief. Space brains will have at their cortex tips access to uncharted frontiers of expression, gregariousness, and interpersonal fusion.

Through virtual reality (VR) technologies, weightless dreaming becomes a social medium. VR systems are sensorimotor-feedback setups that link users and computers in information-exchange loops. The motions of the users are fed into the computers, which respond by sending appropriate signals back through visors and headphones and potentially other interfaces. The signals—translated by the visors and headphones into synthetic sights and sounds—give users the impression that they are interacting with a physical environment. But the environment exists only as a computer program and a sequence of perceptions. Nevertheless, the virtual world can be shared by as many inhabitants or visitors as the available computing power and bandwidth can support. Pok√©mon Go is a baby step along the path. (Variations on the VR concept are sometimes called telepresence or tele-immersion.)


The Communal Lucid Dream


The phenomenology of dreams segues naturally into that of virtual reality. Dreams and virtual realities are interactive and immaterial, though phenomenologically habitable, spaces. The literature on therapeutic and recreational VR applications seems modeled after that of dreams, especially that of lucid dreams. Themes of conflict resolution and wish fulfillment are prominent in descriptions of the virtues of both worlds. If Marshall McLuhan’s technological prostheticism struck near the mark, and electronic media extend into the physical world the collective patterns of human subjectivity, then VR technology extends specifically the capacity for lucid dreaming, not particularly into the physical world, but into the collective experience of the networked community.


"A biotechnical, and not merely biochemical, straitjacket, whereby the psychophysiology of an individual's behavior would be permanently relayed to instantaneous information capabilities, his/her body wired with electronic pathways that would extend the nervous system. [. . . . ] Once this happens, adoption of a sedentary life tends to become final, absolute, since the functions traditionally distributed within the real space of the town are now exclusively taken over by the real time of the wiring of the human body."

— Paul Virilio
Open Sky


"The real is produced from miniaturized units, from matrices, memory banks and command models—and with these it can be reproduced an indefinite number of times. It no longer has to be rational, since it is no longer measured against some ideal of negative instance. It is nothing more than operational. In fact, since it is no longer enveloped by an imaginary, it is no longer real at all. It is a hyperreal, the product of an irradiating synthesis of combinatory models in a hyperspace without atmosphere."

— Jean Baudrillard
Simulations


Virtual realities can only become increasingly engaging as they gain resolution and responsiveness. The prospect of VR technology accessorized with brain sensors, such as those used in EEG monitoring, let alone brain implants, suggests the potential for a new level of intimacy of shared experience. Mythic forms from the unconscious will be available as blueprints for a cosmic arcade in which experiences are manufactured from such stuff as dreams are made of.


The Brains-in-Vats Scenario


One potential of VR has been thrown under a sobering light by writers of cyberpunk science fiction. The Gothic-styled genre of high-tech low-life takes its dystopian inspiration from the familiar scene of glazed-over couch potatoes. Cyberpunk writers have seen the implications of tomorrow’s tech: bodiless brains suspended in nutrient vats, networked and synchronized with other vatted brains. The cyberpunk genre’s Gothic stylizations can obscure the astuteness of the vision, namely the insight that urbankind already consists of networked brains in vats on wheels. One need only notice one's co-motorists fumbling with their phones to recognize it.

Nineteen ninety nine’s popular action film, "The Matrix" presented the brains-in-vats scenario to a large audience. The movie's premise involves the subjugation of humankind by a race of malignant machines. The premise is taken to an extreme in which the ruling machinery cultivates human beings as an energy crop. Each head of human livestock is raised in a life-support pod, fed artificially, and tapped like a battery for excess metabolic energy. But the citizen slaves believe themselves to be living normal lives, thanks to a shared virtual reality piped into their brains. Little imagination is needed to recognize in this arrangement today's corporate cubicle farm, in which networked human livestock productively ruminate, their energies drained to feed the demands of their various masters. And the growing number of debt slaves who occupy today’s protoMatrix do so largely in a state of pharmacologically induced complacency, thanks to a pharmaceutical industry eager to lavish antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs on a spiritually eviscerated workforce.

But the machines of the developing matrix need not exert their control coercively, as they do in the films of the Matrix series. Human beings eager to enter the pods, whether on Earth or in space, will be easy to find. Many minds conditioned by an entertainment industry to despise the humdrum and by an advertising industry to crave novelty find synthetic realities to be as appealing as anything that exists outside of cyberspace.

An eagerness to transcend the meatbot by plunging into a comprehensive environment of synthetic inputs expresses itself through the ambitions of transhumanism, a movement that advocates plunging headlong into as technologically mediated a reality as can be engineered. Transhumanism's selling points revolve around technological enhancement of human faculties and experiences, the enhancements intensifying until reaching a breaking point: the vaunted "Singularity," a secular rendition of Heaven/Nirvana.

That oligarchs would encourage their subjects to embrace a programmable digital infrastructure, thereby further empowering the oligarchs, seems not to occur to transhumanist enthusiasts.


Transhumanism or Exohumanism?


The dystopian "brains-in-vats" scenario of the cyberpunk future approaches the star larvae scenario. But essential differences distinguish the two storylines. The cyberpunk future is dystopian because it ignores foundational elements of the extraterrestrial program:


It might be only in the unwieldy vastness of space, in a prosperous solar economy, that communities will be able to pursue destinies independently of the evolving global power elite. Once again, self-directed freedom-seekers might need to tackle a frontier to secure their autonomy.

On the optimistic side, and with noetic prescience, Marshall McLuhan glimpsed the light at the end of the postmodern tunnel. In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man he summons an epiphanous image:


"If the ultimate reality and therefore our own deepest nature is creativity, then to 'obey' it means not to give complete allegiance to any of creativity's past products, be they scientific ideas, religious dogmas, political institutions, or economic systems. Likewise, to 'obey' the will of God for our lives is to become more rather than less creative. True obedience is therefore manifested in a life of maximal creativity."



"Today computers hold out the promise of a means of instant translation of any code or language into any other code or language. The computer, in short, promises by technology a Pentecostal condition of universal understanding and unity. The next logical step would seem to be, not to translate, but to by-pass languages in favor of a general cosmic consciousness which might be very like the collective unconscious dreamt of by Bergson. The condition of 'weightlessness,' that biologists say promises a physical immortality, may be paralleled by the condition of speechlessness that could confer a perpetuity of collective harmony and peace."

McLuhan’s early grasp of what later would be called cyberspace may have been a reaching for the phenomenology of outer space. In the passage above, he proposes that technology has as its covert aim the engineering of a kind of rapture. Humanity's collective calling may be to fabricate the communion of angels by evolving into it. Evolving into angels—or whatever label best suits our extraterrestrial descendants—will require letting brain circuits express themselves fully by letting them take shape weightlessly.

"The new media are not bridges between man and nature:
they are nature."
— Marshall McLuhan
Humanity's complex of devices and programs and the extensions of that technological complex yet to come can be seen as humankind’s attempt to engineer around itself an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent parent. This Freudian ambition has as its goal the preserving of humankind's posthuman descendants in a state of retarded, neotenous, development. On Earth, this program threatens to impose the nightmare scenario of a global technocracy perpetually exploiting it pharmacologically anesthetized drone-citizens. In space the program plays out as a metamorphosis of humans into the angels of the religious imagination.


 The Star Larvae Hypothesis:

Stars constitute a genus of organism. The stellar life cycle includes a larval phase. Biological life constitutes the larval phase of the stellar life cycle.
Elaboration: The hypothesis presents a teleological model of nature, in which  




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