Slaves, look at them! They abase themselves before clothes and the accident of birth—silver-glit nursery-baubles again—lord, it sizes-up the quality of the human race! The human race, that has such a fine opinion of itself. There is not a place of value in that place that goes by merit; not a rich sinecure but is encumbered by some incapable dotard whose only qualification is that one belongs by accident of birth in one or another of the First Three Grades of the Blood. Everything worth having is saved for the Three Orders—and how they do hang on, those jabbering senilities! Adam used to sigh and say, ‘They seldom die, and never resign.’ Nepotism? it is just a buzzard’s nest of it. Evidence of the urge to impose order or subjugate is found in the coercive rites and uncleanness taboos of incipient religion. The eventual subduing of the World that is agriculture has at least some of its basis where ambiguous behavior is ruled out, purity and defilement defined and enforced. Levi-Strauss defined religion as the anthropomorphism of nature; earlier spirituality was participatory with nature, not imposing cultural values or traits upon it. The sacred means that which is separated, and ritual and formalization, increasingly removed from the ongoing activities of daily life and in the control of such specialists as shamans and priests, are closely linked with hierarchy and institutionalized power. Religion emerges to ground and legitimize culture, by means of a “higher” order of reality; it is especially required, in this function of maintaining the solidarity of society, by the unnatural demands of agriculture. #RandolphHarris 1 of 20
In the Neolithic village of Catal Huytuk in Turkish Anatolia, one of every three rooms were used for ritual purposes. Plowing and sowing can be seen as ritual renunciations, according to Bukert, a form of systematic, which is the killing of domesticated animals (or even humans) for ritual purposes, it is pervasive in agricultural societies and found only there. Some of the major Neolithic religions often attempted a symbolic healing of agricultural rupture with nature through the mythology of the Earth mother, which needless to say does nothing to restore the lost unity. Fertility myths are also central: the Egyptian Osiris, the Greek Persephone, Baal of the Canaanites, and the New Testament Jesus, gods whose death and resurrection testify to the perseverance of the soil, not to mention the human soul. The first temples signified the rise of cosmologies based on a model of the universe as an arena of domestication or barnyard, which in turn serves to justify the suppression of human autonomy. Whereas preccivilized society was, held together by largely undeclared but continually realized ethical conceptions, religion developed as a way of creating citizens, placing the moral order under public management. Domestication involved the initiation of production, vastly increased divisions of labor, and the completed foundations of social stratification. This amounted to an epochal mutation both in the character of human existence and its development, clouding the latter with ever more violence and work. Contrary to the myth of hunter-gatherers as violent and aggressive, by the way, recent evidence shows that existing non-farmers, such as the Mbuti (“pygmies”) studied by Turnbull, apparently do what killing they do without any aggressive spirit, even with a sort of regret. Warfare and the formation of every civilization or state, on the other hand, are inseparably linked. #RandolphHarris 2 of 20
Primal peoples did not fight over areas in which separate groups might converge in their gathering and hunting. At least “territorial” struggles are not part of the ethnographic literature and they would seem even less likely to have occurred in pre-history when resources were greater and contact with civilization non-existent. Indeed, these peoples had no conception of private property, and Rousseau’s figurative judgment, that divided society was founded by a man who first sowed a piece of ground, saying “This land is mine,” and found others to believe him, is essentially valid. “Mine and thine, the seeds of all mischief, have no place with them,” reads Pietro’s 1511 account of the natives encountered on the second voyage of Columbus. Centuries later, surviving Indigenous people of what was now America asked, “Sell the Earth? Why not sell the air, the clouds, the great sea?” Agriculture creates and elevates possessions; consider the longing root of belongings, as if they ever make up for the loss. Work, as a distinct category of life, likewise did not exist until agriculture. The human capacity of being shackled to crops and herd, developed rather quickly. Food production overcame the common absence or paucity or ritual and hierarchy in society and introduced civilized activities like the forced labor of temple-building. Here is the real “Cartesian split” between inner and outer reality, the separation whereby nature became merely something to be “worked.” On this capacity for a sedentary and servile existence rests the entire superstructure of civilization with its increasing weight of repression. Male violence toward women originated with agriculture, which transmuted women into beasts of burden and breeders of children. #RandolphHarris 3 of 20
Before farming, the egalitarianism of foraging life applied as fully to women as to men because the autonomy of tasks and the fact that decisions were made by those who carried them out. In the absence of production and with no drudge work suitable for child labor such as weeding, women were not consigned to onerous chores or the constant supply of babies Along with the curse of perpetual work, via agriculture, in the expulsion from Eden, God told woman, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception: in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and that desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Similarly, the first known codified laws, those of the Sumerian king, Ur-Namu, prescribed death to any woman satisfying desires outside of marriage. Thus Whyte referred to the ground women “lost relative to men when humans first abandoned a simple hunting and gathering way of life,” and Simone de Beauvoir saw in the cultural equation of plow and phallus a fitting symbol of the oppression of women. As wild animals are converted into sluggish meat-making machines the concept of becoming “cultivated” is a virtue enforced on people, meaning the weeding out of freedom from one’s nature, in the service of domestication and exploitation. In Summer the first civilization, the earliest cities had factories with their characteristic high organization and refraction of skills. Civilization from this point exacts human labor and the mass production of food, buildings, war and authority. To the Greeks, work was a curse and nothing else. The name of it—ponos—has the same root as the Latin poena, sorrow. The famous Ancient Testament curse on agriculture as the expulsion from Paradise (genesis 3.17-18) reminds us of the origin of work. #RandolphHarris 4 of 20
Conformity, repetition, patience, were the keys to this [Neolithic] culture…the patient capacity for work. In this monotony and passivity of tending and waiting is born, the less affluent’s deep, latent resentments, crude mixtures of rectitude and heaviness, and absence of humor. One might also add a stoic insensitivity and lack of imagination inseparable from religious faith, sullenness, and suspicion among traits widely attributed to the domesticated life of farming. Although food production by its nature includes a latent readiness for political domination, and although civilizing culture was for the beginning its own propaganda machine, the changeover involved a monumental struggle. Attention needs to be paid to the internal and external proletariats discontents within and without civilization. Nonetheless, along the axis from digging stick farming to plow agriculture to fully differentiated irrigation systems, an almost total genocide of gatherers and hunters was necessarily effected. The formation and storage of surpluses are part of the domesticating will to control and make static, an aspect of the tendency to symbolize. A bulwark against the flow of nature, surplus takes the forms of herd animals and granaries. Stored grain was the earliest medium of equivalence, the oldest form of capital. Only with the appearance of wealth in the shape of storable grains do the gradations of labor and social classes proceed. While there were certainly wild grains before all this (and wild wheat, by the way, is 25 percent protein compared to 12 percent domesticated wheat) the bis of culture makes every difference. Civilization and its cities rested as much of granaries as on symbolization. #RandolphHarris 5 of 20
Long ago the Earth itself was rebellious, and would not be appeased; but trouble and the burden of the ages have chastened her heart and restored it to the charity of gentleness that were its birthright, and their grace is in her face, which is beautiful. It was a privilege to see her again. I had not seen her since the first year of the new century, when she drove in state and showed herself to the people, in the glare of the illuminations, and formally inaugurated the Epoch, in accordance with antique custom—always an impressive function, but peculiarly and movingly so on this occasion, it being the first time she had ever performed it alone. No eye fell unmoistened upon the vacant place at her side, a place not likely ever to occupied again. The mystery of agriculture’s origin seems even more impenetrable in light of the recent reversal of long-standing notion that the previous era was one of hostility to nature and an absence of leisure. One could no longer assume that early man domesticated plants and animals to escape drudgery and starvation. If anything, the contrary appeared true, and the advent of farming saw the end to innocence. For a long time, the question was “why was agriculture not adopted much earlier in human evolution?” More recently, we know that agriculture is not easier than hunting and gathering and does not provide a higher quality, more palatable, or more secure food base. Thus the consensus question now is, “why was it adopted at all?” Many theories have been advanced, none convincingly. In was possible that agriculture was practiced by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and others afterwards, but it took much longer to become popular. #RandolphHarris 6 of 20
Population increase pushed more human societies into more intimate contact with other species, leading to the domestication and the need to produce in order to feed that additional people, and that is why California and other areas in the United States need to keep farming, sustain the farmers we have, and save our farm land. Considering America was a nation kept strong by the production of agriculture, I am sure, especially now, you have Americas who want to farm and will harvest crops for money, even if it is off the books. In Middle America, which many have never visited, jobs and money can be hard to come by because many communities are still rural, and they like the rural land and need the agriculture industry to survive. That is why the cost of living tends to be lower in the interior states, in many cases. And the people are not as materialistic and willing to work for their money, as they have old American values and traditions. When we first moved to this valley, I always wondered why my teacher talked about agriculture so much. We were from a big city, where there were no farms and most houses had been built in the 1800s, 1920s, and 1960s. Most of the land was developed and nothing was new. When even had to square dance, I think like once a week, and listen to country music on the bus to school. The population was so low that they had to use the little buses to transport children and the bus operator would listen to Davey Crocket every morning. Many of these prominent communities were open land, even in the older areas. So everything looked new and the lifestyle was different. Most crime only occurred in certain sections of the city and Downtown Sacramento was affordable. It is sad to see how politicians who have been elected, that never should have been elected, robbed Sacramento of its peace and farming community feel. #RandolphHarris 7 of 20
There have been many houses developed, but just twenty years ago where some shopping centers are now, our neighbors had old farm houses and cows on their farm and there used to be deer at the river and jack rabbits and cotton tail rabbits. You may see one nowadays, but it is a rare sight. The houses and population increasing is fine, but it is sad to see the way of life caught between a city trying to be like New York and is actually more of a Midwestern town, which people want back. All money is not good money, and it was a community with law and order and family values before criminals were allowed to become mayor, and a non-America president was put in the White House, possibly the first illegal immigrant to ever be elected president of this glorious United States of America. And it took agriculture to make the nation as great as it has been, so do not let people with negative opinions of America destroy her. And it might be a good idea to elect people who are native to the region they are running for, and who have the VALUES you want to see in your community. Also, people think it is such a good idea to not put traditional Caucasian man in office to the past and some current atrocities in the World that they are often willing to elect people via Affirmative Action essentially, and that may not always be a good idea. One has to really research the representative and check out their background and history. Do not just put someone in office because they look like you or represent your political party or lifestyle. The people in control of power in this country have power to make changes, some not good, and they may be long lasting, so doing a background check on them and their stance of policies is as important as doing a background check on your daughter’s new boyfriend (which I totally recommend, the wrong person could ruin your child’s entire life, perhaps even end it). “Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity. The modern champions of communism have selected this as the time. And, ladies and gentlemen, the ships are down—they are truly down,” report Senator McCarthy. #RandolphHarris 8 of 20
Major climate changes occurred at the end of the Pleistocene, about 11,000 years ago, which upset the old hunter-gatherer life-World and led directly to the cultivation of certain surviving staples. Recent dating methods have helped demolish this approach; no such climatic shift happened that could have forced the new mode into existence. Besides, there are scores of examples of agriculture being adopted—or refused—in every type of climate. Another major hypotheses is that agriculture was introduced via chance discovery or invention as if it had never occurred to the species before a certain moment that, for example, food grows from sprouted seeds. It seems Paleolithic humanity a virtually inexhaustible knowledge of flora and fauna for many tens of thousands of years before the cultivation of plants began, which renders this theory especially weak. Agriculture did not originate from a growing or chronic shortage of food is sufficient, in fact, to dismiss virtually all originary theories that have been advanced. And food production beginning as a religious activity is a hypothesis that comes closet to plausibility. Sheep and goats, the first animals to be domesticated, are know to have been widely used in religious ceremonies, and to have been raised in enclosed meadows for sacrificial purposes. Before they were domesticated, moreover, sheep had no wool suitable for textile purposes. The main use of the hen in Southeastern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean—the earliest centers of civilization—seems to have been sacrificial or divinatory rather than alimentary. The egg laying and meat producing qualities of tamed fowl are rather later consequences of their domestication. Wild cattle were fierce and dangerous; neither the docility of oxen nor the modified meant texture of such castrates could have been foreseen. Cattle were fierce and dangerous; neither the docility of oxen or the modified meat texture of such castrates could have been foreseen. Cattle were not milked until centuries after their initial captivity, and representations indicate that their first known harnessing was to wagons in religious procession. #RandolphHarris 9 of 20
Plants, next to be controlled, exhibit similar backgrounds so far as it is known. Consider the New World examples of squash and pumpkin, used originally as ceremonial rattles. Johannessen discussed the religious and mystical motives connected with the domestication of maize, Mexico’s most important crop and center of its native Neolithic religion. Likewise, Anderson investigated the selection and development of distinctive types of various cultivated plants because of their magical significance. The shamans, I should as, were well-placed in positions of power to introduce agriculture via the taming and planting involved in ritual and religion, sketchily referred to above. Though the religious explanation of the origins of agriculture has been somewhat overlooked, it brings us, in my opinion, to the very doorstep of the real explanation of the birth of production: the non-rational, cultural force of alienation which spread, in the forms of time, language, number and art, to ultimately colonize material and psychic life in agriculture. “Religion” is too narrow a conceptualization of this infection and its growth. Domination is too weighty, too all-encompassing, to have been solely conveyed by the pathology that is religion. However, the cultural values of control and uniformity that are part of religion are certainly part of agriculture, and from the beginning. Noting that strains of corn cross-pollinate very easily, Anderson studied the very primitive agriculturalists of Assam, the Naga tribe, and their variety of corn that exhibited no differences from plant to plant. Ture to culture, showing that it is complete from the beginning of production, the Naga kept their varieties so pure only by a fanatical adherence to ideal type. This exemplifies the marriage of culture and production in domestication, and its inevitable progeny, repression and work. #RandolphHarris 10 of 20
The scrupulous tending of strains of plants finds its parallel in the domesticating of animals, which also defies natural selection and reestablishes the controllable organic World at a debased, artificial level. Like plants, animals are mere things to be manipulated; a cow, for instance, is seen as a kind of machine for converting grass into milk. Transmuted from a state of freedom to that of helpless parasites, these animals become completely dependent on man for survival. In domestic mammals, as a rule, the size of the brain becomes relatively smaller as specimens are produced that devote more energy to growth and less to activity. Placid, infantilized, typified perhaps by the sheep, most domesticated herd animals; the remarkable intelligence of wild sheep is completely lost in their tamed counterparts. The social relationships among domestic animal life cycle are minimized, courtship is curtailed, and the animal’s very capacity to recognize its own species is impaired. Farming also created the potential for rapid environmental destruction and the dominion over nature soon began to turn the green mantle that covered the birthplaces of civilization into barren and lifeless areas. Vast regions have changed their aspect completely, always to the quasi-drier condition, since the beginnings of the Neolithic. Deserts now occupy most of the areas where the high civilizations once flourished, and there is much historical evidence that these early formations inevitably ruined their environments. Throughout the Mediterranean Basin and in the adjoining Near East and Asia, agriculture turned lush and hospital lands into depleted, dry and rocky terrain. The day is coming when less affluent farming and industrial-style agribusiness are both made obsolete, increasingly replaced by a form of “hyper-agriculture” that can ultimately have a far greater long-term impact on global poverty than all the subsidies, tariffs and aid packages combined. #RandolphHarris 11 of 20
A transformed World awaits tomorrow’s rural children. Our task is to being it closer. Emergency aid, debt relief, elimination of rich-World subsidies and other onetime or short-term measures will, no doubt, continue to be needed. However, incremental changes like these can no more lift rural billions out of poverty than Band-Aids can cure a chronic disease. What the World needs to recognize is that the countries whose less affluent form the massive core of global poverty, China and India, by rejecting sequential changes and embracing twin-tack development, are testing the path for the rest of the less affluent World. To understand their significance, we need to look beyond momentary matters such as interest rates, trade relations and finance, as important as these may be. For China and India are doing something at a far deeper level than even their leaders may recognize. They are accelerating change and challenge the slow pace of less affluent life—resetting their relationship to the deep fundamental of time. They are simultaneously shifting the axis of global economic power across the Pacific—a function of the deep fundamental of space. Above all, China understands (India is still learning) the central importance of knowledge to tis economy. It increasingly relies on data, information and knowledge—self-generated, leaked, purchased or pirated and put to work—to transform its economy, altering its relationship to the deep fundamental of knowledge. For millennia, the less affluent have lived in virtual isolation—informationally cut off from the larger World and even, very often, from the nearest village. It took months, sometimes many years, for even the most useful knowledge to reach them. Knowledge that might save a child from illness or death. Knowledge about farming. Knowledge about prices. Knowledge, the denial of which let them fall farther and father behind urban populations in standards of living. #RandolphHarris 12 of 20
That silence is now being broken by technologies that bring them images, ideas and information, giving them the right to adopt or reject them—and shortening the catch-up time needed to eliminate poverty. The strategy broadly sketched in these pages is aimed not merely at transforming rural life but at radically reducing the rising, dangerous pressures placed on cities by tidal waves of peasants fleeing the unbearable—pressures that could explode at any time. By opening minds to new possibilities, today’s changes bring with them a trace of hope. And that may be the most important, most motivating advance of all. Everywhere and every day we are bombarded by endless, repetitive, numbing descriptions of the plight of the World’s less affluent. Pictures of starving babies, even in America these days with the pandemic making it hard for parents to feed themselves and their families. There are also Manifestoes from well-intentioned groups and governments. U.N. resolutions. Behind seemingly positive official rhetoric and NGO calls to help one baby at a time lies a terrible sense of hopelessness. And helplessness. The less affluent do not need outsiders to tell them the costs of poverty. And if the outside World wants to help, it needs to replace failing strategies, speed the development of revolutionary new tools and replace morbid pessimism with a culture of hope. As industrialism rolled across parts of the Earth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it changed the entire distribution of wealth and well-being on the planet. Revolutionary wealth, as we will see tomorrow, is about to do that once again. In ways that will astound us. In Critias, Plato described Attica as “a skeleton wasted by disease,” referring to the deforestation of Greece and contrasting it to its earlier richness. Grazing by goats and sheep, the first domesticated ruminants, was a major factor in the denuding of Greece, Lebanon, and North Africa, and the desertification of the Roman and Mesopotamian empires. #RandolphHarris 13 of 20
There can be no contemplation where there is nothing to see. Goethe took full account of the modern situation of knower and poet and put a question mark after learning that is not subordinate to the ends of life enhancement. In antiquity there had also been mere scholars, studying Homer and Plato without knowing quite why, and without being interested in the questions the writers raised, fascinated by meters of the reliability of texts. However, the objection to these scholars was that they lacked the urgent desire to know the most important things, whereas the modern objection to scholarship is that it lacks the urgency of commitment to action. Most simply, the historian—the very model of the modern scholar—chronicles deeds. However, if deeds are the most important thing, then the scholar is by definition inferior to the doer. Moreover, such a reasoner is incapable of the leap into darkness that the deed demands. Finally, if the doer is not a thinker, then it is doubtful whether the thinker can understand the doer. Does one not have to be akin to Caesar to understand him? To say that one does not have to be Caesar to understand him is equivalent to saying that one does not have to be anything to understand everything. The hidden premise of the realm of freedom is that action has primacy over thought. As Goethe saw, the modern scholarly giant has feet of clay. It is also blind because it is lacking objects of cognition—as do all sciences—where there is only darkness. The problem of scholarship is best illustrated in classical scholarship. The study of ancient Greece and Rome used to be the scholarly discipline par excellence, at times igniting brightly and illuminating the World, at others flickering and almost being extinguished. #RandolphHarris 14 of 20
The study of the ancients has followed the ebb and flow of philosophic innovation in the West. Moments of great transformation have started with refreshment at the Greek source, its inspiration slaking a burning thirst. An overwhelming sense that something is missing is the serious motive for authentic, therefore careful and exhaustive, recovery of what has been lost. Greece provides the assurance that there was something better than what is. When the old treasures have been digested and the innovators are satisfied that they can walk on their own, the ancient seems less necessary and degenerate into habitual learning, a monument rather than a guiding light. The intoxicating atmosphere of the Renaissance, the rebirth of Greece, always possible because of its universality and the permanence of human nature, culminated in a specifically modern thought—beginning from Machiavelli’s careful study and criticism of both Greeks and Romans—which could proudly asset its superiority to its ancient inspirers, winning the quarrel between the ancient and the modern. The newest church to emerge on the Satanic scene, not surprisingly, also owes its inspiration to Anton LaVey. Founded on January 8, 1986, in New Haven, Connecticut (where Sarah and William Winchester were from) by Paul Douglas Valentine, a thirty-one-year-old English teacher, the Church of Satanic Liberation claims over one thousand dues-paying members Worldwide. Most are recruited through magazine ads and though Harold Slater’s Magickal Childe occult shop in New York City. According to Valentine, the majority of the membership is female and well educated, many from upper-middle-class to upper-class backgrounds. The New Haven headquarters is the only chapter where rituals are held, but Valentine intends to expand the operations soon to accommodate the widespread membership. (States with the highest concentrations are California, New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.) #RandolphHarris 15 of 20
Before starting the Church of Satanic Liberation, Valentine who holds a B.S. in primate paleontology as well as an M.A. in English, was involved in the occult for fifteen years, primarily in various aspects of wicca. His epiphany came when he picked up a copy of The Satanic Bible and realized “Satanism is a viable religion quite unlike what the moves and the Christers made it out to be.” I actually think a lot of Christians worship Satan in secret. However, because the nation is Christian, they pontificate about Christianity and even follow Christian traditions and go to Christian churches, but on their free time, they worship Satan. And these are not the bad Christian in the church who act evil. These may just be the ones with open minds. To see Jesus Christ with the cross, that is to say: Jesus Christ, through his love, and by his seven wounds and through his death on the cross, for his love’s sake, has overcome the kingdoms of this World, and thus took again from the old serpent, the devil the seal-ring of human omnipotence, or the happiness of man to all the eternal eternities, in order to fulfill the old covenant in the new covenant, for the eternal glorification of the eternal Father in the eternal Son, through the eternal Spirit. Now, one of the most powerful technologies now in use is statistics. Statistics makes possible new perceptions and realities by making visible large-scale patterns. It uses in science are to well know to warrant notice here, except to remark that if, as the physicists tells us, the World is made up of probabilities at the level of subatomic particles, then statistics is the only means by which to describe its operations. Indeed, the uncertainty principle ensures that in the nature of things physics is unable to do more than make statistical predictions. #RandolphHarris 16 of 20
Of course, it is possible that physicists conceive of the World as probabilistic because statistics was invented. However, that is not the question I wish to pursue here. A more practical question is, To what extent has statistics been allowed entry to places where it does not belong? Technopoly, by definition, grants free rein to any technology, and we would expect that no limits have been placed on the use of statistics. We would expect correctly. We are going to focus on an exploration of the possible. Scenario: Desert Rose Industries: Desert Rose Industries is a diversified wholesale manufacturer of enough furniture, computers, toys, and recreation equipment to have made any twentieth-century captain of industry proud. However, if you assembled all Desert Rose employees in front of corporate headquarters, you would see Carl and Maria Santos standing beside a building the size of a four-bedroom house. This industrial giant is a typical mom-and-pop business, helped along by a network of telecommuters who handle sales and customer support from homes scattered across North America. Their friends chide Carl and Maris as “old-fashioned traditionalists” and test Maria about abandoning Carl in the factory while she travels to Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa for new business. In the molecular-manufacturing business, familiar personal skills and virtues—honesty, accuracy, good communication—are as important as before. Maria likes to work with the customers. Aided by her S.B. in molecular manufacturing from MIT and her MFA in design, she patiently helps nervous new designers through their first manufacturing experience, and with unflagging courtesy and good humor, handles rush orders, last-second changes, and special orders. Maria’s good design ideas and caring personality won them a reputation for being responsive to customer needs. Carl, precise and careful, built their name for accurate manufacturing and delivery on schedule. #RandolphHarris 17 of 20
Except for Carl’s habit of playing Gershwin at full volume with the windows open, the only sounds at the Desert Rose site are the birds along the banks of the stream that winds across the canyon floor; no clanking machinery here. Maria’s parents built Desert Rose Industries out here on an old smelter many miles away from human neighbors. They regarded the land and cleared up the wastes. Maria adapted a molecular processor to covert heavy-metal contaminants back into stable minerals, and shipped them off to help refill the hole they had originally come from, an old open-pit mine. The desert has mostly healed now, and a few tough trees are spreading along the stream again. New customers coming up the road for a firsthand look at the manufacturing operations get the full tour: a lunch/meeting room, Maria’s office, the manufacturing plant, and the warehouse space for parts and products out back. “The plant” is the largest room, and Carl’s pride. Twelve manufacturing ponds and their cooling systems—vats ranging in size from kitchen sink to small swimming pool—are where Desert Rose uses nanocomputers and assemblers to do their building work. A plumbers’ nightmare of piping runs between the ponds and a triple row of containers with labels like CARDON FEEDSTOCK, PREPARED PLANTINUM, SIZE-4 STRUCTURAL FIBERS, AND PREFAB MOTORS. Carl keeps a good stock of parts and raw materials on hand, with more in the underground warehouse. Sure, some rare things almost never get used, but having them read to go is one of Carl’s secrets for delivering on time and building precisely to specification. Over on a table are Carl’s music system and the computers—descendant of the IBM PCs and Macintoshes of the 1980s—that are used to run the manufacturing process. In a space the size of a large living room, Carl and Maria have all raw materials and all the production equipment—nanocomputers and assemblers—they need for building almost anything. #RandolphHarris 18 of 20
Occasionally, Carl and Maria need the services of specialized tools, such as disassemblers, that might exist only in labs. A disassembler works like an archeologist, painstakingly excavating the structure of a molecule, removing atom from atom, in order to record and analyze the molecular structure. Because they work so slowly, noting the position of each molecule, disassemblers are not used for recycling operations—it would be expensive and pointless to record all this unwanted data. However, as tools for analyzing the unknown, they are hard to beat. Maria found this out when a customer sent her an order for tropically scented furniture and fixtures for his restaurant, but instead of including the software instructions for building the perfume, Maria found a plastic bag full of resinous brown gook with a note saying, “I got this stuff in the tropics. Please make the fabric smell like this.” Maria (after sniffing the gook and deciding it smelled surprisingly tropically good) shipped the sample to the lab for chemical analysis by disassembler. The lab sent back software with the molecular description and instructions for building the same scent int the furniture. Carl usually schedules production very tightly: in every tank, assemblers are building products; every computer is directing work. However, this morning, listening to the tone of Maria’s voice wafting in from the front office, Carl changes his plans: something important is about to happen. He postpones building orders for video wallpaper and commemorative diamond baseballs, and holds three pools and a computer ready. Minutes later, Maria hurries in, her voice tight and anxious. “Carl, that earthquake down south—they need help. Amanda from the Red Cross is sending the software right now.” #RandolphHarris 19 of 20
To build a product, Desert Rose needs design instructions—computer software—for the assemblers. Carl and Maria have their own software library, but usually they buy or rent what they need, or the customers send their own designs. The software that Amanda sends contains the specification to manufacture the emergency equipment: a set of instructions to be run on a standard desktop computer. Within minutes, two copies of the Red Cross software arrived electronically. Before starting the build, Carl meticulously checks to make sure that the master copy and backup copy agree and were not damaged in transit. If the instructions are complete and correct and properly signed with Red Cross data stamp, then the desktop computer will communicate these building instructions directly to millions of small computers acting as on-the-job foremen directing the work: nanocomputers. When computers first arrived in corporate offices about five decades ago, the press was filled with speculation about the coming of the “giant brain.” This electronic mega-brain would contain all the information needed to manage a firm. (This first-phase fantasy of a total, all-inclusive data bank and decision system led, in the Society Union, to an even more extended version. There, it was thought, a few giant electronic brains controlled by Gosplan, the state panning agency, would direct not a single enterprise but the entire national economy.) Order would once and for all replace information disorder or chaos. No more sloppiness. No more bursting file cases. No more lost memos. No more uncertainty. Such megalomanic fantasies vastly underestimated the increased diversity and complexity in a super-symbolic economy. They arrogantly underrated the role of chance, intuition, and creativity in business. Most important, they also assumed that the people on top of a business knew enough to specify what information was, or was not, needed by the people working below them in the hierarchy. They were not ready for how massive, convenient and how much wealth could be created by the Data Priesthood. #RandolphHarris 20 of 20
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