Can we shut down the system for repairs?
Well, shutting down the world for repairs would be conceptually neat, but does not seem to use the path finding mechanisms that nature typically uses. She offers myriad examples of how run-away growth systems can change by maturing to become stable self-managing ecologies. That’s what we need to do, and learn how to mimic, that our culture knows little about, importantly because science has avoided studying the opportunistic learning of natural systems all but entirely.
I know this approach is problematic for someone accustomed to representing systems with equations. Real ecosystems are niche making learning and development processes, though, largely involved in “rule making” not “rule following” . The far better conceptual models for them are of collective learning and environmental development. Collective learning and development systems can cling to one systematic behavior while it is useful, and the break from it to find and cling to another model, when that is opportune, because the parts are actively learning as they go.
One of the basics of learning systems is they can’t shut down to change. Their learning is an active process and they need forward motion to be able to find new paths. It’s just like a sailboat can’t navigate if it’s dead in the water. It would only be an outside control agent that would shut things down to fix them. Learning and development systems work with active internal agents instead.
There are lots and lots of examples. Most of them don’t have any goal seeking structures, like DNA, either. What they rely on most is exploratory search. That’s what exposes and leads them on their new pathways of development. The search processes of such systems as a whole come from the active learning of their parts, discovering new ways to work together as they and their environments change, with whole system taking on their learning swarm behaviors.
One can also be very definite about some general features of what growth systems must do to transform into stable systems. As a learning process, growth starts with searches for ever bigger and bigger steps of scale and complexity. Then to stabilize they need to home in on a new stable state, and that takes using smaller and smaller steps.
They need to switch from organizationally diverging to converging. Not doing so is, of course, quite suicidal, and you can find lots of examples of how growth systems self-destruct when failing to end growth and mature. That switch in the style of organizational change is typically visible at the inflection point in their “S” curve.
Knowing only that, one can be completely certain that to be successful our transition will NOT be based on compound investment for ever multiplying capital accumulation. When you study the choices for using a system’s net surpluses, one of the amazing things you find is that nothing in the system relies on how they are used, nothing at all. That is nothing except for building the system’s directions of change in the future. It’s free to be used for anything, as a growth driver or a growth stabilizer.
How the switch in using the surplus is typically made is by responding to signals that a past use of it is becoming unprofitable, such as the approaching end of the systems’ seed resource, its “fossil fuel” store that all systems get their first start with. It’ prompts them to switch from short horizon investments to long ones, like by putting down roots.
The successful examples all seem to do just what people intuitively WANT to do, but seem quite clueless as to how. Science has simply not studied it at all, is part of the problem, and even though I have a large store of high value and readily actionable guidance to offer on the subject, no one is even asking questions.
For us a critical first step is to relive the procedures requiring our economy’s surplus resources be used for multiplying it’s both physical and financial returns. So what does that look like? What is enduring financial investment without multiplying returns?
It looks like a system that remains profitable and spends its net-returns on things satisfying **other purposes**, other than multiplying its own unsustainable scale. That might be using the profits from investments to sponsor good works rather than accelerate resource depletion, or lots of other things.
Most people react judgmentally and walk away, as if thinking “Oh people can’t do THAT(!!), whether it’s necessary for our cultural survival or not!”, as if it would be just too much of a bother to check out why nature absolutely requires things to do that to survive. The physics is quite unequivocal, that any human culture that survives will not be relying on compound investment of their surplus resources.
Still, it is somewhat of a bother, to shift paradigms in mid-stream, but if you study how nature manages successful systems, that’s precisely what they ALL do to survive at the end of their compound growth.