4.2 The backbone and forks of the technology tree
According to the classification of biologists, there are six major types of organisms in the world. The first three are microorganisms, and the last three are fungi, plants and animals in order. For hundreds of millions of years, these six creatures have been “evolving symbiotically” and have intersected and intertwined with each other to form an ecosystem with various gestures.
In Kevin Kelly’s book “What Science and Technology Want”, a new point of view is proposed: the evolution of “technical elements” seems to have its own life cycle. From language to symbols, text, to printed matter, phonograph, and television; from ploughshares, knives and axes, to waterwheels, grinding discs, and pumps, to hand looms, steam engines, steamships and airships. “Technical elements” have become “the seventh kingdom of life.”
The evolution of technological elements-conceptual organisms-is similar to genetic organisms, with very little difference. The two have many common characteristics: the evolution of the two systems is from simple to complex, from general to individual, from unity to pluralism, from individualism to mutually beneficial symbiosis, from inefficiency to efficiency, from slow change to greater possibility. Evolutionary. The process of technological organisms changing over time conforms to a pattern similar to the phylogenetic tree of species evolution.
In other words, the structure of human science and technology knowledge can be compared to a tree: the science and technology tree. So, what is the backbone of the technology tree? I personally believe that, at least at the current level, the acquisition, conversion, control and utilization of effective energy are the backbone of the technology tree.
The agricultural society has lasted (stagnated) for thousands of years. If you look at the agricultural society alone, you may not see the vitality of energy technology. However, starting from the steam engine, to the internal combustion engine, the electric motor, and the nuclear reactor, the whole world gradually merged into a whole in this process. Human civilization began to make great strides. The population grew rapidly, the living standard was greatly improved, and the infrastructure was greatly improved. Large cities with a population of one million that were once unimaginable have sprung up, and cities with a population of tens of millions are also increasing. From the perspective of civilization, the orderliness of human society has rapidly improved over the past 200 years. Behind all of this, it is achieved by substantially introducing negative entropy flow (effective energy).
Therefore, the acquisition, conversion, control and utilization of effective energy are the core of industrial civilization.
Many people will angrily retort that the media reports every day that today’s world is an information society, and information technology is the backbone of the technology tree. Indeed, IT technology now looks prosperous, with new concepts and new terms emerging one after another. Unfortunately, IT technology is only a relatively large fork of the science and technology tree, and it is likely to be a fork that brings humanity into a dead end.
Compare it with the evolutionary tree.
In biology, evolutionary trees are used to represent the evolutionary relationship between species. Biological taxonomists and evolutionists place all kinds of creatures on a branched tree-like chart according to the distances of kinship between various kinds of creatures, concisely showing the evolutionary process and kinship of the creatures. In the evolutionary tree, the Insecta belongs to the Arthropod phylum, and the Mammal belongs to the Vertebrate subphylum.
If we simply compare the number of species and the number of forms, insects undoubtedly have an overwhelming advantage. Insects are the most numerous and most successful type of animals on the earth. The number of species accounts for more than half of the entire biological species on the earth and accounts for the total animal species. Three quarters of the number. At present, the number of insect species described scientifically has exceeded 1 million. From dry and hot deserts to icy and snowy polar regions, they are almost everywhere on land.
On the other hand, according to Baidu search results, the academic world estimates that there are 5,400 species of mammals, which is minimal compared to the number of insect species.
The evolutionary tactics of insects can be said to be very successful, deriving a huge number of species, many insect-specific biological structures, ensuring that insects adapt to all environments on land, and their forms are ever-changing.
But from the perspective of the evolutionary tree as a whole, insects undoubtedly failed. The backbone of the evolutionary tree focuses on the core of evolution-the brain, while the branching focuses on the survival rate of species. Once on the wrong path, no amount of colorful mottled can conceal a pale fact: the evolution of insects over hundreds of millions of years has not led to the emergence of intelligent species. For example, ants and dinosaurs were at the same time and lived in groups for a long time. However, for 100 million years, the result of ant evolution (not evolution) is still ants, and humans have risen. Can imagine, without a human brain, what is the significance of the earth covered with insects in the universe?
Compared with the setbacks of technologies such as controllable nuclear fusion, the explosion and popularization of IT technology in the past 40 years has caused Moore’s Law to become synonymous with technological development. But please note that history has repeatedly shown that the improvement of civilization’s survival efficiency depends on the revolution of energy technology. Most of the innovations in IT technology belong to the communication entertainment category, which may make mankind happier without the expansion of civilization, but the virtual world built on the Turing machine will never be able to reconstruct the real world.
1 Civilization and technology
1.1 Rough talk about paradigm
1.2 The paradigm shift experienced by human civilization
1.3 Science Theory stagnation
1.4 The gap between science and technology
2 The paradigm spring dream advocated by scientific and technological interest groups: the so-called technological explosion
2.1 Rendering and brainwashing
2.2 Papers and patents: the absurdity behind astronomical numbers
2.3-2.4 The bit world and the real world / Part and whole
3 The shadow outside the paradigm spring dream
3.1 The technological dilemma faced by humans
3.2 Numerous technical gimmicks
3.2.5 New gimmicks in recent years
3.3 Frustration of PhD laborers and biotechnology
4 The dilemma of low-entropy body and the technical steps faced
4.1 From the second law of thermodynamics
4.2 The backbone and forks of the technology tree
4.3 Forever 50 years and controlled nuclear fusion
4.4 Think calmly : the future is not necessarily better
5 The Pit Before 5 Steps: The Fate of Human Society
5.1 The Sociological Significance of Dissipative Structure Theory
5.2 The disappearance of the big competitive environment
5.3 Differences erased by globalization and the thermodynamic balance of human society
5.4 Aging self-locking
5.5 How to fill the hole?
6 The essence of 6 steps: complexity devil
6.1 What is complexity
6.2 Two rules behind the complicated world: survival of the fittest and expectation of return on capital
6.3 Technological progress and technological revolution: changes in complexity
6.3.1 Evolution example of transportation / power system
6.3.2 The characteristics and complexity of the technological revolution
6.3.3 The high-complexity science devil facing
6.3.4 Dilemma originating from technical foundation
6.4 Many evil consequences brought by high complexity ( more is different)
6.4.1 I know you have a life and death race
6.4.2 Maintenance costs
6.4.3 Negative feedback from society
6.5 Simple mathematical derivation
7 Silent Star implied by the prospect of terror
7.1 The Great Silence and Fermi Paradox
7.2 Three scenarios for contemplating extreme fear
7.3 The Great Sieve of the Universe
7.4 A small match
8 reflection and summary
8.1 The tragedy of Easter Island
8.2 Calmness does not mean pessimism
8.3 R&D requires a paradigm revolution