Friday, July 19, 2019

Change and Development [Tech Evol]

Sections 7.3, “Change” and 7.4, “Development”, from Chapter 7, “Appropriate Technology” of David Hays, The Evolution of Technology Through Four Cognitive Ranks (1993). As has been my habit for these excerpts, I retain the mono-spaced ASII formatting of the original.

* * * * *

The acceleration of change from rank to rank has required new generations to live with rates of change that their ancestors could not tolerate.
In rank 1, it seems, change occurred without intent or even awareness. Doing as one's ancestors did was taken for granted, analysis and questioning were almost entirely absent, but the most effective methods of control (writing, most importantly) were absent and so change occurred in spite of cultural intent.

In rank 2, awareness of change developed, and active resistance to change appeared. Thus, the guilds intended and acted to keep their crafts constant. Innovators were punished. The Catholic Church forbade competition. Remember that legitimacy stemmed from special access to occult sources. God inspired the writing of the Bible. Aristotle was in better touch with reality, the real reality, than we could be, and not through his ordinary senses. A change that was not thus _inspired_ could not be accepted. Psychologically, rank 2 character structure is not sufficiently flexible to handle much change; in part, all this explicit apparatus to legitimize constancy is rationaliza- tion.

In rank 3, for the first time, changes became part of the life experience of many persons. Invention was invented, and change came to be welcomed. Even so, a certain framework was taken as eternal and universal. Science tried to reveal that framework, and political thinkers tried to make government consistent with it. Clearly, rank 3 character structure had to deal with change, and succeeded rather well.

As we move toward rank 4, we have given up the universal and eternal framework. Bertrand Russell, early in the 20th century, could ask how we know, but he was the last serious philosopher to believe that we do know. The answer to his question, since Popper ( SCIBIBL* ), is that we don't know, we only have a plausible framework and, within it, some tentative facts. The framework may be replaced at any time when someone imagines a better one, and any or all of the facts may vanish because they cannot be attached to the new framework. Character structures that can cope with that situation are still very rare. If I ever manage to build one, my ability to think will be released from a bondage that I find irksome--or so I have felt for ten or fifteen years. Persons born later than I may be much better off.

Technologies appropriate to rank 1 people must not trigger their defenses against change. For rank 2, the problem is to avoid institutional defenses. Rank 3 will accept anything new, often to its detriment. Rank 4 could apply skeptical, thoughtful judgment: Appropriateness need not be measured by whose ox is gored, and how deeply, but by criteria that I have suggested in this chapter, and other criteria that I don't know about, including of course the criteria that will be seen as crucial once a better framework is offered.

As rankshifts accelerate (from 0 to 1 50,000 years ago, from 1 to 2 5000 years ago, from 2 to 3 500 years ago, from 3 to 4 50 years ago? ... go on to 5 years, 0.5 years, etc.), the problem of generations comes up. If a person's major paradigm is internalized in growing up, can a rankshift take place in less time than a human being needs to reach adulthood? For this I have no answer. The crystallization of rank 4 thought seems tardy to me, but perhaps I just can't see that it has happened. The beginnings of rank 5 may be evident by now, but not to me. So we may be holding back, we may be up against the minimum interval for a generation to mature, or the random nature of the process that leads to crystallization of new paradigms may be responsible.

The regions of Earth at the end of the twentieth century vary greatly in the cognitive rank of their people and in the amount of investment in place. Education is the solution to the first problem. Developing countries have the opportunity to invest in technologies of the future; they have often chosen instead to invest in those of the past.
As late as the 17th century, Britain was an underdeveloped country, producing wool for export to manufacturing countries. In the 18th century it developed, and in the 19th it was "the world's workshop". Until after 1800, America was an under-developed country, and Britain wanted very much to keep it so, a source of raw materials and agricultural products and a market for manufactures. The beginning of industry in the USA depended on illegal migration of experts from Britain and theft of blueprints.

For as long as Europe regarded the rest of the world as "the colonies", the anti-development policy continued--until after World War II. Remember the example of Malta: Little education before independence, rapid progress in 30 years or so after in- dependence. Various versions of this story can be told about Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Europe got its start into rank 3 by borrowing from antiquity and Islamic culture, which in turn had borrowed widely. Britain got its start toward industrial growth by borrowing from continental Europe. America borrowed from Britain and elsewhere.

Up to now, growth has been accomplished in part by exploiting the less developed. Americans took the Indians' land, not knowing and not caring that the Indians needed all the land they had to support themselves in their own way. But rank 3 culture has taken from all the world and given as little as possible in return.

Within nations, those with wealth and power have exploited those with neither. Marxist thought is, in my view, a blind alley that has no access to rank 4. But class exploitation is a fact. Did the upper classes give the lower classes anything in return for wealth and power? On the whole, I think, they gave as little as possible.

The nations that have not yet developed industrially are clamoring for help. The poor people in rich countries are, at present, quiet; but they could again present their demands as forcefully as they have sometimes done.

You already know that rankshift is my prescription for development. Education is the only effective policy. To provide enough to go around, the world will have to control population and use sophisticated methods of production, getting more goods for less energy and raw materials. Most of the technology has to diffuse from countries that are now advanced, just as technology has always diffused. But sophisticated systems cannot diffuse into an uneducated population.

Education threatens political structures and old ways of living. The resistance of fundamentalist Christians in America to the teaching of evolution is one example. China's recent decision to reduce the number of students who can go abroad for graduate study is another. The US government's resistance to teaching about birth control is a third.

So the first problem in development is how to get enough education going, against political and traditionalist opposition.

The second problem is how to get developing countries to choose the technology of the future rather than that of the past. The goal of catching up is easy to understand, and that is the goal that most developing countries choose. Thus they get our problems along with our successes. Eastern Europe has pushed for development on the path that Britain and America followed between 1750 and 1950; one consequence is devastating pollution from East Germany to Russia--but then, West Germany allowed itself to suffer from bad pollution also. If only we knew how to move forward to non-polluting, minimum-energy, minimum-raw-material technology, and could persuade the Third World to move with us, the world's future would be more hopeful. Steep and narrow as that path seems, however, it may be open.

One recent book about this complex of problems is _Preparing for the Twenty-first Century_, by Paul Kennedy ( PREP21* ).

Friday Fotos: The NOTHING Photograph, Again (for Peter)

I’ve written about NOTHING photos before*. But I love them, so why not again? Moreover, I took all but one of these when I was on a photo safari with an old friend of mine, Peter Barnett, whom I’ve known since college. We went to Liberty State Park, at the southern end of Jersey City.

This is a “nothing” photo (click on the photo to enlarge it):

What do I mean by that? What’s the subject of this photo? Where’s the focal point, what’s at the center? Can you point to it, name it? Look closely. To the left and along the bottom we can see some leaves of grass, bending this way and that, and out of focus. To the lower right there’s trees in the distance, apparently in focus. Somewhere in between, particularly to the right of center, branches and leaves, a bit out of focus. And the sky, with clouds, more or less center and right. If the photo is about anything, it’s about all those things in their relationships with one another. Not nothing, to be sure, but not a ready-graspable subject either.

Now look at this photo. I didn’t take in on my walk with Peter. It’s 15 years old and I took in in Millennium Park in Chicago, which had just opened. What’s at the center?

You can probably name something, perhaps that building with the high arched windows. Perhaps some people standing in the plaza. But it’s a stretch. Those things are in the photo, but it isn’t about them. Perhaps its about the photographer in the lower left. Really, with his back to us, about him? He’s photographing something, perhaps that silvery thing to the right, and sculpture (aka “the bean”) that’s not quite finished – the joints between the plates must still be removed. But it’s not about that. I figured that it’s about relationships. Yes, we’re drawn to the photographer because he’s the largest human in the photo, and humans are always salient. We follow his line of sight into the photo and see that polished metal, the people in the plaza, that building. This is a precursor to that nothing photo.

Here’s another nothing photo. We’re back in Liberty State Park with Peter. He was telling me about clouds, so I took a photo of clouds (not for the first time I might add):

I suppose you can think of the clouds in the center as being framed by the foliage. Why not? But if the foliage is a frame, well isn’t it as interesting as the clouds? I think so. One could as easily say that the clouds illuminate the greenery. BTW, notice the leaves of grass at the bottom center.

What about this? Yes, the tree trunk. Is anything in focus or is it all just at bit off? Let’s call it soft focus and pretend that I knew what I was doing.

What’s that almost-white sprig of grass doing shooting up the left edge? It exerts a pull, as do the leaves coming at us from the upper right. Really, everything else “hangs” from them, propped up by those tree trunks.

I really like this one, so I’ll give it to you in two versions:

We’re looking at the same tree as in the previous photo, but a slightly different angle and a bit further out. Just look at the variety. You can fill in the rest.

And these?

This last one, however, it a bit different. Is it nothing, or is it texture? What about the hint of color in the lower left?

* * * * *
* In these posts:

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Boston Legal, tricky loyalties [Media Notes 6]

One of my online friends offered Boston Legal in response to my previous note, On the distinction between one’s personal interests and one’s duties to the organization [Media Notes 5]. I’m 15 episodes into the first season and don’t think so, not quite. Oh, the show oozes conflict, but I don’t think it’s the kind of corruption where one uses one’s position in some organization to advance one’s personal interests (often at the expense the organization). Oh, there may be some of that going on, but that’s not the strongest signal I’m getting. That signal is about a lawyer’s duty to the law and their duty to their client.

For example, in S1 E7, “Questionable Characters”, one of the lawyers, Lori Colson, gets a call from a man whom she’d used as an informant in the days when she had been a prosecutor. He’s been shot and is in the hospital where they’re about to remove the bullet. He wants them to stop from removing the bullet.

Why? He got shot in the course of robbing a convenience story. That bullet – when matched to the store owner’s gun – is the only hard evidence connecting him to the crime. That will make him a parole violator and, in consequence, he’ll go to prison for 30 years. Colson happens to like him – not romantically, but he’d been a good informant. And now he’s her client. She has a duty to him.

Colson goes to court an convinces that judge that such a dangerous and invasive procedure, removing the bullet, shouldn’t be done against the patient’s will. The prosecutor asserts that this is a routine procedure of relatively little danger to the patient, whereas leaving the bullet in could be life-threatening. The judge sides with Colson.

She knew that he was guilty. But 30 years? No, he’s her client.

Complications ensue. The bullet starts moving and the former shows up at the law office in pain. Colson isn’t there, but an associate is. She asks another lawyer, Alan Shore, for help. He gives her the phone number of a doctor who’s lost his license and now works as a veterinarian. He’s also willing to bend the law. He removes the bullet, which is returned to Colson. Who keeps it.

Was justice served?

There seems to be a lot of that on the show. Colson wasn’t bending the law on her own behalf. She was helping a client.

What do we make of this? I think there’s a lot of this in TV shows of various kinds. There are strict rules and there are evasions. What is the range of permissible evasion?

And why are we posing these questions to ourselves?

What does it mean to get serious about climate change?

Ted Nordhaus, The Empty Radicalism of the Climate Apocalypse, Issues in Science and Technology, Vol. XXXV, No. 4, Summer 2019.
But as a new generation of progressives and climate advocates have come to question the shift toward market-oriented neoliberal policy, the fealty among progressives to Lovins’s decentralized, market-based soft energy vision is due for some reconsideration. All the more so given that the realities of renewable energy at scale look nothing like the distributed and decentralized utopia that Lovins and his environmental followers promised.

Most renewable energy today comes not from homes clad in solar panels but from enormous, industrial-scale wind, solar, and biomass facilities. Moreover, scaling renewable energy such that it might contribute much to the fight against climate change will require exactly the sort of large, centralized, and technocratic institutions that Lovins railed against in the 1970s: to permit huge new renewable generation facilities over the objections of local communities; to build an enormous new transcontinental transmission network to bring electricity from places that are ideal to generate it with wind and solar technology to the urban and industrial centers where it will be utilized; to co-locate renewable generation capacity with infrastructure and industry that can use the large surpluses of energy that massive renewable energy generation will produce during times of low grid demand; and to coordinate the deployment and operations of intermittent sources of energy with demand management and energy storage needs across vast geographic regions.

And therein lies the rub. Progressive environmental advocates have long framed the failure to make headway on the climate issue in egalitarian terms—that the fossil fuel industry and other corporate interests are thwarting the will of the people—to which the solution is more egalitarianism: more protest, more community organizing, more bottom-up democracy, and more decentralized technology. But whether hydro and nuclear or wind and solar energy, the only remotely plausible path to the sorts of changes that many environmentalists now demand, such as zero net emissions by 2030, or stabilizing global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Centigrade above preindustrial levels, would require top-down, centralized, technocratic measures that most environmentalists are unwilling to seriously embrace.

The exigencies of large-scale technocratic action to rapidly build the infrastructure of a low carbon economy cannot be easily reconciled with the communitarian, small-is-beautiful, localism that has defined the culture and politics of contemporary environmental thought and action since the rise of the movement in the 1960s. That is why the rhetoric of climate emergency in recent years has not been matched by explicit and specific proposals to do the sorts of things that a climate emergency would seem to demand.
Where's the beef?
Apocalyptic environmentalism has, since its origins in the years after World War II, regularly made these sorts of sweeping and inchoate demands. But there has never been any actionable agenda that green radicalism will actually embrace. It is a politics of protest and negation, of divestment, of “keeping it in the ground,” and of degrowth. It is postmodern nihilism dressed up with the trappings of moral seriousness.

The result is a radicalism that attacks the technofix while simultaneously demanding 100% renewable energy and rejects technocracy while demanding technocratic solutions of unprecedented speed and scale. It insists that capitalism and technology are the problem, not the solution to our present predicament when practically, after the sloganeering and rhetorical flourishes are done, what most environmentalists, including radical greens, are basically demanding is capitalism with carbon regulations and lots of windmills.

Metals dont "fit "into ordinary color space. Why? Because they're reflective.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Malaysia's $100B Forest City built on four artificial islands

The problem of economic growth: Cultural disconnects in the developing world

Here’s a conversation between Tyler Cowen and Paul Krugman:

I’m interested in remarks starting at about 23:25. Krugman is speaking:
Paul Krugman: In the end we just do not know very much about what total factor productivity, we don’t know very much about what causes productivity growth to rise or fall. Leaving aside growth, just look at level differences among countries. You have huge differences, the basic technology is available everywhere. Everyone has access to the book of blueprints we used to say. And yet you have vast differences among countries and at a fundamental level we don’t know why some countries do much worse than others at making use of that available technology.... The trouble is...economics, which suggests that people take advantage of opportunities and if there’s a better technology people should use it, has a very hard time coping with the evidence that in many cases they don’t. That countries or at least they don’t seem to be able to find a way to take advantage of these possibilities. Whatever it is that makes workers in the United States ten times as productive as workers in a lot of the emerging world still. The fact that countries don’t find a way to close that gap ... would seem to be so much gain if they could do it, remains a deep puzzle.

Tyler Cowen: I would give a slightly different but I think not incompatible answer. People love to debate big governance versus small government. When I look at the data it seems to me that quality of governance is all important. So Brazil is a pretty big government but it’s very poorly run so no one wants to defend it. Denmark maybe has a government that would appear too costly to support but they manage just fine. And quality of governance can change fairly quickly in some cases. And we as economists don’t really have good theories of the quality of governance. Now I think this leads back to your TFP. If you have poor quality of governance, if you know the Parenti-Prescott model of monopoly you put up barriers to keep your domestic monopolies, you keep out TFP because out TFP threatens your domestic monopolies. And that’s why the poorer countries don’t adopt better technology. They’re not unwilling to, like they’re willing to use cell phones if they can do that in standalone fashion. But they have poor quality of governance, domestic monopolies, TFP is kept out, but we can’t explain governance very well.

Krugman: I would much travel do you do in developing countries?

Cowen: Lots and lots.

Krugman: OK, sorry. Condolences.

Cowen: A hundred countries maybe.

Krugman: I don’t know how it strikes you. But what always strikes me is actually the high technology is all there. It’s the little things like actually managing to have roads that are passable, that are where things fall apart. As you say, it’s very hard to explain why that is so different among countries.

Cowen: There’s some high technology. There’s not nearly as much and quality of management is much lower. There’s lower trust, which is a kind of governance. So you cannot delegate so easily, everything goes through rigid hierarchies, even in the private sector. Even using the same technology an Indian factory can be one tenth as productive as, say, a Western factory in some but not all cases.
* * * * *

Let me suggest that the cultural ranks theory David Hays and I built would be a very useful tool for thinking through these kinds of problems. It’s certainly not plug-and-play, but if you want to think about forms of governance, trust, organizational structure, levels of technology and so forth, we’ve got a coherent conceptual framework that ready for action.

They've got high hopes

80/20 strikes again: Self-driving cars are "Way in the future" [He had high hopes...Ooops there goes another problem]

Neal E. Boudette, Despite High Hopes, Self-Driving Cars Are ‘Way in the Future’, NYTimes, July 17, 2019.

Detroit and Silicon Valley where shooting for 2019. 2019 is here and self-driving ares aren't.
Researchers at Argo say the cars they are testing in Pittsburgh and Miami have to navigate unexpected situations every day. Recently, one of the company’s cars encountered a bicyclist riding the wrong way down a busy street between other vehicles. Another Argo test car came across a street sweeper that suddenly turned a giant circle in an intersection, touching all four corners and crossing lanes of traffic that had the green light.

“You see all kinds of crazy things on the road, and it turns out they’re not all that infrequent, but you have to be able to handle all of them,” Mr. Salesky said. “With radar and high-resolution cameras and all the computing power we have, we can detect and identify the objects on a street. The hard part is anticipating what they’re going to do next.”

Mr. Salesky said Argo and many competitors had developed about 80 percent of the technology needed to put self-driving cars into routine use — the radar, cameras and other sensors that can identify objects far down roads and highways. But the remaining 20 percent, including developing software that can reliably anticipate what other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are going to do, will be much more difficult, he said.
Will that remaining 20% turn out to require 80% of the total R&D effort, if not more? Are we up against the Pareto principle once again?

Elon Musk isn't buying it:
Tesla and its chief executive, Elon Musk, are nearly alone in predicting widespread use of self-driving cars within the next year. In April, Mr. Musk said Tesla would have as many as a million autonomous “robo taxis” by the end of 2020.

Tesla believes its new self-driving system, based on a computer chip it designed, and the data it gathers from Tesla cars now on the road will enable the company to start offering fully autonomous driving next year.

But many experts are very skeptical that Tesla can pull that off.

Mr. Salesky said it was relatively easy to enable a car to see and identify obstacles on the road with the help of radar, cameras and lidar — a kind of radar that uses lasers — as well as the software and computing power to process images and data.

It’s much more difficult to prepare self-driving cars for unusual circumstances — pedestrians crossing the road when cars have the green light, cars making illegal turns. Researchers call these “corner cases,” although in city traffic they occur often.
Maybe we start slow:
Some companies argue that the way to get more self-driving vehicles on the road is by using them in controlled settings and situations. May Mobility operates autonomous shuttles in Detroit; Providence, R.I.; and Columbus, Ohio. These are not minivans or full-size cars but six-passenger golf carts. They travel short, defined routes at no more than 25 miles per hour. In many cases they provide public transportation where none is available.

“A vehicle that needs to go at higher speeds will need more expensive, more exotic sensors,” said Alisyn Malek, the company’s chief operating officer. “Using a low-speed vehicle makes the task of operating an autonomous vehicle easier, so we can use what works in the technology today.”
Malek also said it might "take years and perhaps even a decade or more to develop driverless cars that could travel anywhere, any time." That's not much of a reset at all. FWIW that's pretty much what I'd been thinking. "Way in the future" seems like an overstatement to me.

The cultural evolution of units of measure

Kensy Cooperrider, Dedre Gentner, The career of measurement, Cognition 191 (2019) 103941,

Units as they exist today are highly abstract. Meters, miles, and other modern measures have no obvious basis in tangible phenomena and can be applied broadly across domains. Historical examples suggest, however, that units have not always been so abstract. Here, we examine this issue systematically. We begin by analyzing linear measures in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and in an ethnographic database that spans 114 cultures (HRAF). Our survey of both datasets shows, first, that early length units have mostly come from concrete sources—body parts, artifacts, events, and other tangible phenomena—and, second, that they have often been tied to particular contexts. Measurement units have thus undergone a shift from highly concrete to highly abstract. How did this shift happen? Drawing on historical surveys and case studies—as well as data from the OED and HRAF—we next propose a reconstruction of how abstract units might have evolved gradually through a series of overlapping stages. We also consider the cognitive processes that underpin this evolution—in particular, comparison. Finally, we discuss the cognitive origins of units. Units are not only slow to emerge historically, they are also slow to be acquired developmentally, and mastering them appears to have cognitive consequences. Taken together, these observations suggest that units are not inevitable intuitions, but are best thought of as culturally evolved cognitive tools. By analyzing the career of measurement in detail, we illustrate how such tools—abstract as they are today—can arise from concrete, often bodily origins.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Not "climb every mountain", but inspiring in its own way

Turn around and take a look.

Tenure track faculty are captives of higher ed

Austan Goolsbee, Chad Syverson, Monopsony Power in Higher Education: A Tale of Two Tracks, NBER Working Paper No. 26070, Issued in July 2019.
Abstract: This paper tests for and measures monopsony* power in the U.S. higher education labor market. It does so by directly estimating the residual labor supply curves facing individual four-year colleges and universities using school-specific labor demand instruments. The results indicate that schools have significant monopsony power over their tenure track faculty. Its magnitude is monotonic in rank, being greatest over full professors and smaller for associate and assistant professors. For non-tenure track faculty, however, universities do not seem to have any monopsony power and instead face perfectly elastic residual labor supply curves. Universities’ market power over tenure track faculty does not differ between public and private schools nor between female and male faculty. Monopsony power is greater for larger universities, and the geographic market for faculty seems to be national rather than local. Monopsony power is also larger at higher-status institutions as measured by Carnegie classifications, average test scores of the undergraduate student body, or initial salary rankings. The results also suggest that monopsony power has contributed to the trend toward non-tenure track faculty in U.S.
* A market situation in which there is only one buyer.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Two corridors, one each of two different kinds

Elaine Sturtevant, copycat with wit and verve

From the NYTimes:
Known professionally by her surname, Elaine Sturtevant (b. Lakewood, Ohio, 1924; d. 2014) began “repeating” the works of other artists in 1964, more than a decade before Richard Prince photographed his first Marlboro ad and Sherrie Levine appropriated the images of Edward Weston. Her targets tended to be famous male painters (largely because the work of women was less broadly recognized). Over the course of her career, she imitated canvases by Frank Stella, James Rosenquist and Roy Lichtenstein, among others. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his own puckish understanding of authorship and originality, Andy Warhol approved of Sturtevant’s project and even lent her one of his “Flowers” screens. Other artists, including Claes Oldenburg, were unamused, and collectors largely shied away from purchasing the works. Gradually, however, the art world came around to understanding her conceptual reasons for copying canonical works: to skewer the grand modernist myths of creativity and the artist as lone genius. By focusing on Pop Art, itself a comment on mass production and the suspect nature of authenticity, Sturtevant was taking the genre to its full logical extension. Playful and subversive, somewhere between parody and homage, her efforts also echo the centuries-old tradition of young artists copying old masters.

This NTEL piece is so dope I'm giving it to you twice [#graffiti #NTEL #GVM003]

Effects of energy increase in technological evolution [Tech Evol]

This is another excerpt from David Hays, The Evolution of Technology Through Four Cognitive Ranks (1995). This is from Chapter 3, “ENERGY”, section 3.7 “Effects of Energy Increase”. In this section Hays concludes that it wasn’t until the Industrial Evolution that cultural evolution was a good deal for everyone, not just the ruling elite.

As with other excerpts from the book I preserve the mono-spaced ASCII text of the hypertext original.

* * * * *

A society with greater flux of energy has more material goods, more education, longer lifespan, different kinds of government, and, in the long run, different modes of cognition. Some of these differences may be attributed largely to the plenitude of energy, but most must result when many factors change together.
3.7.1. Primary Effects

Material welfare, we might suppose, responds most directly to changes in the flux of energy. Let's look at some components:

My ratings are nothing but impressions; the reader may freely disagree. These ratings concern the typical person, with neither power nor wealth.

According to my calculations, material welfare is about the
same for a modern factory worker as for a forager:

The USA in recent years takes from the environment about 40 times as much energy per capita as a typical foraging society. Material welfare comes out about equal. Suppose we take away from the rank 1 forager half of what I have allowed, and give the modern American twice as much; then the ratio comes out a 4:1 on material welfare. But not 40:1.

Paul A. Samuelson, a renowned economist at MIT, presents a chart of "English price levels and real wage, 1270-1980" in his textbook of economics (11th edition, p. 257). The source is an article by E. H. Phelps Brown and S. V. Hopkins ( WAGEBIBL* ), and the source is careful to caution the reader about the weakness of the data. The curve for real wages is flat from 1300 to 1800 (the period when I estimate $27.66 per person per week), then rises to eight times as high in 1980 while I only arrive at a doubling.

We may ask why the economist's figures grow faster than mine, and why neither his nor mine grow faster than they do.

The most plausible answer to the first question is that my figures are wrong. (Further checking will test that answer.) But we should also note that economists have usually not given credit for unpaid work: Raising food to eat, not to sell; housework; child rearing; and so on. I believe that material welfare depends on unpaid as well as on paid work, and I may take more account of it than the economists. Also we may wonder whether the late rise in wages results in averaging in some higher-paid workers, managers, etc., who are not included in my estimate.

Nevertheless, even if it turns out that the best measure of real wages, or material welfare, grows by a factor of 16 from agriculture to advanced industrial society, that gain is small (ONLY 16:1?) in comparison with the amount of invention, innovation, and organization that has been invested. And agriculture looks to be poor in comparison with foraging. So I feel the need for an answer to the second question, whatever mistakes I have made in my calculations.

And the only answer I can believe is that increasing population density has introduced new costs that absorb the products of invention and labor. To force sufficient food from the same Earth as population grows by a factor of 1000 or 10,000, we must be clever and diligent. Shelter, transportation, and communication become more difficult: One house has to be built on top of another, traffic jams intensify, etc. My conclusion is that we have paid dearly, for 10,000 years, for our propensity to breed above replacement rate.

Joel Mokyr, whose _Lever of Riches_ (in BIBLNOTE* ) was
published after the preliminary edition of this diskbook, says,
When the resource base of an economy expands, it can do one of two things: it can enjoy higher living standards, or it can, in H. G. Wells's famous phrase,"spend the gifts of nature on the mere insensate multiplication of common life." In recent history, economic growth has occurred _despite_ population growth. Before that, as Malthus and the classical political economists never tired of pointing out, the growth of population relentlessly devoured the fruits of productivity growth, and living standards, as far as we can measure them, changed very little in the long run. (p. 7)
So my conclusion merely coincides with an old and well-argued line of thought. Since population growth turns out to be a major variable, I add an appendix describing the growth of Earth's population.

We should remember, in all of this, that material welfare is only crudely measured in dollars. Electronics comes cheap, and the fee of a good modern physician may not be higher than that of a shaman, however much more effective modern medicine may be in reducing pain and prolonging life.

3.7.2. Secondary Effects

The secondary effects of increasing energy flux are diffuse. Furthermore, they are mostly the joint effects of energy increase together with one or more of the primary effects.

Let me begin with competition. In a society where energy is scarce and costly, very little travels far between production and consumption. Most goods are offered for sale only within a narrow radius, and within that territory there are few suppliers for many goods. A peasant either shoes his own horses or takes them to the blacksmith in his own village; he does not go to the nearest town. Effectively, the blacksmith has no competitor. In the eighteenth century, the British market for iron was segmented geographically and inter-regional competition hardly occurred (Hyde, p. 48, in InRvBIBL*). Without railroads, food did not travel far; local famines could occur, and certainly market gardeners did not compete with imported fruits or vegetables. Cheaper energy enlarges market territories and makes possible more competition.

Next, new domains of resources become available. Coal could be brought from deeper underground when energy could be applied to pumping water and lifting the coal. Europe could obtain raw materials from overseas colonies; sailing ships sufficed in the beginning, but steamships enlarged the commerce. Energy must be used to produce fuel for nuclear reactors. Will space flight open a new domain of resources? One possibility is that we capture sunlight that does not reach Earth and beam it down; as an alternative to burning fossil fuel, this possibility has merit, but as a supplement it is merely another contributor to global warming.

Going further, take longevity. Energy increase aids longevity, since there is enough heat to keep everyone warm in cold weather, and eventually to cool them in hot weather. The increase in agricultural production yields more food for all, and the increases in production and distribution yield more varied diets for many. Energy is used to pump the water that carries away excrement from cities, making them cleaner and healthier, but various technologies have to advance to provide the parts of the sewage system.

Another secondary effect is education. Having more energy is a necessary condition for widespread education. General advance in technology motivates governments to educate their populations, since – from the industrial revolution onward – uneducated workers are inadequate to run the system.

Another is change in the criteria for sociopolitical prominence. As long as all work is done by human muscle, the only kind of organization is for fighting and, perhaps, ritual. The prominent persons are those skilled in organizing and carrying out combat and rites. Even in rank 2, with beasts of burden, sailing ships, and a few waterwheels, leadership does little more; some leaders may have skill at keeping a community tranquil, or skill as traders. The higher energy levels of rank 3, and the resulting increase in all sectors of the economy, raise the value of both technology and organization. Persons who can make a factory succeed rise to prominence. Some of them acquire social power. What happens at rank 4 is obscure, but my guess is that gross energy flux – input – will not go up much, net energy flux – output – will increase, and the leadership that achieves this outcome will have somewhat different qualities from those who have been most prominent in western civilization for the last century or two.

Finally, for this chapter, a secondary effect of increasing energy flux and efficiency is longer hours of work for most of the population. Ethnographers tell of simple societies in which the average person works 2 hours a day. We went up to 70-80 hour weeks, and fought our way back to 35-40 hour weeks. Why should labor-saving machines induce us to work more? Probably just because they made work useful. Human beings seem voracious, not just for food, warmth, and a dry place to sleep, but for diversity of experience and for aesthetic experience. Psychopathology may be involved somewhat, and in our present condition we may raise demand artificially with advertising and also (for example) by showing affluent homes on television. If 2 hours work a day yields all the food you want, and more work would yield nothing but unwanted food, why work another hour? If an extra hour a day earns the income to buy a fresh experience, a healthy person might decide to do the work even without propaganda or compulsion.

These, and surely many more, secondary effects of energy increase are direct: They happen regardless of higher-order patterns of culture. When higher-order patterns change, they lead to tertiary effects, my next topic.