If you live in the United States, Japan, and many countries in Europe, you probably heard your friends saying how busy their are. “So busy.” “Crazy busy!” All the time. They can’t even take a walk in the park without checking the calendar on their smartphone several times over, or spend unstructured, unplanned time with their kids. They are busy indeed. And they are also pretty stressed. But why is that?
I believe one reason is our socially-induced, compulsive urge to keep ourselves occupied, or rather to constantly “look busy”. We start at a very young age, in school. Why do we have hour-long lectures when our attention span drops after twenty minutes?1 Why don’t we let children work at their own pace?
Then we continue in the workplace. Why do so many companies check on their employees as if they were babies? Why do they primarily pay based on hours of work, instead of performance? Why do we keep meaningless jobs alive, while desperately trying to create novel ways to keep people occupied?
I had many discussions regarding the issue of technological unemployment, particularly during my Graduate Study Program at Singularity University, NASA Ames Research Center, where I had the opportunity to speak with some of the greatest minds in the field, including the authors of the book “Race Against the Machine” Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, founding executive editor of Wired magazine Kevin Kelly, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, and science fiction writer Vernor Vinge. I stand by my thesis, that the economy will not be capable of creating new jobs at the same pace with which technology destroys them. Many disagree with me, and we could have a discussion about that, but I think that is missing the point.
I can envision a plethora of futures where everyone has a job. One job could be to show up at the office, sit down, look busy, and read emails all day. Another could be to look at robots working, and make sure nothing is going wrong. The fact that only one in ten thousand robots fail over the course of a week, and that one supervisor per facility would suffice matters not. We can have hundreds of supervisors. And then supervisors of supervisors. And then managers, and managers of managers, at the top of the food chain. We can fabricate new diseases, and then create professions to cure those fictitious illnesses. Finally – desires, as economists teach us, are infinite, therefore we can perpetually generate things to fulfil those desires, however frivolous or whimsical they might be. While this may sound laughable to some of you, it may also sound striking similar to what we are already doing today.
After years spent pondering and contemplating on this matter, I came to this radical conclusion:
We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognising this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, they must justify their right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.
I know, these words are radical. And possibly naive. The result of a young mind, oblivious to the intricate fabric of society, who has nice dreams, but no real understanding of complex systems and economic behaviour. As it turns out, that is almost a word-by-word quote of the great genius futurist Buckminster Fuller, interviewed in 1970 by New York Magazine.2
The point is that “We prefer to invent new jobs rather than trying harder and inventing a new system that wouldn’t require everybody to have a job.”3 With this book, I have posited that robots will your job, but that’s OK. I will go one step further. I would argue that the purpose of life is to have robots steal your job.
OK, let us be serious – that is not the purpose of life. But today, I think this is a necessary, yet not sufficient condition for finding your life’s purpose.
I do not know my purpose of life, let alone your purpose, or that of everyone else on this planet. But I am pretty sure what the purpose of life is not. How many people have you heard, sitting on their death bed, saying: “Geez, I really wish I had spent more time checking that accounting spreadsheet for errors.” Or: “Had I had a 2.5% return of investment on that deal instead of a pitiful 2%, my life would be whole”. Nobody says that. They might be thinking “I wish I spent more time with my kids”, “I wish I told my husband I loved him more”, “I wish I confessed to my high school crush that I liked her”, or “If only I had travelled more, I would have seen the world”.
I was really moved by the story of a woman, who was a terminal cancer patient. She had two months to live, but her life’s dream was to learn calculus. Then she discovered Khan Academy, and realised that she finally had that opportunity. And so she did – she spent the last two months of her life learning calculus. And she was happy.4
Another notorious slacker and good for nothing stated that: “The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play. That’s why we have to destroy the present politico-economic system.” This is no light statement, considering that it comes from legendary author and futurist Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey, Rendezvous with Rama), who first conceived the idea of using geostationary satellites for telecommunication (we now refer to the geostationary orbit as the “Clarke Orbit” or the “Clarke Belt” in his honour).
But what does it mean ‘to play’? It might be that Clarke was paraphrasing Confucius – “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”. Or maybe he meant something different. Finding a job you love – one that is fulfilling and that allows to follow your moral code – is very hard today. In fact – according to Deloitte’s Shift Index – as much as 80% of people hate their job.5 We have to adjust our expectations to what the economy allows to do, and the sad reality is that many jobs are not fulfilling, and do not create value for society either. As if that was not enough, they are also going to be automated fairly soon – I suspect within our lifetime.
But – I am happy to tell you – there is light in the tunnel! The purpose of this book is not to convince you that automation will soon make you obsolete, but rather what to do about it. I have pondered, researched, and shared ideas and suggestions about this with hundreds of people; and I have compiled them in Part III of this book.
This is my gift to you – I hope it can be useful.
1 The Essential 20: Twenty Components of an Excellent Health Care Team, Dianne Dukette and David Cornish, 2009. RoseDog Books. pp. 72-73.
2 The New York Magazine Environmental Teach-In, Elizabeth Barlow, 30 March 1970. New York Magazine. p. 30.
http://books.google.com/books?id=cccDAAAAMBAJ\&printsec=frontcover\#PPA30,M1 . Fuller was of course also an architect, an engineer, an author, a designer, a most notable systems theorist, and he is considered by many to be one of the greatest thinkers of the last century; having coined the terms “Spaceship Earth”, ephemeralization, and synergetic, among others.
3 Philippe Beaudoin, 2012.
4 Rice University’s 2012 commencement, Salman Khan, 2012.
5 80% Hate Their Jobs – But Should You Choose A Passion Or A Paycheck?, 2010. Business Insider.
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According to most creation stories, out of primal Nothingness, the All or Everything emerges or emanates. Paradoxically, everything seems to come from nothing. How does nothing become something?
Energy “crystallizes” into matter in the womb of empty space, a dynamic Void. Mass is simply a form of energy. This process is structured by an underlying, invisible, geometrical lattice. Actually, it is pre-geometric. Because it has no true physical existence, it is metaphysical (beyond physics).
This threshold of matter, where nothing becomes something, is of great philosophical interest.Actually, materialism (a natural philosophy) is a theory of metaphysics.
It is metaphysical thinking to consider static matter as a primary reality. In fact, any attempt to describe reality is metaphysical speculation. In its dynamic form matter cannot be separated from energy. Energy is a property of matter, which can be considered potential energy.
The mystic believes in matter, but believes it is more than science has yet discovered. Even before Western science began, mystics believed that mind, consciousness, or spirit is a property of matter. It hardly matters, philosophically, if you consider it as manifesting force or manifesting spirit.
The nature of reality is that matter-energy must be taken together .The theory of relativity conceives of this single substance as a distortion of the structure of space.
Physicist Ian Barbour writes that, “…in quantum theory, separate particles seem to be temporary and partial manifestations of a shifting pattern of waves that combine at one point, dissolve again, and recombine elsewhere; a particle begins to look like a local outcropping of a continuous substratum of vibrational energy.” That vibrational energy is governed by the laws of probability.But what subtle forces underlie matter-energy and space-time? All form and power are latent within the void.
The Heart Sutra tells us that, “Form is not other than Void, Void is not other than Form.” This implies that our human form is not other than void, and biophysics shows this to be true. Our physical makeup is largely emptiness. If we conceive of humans as being most fundamentally electromagnetic entities, instead of chemical beings, we can imagine our finer existence as wave-fronts in space. Our personal “space” is not utterly empty, but cannot be conceived apart from our matter exhibiting itself in particular ways, i.e. as “waves.
“Yet, the void state, or primal matrix, is “cosmic zero,” and proportionately our most fundamental reality. It is part of the surrealistic quantum realm. It lies within us all, for the relative space between our atoms is astronomical. This is the ground state of existence which mystics seek in their meditation, moving beyond mind and maya. It is that state of consciousness where outer perceptions cease, and consciousness is free to simply be.
Throughout the centuries, various geometrical forms have been revered as expressions or metaphors of higher spiritual truths. These sacred forms and symbols are a natural part of the collective consciousness which emerges in every generation. We project them outwardly from within our psyche because they are so fundamental to our existence. That apprehension is intuitive. Certain typical forms recur in meditation and ceremonial practice, worldwide.
When something emerges from nothing, it does so via non-Euclidean geometry, coming to occupy space/time. Einstein used non-Euclidean geometry to explain the relativity of time and space as the geometry that is produced by matter or matter by geometry. The perception of the transcendental or metaphysical aspects of geometry is intuitive.
There are examples of philosophical geometry or geometrical philosophy from around the world. The common term now is Sacred Geometry. These traditions are found in India, China, Egypt, and Great Britain, to name a few. Plato, Archimedes, and the Pythagoreans based much of their philosophical speculation around the nature of geometrical form, suggesting that mathematics and structural forms had ultimate status.
Our modern science has never forsaken the tradition of seeking the understanding of forms that provide shape and meaning to physical reality. Euclidean geometry describes the nature of the human scale, but non-Euclidean models the cosmos and microcosm. More and more intricate forms of measurement became the basis of the scientific method. Eventually, this led to modern topology — the study of those properties of geometric figures or solid bodies that remain invariant under certain transformations.Heisenberg explained that, “The elementary particles of modern physics can be transformed into each other exactly as in the philosophy of Plato.”
In “sacred topology”, the relationships are more than metaphorical. Metaphysical and physical reality coincide. This is abundantly illustrated in R. Buckminster Fuller’s geometrical tour de force, SYNERGETICS I & II. Fuller demonstrates, via synergetics, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, because of the relativity of forces. In our universe, as more complex systems are built up, new properties appear that were not foreshadowed by the parts alone. These emergent properties include life, conscious awareness, and beauty.Plato’s Academy in Athens had a policy: “You are not allowed to enter here, unless you know geometry.”
In the dialogue, Meno, Plato describes Socrates teaching geometry to a slave. In true Socratic form, he does not instruct him directly. Rather, he elicits knowledge from the slave which he did not know he possessed. The diagrams themselves elicit the buried intuitive knowledge of a world inhabited by the gods and by the divine “Forms.”In Plato’s view, before birth we were familiar with purely mathematical “objects” and relations, as well as moral ideals or values. He alleged that we lost this knowledge at birth, but can recover it through revelation.
For Plato, the virtues paled in comparison with the highest capacity of the soul, which is the mystical beholding of the eternal. Mystics tell us the divine is formless.Actual space is not empty, but the possibility has always been a controversial problem in philosophy. Aristotle found the concept of a total void unacceptable. Scientists still cannot make a perfect experimental vacuum.
Astronomy shows us that matter is averagely distributed, with roughly as much matter between the stars as there is within them. Yet, there are large voids in space, with stars clustered on the outer edges of these bubbles of void. The preponderance is of volumes of empty space over volumes of matter. So, the characteristic feature of the universe is not matter, but empty space.Again, most of the interior of the atom is empty, as is the space occupied by the galaxies, and the vast regions which separate them. Stars, atoms, and the vacuum are a seamless whole.
The notion of the eternal nature of sacred emptiness is echoed in modern quantum theory. This is not ordinary, but dynamic and receptive emptiness. The central concept in Quantum Field Theory is that of the field, which exists everywhere and everywhen. It is a field of curved space/time. Matter is not separate from its surrounding space. The field can take the form of quanta or particles. It is the fundamental physical entity, the only physical reality.The field contains the potentiality of all possible states or conditions in the universe.
Of these states, the most fundamental is the Ground State, (or “vacuum state”). Matter is rare in the universe. Most of it consists of a very volatile, excited, ionic plasma. Only 5% of matter is neither too hot, nor too dilute, to congeal as a solid, liquid, or gas. This form of matter is so rare it has been described as ‘trace contaminants. ‘Yet, some form of matter is essential to all activity. All matter is in motion. Activity is the essence of being. From the “cosmic zero”, everything — the totality of “excited states” — arises by creative processes. It is also the state into which everything subsides by absorption processes.
The ground state is characterized by the fact that it stretches to infinity, uniform and changeless. It is the same everywhere and everywhen because of the identity of space/time. Within the universal field the values of the ground state and excited states are all one. An unlimited amount of particles come into being and vanish endlessly. Matter is thus a temporary manifestation of the Void.The so-called “cosmic zero” was modeled by geometer/philosopher Fuller in the figure he called Vector Equilibrium, (V.E.). It might actually claim to be the first “Buckyball,” the one Fuller himself described.
This geometry is the precursor of the new elemental’ Fullerenes.’ The V.E. geometry has been recognized for a long time. It was one of the thirteen Archimedian solids, the cuboctahedron.
But the Greeks were fascinated with regular forms whose faces were all the same, such as the cube. They failed to understand the delicate balancing act the cuboctahedron symbolizes. They simply did not notice that Vector Equilibrium is pristine equanimity because they were looking elsewhere. The Greeks never really comprehended the energic or energetic properties of Vector Equilibrium, i.e. dynamic stability. They had a static, non-relativistic view of natural philosophy.
It remained for Fuller to assert that, “zero pulsation in the Vector Equilibrium is the nearest approach we will ever know to eternity and god.” The conceptual model is the closest our minds and senses can come to that cosmic realization, short of mystical revelation. Mind alone cannot fathom the depth of this Void. Geometry is a construct of the intellect.The V.E. center is primal “emptiness.” It is a mathematical anomaly where the normal laws of the space/time continuum break down. It is not a symbol of ultimate order. It looks like a very rational, orderly system, but it is ultimately irrational. It defies logic.
V.E. is the breeder of wave-particle duality, the uncertainty principle, and non-locality at the quantum level. It is a cosmic pump, transforming nothingness into matter. It is a zone of neutral resonance where waves can pass through waves without interference, according to Fuller. Yet, it never physically exists as a structure, since nature abhors a vacuum.In quantum mechanics a system can never have an energy of exactly zero. There is no such thing as absolute emptiness. However, the minimal motion of the ground state is called zero point energy, or zero point motion.
Cosmic zero exists, paradoxically, in the realm of the psyche (our conceptualization) and in quantum reality in the atomic nucleus expressed as force. It is the form of formlessness, the root metaphor. It also forms the roots of the cosmic Tree of Life, since there is a fine-to-non-existent line between organic and inorganic matter on the quantum scale.Physics is the patterns of organic energy, all of which are dynamic, alive. Mass is energy, so the subatomic world is always restlessly in motion. Inert matter is full of motion when we look closely at it . The activity of matter is its essence.
Vector Equilibrium emanates/condenses from a center in twelve fundamental directions. This emergent energy moves outward through space/time in the form of a cuboctahedron, alternating with its mathematical reciprocal, an octahedron-within-a-cube. It is a truncated cube with 50 symmetrically positioned topological features. Vector Equilibrium has the same surface area as a sphere, yet contains no volume, i.e. it contains “nothing.”
The Vector Equilibrium system has 12 vertices, 8 triangular faces, 24 edges, and 32 planes. It is omnidirectional equilibrium, symbolically and physically speaking.
As such, it is a perfect symbol for “holding the tension of the opposites,” or “uniting the opposites.” Yet, it is more than a metaphor. It is an archetypal image which bridges the macrocosm with the microcosm. It is a living example of the Hermetic Axiom, “As Above, So Below,” uniting spiritual and literal reality. V.E. makes it possible to make conceptual models of other dimensions (hyperspace), mathematically and mystically.In the V.E. figure, equilibrium between positive and negative is zero. It is the equalization of the forces of push/pull, radiation/gravitation, or tension/compression.
In Synergetics, Fuller alleged it “represents the limits of the mind’s ability to conceptualize ‘in’.” For Fuller, all of space/time is undergird with a pre-geometric matrix, which is an infinite field of vector equilibria. An entire universe can be seeded from one V.E., self-generating to fill all space/time. There may be no ultimate physical building-block of matter, but there is one single entity that undergirds and composes everything in the universe, according to Fuller. The basic element of the universe is dynamic patterns.
This field constitutes a “cosmic blueprint” which Fuller called the Isotropic Vector Matrix (I.V.M.), a living continuum. The allocation of divinity to this “mother of all fields” marks its archetypal character. As a variation on the theme of Celestial Goddess, it symbolizes the embodiment of nature. Like a modern Isis, it iterates the theme of the underlying, inseparable cosmic web or net, connecting all.
The living Void gives birth to all phenomenal forms. It pulsates with the rhythm of creation and destruction of material particles. Another goddess, Nuit, is the essence of Infinite Space. She is infinite energy density pervading the entire cosmos. She is the receptivity of the void to the wavelength of radiation. Adjusting the geometry of the void influences the propagation of radiation. The goddess Ma-at, or Balance, is another expression of the same universal V.E. energy.
The Upanishads identifies Brahman with the void:
Brahman is life. Brahman is joy. Brahman is the Void. Joy, verily, that is the same as the Void. The Void, verily, that is the same as joy.The geometry of Vector Equilibrium is inferred from that of closest-packed spheres of equal radius. It just happens to be the geometry which underlies all matter since it is found in the nucleus of all atoms as sub-atomic force. Here, in the interior of the atoms, Newtonian physics does not apply.
This is a probabilistic, acausal world. Here synchronicity prevails over chronicity.This uniform geometrical field, with the property of Divine consciousness, is the basis for a geometrical model of reality spanning the abyss between the metaphysical and the physical. It is not the first model in history to attempt to do so. There is an ancient geometrical model which shares a common framework with the Vector Equilibrium.THE GEOMETRY OF THE QABALA
The ancient mystical system of the Qabala is formulated around the geometrical glyph known as the
Tree of Life.
This sacred geometry system came down to us through Judaism and Hermetic Philosophy.
It is one of the main currents of thought in the Western Occult Tradition. A mathematically accurate image of the Tree of Life can be constructed by dividing a vertical line into four equal lengths and filling in four intersecting circles, using a fourth of the line as radius. The nexus points are the positions of the 10 spheres, and connecting paths join the centers of the spheres.