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Science Theory Stagnation (5)

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5 The fate of human society

The original intention of the first edition was to explain why there are pulverizers in developed countries with the technology stagnation. It now appears that developed countries, especially the United States, are the first to face a new technological level but are unable to cross this level, and the proliferation of technology has eroded the advantages of the leaders.

A piece of cement flat ground, a circular funnel is placed in the center, and some water is filled in the funnel. Obviously, the water in the funnel will flow out from below and spread around. The more water in the funnel, the faster the spread. If you want to keep the water level in the funnel constant, there must be a constant flow of running water injected at the top, otherwise, the water in the funnel will eventually diffuse out, resulting in the same water level at all points on the cement floor. If the West wants to maintain its technological superiority, it must continuously realize technological innovation and ensure that “live water is injected into the funnel.” If the pace of technological innovation stops, the water level in the funnel will drop. Since the beginning of the new century, the United States, Japan and Europe have hit the technological stage, and faced with China’s pressing forces, they have become increasingly embarrassed. Of course, in the medium and long term, China will also face this level.

The question now is, since Watt improved the steam engine, industrial civilization has crossed one technical threshold after another. Why is it difficult for humans to cross the current stage?

Take the analogy of leaping steps in daily life. First of all, a 0.2m high step can be passed by raising the leg, but if the step is 2m high, it is obviously impossible to get through with physical strength; second, the steps that can be crossed when young are insurmountable obstacles in old age; there is even a phenomenon that the front is crossed The steps are too tired. First dig a pit and lie down to rest. People are stuck in the pit and don’t want to come out. Facing the new steps in front of them, they are helpless.

Over 200 years of technological development, always start from the easiest. Just like picking apples from an apple tree, the easiest to find and the best apples to be picked must first be put into the bag by people, and then the taller apples will be picked. The rest is either in a position that cannot be picked by human resources, or it is a bad apple that is not worth picking. The above process is exactly the process of increasing technical complexity. After the three technological revolutions, the technological steps faced by human society are frighteningly high.

The irony is that in the beginning, human beings used many ideas from agricultural society to develop industrial civilization and successfully traversed one step at a time. The developed industrial civilization has made many agricultural civilizations never go back. Human society has gathered from isolated islands into a global village. During this period, there is bloodshed and struggle. In order to avoid internal fighting, human society has chosen many systems and paths. In turn, it ties up the human legs, making it more difficult to cross.

5.1 The dissipative structure of society

As mentioned earlier, the entropy reduction process of human civilization can be explained by Prigogine’s theory of dissipation structure. What are the conditions for the establishment of the dissipation structure?

Prigogine studied from equilibrium to near equilibrium and then far away from equilibrium, and then found that in an open system, in the process of advancing from equilibrium to near equilibrium and then far away from equilibrium, when reaching far away from equilibrium In the non-linear region of the state, once the change of a certain parameter of the system reaches a certain threshold, through fluctuations, the system may undergo abrupt changes, that is, non-equilibrium phase transition, from the original disordered state to a kind of time and space. Or a new state with orderly functions. This orderly state requires constant exchange of material and energy with the outside world to maintain, and maintain a certain degree of stability, and will not disappear due to small disturbances from the outside world. This new stable macroscopic ordered structure formed by the non-linear region far from the equilibrium is called the dissipative structure of Prigogine.

Two keywords: non-equilibrium and nonlinear effects.

First look at the nonlinear effect. If applied to sociology, nonlinearity can be regarded as not following the public and rejecting the mainstream paradigm.

Both individuals and human society as a whole hate nonlinearity and prefer linearity. The linearity is good, predictable, and there is no sudden change. Everything is under control. Even in learning mathematics, students' enthusiasm for matrices is far more than probability theory. But history has repeatedly shown that technological inventions and industrial revolutions are often unexpected. For example, Kodak’s misjudgment of digital cameras, or the former Soviet Union’s choice of the technology path of miniaturization of electronic tubes, but integrated circuit chips have sprung up.

Looking back at history, in the early stages of science and technology, the small-scale peasant economy or individual craftsmen still occupied a bit of status in society. Accordingly, individual R&D dominated the mainstream. From a macro perspective, it showed a random point distribution. However, since the late 19th century, the situation has changed, monopolistic enterprises have begun to appear, individuals have begun to become wage earners, and with the increase of technological complexity and scale, collective cooperation has begun to occupy the mainstream. After World War II, most of the fields depended on government or company funds. Early IT technology (in the 1980s and 1990s) was the last field that was able to achieve results single-handedly. Since the beginning of the new century, collective organizations such as the government or large companies have been unprecedentedly strong, and the power of individuals is small and pitiful. Such organizations as expert committees have absolute say in determining technical routes. The decisions made collectively follow rational wishes and tend to prefer linear choices, because this is the path that seems to have the least risk. But the result of such a choice is often to strengthen the paradigm cage instead of breaking the paradigm cage.

A netizen pointed out that a scholar once went to study the mystery of the demise of the American Indian tribes, and he discovered that a tribe survived. The hunting habit of other tribes is that each time the most experienced hunter decides the hunting route. Obviously, this is a rational choice. However, these tribes all perished. As for the tribe that survived, their hunting habit was that each time the priest divination, the hunting route was decided. Only this tribe survived.

In fact, our current scientific research system and the application of scientific research funds are the same as those of the tribes that have died out. The most authoritative scientists formulate scientific research routes and allocate scientific research funds. This is estimated to be the root cause of our technological demise. What we need is, like the Indian priests, to use the random method of tossing a coin to allocate scientific research funds, determine the direction of scientific research, and formulate scientific research routes. In this way, many people who really engage in scientific research can preserve their projects. Otherwise, our technology can only stagnate.

5.2 The disappearance of the big competitive environment

Nowadays, the media often mentions that this is a highly competitive society. But the fact is, compared with history, the intensity of competition today is insignificant.

Since the agricultural society entered the stagnant state of the technological revolution very early, before the rise of industrial civilization, the pace of life of various civilizations in the world was very slow, and compared with the modern fast-paced life, it seemed that there was no competition. But after a slow life, its blood and cruelty are not imaginable by modern people. Although due to the existence of the technological ceiling, there are no modern and colorful killing machines, before industrial civilization, there was a complete genocide and genocide at the national level. This habit has permeated every level of society and entered the early stages of industrial civilization. This old custom of human society has made cannon colossalism the sacred norm of various sovereign countries. If the war fails, the cession of land compensation will follow. Small countries can only be slaughtered. Therefore, each country is doing its best to occupy the commanding heights of technology. In the first half of the 20th century, the two world wars even carried forward Social Darwinism to the fullest.

Burning Old Summer Palace

During the Cold War, the dual opposition of ideology and geopolitical interests forced the United States and the Soviet Union to keep an eye on each other and dare not slack a little. Neither party dared to let the other party have an absolute advantage in a certain field, and astronomical amounts of money were invested in various technical fields. If you have manned spaceflight, I will come to the moon; if you have F-15, I will build Su-27…

And what about after the Cold War? Around the world, a series of treaties and international agreements have sharply reduced the intensity of armed confrontation. Around the world, economic competition has largely replaced the arms race, and even China has never felt obliged to enter World War III with the United States. Except for such a wonderful thing as North Korea, no country will preach internally all day “Work hard, we are now in a moment of life and death.” On the personal level, before and in the early days of industrial civilization, most people didn’t work for a day and couldn’t eat for a day. The bottom layer was caught in an arms race around hard work. Individuals are not as industrious and have problems with food and clothing, not to mention marrying a wife and having children. In the post-World War II world, productivity has greatly increased, the concept of human rights has begun to spread, and the eight-hour work system has gradually been promoted. In most countries, individuals have basically got rid of the animal-like food-work cycle, and the phenomenon of lazy people has become more and more common. As for the spirit of martial arts, it has long been thrown out of the sky by most countries, and now the popular ones are cuteness and motherhood.

Japanese fleet development game

But history has repeatedly proved that competition breeds progress. Especially after entering the 20th century, research and development has become a time-consuming and costly undertaking. Capital, by nature, is unwilling to do such tiring work. Only competition can force capital to invest in research and development work that will benefit the future. Therefore, the world war is the best catalyst for the technological revolution, and the arms race is the biggest technological boost in the peaceful era.

During the Second World War, the world’s huge investment in technology increased the complexity of technology to a level that was unimaginable before World War II, and it even squeezed the essence of the German nation. The most typical is the atomic bomb, and the funds invested by the United States on it now seem to be an astronomical figure. Only the electromagnetic coil used to make the device for separating isotope uranium used 14,000 tons of silver and silver coins from the U.S. Treasury! This seems to be a suicide in the 21st century, but the pressure of World War II made the US government gritted its teeth. The achievements of World War II included material technology, electronic computers, radar, nuclear technology, jet aircraft and rocket technology. Until today, mankind has not broken away from the technological road opened up by World War II.

The first general-purpose computer: ENIAC

In the US-Soviet arms race after World War II, huge expenditures regardless of cost were a direct cause of the great technological progress in the 25 years from 1945 to 1969. You know, during the peak period of the Apollo Moon Landing Program, NASA’s funding accounted for 5% of the US annual budget (now 0.5%), and the overall funding of the Apollo Program is now close to one trillion U.S. dollars! But now it is basically impossible for a big competition environment to reappear. Don’t think about world wars. In the nuclear age, large-scale wars between major powers are impossible, and with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the United States has lost the momentum for an arms race. In view of the failure of the Soviet Union, it is estimated that China will not devote its efforts to confront the West. What China is better at is to use water milling methods to compete with the West, such as buying huge US treasury bonds, and will never adopt the head-to-head model of the former Soviet Union. In addition, the author suspects that even if the government wants an arms race, the general public will hang on top of it all.

Perhaps, only if there is an invasion of aliens in the novel “Three-Body”, will human society reappear the research and development boom in World War II and the Cold War.

5.3 The thermodynamic balance of human society

In terms of materiality, life is a typical dissipative structure, a nonlinear mutation of nature. The birth of civilization is an extraordinary change in the environment of entropy increase. Human civilization is essentially a higher-level dissipation structure.

As mentioned earlier, the key to maintaining the dissipative structure is non-equilibrium. The equilibrium state is the state in which all system information is erased. In the past 100 years, the changes in the entire human society can only be described as earth-shaking, and this change is very strange. Human societies all over the world are becoming more and more similar!

Before the second industrial revolution, there were huge differences across the world. Islam, India, Confucianism, the West, Eastern Orthodox, and the major regions of Africa are very different. From the current perspective, it is a completely different world. Even within the same civilized area, there are huge differences. For example, in Europe, the style and temperament of Germany and Spain are very different. This can be experienced in works of art such as novels and paintings. Take China as an example. More than 100 years ago, the folk customs, fashions and social concepts of the south and northwest were very different.

But after the second industrial revolution, the convenience of transportation and communication is making the world converge. The same industrialized products, the same transportation and communication facilities and regulations, the same science and engineering courses, more and more the same education system and artistic evaluation Concept. A movie in Hollywood may spark the same box office boom globally. A documentary about the wilderness of Africa may be broadcast in more than 100 countries or regions around the world. If there is breaking news, the headlines of all newspapers will be the same the next day.

This change became more apparent after the end of the Cold War. Originally, there were two polar opposites and two scientific research systems in the world, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, American standards became the only successful system by default. Take academia as an example. Dissidents who do not follow the requirements of the scientific community do not even have the right to publish papers. In the new century, the Internet and globalization are raging, and information exchange is unprecedentedly convenient. The world’s thinking models and social structures are becoming more and more similar. If the analogy of entropy is adopted, human society is rushing toward a “thermodynamic equilibrium.”

This structural change will definitely affect technological innovation.

There is a view in biology that diversity can fight pathogens. It is impossible for any virus in nature to completely kill humans, because individual immune systems are diverse, and there are always people who can escape the catastrophe and pass on this immunity to the next generation. [Related Links: “Chaos” and “Diversity” are healthy!]

The paradigm cage is a virus, and diversity is the hope of mankind to break the paradigm cage. Technological innovation is not a linear process. It cannot be planned by the leader, nor can it be piled up by money. It needs many moments of inspiration. Globalization and the spread of information technology have led to the gradual convergence of public perceptions, and differences are crucial in some cases. For example, the Chinese have watched Fuxi gossip for thousands of years only for fortune-telling, but Leibniz saw binary in it.

I used to read related papers on genetic algorithm. In the paper, it was said that a major advantage of genetic algorithm over Newton’s derivation method is that it relies on randomness, can jump out of the pit of local optimum and find the global optimum. The government and the public hope that the masters can point out the way forward, but sadly, in this age, the concepts of the masters are often similar. If you fall into the pit of “local best”, you may never be able to jump out again!

On the whole, human beings are very likely to fall into a certain dead end on the technology tree!

5.4 Aging

The world today has a phenomenon that has never occurred in human history: fertility rates in most countries are steadily declining throughout the world. At the same time, medical technology has become popular, and the elderly population has increased dramatically. Together, it is predicted that by 2050, the number of elderly people in the world will exceed the number of young people for the first time in history. Moreover, this historical reversal of the relative proportions of young people and old people has occurred in the more developed countries in 1998. Today, the world’s median age is 26 years old. The country with the youngest population is Yemen, with a median age of 15 years, and the oldest country is Japan, with a median age of 41 years. By 2050, the world median age is expected to increase by ten years to 36 years. By then, the country with the youngest population is expected to be Niger, with a median age of 20 years, and the oldest country is expected to be Spain, with a median age of 55 years. [Related Links: United Nations Aging Issues-The Aging of World Population: 1950-2050]

The aging of the population began to be a headache for the politics and economy of the Western world 20 years ago. In recent years, China has also begun to feel this pressure. In addition to China’s wonderful media that is still advocating the benefits of aging, the West has regarded aging as a matter of life and death. The reason is simple: any crisis and turmoil, if there are not enough young people to digest, will become a long-term decline. Just like when a person is young, he can survive without sleeping for two or three days. If he changes to a 70-year-old man, he immediately wailes.

In Europe, Japan and the United States, the baby boom in the 1960s and 1970s after World War II has now turned into an aging boom (the situation in the United States is relatively better). The welfare pressure and immigration problems in Europe are largely due to the pressure brought about by the aging population. In the debt crisis of Greece, why did Greece dare not default? An aging country does not have the courage and resources to start from the bottom of the industrial chain and climb up.

As a country that refuses to emigrate, Japan’s aging picture may be a sample of the future earth. Japan’s economic situation has literally verified the impact of an aging population on the economy. Due to the aging population and shrinking internal demand, the Japanese economy is showing a certain turmoil in the system. If you watch many Japanese NHK documentaries, you can feel the impact and constraints of aging on the Japanese economy. The aging of the population’s age structure has brought about a structural contraction of consumption, welfare pressure and a decline in creativity. An important factor in Japan being crushed by South Korea and China is the ageing of the population, which makes the decision-making and management rigidity of enterprises. Japanese enterprises lack the kind of national vitality in the early post-World War II era.

From an in-depth analysis, the negative effects of aging on technological progress are as follows:

When people are adolescents, they usually have a lot of fantastic ideas, and they often look forward to visualizing some of the concepts they see daily. Take the technical field as an example. Doraemon’s time-space gate, Superman’s ray, and the laser sword in Star Wars were all equipment that had to be owned as a child. Of course, with the increase of age and accumulation of experience, especially after work, people will become realistic, and a good job, a good partner and a good body have become new dreams. As for childhood dreams, occasionally I laugh at myself at midnight. When you are old, you will have no desires and desires.

The individual is the cell of society, and for the entire human society, the development of early industrial civilization has also inspired similar dreams and inspired the society to fight for it. Interstellar travel and time travel are the favorites of a generation of sci-fi writers after World War II. Both the East and the West, the society is permeated with the optimistic spirit of changing the world. But with the advent of aging, Western society has become increasingly conservative, and the pension issue has become the focus of media and political debates. Landing on Mars? That is financial suicide!

Interstellar travel

On the other hand, psychological research shows that most elderly people tend to be more conservative. Most elderly people hate adventure, don’t like competition, and prefer to stay the same. For the elderly, the future is of little significance, and living a good life in the present is the most important. In the social resource plate, the elderly are more inclined to maintain or expand their share, but the elderly have an advantage in the right to speak and personal relationships. In the previous society, the elderly did not have an advantage in number. In the future aging society, the elderly will even overwhelm the young in number.

Before the rise of industrial civilization, there could be no aging society in the world. After the rise of industrial civilization, human society entered a new paradigm. After World War II, hedonism became more popular, and the fast-paced life made the world’s fertility rate drop. Therefore, industrial civilization encountered a lock created by itself, and it was a very strong lock. Individuals are selfish, a cruel truth that cannot be avoided: as a person grows older, individuals live longer than vain controllable nuclear fusion. In a world where voting rights are increasingly important, the stars and the sea may always be an illusion.

5.5 How to fill the hole?

After three technological revolutions, mankind began to encounter the devil of complexity. To cross the new technological stage, many previous beneficial factors that promote technological change must be retained.

In a world where hedonism prevails, social mechanisms and thinking must be changed, such as abolishing the pension mechanism, avoiding the tragedy of the commons on the issue of pensions, ensuring that a woman has two children, and not allowing an aging society to transform into a deeply aging society. The decline in the new population cannot be viewed from the perspective of reducing resource consumption. In the long run, it does not make any sense. Agricultural society consumes less resources per capita, but society is even more miserable. The sky is healthy, the gentleman is constantly striving for self-improvement, and the technological progress promoted by young people’s creativity can bring new negative entropy and resource increment.

Historical changes of family planning slogans

Globalization characterized by a unified mode of thinking must stop, and human civilization needs a hundred flowers to bloom. Encourage the establishment of a confrontational scientific community, tolerate seemingly absurd academic views, and encourage competitive teams to expose each other’s gimmicks. China may need to get rid of the “free rider” thinking. The predicament of Europe and the United States is not a blessing to China in the medium and long term. It is fortunate for mankind and China to establish a R&D system different from that of the West.

Since humans took the lead in picking those “low-hanging apples”, many fields have made great achievements with a small amount of investment now. I don’t know when they started. Most people take it for granted that they “know their However, it can be done”, which is the root cause of all kinds of gimmicks. It must be made clear to the public that in many areas, great efforts may be required to achieve “profitability”. Only in this way can it be ensured that sustainable and reasonable social resources are invested in the field of research and development. You should know that there are countless examples in human history that the greater the expectation, the greater the disappointment and the irrational counterattack! Many early technological research and development have relatively low costs. As they do not rely on public funds, individual Perseverance ensures that “the sun is always after the storm.” Human society may need to restore this early R&D system to a certain extent. It can encourage wealthy estates to set up funds on a large scale to specifically fund R&D in a certain field according to their wishes, and reduce their dependence on public funds. Thousands of rich men are thousands of ways of thinking.


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 The future is not always 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

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