Daniel Schmachtenberger (Notes)

36: Daniel Schmachtenberger - Phase Shifting Humanity
The Future Thinkers Podcast

2:21 - I wouldn’t talk in terms of an ultimate system, I’d talk in terms of ongoing evolution - so rather than utopian, as one has previously thought of a perfected system, we’re going to think of a protoptian process of emergence into more elegantly ordered complexity that has more and more emergent properties.

6:29 - We were under half a billion population for all of human history as far as we know - two hundred plus thousand years - until the industrial revolution, and then in just over two hundred years we went up to over seven billion people and growing. That is a profound exponential population curve.

Not only have we been growing in population but we have been growing in resource consumption per capita, so this is a mutiplicative issue.

9:40 - The technologies it takes to build this kind of sustainable regenerative, thriving new set of world systems is technology that we developed via capitalism and linear materials economy, and the military industrial complex.

So they served an evolutionary relevance in terms of where we’re going and they have just completed a particular evolutionary relevant life cycle and now we’re going through a discreet phase shift into a new life cycle, very much like a fetal time period. 

An embryonic time period is unsustainable - a baby couldn’t stay in the belly after 40 weeks, that’s not how it works. It’s a finite evolutionary period of unsustainable development, to then go through a discreet phase shift into a fundamentally new period.

14:45 - If we define a civilisation where we have a sustainable population that does not require imposition from the outside - some kind of eugenics, or birth-limiting programme - it is an emergent, self-organising phenomena.

We’ve already seen places in the world where, when education gets high enough, economics, female empowerment, etc - populations stabilises, and can even decrease to find the right level. We’ve seen that in Japan, and some of the Scandinavian countries.

So to have a steady-state population that is within the sustainable caring capacity of the planet connected to a post-growth materials economy, where the materials that we are using are being designed in a cradle-to-cradle way. Their recyclability after use is built in and there is no such thing as waste. The new stuff is being made from old stuff so it doesn’t require virgin resource acquisition.

We have a system that doesn’t require trash or extraction - that’s what post growth means, is post necessity for growth, so it actually can be sustainable. And we just keep increasing the efficiency of how we utilise those resource and attenuating the forms that they are in.

17:57 - The other major thing that economics has done is human incentive.

When there is a bunch of shitty jobs that society needs done for the quality of life that is related to infrastructure - that nobody, if they didn’t have to, would want to spend all of their life doing - then we need to get people to do these jobs. Adam Smith talked about this, Marx did - this is the core of economic theory.

So if you do some kind of communism, where everyone’s needs are met by the system, then how do you get the people to do the shitty jobs? The state has to force them, and we call that imperialism and that’s why we don’t like communism.

Capitalism says, we’ll let the free market force them - if they don’t do the shitty jobs, they just go homeless. That’s really not freedom - it just moved the forcing function from the state to the market. 

24:50 - There is an important difference between appreciable wealth and exchangeable wealth. When we think about a rainbow or someone complimenting you, or seeing a smile, it’s not extractable and exchangeable wealth for anyone. None of these are things you can put on a balance sheet. But when you think about what makes life most rich, it’s largely these things - that fit into appreciable, but not quantifiable wealth.

One of the beautiful things that happens when the primary balance sheet that we’re paying attention to is the balance sheet of the commons - the natural world commons, and the built world commons, that everyone has access to without possessing - is that we have a system that gets to start optimising for appreciable wealth generation. We’re not only focused on exchangeable wealth accounting systems.

27:05 - One of the issues of the inability to make sense of almost anything is how much of any news or idea has some kind of financial interest associated with it. 

How much education is an advertorial? How much of science is actually just the R&D arm of capitalism funded by something that has a vested interest attached?

Think about what it means to create system that remove all of those agents so that there are no vested interest agendas.

29:55 - That’s the key of the future of macro-economics - the alignment of agency and wellbeing, and that correlates with closing the loop.

We’re closing the loop between agency of individuals/well being of others - moving from an open loop system, where I could affect things but not internalise those effects in the cost equation, to [a system where] all [affects are] internalised in the cost equation.

That corresponds to a world view where my sense of self and my sense of the rest of the universe are not fundamentally separate concepts. I wouldn’t exist without oxygen, or the plants that make the oxygen, or the bugs and fungus that makes the plants work to make the oxygen.

I am not an individual. I have a self-organising membrane that has some individuality to it but I am an emergent property of everything else. 

So when you close the loop between sense of self and sense of others, then what’s in my best interest [is] whats in the best interest of others. There is loop closure between ‘advantage self at the expense of others’ or ‘sacrifice self for the well being of others’, both of which are nonsense in a radically interconnected system.

What we’re looking at is closing all the causal loops so that everything that influences decision making is being informed by everything being influenced.

35:47 Economics conditions human behaviour. And infrastructure actually conditions human behaviour - it ends up being not net-neutral mimetically. 

If you have infrastructure where the only way to get electricity is from coal, which we know is causing inexorable harm to other life - you cannot have full empathy in that infrastructural system.

You actually have to down-regulate your empathy to justify getting along. You’ll not want to look at certain pictures and videos because you know you’re contributing to things you can’t really handle contributing to.

You’ll turn down your awareness, you’ll change your behaviour, you’ll turn down empathy, because infrastructure is actually predisposing patterns of mimetics and behaviour.

41:08 - There is a foundational principle that says complexity will evolve within any organisational system inexorably, because there’s movement, and with movement there are self-interacting dynamics, and that’s going to lead to increased complexity.

Complexity will evolve within any organisational system until it actually exceeds that systems capacity to manage it. When it exceeds it you will get increased chaos, and then increased entropy, and then the dissolution of the organisational system.

Then you’ll get the entropic step down to the previous level of organisation, or out of the chaos you get the emergence of a higher level of organisation.

That’s the place I’d say we’re at globally.