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Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

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Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby Squilliam » Sat 11 Mar 2017, 20:53:24

It is possible for systems to become both more complex and more simple at the same time. For instance before capitalism as it is known today you had merchant capitalism. What this involved was the 'putting out system' whereby complex tasks that were once completed by skilled labourers were broken up into little steps and done in little cottage industries. A task such as making leather belts would be broken up into little steps, like for instance one person would specialise in doing say cutting the leather, another would specialise in punching the holes etc. This leads to a paradox in practice whereby the system was both more complex and simpler at the same time.

The paradox of technology is that whilst increasing technology represents an overall increase in the complexity of a system it also represents a simplification of that same system. Computers and robotics for instance are both incredibly complex areas of technology, and perhaps the most complex systems ever devised by man, but they are also a means to reduce complexity. So as the complexity in this one area increases the complexity in other areas of the system can then decrease. The reason why this is important is that people often use entropy to predict the collapse of civilization because a reduction of fossil fuel inputs would effectively reduce the complexity of the society that can be sustained within that system.

Collapse in economic terms is a movement from a more complex state of being to a more simple state: City becomes township; Empire becomes states; states become principalities etc. In a modern context that would represent the unwinding of the increasingly globalised economy and the simplification of lifestyles (on average) for the inhabitants. In essence it would be similar to regressing backwards to an earlier stage of development alongside a major degree of discomfort and discord.

The irony of the whole thing is that many people are using the tools of this complex system and the benefits that accrue from it to talk about the collapse of that same system. Managing scarce resources is in essence another level of complexity that the system needs to deal with. Computers are a game changer with respect to complexity because the fundamental role of a computer is to make tasks that are otherwise too complex to be done practically practical. So in practice computers represent greater simplicity (of the overall system) through complexity of only part of it. In the same way that the human body cannot achieve anything of practical importance when compared to a machine (one oil barrel contains the energy of years of human labour) the human mind cannot on many levels compare with the artificial mind.

Technology isn't a game changer because it promises to give new and better sources of energy that will transform the economic systems of today (maybe that will happen, probably it won't). Technology is a game changer because it could mean we don't have to find the new pot of gold at the end of the fossil fuel rainbow. Conventionally speaking a lot of the doomers are right that the complexity of the current system cannot be maintained by renewable energy. However the system can both be more complex (from today's development standards) and more simple (energetically) at the same time.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby onlooker » Sat 11 Mar 2017, 22:02:55

Very interesting. However, upon analyzing the many facets of our society, we can distill our very complex situation to certain non reducible and incontrovertible maxims. First, humans need energy to be productive or to work. Second, our Economies rely on the bounty of the Earth and so are a subsystem of it. The third maxim flows from the second in that because we rely on the Earth, we must have a symbiotic relation with it so that we help to sustain it, so it can sustain us. The inherent problem in our current situation is one of scale. Our vast population with its needs and wants is overwhelming the ability of Earth to provide for everyone and handle all our waste.
Technology may have a role to play in helping us be good stewards of Earth and in reducing or controlling our population. But in the end, collectively we must decide on a way to tread more lightly upon our planet and implement it. Otherwise, calamity will be unavoidable
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby ralfy » Sun 12 Mar 2017, 03:08:28

I think computers don't make processes less complex. Rather, they make them faster.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby asg70 » Sun 12 Mar 2017, 10:31:07

Computers can increase efficiency. Retail like Wal-Mart in brick-and-mortar and Amazon in eCommerce involves radical efficiency improvements to the complex problem of global supply-chains and fulfillment.

What Elon Musk is attempting to do with the automation of the gigafactory, for instance, is to apply radical efficiency gains in the task of manufacturing, similar to what the assembly line once did 100 years ago.

When you step back you see how humanity has moved progressively from inefficient manual labor to more and more automation. Everything from the loom to the cotton-gin. You can easily see how, taken to its ultimate extreme, work as we know it will cease to exist and we'll either have a society living in the lap of luxury or on poverty row depending on how we adapt as a society.

This is, of course, independent of limits to growth, but the efficiency gains do make an impact on when we go over the proverbial cliff.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby onlooker » Sun 12 Mar 2017, 10:56:18

Sorry to say but all this technological prowess and efficiency is just translating into humans becoming ever more redundant. Mass populations of uneducated and unskilled of no use to modern industries. Scary to contemplate for many humans. In the Georgia Guidestones (NWO), it says keep population no greater than 500 million. Umm
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby Squilliam » Sun 12 Mar 2017, 13:45:23

The reason why computers are such a powerful tool is this: Take medicine for instance, it's an incredibly difficult field for humans to be trained into. Developing a computer smart enough to replace a human in diagnosing diseases is several orders of magnitude more expensive than training a human to do the same task. The difference here is that once you've got a computer system that can do this job it scales exponentially to whatever level you want. Do something once and you can do it a million times over for little more expense than having a prototype. So whilst IBM Watson the Oncologist cost (out my ass) $10,000,000,000 to develop, each iteration of Watson costs say $100,000 to implement (and that's getting smaller every year).

We're effectively in what they would call the 3rd industrial revolution. General purpose robots (mental/physical) are beginning to be as effective if not more so than human workers. It doesn't matter if a robot isn't as fast as a person if that robot only requires cents per hour of power with no rest breaks. This is of course going to have major geo-political implications of course. Countries could not compete with hand labour against industrial agriculture no matter how hard they work, so the same applies for hand assembly. This means we can see a simplification of world systems without a reduction in the complexity of societies that are supported by these systems. It means that both elements can be true at the same time in that societal complexity can contract whilst still maintaining or growing our technological base.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby ralfy » Sun 12 Mar 2017, 20:06:02

If there is no "reduction in the complexity of societies," then there's no "simplification of world systems." In which case, machines only make it appear that things look simpler because all of the work is done in the background, and more efficiently. Thus, there is no "complexity paradox."

The catch is that producers will use such machines because more efficiency means greater production, and thus more sales, and with that more profits. Of course, more sales means there has to be more consumption, and more profits leads to even more production.

That means more energy and material resources are needed each time. And given competition, at lower energy costs, which goes against diminishing returns and the physical limitations of the biosphere.

Thus, we have an economic system coupled with technology that wants an abundance of resources and a biosphere that won't allow it.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby Squilliam » Mon 13 Mar 2017, 01:25:10

ralfy wrote:If there is no "reduction in the complexity of societies," then there's no "simplification of world systems." In which case, machines only make it appear that things look simpler because all of the work is done in the background, and more efficiently. Thus, there is no "complexity paradox."

Thus, we have an economic system coupled with technology that wants an abundance of resources and a biosphere that won't allow it.


The complexity paradox is based on the concept of entropy. To maintain a higher level of order within a thing there must be a corresponding increase in disorder around that thing. So whilst maintaining a high level of technology increases the entropy (pollution) in the surrounding landscape it also helps to improve the conversion efficiency of inputs -> outputs and hence helps to reduce the level of pollution. Technology thus requires high entropy, but it also reduces entropy.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby ralfy » Tue 14 Mar 2017, 07:11:07

Squilliam wrote:
The complexity paradox is based on the concept of entropy. To maintain a higher level of order within a thing there must be a corresponding increase in disorder around that thing. So whilst maintaining a high level of technology increases the entropy (pollution) in the surrounding landscape it also helps to improve the conversion efficiency of inputs -> outputs and hence helps to reduce the level of pollution. Technology thus requires high entropy, but it also reduces entropy.


I don't see that reduction in pollution.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby onlooker » Tue 14 Mar 2017, 07:35:25

I don't see that reduction in pollution.

Yes, I agree. What I see technology doing is above all increasing the efficiency by which we convert natural capital to goods, services and their representation money. So, in that context rather than reducing pollution it is increasing the speed and volume of that pollution. And in the meantime, we continue to draw down natural capital and resources which are NOT renewable in a time frame of concern to humanity. I do not think we can deviate too far ever from the central notion that Earth is a closed system and we have limits to sources of resources and the sinks where our waste goes. Too continue anywhere near this rate of resource extraction and throughput requires that we have some miraculous way to eliminate or absorb our wastes, too come up with a almost unlimited source of clean energy, or to have some mechanism to creates prime resources like air, water and soil out of thin air.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby Squilliam » Tue 14 Mar 2017, 21:08:37

onlooker wrote:Yes, I agree. What I see technology doing is above all increasing the efficiency by which we convert natural capital to goods, services and their representation money. So, in that context rather than reducing pollution it is increasing the speed and volume of that pollution. And in the meantime, we continue to draw down natural capital and resources which are NOT renewable in a time frame of concern to humanity. I do not think we can deviate too far ever from the central notion that Earth is a closed system and we have limits to sources of resources and the sinks where our waste goes. Too continue anywhere near this rate of resource extraction and throughput requires that we have some miraculous way to eliminate or absorb our wastes, too come up with a almost unlimited source of clean energy, or to have some mechanism to creates prime resources like air, water and soil out of thin air.


That is such a limited perspective. I am aware of all of this. The concept I don't believe you're factoring into your estimations is the concept that technology can also increase efficiency and reduce waste. We can take the same resources with greater technology and stretch them significantly further. There are major systems within our own economic ecology that can stand to gain significant efficiency boosts in the coming decades through the application of rapidly advancing technology. When modern buildings can use 80% less energy than older buildings for instance you have to acknowledge there is significant scope to improve the current status quo. The reason why a modern building can use such a small amount of power is how we can invest our skills into technology to make it portable and leverage it amongst a far greater scope. When you pick up a science textbook for instance you gain access to hundreds of thousands of hours worth of skilled labour amongst a wide range of fields. Computers not only increase our own intellectual leverage, but they also let us access the skills of others.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby asg70 » Tue 14 Mar 2017, 22:38:10

onlooker wrote:Sorry to say but all this technological prowess and efficiency is just translating into humans becoming ever more redundant.


True, if you buy into the idea that the worth of a human life is only equivalent to their contribution to GDP.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby ralfy » Wed 15 Mar 2017, 00:43:48

Squilliam wrote:
That is such a limited perspective. I am aware of all of this. The concept I don't believe you're factoring into your estimations is the concept that technology can also increase efficiency and reduce waste. We can take the same resources with greater technology and stretch them significantly further. There are major systems within our own economic ecology that can stand to gain significant efficiency boosts in the coming decades through the application of rapidly advancing technology. When modern buildings can use 80% less energy than older buildings for instance you have to acknowledge there is significant scope to improve the current status quo. The reason why a modern building can use such a small amount of power is how we can invest our skills into technology to make it portable and leverage it amongst a far greater scope. When you pick up a science textbook for instance you gain access to hundreds of thousands of hours worth of skilled labour amongst a wide range of fields. Computers not only increase our own intellectual leverage, but they also let us access the skills of others.


But technology is used in a global capitalist system and not an "economic ecology." That means the purpose of efficiency is not to conserve but the complete opposite: increase production and sales to ensure more profits. In fact, decisions on investing in more efficiency are gauged on returns, which in turn are paid for through increased profits. The same goes for reducing waste.

Similarly, if it is cheaper to outsource production to countries which do not regulate as much concerning pollution, then businesses will opt to do that (which is actually what many of them have been doing for decades).

That's why pollution has been going up together with economic output, which in turn is driven by more technology. That increase in output cannot be maintained, however, due to limits to growth:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... g-collapse

Thus, there is no "complexity paradox of technology." Rather than make processes simpler, technology actually does them more efficiently.

And because the use of technology involves one which dominates the rest (i.e., the ability to create "wealth" using numbers in hard drives), then there is no decrease in pollution or conservation of resources as well. Instead, there is a drive for increasing output (thanks to greater efficiency) and consumption (to pay for investments in efficiency) to guarantee more profits (the reason for investing in efficiency), and based ironically on the technology of credit: more virtual wealth created to drive economic output, in turn to create even more virtual wealth to churn back into the system.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby Squilliam » Wed 15 Mar 2017, 23:23:56

ralfy wrote:
But technology is used in a global capitalist system and not an "economic ecology." That means the purpose of efficiency is not to conserve but the complete opposite: increase production and sales to ensure more profits. In fact, decisions on investing in more efficiency are gauged on returns, which in turn are paid for through increased profits. The same goes for reducing waste.

Similarly, if it is cheaper to outsource production to countries which do not regulate as much concerning pollution, then businesses will opt to do that (which is actually what many of them have been doing for decades).

That's why pollution has been going up together with economic output, which in turn is driven by more technology. That increase in output cannot be maintained, however, due to limits to growth:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... g-collapse



These aren't opposites. The movement of production from the west to the east wasn't hunting higher efficiency. Infact the higher efficiency producers are all in the west (hence the story of our relative wealth). If you consider the ultimate inputs, outputs and conversion efficiency of those with respect to the negative externalities produced like pollution we do it better, and are improving all the time. Hence the economic ecology of the west being better than many other countries such as China. If you are willing to work 10 hours and produce slightly more than what another person does in 6 it doesn't mean you're a 'more efficient' person. Comparatively speaking you may get the job, but it doesn't mean you're better at it. The fact that China's growth is coming at the expense of the environment is policy issue rather than a pollution/economic issue.

If we look at the way the economy is set out there are significant numbers of 'low productivity' workers working in the 'service' sector. This is because a significant part of the economy is so damn efficient that it wouldn't matter if 70% of people don't show up to work because economic output would not fall by much at all. Again it is an issue of policy at a political level rather than an issue of the economy. A lot of workers simply replicate in the monetary economy what was once done in the non-monetary economy. Furthermore inequality in incomes means that it is relatively cheap for high income workers to essentially employ a bunch of servants at low cost to do things they could easily do themselves (or wouldn't consider important enough to bother with). High incomes force efficiency from people/businesses, and low incomes the reverse.



Thus, there is no "complexity paradox of technology." Rather than make processes simpler, technology actually does them more efficiently.

And because the use of technology involves one which dominates the rest (i.e., the ability to create "wealth" using numbers in hard drives), then there is no decrease in pollution or conservation of resources as well. Instead, there is a drive for increasing output (thanks to greater efficiency) and consumption (to pay for investments in efficiency) to guarantee more profits (the reason for investing in efficiency), and based ironically on the technology of credit: more virtual wealth created to drive economic output, in turn to create even more virtual wealth to churn back into the system.


Virtual wealth is still tied to actual wealth. There can be no disconnect between the two because there is a constant conversion between them. If debt rises and the economy doesn't grow, then the debt won't get repaid. There is no real 'crisis' of debt, there just is a need to rationalise the divergence between the two.

Sure technology is no panacea. The world is having problems, but those problems are a question of 'how' we run the economy more so than 'what' we run the economy on. Capitalism isn't the problem. It's crony capitalism whereby large businesses are capable of distorting the market and the political system for their own ends. Large corporations in the west are not significantly different compared to large state owned enterprises in China for instance except in terms of how they are owned. Technology keeps making the equations tighter in terms of those inputs/outputs tighter, but like a kid with a trust fund and a coke habit we keep blowing it. The paradox still stands because we are moving from a complex globalised system back towards a less complex and yet higher development model. Knowledge and technology are more portable than people, so we will likely see a movement back towards local production of goods/services because robotics/computers are leading a third industrial revolution that makes the comparative advantage of low wage economies much in the same way that subsistence farming cannot compete with industrial agriculture on an open market due to the sheer productivity differences.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby efarmer » Thu 16 Mar 2017, 11:21:53

It seems you see the whole issue as one of sheer prouductivity, enabled by technology and robotics, and industrial agrilculture. This is a fine top level view when you drop out minor details like the people who live in such an envrironment. That minor detail, the people, they become service workers, the health care system becomes a product we all know they have to buy, so the market moves in and attempts to place the price of healthcare above lodging, it sells them minutes and bandwidth, and they seem to jump at the notion of "how much does this cost me a month" and forego any long term view of life. The end game really is productivity can soar under automation and vast industrial agriculture and negate the ability of the people within nations to buy the products any longer. The end game seems to be a host of global corporate entities all tooled up and searching the globe to see where people have the money to buy their products. When wealth is concentrated in 1 to 5% of a population, that 1 to 5% can automate and industrialize and dominate, but they have disenfranchised the consumers of their products via economic leverage. The balance in the equation is stewardship by nations and regions for their people balanced against the pure efficiency pursuit that tends to duck the messy situation of people, taxable wages, insurance and benefits, and societal balance. Until you hit this end game, the path is extremely lucrative, the political influence is for sale to preserve the gambit, and the investors all come out smelling like a rose. We have built a untenable society on the back of the cheap petroleum exploit of the last 80 years, wherein technological advances on the back of cheap fossil fuels has wrought miracles and monstrosities in exploding rings of suburbia, thousands of miles of strip malls, millions of big plastic sided oriented strand board contrivances on cul de sacs, and millions of people like shock monkeys Twittering and Facebooking what they ate lately, what they want to eat or see on video, while waiting to get out of their cul de sac onto the feeder road to the strip mall artery that connects to the highway commute. Couple the extreme inefficency of the living situation with the automation and industrialization trends that won't need these people any longer and you see the end game of the fossil fuel exploit in America. People who are not needed except to consume not having the money to buy the fabulous products of the almost workerless production miracles .
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby onlooker » Thu 16 Mar 2017, 13:34:55

Well said Efarmer. And again, how do you Squil counter the Limits to growth arguments that I, Ralfy and Efarmer are making?
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby ralfy » Thu 16 Mar 2017, 14:37:19

Squilliam wrote:These aren't opposites. The movement of production from the west to the east wasn't hunting higher efficiency. Infact the higher efficiency producers are all in the west (hence the story of our relative wealth). If you consider the ultimate inputs, outputs and conversion efficiency of those with respect to the negative externalities produced like pollution we do it better, and are improving all the time. Hence the economic ecology of the west being better than many other countries such as China. If you are willing to work 10 hours and produce slightly more than what another person does in 6 it doesn't mean you're a 'more efficient' person. Comparatively speaking you may get the job, but it doesn't mean you're better at it. The fact that China's growth is coming at the expense of the environment is policy issue rather than a pollution/economic issue.


They are the complete opposite of each other because conservation means decreasing resource use. Higher efficiency in capitalist systems means doing the opposite. That's why resource availability has been dropping while economic output has been rising worldwide, together with pollution. See the graphs in the article I shared for details.

The rest of your paragraph proves my arguments. The U.S. and other countries outsourced because labor costs were lower elsewhere and environmental regulations were lacking, leading to lower overall costs. The use of the dollar as a reserve currency, and then later the petrodollar, only encouraged that movement. The same petrodollar allowed for heavy borrowing and spending to create an "American dream" where less than 5 pct of the world's economy was consuming at least a fifth of world oil production.

There's your "economic ecology": funny money creation to fuel a consumer spending economy.


If we look at the way the economy is set out there are significant numbers of 'low productivity' workers working in the 'service' sector. This is because a significant part of the economy is so damn efficient that it wouldn't matter if 70% of people don't show up to work because economic output would not fall by much at all. Again it is an issue of policy at a political level rather than an issue of the economy. A lot of workers simply replicate in the monetary economy what was once done in the non-monetary economy. Furthermore inequality in incomes means that it is relatively cheap for high income workers to essentially employ a bunch of servants at low cost to do things they could easily do themselves (or wouldn't consider important enough to bother with). High incomes force efficiency from people/businesses, and low incomes the reverse.


That's also connected the first point. Labor costs were rising, and more people no longer wanted to work in factories and farms. Instead, they wanted to work in the service industry and then use large amounts of credit created to buy cheap good from China. Meanwhile, Chinese workers were saving, and then later with the rest of the world started copying the U.S.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-22956470

That's the same U.S. that has less than 5 pct of the world's population but had been consuming around a fifth of world oil production.

Thus, the economy was so "damn efficient" because it was borrowing and spending heavily form the early 1980s onward:

http://blogs.reuters.com/rolfe-winkler/ ... s-of-debt/

Virtual wealth is still tied to actual wealth. There can be no disconnect between the two because there is a constant conversion between them. If debt rises and the economy doesn't grow, then the debt won't get repaid. There is no real 'crisis' of debt, there just is a need to rationalise the divergence between the two.


Virtual wealth refers to credit. Actual wealth refers to goods and services that money can buy. Those same goods and services require material resources and energy.

The current credit market is many times larger than even global GDP. That disconnect has been taking place for years.


Sure technology is no panacea. The world is having problems, but those problems are a question of 'how' we run the economy more so than 'what' we run the economy on. Capitalism isn't the problem. It's crony capitalism whereby large businesses are capable of distorting the market and the political system for their own ends. Large corporations in the west are not significantly different compared to large state owned enterprises in China for instance except in terms of how they are owned. Technology keeps making the equations tighter in terms of those inputs/outputs tighter, but like a kid with a trust fund and a coke habit we keep blowing it. The paradox still stands because we are moving from a complex globalised system back towards a less complex and yet higher development model. Knowledge and technology are more portable than people, so we will likely see a movement back towards local production of goods/services because robotics/computers are leading a third industrial revolution that makes the comparative advantage of low wage economies much in the same way that subsistence farming cannot compete with industrial agriculture on an open market due to the sheer productivity differences.


Capitalism with competition is how the global population runs the economy. How it runs the economy determines what it is run on. What determines that are profits and returns on investment, both of which are churned into the same economy to make even more profits and returns. And since that involves increasing sales from increasing production (which requires increasing resource and energy use), then it requires more complex systems, including "robotics/computers".

That's why there is no move from a complex global system to a less complex and localized one. The "robotics/computers" used even for "local production of goods/services" required extensive supply chains to manufacture and even to ship. The same "robotics/computers" are not only made using complex processes they also don't make processes simpler. Rather, they make them faster. And as businesses competing with each other dream of even faster "robotics/computers" to provide even more "goods/services" to more people, then the process involves not only more complexity but less localization.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby onlooker » Thu 16 Mar 2017, 15:04:24

And to finish that very clear and accurate explanation by Ralfy, if we decided to alter course from our capitalist industrial world Economy that would put into imminent and immediate jeopardy the life and well being of many people who rely on the mass food production system which relies on on fossil fuels. Not to mention that our vast ubiquitous transportation system ships needed food and medicine to many around the world and also runs on fossil fuels.
So efficiency , technology and productivity are in fact at its core ways to improve and extend our current capitalist industrial world Economy and mode of civilization. The Oil Industry is now in dire straits because essentially oil and other fossil fuels are inherently non renewable finite resources. Our planet's life support systems and consequently our human systems are already facing deadlines on their continued viability because of the huge strain and impacts of our species and its mode of existence. We cannot continue like this much longer as neither Earth nor our huge population will allow it. Yet even totally disengaging will have disastrous consequences
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby Squilliam » Fri 17 Mar 2017, 03:20:16

@Ralfy: Capitalism refers to the private control of the means of production. It doesn't necessarily mean that the world is screwed. People work within the rules, so the fact that resources are being squandered doesn't mean that the system cannot conserve them. We are entering into a new stage of economic development, so the old rules and ways of operation don't necessarily apply to the new systems. We are moving towards an era where increasing efficiency, lower resource usage and greater conversion of raw materials into end products is becoming a new paradigm. Add into that the increasing productivity of modern production methods as well as the creation of more durable end products means we can make gains on both sides of the production equations.

The problems of economics are simply a problem of distribution of resources and spending. A small proportion of people are growing their wealth in the form of debt, and the rest of the economy is being forced to take on debt in order to allow the economic systems to function. There are huge problems, but they are only really large at this point because there hasn't been the political will to allow the system to shed the excess debt. The reason for this is that a lot of retirement savings and middle class wealth is also tied into this broken economic system. Eventually it will be rationalised, so it isn't a problem in a real world sense. The fact others are willing to buy this debt isn't really a problem except in the sense that a default will mean that government will have to live within its means.

The world when it finally knuckles down and decides to conserve resources is an entirely different place to the last 100 years of growth. We can be considerably more efficient. The increasingly globalised economic system came about because of a comparative advantage for cheap labour destinations. Once this comparative advantage ends then the global economic system can move into a period of rationalisation/simplification. When production is automated with very few workers needed what point is there to ship over international borders multiple times in order to produce products when factories can be located close to each other to maximise shipping and logistical inefficiencies. This is what I refer to when I say that we can reach a point of higher complexity and simplicity at the same time. One part simply gives way to another part in this system.
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Re: Anti doomer: The complexity paradox of technology

Unread postby baha » Fri 17 Mar 2017, 06:54:21

Computers and technology are just tools. They can only do what we teach them to do (so far). If they become self sustaining by developing their own production chain we will indeed be obsolete. How long will they keep us around consuming resources?

In realty we need to refocus our goals away from automation and human redundancy and toward a more connected relationship with nature. Automation removes us from nature. Plowing a field and harvesting the result puts us closer to nature. Just because I work the garden doesn't mean I can't also research technological answers using computers as a tool.

A computer will never replace me as a source of original thought that isn't based on some pre-existing algorithm.

Squilliam - Have you ever read the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov? He runs this scenario thru from beginning to end. And it ain't pretty.
A Solar fuel spill is otherwise known as a sunny day!
The energy density of a tank of FF's doesn't matter if it's empty.
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