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Friday, 16 December 2011

From Nature to a Moneyless Sustainable Society

Taking nature as a source of inspiration as as an example of a sustainability, we could build a society that spreads power among the people. Building up in layers of teams that interact like life on this planet in what we refer to as a holarchy.

Nature and its complex interactions

Nature presents a spectacular array of different types of interacting organisms. For the micro level of germs to the largest mammals on the planet. These inactions sometimes work for the benefit of all those involved and sometimes not. The symbiosis of clown fish and the sea anemone as well as the oxe pecker and the zebra or even the bacteria we have in our stomachs all form examples of positive interactions where both life forms benefit from the other. However, pray / predator and parasites and well as virus or bacteria caused disease form examples of interaction where one side looses out to the other.

Interactions don't just work at the animal lever but at other levels in the natural world; from molecules and atoms to the way star systems and galaxies interact with each other producing all kinds of ordered, stable, structures. We could see a sort of hierarchy of interactions in nature; from atoms interacting with each other to form molecules and molecules with other molecules to form parts of cells and then the cells themselves. We could then look at cells interacting to produce organs in the body which in turn form a body. People then interact with other people to form families, clubs, clans and tribes which then form nations and societies.

All these interactions, useful or harmful, produce a state of dynamic equilibrium. A sustainable state that has existed, for life on Earth, for over 4 Gyears.

Parts and wholes

From such an observation of nature, Arthur Koestler coined the term “holon” to describe the part - whole structure of nature where entireties work, in their own right, autonomously yet join together with others to form a whole; bridging the gap between the atomistic and holistic view of nature.

Holons in nature exists when we find parts that form an integrated part of a whole yet they work without the direct control of the whole; so the parts exists as more than appendages and the whole more than an aggregation of parts. The parts work autonomously, according to a set of rules and contributing to and overall goal of the whole. They work together to produce the behaviour of the whole. The parts also have a self-regulating nature, thus contribute to the stability and sustainability of the whole.

The cells in our body form just one example of a holon; they exists in thier own right yet have organelles forming them as well as forming part of organs. The cells follows rules; the laws of chemistry. Cells work autonomously needing no direction form a central source. Cells contribute to the overall objective of keeping the whole alive and functioning.

Other examples of holons include the words you read now. A word that forms part of a sentence, yet has letters composing it. Entities within entities; parts within wholes which form parts themselves.

When we see such interactions in nature we refer to the whole set of holons as a holarchy. It differs from a hierarchy as it has no centralised point of command at the top. The parts could also exists separate from the main holarchy. The holarchy as a depth composed of the number of layers. It also has a span composed of the number of holons on each layer.

As the holons follows rules and interact with other holons they tend to self-organise, working toward the same goals. They can change and adapt to changes in the world around them, evolving as they do so. The interactions between holons on the same layer form communications channels that aid in self-regulation for the parts as well as the whole.

In nature, lower levels in the holarchy tend to manage simpler, mechanical function such as everyday living for a cell. Higher levels tend to handle more complex tasks and have less predictable behaviour patters (such as humans). Theses higher level functions, such as life or intelligence, tend to emerge from the lower level functions.

From Nature to Society: A Holonic Approach to a Moneyless World

We can emulate the way nature works, forming holons and laying the foundations of a moneyless world forming a holarchy. For our future society we can start with individuals on the lower level of a holarchy.

Individuals differ from one another. They have different skills, knowledge and abilities as well as interests which can change over time. The difference in people can work as a strength in a team or group. For a society to function, we need work done. A team composed of individuals with different abilities could focus on a problem appropriate to their combined expertise.

As most people will have some kind of skill, knowledge and ability, especially after a number of years of study and training, most people would have a place in the holarchy where they can make decisions and contribute to the whole.

Groups working together would form the next layer of holarchy above the individual. Teams would work on a local level. Working on the functions and sustainability of a sustainable community but they could also work with teams in other communities building the next layer up for a holarchy, a zone. Each community would then become a sustainable building block for a world around sustainable society.

Zones, formed from teams, would work together on tasks that effect a number of local communities. Zones could link up to form larger teams, called areas, that work on larger tasks that cover the size of a nation. We can then build upon the areas to have sectors that work on larger parts of the planet such as a continent. Sectors could join up to work on global tasks. Thus, we move in steps from the local to the global producing a moneyless society where nearly everyone can contribute to the decision making that effects them through contributing their own unique set of skills, knowledge and abilities.

Such a holonic society would need channels of communication and a sense of openness so that it can self regulate. It would also need a goal that each layer in the holarchy would work towards autonomously. Each holon need not work to the overall goal directly but would need compatible goals. A cell, for example, does not have the goal of keeping the whole alive but does work toward maintaining itself which results in helping to keep the whole live.


From emulating the layer interactions of nature we could build up a holonic, sustainable, moneyless, society that gives people the power on a local level. Form the local level it works towards a achieve an overall global goal.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Seeing Like a State - EOS and TVP

I had an interesting article show to me regarding the problems with TVP and Zeitgeist ideology. I think it summed up a basic problem that I’m aware of with any ideology; what looks good on paper does not always translate well into reality.

The article also pointed out some of the problems that I have seen with TVP and I hope that we in EOS do not make the same mistakes. I’ll quote from the article:

“The most important element is what Scott refers to as “high modernist ideology,” which he defines thusly:
“[High modernism] is best conceived as a strong, one might even say muscle-bound, version of the self-confidence about scientific and technical progress, the expansion of production, the growing satisfaction of human needs, the mastery of nature (including human nature), and, above all, the rational design of social order commensurate with the scientific understanding of natural laws.  It originated, of course, in the West, as a by-product of unprecedented progress in science and technology.”

This definition describes the Zeitgeist Movement/Venus Project perfectly.”

It also highlights a major difference between EOS and TVP. EOS, like TVP, also aims to place science at the core of our ideology and build rational social order. However, we differ from the above in that we make a distinction between people and technology. People, of course, form part of any society but EOS does not aim to reorganise society on rational grounds all the way. Instead we make a distinction between the “people” side of society and the “technological” side. We then have little to say on the people side, preferring instead to allow people to organise themselves (within certain bounds) and then we concentrate on the technological side, where we have expert management of the means of production.
“Scott’s analysis, however, does not bode well for high modernist projects.  The thesis of Seeing Like a State is that high modernist ideology ignores the complexity, expansiveness, and functional chaos of systems and social structures that develop organically”

The separation between “people” and “technology” and allowing people to organise themselves takes into account the organic nature but we also take into consideration the organic nature of social structures in another way; holons.

The concept of holons comes from observation of how nature works and allows groups to form and disband as needed. It also allows the system to grow in a very organic way rather than having a centralised authority impose the system from above. It also allows us to have a great deal of variety within the system so …

“What does this all have to do with the Zeitgeist Movement?  Just this: Zeitgeist wants the entire human race to adopt a high modernist ideology regarding the production and distribution of resources.”

EOS does not expect the whole human race to adopt the same ideology. We concentrate on the management of resources without money but communities within the system can run as they wish so long as they allow others to do the same. We can have from very religious communities to atheist to primitives to transhumanist. We see strength within the diversity. It also allows us to preserve history, languages and cultures. Power becomes distributed and localised with people controlling their own fate. We don’t need everyone to change to fit into our vision of the future.

The distributed holonic approach also allows us a different way to implement the system.

“If the Zeitgeisters ever got their way, this would be the inevitable result.  The change they envision for society is so massive, so sweeping and so total that the only way it could ever be implemented would be by force—probably by the force of a large authoritarian government or perhaps multi-national coalition.”

Instead of imposing the system from top down, the holonic approach allows us to build up communities and add to them so the system grows in a very organic and natural way.   I think this highlights another difference, which the article didn’t bring out; we aim to test things. So we build module by module and as we do so we test so we build on working foundations.

Oddly for an ideology that says it has its roots in the application of science to society, TVP does appear to lack any testing; no experimental communities or test cities. Yet testing and experimentation forms the core of science.

Testing and experimentation forms the only realistic way of knowing if what EOS or TVP or any other ideology proposes actually works. If we just implement TVP without any verification we have the potential to cause more suffering than we find in the world already.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Lost in Delusion

We’re in trouble! Yeap, we know that (not that many people actually care) but we have entered a time where we could, in the worst case, see most of the spices on the planet disappear, including ourselves.

We have global warming which threatens to raise sea level and cause the extinction of many life forms on the planet. We have environmental destruction as we clear away forest after forest and pollute the rest of the planet with toxic waste. We have problems with our resources where we could start to run low on things we need to keep us going such a metals and oil.  We have problems with our financial system with the failure to fix the last recession (the “fixes” implement will problem make the next recession even worse). We have population pressures as well just to top it off.

Yet with all these serious problems and serious threats to our planet and even to our very existence what do we see as popular solutions? Spend more money! Everyone should live the life style of the people in the Amazon cos they live a happy and healthy life style! Everyone live in a little garden where they spend their lives tending the plants with no technology! Or have a “love” economy where we just all have to share our “love”. Or even; the rainbow dolphin will save us as the age of Aquarius starts (or something like that)!

I find this odd. It suggests to me not only a failure to see the problem but also a failure for basic survival instincts to click in as people get lost in delusion with no idea of reality!

We have a serious physical world problem that we have created. A physical problem that has to do with the real physical environment; with real physical resources. We have created it as a by-product of current socioeconomic system; the one that has brought us so many good things also bring with it the seed of our own destruction! We will not fix this through throwing money at (i.e. do the same thing that cause the problem), no by relying on an idealised view of humans (we should all love each other!) nor by hoping for some kind of deus ex machina.

We made these problem and we need to solve them. We can do that through understanding the problem and through building up an alternative but we have to do that through understanding nature and not through dilutions.

We can understand nature through observations, testing and the application of logic and then implementing things that we can show work. We propose such approach in EOS. We propose a system based on how the real world works; an emulation of nature that works with nature and not against nature. A system that we aim to test so we build on what we can demonstrate will work. A sustainable system that doesn’t use money.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Quick update

Here's just a quick update of what we have going on at the moment. EOS has expanded with new members and new activity on the forum We have also have some organisations interested in joining the technate. EOS now has some access to some land but we need to sort out a few legal things before we can start using it. Also, on the hydroponic from I have had some good growth. And lastly, we have in motion a plan to start training / education, perhaps next year.

Plants growing nicely in the lab window

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

New Hydroponic System

This is my new hydroponic system.  That I got a new pump last year second hand which has a bit more power than my last pump.  Also, I have a number of small buckets which it can connect and disconnect instead of one large bucket as last year.  This makes the system a bit more modular or have I can extend this next year.
Smaller buckets

The new pump

The timer used to start the pump twice a day

Thursday, 21 April 2011

A review of "Plan B" by Lester R. Brown

This book I feel starts off well.  He gives a good overview and presentation of the problems that we face, although he does seem to concentrate on the symptoms such as population pressure and water supply.  However he does seem to give some indication of understanding the core of the problem.  In the chapter on water supply he does point out exponential growth.   

Why are we in this problem?  If we live within the carrying capacity of the earth we would not have problems with water supply, we would not have population pressure.  These symptoms result from the fact that we have started pushing ourselves beyond the carrying capacity of the Earth because we live in a system that must constantly grow exponentially, precisely like the lily pond example in the book.

The book then goes on to look at a solution but a solution that aims to fix symptoms not core problem.  He goes on to talk about improving energy efficiency.  Fine, we need to do that but in a system that expands exponentially how long will it take even with the energy efficiency to end up back where we started?  This can go for many of the other measures proposed; necessary but not sufficient.  Whether we talk about designing cities for people or new manufacturing methods but unless we deal with exponential growth we achieve nothing in the end.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Understand the world in anthropomorphic terms

I am going to start with what might appear as dogmatic statements but I do have a reasoning behind these:

  1. People have a very wrong, intuitive, understanding of how the world works.
  2. Nature does not care.

People have a very wrong, intuitive, understanding of how the world works
Hunter gather; the type of society we have evolved to live in.

Essentially, human beings have evolved as hunter gathers, living in small communities.  We have evolved a number of characteristic behaviours that help us lived in such groups.  We understand each other in emotional terms; “love”, “hate”, “hope” etc., the dictionary has many words that help us to describe the emotional state and motivations of other people.   We project ourselves outwards as we try to understand others (and then get surprised when people do things we would not do)

To a limited degree, this intuitive understanding of other people helps us understand the world around us.  We project our human understanding into the world around us and understand the world in anthropomorphic terms; “Jack Frost”, “Death”, “spirits”, “wights”, The Earth goddess Gaia etc., mythology has many examples of creatures that we create to explain the world around us.  Extending this idea further we end up with religion were we explain the world around us as “divine will”.  Yet, we have it wrong when trying to understand the world in such terms because …

Nature does not care

Animals inflict suffering on other animals; nature doesn't care! (photo: jeffrey sohn)

We tend to have this impression of nature as a “caring and loving mother” (because we do care), and use other anthropomorphic understandings of the world.  We see mother nature as nurturing us (an example of our anthropomorphic understanding of the world) .  Yet, if we were to go out and explore the world we can see that nature does not care.  Animals inflict suffering and harm on other animals, cats torment their prey, diseases inflict suffering.  Perhaps you have to live in a survival situation to understand how little nature cares; make a mistake and you can die. We have a recent example of how nature doesn't care in the nuclear accident in Japan.

Building a future world

This understanding of the world causes us many problems.  In a way, the problems we have today result from a lack of understanding of how nature works; as if we see ourselves as something special and exempt from laws of nature.  I also see this same problem reoccurring when people talk about solutions to our current problem.  

Essentially we have to deal with the real world.  We have physical resources, energy and physical needs.  We need to manage these within the limits that nature provides.  To do so, we have to understand nature not in anthropomorphic terms of “mother nature” but as a real physical system and work with nature. 
However, instead of working with nature, I see people proposing solutions based on our erroneous anthropomorphic understanding of the world.  So we get things like “we need a love economy” or a “gift economy”. 
Instead, EOS proposes a different way of dealing with this; treat people as people and nature as nature.  Let people deal with each other in our anthropomorphic terms which works so well when dealing with human relationships but when it comes to dealing with the physical world we use an approach based in how nature actually works not in our emotional anthropomorphic understanding of the world. 

So, on one side we have communities of people managing their own affairs on the other side we have people with the knowledge and skills and understanding of the natural world to manage the natural systems in this world.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Latest Energy Credit Simulator

I have finished the latest Energy Credit simulator and run some basic tests and I have assembled at all in at package. I have uploaded the sim to the EOS file site in a zip format but only members can access that area. I will look at making it more public if I can.

The zip file contains:

EnergyCredit Sim.jar

The main jar file. If you run this from the command line you would get lots of text output otherwise you will get two file dialogue windows. In the first, navigate to an select the setup file. In the second, navigate to and select the results file.

EnergyCredit simulator.pdf

This file describes the format of the input files for the simulator.

Three directories

Each directory contains the setup files for a simulation. Run the jar file, navigate to one of these directories and load in the setup file.

This represents, as far as I’m aware, the only attempt to scientifically research an alternative, energy based, resource allocation system to our current, money based, socioeconomic system.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Design

EOS aims to propose an alternative, moneyless, socioeconomic system to our current system through the application of science to society.  Basically, we can take the word "engineering" as meaning the "application of science".  So essentially, we aim to engineer society.

An engineering project begins with a "customer specification", which describe something about the end result but not really how will we should achieve that.  It becomes the engineers jobs to translate that vague customer specification into a solid implementation in a number of steps.  We often begin with developing prototypes and after testing out a number of prototypes we move on to what we call a top level design document.  The top level design document specifies in a bit more detail how we should achieve the end result.  We can then progress to a more detailed design document which describes in more detail the implementation.  We then go into implementation where we actually built what the customer originally desired, or as close as we can practically get.

The design process doesn't necessary follow the above linear path.  As we learn more we can go back to earlier stages and redo things so the designed becomes a circular process.  It is easier to correct mistakes in the earlier phase of design than to correct mistakes in the implementation so we should spend some time on getting the design right.

In EOS, we have a vision of a future, sustainable, moneyless world around civilisation.  That forms our customer specification.  We then see around this planet a number of groups exploring similar visions.  Effectively, all these groups are exploring different prototypes so we have moved on to the top level design for a proposal of an alternative socioeconomic system.  We simply call our design "The Design" and we have worked on it over the last five or six years.  I have been putting all our work together and am now produced a draft document that covers most of the aspects of our design.  I have now send it around to a number of people to review.  We still have more work to do but it feels like we're heading towards something that we could start testing; heading towards a moneyless society.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Understanding holons

I've noticed that some people have trouble understanding the idea of holons and how a holonic society works. As the idea of holons forms an important part of the socioeconomic design that EOS presents I thought I would try an present an overview of the idea in the hope it clarifies some points.

The whole idea of holons comes from observations of nature so in proposing a holonic structure EOS presents a structure that emulates nature. Nature organises herself in a bit of a different way to humans and I suspect that the main problem people have with the holonic concept stems from this difference. People tend to form hierarchies around a leader  and when people come to EOS they tend to look for a centralised leadership; "show me my leader and I'll pledge obedience". However, a holonic system has no centralised leadership. This doesn't mean that it has no leaders at all but it means we have no one overall leader. Instead we have a distributed form of governance.

A holonic system has a number of groups or organisations and individuals that form a network. Each group within the network runs itself the way that it wants to. Which means it can have leaders within the group or not, depending on the group.

What keeps the whole thing together? In a word; goals. The whole system, exists to achieve a goal. In the case of EOS we aim for an overall goal of a sustainable, technological, moneyless society that offers a high standard of living for everyone. We aim to achieve this through the appliance of science to society. Each group in the network can work towards its own goals its own way so long as those goals fit in with the overall goal. We do envision that groups will work on projects so will have some kind of project leader and coordinators to help cooperation with other groups. These act to achieve the goals of the group.  We also envision people having technical expertise in each group and the technical experts will make the decisions within their domain.

All the groups within the network cooperate; each putting something into the network and each getting something out of it in a symbiotic relationship (again, like in nature). When two or more groups find that they have something in common they can elect to work together on that common project. In doing so they form a new group higher up the holarchy. This enables multiple groups to combine resources to efficiently achieve a common goal.  Those higher up holons can form, themselves, other higher up holons.  Much like cells in a  body form organs which in turn form a body.

Where groups differ with other groups they can go their own way and do their own thing, within the limits of the overall goal. A holonic system allows diversity and differences and sees them as strengths.  We do not see the need to control everyone nor have everyone do the same thing; people have a great deal of freedom to get on and do things with out having to have someone to stand over them and constantly tell them what to do. Thus, we accept groups that have their differences and welcome that difference.  This allows us to test out new ideas and explore other alternatives. So EOS doesn't need to dominate other groups nor absorb them into EOS. Pick a project you would like to work on. Does it fit in with the goal (check with a director if unsure). Yes? Then get on with it!
The system does have a hierarchy of functional sequences on the side. This structure has appointed directors that match onto the holarchy. The directors have the job of ensuring communications between groups and ensuring that each group has compatible goals but the directors do not interfere with the internal running of the group.

The Terran Technate as of early 2011

For more on holons see:

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Zeitgeist III - Moving Forward

Last night EOS had a showing of "Zeitgeist III - Moving Forward", the latest film from Peter Joseph, at Umeå University. The event went really well and we had 42 people along, some stayed for a chat afterwards. I think I would class this as the best ZM film so far. It does a good overview of our socio-economic system and human nature.  Most of the film I would agree with with. Nice to see that in the human nature part the film pointed out that human behaviour results from a combination of environment and genes but it did place more emphasis on the environment. On the violence part; yes, children of violent parents tend to behave violently themselves but does such behaviour only result from the environment? Also, we have a body of evidence that shows that past societies had more violence than today's (see Steven Pinker's TED talk).

The film gave a good overview of The Venus Project design for a city, although I had hoped for more details. The animations in the film ranks among the best! Given the title, I though it a bit odd it didn't cover more about moving forward such as a transition plan but then we do have a number of groups, including EOS, working on moving away from our current socio-economic system to a moneyless one. Another odd thing in the film; given the emphasis on science applied to society and the central roll of testing in science and the fact that Jaqcue Fresco mentioned the need for testing in the film yet the film didn't say anything about testing out any alternative to our current system.

Overall, very well worth seeing!

The ZM III Showing, Umeå University, 15 January 2011.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

It's all a conspiracy!

Recently I had a link to the “light bulb conspiracy” presented to me. Basically it has for a subject “programmed obsolescence”. The term “programmed obsolescence” refers to the industrial practice of designing for failure. Manufactures produce items at the minimum level of quality they feel they can get away with, but not too high a quality, so that items fail; thus people have to go back to buy replacement products. The film then calls this a “conspiracy”. I disagree. Yes, manufactures do indeed produce items to fail but that does not equate to a conspiracy. The word “conspiracy” means:

  • Conspiracy (civil), an agreement between persons to deceive, mislead, or defraud others of their legal rights, or to gain an unfair advantage
  • Conspiracy (crime), an agreement between persons to break the law in the future, in some cases having committed an act to further that agreement
  • Conspiracy (political), the overthrow of a government


Thus, we can define the essential elements of a conspiracy as a plot, normally in secret, to carry out something illegal or to gain an unfair advantage. “Programmed obsolescence” does not fall into the category of something illegal (no government makes it so) nor into the category of “gaining an unfair advantage” as all manufactures either practice it or have the opportunity to practice it.

It seams to me that calling things a conspiracy has come into vogue; from 9/11 to NWO to the 2012 Olympics. Whether its alien, lizards or the a secret society. Sometime it appears to me as if the expressions “think for yourself” and “get educated” means “believe in the latest conspiracy theory without question”!!!

Where others see plots carried out in secret to do something illegal I see multi-agents interacting. I see self organising networks of individuals at work but most of all I see emergent phenomena.

Have a look at a dot and see what properties it has. Then arrange a number of dots in an arc and see what properties we then have. Dots arranged in an arc have properties such as length and angle that the single dot does not. These new properties emerge from the way we have ordered the dots.

Emergence: dots in a line have properties that no individual dot has.

Dots in a line forms a very simple example of emergence. Society forms a more complex example of the same phenomena. Here, instead of dots, we have people and instead of arranging them in a line we have dynamic social interactions forming networks; people know other people. We have on average six links between us and almost everyone else on the planet! Some people have more power to effect the world we live in than others. Some groups also have such power but the world doesn't run according to the plans of any one person or group but instead as a result of the interactions of many people and many groups.

Everybody interacts with other people through following a set of rules. Rules that define acceptable social behaviour, laws or arrangements and even rules that tell you how you can break other rules; like a kind of game. All these rules form what we call the socioeconomic system that we live in. This, like programmed obsolescence, emerge out of this interaction. To play the game in our current socioeconomic system companies must make profit. One way to do that would involve getting people to come back and buy a new product again and again. Making the product to fail after a certain time gets people to come back and buy them again. Our socioeconomic system has other means to get people to buy and buy again with fashion coming to mind first; throw away perfectly good clothes so you can buy this years fashion.

Our socioeconomic system produces a number of other undesirable emergent phenomena from concentration of wealth in the hands of a minority to enforced poverty to environmental damage. We can even see “dumbing down” of TV and the education system as emergent phenomena of our (free) market economy; you want to maximise profits you need to appeal to the majority and intelligent people form a minority (don' forget, half the population fall below average intelligence to start with) so you have to appeal to the “dumb” majority of society through “dumbing” down; TV reflects the type of society we live in!

We also have another interesting emergent property of our current socioeconomic system; conspiracy theories. In a (free) market economy where we can't trust manufactures to tell the truth ( “buy brand X, its much better than brand y, honest”! ) we find people having to exercise the paranoid aspect of their nature. In a society that breeds distrust does anyone wonder why we have so many conspiracy theories?

We get the society we deserve!

Instead of looking for conspiracies and the imaginary evil groups behind them we instead should realise what we see around us results from the socioeconomic system we live in. If we don't like the destruction of the environment, the level of distrust, the dumbing down of our education and TV, the enforced poverty and the hindrance to our own advancement we need to redesign and build a new system. A system that has a new set of rules; one without money, without profit seek behaviour and without the need for paranoia.

EOS works on the design for an alternative socioeconomic system. A moneyless system that gives everyone equal access to what they need. One that maintains a balance with the ecosystem. What to know more, see: