So moving along, we shift to the bad side, and add a positive variable into our World #2 hell hole, one at a time, in turn.

World#7 All worst cases, except best case population:

This world, more than any other, bears the fingerprint of some kind of radical anti-technology, eco-primitivist style backlash. In a situation of declining energy, negative technology, climate collapse and falling population, you’ve got all the makings of a luddite green-meme jihad.

As in world 2, the steamroller of negative singularity effects unwinds itself as energy runs out, and even more so here as a scattered population provides fewer targets/hosts.

It eventually becomes a ‘race to the bottom’ of the olduvai gorge, as we sprint to become fully paleolithic humans to some extent. When terrifying technology isn’t the target, the jihad will turn on itself to root out technological sympathizers, and drag everything farther down the thermodynamic cliff, until we are at a carrying capacity of 1 billion or less, in a dark ages condition or worse.

And so it will go for a few centuries at least, until we forget what it was that actually happened, and we start to build up again from a degraded resource base.

World #8 All worst cases except best case climate:

As the above, but without the eco-primitivist undercurrents, and a more crowded, urban desperation instead.

In this world, the earth can’t be bothered to shrug us off, except by starving us of energy, and we go into a self destructive orgy fueled by the most advanced technology we can find.

In short, this world screams “resource war without end”, eventually fought by AI’s, genetic chimeras, killer nanoswarms, and targeted bioweapons.

Without global warming hysteria to dampen fossil fuel use, or any particular anti technology sentiment, and a huge throng of ‘consumers’ eager to maintain their lifestyle, this is petro-apocalypse, ne plus ultra. Right until the near-end, the relatively rich ( as in you) will be able to pretend that the rest of the world isn’t living like the future humans in ‘the terminator’, but that’s pretty much what you’re doing now, so no sweat.

If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the last secure enclaves, it’ll be virtual porn and good drugs right up until that nanoswarm turns you into biodiesel. Eventually the people left alive will be living in pre-industrial squalor, wondering what the fuck just happened.

World #9 All worst cases, except best case energy:

Similar to world 6, in that a negative technological singularity plus unlimited energy is pretty dire, but made worse in that there is great added pressure on us from our numbers and from the collapsing climate.

This world more than others, spells ‘space-travelling locust swarm’. We would eventually migrate out to find more materials to chew up, and to get away from each other. We would turn the solar system into a kill zone first, then who knows what. This also spells some pretty radical mutation, as we adapt to our new condition as ravenous interplanetary predators. We merge with the worst aspects of our technology and the ‘old moon’ psychology that rudolph steiner speaks of. In so doing we probably do a pretty good job of killing the earth, making our lifestyle change inevitable.

We don’t do it because we’re starving… we do it because faced with infinite energy, we realize that even that still won’t make us feel any more satisfied, and less empty.

World #10 all worst cases, except best case technology:

Interesting paradox. Normally, an expanding population with decreasing energy means something has to give, but with beneficial technology it doesn’t have to.

It does get very weird, though. First we’re using technology to replace food, then we’re using it to take food from others, then when resource war peters out, and we’re still growing in numbers, we have to change our fundamental nature as energy consuming beings.

The trend is for us to become smaller, slower, colder, less physically vital, at the same time as our minds can move faster than ever and project into virtual spaces.

The end result of this trend is much like world#5 but more extreme yet, as we multiply endlessly, but in the form of fully disembodied intelligences, embedded in a material  substratum that is itself mostly immobile and seemingly inert.


2 thoughts on “Not quite dystopia

  1. There’s a little inconsistency in the way you are developing these scenarios. In situations of negative technology and low energy, you say that the technological effect peters out, but in situations of positive tech and low energy, you say that the technology finds ways to on in a low-energy form. This inconsistency could be resolved either way (ie you could say that the negative tech finds ways to f*** us up even without energy), but I think it points to a lurking awareness that technology is not an independent variable, but is largely dependent on the future of our energy.

  2. while it’s true there are assumptions here that I’m not pointing out, this one is pretty clear:

    when I say positive technology, I mean that it can be mostly bent to the good of human beings. whereas negative technology, mostly is not, or cannot. so in that situation, postive technolgy can be used to offset low energy, whereas negative technolgy cannot.

    negative technolgy would tend to destroy infrastructure and resources, exacerbating a low energy situation and preventing it from being adapted to.

    functional genetic alteration is a strategy to cope with low energy. cities being turned into sinkholes full of grey goo clearly is not.

    while a runaway negative technology can theoretically find ways to fuck us up with low energy, the tendancy is that it would be destroying itself at the same time it’s destroying us, so eventually it hits a point of diminshing returns. even some malignant artifical intelligence would eventually decide it’s too cost ineffcient to use what energy it has to hunt down the last few humans.

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