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Something very similar is happening to collapse, yes. But it's under weight of complex law. We technologists don't like to think about the law, and usually don't have to since the limitations on our actions are usually intrinsic to the field, but society is law, and law is society. When the law gets too complex for any real human to know, to follow, or to enforce, you get a strange kind of tyranny. You get, for example, business models predicated on millions of petty injustices (bank late fees, parking tickets, pay day loans etc).

I call it "The Tyranny of Complexity". And we, the programmers, have had a big part in creating it, which is why I believe we have a moral obligation to end it. Some simple rules, for example, about how bills must be submitted for a vote, e.g. written in long-hand by the sponsoring congressman, or rescinding an equal or greater amount of law before passing a new one, would help. But computers allow for the asymmetrical enforcement of contracts, strongly favoring the business over the consumer (favoring the highly connected node over the less connected nodes) and we can and should address that, too. Too often we suffer petty abuse in silence, and lack the tools to redress our grievances with our abusers.

Eventually this will yield a true collapse, but it will take a while. Trump might accelerate things, but even not-Trump won't stop it.




The "increasing unnecessary complexity leads to collapse" hypothesis was very adeptly explored in the context of the collapse of many ancient societies by archeologist Joseph A. Tainter in his book Collapse of Complex Societies[1]. Briefly, he argues that most civilizations rely on some sort of wealth producing trick. As they grow they increase societal complexity to maintain that trick. After a while, the complexity produces negative marginal returns, after which the response of the society is to further increase complexity resulting in further negative marginal returns and eventually leading to collapse.

The only civilization that was able to escape these collapse dynamics was the Eastern Roman Empire which underwent a radical simplification of administration in the latter half of the first millennia and thus greatly outlasted the Western Roman Empire, which could not adapt.

[1]. http://www.amazon.com/Collapse-Complex-Societies-Studies-Arc...


Thanks for that. I won't buy from Amazon anymore because of the way they treated me as a seller (they refunded a customer's money after they claimed they didn't recieve the item, after attempting to return the item), but it's certainly available on Alibris http://www.alibris.com/The-Collapse-of-Complex-Societies-Jos.... A note to anyone else wanting this book: it's expensive. $50 for the paperback, $225 for the 1988 hardcover. It must have been a textbook.




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