Why Attempts To Control are Always Doomed: 1

Many conspiracy theory-types always talk about the futility of action because “sooner or later it will all go back to a feudal system”. Let us dissect their contention that “sooner or later it will all go back”.

The first obvious problem with their contention is that sooner or later we are all dead. No matter how much wealth, power on control any human achieves for an instant, he or she is mortal. Therefore any outcome of the process of civilization, over the long run, is irrelevant to an individual.

The second problem is due to the fact that underlying conditions and possibilities in evolving complex systems aways keep on changing.

For most of its existence on earth, life was unicellular. Is it now? If prokaryotic life is good enough, why is eukarytoic life necessary?

Significant terrestrial vegetation cannot be found in fossil beds prior to the Cambrian, and most multicellular life in the era before the Cambrian was quite unlike what exists now.

For most of the last 300 milllion years, archosaur physiology based animals were the dominant form of land animals. Large reptiles were the dominant aquatic predators. Is it still so?

Australopithecine fossils can be found over a 2 million year time span. Home erectus over almost a million years, Neanderthal over almost half a million and Home sapiens over 200,000 years. However all human beings on earth today have a maximum calculated diversion of less than 80,000 years, and in most cases- less than 20,000 years.

So why did not life on earth revert to prokaryotic, terrestrial plants disappear, archosaurs redominate, and australopithecines re-evolve?

The answer is something that I talked about in my older posts on related topics.

Major changes and new pathways in complex systems will persist long after the event that created them goes away.

The fundamental problem with any attempt to control is the unspoken assumption that there is a fixed ‘resting state’ for the system.

The universe does not have a fixed resting state or natural level for anything. What appears to be an equilibrium is really an illusory dynamic minima which can be lost forever in a moment once something underlying the minima changes. It is not possible to recreate a lost dynamic equilibrium.

All schemes of control are based on the linked assumptions of fixed equilibria, linearizable trends and total knowledge. They simply don’t pan out over anything other than the short term.

More in future parts of this series.


  1. December 11, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Have you ever heard of the applied mathematics field called Catastrophe Theory?

    Yep, I have a fairly good idea of why you brought it up for this post.

  1. December 19, 2010 at 5:22 pm

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