Jared Diamond: Societal Collapse

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If you listen carefully to what Jared Diamond is saying in the TED video above, he is describing not a five part, but a six part power curve into a systemic singularity. This has been one of the core themes of discussion of this blog.  We all seem to be too close to our problems to see the commonality.  The interrogatives come into play here:

  1. Goals
  2. People
  3. Functions
  4. Forms
  5. Times
  6. Distances

Times and Distances being the basis on which the higher orders are built.

When we look at the recent economic “crisis” we see 300 trillion in currency circulating and roughly 1 trillion to 2 trillion shifting suddenly and unexpectedly.  We witnessed a systemic collapse, a singularity, a tipping point, a power curve, an exponential change, a phase transition or whatever label you want to call it.  These have been happening everywhere since Time and Distance began in different contexts and orders both in human and non-human systems.

What Jared Diamond and other alarmists are implying is that human society is now a system approaching its final singularity in this century on this planet.  We are implying that today we are experiencing a less than one percent crisis on a power curve into a singularity.  How many more iterations will the global system withstand?  Will humanity make the step into space successfully before we experience a global dark age?  How will the six or more factors in the power curve play out?

The truth to me appears to be that power curves whether they play out or not result in either a systemic climax or anti-climax followed by a systemic collapse.  Would it not be better if we experienced a systemic climax that led to us expanding into the solar system?

Systemic collapse seems to be the fashion of this generation.  Every generation looks with fascination at its own youth, maturition, reproduction and acceleration into mortality.  Some die early, some die late, but all die.  It is an irrevocable law of nature.  It is not about self-interest.  It is about what self-interest is defined as.

Related Posts:

Beyond the Singularity

Servitas and Libertas

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The Property Ontology

Court limits ‘business method’ patents


Oct 30, 3:45 PM (ET)

BY DANIEL WAGNER

WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled against a man trying to patent a business idea, a decision with far-ranging implications for the financial services and high-tech industries, which have major players on both sides of the issue.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against Bernard Bilski, who wanted to patent a method for hedging against weather-related effects on businesses. Because his process did not involve a particular machine and did not physically transform anything, the court said, the process was not eligible for a patent.

Relying heavily on 1970s-era U.S. Supreme Court decisions that established the “machine-or-transformation test,” Chief Judge Paul Michel wrote for a nine-judge majority that Bilski’s patent application did not meet this definition of “process” under patent law.

The court affirmed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s denial of Bilski’s patent, saying the agency’s interpretation of the “process” was correct.

Consulting firm Accenture and banking company Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) (GS), among others, believed that processes like Bilski’s should be eligible for patents.

Denying the patent “eliminates a whole class of innovations from protection – business methods that rely on humans for execution,” Accenture wrote in a fact sheet arguing for reversal of the patent office’s decision.

But Bank of America Corp. (BAC) (BAC), Wachovia Corp. (WB) (WB) and a host of other companies argued in court briefs that allowing abstract ideas to be patented “hinders rather than promotes innovation.”

Companies that rely on computer-related patents could take heart from the court’s statement that processing data counts as “transformation,” making them patent-eligible. But the court punted on the question of whether mentioning a computer is enough to argue that a process involves a machine.

Two judges filed long dissents, arguing the decision could disrupt industries operating with patents that could be affected by the decision.


It would be nice to see India and China develop their own framework for rational, limited property rights.  The West’s property system is arcane and outmoded.  It reflects a patchwork ontology and is abusing the rights of the individual by corporate interests to the point of irrelevance.

There has to be a new method based on systems or networks of classification of property.  One that  pulls the foot out of the cow pie.  I say clear the ground in the East and build a new independent property institution.  Then phase it in globally.

I’m struggling with what the new ontology for property should be.  Are North Americans even the one’s who should reach the conclusion?

The United States Constitution was crafted before the United States corporation–legal slight of hand performed during the conclusion of the United States Civil War–existed.  Are we truly equipped philosophically and conceptually for individual rights, corporate rights and digital systems property?

Core Vocabulary

In working with system frameworks and database systems I have often wondered about optimizing language in various domains which led to some serendipity.

The Dark Side

When most people talk about “core vocabulary” the first thing that pops into their heads is visions of George Orwell’s 1984 and Newspeak.  The objective of Newspeak was to reduce the range of thought of a population.  Fortunately, according to Steven Pinker, we are just not wired to make that possible.  However, I recently came across a very benevolent application of a core vocabulary that acts not as a constraint on speech, but as an access point to the entire English language for the severely disabled.

The Bright Side

Augmentative and Alternative Commmunication (AAC) has been the work of Prentke Romich Company since 1966.  They have developed “Unity”, a vocabulary access foundation, based on their research determining over 50% of English communication uses roughly 100 words.  This is not necessarily word frequency, but word utility.

Thousands of severely disabled people have had their inner worlds opened up to those around them through PRC’s products.  And there is now an AAC Institute that does a fine job of expressing the three primary requirements of Augmentative and Alternative Communicators:

  1. Saying exactly what they want to say
  2. Saying it as fast as they can
  3. Measurable results

Another non-profit ACCP Canada addresses further issues in the quality of life of AAC users.  Children’s Hospital in Boston also has a good site and program.

PRC is a leader among the companies addressing this challenge.  All these AAC Device Companies deserve applause for making vocabulary’s core and more available to the people who need it.