Buckminster Fuller is Idiotic

He doesn’t understand scarcity, sociology, psychology, or economics.

I regularly note views asserting (by Matt Uebel on this occasion) Post-Scarcity has already occurred, or we have the technology to now create a PS world in year 2014. The following comment by Aaron Queener illustrates this:

“Ya, we hit the post-scarcity economy sometime in the last decade, with the logistical capacity of the interwebs. Now we just have to convince everyone that the resources we're spending on hierarchy are wasteful. Down with the kyriarchy!”

The response is simple. No we didn't hit PS sometime in the last decade, to state such is a misunderstanding of PS. Buckminster Fuller is very wrong on this issue, he fails to understand scarcity, sociology, or psychology.

For example we could now feasibly stop all crime tomorrow IF everyone agreed to stop committing crimes, good luck with that. My point is Fuller's views are wishful thinking. The views don't consider the reality of resources, sociology, or psychology. The problem, in a scarcity situation, is you need people to agree upon the regulation and distribution of scarce resources.

Buckminster Fuller Wikimedia image by Dan Lindsay

Our economy is already based on resources, furthermore those resources are scarce. Yes in theory, if wishful thinking could become fact, instead of being mere wishes, we could have a much better distribution of resources.

The problem is simple. Scarcity means people with the largest amount of a scarce resources have a better chance at survival.

Poor people die earlier and they suffer more during their lives, or at least some people think they do thus there is a big incentive to be richer than other people. Being richer means you have a better quality of life, or at least that is what people think.


“It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a mater of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry.” — Buckminster Fuller

People in The Zeitgeist Movement, The Venus Project, or Resource Based Economy fail to account for sociology or psychology regarding scarcity. Yes we do live in times or great abundance but the abundance is not Post-Scarcity. Our resources despite being abundant are sadly within the realm of scarcity.

“The future is here but not evenly distributed.”

In the above quote I’m paraphrasing William Gibson and Fuller, who both stated we merely have a distribution problem. They tell us the future is already here.

There may be a distribution problem but better distribution alone will not eradicate scarcity. The future, in 2014, is not already here if by “future” we mean 3D-printers able to synthesis ANYTHING from commonly available resources.

By “future” I envisage sentient AI of greater than human intelligence. I envisage medical immortality, cures for all diseases, the end of aging. The 3D-printers of the future will be nanotech-capable, which means they will assemble and disassemble anything at the nano-scale. We are considering desktop APM (atomically precise manufacturing), which is not possible in 2014 despite significant research breakthroughs.

We can’t yet print, via desktop, a super-intelligent AI-spacecraft able to carry and sustain human passengers beyond our solar system. It is simply NOT FEASIBLE to do many things. We can’t eradicate scarcity yet, we simply don’t have enough technological proficiency. Our proficiency is limited, very scarce.


Bill Stender commented:

“The problem is Profit. Profit requires scarcity. Scarcity is mostly engineered (to increase profit). Largely through financial gaming but it goes broader in forms such as planned obsolescence, off-shoring labor, even outright destruction of critical commodities to prop up prices.”

The problem is not profit, the problem is scarcity, profit only exists due to scarcity. Scarcity is not artificially created for profit. If there was no scarcity there would be no need for profit. Scarcity can be emphasised to enhance profits but scarcity cannot be artificially created.

Manufactured Scarcity — Splashy Symptoms

Bill Stender commented again. He thinks it is simplistic to think profit only exists due to scarcity; he thinks it wrongly implies:

“…scarcity only occurs naturally, like say the devastation of the wheat crop one season or a hand-built custom motorcar... while ignoring massive and systematic examples of manufactured scarcity in all areas of the market.”

I think scarcity does only occur naturally. I think my idea is flawless. When Bill states the idea of scarcity being natural ignores “massive and systematic examples of manufactured scarcity in all areas of the market” my response to is highlight how what you’re seeing is merely a symptom of scarcity arising from the foundations of scarcity.

Analogously. Imagine the foundation of scarcity is an inherited genetic disease. The external structure of the disease is built from DNA, which is what Bill would call “manufactured scarcity.” My point is, a flaw in the DNA is manufacturing the disease, the disease is not being manufactured contrary to the DNA thus it is wrong to say such examples of scarcity are artificially manufactured. The solution is not to mask the symptoms, palliative care is not the answer, we need gene therapy at the foundations where all forms of scarcity arise.

Money is merely a symptom of the disease. Money doesn't make the disease worse, money merely reflects the reality of the disease. Symptoms don't make the disease worse. The symptoms are bad because the disease is bad, but Bill doesn’t understand:

“Again, people routinely create scarcity in the marketplace in many ways and in many forms in order to extort profit....artificial scarcity.”

The supposed “creation” of scarcity is similar to being worried about becoming wet, via other people splashing you while in the middle of an ocean. You are in the middle of the ocean, everyone lives in the ocean, imagine the ocean is your entire world, you cannot escape the water at this point in time. You do not have the technology to create a raft, boat, or airship.

The large amount water allows other people to splash you. The water already exists, the people who are splashing you are not creating artificial water, they are merely redistributing the water, or emphasizing the water. In a world of water it is inevitable some people will be victims of splashing. The point is you cannot avoid becoming wet.

Sustainability or Post-Scarcity

Brandon Kindred commented about the alleged manufacture of scarcity:

“One only needs look as far as banks buying up oil and storing it, or regulating the release of aluminum, or the price fixing of commodities through backroom agreements. I also don't define post-scarcity like you do. See we don't need cell-phones or cars or the internet or spaceships or 3d printers for that matter. These don't play into a world of scarcity, these are tools which if they were recycled would provide a nearly endless supply of these same tools. What I define post-scarcity as is the ability to live without competing for necessities, which I've usually seen defined as food, clean water, shelter, clothes. Surprisingly, all of these could be supplied in great abundance and there is enough for everyone.”

Ah hah... “One only needs look as far as banks buying up oil and storing it.” The question is why do they do this? The answer is scarcity, which can be seen in the greater abundance of aluminium, which means aluminium is much cheaper. Oil is less abundant thus there is a greater desire, and it is easier, to manipulate oil prices BUT the manipulation of prices doesn't create scarcity, it merely emphasises it. If you abolished all price manipulation you would nevertheless have scarcity.

Sadly once you’ve abolished all price manipulation someone would come along and manipulate the prices again. The problem is scarcity exists, which means profits (a symptom of scarcity) entails greater survival chances, a better quality of life.

The issue is Brandon defines sustainability but employs the term Post-Scarcity. The PS descriptor is wrong for sustainability. If something is beyond scarcity it means there is no scarcity, no limits upon resources, no management, whereas Brandon and others are addressing regulation and limitation to attain sustainability.

Sustainability is not possible because it requires cooperation in a world of scarcity. Some cooperation can be achieved but there will always be a minority who exploit the majority to attain a greater share of scarce resources. The only solution is to totally abolish scarcity, the attainment of utterly limitless supplies of any resource you desire. True Post-Scarcity (via explosive AI because intelligence is the source of all resources) is the only answer to the problems of the world because it doesn’t depend on wishful thinking, management, or agreement. You either have it (explosive AI of the super-limitless-intelligence kind) or you don’t.

Sustainable Infrastructure Problems

Brandon Kindred stated we have an “infrastructure problem” but he also states the implementation of his viewpoint doesn’t require regulation or limitation. How exactly can he propose to resolve an infrastructure problem without regulation or limitation? He stated we need to “optimize our infrastructures” and he recognized “infrastructures don’t just happen.”

It seems clear to me Brandon is addressing a political ideology regarding management of scarce resources not PS. His viewpoint will inevitably require regulation and limitation. Brandon’s view is most certainly not Post-Scarcity.

Resources in 2014 are scarce therefore we cannot create ten or more Earth-sized spaceships made from platinum, to mine resources in the asteroid belt (NASA stated circa 2005 there are enough resources in the belt for life and habitat to support ten quadrillion people). Brandon actually presents sustainability but calls it it “post scarcity.” It is clear sustainability is at least the initial part of his plan:

“I see sustainability as a technological solution to allow the world to realize our PS reality in such a way that doesn't destroy the planet at the same time.”

“Sustainable” means conservation and balance regarding usage and supply of resources, it is clearly about limitation and regulation thus it is a contradictory route to PS, because when resources are beyond scarcity they are limitless thus beyond any regulatory need. Money is a vital regulator, it is not an empt human invention.

If we truly already had PS there wouldn't a need to be implement it because true PS cannot be suppressed. The suppression of PS would be similar to trying to destroy all the atoms in the universe. Atoms are too abundant to be suppressed or depleted, thus there will always be an excessive amount of atoms.


I am really very tired of trying to explain these issues.

Bill Stender commented:
“Your latest analogy is more specious than the first; you're saying that since scarcity is the permanent state of all things in the universe, we are to quit whining about what are essentially playful or accidental "splashes" of extortion, rather than criminal acts?”
“We have choices about scarcity, we could exterminate it with political will.”

I think there is a solution. I don't think the splashes are accidental or playful. Often the splashes are not criminal either despite the horrendous pain and death caused. My point is, your type of resistance is futile.

Your viewpoint offers no real solution, it would merely be either a matter of delaying the real solution or replacing one set of leaders with another splash-happy set of leaders. Saying the system is wrong then trying to superficially change the system, it is a denial of reality, it is a futile banging your head against a brick wall. You need to look at the cause behind why the system is wrong, which is where the solution resides, you need to address the cause which is scarcity. Only through investment in radical technology will you solve the problem. Idealism regarding how we should all hold hands, and be fair-minded via equal wealth for all, will not work, a change of infrastructure will not work, a change of policy will not work because corruption, greed, legal and illegal, will rise again if the underlying scarcity is not addressed, people will keep splashing each other.

Really I get it, I am very poor; but clamouring for the evil 1% to adjust their ways will not work. Even if you overthrew them and created a new system a new 1% would arise so quickly.

The economic problem is "fundamental" meaning it is a basic aspect of existence prior to economics, it is a problem economics tries to deal with.
Ah, if only there was the political will then we could live in magic castles in the sky. Politics or ideology is not the solution, unless the ideology is to create super-AI but that ideology alone will not help, the only help is the fruits of super-AI.

Oppose the rich controllers and demand a fairer distribution of wealth if you really think that is the best way forward, the most productive usage of your energy and time, good luck with that. Maybe a few people will share your supposedly inspiring Bucky quotes, then chant: “Rah rah, down with the system.”



Brandon Kindred commented
“ I am not concerned about the post scarcity world which assumes that all minerals in known existence can be conjured at the blink of an eye, because I don't believe anything that isn't necessary for survival to have any value in the Post Scarcity argument. Those are things you really don't need. You don't need cars or planes, and certainly not spaceships to survive. Those are cool, don't get me wrong, but they aren't necessary, and thus IMO don't have a place in any argument about Post Scarcity.”

YOU might not be concerned with unlimited resources BUT while resources are limited other people will hoard the limited resources, which leads to the imbalances of wealth currently evident, based on actual scarcity and the FEAR of scarcity.

Yeah, yeah, we don't really need this and that but how are you going to stop the people who THINK they need this and that? You may think everyone would be happy living in a permaculture recycling commune with no spaceships but it is wishful thinking that you will convince everyone to adopt your frugal no-spaceships (sustainable) ideology of: “Those are things you really don't need. You don't need cars or planes, and certainly not spaceships to survive.”

I’ve an idea, why don’t you implement this tomorrow, just say “Hey everyone we can do this,” and everyone will reply “OK let's do it.” Wow such skill, so much equality, I never realized it was so easy to reach political consensus on such a controversial issue: “So do we have the ability to give every person on earth a good shelter, free food, warm clothes, and clean water.”


You can help accelerate our progress via raising awareness of the needed technology to end scarcity. The Singularity (Post-Scarcity) could happen earlier than 2045 but it is certainly not possible in 2014 and at least for a few years more it is impossible, infeasible.