Thursday, 20 November 2014

Alternative realities

Which direction to take?
Photo: Fredlyfish4
Continuing with ideas that connect to such things as the Zeitgeist movement and the Venus project, it occurs to me that such alternative realities are like destinations written on a sign post at a junction of hiking trails. We might have set out for a particular destination and then just followed the signposts at each junction or we might have had no destination in mind at the start but then followed a trail toward something that seems interesting. We might also start with the first and then change our minds and follow the second. If we see a destination that looks interesting but is 20km away, we might wonder if the hike will be worth such a long walk. The terrain will also play an important role. A trail might be steeper than we thought, or it might enter a waterlogged section, then the decision whether to continue or not will be based. also, on how far we have already come.

More serious thought is given to the paths we take in life and most people have the idea that their future should be planned out far more carefully than a day's hike. Still, though, we encounter interesting signposts along the path. One person might get a good job at a company and decide to stay with it because of the security it gives, while someone else will use it as a stepping stone and take a number of jobs over their life. Most often, the latter person does much better. It has happened that the first sort of person finds that their company downsizes or even goes bankrupt late in their career. This is usually a disaster for them: they don't look terribly ambitious to a potential new employer, rather they look stuck in their ways. Why would an employer keep offering raises to a person unlikely to quit for any reason? The person that can flit from one company to another is always looking for reasons for change and for new opportunities, but the other person is hoping that nothing changes and probably will not pick up on bad indicators for their company.

Having a utopia as a goal is even more dramatic than a mere career: it involves a vast number of people; it will take much longer (likely longer than a single life), and it will cost an almost unimaginable amount of money. Changing one's direction after twenty years or so of following a utopian idea is not just difficult for one's future but it will most likely result in "withdrawal symptoms" from leaving a way of life. This is the fate of many people who leave cults.

Evolution favors adaptability through frequent small changes over time in the environment and in the organism. Massive extinctions are the usually the result of a cataclysmic change in the environment affecting organisms who have no history of that sort of change. If it had happened before, the organism would have been killed. There can be no adjustments made for a novel event; no epigenetic switches created to be triggered by such an event.

It strikes me that if your ultimate goal is to build cities with modular residences and offices and sophisticated transportation and communication systems to link everything together, then perhaps first try selling a few of these modules that can be set up within any current system. Perhaps people will like them, perhaps they will not. If the modular city presents few attractive places for people to congregate, and going for an evening walk offers no interesting destinations; if life becomes an endless stream of functionality with little joy, then your city will be a failure. Then what are you going to do?

Tomorrow, panaceas for urges to advance. 

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