Re: poly: Dreams of Autonomy

From: <>
Date: Thu Sep 02 1999 - 09:55:42 PDT

In a message dated 9/2/99 9:19:06, wrote:

> ( writes:

>>Certainly the current trend is for greater interdependence. If anything,
>>the cutting-edge technologies that are looked on as the vanguard of
>>nanotech (computers, software, biotech) are interdependent in the extreme.
> While there has been a clear trend of increasing rewards to more widespread
>interaction, I don't any such trend in the dependence part of this. It looks
>at least as easy for a small group to break away from society as it has been
>in the past.

How many break off without taking anything with them? Any breakaway group
faces two choices:

1) Continue trading with society at large, in which case they remain

2) Cease trading with society at large, in which case almost everything
needed for modern life (radios, medicines, machinery, even needles) becomes
largely irreplaceable. In the long term, even their books and knowledge
are irreplaceable.

Sure it remains possible to go to Patagonia and live like the Amish.
The question is whether it will become more possible to live with
resources far exceeding modern life in relatively small self-sufficient

>It looks much easier than ever for a small group of people to
>break away from their employers and start a new company.

Small companies are very much interdependent parts of society. Such
people do indeed have a lot of control over their lives but they remain
profoundly dependent on a large complex society around them. This is
why I wanted to point out the distinction between autonomous (self-ruling;
including this example) and autarkic (self-sufficient; not including
this). Robin was, as I understood it, addressing the latter issue

> I think the trends indicate that the self-sufficiency that people dream of
>will be enabled, but that people are overestimating how much they want it,
>and underestimating how much they will want to interact with large systems.

I agree that self-sufficiency isn't getting harder per se and probably
is getting a little easier, in that you can choose an improved set of
knowledge and domesticates to maintain. The restraint on self-sufficiency
is that capabilities and possibilities as part of a large complex
society are growing at a fast exponential rate so the opportunity
cost of self-sufficiency continues to grow. I expect this to continue,
more-or-less; even with nanotech I think a planet will be able to do
far more than a house.
Received on Thu Sep 2 09:57:16 1999

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Mar 07 2006 - 14:45:30 PST