Here's a highly theoretical construct I believe is useful for the analysis (h/t John Smart) of rapidly evolving systems. Hopefully, you find it useful too.
In the evolution of technology, the next generation of a particular device/program often follows a well known pattern in the marketplace: its design makes it MUCH cheaper, faster, and more capable. This allows it to crowd out the former technology and eventually dominate the market (i.e. transistors replacing vacuum tubes in computation). A formalization of this developmental process is known as STEMI compression:
- Space. Less volume/area used.
- Time. Faster.
- Energy. Less energy. Higher efficiency.
- Mass. Less waste.
- Information. Higher efficiency. Less management overhead.
So, the viability of a proposed new generation of a particular technology can often be evaluated based on whether it offers a substantial improvement in the compression of all aspects of STEMI without a major loss in system complexity or capability. This process of analysis also gives us an "arrow" of development that can be traced over the life of a given technology.
STEMI compression may also be useful in analyzing the development path for other types of systems (i.e. biology, economics, etc. although the work to fully demonstrate that has yet to be done). The question I asked myself, given the ongoing failure of the global system and my work on Resilient Communities, is:
Do Resilient Communities offer the promise of a generational improvement over the existing global system or not?
In other words: is the Resilient Community concept (as envisioned here) a viable self-organizing system that can rapidly and virally crowd out existing structures due to its systemic improvements? Using STEMI compression as a measure, there is reason to believe it is:
- Space. Localization (or hyperlocalization) radically reduces the space needed to support any given unit of human activity. Turns useless space (residential, etc.) into productive space.
- Time. Wasted time in global transport is washed away. JIT (just in time production) and place.
- Energy. Wasted energy for global transport is eliminated. Energy production is tied to locality of use. More efficient use of solar energy (the only true exogenous energy input to our global system).
- Mass. Less systemic wastage. Made to order vs. made for market.
- Information. Radical simplification. Replaces hideously complex global management overhead with simple local management systems.
The above indicates that Resilient Communities do offer what appears to be a generational improvement in system design. However, one final requirement must be met. Does this generational improvement conserve or replicate the computational complexity of the previous system? Can it continue to process, innovate, and respond as quickly as the previous system? I believe the answer is yes. If Resilient Communities remain globally connected via Internet networks, there's reason to believe that re-localization is possible without losing any of the previous computational complexity of the system. Further, as the new self organizing system replaces the old one, new forms of organizational innovation (open source, for example) may radically outpace the progress seen in the previous system.
NOTE: There's two long trends in technology that may cement this switch. The first is the radical increase of information density in any and all production process. The majority of almost all processes in almost every industry segment is now a form of information manipulation rather than a manipulation of matter. To wit: how easy it is for most knowledge workers today to work at home.
Second is a switch to bio-processing. In short, growing your computer or product rather than manufacturing it. The development of this technology might get us out of the only centralization trap left: fabrication facilities using exotic materials to make computer chips. Both of these trends may make decentralization nearly costless to the computational complexity of the system.
NOTE2: The availability of a self-organizing and superior alternative to the (now failing) legacy system implies that its implied collapse might be historically brief. It also means that its collapse isn't necessarily a bad thing since its replacement puts us, collectively, on a growth path to radically faster wealth creation (and nsulates us against growing excesses, dislocations, and failures of the existing systems function). More simply, will you accept vastly lower living standards and much higher risks to work/live within the existing system or will you opt out with a Resilient Community?