OK, I'm making this page to try to draw together and summarize some of the discussions between HilanBensusan, OliSharpe, ZbigniewLukasiak and myself (PhilJones) over the last couple of days.

Part 1

The conversation went from :

Here's a very very rough outline of the dynamic, losing all the interesting and subtle arguments and side-issues :

Hilan : Hacking is sick

Oli : it's grounded in HumanNature and SustainableCultures need to accomodate themselves to human nature

Hilan : belief in HumanNature is dangerous. And our culture isn't sustainable

Oli : I think our culture is pretty sustainable

Hilan : how can you believe our culture is sustainable when it's clearly so bad?

Zbigniew : bad and unsustainable are different things

Phil : Yep, you're confusing "bad" with "unsustainable"

But at this point I notice something I think is very important. It's not that Hilan is confusing "bad" with "unsustainable". It's that Hilan's notion of "sustainability" is different from the one I and Oli (and probably) Zbigniew are implicitly assuming.

I'm thinking of sustainability largely as a matter of constraints. There are deep principles which govern what kinds of societies are possible. These could come from psychology and human nature, but these days I'm inclined to look even deeper : at mathematics such as GraphTheory and InformationTheory which govern what kinds of organizational structures are possible and efficient.

Hilan is talking about something very different : "unsustainable" basically means something so bad that it can't be allowed to continue. Implicit in Hilan's thinking is the idea that the most important constraint is what we are willing to tolerate. And no other constraints are really binding. In fact, it's generally dangerous to worry about them because that's likely to confuse our notions of what is tolerable.

OK, so the nature and importance of contraints, along with HumanNature is an argument we have to have.

Also worth remembering :

  • even if there are systematic constraints, we can still learn to control and intervene in systems : OnInterventions

Perhaps "Collapse" is a useful standard. Might want to take a look at JosephTainter's work - BillSeitz:CollapseOfComplexSocieties

Part 2

Spinning off the above discussion from Hilan, Oli started another series of pages :

  • after much discussion, he challenged me to define my suggestions for something political which was MoreThanJustTinkering with the current political set-up.