looking to the future with hope

It is no secret that Buckminster Fuller has been a huge influence on my own thinking. I have watched a bunch of TED talks lately, and a couple of talks stood out as people who were picking up aspects of Fuller’s thinking, consciously or unconsciously.

Ray Kurzweil is known as a prolific inventor, and as the singularity guy, positing a technological singularity a-coming real soon as the technological growth curves go exponential. This extends the curve’s on Fuller’s own observations of accelerating acceleration and increasing ephemeralization (basically, being able to do more and more with less and less, as the amount of information and inventions we have increase ever faster) into the 30 years of data post Fuller’s death, and extrapolates from that.

Anyhow. In his talk he links a few developments he sees coming as the curves explode upwards, and it is pretty fascinating. Particularly the stuff on the intersection of biology and technology.

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He really grounds the sense of how damn different things are going to become. (This reminds me of Erik Davis’s interview with RU Sirius, in which Sirius noted that a coming gamechanger was the point at which widespread nanotech fabbing and open source designs collide – being able to make anything anywhere cheaply – was a point at which fairly unimaginable social changes occur.)

The other talk was William McDonough on cradle to cradle design. This to me reflects another aspect of Fuller – comprehensive thinking, and applied design science as a solution. The work the cradle to cradle people are doing is amazing and important – providing a breakdown to the parts per million of the environmental effects of materials – to allow designers to design better stuff, with an awareness of the environmental impact of the entire life cycle of a product. The high point for me was his description of the seven cities they had been commissioned to build from scratch for the Chinese government, based on their principles. Again shades of Fuller, and his Old Man’s River City designs – the difference being here they are really happening. The description of the cities – a vision of how a city can be an integrated healthy functioning organsim – is incredibly inspiring.

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So yeah. I guess I am glad that people are picking up on the comprehensive and optimistic parts of Fuller’s thinking; and also, as with Fuller, that more people should know what these people are thinking and doing. We act according to what we believe is possible. And so much more wonderful things are possible than we think.

3 Responses to “looking to the future with hope”

  1.   bruce
    May 2nd, 2010 | 7:37 pm

    Sweet post. Yes, the possibilities are really wonderful 🙂

  2.   Rimu
    May 3rd, 2010 | 9:15 pm

    assume infinite supplies of energy and an earth capable of absorbing infinite amounts of waste and anything is possible

  3.   aimeew
    May 14th, 2010 | 12:31 pm

    Ray’s concept is called the singularity (as you no doubt know). Also, he’s started something called the Singularity University – something I’d give a limb to attend…