Another example of why I find Charles Stross' blog to be essential and thought provoking reading.
Today's rant is about the ideological flavour of a belief in endless exponential growth and what it means for society. 

My own thoughts are too confused here to be offer much comment. But this. Robert Wilson's and Terence McKenna's ideas about accelerating change proved to be too strong. The novelty curve didn't go vertical in an exponential growth singularity in Dec 2012. So the model was too simplistic. But a sigmoid curve where we're past the steepest part and rate of change is levelling out is also too simplistic a model. And so back to Limits to Growth again.
That model recognises global macro economics as a whole series of interdependent variables, all with implications and all with major lags. Almost every single run results in exponential growth, sigmoid slowing and then a catastrophic correction.

Then there's Buckminster Fuller and Thermodynamics. The laws of thermodynamics and especially the second law are usually quoted without the words "in a closed system". So one approach for dealing with the downsides of exponential growth and this statement "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist - Kenneth Boulter, Economist." is to look for ways in which the system can be changed so that it is no longer closed. In 17th Century England, this would avoid the resource limitations of sheep and wool via imperialism. In the 21st century this might be post-industrial knowledge work, the industrialisation of space, much greater and direct exploitation of solar power and others. That doesn't nullify  the resource limits of oil energy or minerals, or the negative drivers such as pollution, but it does perhaps allow us to sidestep them.

Meanwhile, 99.9% of the population of the earth has a long way to go before it has the lifestyle and comforts of Louis XIV so explonential change, improvement and the future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed.
 The permanent revolution - Charlie's Diary »
This is a statement of ideology, not of fact. For most of the duration of the human species, change has not been an overriding influence on our lives. In fact, it's only since roughly 1800 that you co...

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[ 24-Mar-13 9:50am ]