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Kirby Urner
Sep 30, 2018 · 3 min read

A barrier to the design scientists’ version of futurism is probably not fear of the Singularity. Synergetics remains skeptical of AI overcoming RI (real intelligence). Other blends of futurism raise that specter.

Neither is synergetics the stumbling block some may believe it is, as the core concepts mostly distill to known, accepted knowledge within multiple, if disparate, disciplines.

The multi-disciplinary commitment to comprehensiveness may be politically suspect in some circles, but as many thinkers embrace big picture thinking.

No, what proves the bigger turnoff is likely the seeming implausibility of such utopian-sounding slogans such as “we’re becoming a world of billionaires”.

The “too good to be true” rhetoric of abundance economics clashes with what we know.

Our reality is otherwise.

If the end result of “learning to think like a design scientist” is to become so out of touch with the way things are, then how could such training be advisable?

Let’s remember though, that General Systems Theory is not necessarily perpetuating the same definition of “wealth” as those focused on “net worth” and personal bank accounts.

Life on a well-endowed campus, as a student, involves accessing the state of the art, in terms of computer power, food and health services, shelter.

One is surrounded by peers living a life of the mind. What billionaire has it better? Is it the yacht that makes life worthwhile?

Said student may not have a big bank account, yet the life is rewarding and luxurious.

Or is this lifestyle at the cost of mounting debt, with poor prospects for the future? The sense of immanent disaster would definitely detract from one’s equanimity.

“Wealth” is about life supportive systems functioning today, but also tomorrow. The more one sees a bright future, the higher one’s living standard.

Let’s put it another way. Consider someone we would consider well off, in terms of their “net worth”. How might such a person become even wealthier?

If the world is not on the brink of war, or about to descend into chaos, would not that add billions to the bottom line?

The net worth of everyone increases, against a backdrop of our not plunging into nuclear war. Conversely, even those confined to shielded bunkers won’t see their living standards as improved.

We all know that having big garages with room for two gas guzzlers, and sufficient resources to indulge in expensive hobbies, may be a measure of high “net worth”. But that’s not a meaning of “wealth” we’re compelled to keep using.

The Affluenza meme virus infects a lot of people and causes them to hoard lots of junk.

A typical “rich person” has no time or energy for all the opportunities a high net worth makes available, at least in principle.

In sum, in GST we’re concerned about the numinous. The right to “pursue happiness” begs the question: for just oneself? Where does “satisfaction” come from? Psychology enters the picture.

Might humans enjoy healthier more satisfying lives, against a backdrop of humanity as a whole being more of a success?

That’s a question design science encourages us to explore.

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