Monday, January 13, 2014

Power To The People

In the early years of the 20th century, two ideological geniuses pondered over the fate of humanity.  One of these men was Nikola Tesla, whose stated aim was to bring prosperity and peace to the world through technologies which create harmony between peoples.  In his 1919 Autobiography "My Inventions", he states:

" Considerations of mere utility weigh little in the balance against the higher benefits of civilization. We are confronted with portentous problems which can not be solved just by providing for our material existence, however abundantly. On the contrary, progress in this direction is fraught with hazards and perils not less menacing than those born from want and suffering."

Tesla clearly understood the potential of technology to liberate humanity as well as to oppress it.  He continues:

"If we were to release the energy of atoms or discover some other way of developing cheap and unlimited power at any point of the globe this accomplishment, instead of being a blessing, might bring disaster to mankind in giving rise to dissension and anarchy which would ultimately result in the enthronement of the hated regime of force"

Realizing this quotes is written before the flourishing of the automobile and long before the splitting of the atom evokes one to wonder if we are now firmly embedded in the so called "regime of force".  An examination of modern corporate imperialism would seem to verify those thoughts.

Now we move to the other individual, who is as you may know Thomas Edison, inventor of thousands of modern wonders like the light bulb.  His legacy is one of rigorous hard work and absolute capitalization of inventions.  His laboratory was like a factory, it is even considered to be the first industrial laboratory.  He is well known for racing each new invention to the patent office to ensure financial monopoly over his creations.

"Anything that won't sell, I don't want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success."

This quote reveals a man focused upon personal success, but who also carried a romantic vision of the future of technology:

"There will one day spring from the brain of science a machine or force so fearful in its potentialities, so absolutely terrifying, that even man, the fighter, who will dare torture and death in order to inflict torture and death, will be appalled, and so abandon war forever."

The atomic bomb is the obvious candidate for such a machine, and it seems evident that the only reason the United States and the Soviet Union never came directly to war is that both sides were just to afraid of the atomic bomb.

However, Tesla's prediction about the "regime of force" also holds, because with the passing of all out war between super powers, comes the specter of regional war.  The manifestation of the regime of force is a subtle one, for it transcends national boundary, it is now present in the global corporate military industrial complex, loyal to no nation, only to the profit margin.

The regime of force takes what it needs, because it exists in a state of perpetual consumption, and so requires military force as an inherent backbone of its existence.  The system requires certain resources, and if a nation or people refuse to trade those resources, the system must steal them because to do otherwise would mean the end of the regime.

The regime of force is also destroying the environment, from nuclear accidents to the Canadian tar sands project, no individual within these industries can stop the runaway train of destruction.  The inherent existence of these industries themselves are the cause.

However, outside of these places, many things are happening that threaten the regime, one of these is the solar power revolution.  What makes solar so different from nuclear or fossil fuels is its decentralized aspect.  It enables individuals to produce their own electricity on the spot instead of depending on centralized distribution centers.

Solar power is truly power to the people.  It can bring an end to the regime of force.  Tesla saw the potential of a free energy distribution system to bring about a golden age on earth, his design for such a system is known as the Magnifying Transmitter, a tower that beams power wireless across a great range.  This invention never came to fruition, but it seems that solar power could accomplish many of the same goals but with an even more decentralized aspect, because the power is being actually generated on site.

"My belief is firm in a law of compensation. The true rewards are ever in proportion to the labor and sacrifices made. This is one of the reasons why I feel certain that of all my inventions, the Magnifying Transmitter will prove most important and valuable to future generations. I am prompted to this prediction not so much by thoughts of the commercial and industrial revolution which it will surely bring about, but of the humanitarian consequences of the many achievements it makes possible."
-Nikola Tesla, My inventions

There are of course many other potent options, wind power, geothermal, even a strange device known as a bloom box, that converts any organic molecule directly into electricity without combustion.  (I will eventually write a whole entry about the bloom server, but if you want to know more right now, check out the wikipedia page)

Bloom Energy Server

It is of course up to the people to utilize technologies for the maximum benefit of all.  Because power systems are the foundation of any technological paradigm, it is of profound importance that we break away from the dangers of fossil fuels and nuclear power as soon as possible.

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