Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dynamic Maximum Tension - A Fullerine Economy?

But we don't need to go as far as all that yet!

Stopping short of imagining these Juristic Entities taking on autonomous lives, there are interesting things to think about how they could be better used in the lives of more people today. Right now, the very wealthy already take advantage of versions of these kinds of constructions. Trusts, Investment portfolios, Corporations and LLCs are today designed to arrange the wealth of individuals in self-sustaining, self-growing systems. Right now, these systems require a good deal of expert human intervention. Boards of Directors, Trustees, Lawyers, Fund Managers, etc. All of these individuals divert wealth from the entity, but also, their necessary participation generally puts these kinds of entities out of the scope of imagination for the less-than-wealthy.

But it doesn't have to be so. I think that today, much of the expertise exercised by these various managers can be reasonably modeled in software. I think even today you could set up a legal entity, run largely by software, to manage a body of capital on behalf of an individual that could grow that capital into real wealth without losing so much to management or setting a high initial bar to entry. You could sell it in a box, so that anyone with a computer and an internet connection could nurture their personal financial being this way.

This more egalitarian concept of software based self-sustaining wealth-creating juristic persons (note to self - think of a better name!) is somewhat Fullerine.

This picture of a Tensegrity Sphere linked to from Michael Hohl's Flickr photostream, he owns the picture; made available under a creative commons license, some rights reserved.

Buckminster Fuller developed an organizing principle around most of his architectural theory, that involved applying the discipline of mass-production to make inexpensive dwellings that were both better suited to their purpose as machines that facilitate your daily life, and more easily deployed than traditional houses. He favored air-shipment of complete, pre-built structures from their factory to the actual land they would stand on. Something that would be livable the very day it was delivered. As air-transportation put a premium on weight, he turned to modern steel and alloys and lightweight tension based construction as opposed to wood and concrete and the traditional compression based construction style of things stacked on top of other things. He came to view traditional house-building, the kind that still predominates, as a horribly outdated and inefficient process;

The small house, Fuller claimed, Had received none of the benefits of economic pressure that had influenced the design of the airplane and the radio. The housing industry was an absurd throwback to the pre-industrial world.

Michael John Gorman - Buckminster Fuller: Designing for Mobility

What I'm suggesting is that wealth generating economic entities, our present day small businesses, corporations, trust and investment funds, loan agencies and other combinations of legal and functional design that essentially eat raw materials and/or information and excrete wealth, might evolve given similar design pressures.

Fuller had an advertising writer (the guy who coined the word "radio") work with him to express his central principals in a single word, and the word they invented was "Dymaxion (TM)", a contraction formed from the words "Dynamic", "Maximum" and "Tension". As I understand it, the principals it tries to describe are those of flexible sufficiency - breaking with tradition to look anew at the purpose to be achieved, and then designing to that purpose with an eye to maximising flexibility and economy. A kind of "do more with less" attitude. A re-arranging of materials to tease greater utility out of less substance.

In my mind, Dynamic Maximum Tension when applied to Wealth Creation points in the direction of designing "corporations" to require the fewest humans possible to produce a sufficient surplus wealth to provide for the needs and comforts of its employees/caretakers, as well as contribute a degree of excess wealth to the larger economic system. It would be to build little "Wealth Creation Machines", whose moving parts are software and legal frameworks around some service or resource for the benefit of both specific individuals and the larger economy. Every individual person should be able to have a personal Juristic Assistant keeping an eye on their personal wealth, making sure it keeps on growing.

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