Wednesday 17 November 2021

Why are things aren't working anymore! (The pyramid of technology/ ability/ societal functioning)

There seems to be a pyramid of technology which corresponds to a pyramid of intellectual functions in large complex modern societies. And the peak of the pyramid is also the high level of general intelligence (g - as measured comparatively by IQ) needed to make qualitative improvements in social functioning: breakthroughs.

This is the pyramid:

1. Breakthrough (qualitative)
2. Improvement (incremental)
3. Replacement
4. Repair
5. Maintenance
6. Operation


What I am talking-about are those key factors which could be termed 'technology' in the broadest sense: these would include forms of social organization (government, religion), food production - including agriculture, warfare and defence, and so on. In other words; whatever are the key functions upon which society depends.

The pyramid is most obvious for those complex technologies which led to the emergence of modern societies (the technologies of the linked agricultural and industrial revolutions) and upon which modern societies depend.

Modernity arose due to frequent breakthroughs and improvements - these breakthroughs in 'technology' enabling production to outgrow population growth for many generations.

But underneath it all was the breakthroughs.

1. The breakthrough is the invention of something qualitatively new - some piece of machinery, some concept, a form of organization... This (as a rule) requires genius - a combination of very high intelligence and creativity with innate motivation.

2. This breakthrough is then incrementally improved. This does not require such high intelligence, nor does it require creativity - but can be done by 'trial and error'.

3. Sooner or later the entity (the piece of technology, the social institution) will wear-out, get broken or dissipate entropically, and need to be replaced - this may require workshops, factories, systems of apprenticeship, colleges - these need to be generated and made to work.

4. And, as it is being used or operating, from time to time the entity needs to be repaired. This is easier than replacing it, and the repair process may be broken down into specific checks and tasks.

5. Among those who cannot repair a broken entity, there are those who can nonetheless maintain it: run checks and implement standard procedures.

6. But simply operating the entity, working the technology or working-in an institution, requires less capability than repair.

Nonetheless, there are people who cannot operate; they lack the requisite ability - they are sub-functional with respect to that specific 'technology' (although they may be functional for other technologies).

So, if we think of a gun; there was the breakthrough of the concept of a gun, what it could do and how; there was the incremental (trial and error) improvement of this basic breakthrough until there were functional guns - and the continued incremental improvement (and specialization) of these guns.

Then there is the matter of manufacturing and replacing guns; then below that there is the function of maintaining a gun (regular cleaning, oiling etc).

Then below that there is the function of shooting guns (so the hit the target, and so they do not kill the operator).

Below that again are sub-functional people - e.g. who cannot shoot the guns accurately, or who shoot them on impulse or for a joke; and these people are a liability because they may shoot themselves of the people on their side. Indeed, they are 'more trouble than they are worth' because they require such a high degree of supervision in order to prevent them inflicting damage. 

For example; until recently; the modern military excluded such people - based on IQ testing. They cannot be trusted to operate a gun safely. And although they may be able to do simple manual tasks when sufficiently supervised; generations of experience showed that very low intelligence recruits were more trouble than they were worth: i.e. they consumed more resources in keeping them safe, than any functional value they generated.  

If we think of an abstract field like science; there are the creative geniuses who make breakthroughs in theories or discoveries. (These are now almost extinct; and are anyway de facto excluded from professional research and career structures.)  

Then there are the non-creative intelligent people who may incrementally improve and refine these breakthroughs. 

Below them are the structures of education and apprenticeship which create the environment within which this can occur, and from which the higher level people may be generated - for example the people who work in (properly functioning) colleges and research institutions.

Below them are the people who use the products of science to make and do things (applied scientists, engineers, doctors, technologists); and below that are the people who use what these makers and doers generate (e.g. skilled craftsmen); and below that are the users of science. 

And below them are people who cannot use science safely or appropriately - and must have it done for them, or not at all (e.g. children, and other people who lack the intellectual requisites).

This pyramid is also a hierarchy of general intelligence (g).

Intelligence is not the only important factor (personality - for instance - is very important; and motivation is vital - someone not even trying to be functional, will not be functional); but intelligence is a vital and constraining factor in the above hierarchy. If the required level of intelligence for the required function is not met - then the function will not be done.

So if we cannot repair and replace a piece of technology or a social institution (like medicine, or engineering); then when it breaks (due to wear and tear, or sabotage) it cannot be mended or re-made, and is lost. And as a society's average intelligence declines, as has happened in Western Europe, then it has a major impact on the above pyramid.

What happens initially is the over-promoted society; where the lack of intelligence means that people end-up at a level one (or two) categories too high for their cognitive abilities. Those whose job is to make breakthroughs can now only make incremental improvements - they cannot do their core job. Therefore breakthroughs dry-up - and the whole basis of modern societies is lost.

But because breakthroughs are needed there there is a pretence of breakthroughs - and ideas that are just random variations and inversions and recombinations of what already exists (mere novelties) are spun as breakthroughs.

Those whose role is to make incremental improvements, are unable to function above the level of replacements and repair of already existing entities - so established things don't improve gradually as they used to. They change but don't improve - therefore they get worse


Perhaps this contributes to the fact that so many able people have given-up on trying to improve functionality, and lapsed into fashionability and careerism. Those who are supposed to repair and maintain stuff cannot really understand how it works - so repair becomes reduced to maintenance, and the following of predecided procedures.

And the fact that so many people are over-promoted (for lack of anyone better; and because we are dominated by leftist political values, and so are not even trying to find or use the best people) can lead to a deficiency of mere operatives - who may be inadequate either intellectually, or in terms of personality.

These are, in fact, sub-functional individuals who are being used for lack of anyone else.

And still there is a large and expanding 'underclass' of those unable or unwilling to perform any of the functions required by modern society.

All this is due to complexity.

If the technology is less complex, if the institutions are less complex, then people can perform at a more functional level. 

(Except for breakthroughs which are necessary to modernity, but now very rare or absent - as those of the highest level of intelligence have all but disappeared, plus the personality type of geniuses is excluded from bureaucracies.)

So, what will happen is that things will get less complex - technology, society will simplify - because things cannot be sustained at the current level of complexity.

At first; people may be able to claim that collapse and chaos is actually an increase in complexity; or they will pretend that they no longer want to do things that are in fact too difficult for them to achieve

But sooner or later the decline will be obvious to an honest observer (if any such exist); technology will simplify, society will simplify; the level of functional capacity and efficiency will decline.

And the surplus of population that required complex functionality to be maintained... will die. 

Note: I do not regard the above mechanism as the main reason for the rapid collapse of global civilization: that would be the fact that we are an evil-affiliated world following inverted values, and ruled an by evil-serving, lying Establishment - who are actively and purposively destroying the functionality of all social institutions. Nonetheless, the above is an underlying and contributing cause of decline which would be operating even if our rulers and the mass-majority were honest and well-motivated Christians. 


Krum said...

You've reminded me of Ugo Bardi's lecture/article from a while back.

R.J.Cavazos said...

Indeed! Hard to disagree especially if one has had to spend time on a phone tree or had to deal with some "customer service" in the last few years. I was struck a few years ago at a baseball game in philadelphia where you had to show your phone ("use the ap" is a loathsome phrase) and tensions arose as some could not find the ticket or one group of people where the ticket holders phone died. All of this gimickry only makes things worse. So much for technological marvels.... This reminds me of the work of Joseph Tainter, complex things break down and most effort is spent in a repairing things and then repairing the repairs and so on...
as you suggest--software update....

Trent Appleman said...

People sometimes focus on abstract and impersonal forces involved in decline to the exclusion of acknowledging that there are, in fact, evil people working together in high places. And people sometimes focus on those networks of evil people as though they were responsible for every increase in resource price and even every natural disaster. The correct approach is not to focus on just the famine, or just the hoarders of grain, but to address both at the same time; which is which your post does.

...I found your blog because one is scouring the internet for any and all capable insights into the present plandemic, which appears to consist of both real and artificial/ideological scarcity; with many trying to force an interpretation that only focuses on one side without taking the other into account.

Skarphedin said...

You're exactly right. The world is in an entropic period. The system is visibly dying and bleeding energy. At the same time it is manic and frantic as the remaining and dwindling energy is concentrated in smaller areas. For example Finance and Social Media and Politics. Finance has massive creative energy being devoted to prop up a dysfunctional Rube Goldberg system (usury).

Christianity on the other hand is eutropic and placid. The growth and personalities are calm and slow. Like the building of the Cathedrals.

Bruce Charlton said...

@S - A great deal of recent activity consists in destroying functionality and calling it good.

I worked in a university - entirely typical of the system - and every year there would be further imposed changes each of which would destroy a bit more of the proper functions of teaching, scholarship and science - each of which was then self-praised as progress.

In science, specifically, the actuality of science (truth seeking, truth speaking) was almost wholly annihilated - while the functionless activity of 'getting funding', 'doing research, 'publishing' continued and increased - and was (self-described) as progress.

The special and fatal characteristic of recent decades has been closing the loop between process and outcome - as the system became totalitarian. When it became possible for 'science' not only to do research, but to declare that the research had been successful - then science was finished.

The same, more obviously, is the case in public life, politics, social policy - nothing They do ever fails.

Alexeiprofi said...

I discovered low lateral inhibition phenomenon. Lateral inhibition is responsible for suppressing reaction to a stimulus that we already familiar with and mental noise from different parts of brain(it's my theory). Later inhibition can be low both because of genetic reasons and because of throughlife events. Extreme low lateral inhibition level cause schizophrenic-like ideas. Schizophrenic delirium is itself caused by a neurobilogical processes that lowers down lateral inhibition level. Also alcohol do it, this why drunk people do weird stuff and say weird things, they become schizophrenics in some sense. I think alcoholic delirium connected to this. However, in health people with high IQ low lateral inhibition can increase creativity, even if it comes with side effect. I think about Bubby Fisher, he was chess world champion, and he also was very sensitive to noizes in the background and angle of incidence of the shadows on the chessboard, while playing chess match with Spassky. Also he had strange ideas that kgb is following him and other about jews. So he was genetically healthy, but his lateral inhibition was so low that side effects overwhelmed him. I wrote this because I think that in some cases it may be related to a geniuses.

Bruce Charlton said...

@A - That's one way of conceptualizing these things - although not the one I believe. I discuss this (indirectly) in the Genius Famine book.