Sustaining Planet Earth: Researching World Resources

World Game: a unique experiment to develop a computer coordinated model of planet earth to research world resources and develop ways of running the future for the benefit of mankind.

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    Summer, 1969: Buckminster Fuller stretches the collective mind of the New York Studio School Workshop.
    Photo courtesy of Hal Aigner
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    World Game in action at Carbondale, Illinois Command Central.
    Photo courtesy of Hal Aigner

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Medard Gabel was speaking a bit hastefully: "We can make everybody in the world a success by 1980 and we have the proof to back it up," he said. "So when we say that air pollution could be eliminated from Spaceship Earth by 1980, that's exactly what we mean."

"If your priorities are high enough, you can put a man on the moon. If your priorities are to get electrical energy to the world, you can find the money. The wealth is there."

Gabel, a 24-year-old design science student at Southern Illinois University, was later to amend his remarks, noting that "proof" is an ambiguous term—some people won't have anything proven to them no matter how much evidence is presented—and much of his reference material was in files and would take a couple of months to assemble.

But Gabel was neither exaggerating nor boasting in the claim that he and his associates could devise a plan to make every human being a material success within the next decade. He was speaking with the intuitive enthusiasm which characterizes a company of future oriented, inter-disciplinary technological explorers who are participating in the World Game, a unique experiment to develop a computer coordinated model of planet earth—complete with world resources, history, human attitudes and social trends—that can be used to "play the world" and develop ways of running the future for the benefit of all mankind.

Researching World Resources

The experiment is being conducted in more than 20 universities and colleges in the United States, Canada and Europe but its center is housed in the basement and first floor of a monotonous two-story brick building surrounded by a dusty, graveled parking lot, about six blocks off-campus from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.

It is in this office that Gabel works with Tom Turner, 34, a former Dominican brother who is current director of research and development for the Game; Ed Hauben, 23, an architect with bushy hair and beard and a distinct Bronx accent; Mark Victor Hansen, 22, a graduate student at SIU with several inventions to his credit; Mike Paterra, 27, a high strung game theorist who smokes heavily and drinks a lot of coffee; Ray Frenchman, 22, a design student who refused military induction two years ago; and 11 other persons who research, do secretarial work, maintain inter-game communications, silkscreen posters, analyze information and perform numerous tasks for divining an efficient process for managing Spaceship Earth. Each of them has a unique conception of what the Game is.

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