Archive for March, 2018

Rewilding as the logical outcome of civilisation

March 18, 2018

I believe that a truly advanced civilisation should not be visible within the confines of an biosphere, at least per a modern human’s perception.

Consider human civilisation – from hominids roaming Europe, Asia and Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago, with modern-ish humans emerging about 100 thousand years ago, and modern humans about 20.  The first small agricultural communities, perhaps 10 to 15 thousand years ago.  The first cities and empires, 5 thousand years ago.  Industrialisation, about 300 years ago.

If risks are managed sensibly, I see that a logical steady state approach would be to seek not to over-extend use of resources, and restore if possible pre-existing ecosystems, or create new ones.

Likely, as with the move to cities, our descendants may likely move to city memory and only ‘avatar’ to one or multiple cyborg bodies if and when required.  Consequently, although cities may have several orders of magnitude more inhabitants, performing at a cognitive and intellectual level far beyond modern humans, their experiences and chosen interfaces will largely be virtual or simulated.  Moreover, such cities could essentially be much more compact than modern cities, as they would essentially be server farms with robotic maintenance infrastructure.  These might run on nuclear fusion or casimir pumps.

For reasons of ecotourism and keeping things tidy and ordered, such future civilisations spanning the globe and solar system may decide to let nature reclaim the large tracts of land previously given over to agriculture and more primitive infrastructure, in an ordered but apparently chaotic fashion.  This principle of ecological custodianship would possibly also seek to revive extinct species by first principles, or construct new ones if and as required to fill ecological niches and improve the aesthetic of the apparently wilder world.

Tunnels through space may well be constructed to transport the few goods and resources required for maintenance, obviating the need for traditional shipping (road, freight and rail).  Hence these could be left to decay and return to the wilds, or even deliberately dismantled.

Eventually a machine civilisation with citizens in city memory could potentially surgere off miniature pockets of reality for use, connected by one or multiple small umbilicals to base reality.  It seems likely at said point that at this stage Contact may well have been attained, and this civilisation would no longer be bound to the confines of our Solar System.  On Earth, devices to maintain said umbilicals would not need to be as large as the server farms running the prior cities.   Casimir pumps or more advanced forms of energy production would be consumed to power the civilisation.  Populations would continue to increase by several orders of magnitude over the previous machine civilisation, however the maintenance infrastructure and much of the relics of the machine civilisation would not be required.  Custodianship processes could accelerate, and managed gardening of the world by a branch of some part of the future government might pick up.  Apparent chaos would continue to increase.  Pocket universes with recreations of old cities might be generated for avatar tourism.

Miniaturisation and abstraction of umbilicals would continue.  Eventually, all interfaces between the base reality and said future civilisation would be essentially invisible to a modern human eye.  The entire planet would contain only the relics of prior settlement that the civilisation wished to leave or preserve.  Any copies for archaeological purposes would have long since been backed up at various levels of abstraction or recreated in pocket universes that might be smaller or larger than the base.  Everything else would be restored and wild.  Atmospheric gas concentrations would be carefully balanced, and ecosystems would be designed to be as stable as possible with negligible intervention.

Consequently if a modern human were to step into a time machine and emerge on Earth say at some sufficiently distant point in the future (700 years?  1500 years?) they could well see no sign of civilisation at all.  However, it would be there, running at a level of sophistication and subtlety well beyond the wildest predictions of such writers as H.G. Wells.