Weblog - Soft solutions for hard problems

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Capitalism and democracy will need to adapt to the realities of the new age. It is clear that the problems we face are hard and cannot be solved by the old hard solutions that might have been effective in the past. New, soft solutions are needed. The coming century is a century of soft things.
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Sunday, March 8, 2009

No progress is made in any enterprise unless there is a "seeker" who finds the offering of a "seller" to meet or exceed their immediate needs.

Friday, March 16, 2007 - from Balint Szent-Miklosy [KeyToNYC@aol.com]:

Every problem is hard if we don't see the solution, but every problem has a solution. In fact, there are infinite possibilities opened up by every problem. What makes solving problems hard is the lock-step approach we follow staying in the rut that leads to supporting the existing order of things, or the social power structure attached to the way we do things.

The opinion makers posit the problem "cut back dependence on the Middle East". However the more oil we buy from the Middle East gives them more money to buy high-tech industries and services from us thereby keeping the machinery humming. So the opinion makers "push" the solution of Ethanol derived from corn as "the" solution, even though it takes more oil to make more fertilizer to grow more corn and turn it into ethanol than if we just used the oil to begin with. So the public is led by the nose to support the established order of things and feel good about it.

However there are many solutions to reducing energy use that do not see the light of day because they do not fall into line of supporting the established order. Ninety percent of the energy used for transportation is needed to fight gravity and friction. Yet there are solutions for neutralizing gravity and minimize friction letting us have all the transportation we want using only 10% of the present energy use.

I filed for patent protection for Neutrax, a system that breaks out of the pattern of packing more and more into larger and larger containers needing bigger and bigger transport systems. Battelle dubbed it "viable new technology" and RIA called it "Fascinating," but outside of that I can't seem to find people who are interested. For that matter, out of thousands of people who have read about it on the Internet, I can't even get one to say "It's stupid." Absolutely no response.

The concept is simple:

    Instead of going for larger and larger package size, I went to the smallest usable package size that would take the majority of what we ship nationwide i.e. below one pound. I pack the item into a Helium or Hydrogen filled container to neutralize the weight with a slightly greater lift than needed. The package is now weightless and rising against an inverted trough (network of guideways) where these floating packages are connected end to end to eliminate the need for air displacement. The weightless package has a metalized top that can interact with electromagnetic propulsion in the guideway. RFID or barcode on each package will guide them to their destination. Since the packages are weightless, hardly any energy is needed to move them and the system can be loaded and unloaded at full speed which should be able to move at hundreds of miles an hour.

    Eventually, massive amount of parts, medicine or food etc. could be floating in the system improving on the Just in Time delivery of goods, saving on warehousing, but always delivering in the nick of time. Eventually the system could be upsized to deliver larger packages and even used a personal rapid transit going from city center to city center in record time.

I'll appreciate feedback.

Balint Szent-Miklosy
email: KeyToNYC@aol.com
Tel: 1/212/297-0502

Monday, June 23, 2003 - Aleksandar Sarovic [aleksandar@sympatico.ca] responds:

My book precisely describes the future of mankind that will make Paradise on Earth and where almost nothing will be the same. Without reading my book it is really hard to understand what the system is about. You may visit the discussion group at my web site, or send me an email directly.

Click to visit:www.sarovic.com

Friday, June 20, 2003 - Aleksandar Sarovic [aleksandar@sympatico.ca] responds to the weblog (below):

I have been modest for over two years and almost nobody has read my articles. A little provocation seems to attract attention. I find the negation of my system interesting; it seems that you did not understand.

My representative democracy will be the same as any other in the world. I hope that some day that a political party somewhere will propose my system, and that it will be elected. That will be beginning of real changes in the world. Nothing will be the same as today. All the main decisions in parliaments will have to be made by the consensus of elected parties. Hate groups will not be possible, because every individual will be able to evaluate each hate monger negatively, and that will cost him (for example) some money.

Marx did not define communism in more than one sentence: "From everyone according his ability to everyone according his needs." That is all. In my system, managers as well as workers will be shareholders and for that reason they will be responsible in the production process. The work competition I proposed will allow each worker to get any job he wishes with the condition that he needs to propose the best productivity for the needed work. That kind of production capitalism will not be matched.

The people whose satisfaction comes from destruction will not be able to satisfy their needs, because they will alienate others. They will get bad evaluations from others, which will cost them dearly, so that they will not behave improperly.

I did take into account greed, which is well explained in my book, available free of charge at my website.

Can you better explain your guarantee that my system will not work?

Friday, June 20, 2003 - regarding the previous post "My article will change the world one day":

Nothing like a little modesty. I managed to finally get through your world changing document, and see absolutely no way that it could work in practice. A few points:

Your "new democracy": How does this parliament get elected? Who decides which groups are represented? Do various hate groups get represented? If so, then they are receiving equal representation as demographics such as "red cross workers". If not, then who defines whether they are a hate group? Can anyone start a political party and get a representative into this parliament? What if I started a party whose goal was to eliminate peaceful trade with Canada (as an example only, I *like* Canada), and got a buddy to start a party desiring the annexation of all of north america, and another started a "war on Canada" party? Now we have triplpe representation. I hope that these questions can show the gaping holes in your utopian government system. Your government would either breakdown into total anarchy, corporate ownership by those able to generate these "political parties", or absolutely no protection for minority groups whatsoever.

Quote: "The new centralized economic system will be guided by a hierarchical decision-making system base on a such strong responsibilities of all leaders that they will have to establish a high level of consensus at all levels before making decisions."

This is almost a dictionary definition of Marxist communism. You state that this will easily accomplish stability and full employment. I counter that it will create a paralyzed beauracracy full of power grabbing politicians.

Your overly simplified economic model does not take into account any market variances, job shortages, etc. I am sorry, but as it is written, the article has very little to do with reality, current, or even a possible reality.

Finally, quote: "This is the chief prerequisite for overcoming the destructiveness in the society because the people who permanently satisfy their needs are not destructive"

What of those people who's satisfaction comes from destruction? What if there is a persuasive enough person, that they can convince an entire nation (or at least a majority) that a certain race of people is repsonsible for their unhappiness, and that the elimination of these people, for example via forced work and execution camps, will lead to even greater happiness and prosperity? There is no method to counter-act this in your proposal.

You seem to overlook the two greatest motivators in humanity: Laziness and Greed. Until you can directly address these two issues, your proposal will remain an unpublished utopia.

All in all, a somewhat interesting read, but I guarantee that this piece will never "change the world".

Monday, May 26, 2003 - Aleksandar Sarovic [aleksandar@sympatico.ca] wrote:

Ignorance is made on purpose. True democracy does not really exist anywhere. Everyone talks about the reform of government and capitalism but they do not change at all. Guess why?

Powerful capitalists PRETEND that they are looking for good solutions for mankind, mostly because everyone sees the things that are wrong. One tycoon, George Soros, even wrote books that strongly criticize capitalism; but in reality he is one of the most cruel exploiters of the world. The point is: you are welcome to criticize capitalism, but if you try to find a good solution for the things that are wrong, you will be stopped everywhere.

My article (see link below) will change the world one day for sure, but it seems that is not appropriate to be published anywhere. Guess why?

Click to read Aleksandar Sarovic's Humanism in Brief

Thursday, January 16, 2003

I read your webpage article about soft solutions to hard problems. I agree with your points, but I don't see the political will to change our ways. Lets face it, America runs the show, and Americans have no desire or need to cut their gas usage, or be more sympathetic to the world's poor. And nothing is going to change until it is literally forced on us. That is just human nature.

At work there is a listserv with our company's engineers on it, and sometimes discussions pop up between liberals and conservatives on the list. It is interesting to read what the conservatives say in response to things like better welfare or socialized medicine (and how unwilling they are to learn from others who disagree with them). Some points they make are "If your health problem is not my doing, why should I have to pay higher taxes just to make sure you have health insurance" or "If you're being poor isn't my doing, then why should I have to pay taxes to provide you welfare". The conservatives seem to have the idea that if someone isn't working it is because they are lazy and there are no exceptions. Or they believe one should rely on family, friends, and church to help out in times of need (without realizing that not all family or friends are willing to sacrifice to help their family/friends). Another point I see brought up alot is that taxes are believed to be forcing you to give up your hard-earned money that you should have exclusive right to. They say things like "fire protection shouldn't be a public utility, one should have the option of buying fire protection from a private fire protection service, and if you can't afford that, tough". And many conservatives post that we should scrap the public education system, and say things like you shouldn't have kids you can't afford to educate. And this mentality seems to be growing in the U.S. (which, lets face it, runs the world, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future). It seems that more and more states are having to cut services because people don't want higher taxes. I wouldn't be surprised to see the day when America no longer has public schools, social security and Medicaid, and other social services.

And with the climate changing rapidly due to global warming, it is going to be harder and harder for poor people (and the rest of us, possibly) to feed ourselves, but I don't see any political will to do anything about global warming in the U.S. (and, after all, we're the ones who call the shots in this world).

So your article was very idealistic, but not realistic. Let's face it, things will get much, much worse before they get better.

On Thursday, January 16, 2003 - Julie Rapp [julier999@hotmail.com] wrote :

Your 100 person village rang an urban legend bell with me, so I looked it up at snopes.com, my favorite urban legend checker (highly recommended!)

Here's some info around that particular story:
Click on weblink: http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/populate.htm

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Mr.Jim Pinto,

I would like to say that you are a real futurist. Why? Because you view the world in a such a way that motivate others to think in the benefits of the whole. And your "soft solution" is the message of all Prophets and the remarkable figures in the history.

Many thanks to you,

Hassan M.Ahmad AL-Kandari
Kuwait Oil Company, Kuwait
email : HMAHMAD@kockw.com

Sunday, October 06, 2002

A comment on your "soft solutions". In this time of "A Beautiful Mind", it's worth doing a game theory evaluation of the soft solutions. The problem is simply stated: If party A and Party B reject violence, then the overall return to society (Party A's return plus Party B's return) is maximized. However, if one rejects violence and the other does not, the one that does not may win a higher return than the first case, although the sum of the returns will be diminished. If that's true, a "first strike" or "first mover" advantage exists and all of the good-intentioned hopes in the world will not prevent the violence. This is the classic Prisoners' Dilemma.

This case is only resolved when the returns ***for both*** for rejecting the premise are less than the returns to accepting it. One such resolution was the old "mutually assured destruction" of the Cold War, where the returns to rejecting violence were certain to be lower than the returns for peace. Another is the current "cold peace" between Egypt and Israel... held in place by massive US foreign aid TO BOTH. (Egypt ranks behind only Israel is US foreign aid.)

What most utopians fail to understand is that all parties to the game must PERCEIVE that their return for cooperation is higher than their return from attacking. Therefore, many of the utopian solutions fail in the real world where that assumption is simply not true. Thus, unfortunately, a third solution to the game must be the occasional subjugation... even humiliation... of tyrants or would-be tyrants. Appeasement of Hitler only led him to perceive that there was more to gain by breaking the rules, as it has for every tyrant throughout history. There must be a carrot AND a stick because no matter how civil and fair global society becomes, there will always be those who perceive advantage in the uncivil and unfair.

Click See this article - NY Times: Smoking or Non-smoking?

The "smokers" must be subjugated since their view of the "game" is, quite simply, that they can win by attacking the "nonsmokers". Until we've eliminated or isolated all of the smokers, the stick will have to remain. It is naive and unrealistic to think otherwise.

On Sunday, August 11 2002, Sri Sridharan [infinisri@prodigy.net] wrote:

The new topic of focus for me is "trust". Trust at different scales: interpersonal, organizational, inter-organizational, societal and across nations. The starting point is "self-trust" which to me appears concomitant with "trust in the Universe".

Click Trustnet: http://pages.prodigy.net/trustnet

Trust is engendered and promoted when enlightened self-interest rules. Enlightened is not "soft", but hard-nosed willingness to take into account the interest of others we impact and to guide our actions that benefit others and ourselves at once. This demands both creativity and openness of an extraordinary degree.

Organizations now focus on innovation and creativity. A focus on trust would take us farther into the new century in a sane, ethical and service-oriented mode without sacrificing our own beliefs or self-interst.

On Friday, August 02, 2002 - Jake Brodsky [frussle@erols.com] sent in these interesting and insightful comments:

With nearly a year's perspective on the events last September 11, many, including me, have begun to realize that Al Qaida is no more than a wild cult of personality run amok. Think of them as a successful Aum Shinrikeo and you'd have a pretty good picture of this line of thought.

It's nothing new. Such cults have brought us Alexander The Great (so called), The Mongol Hordes, The Crusades, The Third Reich, and so forth. All of them eventually fell apart after doing terrible damage and destruction. The difference is that until recently, timely news and opinion was scarce and easy to control. People believed almost anything that came from authority because there was no way to dispute the leaders.

But no more. The big difference is not just democracy and freedom of expression, it's about control of media: There isn't any! And I call that a good thing. The First Amendment of the US Constitution isn't so much a right these days as it is an acknowledgement of a fact of life.

Is it confusing? Sure. Is it counterproductive? Sure. But it forces people to think. It makes people less trustful and it makes people question their leaders more carefully. Sleazy behavior doesn't stay secret for long. And where once you could travel from town to town to escape your bad reputation, today it follows you wherever you go.

Yes, there will always be those who want to simplify their lives by following some cult leader. However, those who do will remain at the edge of the bell curve of society --and they'll never amount to enough to do irreparable damage to anyone's society. Charismatic Leaders will have to answer to the unrelenting glare of near instantaneously distributed information. You can't spin a story after it has been reported. It looks quite disingenuous.

Note that Osama Bin Ladin had to recruit and organize from the most backward and remote country in the world: Afghanistan, ruled by the Taliban. He would not have gone nearly as far had he tried this stunt anywhere else.

That's why so many would be dictators and cult leaders get detected and caught before they can form the destructive storms of war from generations past. And as information starts flowing from the Internet, from Satellite broadcasts which can't be easily jammed, and from world wide telephone systems, people will eventually find ways of getting better, more timely, more direct, and more self consistent information to the world.

But we're still learning. We are just now developing ways to wade through these masses of data and opinion and sort them in to a coherent picture. It's sort of like foreign intelligence for the common folk.

That is what this new century will bring. It will be the downfall of all would-be egomaniac leaders. Our old leaders sought to lead by rule of law. Technology and information are now making a mockery of such paradigms. Those who really understand what's going on from the people on the ground know more than those rule of law leaders will ever understand.

You can't legislate from ignorance. Beyond articulating a standard of behavior for a society, it becomes impractical. Rule of law will get them but so far. Once the laws stop making any sense, people will simply ignore them. The widespread techie rants against the ECPA, DMCA, UCTIA, and many other such technically illiterate and innumerate legislation prove that making laws and regulations has a limit of sanity. Our new leaders will be the information gatherers who find trends and articulate them for others to follow.

Those new leaders will be known as Journalists.

Welcome to the Brave New World!

University of San Diego Professor Dennis Zocco [dzocco1@san.rr.com] commented :

"I believe your emerging philosophical (and pragmatic) body of thought is a counterpoint (not a complete refutation) of Ayn Rand's Philosophy of Objectivism (which includes "The Virtue of Selfishness"). Her ideas had their place in the 20th century, and resulted in the advance of capitalism and the exposure of communism as a non-viable economic system. But with the close of the previous millennium, they were taken to their extreme and resulted in the resentment of American values in many places in the world as well as economic excesses followed by dramatic failures.

"There is no better time than the beginning of our new millennium for new thinking - a Philosophy of Shared Values, or something of that sort, to serve as a contrast to Rand's Philosophy of Objectivism. A new soft technology of thinking and reasoning."

Canadian Jerry Van Ee [jvanee@ppco.com] wrote:

"In your latest email musings you are brushing up against subjects which are much bigger than events of September 11, 2001, or the US economy, or capitalism in general. Frankly, much of the world is in a condition where most of the citizens do not have the basic essentials of life such as a steady supply of food or decent shelter.

"I don't think much of the world cares to find out about American "freedoms and the warmth of its culture". They want to have a decent place to live and be able to put food on the table everyday. These are two things to which most North Americans never have to give a second thought. I am not saying that Americans caused the situation and I do not know if they have an obligation to try to fix it."

Bob Peterson [PETERSONRA@aol.com] commented on some of the "soft solutions" suggested:

"The problem is not about rich versus poor. The disparity is just a symptom of what's really wrong. Governments continue to increase their own power, while reducing liberty and freedom for all of us. Isn't it obvious by now that the cause of most of the poverty in this world is government? We do not need government wealth redistribution programs. We need less government.

"The US has fed much of the third world for many years. It has done little to alleviate their situation. More resources down that rat hole will not help anyone. It is time to realize that the ONLY thing that helps people long term is more liberty. And that requires less government.

"Central planning has failed everywhere it has been tried. Economic democracy, communism, socialism, fascism, or whatever name you want to give it is not the answer. History has shown time and again that government has failed massively at bringing about economic prosperity. Leave people to their own devices, protect them from external and internal violence, and they will prosper on their own, beyond belief."

From JimPinto.com eNews - Dec. 20 2001

Consider this - if the world was a village of 100 people:
  • 1 person would have college education
  • Of the 67 adults in the village 37 people would be illiterate
  • About one-third has access to clean, safe drinking water
  • 15 people would live in adequate housing
  • The other 85 people would live in huts and be hungry most of the time
  • 6 people would control half the wealth, 3 of the 6 would be Americans
  • Only 7 people would own an automobile (some would own more than one).
The majority of the people on this planet have always been poor. But, the situation now is different for 3 basic reasons:
  1. The numbers of poor are increasing exponentially - overloading the carrying capacity of underlying social support systems;
  2. The poor now have TV access - to view how the wealthy live;
  3. The poor have access to weapons that can produce large-scale destruction.
Anyone who contemplates the future should be concerned about the fundamental trends. These trends are rapidly growing in significance and colliding during the next decade in a way that will very likely make the world a very difficult place to live. Further, it seems that there is no significant way to resolve these problems before they become much bigger and resolution becomes much harder, if not impossible.

What we need is a new way to think. The words 'war' and 'crusade' are harmful: 'crusade' reinforces the idea that this is a religious conflict, which it is not; a 'war' is supposed to be won or lost, not just endlessly stalemated. We will have to find effective ways to combine hard power (military might) with soft power (persuasiveness and coalition-building) to be successful in this new kind of struggle.

Click Read "A Strategy for the future of humanity":

Click Forecasts from the Nov-Dec. 2001 issue of The Futurist

From JimPinto.com eNews - Nov. 25, 2001

My theme brought a big flurry of comments, suggestions, ideas, and opinions. The irrepressible Jake Brodsky bounced back with a million ideas.

It is Ignorance that exacerbates the gap between rich and poor. This follows from our previous thesis: "Stupidity is more destructive than Malevolence". Ignorance is just like stupidity in that they both have low traffic flows. The difference is that an Ignoramus may have the capacity for higher traffic, whereas the Stupid does not.

We need to evangelize our principles. We need to educate the world. We need to use all tools at our disposal including propaganda, advertising, broadcasting, networking and so forth...

Democracy only works in an educated society. We ought to engage and evangelize, not withdraw support. Again, Malevolence is less destructive when a society is no longer ignorant.

Centralization is highly vulnerable. Not Science. Redundancy and parallelism will solve that problem by not exposing single points of vulnerability.

Capitalism is but one support of a society. Morality, Religion, Freedom and Education are additional supports. Saying that just capitalism doesn't solve the problem is accurate, but incomplete.

We must encourage entrepreneurship at smaller and smaller levels. Cheap communications with free movement of information are key things here. The easier it is to find out who is doing what, the easier it will be to make this happen.

From JimPinto.com eNews - Nov. 14, 2001

I started digging into the "Stupidity is more destructive than Malevolence" theme, and got a lot of feedback - stupidity being lack of "bandwidth" etc. - thanks!

Now I've been catapulted into a new and significantly more important issue, initiated in my last eNews (6 Nov. '01) that has already captured my psyche and passion - "soft solutions for hard problems". The feedback I have already received is overwhelmingly positive, and motivates me to continue pursuing the subject.

More than anything else, September 11, 2001 represents a benchmark, a transition to a new century where old solutions are no longer applicable. New, hard problems have arisen, which defy the hard technology solutions of the past. To a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Our streamlined F-16s and B-52s look like hammers, trying to hit mosquitoes.

Indeed, the low-tech box cutters served to demonstrate the exposed vulnerabilities of an open democracy. The malevolence is elusive because it is not visible. The subsequent widespread cutbacks and the efforts to provide relief through government aid, demonstrate the fragility and inadequacy of capitalistic enterprise with a short-term profit motive.

Please do NOT mistake my rhetoric as an argument against capitalism or democracy - I am a staunch and an ardent believer in both. Here I am simply seeking solutions to the hard problems that have been exposed. My purpose is to point out that both capitalism and democracy will need to adapt to the realities of the new age. It is clear that the problems we face are hard and cannot be solved by the old hard solutions that might have been effective in the past. New, soft solutions are needed.

Here are some of the new century's hard problems, with possible soft solutions:

  • The global village exacerbates the gap between rich and poor; vast populations view our excesses while they subsist. Letís educate the less fortunate so that, rather than see the seedy side, they are exposed to the freedoms and warmth of our culture.
  • We espouse democracy - but, if the world was truly democratic (beyond artificial boundaries) things would be very different. Supporting democracy in some developing countries has been called "too messy" - so, under the guise of non-interference, we prop up and placate dictatorships. To be true to our democratic principles we should withdraw our support for non-democratic governments.
  • Science-based society is highly vulnerable to destruction by high-concept-low-tech terrorism with opposing values. Beyond just guarding against terrorism, letís work to correct the causes.
  • Capitalism is still the best way to make money, but does not generate value beyond self-enrichment for a few, with trickle-down benefits for the rest. Capitalism cannot succeed through ME-ism - we must find more ways to foster US-ism.
  • Corporations crumble easily under even short-term stress. Employee-ownership has already broadened participation in the fruits of success. Let us find more ways to encourage longer-term perspectives on a broader front.
Your inputs, ideas, feedback, commentary, suggestions and encouragement will be much appreciated!

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