Life Goes On ➶

Stewart Brand in conversation.

So when you think about a global civilization, does that mean that therefore it’s deeply fragile? Or deeply robust? Which lesson do you draw?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think that global civilization is robust, for some of the reasons we just discussed. There’s a fair amount of variety, and it’s one of the things that culture does. It’s one of the things that nations do. And even Jared Diamond’s book Collapse ends with him saying that all of these prior civilizations that collapsed didn’t know about each other. But we know about all of them, right? And ourselves. That awareness means that we do not take longevity for granted, which these other civilizations did.

And so in that sense, the concept of existential risk is a good one to have out there. It’s probably not one to obsess over. Yeah, things really can end, at any scale you want to think about. But at a giant scale there’s a lot of micro-robustness built in. There’s a lot of subsidiarity built in, of these various things operating regionally, at different rates, independently of each other. Or even contrasting enough between each other in terms of pace layers that the system can handle shocks.

# Tuesday, 8 November 2022

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