Re: >H Re: millenial madness

Phil (
Wed, 8 Dec 1999 21:22:59 -0500 (EST)

> Actually, this brings up an important and interesting transhuman
> question: how to avoid becoming dependent on fragile technological
> infrastructures? As our technology gets more complex, the number of
> potential bugs or unexpected interactions grows, and economical
> pressures disfavor too much redundancy. Maybe things tend towards a
> state of self-organised criticality, where disasters occur on all
> scales, leading to safety precautions being taken, but they are
> balanced by faults due to new technology.

My intuition is that there should be a tendency for this to happen. But a social organism is not mindless, and the progress towards the edge of chaos is counterbalanced by litigation and sensationalist newspaper articles that make people feel they are in more danger than they are.

I remember begging (unsuccessfully) my college library not to throw out their card catalog when they put their catalog online. I remember when a camp I go to in Michigan got a gas water heater installed, and much to my dismay they threw out the old woodburning water-heater we used to stoke at 6AM, rather than leaving it in place at no cost.
I remember looking (a few days ago) through magazines full of log house designs, and finding not one that could actually be heated by a woodburning stove; all had vast open spaces that relied on gas heating.

It is very hard to convince people to maintain backup systems. Americans have an inner need to throw things out. Not throwing things out proves that you are poor. Americans think that if they don't have something to throw out, it means they aren't buying enough.