||Tuesday, May 13, 2003
About 12 years ago, I met a brilliant man , Brian Hall. Brian has spent his life researching how values work. I offer a link to the VT page.
I have found this schematic very helpful in understanding both myself and what is really going on in the world today. Many of my blogging frineds find working in a traditional organization very hard. Many of can't do it anymore. Here is why.
Phase I and Phase II are worlds where we seek the approval of others. It is the early tribal world and it is the corporate world. The "Line" is to the world of the self between Phase II and III. When you cross this line you cannot go back and you cannot stay. Brian shows us why Iraq cannot go direct to democracy. If you are in a survival state, phase I, you cannot progress until these needs have been met.
I am not sure that the traditional corporate world can be "reformed". By its essence it is all about control by others. The new organization can in my mind be only a network of individuals connected by a higher purpose. A New Tribe linked not by blood by by values.
A great way to experince a bifurcation or a Tipping Point is to play Pick Up Sticks. If you have not played here is the game. You throw the sticks down so that they land in apile. Each player then has to remove one stick. The game goes on until a player takes away a stick and the pile shifts. try it - it is fun even if you are an old fart like me
This chart shows a picture of how the money works in farming on PEI for 50 years. I suspect that it shows the picture for all of industrial agriculture.
Here is how to "see" the picture. The heavy blue line along the bottom is net farm income. You will note that until about 1972 it hardly moved. Since then volatility is the rule. The lightblue line is farm debt. You will see that debt has broken free from net income. Farm capital is the brwon line. Here's the problem. Farm capital has risen becuase the banks need it to rise to keep the loan valid. But net income has not kept pace with debt. When the system has 3 bad years the house of cards has to fall down. Like the fishery - farming has become grossly over capitalized. The difference has to come out of the foundation resource - the natural capital - so rotation is reduced and sloped land is tilled.
It is only a matter of time
This is the reality of some of our farming in the spring. When you grow Russet Burbanks (the main fry potato) for processing, you have to harvest in late October too late for a cover crop. The result - devastation. Is this because many of our farmers are evil or stupid? No - they are trapped. They have been suckered into a very capital intensive business where there are only two buyers. As the years go by, the farmer drifts more into the hole and can only keep afloat by taking it out on the land. Our rivers are silting up. Our water is becomiong contaminated. Our farmers are going broke.
What can you do? Stop buying fries.
Kurzweil on accelerating change. Via FuturePositive, Ray Kurzweil being interviewed on the accelerating rate of change.
The Law of Accelerating Returns is the acceleration of technology, and the evolutionary growth of the products of an evolutionary process. And this really goes back to the roots of biological evolution.Evolution works through indirection. You create something and then work through that to create the next stage. And for that reason, the next stage is more powerful, and happens more quickly. And that has been accelerating ever since the dawn of evolution on this planet.
The first stage of evolution took billions of years. DNA was being created and that was very significant because it was like a little computer, and an information processing method to store the results of experiments, and to build up a knowledge base from which it could then launch experiments and codify the results.The subsequent stages of evolution happened much more quickly. The Cambrian Explosion only took a few tens of millions of years to establish the body plan to evolve animals. And we see that evolution, like certain technologies, has become mature and stopped evolving.
Evolution has concentrated on other issues, specifically higher cortical functions. And that happened much more quickly than the Cambrian Explosion. Humanoids evolved over many millions of years, and Homo sapiens over only hundreds of thousands of years. And there again, evolution used the products of its evolutionary processes, which was Homo sapiens, to create the next stage, which was human-directed technology, which really is a continuation of the cutting-edge of the evolutionary process on earth, for creating more intelligent systems.
In the first stage of human-directed technology, it took tens of thousands of years, which is what you would expect for the next stage via the wheel, or stone tools, and that kept accelerating, because when we had stone tools, we could use them to build the next stage. So a thousand years ago a paradigm shift only took a century, like the printing press. And now a paradigm shift, like the World Wide Web, is measured in only a few years time.
The first computers were built with screwdrivers and were designed with pencil and paper, and today we use computers to create computers. A CAD designer will sit down and specify a few high-level parameters, and 12 different layers of automated designs will be done automatically. The most significant acceleration is in the paradigm shift rate itself, which I think of as the rate of technical progress. And all of these are actually not exponential, but double exponentials because not only does the process accelerate because of our evolutions ability to use each stage of evolution to build the next stage, but also, as the process, as an area gets higher price performance, more resources get drawn into that capability.[..]
The whole 20th century, because we've been speeding up to this point, is equivalent to 20 years of progress at todays rate of progress, and well make another 20 years of progress at todays rate of progress equal to the whole 20th century in the next 14 years, and then well do it again in seven years. And because of the explosive power of exponential growth, the 21st century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at todays rate of progress, which is a thousand times greater than the 20th century, which was no slouch to change.
Kurzweil is one of the proponents of The Singularity - the idea that a number of accelerating technological trends are going to converge in a way that will totally transform our existence. In our lifetimes. Nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence, Genetic Engineering, and more. Personally, I agree that there's something like that going on, and that life as we know it will totally change, but I don't see it quite as materialistically. I think WE are evolving and transforming WITH and THROUGH technology. Which is a very risky thing to do so quickly. But I don't quite go along with the idea that one of our main concerns will be that robots will become smarter than us. [Ming the Mechanic]
My take on how RK sees things is that the stages of development go like this and that we can track human organizations along the same type of track
- The shift to life - single cell
- The shift to multi cell life or complex organisms
- The shift to structured organisms - animals skeletons etc
- The shift to an organism that can use its hands and eyes to extend its biology to tools - hominids with a stone axe and a stick can become a scavenger like a hyena or a predator like a lion without the need for biological evolution. The dawn of the bio - culture interaction
- The last stage of human biological evolution Homo Sapiens - about 100,000 bc
- The shift in hominids to acquire language and thus extend learning beyond direct experience - the first IT revolution and the equivalent of the human pre cambrian - art and technology take off in 40,00 bc
- The dawn of agriculture - the end of hunter gathering and the acceleration of the growth of culture as the overlay - 3,000 bc
- The printing press and the beginning of the end of aristocratic government and Christian Theocracy - the beginning of the age of reason and the scientific age - massive pick up in acceleration - 1450
- The steam press and the dawn of democracy - 1850 -
- Electric light and the extension of the day 1890
- And so on ....
As I understand it, RK believes that we have left biology behind and that it is cultural evolution that is taking us forward. The trajectory of the past implies exponential growth and should continue. The organizational trajectory implies ever more complex structures that can cope with more complexity - in my mind this implies networks and the end of the traditional structure. RK suggests that we will begin to co-evolve with technology. We see this already with cochlear implants for hearing. If you could have your old eye replaced with an implant that works better would you not choose it? if you could embed your nano cell phone would you do so? I suspect that this might be a track
I am typing this from Barcelona.
We arrived here on Monday night. We originally landed in Barcelona on
Friday by train from Zaragoza, a small city between here and Bilbao, but
found it impossible to find a hotel, so we regrouped, and rented a car
late on Friday night and drove south. We happened upon a very nice older
hotel about 9:30 that night called Hotel Victoria about 60km south of
Barcelona, in Segur de Calafell and stayed there for two nights. We
appear to have been the only guests during our stay, and were treated very
well. I think the hotel used to be a higher-end seaside hotel, but the
action had shifted south and closer to the water, so it wasn't in the
middle of things. In any case, they had a crib for Oliver, a high chair
in the restaurant, a heated swimming pool, and free breakfast, so what
more could we ask for?
On Saturday we took our little car high up into the hills west, driving up
little mountain roads with our sack of food until we found a nice place to
eat lunch in front of a fountain on the side of a hill. It was about as
idyllic as you can imagine Europe being. Our drive took us through many
vineyards and olive groves, so Oliver is well versed in his namesake tree.
Olives, by the way, are served like peanuts here -- you can buy little
plates of olives for a euro or two. Oliver loves this, although Catherine
is getting tired of having to de-pit them all for him.
After rambling about the hills and valleys, we drove east to the ocean,
and Oliver went to an unintended swim in the Mediterranean (sp?). We had
originally thought we would just take our shoes off and wade in the
shallows, but Oliver decided he wanted to sit down in the ocean and jump
into the waves and, at one point, lie down and jump up before the waves
caught him. Needless to say, we all got very wet. Tired and hungry, we
drove back to our hotel, and found a nice outdoor restaurant down the
street where we had a nice meal and another mistaken full bottle of wine
(I have to learn the words for "only a glass" in Spanish).
Sunday morning we woke up not knowing where we would go. We half thought
we would stay another day in the Hotel Victoria, but the manager announced
that he was closing for the night, so we had to seek a place elsewhere.
We decided to investigate the possibility of going back into Barcelona,
but this time better prepared. So I left Oliver and Catherine in the
hotel (where Oliver cried for 45 minutes after my departure, I learned
later -- I think he thought I was leaving him and Catherine in Spain) and
headed south on a wild search for the Internet. With some vague pointers
from the hotel manager, I managed to careen into an Internet terminal in
the back of a smoky biker bar about 5km south, near the beach in Calafell
proper. Once there, I realized that I had forgotten my credit card, yet
needed to make a hotel reservation; luckily, after placing myself in a
dream-like trance, I was able to recall it from memory. I quickly found,
via Travelocity.com, a hotel for $129/night right on top of the train
station in Barcelona, which is an excellent rate for this crazy full city.
With about 30 seconds to spare on my Internet timer, I completed the
reservation for 3 nights (Sun, Mon and Tue) and hurried back to the hotel
where we checked out.
Next we looked for someplace to eat, but somehow ended up driving around
aimlessly for almost 2 hours, unable to think clearly or navigate.
Finally we found a small bakery and shared a croissant, and Catherine got
her required cafe con leche for the morning.
Now well fed, we decided to head for Monserrat, a very odd mountain, with
sanctuary and monestary on the top. This ended up being a fairly long
drive up the side of the mountain at 30km/h. We parked at a place where
people were parking, and walked towards what we thought was the entrance
gate. Except that it was the entrance gate for the actual parking (which
was full) -- the actual facilities, etc. were about 2 km up the side of
the mountain further, which, as you might imagine, was an interesting hike
with Oliver in his stroller. But we made it in one piece, and were in awe
of what we found at the top. We'll send pictures later. Truly a stunning
geological formation, and an amazing set of buildings. We took the
funicular train to the very top of the mountain, and rambled about for a
while in the cool mountain air.
After coming down the mountain (with a quick jaunt by Catherine into a
small museum with Picasso, Degas and other paintings of the mountain), we
made the mad dash for our hotel in Barcelona. Somehow we managed to
navigate back into the city, check into our hotel, and return the car in
under 2 hours.
Yesterday we went to the Barcelona Zoo, which Oliver enjoyed quite a bit
(esp. the playgrounds, which are very nice everywhere in Spain, but esp.
so at the zoo), and then made the mistake of not going back to the hotel
for a nap. As a result, Oliver was very cranky for the rest of the day.
Very cranky. He bit me twice. But we pushed on. And saw the famous
Gaudi Cathedral, which hopefully Oliver will remember and thank us for in
later life. Like Montserrat, the Gaudi building, which is still under
construction 80 years after it was started, is awe-inspiring.
This morning, Catherine and Oliver are relaxing in the hotel with room
service, and I'm out on the town for a bit. We'll meet up at noon and
plan our last afternoon in Spain.
Wednesday morning we fly EasyJet to London, and are there from Wed, Thu
and Fri nights, flying back to Halifax on Saturday morning.
Regards to all,
© Copyright 2003 Robert Paterson.