XXIIVV

We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our way of living is already passing into history.

Collapse is the transition away from a globalized, hyperconnected and materially-abundant society, toward a state of greater precariousness, lesser abundance, potentially reaching a stage of existential risk for our species.

A graph of production over time that steadily increases before dropping rapidly

At the peak of the Seneca Cliff, the curve that describes the rapid phase transitions of complex systems on the basis of the principle that "growth is sluggish, but ruin is rapid." We see a green valley in the distance, but the road down the cliff is so steep and rough that it is hard to say whether we will survive the descent.

Dark City (1998)

Hope, while once a useful trait, is what has condemned us, because we literally cannot see the cliff as we dance off it. Instead of celebrating the failed audacity of hope, it might be prudent to contemplate, in the time we have left, the paucity of hope - because the most we can realistically hope for, trapped by forgone conclusions, is to vanquish fear and find the grace of acceptance.

Rate of Collapse

Rapid Collapse will happen rapidly on a global scale within a narrow timeframe. Lots of small local infrastructure failures, political instabilities, or extreme weather events will prevent a gradual transition.
Linear Collapse will occur slowly and globally. Global infrastructure and production chains will be increasingly harder to maintain. Many nation-states and local communities will see their material conditions deteriorate over the years. Although this will lead to a reduction in population and welfare, the gradual transition will allow for adaptation.
Non-Linear Due to ecological and infrastructural cross-dependencies, there will be a breaking point where several different and converging forces will be triggered. These will accelerate collapse before a stable situation is reached. This rate of change may be too rapid for humans to adapt to effectively.

Newer homes and furniture burn faster, giving you less time to escape a fire. Research shows that 30 years ago, you had about 17 minutes to escape a house fire. Today it's only 3 or 4 minutes.

Philosophies

OptimistsPessimists
Deniers: there are no downward trends, climatic or ecological threats. The present order is not subject to threats of historic magnitude or capable of experiences compromised material and social well-being. Examples: Koch Brothers, Exxon, Clintel Defeatists: the collapse is inevitable because we should have acted earlier. Now any technical and political solution is superfluous.
Technological Optimists: collapse is possible, but it is a technical problem that can be solved. In particular, new technologies in the ecological, energetic, and digital field will be able to reverse the phenomena we are observing. Delayers: collapse is inevitable and the primary goal is to slow it down in order to extend current conditions as much as possible, making it easier to get through the collapse, and to minimize the cost in terms of human lives.
Reformists: collapse will be prevented by deep restructuring of the production system, welfare, and huge investments in ecological remediation. There will be a political tipping point due to the damage caused by the approaching collapse and the resistance of nation-states to act and protect the status quo. When that happens, sufficient forces will be released for radical interventions. Post-collapsists: the collapse is inevitable and therefore we must act now to build conceptual, technical, and social tools that will serve us during and after the collapse in order to minimize long-term consequences.

collapsology

Imagine that software development becomes so complex and expensive that no software is being written anymore, only apps designed in devtools.

Imagine a computer, which requires 1 billion transistors to flicker the cursor on the screen. Imagine a world, where computers are driven by software written from 400 million lines of source code.

Imagine a world, where the biggest 20 technology corporation totaling 2 million employees and 100 billion USD revenue groups up to introduce a new standard. And they are unable to write even a compiler within 15 years.

This is our current world.

I firmly believe the Internet, and what it stood for, peaked with RSS. Having only the content I want to see only be shown when I want to see it with the freedom to jump between readers as I please, all with no ads? For me, no other service comes close to the flexibility, robustness, and overall ease-of-use that RSS offers. ~

In mainstream computing, "ease of use" is usually implemented as "superficial simplicity" or "pseudo-simplicity", i.e. as an additional layer of complexity that hides the underlying layers. Meanwhile, systems that are actually very simple and elegant are often presented in ways that make them look complex to laypeople

Steve Jobs supposedly claimed that he intended his personal computer to be a bicycle for the mind — But what he really sold us was a train for the mind, which goes only between where rails and stations have been laid down by armies of laborers.

Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.

I always told people that the thing computers are best at is adding unwanted complexity. If I am in a room full of computer professionals I think I am in a room full of people who mostly make their living dealing with computer fat. If you ask that room full of people what their companies do what will they say:

We sell software to clean up the garbage left behind by your programs. We sell software to deal with the growing complexity of your software. We just keep selling bigger upgrades to our product. We sell a bigger CPU. We sell bigger memories. We sell a service solving people's upgrade problems. We sell PCs to people who don't need them. ~

The Cloud Is Just Someone Else's Computer

A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn’t even know existed can render your own computer unusable.

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.
Douglas Adams

Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where long-term is measured at least in centuries.

The dark forest theory of the internet outlines automated dynamics tied to communication. We describe our thoughts incessantly, in detail. But this legibility means that our coordinates are exposed. We can be seen, attacked, and governed. The more detailed our descriptions are, the easier we are to govern. The more we are seen, the easier for us to become a target.

One of the harbingers of the coming digital age is the suspicion that we may lack the ability to make sense of our recorded ones and zeros in the future.

It was meant to be a showcase for Britain's electronic prowess, a digital Domesday Book. But 16 years after it was created, the £2.5 million BBC Domesday Project is now unreadable.

By contrast, the original Domesday Book, an inventory of eleventh-century England compiled in 1086 by Norman monks, is in fine condition in the Public Record Office and can be accessed by anyone who can read and has the right credentials.

Incoming: uxn devlog adaptation solarpunk collapse computing technocracy simulacra