The next fifty years; Creating the Future Environment
Therefore I want to congratulate the members of the American Institute of planners for the great service they are performing for their country through taking on responsibility for this basic task of education. It is a fitting capstone to a half century of planning leadership. President Johnson fully shares your concern with the quality of our urban environment. Evidence of there's a scene in the action aimed at concrete measures to improve that environment. The president has certainly given leadership in abundance. And believe me leadership is no easy task in a changing world. I am reminded of the man who had been run over by a large throng of people after he was picked up and dusted off. He tried to run after those who were trampled and bystanders held them back. Let me go he pleaded. I must catch them. I'm their leader.
The president has been leading not following as shown by as many proposals to improve our cities through as really striking creative programs such as rent supplements and model cities. President Johnson saw that these programs were needed and we fought for them. As a result of courage and foresight these programs at this moment do exist but the struggle continues. The struggle to maintain them on the statute books. Remember those will still think we have the best possible cities and the best possible world after combine with others who think the way you solve problems is to tell them to go away with the result that these programs are constantly in danger of being starved to death starved to death for a lack of adequate funds. And that is our situation at this moment.
My friends we need the ideas that will come from this conference. We must have your help in preparing our minds to absorb both the dimensions of the urban problem and the possibilities for solutions. But planning is just not enough. If you do not waste your deliberations and your right is to blush unseen it is necessary to involve yourselves in the governmental process. All our rights of met. In other words the political process. Politics is the bridge over which ideas march to meet their destiny of action. Today we need action by local communities by the states and by Washington working together working together in a new creative effort that maintains the maximum the very maximum local initiative.
But there must be that initiative and I hope that this summit conference of urban planning this brain full of so many well-informed and committed people from so many disciplines. Well not neglect the vital question the vital question of building that bridge to action through stimulating local initiative. You have voluntarily taken on the heavy task of planning the optimum urban environment. And I congratulate you but I hope you will not neglect the related and perhaps more difficult responsibility of working to bring to the attention of those who can act. Your plans and your ideas and the urgency of the problems we all face. Make no little plans bro no one said in relation to his design for Chicago.
May I add a postscript. Make no little plans but have no great expectations that the excellence of plans alone will produce action. I Franz. With my colleagues I pledge to you that this administration looks on your work with favor and with hope and may look to you for the hope we will need to translate your plans into tomorrow's realities. The postage stamp we dedicate today is small in size but big in the thought it expresses. It is dedicated to all of you. All of you who are working so diligently to make our America a far. Far far better place than we have known. You have just heard the honorable Lawrence O'Brian postmaster general of the
United States speaking both for himself and for President Johnson in voicing official federal government concern for proper urban planning in America during the next 50 years. This national educational radio special report on the future needs of our society turns now to the more specific needs of democracy in the years ahead. First among those areas deemed a necessary part of our environment are the roles of art science technology and the spirit the aesthetic values. Speaking next and concentrating on the scientific demands for planning during the next 50 years will be Dr. John R. Platt a bio physicist and acting director of the University of Michigan's Mental Health Research Unit. Dr. Platt is a former professor of physics and bio physics at the institute and University of Chicago. He is publisher of more
than 80 articles in the field of bio physics. Here is his assessment of the role science will play in the future of the United States of America. I think you must remember that there are people who were born before the coming of the motor car before the coming of the airplane before the coming of atomic energy before the coming of oral contraceptives. I think you should look forward just as far into the future to the time when your children just born will also be grandparents and you should try to extrapolate if you can watch this next period might be like. In short I think that you can only understand what the next 50 years will be like. If you look at them under the aspect of evolution that is under the aspect of organic
evolution. A billion year effort on the earth's surface. Evolution by natural selection was the subject of Charles Darwin's book. It is interesting to reflect that it is now at an end. The plants and animals on the Earth's surface are no longer determined in their populations by natural selection. That is to say by their survival under natural conditions. They're determined instead by human predation human pollution or human protection or human breeding that is to say by conscious or unconscious human intervention. This is the era in which evolution by natural selection is giving way to evolution by human selection. I would like to suggest to you several
developments which I think are very likely within the next few years. One of these is the genetic copying of animals. At the present time this has been done only with tadpoles and frogs. It's possible by a microbe pipette to take out the nucleus from the cell of a developed animal and to re implant this in a fertilized egg cell in place of the eggs own nucleus and then to have that egg cell grow up into an adult which is genetically an identical twin of the animal from whom the nucleus was taken. This is only been done at the level of frogs so far but if it were ever extended to higher animals to chickens hogs cattle it would mean that we could make genetic copies of the best animals in each
herd. We could have so to speak instant champions in the next generation a whole herd of them. You can imagine what this would do to meet productivity in our average herd where the average is far below the performance of the best animals in milk or meat. There are many countries in the world which spend about a dollar a day on food possibly five cents of this goes for the protein part of the diet. If we could increase that amount of protein that amount of meat or milk which they get by lettuce say 50 percent by providing them with instant champions. This would mean a gain of a nickel a day for a country of 20 million people that would be a gain of a million dollars a day in their food and their meat and their well-being. A somewhat comparable to the OPF output of a rich oil Kingdom.
You can well imagine the political effects of being able to offer this boon to the underdeveloped countries. The first country that is able to do it will be ahead. How much effort would it take to do this. The answer is that most biologists believe that it is quite possible it might take a group of a dozen embryologists only two or three years to bring about this particular extension from the lower animals to the higher ones. Another possibility is the development of contraceptives that could be put into food. This was recommended I think publicly first by the late homie BOB HOGG The head of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission. Said and saw and emphasized that if we could only put in contraceptives into food this would make contraception very much simpler than it is today. There might be many American suburban communities that would be glad to vote in this kind of
simple method as a substitute for those in for you to recall oils on those daily pills and all those other devices that they are now using. Of course if you had contraceptives in the food. People who really wanted to have a child would have to be able to go down the street to the other store. Where they could buy the untreated food this would not necessarily be a bad thing. It would mean that children would be had only when they were positively wanted only when there was a positive act of will on the part of the parents instead of merely the negative act of not being willing to get up again. The result for the welfare the well-being of children in the next generation. If every child were a wanted child would
be one of the most revolutionary things for the psychology of the world. Obviously this is not a terribly easy thing to do. It is true that we have oral contraceptives but in order to make something that can be put into food stuffs to be consumed by all ages and all sexes without important secondary side effects such as having hair on the chest or a delayed puberty or other side effects. This would not necessarily be easy. On the other hand our biochemist undertake many tasks for big industries which are not easy and we have many contraceptives now available in many different chemical methods. The possibility of this offering to the human race is obviously something worth studying by a taskforce. Let me emphasize what it would do to the world population problem. It would mean that we would be able to level off population the in countries that voted in this kind of method 20 to 30 years sooner then we could level off the
population by sending out teams of para medical personnel to make individual devices out in the villages. It takes hundreds of thousands of para medical personnel. It will take them years to get into the villages it will take them more years to be trained in training centers which do not yet exist. The total time might be 20 to 30 years before all the villages of India could be reached by this method. On the other hand if you could put contraceptives in the food as we know put vitamin D into milk enrichment into bread. I have been into salt fluorine and chlorine into our water. These can be put in at a few factories factories making perhaps human products for human consumption such as salt sugar bread beer beetle nuts chewing gum. These could be put in a few factories perhaps in a time of a year or two once the products had been worked on tested and voted in. The result is that it might be 20 to 30 years sooner
and we might be able to level off the world population two to three billion persons earlier. Think what this would mean for hope in the developing countries. Think what this would mean for new economic resources which would be freed from having to make new schools new highways continually building and growing and meeting the population pressure. Just to give you one more area in which I think there may be interesting developments in the next few years I have a favorite invention. It's only a mental invention so far. I call it the left hand radio. There it is. It's not on my hand yet. Have you ever stopped to think about human speech as an invention. It was a prehistoric invention to begin to use this channel that we use for for eating for breathing to suddenly begin to use it instead to manipulate these little tiny verbal symbols which begin to stand for thoughts. It was a
prehistoric invention. It changed the whole nature of the world. It made us human. We have made great improvements in many of our symbolic inventions in the last 2000 years. For example we have gone from hieroglyphics which are clumsy and which can only be mastered by mandarins after 25 years study. We have gone from those to an alphabet which is easy to learn. Six year olds can learn to read and write it. It is made mass education possible. We have gone from Roman numerals clumsy difficult to manipulate to Arabic numerals. And today as a result a nine year old boy may do multiplication and division but Cicero could not have done. Is it possible that we might be able to make a new symbolic invention for person to person communication which would go as far beyond this single channel of the voice.
As the Roman as the Arabic numerals go beyond Roman Numerals I think it is possible. That is to say I think in this age of communication theory I don't perception theory a multiple channel theory. We might be able to find a way of communicating from me to you which would have multiple channels. This is why the brain is so effective it has multiple channels inside. You have a hundred million rods and cones in your eye taking in the picture from outside. These are transmitted back to the brain on one million neurons in the optic nerve. All the parts of the brain have thousands or millions of parallel channels carrying not merely one little bit of information like my voice but carrying up whole patterns from one section of the brain to another. This is why a single human brain thinks so fast. This is why one picture is worth a thousand words. And yet when we want to talk to each other after we've developed these marvelous insights and false inside the
brain I assure you they are marvelous. They have to focus down into this tiny little bottleneck and bring out bring out themselves at one syllable at a time through this single channel. What a loss. No wonder we misunderstand each other. No wonder we jump to the wrong conclusions before the sentence is finished. Where do we have on our bodies a set of muscles more numerous than the vocal muscles which we can use for transmission. Well here it is. We have them in our hands. Pianists violinists learn to use these muscles in parallel. Had great speed and with great dexterity. But if we had a little rubber glove we could put on the hand of a child so that he could learn to use his fingers like a pianist. We could pick off. Let us say electrically from a number of points on this glove. The signals from his muscles we could but these into a little citizens band radio on his wrist and send out
many many channels one from each of the muscles. You know there are 19 bones in the hand. Each one has a pair of muscles. We can send out at least 19 parallel channels from that citizens band radio and then could go over to the little citizens band radio on your wrist. Will it be nice to be able to use radio for person to person communication instead of leaving it in the hands of governments and construction industries. It'd be nice to give the electromagnetic spectrum back to the people. And that would be the citizens band radio on your hand which would of course transmitted to your rubber glove. These 19 points on the back of the hand which would signal what my muscles were signaling and the result would be that as I moved my hand a single gesture might stand for all that yellow line lying down in the cage how he stinks that it would be all in one sentence in a single gesture one
would have to develop new forms of symbols just as we have developed over the last million years new forms of symbols in our speech. One would have to develop new forms of printing to represent these. If one wanted a child to be really dexterous one would have to start teaching him as early as we start teaching speech. But think what an advance in communication this might be between one person and another. It would be like holding hands. Has there ever been any faster form of communication than holding hands. Why yes one or two but I won't mention them. I can imagine that this might go as far beyond speech as speech goes beyond the grunts. And in fact the full potentialities of a multiple channel method of communicating from one person to another may not even be describable in our words any more than the full potentialities of human language today were describable in the grunts before we invented this channel for human language.
It seems to me that just as we are at the end of evolution by natural selection. So we are at the beginning of biological control of evolution by human beings. What this means is that we are responsible for the future. We have a new method of problem solving today problem solving by anticipation. The first method of problem solving in evolution was the method of problem solving by survival. It's useful for the species although it's not very useful for the individual. The species is made up of all those who didn't get killed. They have the information built into their genes their chromosomes their DNA which enables them to cope with their problems because they're the ones who lived. The second method in evolution is problem solving by learning. This is problem solving by the individual who has a learning network It's problem solving by these
neurons in the brain. The animal doesn't have to go all the way to the point of falling over the cliff before he can see that it's dangerous. He can see that his friend fell over and he draws back from the cliff. For the rest of his life he's learned without having to go through that to the point of dying to give it to his species. The new method of problem solving that we have today is problem solving by anticipation. It is the method of science which studies relationships in the world and learns how to solve problems before they occur. Our even in Lucky cases while they are occurring by feedback and cybernetic systems. So when the first Sputnik went up it was not a successful Sputnik because it was the only one of millions of Sputnik that had been set up the only one that happened to go into a stable orbit. It was not successful because it first tried a high orbit and then a low one and then finally settled on the middle because it had learned which was the best orbit. No it was successful because it had been planned by a computer using the laws of physics in
anticipation of how to go into the right orbit. And because it was monitored by feedback and cybernetics systems that directed the veins in the right direction and cut off the motors at the right time in advance. The problems of the world today are problems which have never existed before. We have never been crowded together convergent as we are now. Society differs very much from an organism which develops from the inside so that all of its parts are related to each other and its hands have developed in harmony with the brain. Society today is instead the converse of many many groups starting from different premises starting from different brains which suddenly are in collision. It is an entirely new problem in the world. Totally different from problems of development of an organism. We can solve such problems if we can solve them at all only by anticipation only by working out methods for example of conflict resolution which we have never had to work out in the past which biology never had to study before. And this is why the method of science and the method of anticipation
is so important today. So we are responsible for the future but we have put into our hands new tools today by which we can anticipate by which we can have conferences on planning. It seems to me that if we can learn how to solve some of these conflict situations and I wish I could discuss with you some of the new methods of conflict resolution to person games Prisoner's Dilemma solutions which are now coming to the floor in some scientific studies if we can solve some of these it seems to me we can move into an era when science can offer and offer us all of its advantages its advantages of getting rid of taboo of superstition of ghosts of demons of authorities who didn't know what they were talking about. It offers us the advantages of getting away from insularity from provincialism from making at last the world our home because we are brothers. It seems to me that these are values of the Spirit. Far more important than the technical means by
which they happen to be achieved. It seems to me that if we learn how to use these new methods we will be building the house of the future in somewhat the same way as a man does who is climbing on his own roof and building his own house as one of our speakers is going to tell about later in the week. We are building the future. It is changing a tenuously. It is changing because we are making a change under our control and to our purposes. Commenting on the needs of our society as influenced by scientific advances during the years ahead. That was Dr. John R. Platt a bio physicist and acting director of the University of Michigan's Mental Health Research Unit. Dr. Platt is but the first of many experts that will discuss their views on the needs of American society in the coming years. During subsequent editions of this series which we call the next 50 years we will explore
literally every conceivable aspect of American life how advances in our knowledge may be expected to force innovation in the various fields of human and technological endeavors. How man may best prepare for those changes. What must be done to implement the planning recommendations. There can be no quarrel with the opinion that America today faces a staggering number of problems. These can only be expected to multiply as our society becomes more and more complex in those years to come. How to cope with or solve those future problems. That is the subject for later programs. This week we have attempted to set the stage for those 12 presentations still to be heard from our world right now and experts you have today heard the objectives of this series. A defense of urban planning per se and a preliminary look at the
specific problems to be overcome. Next week this special series of programs will expand on those specific problem areas. The microphone's of national educational radio and WMU FM in Washington will take you to the testimony on America's needs in the field of science technology the arts and the psychological factors to be considered by urban planners and experts in many fields in any planning enterprise for the future of this democracy. Speaking in those areas next week will be Dr. Harold Taylor. He's a remarkable educator and philosopher who at age 30 became president of the Sarah Lawrence College religious considerations will be voiced by the Reverend Joseph settler of Chicago well known for his seminary work and as a leader in the National Council of Churches also appearing will be Dr. Ralph G H
sue a renowned chemist who captured the audience with his extremely relevant remarks in talking about man's future needs. Dr. Sue is currently deputy director of the U.S. Army's Material Command in Washington D.C.. We hope that you will be listening again next week for the second day in this 13 week series on the next 50 years presenting vital and provocative remarks on the needs of America in planning for those coming years. This is national educational radio public affairs director Bill Greenwood reporting from Washington D.C.. This has been another program in the NE our series the next 50 years expressing a variety of opinions on the future of the democratic environment. These views were given at the 50th year conference of the American Institute of planners held in
- The next fifty years
- Creating the Future Environment
- Producing Organization
- WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- For series info, see Item 3455 (previous entry.) This prog.: Creating the Future Environment: Bertrand de Jouvenel, Lawrence O'Brien, John R. Platt
- Social Issues
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Producing Organization: WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-26-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “The next fifty years; Creating the Future Environment,” 1968-07-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 6, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-2f7jtt2g.
- MLA: “The next fifty years; Creating the Future Environment.” 1968-07-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 6, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-2f7jtt2g>.
- APA: The next fifty years; Creating the Future Environment. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-2f7jtt2g