Category Archives: Media Criticism

The Rise And Fall

of a great something.

Adding more money will not fix the problem; it may even make it worse because things have just gone over their heads. The expansion of private activity into outer space will create a still bigger challenge for the 20th-century state. Latencies in communication imposed by the limited speed of light mean that real-time control from the center will become impossible in principle. Even the Mars copter is largely autonomous.

Taken together, these developments suggest that the collapse we may be feeling — if one is in fact occurring — is not the fall of a hegemon but the crumbling of hegemony itself. It is probably driven by the drastic increase of complexity in the 21st century, represented by an ever-lengthening flood of bits which, if not understood, is psychologically indistinguishable from entropy. The world, like a team of wild horses, may have gotten away from the UN, Xi, Vladimir, and Joe because it’s gotten too dang complicated to control. Going back to historical metaphors, humanity may be reliving, not the fall of Rome but the fall of Babel.

Vernor Vinge, Neil Stephenson, and others saw this coming.