Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chaos Dynamics, Cybernetics, and the Interaction of Humans and the Biosphere

Chaos Dynamics, Cybernetics, and the Interaction of Humans and the Biosphere


A boat by fitting with a rudder, thus limiting its freedom of action, its “variety”. Every type of control is a effort to reduce the “variety” presented by the object we want to control. In the mathematical discipline called “cybernetics”, the study of control mechanisms is begun with the “Law of Requisite Variety” which states that to control something, we must match its variety, or reduce its variety to that which we possess. An example would be a football team. If we want to control it, we have to put in another equal team. Another example is the service queue problem at a bank or a performance ticket counter where to provide efficient service and avoid chaos they limit the variety they are faced with by having a limited number of service points and then sorting people into that number of queues, which in turn are fed by only one queue.


to get ahead of others, to seize” control”, to win. Seems the aim is always to control access to a particular space, limit it to the controller and whom he designates. To control by setting the rules and enforce them, hence a “game”. A strategy might be to change the rules unilaterally, so as to control access to the space and win the game. In the stock market, an option buyer or a bankster making loans can be bankrupt if the counter parties don’t pay up, thus making loans can put one under the control of the borrower.

China has to support other countries these days, including the US so as to maintain its markets and keep its people from rioting for lack of food money. So others borrow from China without the need to pay back. Of course this game ends when this “something for nothing” Ponzi scheme collapses. The rapidly growing complex structure of finance, factories, roads, interacting expertise, education, health and elder care, etc. that is Chinese society today, cannot be kept going on the work and purchases of the Chinese people alone. And if others can only supply it with paper promises in return for its products, it must inevitably collapse, from lack of the energy required to keep it expanding. It’s instability is made worse by its necessarily increasing complexity as it grows.

International trade

Note that the role of fiat money, paper money, is only to facilitate the exchange of goods. Countries exchanging different currencies must eventually exchange goods or services equal to the balances of currencies owed, unless one or another country has the spare capacity in its work force to continue supporting others with a free donation of goods and services, in a form of charity, or the system collapses. Imagine a farmer, or anyone with the ability to make or dig out of the ground, something that others want are willing to exchange what they make for his products. He can get all the other things he needs in life from the product of his work. If he has a lot of capacity to do this work, he can support a large family who need do nothing but keep him entertained. In effect, one of his needs is this large family, and his work keeps it going.

This picture is not often presented by whole countries. Saudi Arabia might be an example. They can dig incredible riches of low cost oil out of the ground, for a few more years a least, and thereby earn the money to pay for whatever else they need and have plenty left over to buy toys such as expensive weapons systems and modern buildings, and lifestyle goodies. They could offer their own people a lot more than they do, and the growing poverty (earnings per capita used to be $18 000 and are now $8000) in that country is reaching a tipping point into violence I hear.

Large and growing populations

Large and growing populations that do not have the education, or access to jobs to make goods or provide services they can exchange for the lifestyle goods and services they desire generate unfilled expectations that can tip into sufficient violence to destroy any civility in the society.

Large populations that destroy the habitat around them to meet their needs for food, water, raw material, create conditions for their own collapse from the excess stress of major weather events, drought, flood, hurricanes, or volcanoes, or global warming. They exacerbate their problems if they fail to produce goods that can be traded with others to meet their needs. Sometimes other countries will come to their rescue, but will impose such conditions on them as to effectively make them into slaves, unable to exist except through charity. Haiti and the United States are a good example of this syndrome.

These two paragraphs are part of a positive feedback loop that, as forecast by the mathematical models of Chaos Dynamics, will eventually destroy any society caught in it. Which these days is most of mankind.

The human condition

Humans are programmed to Ponzi scheme addictions,that is, to desiring and believing they can take out more than they put in. Humans are also addicted to status consumption. Consumption to display status, of food, housing, clothing , entertainment, complexity of technological gadgetry, cars, boats, recreational toys. This is particularly a syndrome that emerges with uncontrollable force, similar to any major addiction of the sort we are familiar with, drugs, alcohol, etc. , when they get together in large populations.

Humans also have the thinking capacity to create means of generating and applying work energy, machinery and inventions, far beyond the individual capability of any particular human person. They clearly have the capacity to use the planet’s raw materials beyond the capacity of the planet to replace them, and to grow additional humans at an exponential rate, having no natural predators, except perhaps each other, and some pandemic diseases which may erupt.

The basic human condition, over the millennia, has generated a population load on the planet that is unsustainable by the planet's life support systems.

Chaos Dynamics and Cybernetics applied, see attached diagram.