Sciency Words: Technocracy

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Today’s post is part of a special series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words.  Every Friday, we take a look at a new and interesting scientific term to help us all expand our scientific vocabularies together.  Today’s word is:

TECHNOCRACY

Technocracy is a hypothetical form of government in which political power is given to technical experts, mainly scientists and engineers.  Government policy is set not by debates or elections but by experimentation through the scientific method.  The ultimate goal of a technocratic government would be to create a self-sustaining society, a society that lives in maximum comfort given the limits of its natural resources.

Although there have been plenty of examples of scientists contributing to public policy decisions, we have yet to see a true technocracy in action.  I think a technocratic political system might have some advantages.  In democracies, we elect our leaders, but that is no guarantee that the best or brightest people in society will lead.  Too often, it’s the better-funded candidate who wins the election, or if not that, it’s the candidate who does a better job rallying the crowd with an elegant speech.

In the Tomorrow News Network series, the government of the alien race known as the Hykonians is identified as the Hykonian Technocracy.  Also, in the T.N.N. story “Mother Mars,” the ancient Martians appear to have a technocratic form of government.  I find the idea of a technocracy fascinating, and I can see how some might think it’s an improvement over our current democratic institutions.  However, I have chosen to portray these fictional technocracies as deeply flawed and prone to corruption, because no political system is perfect.

In the Tomorrow News Network series, the Hykonian Technocracy has a long history of conflict with the people of Earth.  It all began with a certain incident in Roswell, N.M.

Despite the potential advantages of a government run by Einsteins, I fear the disadvantages are far greater.  There’s probably a good reason this form of government does not already exist somewhere.  But what do you think?  Would we be better off under a technocracy, or should we stick to the political system we already have?

5 Responses to Sciency Words: Technocracy

  1. Grad says:

    Technocracy ideas use a governmental structure but it is not a political one. Politics being one thing and science being another thing. I suppose it could be said that it looks like a political governance, because it is still humans running it.
    Technocracy ideas began around 1918 when Howard Scott started thinking about that concept and were fully formed by the early 1930’s when TechInc was formed by Scott and M. King Hubbert the geo-scientist.
    The basis of those ideas are found in the Technocracy Study Course http://www.archive.org/details/TechnocracyStudyCourseUnabridged
    Thanks for this article.

    Like

  2. Grad says:

    For your readers that are interested in this concept there is a Facebook group that tries very hard to keep the information it gives accurate. Also we are advocates for Technocracy from the original concept http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2205039391#!/group.php?gid=2205039391&v=wall and hope to educate the public on these ideas. I can tell you that there is a lot of misconstrued information on the subject so caution must be used.
    Low level conspiracy people such as Alex Jones and Patrick Wood among many others have mixed up our group with their opinions and fears of conspiracy nonsense.
    Capitalist and communists do not like us either because we pull the plug on those antique notions. Libertarians want to control people with land and money and guns etc. They do not like us. We are not of the Right or Left. Pardon the capitals.

    We are not against anything. We just want to inform people of this alternative science design. Our concept is to not use the Price System and to use ‘energy accounting’ instead…. the reason being it measures something real. Money … a ‘debt token’ is an abstract concept.
    Now especially, it is not working… the point of it is to get more … of it, no matter the cost to the environment. Money controls things.

    The window for incorporating a Technocracy system is still open but the longer we wait the tougher it is going to be. Resource destruction, climate change, all these things are paving the way for a spectacular crash.
    We have the installed technology, the trained people, the natural resources to finally have this idea come into play.
    A system developed in Mesopotamia around 4500 years ago is still being used.
    That is the political price system or contract society.
    Thank you for investigating Technocracy… we have a whole lot of information for those interested and would appreciate any help you can give us in alerting others to that information.

    Like

  3. The catch about technocracies (in concept) is that they still tend to be run by people, who are capable of corruption and coercion. What technocracy needs is more of a position for computer technology to provide analysis AND the logical conclusions, leaving humans to either agree or not, and if not, be forced to provide acceptable reasons why not. In short, the computers should make the decisions, and the humans should either see to their enforcement or apply any adjustment (or cancellation) to the decision as conscience demands.

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    • Grad says:

      Computers are already doing that. Technocracy ideas are not another oligarchy of people but a science based social design.
      Here is an excerpt from Man Hours and Distribution.
      ””””””’
      GETTING SOMETHING FOR NOTHING
      In the distribution to the public of the products of industry, the failure of the present system is the direct result of the faulty premise upon which it is based. This is: that somehow a man is able by his personal services to render to society the equivalent of what he receives, from which it follows that the distribution to each shall be in accordance with the services rendered and that those who do not work must not eat. This is what our propagandists call ” the impossibility of getting something for nothing.’ Aside from the fact that only by means of the sophistries of lawyers and economists can it be explained how, on this basis, those who do nothing at all frequently receive the largest shares of the national income, the simple fact is that it is impossible for any man to contribute to the social system the physical equivalent of what it costs that system to maintain him from birth till death-and the higher the physical standard of living the greater is this discrepancy. This is because man is an engine operating under the limitations of the same physical laws as any other engine. The energy that it takes to operate him is several times as much as any amount of work he can possibly perform. If, in addition to his food, he receives also the products of modern industry, this is due to the fact that material and energy resources happen to be available and, as compared with any contribution he can make, constitute a free gift from heaven. Stated more specifically, it costs the social system on the North American Continent the energy equivalent to nearly 10 tons of coal per year to maintain one man at the average present standard of living, and no contribution he can possibly make in terms of the energy conversion of his individual effort will ever repay the social system the cost of his social maintenance. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that a distributive mechanism based upon so rank a fallacy should fail to distribute; the marvel is that it has worked as well as it has.

      Since any human being, regardless of his personal contribution, is a social dependent with respect to the energy resources upon which society operates, and since every operation within a given society is effected at the cost of a degradation of an available supply of energy, this energy degradation, measured in appropriate physical units such as kilowatt-hours, constitutes the common physical cost of all social operations. Since also the energy-cost of maintaining a human being exceeds by a large amount his ability to repay, we can abandon the fiction that what one is to receive is in payment for what one has done, and recognize that what we are really doing is utilizing the bounty that nature has provided us. Under these circumstances we recognize that we all are getting something for nothing, and the simplest way of effecting distribution is on a basis of equality, especially so when it is considered that production can be set equal to the limit of our capacity to consume, commensurate with adequate conservation of our physical resources.

      INCOME IN UNITS OF ENERGY
      On this basis our distribution then becomes foolproof and incredibly simple. We keep our records of the physical costs of production in terms of the amount of extraneous energy degraded. We set industrial production arbitrarily at a rate equal to the saturation of the physical capacity of our public to consume. We distribute purchasing power in the form of energy certificates to the public, the amount issued to each being equivalent to his pro rata share of the energy-cost of the consumer goods and services to be produced during the balanced-load period for which the certificates are issued. These certificates bear the identification of the person to whom issued and are nonnegotiable. They resemble a bank check in that they bear no face denomination, this being entered at the time of spending. They are surrendered upon the purchase of goods or services at any center of distribution and are permanently cancelled, becoming entries in a uniform accounting system. Being nonnegotiable, they cannot be lost, stolen, gambled, or given away because they are invalid in the hands of any person other than the one to whom issued. If lost, like a bank checkbook, new ones may be had for the asking. Neither can they be saved because they become void at the termination of the two year period for which they are issued. They can only be spent.

      Contrary to Price System rules, the purchasing power of an individual is no longer based upon the fallacious premise that a man is being paid in proportion to the so-called value’ of his work (since it is a physical fact that what he receives is greatly in excess of his individual effort) but upon the equal pro rata division of the net energy degraded in the production of consumer goods and services. In this manner the income of an individual is in nowise dependent upon the nature of his work, and we are then left free to reduce the working hours of our population to as low a level as technological advancement will allow, without in any manner jeopardizing the national or individual income, and without the slightest unemployment problem or poverty.

      The period of work required of each individual, once the reconstruction following the transition from the old system to the new is complete, need be no longer than about 4 hours per day, 164 days per year, from the ages Of 25 to 45. The income of each individual, however, will continue without interruption until death. Hence the insecurity of old age is abolished and both saving and insurance become unnecessary and impossible.

      Such a mechanism of distribution simply renders all forms of trade and commerce obsolete, and at the same time, because of the abolition of money, makes them impossible. The entire social mechanism then becomes one unit organization with as many branches as there are industrial and social functions to perform. This organization, the Technate, comprises all members of the population. The area to be operated as a unit is the entire Continent of North America.”””””””””

      Like

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