“Conventional economics is the dominant intellectual rationalization of today’s world order. As we’ve overextended the growth phase of our global adaptive cycle, this rationalization has become relentlessly more complex and rigid and progressively less tenable. Breakdown will, all at once, discredit this rationalization and create intellectual space for new ideas to flourish. But this space will be brutally competitive. We can boost the chances that humane alternatives will thrive by working them out in detail and disseminating them as widely as possible beforehand.89 Advance planning means we need to develop a wide range of scenarios and experiment with technologies, organizations, and ideas. We’ll do better at these tasks, and we’ll also do better in the confusing aftermath of breakdown, if we use a decentralized approach to solving our problems, because traditional centralized and top-down approaches aren’t nimble enough, and they stifle creativity. Scientists have found that complex systems that are highly adaptive—like markets and even the immune system of mammals—tend to share certain characteristics. First of all, the individual elements that make up the systems—such as companies in a market economy or T-cells and macrophages in an immune system—are extraordinarily diverse. Second, the power to make decisions and solve problems isn’t centralized in one place or thing; instead, it’s distributed across the system’s elements. The elements are then linked in a loose network that allows them to exchange information about what works and what doesn’t. Often in a market economy, for example, several companies will be working at the same time to solve different parts of a shared problem, and important information about solutions will flow between them. Third and finally, highly adaptive systems are unstable enough to create unexpected innovations but orderly enough to learn from their failures and successes. Systems with these three characteristics stimulate constant experimentation, and they generate a variety of problem-solving strategies.90 We”


Thomas Homer-Dixon, The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization
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