Efficiency Age: The Great Evolution (Part 2)

from Casey Trimble

June 22, 2014, 2:15 p.m.

The product trains zipped silently into the city, hidden from view by a cluster of nearly empty tubes. Air would slow the trains down, and so the tunnels were lined with pump channels akin to the pumps found in the membranes of living cells. They induced a vacuum, cooperating with the magnetic tracks to make the arterial network for civil function almost entirely frictionless. The roots of the system delivered materials to the manufacturing nodes, which returned the finished products in exchange, all fueled by the ever beating hearts of the cities.

The cities themselves were not to be compared to the likes of the primitive settlements of industrial origin. Rather than being developed on a grid system, cities flowered into fractal rings or spirals, exposing the concentrated population centers to a maximized area of biospace and optimizing the diffusion of materials through the various vessels of magtrack transport. In every city, nodes of high occupancy were arranged like a bracelet around a central structure, known as an institution. Off of the larger bulbs of civilization branched centers of decreasing population. These were weaved artfully into the web of the city, spiraling outwards as a galaxy into increasingly expansive forests and plains.

Out of these tendrils stretched the vast network of transport vessels, tracing out energetic geodesics between the other developed centers of Efficiency Age society. Between these cities flowed the calculated shipments of useful products, from the undying necessities of bathroom supplies to the most recent in musical instrumentation. Contained in these pipe clusters were the food transports, darting back and forth between the cities and the vast agrinet.

The agrinet consisted of swaths of land devoted to the production of nutrients, as well as the machinery that carried out the necessary steps to turn sunlight into fuel for the human body. Much like the factories, the agrinet was almost entirely automated, with human intervention only existing at the level of the organization of the system and the design of the machines. Such was the type of study carried out in the institutions in the cities, but never was a human hand needed in the acquisition or delivery of agricultural products. The mechanized hands of the Efficiency Age tended to the land without wasting a single drop of lubricating oil.

Additionally, overproduction had been eliminated from the agricultural industry in a manner similar to that of the manufacturing network. Crop production was now driven by necessity, rather than the profits of the previous economical models. In the same sense that the organs of the human body do not work for profit, the cities of humanity simply operated for the sake of operation. Food traveled through a well understood web, diffusing into the nodes of the cities and dispersed storage reservoirs. Inventory information concerning the collective food supply was readily available to the scientists studying the overall function of the human network. Just as an individual could be aware of their own possessions, so did the collective human race understand the state of its supplies.

Such was the layout of the functional organs of the global super-organism, similar in principle to the structure of the organelles of cellular life. This was certainly not an accident. Each time civilization gained access to the use of a new source of energy, there followed a subsequent expansion of its organization. Fire led to new tools and materials, wind led to improved sailing, river power drove milling to higher efficiency, fossil fuels generated progress in long distance travel, and electricity mediated the creation of the ultimate facets of human technological advance. When nuclear power arrived, the intellectual circles of mankind grasped the significance of this opportunity. Careful design went into the next evolutionary leap of society: the first steps towards the unification of mankind into a single super-organism.

The global network of human intelligence, dubbed the intelinet, became the mind of the organism. Scientific knowledge accumulated into the memory of the entire race, along with vivid historical images. In the midst of this network lay the central nodes, the institutions. In the middle of the beautifully woven city constructs, leaders focused the mental abilities of the population. Progress surged, driven by the sheer desire to understand the global situation on every scale rather than the incredibly limited motivation of individual profits. Leaders understood that such collective knowledge would shape the overall health of the global ecosystem, and in turn, the health of its constituent individuals. Just as the broad scale activity of exercise engendered cellular health in a single man or woman, the large scale activities of society provided structure and fitness to the population of the cities.

These actions, driven by the intellectual giants that were the institutions, truly exceeded the scale of any previous endeavors. The space race of the 1960’s seemed in retrospect to be the fumbling efforts of an infant’s early attempts at play. With a greater organizational scheme, mankind learned to walk and manipulate its environment. Rather than accidentally destroying ecosystems, it arranged new ones with purpose and enhanced the complexity of the surrounding biomes. Such superior feats were made possible by the organization of effort on the social scale, which was in turn made possible by the understanding of complexity itself. Perhaps the greatest marvel in history is the fact that the ideas of complexity science came at precisely the right moment, in unison with the first instances of efficient nuclear fusion. The super-organism understood the means by which it could create its own success immediately before gaining the strength to do so.

As a matter of natural course, humanity began to address problems on the scale of the super-organism. Again, the cellular health of the organism followed directly from the macroscopic details of its surroundings. Thus far, the supporting circumstances for the struggles and triumphs of the Efficiency Age have been laid out. The anatomy of the first human super-organism will become evident with the account of the events under which it took its first steps.

To be continued.


comments powered by Disqus


1002 words

4 minutes