Thu, 08 Apr 2010 2:57p.m.
Opinion by Philip Patston
One of the things I've always loved about Apple products – and the company itself – is how they rethink technology. They have the knack of continually introducing fundamentally new concepts to inspire people to change how they work, play and interact with each other.
No, they're not paying me to write this and, by the time you finish this blog, you'll see why I may not want them to.
Way back in the 80s I got my first Apple product – a Macintosh Plus. Remember them? They had the nine-inch monitor and came not only with a keyboard but a mouse. Suddenly the world was interfacing with a personal computer in whole new way – and now, could we imagine anything else?
Well we couldn't until this week, when Apple released the iPad. Suddenly, it seems, the mouse has gone and so has the keyboard. And the bulky case. And the hefty operating system. Like they did with the Macintosh, the iPod and the iPhone, Apple is saying with the iPad, "Hey, how about doing it this way?"
The Venus Project (www.thevenusproject.com) is saying something similar about how we run society, not just our personal computers. It is saying, "How about we run society without money?"
"What? Don't be ridiculous!" you may be thinking. Society without money couldn't possibly work. How would we control things, how would we distribute goods and services fairly, how would we counter greed?
One might equally wonder how you would control a cursor without a mouse, or type without a keyboard. As Apple have shown with the iPad, if you don't have a cursor, you don't need a mouse, and a keyboard doesn't have to be separate – it can be part of the screen.
Our monetary system relies on debt and scarcity. Scarcity creates greed because people fear not having enough. You'll notice that we don't get greedy about air – or have to pay for it for that matter – because it's available in abundance so we're not scared of runniung out.
The Venus Project holds that, if we didn't have money, we wouldn't need greed, because the resources we need to survive would be available in abundance. Money can't be eaten, it can't build houses, it can't make cars go or teach children. It's only function is to restrict our access to resources.
If society were redesigned – like the iPad is redesigning personal computing – to not need money, a lot of our social problems would disappear. Poverty, of course, and crime, virtually, because the majority of crime is linked to poverty.
Political systems could be disestablished in favour of emergent community collaboration systems because, at the root of it, politicians are only there to be the conduit between society and money.
Technology would develop exponentially, because we would cease to not be able to afford it. Different sources of energy, such as geothermal energy, would create an abundance of power, but at present these can't be brought to scale because they can't get market share due to the structure of the economy.
Society without the monetary system would be lighter, simpler and a whole lot easier to navigate – just like the iPad.
Check out the Venus Project World Tour lectures in Auckland and Wellington next week – there's more information by searching at www.diversitynz.com
For more about money, check out www.zeitgeistmovie.com