Jacque Fresco, one of the great minds of our time, passed away aged 101 on the 18th of May in Sebring, Florida. The incredibly prolific self-taught innovator and designer dedicated his entire life to a string of noble causes and projects aimed at improving the future of humanity, including a future society with no money and taxes but with equally distributed resources. His partner, Roxanne Meadows, confirmed the scientist had been suffering from Parkinson’s syndrome and had recently broken a hip.
“I would like to see an end to war, poverty and unnecessary human suffering,” Fresco said in an interview on his website. “But I can’t see it in a monetary-based system where the richest nations control most of the world’s resources. I cannot see that happening. I see a constant repeat of the same series of events: war, poverty, recession, boom, bust and war again.”
Born in Brooklyn in 1916, as a child he used to study maths, conducting science experiments in the bathroom and building advanced models of ships and aircraft. When he was 13, he designed a fan with rubber or fabric blades after a relative was hurt when he stuck his hand into a metal fan.
“I submitted the design to some companies, but they showed no interest. Shortly after that, the product came out on the market. That was my introduction to the marketplace,” Fresco says of his first encounter with capitalism.
Fresco found school dogmatic and restrictive of his ideas, research interest and creativity. He left in his early teens and went to Florida, where he caught poisonous snakes in the Everglades and sold them to circuses. He never attended college and taught himself everything he knew, although he did concede his lack of academic credentials might have limited the impact and the scope his work has had in the real world.
After hitchhiking to California, he worked as an aircraft and architectural designer, research engineer, creator of rocket models for science-fiction films and designer of prefabricated aluminum homes that were displayed at the Warner Bros. studio. He served in the Army Air Forces’ design and development unit at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio during World War II.
The magnum opus of this great mind, however, is probably the Venus Project: situated in south-central Florida, about two hours south of Orlando, is Jacque Fresco’s self-sufficient utopia – a demonstration of how a resource-based economy, that could rescue modern society failed political systems and render crime and corruption obsolete, would look like. The project, constructed in 1980, demonstrates a world that is resource-driven instead of capital-driven. The innovator and Ms. Meadows supported the project with $200 tours of the compound and by selling books and videos, and it was the base from which an endless stream of innovation would continue to pour out during the following 37 years.
The Brooklyn-born designer urged all sovereign nations to declare what he called the “common heritage” of all people – clean air and water, arable land, education, health care, energy and food – free and belonging to all people. He thought of his futuristic designs as a practical, even inevitable response to the inequities of the modern world, but realized only a catastrophe would lead to the adoption of his concept.
“He wasn’t naïve,” Roxanne Meadows said in a telephone interview after her partner’s death. “But I think people are naïve to think that the current system would work for the betterment of people. We’re heading toward annihilation in many areas.”
Despite the realization that what he dedicated his life to might never come to fruition, Fresco never stopped believing in science’s power to transform human life for the better. In an interview on Facebook, he once said:
“We have the technology to build a global paradise on earth, and at the same time we have the power to end life as we know it. I am a futurist. I cannot predict the actual future — only what it can be if we manage the earth and its resources intelligently.”