Design science revolution

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A scientific and socio-economic revolution accomplished through the use of "livingry" design science instead of weaponry, the term design science revolution was coined by R. Buckminster Fuller.

Fuller's main premise was that nature's existing and omnipotent order must be allowed to guide designs made by man, if they are to survive and thrive as a species. Fuller wrote that humanity was approaching its "critical test" as a species, in which it would be determined "whether or not man was a mistake of nature, or its greatest accomplishment."

This subject is covered in both "Critical Path" and "Utopia or Oblivion": From the introduction by Jaime Snyder, Fuller's grandson: 'A comprehensive global crisis is now clearly dawning in humanity's collective awareness, interweaving dramatic climate change and massive environmental destruction as we hover closer to "points of no return"—not to mention the ongoing hazard of nuclear weaponry, and persistent large-scale extreme poverty. It has become harder and harder to avoid the recognition that we are in a full scale planetary emergency . . . it can be very difficult to move out of denial about our predicament, without the cognition that there is a future scenario where we can turn this emergency into an emergence of sustainability for all life on earth.'

And thus Fuller called for a comprehensive anticipatory design science revolution. "Fuller held that modern science was too encumbered by rigid ideas to solve the world's great problems, and that the governing principles of nature — which even the layman could intuit and harness — would yield the essential creative solutions." This is from Fuller's (self-proclaimed) seminal posthumously published work entitled Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity with Adjuvant Kiyoshi Kuromiya. This contains Fuller's geometry lessons for understanding the functioning of the universe, which he said would lead to the knowledge necessary to manifest results that would allow all humanity to thrive. Fuller said that by simply shifting focus "from weaponry to livingry" all of humanity could thrive. Fuller first called for this revolution in 1965. It was to be a ten-year turn about.

In the SFMOMA show Utopian Impulse, Fuller states (on film) that he believes in humanity's chances of accomplishing this necessary revolution, and he explains that a Utopian type of impulse is a necessary component of human evolution; that "humanity must embrace the best of itself, living lives of conscious evolution."

Fuller wrote at length about energy, and "the need to stop burning up the planet in order to energize it". He worried that fossil fuels could rob humanity of its future by poisoning the environment, but that deeply entrenched economic powers would make the transference to alternative sources of energy difficult. In Critical Path, Fuller explains the absurdity of having the same interests that are heavily vested in opposing such developments also in charge of making them happen.

Fuller's Design Science Revolution was about gaining the maximum value from the minimum resources. He coined the term "synergetics" to explain how design science could create rich returns, such as how "energy income" could be harvested from the environment.

From Cosmography: "The Dark Ages still reign over all humanity, and the depth and persistence of this domination are only now becoming clear. This prison has no steel bars, chains, or locks. Instead, it is locked by misorientation and built of misinformation. We are powerfully imprisoned ... by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think."

"There is now plenty for all. War is obsolete. It is imperative that we get the word to all humanity — RUSH — before someone ignorantly pushes the button that provokes pushing of all the buttons." R. Buckminster Fuller, Grunch of Giants (1983)

Fuller revered nature for its technological complexity, stating "In it's [sic] complexities of design integrity, the universe is technology."[attribution needed]

Fuller stressed that by utilizing these natural principles of technology, mankind could become ultimately sustainable. Operatively, design science would be the continued utilization of these natural principles.

"Amongst other grand strategies for making the world work and taking care of everybody is the design science revolution of providing ever more effective tools and services with ever less, real resource investment per each unit of end performance. For instance, a communications satellite, weighing only one-quarter of a ton, is now out-performing the transoceanic communication capabilities of 175 thousand tons of copper cable".[1]


  1. ^ World Game by R. Buckminster Fuller-How It Came About, April 1968


  • Critical Path (1981) ISBN 0-312-17488-8
  • Grunch of Giants (1983) ISBN 0-312-35193-3
  • Critical Path (1981) by R. Buckminster Fuller, Pg. 199
  • World Literacy Re World Problems, pp. 1–2, The Ten Year Program by John McHale, World Design Science Decade (1965–1975) Phase 1 (1965) Document 4
  • "Cosmography A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity" with Kiyoshi Kuromiya, Adjuvant
  • "A Fuller View" - Buckminster Fuller's Vision of Hope and Abundance for All, L.Steven Sieden
  • "Utopia or Oblivion - The Prospects for Humanity"

External links[edit]

Inventory of World Resources Human Trends and Needs, Document Two
World Design Science Decade 1965-1975,Phase 1
World Design Initiative by R. Buckminster Fuller, Pp. 1 - 103
World Industrialization Chart, Pg. 5

Pg. 20 (30/167), 40 (49/167), 176 (161/167), by Patricia Ravasio