This report reviews some of the basic relationships between energy, entropy, order, and information, especially in the context of self-organizing dissipative systems. It has two parts. Four general ideas are discussed in the first part: (I) Information (negative entropy) can be captured and stored in dissipative structures, including living organisms. (2) “Evolutionary level” can be usefully defined as the ability of living organisms to capture and store information in structures. This is a variant of Lotka’s principle. It is further suggested (3) that intelligence can be defined as the ability to modify or create external (nonliving) structures capable of storing information. It is also suggested (4) that information may be stored in two forms: (a) as “free energy” and (b) as structure (morphological differentiation) per se.
The report then focuses on the economic system as a self-organizing dissipative system in which intelligent activity (accumulation) of information-storing structures is more and more consciously controlled and managed. The main agent of negentropic accumulation is technology, generated endogenously by the economic system or adapted by it. The fundamental role of technological change as a driver of economic growth is emphasized, as is the increasing degree to which change and growth are intentionally managed. This trend also creates new vulnerabilities.