Friday, March 11, 2011

In The Beginning

A great rant by Answer the questions for yourself, and share. Here.

"Why does added complexity make technological systems weaker and ecological systems stronger? How does the complexity know? Clearly we're being confused by language, and what we call "complexity" in a computer is different from what we call "complexity" in a forest. One difference is that a computer is controlled by the CPU, while a forest is decentralized; another difference is that a computer has fixed connections, while a forest can shift its connections around; another is that a computer depends on single components for most of its functions, while a forest is loaded with redundancy.

I think if you look at the system of hardware and software that runs Google, you'll find it's a lot more like a forest than like a single computer. The internet itself was designed with heavy redundancy -- it's been said that the net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. With a few more components -- long-range wi-fi, backyard solar panels, garage microprocessor fabs -- the internet could even survive a hard crash.

It's not that our tech system is too complex, but that it's complex in the wrong way. We should be designing technologies to mimic nature. And going back to Monday's subject, we should be designing societies to mimic nature. Our political and economic systems are still so amazingly primitive that they require decisions to come from the center, instead of emerging from everywhere. Empires fall, not because we're at the end of history, but because we're at the beginning."

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