The Economy as a competition for access to Energy
Given that the universe is energy, it may be of interest to contemplate evolution itself as a competition for access to that energy. If we observe that living systems evolve by increasing their power, that is, the quantity of energy they are able to access in a space of time, we could consider for a moment that this perspective, when it comes to contemplating evolution, may be even more basic than others. This is possible without evaluating “what” energy is, merely determining the rules for such competition on the basis of availability.
We will start off by describing the organisational systems as being in competition for access to energy. To that end, they will necessarily have sensors, tools and decision-makers. They will operate in a sequential manner, they will be probabilistic and, consequently, will be open.
On the basis of existing energy availabilities, we will discuss the only two possible situations: those in which the available energy appears to be unlimited, and those in which the available energy is limited. These two major situations will correspond to two major expansive and recessive cycles, equally applicable to all organisational systems, whether involving a bacteria, an individual or a society.
This perspective, if operative, will be so in many areas. After the initial description, and given its possible importance, we will explore its use as a framework for an economic theory based on competition for access to available energy. We will explain that since 1973, when the limitations existing of a currently non-replaceable energy were discovered, we went through a recessive period with serious risks of short-term economic collapse. This is because production concentration processes are characteristic of recessive stages, with significant amounts of capital being driven from production processes and being forced, inevitably, into speculation. Such speculation generates a bubble that will first be seen in real estate, subsequently in the Stock Markets, and will necessarily burst due to the devaluation of capital which cannot be transformed into energy, giving rise to the crises associated with this phenomenon. Our aim will be to justify that the only way out of this situation is to transform the current recessive stage into an expansive one by searching for and locating new sources of apparently unlimited energy.
SECTION ONE. REGARDING ORGANISATIONAL SYSTEMS
-Structure of the organisational systems
Any organisational system requires energy to maintain its structure.
To capture that energy, an organisational system must consequently have at least three subsystems:
-SENSORS to locate the energy.
-TOOLS to capture the energy.
-A DECISION-TAKING SYSTEM responsible for distributing the energy available at any given time in such a way that it can send energy to the sensors and tools, or not send them anything or, in accordance with the information received, send more or less energy to one or the other. Logically, the strategy applied by the decision-maker will depend on the information received by its sensors.
From the above, we can deduce that the organisational systems operate first on a sequential basis, that is: information from the sensors is required for the decision-maker to be able to opt for a specific strategy for energetic investment. That, in turn, will be channelled to the sensors, to the tools, or to the decision-maker itself. Each step will alter the probabilities of access to energy by the organisational system.
We will understand, secondly, that the decision-maker will not make decisions based on the energy available, but rather the energy will be made available on the basis of the information sent by its sensors. Given that the sensors, by definition, do not transmit energy (task for which the tools are responsible), but rather probabilities of access to more energy (not certainties, as the sensors are not responsible for capturing the energy), the decision-maker will make decisions on the basis of the probabilities of access to the new energy available.
This can also be expressed as follows: the energy available to the organisational system is useful to the degree that it is able to capture new energy capable of maintaining its structure. That is, the energy available to each organisational system is valuable in accordance with the probabilities of access to new energy it provides.
In addition to sensors, tools and decision-makers, an organisational system may require different systems for communication between its subsystems and may also have highly complex energy transformers, maintenance systems, etc.. However, the basic lay-out for decision taking will be that set out above: the indissoluble triangle made up of sensors, tools and decision-makers.
Each of the sub-organisational systems will in turn be an organisational system, that is, it will correspond to the structure described previously. Accordingly, we can say that all subsystems within an organisational system also constitute organisational systems, or that all organisational systems are subsystems of another.
Given that different forces exist in nature and can be combined in different manners, all organisational systems will require different types of energy and will, therefore, have various sensors and various tools (as well as the multiple corresponding communicators).
Certain of these energies required by a living system to maintain its organisation may be apparently limited and others apparently unlimited (these concepts will be clarified later). The “central” decision making in an organisational system will be based on the probabilities of access to apparently limited energies, which will be so in competition with other organisational systems.
The sub-organisational systems responsible for capturing apparently unlimited energy will tend to function autonomously (i.e., the respiratory subsystem in living systems) in a symbiotic process with the set of subsystems to which they are associated and from which they expect (probabilistically) to receive the remaining energies that their structure requires. Accordingly,
Given that any process, no matter what type, implies a loss of energy, an organisational system will be a system capable of organising operations, following the procedure explained, in such a way that the probability of access to new energy generated, on average for the set of sequential operations carried out by the organisational system, will exceed the energy lost in the process.
-Access to energy.
In the competition for access to energy there are only two ways to access ever greater quantities of energy:
- Either locating new energy –that is, through the improvement or evolution of the sensors-.
- Or boosting energetic efficiency, which permits access to a greater portion of the available energy – that is, by improving tools-.
Similarly, from the stance of the energy which can possibly be accessed, there are also only two basic options:
A) The sensors locate energy, but not the limits of that energy.
B) The sensors locate the limits of their energy pool.
Case A would take place when the limits of available energy are, within the explored dimension, more extensive than the limits reached by the sensors that are trying to locate them.
Imagining that the available energy has a circular form, the sensors can sweep it within that circle, but always in circles with a radius smaller than that of the available energy. As a result, they are unable to “ see” where that energy ends. That energy, consequently, appears to the organisational system to be unlimited.
An organisational system with an apparently unlimited source of energy will, on average, tend to invest more of the energy it has in its sensors, in order to increase its capacity to locate more of that unlimited energy, as well as to invest more in tools to capture such energy. The decision-maker also invests in itself, in its own development, given the need to make decisions regarding an ever more complex system.
On the basis of the above, we can affirm that an organisational system in these circumstances, that is, with apparently unlimited access to energy, is in an expansive stage. Given that this organisational system is, in turn, a subsystem of another, the limit to this expansion will appear when this unlimited capture of energy ceases to contribute to the broader subsystem which has greater probabilities of energetic access.
Given its unlimited appearance, the probabilities of access to such energy will be maximum and, consequently, its variability will be minimum.
Situation B, the only possible alternative, arises when the sensor has located the limits to the energy it has available.
If we again imagine that the available energy is circular in form, then the sensors of the organisational system will have increased their radii of action until, in the end, the two circles coincide.
In this case, the decision-maker has different options with a view to optimising its strategy:
The investment in sensors may continue, or even be multiplied if necessary by means of higher investment in tools. In this case the probabilities of access to new energy are greater, but given that the limits of available energy at that time have been identified, the new available energy will tend to be either of an unknown type or of a type which is known but not yet located. In both cases, access to such energy is, accordingly, strictly unpredictable.
What can be predicted, however, is that the investment in this search will accelerate consumption of the energy which is already available and has been defined as limited. Therefore, a strategy which depends on a lucky break to permit the organisational system to access a new source of energy would be risky.
The other option is to reduce consumption: reducing investment in sensors in the hopes that, even so, new sources will appear by chance. The organisational system will have lower quality sensors which, consequently, are less likely to achieve that new energy, but which will reduce consumption, giving its sensors more time to locate that energy by chance.
There are also two options for the tools in circumstances of energetic limitation: the first case will be that in which, in addition to the energetic limitation, there is competition for the remaining energy, that is, if more than one organisational system aspires to consume the energy already located.
In this case, the organisational system will have no option: it must continue to supply energy to its tools in the hopes that they will take control of the largest portion of available energy and that, during that period, the sensors will discover new energy of the same or another type. Given that such an outcome is not predictable, and that the ability of competitors for the remaining limited energy will determine the probabilities of survival, the investment in sensors to explore for new energy will tend to decline constantly on average.
In the hypothetical case that a single organisational system were the only one capable of accessing the entire energy pool, the best strategy would also be to decrease energy sent to its tools: a cost cutting strategy with which to patiently wait for the chance location of a new energy source by the sensors.
But, given that every organisational system is made up of subsystems and those subsystems, in turn, must comply with the characteristics of any organisational system in the fight for access to energy to maintain their structure, that is, they must have sensors, tools and decision-makers, we can conclude that a single organisational system, with no relation to others, is inconceivable and, consequently, competition for access to apparently limited energy is inevitable.
We can, consequently, conclude that in a situation of energetic limitation the organisational systems, obliged by competition for access to the remaining energy, will tend to progressively decrease their investment in sensors permitting access to new energy and will concentrate on the fight for the limited remaining energy.
Where the decision-makers will make investment in an environment of energetic limitation is in specialised sensors and tools, of use in controlling costs. Sensors and tools which, in spite of the extra expense involved, achieve a reduction in expenses deriving from existing sensors and tools, in such a way that the new joint expense is lower than that previously incurred. That is, new sensors and tools which improve productivity and control over the energetic output obtained by the old sensors and tools.
We can say that an organisational system in these circumstances is in a recessive stage.
-A brief example of the transition from an expansive to a recessive stage:
Imagine a town with a population of 100 which has an oil well in its centre from which the inhabitants extract oil using a rope and a bucket.
In all the times that they have tossed ropes tied to rocks down the well, no one has been able to find the bottom, and so, although everyone knows it must have an end, the well is perceived, in fact, to be bottomless. The best strategy for the town, and that which will prevail, is that everyone access the well freely (voices of doom will not be heeded, no one will permit, and it would make no sense to, that access to an apparently unlimited source of energy be restricted). The price of this oil would be tied to that of its extraction and transport, and with it the town would develop, investing more and more, as described, in sensors and tools that permit its development, including all kinds of random explorations, some of which –without being able to predict exactly which- may eventually permit chance access to new sources of energy.
In this case we are talking about an organisational system in an expansive stage.
Then: one day an especially clever person shows up with a very special sensor: a long rope made using a new technique, an engineering wonder that permits the rope to not be just long, but to be extraordinarily longer than any other.
In the midst of great expectation, he drops the rope, tied to a rock, down the well. The rock slowly sinks... the rope appears to be about to end. Nevertheless, when only a few feet are left, when it seems that, once again, the mystery will be left unsolved, the rope slowly starts to lose tautness. It has hit the bottom of the well.
At that very moment, the people’s strategy will change. If there are no other towns or perspectives of finding other oil wells, based on the processes described above, the competition for the remaining energy will begin.
In theory an agreement would be possible: given that a more or less determined amount of oil exists, it would even be possible to calculate roughly how much corresponds to each individual. But remember that the decisions taken not only by the town, but also by each individual, are made precisely on the basis of the existing probabilities of access to more energy. As a result, it is strictly impossible to come to distribution agreements, and becomes more difficult as energy becomes more scarce. The oil in the well will, consequently, tend to be concentrated in a few hands.
But that’s not all. The most interesting thing is that, given that ALL organisational systems are in competition and in spite of the fact that the strategy with most probabilities for joint survival would be, more than ever, to concentrate on the search for other energies, the optimum strategy for EACH ONE of them would, however, be to concentrate energy on competing for the remaining energy; either directly, through an increase in consumption or indirectly, through impeding consumption of energy by competitors.
Accordingly, the tendency of organisational systems in competition for limited energy will lead them, when the most need it, to progressively abandon research into other energies to supplement the remaining limited energy and which can only be found by random chance, and to concentrate on finding processes that permit access to the greatest possible quantity (percentage) of the remaining energy.
We see that, even without changing the amount of oil available in the well, when the rock hits the bottom of the well, the town will subtly but inexorably have entered into a recessive stage.
REGARDING TODAY’S SOCIETY AS AN ORGANISATIONAL SYSTEM IN AN ENVIRONMENT OF LIMITED ACCESS TO ENERGY.
-Today’s society from the stance of its probabilities of access to energy.
We will now try to use the previously discussed scheme to conclude as to the current energetic situation, defining it as recessive, and proposing measures to be taken to redirect it towards an expansive trend.
As described, we will consider that decisions in any organisational system, including social organisations, are not taken on the basis of the energy now available in the organisational system, but rather considering the information provided by sensors with regard to the probabilities of access to new energy.
This, without ignoring the obvious fact that the organisational system which has more energy to send to its sensors and tools will have more options for distributing that energy and, consequently, more options, on average, for survival.
In accordance with the scheme described, we can say that the energy situation for human society as a whole since 1973 is similar to a recessive stage. It should be remembered that during the 1950s and, especially, 1960s Western societies operated on an expansive basis, that is, investing in sensors and tools for exploration of all kinds, including geographical, technological, artistic, cultural or social. And this is not because oil was unlimited, but because at that time it presented itself as apparently unlimited. The argument is simple: faced with the perspective of apparently unlimited energy, utopias are possible.
As a consequence, the global strategies at that time were ideological, not energetic.
In 1973, when unreplaceable energetic limits were found and, as a result, the fight for their control commenced, the social system shifted into a recessive stage. Slowly but foreseeably, global strategies became less ideological and more energetic. In a competitive environment, the search for new frontiers stagnated in all those areas that did not offer perspectives either for boosting productivity –greater capacity for the direct or indirect capture of available external energy – or for controlling the cost of sensors and tools –less energetic consumption for access to the same amount of energy, ultimately giving rise to an increased ability to capture available energy.
A characteristic of this recessive stage, as we have seen, will be the concentration of resources. Not only in the area of energy: as a result of globalisation the rope has, suddenly, hit the bottom of numerous wells, leading to multiple concentration processes in various sectors. The difference with prior historical examples lies in the fact that in those cases the limits were state-wide, meaning that there was always the possibility of a policy of geographical expansion, while in this case the limits are global. No further expansionism is possible.
As described, in all these sectors energy will be increasingly concentrated in decision-making systems and reduced in sensors and tools. And this will be true, in general, regardless of whether we are discussing states, companies, syndicates or any other organisational system. Actual salaries will only show an upturn among technological companies offering permanent improvements in the productivity of other companies. And also, clearly, among the decision-makers of any organisational system. Contrarily, a company may perfectly well be growing and recessive: we will observe this when profits are on the rise, but salaries are falling.
The global recessive process results in poverty-level salaries (in far-off countries) coexisting with ever-growing fortunes, broadening the gap between poor and rich, while the middle classes are weakened. While a surgeon or teacher working for the state lives on consistently tighter budgets, professions related to construction, as we will attempt to justify below, show surprising jumps in salaries.
But what is unclear in detail is clear on average: the concentration of capital in decision-makers, with a decrease in sensors and tools.
The most important issue is that, from the perspective set out herein, this is not a characteristic of a “globalised economy” or of the “dehumanised modern world”, but rather in general of any organisational system in recessive competition for limited energy supplies.
It is not due to “declining ethics”, but rather to a recessive stage of competition, “relocation”, understood as the transfer of production load to areas with lower salaries, but also, especially, with less restrictive social and labour rights. While it is in the interest of operators as a WHOLE, it would be a disadvantage for EACH OF THEM individually to search for new energy of uncertain access. Consequently, none of them will invest full-out in sensors capable of locating that new energy, and will mainly concentrate on controlling costs: the new tools will be executives tough enough to make ever higher salaries, in spite of which they still represent a savings for the company, attained essentially when those executives manage to cut costs on processes and tools (machinery and workers) beyond their own cost and at all levels and stages of production. We will see that in this manner, as described, the energy will gradually be concentrated in the decision-making systems and will be reduced in sensors and tools. The new sensors and tools will be such that their incorporation as a new expense will nevertheless represent a decrease in overall energy consumption and, consequently, an increase in productivity. However, from the above it should not be concluded that this will reduce consumption for the organisational system which generates them. On the contrary, their increased efficiency will permit the system to grow and consume ever greater amounts of the remaining energy.
-the need for an “energy pattern”
The thought today is that if there is still enough oil for another 50, 100 or 200 years, we will be able to continue operating for at least a good portion of that time under conditions similar to those at present, and slight rises in the price of a barrel of oil will be offset by mild contractions in demand, and that that effect is sufficient to permit the economy to continue its way down the path of growth. On the basis of the premises set out, we look to conclude that this outlook is erroneous.
Based on two factors:
The first is that human society, or the human organisational system, is made up, like any other, of a set of subsystems that come into competition among themselves for access to energy. Consequently, as we have seen, this means that in spite of having located its energetic limits, the human social system will continue improving its energy efficiency and, as a result, will consume more energy or will at least constantly raise its capacity for consumption. The relation with our energetic availability is not direct, but inverse: less available energy, greater proportional investment in the capacity to consume it.
The second is that developed societies have found a specific way to accumulate energy, potential energy: money.
Money is literally potential energy as it is a measure of our capacity to access new direct or indirect energy consumption.
So then: from what have seen, decisions are taken not on the basis of the energy actually available, but in accordance with existing probabilities of access to new energy. In other words: the energy of each organisational system has value to the degree that it permits access to new energy which permits it to maintain its structure. Or what is the same: money, potential energy, will be useful only so far as it permits access to more energy. Capital held would be worth little in a world without energy to move it.
The concentration processes described, characteristic of recessive stages, mean the creation in all sectors of ever more gigantic companies, capable of ever more efficient production processes. This means the elimination of competition, either through eradication or absorption.
Accordingly, the concentration processes shave a dual effect:
- They effectively boost energetic and consumption efficiencies.
- But they also, either through elimination or acquisition, progressively drive from the production process any capital which is not able to stay productive, and which will be irremediably and unstoppably taken over by speculative processes. That money will no longer have the value of its original capacity, that is, that of permitting more access to energy, and will only maintain its value to the degree that it is able to produce more money. First in the real estate market, then in the Stock Market, this phenomenon will clearly and relentlessly become manifest.
This situation is obviously unsustainable: capital, although it can grow in speculative processes, will ultimately have value, as we have seen, to the degree that it permits access to more energy or, stated more directly, insofar as we have energy available with which to spend it.
In other words, in the same way that we cannot conceive of accessing energy without money, we can also say it is inconceivable to consume money without energy. That is, we can talk about the need to have a certain amount of available energy for money to have value. That is, an “Energy pattern”, or necessary quantity of available energy per monetary unit which, due to the inevitable speculative processes associated with the recessive concentration processes, will be paid more and more attention.
-Risk of economic collapse in the short term.
Let us remember once again: the human social organisational system is made up of subsystems which enter into competition among each other for access to remaining energy and that energy is, at present, apparently limited. Accordingly, the best option for each of the operators, and consequently the priority, will be investment in energetic efficiency, that is, in increasing their probabilities of access to the energy available, even at the risk of collectively raising global consumption and thereby accelerating the extinction of energy for all subsystems as a whole.
As we know, this justifies continuos technological advances which additionally coincide in a historic moment of exponential increases in energetic efficiency.
But there is another, no less dangerous, consequence for the “Energy pattern”:
Thanks to technological improvements, we are able to consume more energy with the same money. In other words, not only does the available capital increase and the remaining energy decrease, but the “Energy pattern”, that is, the amount of energy which we must have for each monetary unit, grows constantly.
In summary: in these moments the following circumstances exist simultaneously:
-Given their expulsion from the production processes, every passing day sees the growth of non-productive capital, now purely speculative.
- To have value, both this speculative capital and that still productive require a certain amount of available energy. An “Energy pattern”.
-As a result of the accelerated technological evolution, the “Energy pattern” itself grows. Accordingly, the same quantity of money permits, and as a result requires to maintain its value, the possibility of consumption of an ever greater quantity of energy.
-Nevertheless, the available energy, not renewable at present and key to the process, decreases.
As a result, we must
Capital has been accumulated for more than 30 years without the real energy corresponding to its potential need for energetic equivalence, which is growing constantly, while the energy available is less and less. Given that the demand for conversion of capital into energy has been covered up to now, the process has remained latent, but no less real, because the accumulated capital continues to grow, and with it the need for an energetic equivalent.
This process is completely independent from the fact that minor hikes in the price of oil are offset by certain restrictions in demand. This may delay the process, but will not stop the deeper phenomenon of loss of value for capital.
This process of loss of value, with characteristics of exponential growth, culminates in economic collapse. The global real estate boom is merely a symptom, as described previously, of the fact that capital is losing its productive value, that is, value as a vehicle for its natural purpose of accessing new energy, and is restricted more and more to a speculative value, that is, money as a producer of money. However, the real estate boom is but the first manifestation in a series of inevitable speculative processes.
That money must be useful in order to produce money is unarguably one of the keystones of modern economic development. However, we reiterate: if, as we have seen, energy is useful to an organisational system to the degree that it permits access to more energy (and allows it, in the process, to conserve its structure), capital as potential energy is useful to a social system to the degree that it permits it to initially access more capital, but in the end, to maintain its value, there must necessarily be a conversion to real available energy.
If this theory is correct, economic collapse will take place at a completely unpredictable date and will be accompanied by all the associated crises already known.
And this collapse will take place, as explained in the corollary, on an unpredictable date, but well before the last oil well runs dry.
In fact, the greater the gap accumulated between the variables, more difficult and traumatic will be the readjustment. Somewhat like adding lanes to a motorway to postpone the traffic jam that will take place at the narrow path where it ends .
TRANSFORMATION FROM A RECESSIVE ORGANISATIONAL SYSTEM TO AN EXPANSIVE ORGANISATIONAL SYSTEM.
-An obvious solution exists.
The reasonable way to stop this process consists of guaranteeing that capital be convertible into energy, that is, searching for and accessing new energy.
But with specific criteria. This new source of energy must be, according to the description set out, “apparently unlimited”
As we have seen “apparently unlimited” does not mean effectively so. The silver in America, coal or oil all were apparently unlimited for a period, generating empires. It will be sufficient if the rope we send down doesn’t reach the bottom of the well.
And it cannot reach the bottom.
Only in these circumstances can we continue to generate capital with energetic value or, according to the terminology used herein, only then will an “expansive social organisational system” exist. This will be the only way to invert the current trend and avoid economic collapse.
-Regarding the strategies to search for apparently unlimited energy.
The example of the so-called “alternative energies”, denominated thus precisely because they are not capable of replacing oil, is of use in verifying that such energies are not considered by capital as a viable outlet for its need for energetic expense (the evident proof is that massive investment is not made in these energies). Accordingly, they will not be perceived as that necessary “apparently unlimited” energy, and will not be able to stop the process described.
The good news is that the process to find that apparently unlimited energy is viable. In fact, it is being carried out. Proof of this are projects for research into nuclear fusion such as ITER.
The wrong criteria is simply being applied: in these projects, governments consider that their best strategy, and consequently their priority strategy, consists of favouring companies and thereby generating jobs and taxes which, in turn, favour the governments. However, as we have seen, they may be working from an erroneous premise: that money is a solid value, with guaranteed energetic convertibility.
Nevertheless, if it is accepted that the value of money is associated with real energetic availability, it will also be accepted that the best investment for all states as a whole, and consequently the priority, is not to fight for the generation of capital, but to compete for access to more energy. The strategy of states should be to concentrate on the fight for the access to energy, not on the fight for capital.
The only governments that are currently complying with this basic function of searching for access to energy are those that desire direct control over the existing oil resources.
However, this strategy, while historically correct, is not viable in a globalised economy. Not because it is globalised, but rather because, as a result of globalisation, the energetic limits in dispute are approximately known. Returning to our example: we have dropped a long rope, we have found the bottom and now there is no turning back.
War breaks out when it is perceived that the probability of access to new and necessary energy exists beyond the borders of each state. But in today’s world the border that separates EVERYONE from access to new energy, and the only one that can be conquered to return value to capital, is technological not geographical.
Accordingly, the priorities for these states should be to achieve access to apparently unlimited energy which is currently beyond our technological borders.
- FOR A NEO-EXPANSIONIST POLICY:
The responsibility for finding new energetic access falls to the states:
We should remember that in an environment of limitation energetic the ultimate responsibility for guaranteeing access to energy falls to the states and not to companies. When there is an appearance of unlimited access to energy, the states can, and do, cede this control to private enterprise. In these stages growth will be recovered and will continue until the limits of the new energy are discovered. At that time capital will again be at risk of losing value. The responsibility of searching for energy will return to the states.
This is all fairly obvious, since without energy the state itself loses all viability. It is possible that certain states can prosper without access to energy and with access only to capital, but not all states as a whole.
Guaranteeing access to energy takes priority over guaranteeing the right to culture, as the latter is sustained and germinates precisely when an energetic surplus exists. Guaranteeing access to energy takes priority over investment in infrastructures, because infrastructures have no reason for existing if the energetic resources for their use are not guaranteed previously. And especially, guaranteeing access to new energy in an environment of limited access to energy takes priority over investment in technology (understood on a generic basis), that is, if the evolutionary processes of the organisational systems involved are allowed to follow their natural path and conscious efforts are not made to search for new energetic resources, but rather to attain increased efficiency in the consumption of limited available resources, as is currently the case.
If the European Union invests in Airbus rather than in ITER, it is merely boosting the efficiency of energetic expenditure, thereby increasing energetic expenditure and accelerating the process that will give rise to crisis and bring forward the date of the collapse. As we have seen, these greater efficiencies in energetic consumption increase not only direct energetic consumption (it will be possible to make more trips, more cheaply), but also the “Energy pattern” of capital, putting double pressure on available energetic limits.
A Neo-expansionist policy will be that which considers it to be a priority for states to invest in sensors and tools capable of locating new apparently unlimited energy and, after the limits of available existing energy are considered to have been determined, to make such investment on a priority basis within their technological, rather than their geographical, borders.
-The most important thing: determination in the process.
But if looking for apparently unlimited energy is important, how to look for it is no less so. Remember that organisational systems operate not with the energy they have, but with the probabilities of access to energy supplied by their sensors.
In other words: equally or more important than culminating the research process successfully will be showing absolute determination in guaranteeing its successful outcome, and that it will be done as quickly as possible.
As of the moment in which this commitment is inevitable, money will understand that a reasonable way out will be found within a reasonable period of time. An outlet. Value.
Consequently, in this process the forms and not just the periods are very important. Not only because the date for collapse is unpredictable, but also because of the pace at which knowledge and technology are advancing, projects which give themselves 50 years for success are not credible. Faced with such projects, capital will act as if the research actions were not taking place. In fact, with this strategy the collapse could arrive the day before the announcement that access to apparently unlimited energy has been achieved. Additionally, such long-term projects tend to lose relevance, generating frustration and uncertainty as to the opportunity for new investments and gradually blocking off the only possible way out.
Furthermore, access to any new energy is uncertain. Consequently, should it arise, so is the technology which will permit such access. In other words, the missions of the State will be reduced to two: promote unlimited research, of a practical as well as theoretical nature, into any new form of access to energy, but specifically when it carries an apparently unlimited promise, and promote the creation of Capital Markets to finance the process.
The process itself, after start-up and properly channelled, will be expansive, optimistic. It will permit capital to invest in more energy, rather than in more capital, as a potential generator of incalculable wealth.
Accordingly, once underway, it will feed itself.
After all, the universe is energy.
In spite of its somewhat alarmist appearance, an attempt at describing the collapses provoked by energetic limitation may be interesting.
-Regarding the final collapse of a set of organisational systems in recessive competition
The collapse of a set of organisational systems of the same type (understood to be competitors for the same type of energy) in recessive competition will take place when the more energetic strategy transforms into a fight not for access to remaining energy, but to avoid that other organisational systems have access to that energy. At that time the priority strategy for the organisational systems in recessive competition will be that of investing in sensors to locate other living systems and tools to try to impede access thereby to more energy, essentially through their destruction or invalidation for energetic expenditure. This strategy will lead to a reduction in the number of competitors for the remaining energy and, on average, will benefit the organisational systems that had more of their own energy at the beginning of the crisis, with which to better develop their sensors or tools for competition with other organisational systems, as well as those which have, through random evolution, specialised in the development of tools that are of use in direct competition with other organisational systems. This strategy is applicable in defining both business competition and warfare, with the difference that in the first case the losers, driven out from productive competition, will continue to hold capital with speculative capacity. When pressure becomes unbearable and the capital loses value, business competition will be replaced by warfare.
The organisational systems best suited for this competition will be those which, on average, find the greatest probabilities for survival with this strategy, and, consequently, those which are quickest to value this strategy as appropriate and are first to apply it when the time comes.
Put more elegantly: concentration processes, including wars, are generally started by the rich.
We can see that, whether discussing bacteria in a test tube or humanity as a whole, “wars” take place in a much shorter period than that contemplated for the depletion of existing resources. Bacteria can multiply and then fight until extinction without having consumed their remaining nutrients, and a war for oil will begin and end well before the last well runs dry.
Once again, there are only two outcomes for this situation:
-That, by chance, a new apparently unlimited source of energy is found.
-That the systems in competition have been exterminated to the point that the energy once again appears to them to be unlimited . If the resources in dispute are actually limited, that is, if, no matter how long the fight is prolonged, more energy of that kind will not be found, this means the disappearance of the sensors that located the energy and a correlative loss of efficacy in the tools. If the organisational systems are not able to evolve in a recessive competition without those sensors, the competitors will fight until extinction or subdivision into lesser subsystems. That is how civilisations come to their end, and, additionally, after their collapse all traces of them tend to be wiped away: once their sensors and tools have disappeared, they literally become unintelligible.
In our case, faced with a war which will foreseeably be more devastating than any other, the probabilities that an apparently unlimited alternative energy were to appear during such a war, as has happened in previous episodes, are minimal. As the limits of the energy giving rise to the competition are known, the war will only end, then, on extermination, through the disappearance of the sensors and tools that made it work. We can imagine the end of such a war personified in a group of people looking for wild berries who, one day, after having forgotten why they were fighting, simply stop doing so.
And, indeed, there would still be unexploited wells, even though humanity has managed to consume 90 percent of the planet’s bioenergetic reserves, patiently accumulated during hundreds of thousands of years. Precisely the time needed to reach this point after which, foreseeably, there will be no second chance.
It is interesting to note that up to the moment of recessive collapse the strategy of competition should also be priority for the less strong systems, those less prepared for direct competition and, consequently, more defenceless, even if only because of a simple lack of alternatives.
But it will take longer to be a priority, and it will become more and more improbable as the impossibility of competing becomes more evident. Even so, unexpectedly, the best strategy for organisational systems without possibilities for competition in a situation of recessive collapse will be to continue consuming energy and to act as if nothing was wrong. A strategy of “good intentions”.
If the miracle comes, those systems will be at an advantage.
If the miracle doesn’t appear, they will be the first exterminated, virtually without putting up a fight and with no possibility of defence.
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