apocalyptic techno-optimism

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by jennypenny »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Sun Sep 06, 2020 1:50 pm
I'm not sure I understand why you mean by retreating in this context?
When I discussed this once with jacob, he called it 'retrenching' ... maybe that's a better word?

When people are confronted by difficult circumstances or more negativity than they can handle, they tend to cling to the familiar or what has served them in the past. I've noticed it lately as people deal with the pandemic and/or financial problems. Instead of stepping back and figuring out why they're struggling and what changes they can make to be more secure in the future, they seem to cling to whatever they feel is their strong suit and lash out at whoever they think is threatening it. It's not that people put blinders on, more like they reach for their favorite weapon regardless of how useful it will be instead of acquiring new weapons to face the new challenges.

This happens on a larger scale as well, which is how I view some of the cooperative efforts in the adaptation/transition community. Many retreat to ideas first proposed in the 1970s during the Limits to Growth era. While useful, and innovative in their time, the IT revolution has completely changed how the world works. Those ideas need to be updated, and better yet reimagined, and by people who aren't too rigid in their viewpoint (ie no tech allowed) or too idealistic about their chances for success.

I think things are going to get very challenging and I'm only trying to encourage people to meet those challenges with forward momentum instead of retreating to nostalgic concepts or 'accepted wisdom.'

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by classical_Liberal »

jennypenny wrote:
Sun Sep 06, 2020 3:53 pm
When people are confronted by difficult circumstances or more negativity than they can handle, they tend to cling to the familiar or what has served them in the past.
This is an astute observation. @7WB5 actually turned me on to this concept in another thread awhile back. We were talking Wheaton level advancement and she pointed out how it's pretty common for humans to retreat to previous thought processes and habits when trying to break new ground. Basically when the going gets tough, people often tend to turn back to what they know works. In FI/ERE terms, when people are stressed out they turn back to accumulating more money to deal with anxiety thinking it must be the solution. Unforuntualty, this doesn't really make for progress, and at worst can lead to overpreparing for the last battle, Maginot Line style. Realizing that this seems to be true, without further evidence, has had more influence on my decisions in the last year to avoid this trap (in FIRE/ERE) than I'd like to admit.

In the little research I did on the subject, I saw Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, by Robert Sapolsky referenced regarding this behavior. Just recently, a ZeroHedge article talking about similar concepts referenced it as well. I guess I'd better see if my library has it. Has anyone else read it?

How do you see yourself avoiding this retrenching behavior?

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by daylen »


Yes, Behave is a good book for introducing a multitude of biological layers and previewing their relationships. The book does an excellent job of demonstrating the complexity of the Human body in relation to decision making; extending onto Kahneman's work in a way.

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Josephine »

“My personal vision of something like this would be to build a community of people with varying interests and skills ERE-style. We could all live our lives, but when a wave of whatever s**t-storms arrive, we'd be stronger together than apart. At that point there'd be more incentive to give up some individualism to make the community more intentional to get through the storm. Then, if circumstances allow, move back to a more individualistic approach until the next wave hits.” ~classical_Liberal
I like this vision. And would also agree with whoever posted about in-person meeting (the douchebaggery reducer!) followed by using technology to maintain contact could be beneficial even if one ultimately moved somewhere else or slow-travelled away. I’m personally concerned enough about the future to be motivated into enduring additional temporary discomfort. Enough to pick a cheap city in a Medicaid expansion state, and go there, nowish. What’s the hold-up this time around do you think?
“Others have made the "within walkable distance" work by picking a location and moving there. Presume that presenting such an idea to 10,000 people might get 10 or so people who are interested and 1-2 who are more than interested. However, for ERE there are simply not enough of us to get this started unless the percentages are higher for ERE than others... and I don't think they are.” ~jacob
The number of more-than-interested and motivated ERE individuals may be higher now due to current circumstances. Or maybe not. It could just be my wishful thinking.

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Unless/until the sun ceases to shine, there will be growth simultaneous to collapse on planet Earth. The average American human currently has enough attached technology to equal metabolism of a great whale. Is it possible that the average may slide even further from the median? Is it possible that the attached tech mix will move more towards augmented eyes/brain vs augmented muscles/thermal regulation? Yes, it is likely.

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by nomadscientist »

jacob wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:03 am
Possibly. What scares me about many intentional communities is that they attract (they're attractive to ..?) people with liabilities/few skills/other issues. They don't tend to last long being perhaps more idealistic than what human wetware can deliver in reality or become too restrictive to make it work compared to the alternative of leaving. The closest I've ever been to such an arrangement was living in a Danish style dorm(*).
This topic is really "founding a religion" and I would say a successful example of ERE coliving exists in the USA and is actually quite large: the Amish.

Mormons are sort of Amish-lite, living normal consumer lives but with an obligation for preparedness and simple living (by consumer standards).

Rationally designed communities where every member is supposed to voluntarily act in a certain way according to shared rational determinations tend to fail. Successful religions sucker people in with some kind of woo and then exercise some form of coercion (not necessarily violent/illegal) to shape their behaviour. That's just an observation and not a moral statement.

Cults are non-viable religions. Societies are religions with an army and a navy. It's increasingly obvious to everyone that we live in a cult with an army and a navy. But what to do about it.

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by ZAFCorrection »

JP brings up a good point about leveraging online interaction as a chief component. A lot of the subtext in the covid thread was "I don't see anyone in person if I can avoid it anyway, so win?" Introverted people live introverted lifestyles and attract other introverted people when they run across them so it would make sense to promote a method of interaction that is remote and asynchronous.

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by AxelHeyst »

I don't really disagree with the idea of leveraging online interaction etc, but most of my IRL friends are extroverts. I actually tend not to get along with other introverts IRL as well because, well, we just don't have much to say to each other. I almost "surf" the social energy of my extroverted friends, go along with the vibe and enjoy myself, and return to solitude as needed. I wonder if this is common? Or am I an outlier or weak introvert in this regard? Might be a relevant dynamic to consider if not.

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by daylen »

Introvert-Introvert interaction tends to be hit-or-miss. Either communication is limited to polite gestures/comments or undergoes a positive-feedback terminating in instant friendship. Depends on initiation-courage and knowledge-overlap.

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Riggerjack »

New from Douglas Rushkoff
Ego, thanks for reviving a fun thread. This one went far from the original post, then died, was revived, and went far in another direction.

Very cool, and thanks!

That being said, I hope Rushkoff is a good media professor, because as social commentarian, the guy is $#@@$&/// useless.

Consistency is quality, was a mantra of one of my foremen, as I was coming up in construction. Rushkoff is consistent, at least. Deeply concerned about virtue signaling in all his writing (a pet peeves of mine) he is constantly trying to lead the class warfare against these cartoon villains that plague his mind. He reminds me of the joke about the "leader" of the French revolution. All he needs is a crowd bearing torches and pitchforks. :roll:

But after the thread moved away from the source, it got very fun again. Thanks all for the revival! Lots of ground to cover, I have some thoughts, but it will take a bit to get them down on paper, so to speak.

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Riggerjack »

What scares me about many intentional communities is that they attract (they're attractive to ..?) people with liabilities/few skills/other issues.
I think this is a design flaw of existing attempts, rather than an inherent design limitation. Design a more attractive community, and raise the bar for entry, and this problem gets replaced with attraction and filtering. Each of these is more tractable than the original.
There may be some people/families who have both the survivalist resources and the personality type to go it alone and both survive (food, water, shelter) and flourish psychologically; but seems that must be a rare breed indeed. It's about building strong communities.
This. There is some thought loop among our most educated, that keeps them looping in this box. This is some serious G class (gervais) juju. Too many years in school, and one cannot think outside this box.

Here is the secret: if you read an establishment book on anything outside of the establishment, you are reading a perspective that was created for you. That may or may not align with the perspective one would choose for oneself. The presented perspective is likely to be chosen to make the reader feel better about where they are (within the cozy embrace of the establishment), or it may be chosen to highlight how difficult and dangerous life is without that smothering chokehold- eh-hem uh, cozy embrace.

And because we live in a society drowning in information, there will be books written from the above perspectives, carefully written to appeal to the anti establishment audience, to help guide them back into the fold. And for the establishment audience, and every step in between.

I understand the desire for a strong community. I share it in my own twisted way. But strong communities are an emergent feature of getting the other parts right. One doesn't build strong communities, one grows a strong community, and with luck, success is copied.

Scale is important, but the auto scale-up thought loop will kill any productive line of thought.

If one were interested in solving this riddle, one should look at what has been tried, and failed. If only to ensure the path one wants to follow doesn't lead to a known hazard.

I would say that all G class paths out of the establishment have been tried and have known hazards. Perhaps a different starting point is appropriate.

(I'm not calling you out, I chose this quote because it is such an excellent example, well written, and clear. )
A couple years ago I got mildly obsessed with ecovillages/intentional communities and read eight or so books on the topic. Most of them were concerned to a significant degree with answering the question "what are the common causes for the ~90% failure rate?"
A very good start, and there was good info in your post.

But I was thinking more in terms of "what are the common causes of the failure rate/how does this compare to the failure rates and failure points of traditionally founded communities".

If that had been the approach, I think we might find paths not fully explored previously. Success is more likely to be found in under explored territory than going over the same old ground that has thus far yielded a high failure rate.

If one is determined to go over the same old ground, bringing new tools/techniques would at least bring the possibility of better results. But I haven't heard of any new tools or techniques, yet.
I think, maybe, there is a problem with trying to convert what is inherently a individual solution into a group/tribe solution. First in the types of people it attracts, and secondly in the type of thinking it perpetuates. Hence it has some problems unique to it, vs other intentional communities.
What is a group/tribe solution, that is also not an individual solution?


So, founding an ERE group/tribe/religion is not my goal. But if it were...

I would look at how cities are typically founded.

Step 1. Economic center.
There has to be a reason people want to be there, and this is usually because they perceive an opportunity, and move to it.

Step 2 establish land ownership.
This needs doing asap. Perhaps before anyone knows of step 1. One doesn't need contention in this step.

Step 3 divide up your land, mark it up and sell lots.

Repeat steps 2&3 until the demand, determined by step 1 is filled, or some other failure point.

So here on the west coast, this looked like someone building a cabin and dock at the mouth of a river.

Then expanding as fishing and logging made that dock make $$. Then expanding as the opportunity presents itself.

This is a coastal variation on the Railroad model. As the railroads moved west, one of the ways they capitalized their project was to lay out a town where they needed to stop. Everyone wanted to be close to the railroad access points, they bought and built.

Are you noticing a pattern here? All these people are buying into a dream. They are all coming of their own accord. And most of them will be young and relatively unskilled. Because that is the time of life when people are most likely to go on an adventure.

Individualists simply need a reason to go do their thing where you want them to. Typically this reason looks like you made a space that is appealing to them.

So, if I were a high income younger man, looking to start my ERE cult in a small town in the Dakotas, I would look at buying something like the sorority house linked in some other thread. (Sorry, no link)

It was a 9 bedroom, 3 bath house. Classic architecture, brick siding, and big all over, on a quarter acre.

The typical first thought is get lots of roommates, and life gets cheap, fast.

I would go the other way, though. What do I want in a housemate? Great. Now what would a person like that want in a house?

So then I would rent out a room with a studio/office.

Just like that, I went from attracting based on cheapness, to attacting based on a special appeal to people who want/need studio/office space. Now we're filtering!

I would have the garden planned and laid out as well as any other major changes, before I let anyone in. When people move in, they should be aware that the space is going to change ahead of time. How the changes are made is another filter.

So, 9 bedroom becomes 3 bedroom, 3 studio, and 3 craft rooms. How you divide that up is up to you.

But I would suggest that the applicant who want a room for $300/mo is different from the applicant who is looking at $750 a month for a room/studio/craftspace in a pretty house with garden.

Make the space you want, with space enough for others, attractive enough to the kinds of people you want to know.

When the first 2 spaces are rented, start looking to expand. Watch for opportunities in the neighborhood. People sell all the time. Simply repeat as often as desired. Ideally, getting neighboring property, and maybe set up your ideal little urban/suburban compound. (Little known fact: if one owns multiple adjacent blocks, it is possible to have the street closed between them, now look at all that garden space...)

If I were looking for a rural version, I would start with the economic incentives to be there. Maybe start with a woodlot, and make log cabins for folks to move into. Get good internet. The world is full of back to the land types. Make a space, make it as easy/hard as you want to filter for.

There is nothing complex about any of this. The hard part is letting go of the childhood treehouse mentality (boys club-no girls allowed!) And moving in to an adult mentality, understanding that you don't have or want control over anyone. That path leads to the extreme divergence/high failure fields...

Of course, knowing what you want and building it in a way that appeals to others is no small feat, either.


I think the cause of high failure rate of intentional communities is that they are generally started without enough capital, by people of an idealistic bent. The ideology is often opposed to capitalism, so they skip step 1.

If one wanted to build a house, but were ideologically opposed to the standard tools and materials, one's odds of failure would be similarly bad. Though the successes would be extremely divergent (like Flying Concrete).

Now note where the successes are in IC. Extremely divergent. Places that are so different from our day to day system, that people will put up with the downsides, to participate in the dream.

Not screwing up step 1 means the extreme divergence shouldn't be necessary. The less divergence, the broader the appeal. The broader the appeal, the higher one could raise the bar for entry. The higher the bar, the more successful the average participant, does everyone see the positive feedback loops?

Now, to this idea that an WL5 would want to team up with other WL 3-7's. The whole point is to get synergies. One doesn't get synergies without differences. What ERE WL5 wants, is a gardener/permaculturalist or a carpenter/woodworker or whatever you want to attract, who is also ERE compatible.

You learn the skills and practices that appeal to you, the same for them. We have plenty of folks here from other interest groups. One doesn't need the full theory of ERE to live an ERE compatible life.

Jacob wrote ERE in an academic way, because that is both his background and his style. His goal was to blaze the efficient path WL7+. And that's great, perfect, for me. But most people don't learn the way I do, especially in the realm of lifestyle design. People learn from the people around them. I think the beauty of the ERE commune would be allowing people to do what they love, while in an ERE soup. Their actions are influenced by their environment, and after they are partially down the ERE road, and have experienced the benefits, they are more likely to be open to more.

We know ERE works in HCOL and LCOL economic zones. So simply set up ones franchise in the space you like, that will attract and support the kinds of people you want. The examples of group living that work, don't diverge greatly (the folks from YMOYL) took care of step 1 as part of their system, or as an accident (7w5's bohemian youth experience). I don't know how one could progress to WL5 without enough economic theory to get step 1 completed early. In other words, this should be easier with ERE.

I believe Leadership is the opposite of what is needed. OWNERSHIP is needed. There is nothing unusually difficult here. This is all standard real estate practices. You can get standard financing. You just have to figure out what and how you want to do it, and then follow that up by taking ownership, and actually doing it.

And in the immortal word of Alphaville:


I ran across a term I would like to introduce.

Technical Debt. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_debt
Technical debt (also known as design debt[1] or code debt, but can be also related to other technical endeavors) is a concept in software development that reflects the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy (limited) solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer.[2]
Because this is the heart of the rest of the problems we face as a society. We cobbled together our society from short term incentives, and work arounds.

I see ERE as a way to redesign an individual life to pass through a society wrestling with this technical debt, in a way as to minimize friction.

And thinking in terms of technical debt, is more accurate than terms like collapse, or any other catastrophic hyperbole. It describes the problem in a framework that makes the most efficient choices most visible.

And from the marketing perspective, the fewer WL0's who cross our path and hear words that trigger "crazy" in their heads, the less resistance we generate. And for better or worse, the mainstream likes to paint anyone coloring outside of the lines, crazy.

Lemme know what you think.

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by daylen »

Riggerjack wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:00 am
What is a group/tribe solution, that is also not an individual solution?
Avoiding extinction.

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Riggerjack »

True that.

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Nice point on technical debt. The crusade against technical debt is something I fight on a daily basis. :lol:

It's helpful to understand what causes technical debt though. In software development, you two different forms of complexity. You have innate complexity, which is the complexity required to solve the problem, and accidental complexity, which is complexity added by an engineer not solving the problem correctly.

Technical debt is problematic because it increases accidental complexity. And the more complex a program is, the more points of failure it has and the harder it is to maintain/extend in the future.

Of course, the reason technical debt is added to the program is the fact software is a business and time to market is important. (Despite my preferences as a salty engineer :lol: ) There have been many programs that turned into vaporware because they took too long to engineer a "perfect" solution. That's essentially what happened to Netscape. They decided to rewrite the whole thing from scratch because the code had become a mess, and in the process, their competitors took over the market.

Really software is a perfect metaphor for the predicament we find ourselves in now because they're both an example of growing complexity leading to things eventually imploding. There are incentives to add "hack" solutions because it causes short term benefit. But those same "hack" solutions eventually increase complexity to the point maintenance costs are too high, and the entire thing starts to implode.

Critically, even if you are not willing to sacrifice the short term for long term, you still have to compete against people who are willing to do that. Hence the struggle can never really be won. It can only be managed/delayed.

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Alphaville »

Riggerjack wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:00 am

I believe Leadership is the opposite of what is needed. OWNERSHIP is needed. There is nothing unusually difficult here. This is all standard real estate practices. You can get standard financing. You just have to figure out what and how you want to do it, and then follow that up by taking ownership, and actually doing it.
yes. let’s split the difference in language and i’ll change my tune to say what’s needed is entrepreneurship.

we tend to think of leadership as “command,” i was searching for ideas and when i said leadership and just meant “someone get off their ass and find a way to make it happen, rather than hope and wait and talk and naysay.”

but you’re correct, ownership needs to be a part of it (which is why the co-op idea is more appealing to me than a commune or a serfdom: a co-op is partnered ownership in an enterprise. but i digress).

nevertheless, the creation of ownership opportunities is part and parcel of the entrepreneurial function.

not that i want to own any of this, but for me it’s nice to see people making stuff happen in the world, is all. i’m pro-creation. i detest sameness. and every suburb in america these days is the same.

yesterday i saw a documentary about “the gates” in central park. took christo and jean claude 25 years of lobbying the city of new york to be allowed to install their steel and fabric gates in central park for just 2 weeks—at their own expense! all they wanted was permission. you should watch it just to hear the ridiculous arguments of the committees who opposed them. then bloomberg got elected mayor and told them “okay, do it.” and they did their thing, and the result was glorious. check it out some day: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0446089/

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

$750 is too much. Build some lofts into the bedrooms so that they can have dual functions, and obtain another large not full residential code space (Barn/warehouse etc)that can be subdivided into studio/project space by the square foot. Then members of the co-op could just rent loft/rooms for $300/ month and/or studio/project space for $1/sq. Ft./month. Barrier to entry could be cost of share in co-op to be redeemed if/when you move out. Maybe $5000 would be enough to keep out the derelicts?

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Riggerjack »

$750 is too much
In some markets, yes. In others, no.

How rooms and rent are split is up to the owner. The higher the profit, the faster the growth, the grander the end result. But the lower the profit, the more stable, to a point. Beyond that point,

As is how the owner chooses to stop being the owner. But in our capitalist society, the terms are set by the owner, so, regardless of what step 3 is, step 2 comes first.

Though, like most utopian fantasies, I expect the priorities change, when one puts up one's own capital.

Bringing us full circle. Back to Rushkoff and those horrible rich people, who won't do as they have been told by their betters. Even when he uses little words, and talks slowly.

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