Specialized human RNA scientist working with complex tools in complex civilization.
The only thing that maintains complex structures through time is their willingness and effectiveness at gathering energy and creating more of themselves. Whether it is a simple dissipative structure stretching from hot to cold like a hurricane or something on a much smaller scale or something that has become very complex, all are basically the same. Unfortunately for humans, we have been raised on a daily ration of sunlight, constrained by competing species, and within the blink of a geological eye our rapidly evolving neural tissue has put us back into cells to pound out the tools to eat the new found bounty of the earth. But this energy we so greedily consume is not doled-out to a balanced ecosystem, in small amounts over time, but is consumed as rapidly and in as many ways as possible.
It is only because we were the first species to advance in the direction of a new systematicity that we have had to ourselves a variety of accumulated energy stores, including fossil fuels. Having this energy to ourselves and because of our analog minds, we have been able to grow in complexity very rapidly by processing the energy with various structures resulting in growth and waste. It seems to me that, despite our great intelligence 🙂 we are still controlled by the maximum power principle which basically says that those structures that capture the most energy and reproduce themselves most effectively will be represented in the future. An eternal competition leading nowhere. Seemingly it has not occurred to humans that their sudden and vast inheritance of energy that has fired civilization’s development and technological complexity, are limited in amount and accessibility. It most certainly has not occurred to most economists. When the fuels are gone, the structures will be gone too, along with the complexity.
People have been led into this technological organization where jobs are provided in cells producing the structures and tools to eat the resources and energy stores. It would be impossible to fully exploit the resources without our current organization. Civilization is the organized process of making the connection between hot and cold and producing the conduits to accomplish the task. We exist, but only by inserting ourselves between hot and cold and converting the release of energy into some directed kinetic activity in the assembly and maintenance of ourselves. Those that make the most copies of themselves have captured the most energy by whatever means. But great success can come to a crashing halt. If the source of energy was limited, then the entirety the dissipative structure, regardless of complexity, will stop processing energy, stop reproducing and lifeless structures disintegrate over time. When fossil fuel energy begins to grow scarce, those in “civilized” society will become a bit nervous as their pursuit of the maximum power principle is threatened. Instead of sitting within the walls of a technological cell doing their work and earning resources, they may be side-lined at home as others pursue their goals. What happens when the total amount of energy flowing through the system is inadequate to provide food to the human RNA, working and unemployed? At that point society and “civlization” breaks down as the metabolism, order and growth winds down. At that point humans revert to a more barbaric state, a more natural state in which “law and order” no longer have meaning and survival is priority number one. ISIS or ISIL and the Syrian refugees are a good example of the loss of civilization where once complex conversions of energy are replaced by monocultures of the mind that revel in the destruction of anything more cultivated or at variance.
Tribal Taliban human, another Jihadi John, enforcing the primitive monoculture of the mind by murder no less.
As the energy wanes it is unlikely that we will transition to a world of peaceful permaculture gardens. I have little doubt that a reversion to the mean will occur worldwide as civilization finishes its fossil fuel meal and the lights begin to flicker. Nationalism now and then various other forms of tribalism will flourish in a seemingly endless nightmare of savage competition for resources. Participation or taking sides will not be voluntary. Most will try to emigrate to areas where civilization is still intact, where human RNA follow the rules, work in cells and distribute the bounty of their cancerous exploits. Let’s hope they’re making great strides in fusion research, but this too coupled with the seemingly uncontrollable impulse towards growth, is just another flavor of insanity.