Thursday, November 29, 2012

Distributed everything

In The Third Industrial Revolution Rifkin discusses the worldview matrix that was enacted through the energy regimes of particular eras.  Fossil fuels are found is select areas and require large financial and military investments to secure them. Along with this comes a way or organizing business top-down with centralized command and control. For example, the railroad required large financial investments that included foreign investors, and such immense capital required a stock market to track it. Ownership became separated from management, and workers from management. All of which was a drastic change from the more agrarian economy envisioned by Adam Smith. Max Weber studied this shift and noted that the new business model emphasized pyramidal organization structure (top-down), pre-established rules for all operations and jobs, a strict division of labor and wages. This railroad model transformed all businesses (107-09).

He also explored the context in which Adam Smith proposed an economy. Smith looked to Newton for guiding principles and the latter’s three laws became the template.  The market, once set in motion, operated on the same principles of motion. Though instead of God being Newton’s prime mover it was for Smith enlightened self-interest , with supply and demand making the necessary adjustments. However the laws of economic motion gives us limited data and doesn’t take into account time and irreversibility. Both Newtonian math and Smith’s economics are completely reversible and both lack the insights of thermodynamic laws. We’ve seen this same scenario play out with quantum mechanics itself, with the earlier versions also not taking into account thermodynamics and irreversibility (193-95).

All of which is due to the modernist paradigm and the assumptions inherent to it. Whereas the emerging P2P and postmodern paradigm surpasses all of the above by using alternative energy sources and the networked modeling of the internet. It’s an entirely different way of doing business that  distributes energy, knowledge, power, everything in a truly democratic model.

1 comment:

  1. Rifkin also addresses the type of consciousness that accompanies the various techno-energy regimes. Forager-hunter societies were oral and mythological. Hydraulic agricultural and writing were theological. Print and coal-steam tech was ideological. Fossil fuel and electronic were psychological. And with alternative energy and the internet we have biosphere consciousness.

    The last is based on empathy. But much like the Lingam uses moral development Rifkin notes that the empathic drive has a more inclusive embrace the farther along it goes. In forager-tribal culture it was extended to the tribe. In hydraulic-agricultural it extends to one's religious identification. In industrial culture it extends to one's national identity. Finally in the TIR phase it become a biological embrace of the entire planet (and beyond) and everything within it. It goes beyond empathizing with all mankind to all of the cosmos (235-36).


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