Who will be the Edison of the 21st century??

Andy Revkin had asked the question on Twitter:

Thomas Edison, with energy breakthroughs, “invented the 20th century.” Who’ll invent the 21st? http://shar.es/m8ziQ #energy #innovation


The way nature engineers her highly dramatic smooth changes in complex systems, her“punctuated equilibria”, is to begin with explosive reorganization and energy flows.

The “catch” is that initial spurt is also their end, producing nothing lasting… *unless* the reverse cycle leading toward the resolution of all those multiplying loose endskicks in, called “maturation”.

So, if Edison invented the 20th century, the author of our explosion as it were, “Who will invent the 21st century”? It’s already quite clear, and already done. It just hasn’t taken hold yet. It was Keynes, actually, in more or less a footnote that was widely misinterpreted. He called it “the widow’s cruse”, defining the crystal clear and necessary steps a market economy must take to avoid destroying itself financially when approaching the operating limits of the earth.

Everyone who first considers doing what is quite physically necessary finds it “unthinkable” is one reason we’re in danger of not carefully looking into it, and failing as a global system. It would be unquestionably a huge relief, and assure our future comfort and security…two very positive things we could get to like,… IF we could just get over the shock of dealing with physical realities we hoped we’d never have to!

Blog entries linking Keynes’ ideas about general systems ecology with current issues. fyi http://synapse9.com/blog/category/natural-economy/



The Biblical Admonition… be good domestics for (the man hiding from view)

There’s been a fascinating discussion on the Monbiot Discussions of the Biblical model of nature as controlled by an authoritarian master, given to humans for us to “be fruitful and multiply” our “dominion” over and “domesticate” (both English words from the same Latin and older roots), and so treat as part of our household and subject our ever increasing control. … I liked this reply I made to Lila on the subject.


But isn’t the biblical admonition precisely to treat the world as our servant, and to “domesticate” everything as fast as humanly possible, AS IF following an instruction from a profit maximizing ruler (calling himself God) speaking to his domestics? The mystery is why we believed it in the first place and clung to it for thousands of years…, given how completely that story contradicts the visible evidence that nature works by things taking care of themselves and finding ways to complement and fit together.

The emotional problem humans have is what’s hard to peg down, whether it’s just being so easily seduced by self-importance or what. The clear evidence is that we DO define economic stability as our economy’s rate of exponential expansion, and are all admonished to follow the Biblical model in fact, and be good domestics serving those in power by becoming ever more productive in advancing their aim of taking every more control of everything in sight, and get showered with gifts for it.

That we don’t see where those growing gifts come from (AND even most “greens” are really not curious about the fairly easily traced connections) is the puzzle. The only satisfying explanation I’ve come to is that consciousness presents our cultural roles AS reality, and we fail to recognize that consciousness is actually a cultural reconstruction of what our senses tell us, following our culture’s traditional models.

It does seem to fit, doesn’t it? That our cultural ideal is still to behave like the domestics of some dead kings from impossibly long ago.. to get showered with approval from all around.


Mind body problem revisited…

In comments on a discussion of “economics as if people and the earth mattered” in a NEF blog post Clever thinking about how we think, Dave Chester offered a concise statement on the scinetific method of reasoning, concluding:

The most famous saying which fails this test is “I think therefore I Exist” (Descarte). Better to claim that because I exist I can think.


Yes, the phrase attributed to Descarte seems to omit whether the word “think” is referring to the physical processes of thought, or the logic. Those certainly exist in rather different senses at least, since the physical process doesn’t work by logic and the logic can’t work anything unless the person uses the physical processes at their mind’s disposal. Continue reading Mind body problem revisited…

The BP blame game.. blind spots

There’s been a lively exchange on GRIST around “Who’s to blame for the Gulf oil gusher?”

MimiK on 10 JUN 2010 8:59AM said:

EVERYONE: This whole issue, and ALL the comments, are all stuck on the same problem: the gap between what we THINK about what we are doing what we are actually DOING.

There is a LOT of theory from a lot of corners, from Buddhism to cognitive brain science to social psychology and more, that each in their own way come to the same conclusion: Human beings have enormous difficulty seeing clearly and truthfully how we are actually acting in life.

We do three things — all of us, every human brain — that make us all LOUSY at the “blame game.” First, we all have a blind spot in the brain that does not see how we are actually acting. Second, there is a gap between what we say about how we are acting and how we are acting — a tendency to believe our own press rather than look clearly and bravely at what we are actually doing. Third, the human brain always UNDER estimates how tragic something is.

So, if you’re going to play the blame game, play it with awareness of our common human brain handicaps: blindspot to how we are actually acting; gap between our words and our actual actions; and chronic underestimation of tragedy. …. Take it from there, people.

I replied:

MimiK,  There’s another dimension to our common cognitive blind spots that helps too. That’s the observable gap between the systems of our thinking and the systems of the physical world…

Consciousness tends to equate reality with the systems of our thinking and so greatly over simplifies and looses track of what the natural systems “explained” may be doing. I’ve written a few things on it from a natural science of systems view, as an inherent hazard of explanation. Once we have explanations for something we tend to think of the natural world as if operating BY our explanations. Of course, it never did or will, so we need to think of explanation as just a coping strategy and remain open to the real mysteries of any subject addressed.

I also approach that by having a list of natural processes that seem to have constant explanation, but usually represent complex systems that are in the process of becoming something else. Basically it’s the four types of accumulative growth systems, recognized from their characteristic feedbacks, (++, -+, +-, –) = (¸¸.•´ ¯ `•.¸¸). They may look regular but indicate complex processes that are turning into something else.

fyi: more at www.synapse9.com or “What Wandering minds need to know” or “Models Learning Change”