Quora – How do we continue to power a civilization without destroying it?

Quora – How do we continue to power a civilization without destroying it?

We are not short of energy – the sun delivers the equivalent of 15cm of oil over the entire planet every year.

The sun delivers all the energy we actually need.

The issue is the way we value things.

The idea of money is an idea measured in markets, it is value in exchange.

The sun’s energy is distributed, like the air we breath. There is no money or profit in things that are distributed and universally available. So by definition, there is no market incentive to move to solar energy, and huge market incentive to prevent such moves.

Sure, there are energy density issues with many existing battery technologies, and lots of other issues related to chemistry in use and fabrication at scale, and those could be solved relatively quickly if effort was directed that way.

And once again, the idea we have, of using money to direct effort, and using the incentives of the market (scarcity based value in exchange), does not incentivise the delivery of the sort of universal abundance that people actually need. There is no incentive to include factors in the design process unless those factors have a monetary impact.

So it is very complex.

We need to develop mechanisms that incentivise us to use the automated systems we can now produce to deliver an abundance of all the things that individuals reasonably need for security and reasonable degrees of freedom, at the same time as we cease all our negative impacts on the wider environment, and put in place effective mechanisms to preserve what biodiversity we have left.

And those are very complex systems, so by definition there can be no simple set of rules that can produce an outcome like that. Such a process will be an iterative one, of trying out things and seeing what works and what doesn’t and repeating, eternally.

So there are many parts to the answer:

1 is accepting that individual security and individual liberty are both maximised in cooperative environments (the mathematics and logic of that is beyond any reasonable doubt) – the myth that freedom is maximised in competitive markets is pure myth. And our current market economic system is very complex, and performs many functions that are complex and required, so it is not a simple matter of just stopping using money, it is much more complex and multi-leveled than that. And it is something we need to do, over time, in a safe manner (multiple safe to fail experiments). So we need to move to globally cooperative systems (not global control, global cooperation between many levels of diverse systems). Probably some sort of universal income required as a stage in the process.

2 we need to respect individual life and individual liberty universally, and individuals need to accept that liberty always comes with responsibilities – as all levels of system require boundaries if they are to survive, and we are very complex multi leveled systems, as are our cultures. Existence trumps freedom, so there are necessary but eternally uncertain and changing boundaries required for existence, hence necessary but uncertain and changing limits to freedom.

3 we need to develop fully automated systems that can meet the reasonable needs of all individuals, and the needs of the ecosystems that exist on the planet (not either or, both and).

4 we need to accept that real liberty results in real diversity, and can only exist in contexts where diversity is accepted. Provided entities respect the lives and liberties of others, then they must have the right to exist and to express their own liberty. Such diversity will be difficult for the more conservative among us.

5 we must accept that complex systems cannot be constrained by simple rules. Complex systems are always changing, and that reality comes with an eternal responsibility to respond to such changes. And the notion of responsibility itself evolves, as new levels of awareness and complexity emerge.

We need to accept that the simple models are not an appropriate response to complexity except in the most dire of circumstances.

Cooperation is always vulnerable to multiple levels of cheating strategies, and comes with a responsibility on all of us to make reasonable efforts to detect and remove cheating strategies (both internal and external – within ourselves first and foremost, and within others – always easiest to see such things in others, always much harder to see them in ourselves).

Not simple, and doable.

Let us do it!

[followed by – in response to Gaja Vasisht – civilisation and destruction 2 sides of the same coin.]

Not really.

Sure there seems to be a fundamental balance between order and chaos at the root of existence – we seem to live in a universe of unpredictability within probability functions.

And life seems to have existed for some 4 billion years on this planet (without disappearing), with new levels of complexity and order emerging from time to time (as new levels of cooperation stabilised), including us, and our civilisation(s).

And sure, there is no guarantee of life, and we can increase the probabilities substantially with a bit of serious directed effort.

There is no requirement for civilisation to go to chaos, and it is a definite possibility, particularly if the myth that competitive markets are good for freedom survives (as it is demonstrably the case in mathematics and logic that freedom is optimised in cooperative contexts, and minimised in competitive contexts).

So there is certainly a sense in which destruction is possible unless there is far greater awareness generally, and far greater individual responsibility generally. And there are some real indications that such is happening. So not all doom and gloom, actually quite a bit happening that contains real positive probabilities for life and liberty generally – provided that everyone accepts that liberty contains responsibilities and life demands some restraints on liberty.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
This entry was posted in Longevity, Our Future, understanding and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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