A Savage Ecology: Peak Humanity, Extinction Events, and the Great Homogenization

We live in an age of one technical device, the digital computer, and it has a thousand faces. This is a sign of stagnation, not exponential innovation.How could this be? It is presumed that the exponential growth of processing power represents an exponential growth in innovation. This is a good example of how quantity fails to capture intensity. Despite the evangelical promise of Moore’s Law its curve describes an intensification of path dependency. One form of computing, processing, data storage, and commodification is represented. We have experienced relatively few  real  innovations, that is to say, novelties in computers, and much less in technology more generally. Instead we have one computer that has gotten faster and more numerous. While quantitative changes can certainly result in qualitative transformations, these have also been relatively rare. So if we think about differentiation as the measure of innovation we have a very different view of the twentieth and twenty first centuries. We have basically Von Neumann’s design for the computer input, storage, CPU, binary and its digital manifestation over the unpredictable analog cousin and than more then Þfty years later we have the idea of quantum computing and a handful of novel arrangements for computing none of which has panned out. At most there have been maybe three or four major innovations in computing. Of course this extreme homogenization of the computer is what enables the Internet a quantitative change that is also a qualitative transformation, although the lack of diversity is also dangerous a kind of intellectual mechanic monocropping. What might the Irish Potato Famine of 1845 1852 look like for the Internet or for digital devices such as smart phones and laptops? And what creative irruptions have been lost because of the confines of the mediumÕ of the binary, computer based, digital infrastructure? And what about energy production? Almost a hundred years later and we are stuck with coal, oil, nuclear power, and a few renewable platforms that have thus far not provided a realistic alternative to coal, oil,and nuclear. Where is the major breakthrough since splitting the atom?The hope for global technological control presumes that change from within the planetary system is sufficient for order. However the Earth is anything but a closed system.Even our vast planet contains only a very small subset of the players in the fate of our world.While solar and cosmic variation means little to most of us, outside of brief coverage of a passing asteroid, there is constant monitoring and counterbalancing of space weather. Those vast communication and energy networks that mark the advancement of the Anthropocene to a global scale are extraordinarily sensitive to the turbulence of solar and even cosmic events. The vast tumult that is our life giving sun can as easily disrupt world wide cellular phones or reduce the planet to a lifeless cinder. Radiation is yet an other perfect example of the pharmacological nature of biological existence. Without the constant bombardment of the planet by solar radiation there would be no liquid water much less its conversion with carbon dioxide into oxygen by plants. The tenuous atmosphere of the Earth and the relatively limited fluctuations of solar output are essential to life, but a shift or spikein the recurring nuclear explosion of our star and life comes to an immediate end. The same is true of other radioactive forces passing in some case through the Earth. Cosmic rays mayin small doses further mutation and genetic creativity while under slight intensifications destroy or destabilize living systems.

About basicrulesoflife

Year 1935. Interests: Contemporary society problems, quality of life, happiness, understanding and changing ourselves - everything based on scientific evidence.
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