The below article is republished with permission and is from the book, The Best That Money Can’t Buy
THROUGHOUT HISTORY, the societal decision-making process has gone though a number of changes. At one time, primitive tribes and their ruling chieftains and kings decided upon a set of laws, beliefs and mores, designed to support and defend the ruling oligarchies. As primitive cultures joined together, possibly for mutual protection, the chieftains of the various tribes shared some decision-making.
With the advent of nations, councils were appointed to participate in decision-making, to prevent any one of the leaders from dominating. The less privileged were not included in this process. As the ruling classes imposed greater hardships on their subjects through taxation and other abuses of power, uprisings, sabotage, and assassinations by the oppressed people forced changes in the laws of the land. Governing bodies were then appointed to carry out and uphold laws.
Although wealth has always “bought” political office, it was at the beginning of the nineteenth century that financial interests began in earnest to play the leading role in inappropriate decision-making. Politicians use every means of deception to consolidate their positions, repeating slogans used for centuries such as, “a return to family values,” “to serve God and country,” and other verbal expressions of undefined goals. They talk around every issue without saying anything of substance, placing emphasis on the role of law and order in government and on international agreements. They enact new laws to control behavior, and if these don’t work, they resort to force, boycotts, and blockades. But none of these methods ever address the root cause.
Most people believe that to set things right, all we need is to replace incompetent and corrupt officials in government with decent men and women of high moral character. Although we occasionally find politicians of sincere intent, they seldom find useable answers to problems. Human systems fail, obviously, to serve the needs of humanity. This is true across the entire spectrum of human administration: the church, the government, the military, and the banks. In the past, most social designs were unsuccessful for the majority, because their designers were unable to transcend the limits of their own environmental conditioning. We tend to bring our past into the present and project it into the future.
Today, the laws that govern society are not based on truly comprehensive and scientific studies. They are based on opinions and traditional practices. For example, our approach to dealing with an increase in crime is to build more prisons, rather than alter the conditions responsible for socially offensive behavior in the first place. At one point, a discussion with criminologists pointed out that if our crime rate had continued at its current level, more than half the U.S. population would be in prison by the year 2010 and the other half may well have to guard them. Of course, today, the definition of a criminal is one who gets caught and we’re seeing more and more crime being committed at the supposed highest levels of society, including bankers, politicians and even clergy. Rather than depend on a failed system of punishment or incarceration after the damage has been done, a more effective approach to solving our problems would be to shift our attention to the scourges of poverty, malnutrition, poor role models, violence in the media, and stresses in family life. We need to make an effort to teach people how to resolve conflict without the use of physical force.
The discovery of scientific principles enables us to validate and test many proposals. If someone claims that a particular structural element can support a specific number of pounds per square inch, the claim can be tested and either substantiated or negated based upon the test results. It is precisely this process of testing which enables us to design and construct bridges, buildings, ships, aircraft, and all other mechanical wonders.
In the new social design outlined in The Best Money Can’t Buy, scientific and analytical principles can be applied, not only to industry and construction, but also to the personal and human components of society. This may lead to the allocation and application of more scientific resources to the study of human behavior. The most difficult aspect of redesigning a culture is that the approach seems undemocratic. By what authority does any group affect a new arrangement of social affairs on those living in the current arrangement?
This brings up three questions of primary importance to the redesign of a culture:
1. For whom is the culture designed?
2. What ends are to be served?
3. Who will benefit, everyone or a few?
Throughout history, social affairs have either been pre-arranged, or have eventually worked out to benefit a power elite and money interests. Even in so-called democracies, this has been the case. People fear a planned social system may not serve their interests. They perceive a danger that the introduction of any new social arrangement carries with it the possibility of the development of a new elite.
If a particular religious group were to design a society, it would quite naturally reflect the group’s beliefs, which would be seen as the will of the people. The majority of this group would democratically agree that theirs is a good social design. The atheist, agnostic, Hindu, Muslim, and others not represented would naturally object. What is needed is a way to determine the most appropriate direction that will be agreeable to all. As difficult as this may appear, it can be done.
Today, we have a decentralized system of decision-making, and decision-makers are seldom aware of problems in regions outside their immediate vicinity. Those in sub-tropical Florida have difficulty understanding water rights in Arizona. A Berger of Morocco would be challenged if asked to design a health plan that matched the life styles of people in Norway. Each of us must participate, and we need verifiable and current information in order to draw up plans.
When computers have their electrical sensors extended into all areas of the social complex, we will be able to return to successful centralized decision-making. In a global resource-based economy, decisions would not be based on local politics, but on a holisticproblem solving approach. Earth and the life on it must be seen as constituting a single system.
This centralized whole system could be connected to research labs and universities, so that all data is monitored and updated constantly. Most of the technology to allow such infrastructure management is currently available. For example, when electrical sensors are extended into the agricultural region, computerized systems could manage and control the agricultural requirements, by monitoring the water table, insects, plant diseases, soil nutrients, and so forth.
Computers and artificial intelligence will be a catalyst for change. They will establish scientific scales of performance. It is doubtful that, in the latter part of the twenty-first century, people will play any significant role in decision-making. Eventually, the installation of AI and machine decision-making will manage all resources and serve the common good.
Computers as decision-makers will also scan for new information and methods of conserving resources to accommodate the carrying capacity of each geographical region. This will result in a more humane and meaningful approach for shaping tomorrow’s civilization, one not based on the opinions or desires of a particular sect or individual. In the event of a regional or national emergency, special information and already-developed plans for known types of catastrophes would be available, just as military contingency plans are today.
Decisions would be made on the basis of a comprehensive resource survey and the availability of energy or existing technology, as opposed to the advantage to be gained by any nation or select group of people. This resource survey would determine the carrying capacity of each geographical region of the global environment.