2020 (a bit) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22901002
Sharp readers of the FAQ* will note that those 2020 posts mean we should really mark this one as a dupe, but there's something so perfect about prepping meeting operating systems and the language being Forth...I just can't do it.
Computers are much more difficult to bring back: much of their manufacture and distribution is highly dependent on a globalized supply chain, which in turn is dependent on the security guarantees of an international order backed by military force. Many of their parts are proprietary by nature, and individual components can at their simplest require rare expertise in multiple niche fields of science before their production can even be considered.
This is what irks me about these kinds of "collapse fantasy". Somebody described the apocalypse novels of John Wyndham (Day of the Triffids etc) as "cosy catastrophe", and that very much applies here. The laser focus on technological detail-hoarding while having blinders on to any consideration of the politics of the situation, or what might be called "material conditions".
Historically few societies collapsed without external pressure. Societies do not collapse, they are collapsed. And the force that's doing the collapsing is the thing you need to worry about.
It also can take a very long time to wane; while Rome may have split from the Roman Empire in 395, the eastern successor Holy Roman Empire lasted until 1806. And the microstates provide even weirder examples, like the Maltese feudal knights with a WW2 air force!
Firearms are highly regulated where I am from which makes the first and last a little more difficult than they potentially could be.
I really never gave it that much thought to be perfectly frank. Though the point is I feel semi conductors are pretty far down the order of priorities.
The problem with transitioning to draft animals is preventing them getting eaten in the collapse. We'd probably also run out of trees in a few years.
(Collapsists should make more study of WW2, such as Beevor's magnificent, horrifying Stalingrad. Or the siege of Leningrad. Surrounded Soviet civilians died by the millions. And that wasn't a collapse in the collapsist sense, the social, legal and technological order remained somewhat intact)
In a collapse they won't be, and those willing to seize them, will be at a great advantage, police dept. military bases, even countries whose population don't have access to an abundance of guns doesn't mean there isn't an abundance in the country.
In almost any scenario where government collapse can occur, people will become the largest threat to survival.
The problem with security against other humans in the long term, is that we are damn clever, and determined. Even with an overwhelming firepower, if you are in a fixed location, people will find a way.
As for Hunting, it can be done without firearms, Crossbows and Traps can be highly effective, and simply constructed. What you have to think about is how much and what sort of wildlife their is around you, and how rapidly they will be depleted by others.
As they say, Hell is other people, best bet since the time of the plague, you want to survive go where others aren't.
But I get your point.
Like I said I hadn't given it much thought, though if one could get a sustainably large commune group with reasonable access to weaponry it would hopefully be a deterrent for most small groups.
I'm in Australia which rather large. Clean water is the likely the most valuable commodity. It would be interesting to see how much of the population would actually survive such a collapse.
(actually, having thought about this, the "collapse" scenario I'd be most worried about in Australia is average temperatures above human survivable levels plus wildfires. Not so much a collapse as a thorough incineration)
The centre of Australia is positively hot, always has been.
When i was refering to sustainable i meant the size of the "survivor commune", you can only realistically control a small area for sustenance with out significant order and coordination, think more tribe than state. There are millions of kangaroos i suppose :)
MadMax should be your go to guide right? (just kidding)
Large targets, can be whittled away over time, you basically become under siege, your attackers can leave anytime in small groups to gather supplies, you would be stuck at your parameter.
Think castles, after a while, they all fall through starvation, contamination, sabotage, etc..
I have played for a while on a Minecraft "anarchy server". You could consider it a very, very rough approximation of how anarchy would play out in real life. Your statement (if you are in a fixed location, people will find a way) closely mirrors my experience.
Even though, in the Minecraft natural environment, there are things that are dangerous (e.g. wild animals, "monsters", ravines, etc.), nothing comes close to the danger of meeting another player, possibly armed.
If you are a new player, the most challenging part is escaping spawn (the area where new players start from, which is also the only crowded area in the game). This is pretty hard because spawn is a wasteland with no natural resources left (in Minecraft you have a hunger meter so if you can't find food you will eventually die), and in addition spawn is populated by armed players who kill new players as a pastime.
Once you get to about 20 kilometres from spawn (20k blocks in Minecraft) you start finding food (trees from which you can get fruit, wood for building fishing poles, seeds that you can plant to start a small farm). However, you can't stay in the same place for long, because in a few weeks at most, some other player will find your base and steal your stuff and/or destroy the base.
Once you get to about a hundred kilometres from spawn (100k blocks in Minecraft), you can build a temporary base and hope that it will last a few months (mine lasted about 3 months).
Currently I have a base that is over one million blocks from spawn (i.e. more than 1000 kms) and I expect this may last for a longer period, maybe even years, so I'm building larger structures.
Obviously this is just a Minecraft server and doesn't accurately reflect real life.
Some elements are realistic, for example travelling speed, or the way natural resources are either renewable (plants, animals) or non renewable (minerals).
Some other elements are not that realistic, for example the number of players on the server is way smaller than the population of a typical city. This means that the "safe distance" from spawn might not reflect the safe distance from a major city in real life.
Also, spawn is the only area with a high population. There are some larger bases across the map, but even the largest ones have a population of a few dozens players at most.
Another element that is not realistic is obviously construction. In real life, building a home or a farm means a lot of hard work, whereas in Minecraft you can do it in a few hours.
 walking speed is about 5 km/h, travelling through a "nether highway" you can go at about 45km/h so this could be compared to motorised transport in real life
Hmm. Is cannibalism an option?
In all post apocalyptic scenarios I can imagine, there will still be billions of already existing computers.
Rebuilding humanity will fulfill its computing needs by mining for a MacBook. Some will survive whatever natural disasters hit. As the supply of working ones dwindles, repairers will thrive. The skills and equipment necessary to repair waterlogged or crushed computers is still orders of magnitude less than that required to build a new one.
"Mining and repairing macbooks" as a strategy could last for 1000 years or so if necessary. Of the billions out there, at least a few will be working in 1000 years, if there are humans around with the desire to repair them.
As the repairs get harder and the supply dwindles, there will be more and more incentive to reinvent processes to make new ones. It wont be anywhere near as hard 2nd time round, because I'm sure across all of those billions of buried macbooks there are designs of all the machines necessary.
Solar panels can also be refurbished. For poly silicon cells, it's mostly the contacts that degrade, and you can improve that with a soldering iron. A bit more work, but still doable, would be a forming gas anneal, which can additionally passivate defects.
I imagine things like ledgers, basic simulations, farming yield prediction...
I couldn't find design documents besides the technical constraints it is willing to be compatible with.
There is no end to post apocalyptic fiction but usually it's set fairly soon after the collapse, or the technology uncovered is mysterious and futuristic.
Good chance I'm outing myself as an infrequent reader of science fiction asking this!
I think for its chosen niche, the key qualities are (1) low power draw and (2) the ability to boot and be usable with no on-disk storage. The z80 system has that, but you could build something much more powerful. Burn the OS into a rom, have it copy into ram at boot.
Eternity Road, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/128533.Eternity_Road
I could see embedded style sensors and technology being very practical, tools for measuring temperature/humidity etc and logging it constantly, sensors to measure water levels in rain tanks, basic inventory systems for food, basic automations for things like farming (automatic watering systems/collection systems even?)
Security is another one to think of: Sensors to detect people entering/leaving an area, trail cams for hunting, alarms etc.
The things I see that are computer controlled are luxury items, at best: TV, camera equipment, security camera, microwave, blender, laptops, tablet, NAS server, air purifier. This does leave out my car, but I don't expect cars are going to be playing a big part in any realistic post-apocalyptic future, anyway.
Most of that stuff could also be replaced by lower tech versions without much loss of functionality: analog TV, film camera, mechanical blender. I think even the microwave could be replaced by a lower tech version of itself without much loss of functionality. You could even have an actual, wireless remote for the TV.
I would miss my DSLR, laptops, tablet, and air purifiers, but I'd gladly give them all up if it would actually be a meaningful thing to do. As it is, getting rid of all the DSLRs and laptops in the world isn't going to save us. Very few individuals in this world have any real power to do anything about the most likely collapse scenario (climate change), and most of those people have a vested interest in not doing anything to help (American energy company CEOs).
Edit: a word
I understand the most realistic scenarios for climate-change do indeed suck for everyone involved, but won't lead to mass human extinction - and the predictions of "water wars" were not grounded in realpolitk.
Of peak-oil being a harbinger of imminent societal collapse is immediately bunk: the world's economically leading countries and supranationals have already put in place plans for post-oil sustainability - such as fossil-fuel car sale bans within 10 years. Furthermore Covid has demonstrated that society carries on functioning when air-travel is cut to a fraction of its former volume - leaving only international shipping and road-haulage as the remaining oil consumers without a decent post-oil plan yet - but it's demonstrable that there's plenty of oil left to keep those services running for decades with current proven reserves - considerably more-so with the expected end of gas-powered cars within a couple of decades.
The author's definition of "cultural bankruptcy" seems to be "the US is exporting individualism to the world, which will mean an inevitable decline to non-cooperation and (insert your preferred game-theory metaphor here)". Whatever one may think of that, he doesn't establish a reasoned connection between the two - just hand-waving.
I think the author just has an anxiety disorder that needs better management.
John Titor is a name used on several bulletin boards during 2000 and 2001 by a poster claiming to be an American military time traveler from 2036. Titor made numerous vague and specific predictions regarding calamitous events in 2004 and beyond, including a nuclear war, none of which came true. Subsequent closer examination of Titor's assertions provoked widespread skepticism. Inconsistencies in his explanations, the uniform inaccuracy of his predictions, and a private investigator's findings all led to the general impression that the entire episode was an elaborate hoax.
Sounds more than a bit like QAnon, at least in design if not reach or effect.
> ... [various debunked predictions] led to the general impression that the entire episode was an elaborate hoax.
> by a poster claiming to be an American military time traveler from 2036.
Wasn’t the thing. Could be everyone was trolling but some of the commenters really seemed like true believers egged on by the trolls (kind of like flat earthers).
I just fundamentally don’t understand the level of gullibility involved that’s needed to buy into a story like that (like I get it exists but I just can’t understand the mentality that leads there). It’s also likely why astrology, religion, and wild unbelievable conspiracy theories take hold in our society (I like my conspiracy theories to have what I consider a more plausible down-to-earth premise).
I wonder what the evolutionary advantage there is for the duality in society. Is it really just as simple that the primitive “what if it could be true” is good for helping you avoid danger and the “that’s not a plausible line of thinking” helping better locate real world opportunities are the two engines for our success as a species? And that the misapplication is just a trait that’s not useful in a comparatively peaceful time (and the tension ironically brings about the reduction of peace time?).
My plan is to read the news very carefully and quickly throw myself at a C tutorial as soon as I feel an apocalypse coming on.
And if your post-collapse computer can’t read PDFs or play videos, how much useful preserved information can you really access?
Quick Googling says that most modern x86 chips should be able to run 8086 binaries. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
> And if your post-collapse computer can’t read PDFs or play videos, how much useful preserved information can you really access?
Most websites that don't use JS to load the important content. It's also worth noting that there doesn't seem to be any way to connect normal mass storage devices. It can read from floppies and SD cards. Some people still have floppies, but I would have to imagine there's a lot more useful information laying around on SATA drives.
It doesn't matter if it can read PDFs or play videos if you can't read the storage devices those are on.
Plenty of useful things you can still do with a z80, but at that tech level paper and ink is a better storage system than silicon and magnets.
 As per Wikipedia’s stats page, the size of current versions of all articles is 18.9 GB compressed
We did useful stuff with computers even back in the 60s when transistors were the technobabble plot device for how Iron Man could fly ; we just used them to calculate solutions rather than as electronic libraries.
> I expect our global supply chain to collapse before we reach 2030
What's he going to say if we get to 2030 and his predicted collapse hasn't happened yet? "I was wrong" or "It's just taking a little longer than I expected"?
> But nevertheless, this idea seems too powerful to not try it. And even if it proves futile, it's a lot of fun to try.
It is like TempleOS. Not useful for its purported purpose of communicating with God, but nonetheless interesting and valuable as an example of a single person developing a programming language and OS, which even has a few novel ideas in it.
A collapse doesn't even need to happen ever. As I see it, its purpose is to be available as a safety net.
I really don't get people's optimism here. This is not some doomsday prophecy divined from religious texts. It's a trend in the data - if nothing significantly changes, we're headed for a crash in the coming decades.
It's like watching a program with a memory leak - you see it ticking up in its memory usage, knowing that when it approaches 100%, it will crash. Oh, it didn't, because Haber-Bosch^W^Wthere was a swap drive? Well, the swap space isn't infinite either.
Sure, maybe skyrocketing oil prices won't crash the economy (though people seem to forget that oil isn't just fuel and energy, but also anything made from plastics - i.e. just about everything). But something else will give (likely the habitability of this planet). We need to step off the exponent, or ride it to space. But we can't fit it on Earth much longer.
I find this whole exercise to be utterly pointless, but hey, its his time, his money, and his effort, so more power to him.
What do you say if you paid for health insurance, car insurance, but nothing at all happened to you over the course of the decade? Nothing. You count yourself lucky and keep paying.
And it is cool.
But the underlying arguments he makes about imminent collapse are baffling. Imminent collapse due to our oil supply drying up? That’s been an erroneous prediction made for like a century, because we are apparently really bad at predicting what the economics of oil extraction will be in the near future. As it turns out, finding and extracting oil becomes way cheaper, and different categories of extraction tech emerge. The lights stay on, and more people write about the NEXT energy collapse which is totally going to happen.
Also, am I missing something, or does he really not even consider nuclear power? It just seems like such an odd hyperbolic and ungrounded argument overall.
There’s also more on the whole phenomenon here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/deep-adaptation-...
And lots and lots more collapse literature out there if you care to dig into it.
On the one hand, predictions of doom have so far been beaten by technological advancements. On the other hand, we do live on a finite world. On the gripping hand, it’s quite disconcerting to think how rapidly our civilizations and individual lifestyles have changed compared to the vast sweep of human history and prehistory.
It’s interesting how people’s reasons for the impending doom differ with their political leaning. Left leaning people will say we’re running out of resources and soon to be inundated with melted ice caps because we’re too individualistic. Right leaning people say we’re going to turn into Idiocracy because of poor breeding and easy living because there’s too much welfare and immigration.
I think the pure numbers indicate that the next one probably won't happen in my lifetime (good), but I do think it will happen! What makes us think our society is special?
What is “our society”? A particular country or group of countries, or global society?
Certainly any country or even group of countries could go downhill. But, historically, usually when one country is in decline, somewhere else on the globe another is rising. For global society as a whole to collapse, across all countries and continents - that would be something that has never happened before. I don’t even know if we can put a probability on it - how do you determine the probability of something happening if it has never happened before?
As climate disruption increases, crop failures in tropical and subtropical countries result in mass migration, first to cities and then toward wealthy temperate countries.
Temperate countries react by electing fascist governments to repel refugees. Fascist governments start wars (as they do), which spiral and disrupt international trade. Trade failure triggers economic crises, which exacerbate wars, ultimately leading to nuclear weapons exchange, and collapse.
Reason to believe: already starting, with no remedial action visible or planned.
Part of the magic of a minimalist Forth environment is that they come with primitives for accessing raw memory, the stacks, and facilities for extending the language. You can build new parsing words, interface with hardware, and so on.
If the idea is that you gather already manufactured parts, wouldn't it be better to just use some cheap SOC computers like the Raspberry Pi? They're low on power consumption, so powering them wouldn't be much of an issue, and it has greater, easier to use, software.
It would also allow you to have things like a copy of useful Wikipedia articles, videos, photos, etc.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding the project goal though.
I don’t like that seemingly all accessible bootstrapped projects still rely on non-bootstrappable silicon (like the 8086 here). Does anyone know of an effort to bootstrap the actual computational substrate (i.e. the silicon, or something which serves the same purpose but isn’t silicon)?
The worst part of the collapse is going to be remembering everything in my vimrc file
The farther we progress techologically the less can be salvaged in the aftermath of a collapse.
I have done a bit of manual soldering earlier in my life.
This was simple stuff but I switched out memory chips. Switched out ROMS (only way to update some machines)
Primarily, zx81 (that you could get as a kit) zx spectrum and then what I consider my first real computer the Atari ST.
I have not performed any such surgery since my ST.
Looking at motherboards if various types we have now requires a lot more precision to “fix”
If you found 3 broken motherboards for the latest version of an I9 it would I think be difficult to cannibalize. Parts to get one working motherboard.
One these old computers it would be possible.
I presume that is one of the reasons the author talks about the z80. I am very familiar with the generations Sinclair used.
And there are genuinely massive amounts of them in various less sexy roles as controllers for electric appliances.
I wonder how far in the Intel PC evolution one could realistically salvage and make Frankenstein computers out of.
Storage would be a problem.
Hard disks are complicated and prone to fail more so after a collapse I am sure.
Getting production of floppy drives going is not trivial either
Say the collapse hapoens in 20 years there will not be easy to find huge collections of 3.5 5 or 8 disks
Casette takes are also getting rare. Though some appear to think it retro and it is making a comeback now.
VHS tapes would be nice.
Are there any other projects out there like this?
I test my website with every browser I can get my hands on. Yes, hundreds of them. Yes, even Netscape 2 and IE 3. I think Web has taken a bloaty turn, but we still have a chance to retain and preserve the knowledge.
The nice part about it is that for every browser I tweak for, the site gets more and more compatible and accessible. As someone with experience, I've been able to access it under the strangest circumstances and methods.
Notably, an ESP32 based on RISC-V is due shortly, with an expected price of $1. Wifi, BT5+BLE, 400KB ram (which may not be enough for everybody, but it's close), 22 GPIO's, a single 32-bit RISC-V core running at 160Mhz.