I have been thinking about ways that the level of technological development can be maximized with minimal detrimental effects on humans and the environment. I have been talking with Jason Godesky on this topic, but as of late he has not been responding to my posts. I can only imagine why this is. Nevertheless, I will show you a portion of our many conversations:
I’ve been thinking about what you said about my last post, and I now see you were right
about my concept of a post-scarcity tribe being redundant. But the production of more
advanced tech need not be lost post-collapse. I have been looking into this project
started by MIT called the Fab Lab, or Fabrication Laboratory. Here is some info from
Wikipedia on it:
A Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small scale workshop with the tools to make
almost anything. This includes technology-enabled products generally perceived as limited
to mass production.
While Fab Labs cannot compete with mass production and its associated economies of scale
in fabricating widely distributed products, they have the potential to empower
individuals to create smart devices for themselves. These devices can be tailored to
local or personal needs in ways that are not practical or economical using mass
Part of the argument against the more advanced technology is that is is dependent on the
systems that are so antithetical to human nature for it’s existance. A Fab Lab can make
this less true.
Using the miles of copperwire found in todays electric grid, generators can be made very
From the miles of copper wire that make up today’s electricity grid, generators can be
made. This will allow electricity,
But of course there is the question of WHY we need what our anscestors clearly didn’t. I
answered some of that in my posts:
Say a large disaster occurs on one corner of the globe, and has the potential to spread-
A plague. The faster news of this could spread, the better, right?
Such would also help for coordinating tribes against a large and powerful attacker.
The type of tribe I talk about does not avoid technology, but at the same time does not
take hold of a Taker lifestyle. They choose to use advanced technology if it can be
developed cheaply enough (Which is what the Bits and Pieces Lab and ------- are for) and
suits their needs.
This might include renewable energy, a small scale internet and/or BBS, and I could go on
These can bhave benefits and with the Leaver ethic plus the abiltiy to produce it at such
a reduced cost can seriously diminish the negative use of the tech.
Have my arguments improved?[/i]
Here is what Jason’s response was:
ON SUPPLYING THE FAB LAB
Perhaps, but the critical question is, what does a Fab Lab need? What are its inputs in
terms of energy and materials? How can these be provided? I imagine that in order to
make technology, you’d need to bring in silicon, for instance. Once I use some silicon,
I’ll need more silicon to replace it. How will that work? The Fab Lab doesn’t simply
generate whatever materials it needs, it needs to be stocked. How do you stock it
without an industrial infrastructure? There’s the real crux of the issue
My response? It can be recycled from machines made of silicon. Granted this would require not only a fab lab but some one who knows how to make computers and other such equipment, as well as a stockpile of the required metals. As long as supply can meet demand, and the skills to utilize the supply exist in a community, there should be no problem
ON PREVENTING PLAGUES
[i]Not necessarily. Why hasn’t ebola wiped out Africa’s population? It’s too virulent. It
wipes out a whole village before anyone can get out, so it kills off the whole village
and dies out because there’s no one to spread to. Dispersed populations of foragers and
horticulturalists are generally immune to plague, not only because they don’t have
domesticated animals to infect them with zoonotic diseases (which is where nearly all
epidemics come from), but even if they did, they’re too spread out for it to spread
beyond the initial band or village.
With a Fab Lab, you might have the ability to warn them, but you’d also have the ability
to go visit your neighbors and infect them, too. It gives you the ability to warn them,
sure, but without it, there’d be no need for a warning in the first place.[I]
Actually, all a Fab Lab does is allow the production of goods that previously would only be available via mass production, albiet at a reduced rate of production. It would require a transportation and comm system for what Godesky talks about.
ON DEFENDING AGAINST AN ATTACKER
But how would such an attacker arise, expect with a Fab Lab? It sounds to me like you’re
only somewhat solving the problems you’re creating, which is generally what technology
has done throughout history.
For it to be large, agriculture would have to be in place to allow for large population growth. A fabrication lab would possibly allow more sophisticated weaponry than their enemy’s numbers, but it would not alone make some one large and powerful.
ON INCREASING COMPLEXITY
How do you avoid the Prisoner’s Dilemna, then? If it’s a choice, then someone else might
choose to live at a slightly higher level of complexity for a little more work. At that
point, he rolls over everyone, whether he wants to or not. It becomes a race to the top,
a positive feedback loop of increasing complexity. How do you short-circuit that? The
only way I know is to take the choice out of our own hands; our energy level is imposed
on us, rather than chosen by us. Given the power to set its own level of complexity, any
organism on the planet would be compelled to overrun the world.
Here he again makes the mistake of confusing one form of technological infrastructure for another. Overruning the world would primarilly be an issue when dealing with agriculture, which causes intense population growth, but I am not talking about that. Sure there would be increasing social complexity, but as long as the culture, politics, and economic remain sustainable, there should be no problem. As for homogenisation of cultures, any one who goes on the internet, one of the key part of the globalization movement, ought to notice how diverse it is in it’s representations of cultures and subcultures. Human Nature being what it is, you don’t need to worry about loss of diversity at all, globalization or no.
They just won’t be ethnicity based.
You’ve just got to worry about making sure that the cultures that result can be sustained. No I do not refer to the silly concept of a sustainable civ. Here is an an of what I talk about:
You have a network of small town, each self sufficient in regards to food and energy, sharing a common culture that develops because of pre-crisis demographics, relation to spirit of place, and because of the workings of a communications network, that might be Green IT (Google that and see what you find), or Radio, which would be more centralised, but if law requires them to be to some extent . This won’t result in being detached from the land or from people. If anything, it will enhance both connections, as advanced communications would encourage a more cosmopolitan spirit between tribes and villages. It would not extinguish boundaries, but it would mean less deaths and strife because of them. For shamans, it would mean a chance to work with others in their mutual role of mediating between the sprits and humanity. As Godesky mentioned himself, the roles urban life plays can be done just as well by festivals. I could go on and on about this. But the central point As long as the globalized culture does not contradict with human nature and be ecologically sustainable, then there really is no problem.
But how can such a thing be accomplished? I will cover that tommorow. It’s late. I have to go to bed.