Friday, December 30, 2011

Marcin's summary of the GVCS project

From a recent post explaining what is desired from a project co-founder:
We are looking for a Co-Founder who is motivated intrinsically by higher purpose – as in Daniel Pink’s TED talk on the surprising science of motivation. This means someone who values: (1) autonomy – desire to drive one’s own life; (2) mastery – getting better at something that matters; and (3), purpose – yearning to do something in service to something much greater than oneself...

I suggest that the Co-Founder be a volunteer position, just like I am a volunteer. At factor e Farm, there are only volunteers – defined as people with intrinsic motivation who are not empoyees, but partners who are generating their own resources while working on a common vision of a post-scarcity society...

I am looking for a candidate nothing short of a movement entrepreneur – someone who uses technology as a digitally-savvy outsider to create new sources of power by mobilizing the voices of many. In our case, that refers to one who facilitates the transition to a distributive economy – by developing a kernel of essential open product design – distilled from the technical contributions of many. This means, first: a person who uses institutional power, but doesn’t get institutionalized. Second, it means someone who builds a movement, not a cult of personality – meaning a movement that distributes power – as opposed to concentrating it in a charismatic leader. Third, it means building for the long term – not creating an ephemeral internet meme.

The Co-Founder must be part of the deeper message that OSE is bringing to the world. We want to live the example – even in the early stages – of what the economy beyond artificial material scarcity would look like. Factor e Farm is such an experiment – and admittedly so – we are only now pulling out of pervasive material scarcity. In essence – the 21st century is a time where with the wise use of technology – people can regain the ability to follow their deepest pursuits – as opposed to trying to put bread on the table – as in today’s mainstream of artificial material scarcity. I clarify that I am not suggesting that the welfare state is the answer – but a state of affairs based on the highest human productivity and responsibility. I am talking about a state that returns to ideals such as those found in the early American experiment – a republic where individuals, their autonomy, responsibility – are respected. America (or fill in any country in which you reside) is losing its productivity on essential items, but creative solutions are around the corner to reinvent the local economy.

Therefore, the Co-Founder must be a generalist who enjoys the DIY ethic and is excited by participation in their own sustenance – by appreciating that such power is key not only to one’s own autonomy – but to autonomy in the greater world. Political implications are significant.

We want to empower individuals to unleash their creative and productive powers, and we want to lead by example. We are making a claim that the best solution to a robust economy comes from an interdisciplinary approach – one of intensifying the economic capacity of any community – by intensifying information density available to and used by any community – via access to open source enterprise. The limit of this is a complete economy – and therefore autonomy on the community scale. This is not free – it comes with individuals being reskilled and reconnected – to nature and their means of survival – as a deepest form of reconnection, as a form of checks-and-balances – between humans and nature – and between humans and other humans. The implication is that individuals, to be truly empowered – not at the cost of others or at the cost of nature – have to be connected as close as possible – to their means of survival.

The cost is not particularly high – as it should take 1-2 hours per day for an individual to provide their needs of survival. This involves mainly food production – as that is the main aspect of our survival that needs constant attention. The rest – housing, energy, and technology – are minor if these are provided by machines that follow lifetime design – and if these amchines are used with wisdom of not wasting resources. Thus, we are not returning to the toil of repetitive labor associated with production. The only remaining barrier to widespread adoption is merely social status – perceptions that physical labor is for peons. We believe instead that real work as such is honorable – as it builds character and provides autonomy.

We thus encourage that a person at Factor e Farm spend 1-2 hours per day on survival, and the rest can be devoted to higher purpose. We want to live this at Factor e Farm, even in our early days of today.

Do we? In a way – yes – in so far as all of us here spend all of our time pursuing higher purpose. At the same time, we are pioneers and startup entrepreneurs , so we ‘work’ all day. And we don’t have food and energy autonomy yet – so we haven’t proved the data point of 1-2 hours of work per day. However, each of us believes that we can achieve the post-scarcity condition rather readily, and that we can demonstrate a widely adaptable pattern that can be adopted by the rest of the world.

We lack the experience to know that this is impossible, and we have the experience that knows that we should try.

The point remains – that in order to be responsible, we want to engage in as much productive activity for survival as possible – and with appropriate tools – the cost of living goes to negligible. It is expected from Factor e Farm participants that they have a DIY ethic of engaging with their means of existence.

By developing further infrastructure tools – we aim to demonstrate that startup – of a productive farm, manufacturing operation, or whole community – would cost, say $100k, as opposed to $1M. And taken to the extreme, with division of labor and metal melting of steel from scrap – this cost goes down to $10k or so – while retaining industrial efficiency that allows for a modern standard of living – and about 10x more free time than the existing economy.

Mainstream beliefs dictate that specialization is a more efficient route, and we are experimenting to prove that flexible fabrication - is more efficient. Pure specialization is more efficient under certain condition of technological capacity and information access of a system in question. At the same time, the efficiency of specialization discounts the inefficiency of large scale at which trade occurs (mainly global geopolitics), and relies on the fallacy of per-capita wealth increase – where the reality is that the actual distribution of wealth is decreasing (ie, there is a larger relative number of destitute people today than at any time in history). Specialization is valid under the assumption of proprietary information and large capitalization costs. Open source reduces these barriers, allowing productive capacity on a smaller scale. How much smaller? We aim to demonstrate that a 200 acre nominal parcel can attain modern civilization (ie, the unprecedented requirement of 1-2 hours per day of labor for the populace, and pursuit of higher purpose in the majority of the time). This is the order of Factor e Farm. As Co-Founder, you are expected to respect this as the prime objective of the Factor e Farm – not in an abstract sense – but as a near-term (~3 year) objective – which includes the smelting of silicon and extraction of aluminum from clay as realistic, on-site processes.

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