Author, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth



This is the transcript of a video interview produced and directed by Michael O'Callaghan as part of his Future Tapes interactive video exhibit in 1983.
Full transcript (482 words, slightly edited for clarity).
© 2019 Global Vision Foundation.
R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) was a Harvard dropout with 45 honorary degrees and 25 patents to his name. Dubbed by Marshall McLuhan "the Leonardo da Vinci of our times", Bucky (as he was called) was an architect, inventor,, scientist, cartographer, author, engineer, chemist, poet, philospher and teacher. He invented geodesic domes, the world's most accurate map (known as the Dymaxion or Fuller Projection), and a completely new scientific language called synergetic geometry, which is perhaps his greatest - albeit least understood - legacy.
He articulated a brilliant vision of the universe as a whole system, championed the ability of individuals to do their own thinking, and was profoundly certain that Humankind is capable of being an evolutionary success. He founded World Game Institute, an educational research centre which publishes comprehensive databases of national indicators, called Global Recall and Global Data Manager, and which also produces the World Game Workshop. This is a group interactive educational game which is played on a map of the Earth the size of a basketball court, as well as on-line over the world wide web! Over 40,000 people have participated in these workshops at UN agencies, governments, corporations, universities and schools around the world. His books include: Utopia or Oblivion, Synergetics, and Synergetics II.

Together with Gregory Bateson, Buckminster Fuller was a major inspiration for - and influence on the design of - the Global Vision Project, as well as an early participant in it. In this transcript of his Global Vision video interview - a message in a bottle from 1983 - Bucky talks about the revolutionary aspects of literacy and education, anticipating in a prophetic way the tansformative potential of the World Wide Web.
How do you feel about the future?

The next few years of humans on board Spaceship Earth are going to be as event-packed as a million years, a million years ago! We will know then, whether humans are going to remain on board of planet Earth...

We've come to a great crisis on board of planet Earth. Humans are all designed beautifully: beautiful brains, optical systems - incredible technology! But born without any experience, therefore absolutely ignorant. We're born hungry, thirsty, curious; forced then by the hunger and the thirst to make moves: to take initiatives, to learn only by trial and error. Humanity has to learn that its brain is really nothing, its muscle nothing. Its mind is everything! The brain is an information-recording device. The mind has the capability to discover relationships.

Human beings, then, after now possibly as much as a million generations of trial-and-error making, have come to the point where we have communications capability between us. When I was born, humanity was 95% illiterate. Today, humanity is almost 65% literate. We have everywhere around the world (and I've travelled around it forty-eight times now) people who are literate. Today, I'm understood by other human beings very thoroughly - by humans who had no vocabulary at all when I was young, who all now have beautiful vocabularies.
So we now have the capability to handle information individually. When you were 95% illiterate, you had to have leaders to do your thinking for you: to deal with the information. Today we're at the point where humanity itself can deal with its own information!
We're at a point, however, where conditioned reflexes are very powerful. You have all kinds of games being played with money. You have the mis-working assumption that there's not enough life-support on board of our planet, whereas just from the last ten years, we've known so much more about how to do more with less - in electronics, chemistry, alloying, metallurgy - that we now have the capability, for the first time in history, to do so much with so little we can take care of all humanity.
The fundamental question then of all politics - "it has to be you or me, there's not enough for both" - is no longer valid! We have the capability now to have every person a billionaire on board of our planet and to realise that state within ten years from today by design revolution.
With four billion human beings on board of our planet (Note: this figure has increased to 7.5 billion as of 2018! - Ed.), possibly a billion know what I'm saying to be true. How do we get the whole of humanity to be able to exercise this option?
The point is, the universe wants to find out whether individual humans have the integrity to really go along with their own decisions, or are they still going to take orders from others? I simply say, if we stay on planet Earth, it's because we pass our cosmic examination of integrity.