How Large a Population Is Required to Build an Advanced Civilisation?

“The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them.” — Albert Einstein

IQ Correlates With GDP and A Lot of Other Things The Dark Continent is Dark for a Reason

IQ Correlates With GDP and A Lot of Other Things
The Dark Continent is Dark for a Reason

Fertility is high in the impoverished, low-IQ world. Fertility is low in the more prosperous, higher-IQ world. Maintaining a high tech infrastructure — much less creating and building upon new disruptive innovations — is growing beyond the reach of more and more nations of the world.

The Coming Anarchy and Dysgenic Idiocracy Will Force a Radical Change on the Modern World

The average IQ of humans on Earth is in decline. For most humans, the future holds a coming anarchy and dysgenic Idiocracy. Low intelligence, untrainable, unassimilable, and violence-prone overflow populations from the third world are beginning to sweep over the parts of the world that had begun to work beyond their violent pasts, creating a certain level of prosperity and stability. Few nations of the world — as currently organised — seem likely to escape the future dysgenic anarchy.

In the Face of the Coming Dysgenic Anarchy, What Should Wise and Intelligent People Do?

Clear-thinking and competent humans need to take a number of strong, assertive steps if they are to have a future for themselves and their progeny. Critical high-tech infrastructure for the masses cannot be maintained in the face of growing corruption, decreasing levels of competent workers, and suicidal public policies implemented by ideologues of the ruling classes. Parallel infrastructure on a smaller — but more competent — scale will need to be devised.

Critical Infrastructures:

Critical infrastructure is a term used by governments to describe assets that are essential for the functioning of a society and economy – the infrastructure. Most commonly associated with the term are facilities for:

With Shrinking Competent Populations, How Can Parallel Infrastructures and Supply Lines be Built?

“In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. That, in essence, is the higher service to which we are all being called.” ~ Buckminster Fuller ~

As competent workforces decline around the globe, infrastructures will break down. Within smaller islands of competence, the effective production of each participating competent person will need to be augmented by new technologies. This augmentation will take many forms, but it is likely to involve high level computing, advanced robotics, cutting edge tools of gene engineering, and enhancement of human intelligence and executive function.

New methods of education and child raising based upon the advancing fields of cognitive science will be crucial to maximising the competence of the humans who are at the centre of the new enterprise of building an abundant and expansive human future.

Islands of Competence will be Dispersed Across an Ocean of Idiocracy

There is no way to reverse the coming dysgenic Idiocracies and anarchies. Nations of Europe and the Anglosphere have opened themselves completely to the tsunamis of dysgenics and ideological / cultural suicide originating both inside and outside their borders. A higher level human future can only be built from within cooperating islands of competence.

This is not such a difficult concept to grasp. It is already true that most of today’s disruptive innovations are being created in a relatively small number of geographical regions. Particular regions within particular regions of Europe, the Anglosphere, and free Asia are responsible for most of the innovative discoveries that will impact the future.

For example:

The world’s most innovative universities

Most Innovative Companies 2015 (PDF)

Innovation Heat Map

Innovation Heat Map

And so on. Most disruptive innovations come out of the Anglosphere and Europe, but of those, most come from particular regions of the US. And of those, most come from particular companies or clusters of companies. And of those, many share a smaller group of venture capitalists whose vision helps shape the innovation.

The Key is to Learn How to Use Disruptive Innovations to Empower Competent Persons to Create More Disruptive Innovations

Keeping up with all the changes will require rapid advances in data management, analysis, and mining. The entire enterprise is likely to be quite chaotic into the indefinite future, if done properly.

Here are a couple of approaches considered by the P2P Foundation.

http://p2pfoundation.net/Advanced_Civilisation

“Open collaborative design involves applying principles from the remarkable free and open-source software movement that provides a powerful new way to design physical objects, machines and systems. All information involved in creating the object or system is made available on the Internet – such as text, drawings, photographs and 3D computer-aided design (CAD) models – so that other people can freely re-create it, or help contribute to its further evolution. It is essentially the same principle that is used to progress scientific knowledge.

… In Western countries many industrial process are becoming highly automated already, but human effort is needed for construction and commissioning as well as maintenance and repair. In developing nations, there is not much automation at all due to labour being so cheap; however this is a great waste of human lives. These self-repairing systems are based on technologies and knowledge that we already possess. No fictional concepts or unattainable artificial intelligence are required to make this happen. We have the ability today to create systems that provide for the global population’s basic needs and far beyond, while minimising our impact on the environment – these two aspects are not mutually exclusive.”

http://p2pfoundation.net/Global_Villages

1. Make the concept of a Global Village clearer and operationalize it in the most simplest way. So the proposed formula is: a Global Village is simply and basically the synergetic relationship between a local learning center with access to global knowledge (Telecenter, Hub, Library, …) on one side with a local environment in which this knowledge can be applied, tested, enhanced on the other side. A Global Village needs to be resourceful in access to the world of information and culture, as well as it needs to be resourceful in access to local resources, material – energetical cycles, inhabitants, processes, biotopes etc. The purpose of a Global Village is to provide a high quality, healthy, satisfactory, secure and sustainable lifestyle to its inhabitants and improve and densify the local life process.

More from P2P lab

Infrastructure in a Box

http://p2pfoundation.net/Global_Village_Construction_Set

The infrastructure base is first and community is second. One cannot organize people in a state of optimal quality of life if the means to support these people is not available. This is a simple consequency of the generally-accepted principle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs: basic needs come before higher needs. The basic needs are those including housing, energy, food, mobility, etc. It is on the adequate provision of these needs that we must focus initially when building a new community – if our goal is right livelihood. Right livelihood is predicated on autonomy in the provision of these basic needs. Otherwise, uncontrollable external forces such as employers, governments, or external providers of needs- produce misalignment with the most fundamental interests of the community. This means external influence over the community – a recipe for compromise of both true interests and life quality.

The infastructure-in-a-box includes FEH-RLM-LE: Food, Energy, Habitat, Right Livelihood, Mobility. It constitutes a Learning Environment and a particular way of living. An inherent consequence of this package is transformation. This is because, if self-sustaining, self-replicating units as such are devised, then they solve today’s great unsolved ‘mysteries’ – hunger, poverty, ignorance, overpopulation, and war. Minimal management greenhouses and edible landscapes address hunger, as people place at least some food production back in their hands. Personal and digital fabrication, fueled by open source design, as well as agriculture and information work, leaves no poor among us. Ignorance is dispelled as people take charge of their own education and enlightenment through experiential, entrepreneurial, research lifestyles. Overpopulation is addressed as only the number of people is invited into a particular community as can be supported by indigenous resources. War is addresses as we provide our own energy, fuels, building materials, and foodstuffs – and don’t have to attack others for their resources because we ran out of ours.

The people at P2P have the best of intentions, and some good ideas that we can learn from. If their good intentions sometimes carry them overboard into ideological groupthink and self-defeating logic, that is the nature of most human institutions. We should learn from them what we can.

McKinsey Global Institute Sample Disruptive Technologies

McKinsey Global Institute
Sample Disruptive Technologies

The Next Level will be about much more than just designing objects, machines, and systems. But such dynamic design will always be close to the heart of the enterprise of an abundant and expansive human future. If the designs are not pre-tested, refined, tested again for robust resilience and anti-fragility, and implemented in difficult environments, the exercise would have been wasted.

Building a Robustly Resilient Infrastructure is Not Enough

Even the most advanced SMR nuclear-powered seastead, floating in the middle of the ocean, will find it difficult to supply all of its needs and maintain all critical infrastructures over an indefinite time period. Even unlimited bandwidth global communications will not be enough. Supply lines and access to advanced maintenance, materials, and other outside help will be necessary for dealing with unforeseen situations. Even the most advanced US super carrier cannot stay at sea forever, without coming into port for maintenance and supplies.

Many of the same limitations will apply to advanced Arctic, Antarctic, seafloor, outer space, and other advanced human colonies and research stations. Despite their best efforts at internal maintenance and self-supply, they will all need outside maintenance, upgrade, and supply sooner or later.

But how large does such a system of outside maintenance and supply need to be? Much smaller than is typically imagined, if advanced computing, robotics, mining, transport, and manufacturing (both additive and subtractive), are combined with advanced education, child-raising, brain-enhancing technologies, and genetic engineering.

Just as most of the people of the world do not contribute to the upkeep and operation of the world as it is, most people of the world will not contribute to the design and construction of an abundant and expansive human future. Only a very small proportion of persons oversee the functioning of the modern world. And with the human augmentation tools and autonomous machines of the future, the required number of persons to oversee the functioning, supply, and maintenance of the inter-cooperating islands of competence will be relatively small.

Asteroids and seafloors will be mined for materials. Largely autonomous systems of materials mining and transport will move needed raw materials between advanced human infrastructures. Largely autonomous complexes of manufacture will implement the advanced manufacturing and construction designs originating within the human islands of competence spread around the globe, and beyond. Largely autonomous construction machines (including very large 3D printers) will build new “island” complexes and infrastructures.

Turbulence Ahead

As the average human intelligence declines, and is converted via corrupt democratic forms into the dysgenic Idiocracy / anarchy, more intelligent humans will either build competent new boats that can be sailed in a resilient armata, or they will blindly and “unselfishly” go down with the larger ship.

We need never stop trying to reverse the suicidal course of larger, mainstream human societies. But we should understand that these efforts are only “holding actions,” to provide more time for the building of robustly resilient islands of competence.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. The more Dangerous Children you can surround yourself with, the better.

More: How malignant government helps destroy the future

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11 Responses to How Large a Population Is Required to Build an Advanced Civilisation?

  1. yoananda says:

    Very interesting post.
    I would like to believe it will be possible. I’m trying to do what you suggest in my personal life for many years. It’s not that easy, I can tell !!!

    I’m in the process of studying collective intelligence (and it’s relations to high or low mean IQ). I’m not ready to conclude. But I have read some interesting article in the process.
    For example, please, consider theses following arguments (against the idea that we can keep “island of competence”).
    Before you read if, I repeat : maybe it is possible, but, it will probably be a first in history 😉

    http://smaldino.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Smaldino-BBS-GroupLevelTraits-INPRESS.pdf

    Although many of the people involved in 22 manufacturing human constructions have a mental picture of the finished object, it also true that, in many cases, no single person has either the knowledge or the ability to build that object. This was noted by the economist Leonard Read (1958) in his whimsical essay “I, Pencil” in which he suggests that no single person can make something so seemingly simple as a pencil. Indeed, much of the technology in the developed world is so complex and built on cumulative technologies, designs, and materials that thousands if not millions of individuals may be involved in their construction, none of whom know how to make the completed product (and few of whom may ever use or even see the completed product!) (Ridley 2010).3

    […]

    Isolated from main land Australia after the seas began to rise after the last glacial period, humans on Tasmania were stranded on an island that could not sustain more than a few thousand people. Over several thousands of years, the Tasmanians lost previously held technologies (e.g., bone tools) and never evolved others (e.g., cold-weather clothing, fishing hooks) that readily developed in Aboriginal communities on the Australian mainland (Davidson & Roberts 2009; Diamond 1978; 1999; Henrich 2004b). Isolated from the mainland, they had no influx of new technologies and too small a population to successfully sustain their existing complex technologies. Recent theoretical work has suggested that if complex technologies are more difficult to learn and individuals vary in their ability to imitate the best among them, then complex skills can fade away in small populations (Henrich 2004b; Powell et al. 2009; but see also Read 2006; Vaesen 2012). This pattern of technology loss as a result of a shrink in population size has also been observed in several other populations (Boyd et al. 2011), and a recent analysis of indigenous marine foraging societies of Oceania found that both population size and contact with other populations predicted the technological complexity of their toolkits (Kline & Boyd 2010). The evolution of complex group-level traits may therefore require some threshold population size in order to generate sufficient numbers of organized and specialized individuals. As such, technological complexity can be properly conside red a group-level trait.
    How are technologies maintained? Clearly, cumulative social learning and innovation across generations are necessary to build many things that a single human being could not invent from scratch. Beyond this, however, social networks, division of labor, and cultural traditions also contribute to the maintenance of innovation. Recall the earlier discussion of the complexity of the pencil. Certain types of organizational structures might be necessary to maintain even simple technologies. A sufficiently large population is, in turn, necessary to maintain the levels of complexity in differentiated social networks required to sustain complex technologies.
    Because complex technology often requires significant division of labor, the costs of specialization may be outweighed by the gains only when the specialist has enough customers and collaborators to be meaningfully useful. Thus, as the population of Tasmanians fell (and lost contact with outsiders), the group- level traits necessary to sust ain innovations were no longer possible.
    This makes further sense if we consider an inverse situation: the vastly complex technologies of the modern developed world. How many hundreds of millions of interconnected individuals are necessary to sustain the Internet? Smartphones? Airline travel? Innovations are abundant and sustainable precisely because our population is so large and intertwined.

    • alfin2101 says:

      A sufficiently large population is, in turn, necessary to maintain the levels of complexity in differentiated social networks required to sustain complex technologies. __ Yoananda

      Exactly. But what is a sufficiently large population for the disruptive technologies of today and tomorrow?

      Certainly not hundreds of millions of interconnected individuals for the internet — if you consider the types of uses to which the internet is most commonly put: internet porn, social media, shopping, groupthink forum echo choirs, etc. Generally 5% to 10% of the people in a group do 85% to 95% of the cutting edge work. The rest help to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

      The challenge is to get to the actual numbers without getting distracted by mainstream groupthink. Few people have the ego strength to break away from dominant group delusions in order to break new ground in thinking and in doing, even if they have the intelligence.

      One of the largest problems with today’s modern democratic societies is that the followers tend to follow other followers, in a circular jerkular formation. Internet opinion polls are presented as fact on “autoritative websites,” with popular wisdom and popular opinion created, processed, and interpreted by self-interested institutions of government, media, academia, foundations, thinktanks, activist lobbies, other vested parties.

      As we frequently say: Everything you think you know, just ain’t so. The reason for that is the corrupt social and intellectual milieu in which we all find ourselves suspended, and how its taint seeps into almost every thought and gut reaction.

      If the dysgenic Idiocracy does not collapse the economic and intellectual foundations of disruptive discovery, we will enter a brave new world where many old rules no longer apply. Much smaller numbers of people will be necessary to invent, produce, and maintain ultra-complex technological devices and systems, than are necessary to sustain much simpler technologies today. The challenge is in working the thing out so that it fits together.

      The Idiocracy holds a strong appeal for many because it promises impossible and contradictory things such as justice, equality, security, freedom, stability, plenty, predictability, fraternity, diversity, the end of suffering, and a veritable utopia on Earth.

      • yoananda says:

        I totally agree.

        But I think it may not be the final word.

        Some technologies are only invented because there are economy of scales.
        AMD invest billions in a new factory to build new CPU only if it is sure there will be hundred millions chip sell !

        I’m not sure the 5% of smart ones can be disrupt without the dumb 95%
        (I litterally mean “I’m not sure”, I’m just asking myself).

        Hard to say (for me at least) where is the limit.

        • alfin2101 says:

          It is important for me to include “enhanced humans” as one of many disruptive innovations in the pipeline. Human minds and bodies can be enhanced in many different ways, and most of them — and more — will be explored by interested parties.

          Here is a simple example of new technology that multiplies the impact of fighter jet pilots: http://www.defensetech.org/2015/05/20/air-forces-new-unmanned-strategy-has-f-35-pilots-flying-drones/

          Flight control electronics is becoming so savvy that semi-intelligent systems take care of most flying and mission tasks, leaving the pilot free to improvise within the mission and refine tactics using a small adjunct fleet of semi-autonomous drones. The idea of using drones to surround planes, ships, tanks, submarines, convoys, infantry formations etc. will become more and more commonplace, as a type of moving defence and force multiplier.

          Peaceful applications of semi-intelligent machines will likewise become more common ways to enhance human performance over a wide range of commercial, economic, legal, medical, and industrial sectors.

          The mega-fab chip factories you describe only work where there is economy of scale to support them. This will not always be the case, as markets for smaller quantities of custom-made chips grow — in addition to chips that customise themselves within devices. The current system is subject to severe modification and streamlining, as better fabrication methods — and entirely new approaches to computing — emerge.

  2. GCM says:

    “Maintaining a high tech infrastructure — much less creating and building upon new disruptive innovations — is growing beyond the reach of more and more nations of the world.”



    Some would argue, like those off the grid, that people are a slave to technology.

    “The average IQ of humans on Earth is in decline.”


    Do you have a source?

    “For most humans, the future holds a coming anarchy and dysgenic Idiocracy.”



    You really don’t know that for certain.

    “Clear-thinking and competent humans need to take a number of strong, assertive steps if they are to have a future for themselves and their progeny.”

    Ok, so what are YOU personally doing about this dire situation?

    “The Idiocracy holds a strong appeal for many because it promises impossible and contradictory things such as justice, equality, security, freedom, stability, plenty, predictability, fraternity, diversity, the end of suffering, and a veritable utopia on Earth.”

    So, how many millions of people are part of this “idiocracy”? Why are YOU not part of this group?

  3. painlord2k says:

    We had a discussion about this topic a few years ago on the ExI mailing list (in the context of understanding the size and resources needed to colonize planets on other stars and build a technologically advanced society at par with the Earth without the ability to communicate and trade with Earth).

    Assuming a population with an IQ of 100 (say Europeans) we arrived to the conclusion at least 100 M people are needed to get and keep the level of civilization of 1900 and more, probably 500M-1B for the current level.

    Less people is sent as starting colonizers larger would be the supply of technologically advanced goods needed to prevent the colonizers to regress technologically.
    E.G. there would be the need of a supply of drugs/cars/airplanes/drill bits, drillers, electric generators, etc. until the colonizers are able to produce them by themselves

    Economic Liberalism would be needed to allocate efficiently the resources available and speed up the rate of technological, scientific and economical progress.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Interesting, thanks. It is important for knowledge of earlier stages of infrastructure development and maintenance to be retained — in the same way that genetic variability and potential should be retained to prevent bottleneck and extinction hazards. One never knows when a particular skill or interlocking sets of skills may be needed.

      An interesting direction of many new technologies is the ability to do more with less. Less materials, less energy, fewer people, less expensive feedstocks and catalysts, etc.

      One of the most disruptive things about new generations of disruptive innovations, is that they have the potential to turn the calculus of populations that you describe on its head. In other words, newer disruptive innovations promise to radically reduce the number of humans necessary to maintain sophisticated infrastructures and supply lines.

      It is difficult to find any important economic sector that is not becoming more automated, for example. Even robot maintenance is becoming more automated. Certainly robot manufacture and design are growing more automated.

      Specialisation and reductionism have brought humans a long way. But in the face of more advanced computing, robotics, additive manufacturing, automated farms – factories – mines etc. and molecular machines, it is the human ability to make decisions in view of “a bigger picture” that makes humans special and necessary for sophisticated infrastructure to function. Particularly important is the ability to ask the right questions in order to clarify the bigger picture.

      • painlord2k says:

        “An interesting direction of many new technologies is the ability to do more with less. Less materials, less energy, fewer people, less expensive feedstocks and catalysts, etc.

        One of the most disruptive things about new generations of disruptive innovations, is that they have the potential to turn the calculus of populations that you describe on its head. In other words, newer disruptive innovations promise to radically reduce the number of humans necessary to maintain sophisticated infrastructures and supply lines.”

        I agree with you about technology allowing to reduce the need of humans to maintain the infrastructure BUT the infrastructure is complex and a lot of smart people is needed anyway to maintain it properly. Knowledge in the books is not useful if no one is enough familiar with it to understand it and apply it on actual problems.

        The economy of these islands would need hundreds of millions of people to be a viable high tech economy and these islands should be integrated in a single very large economic structure, so they will be able to specialize in some niche and serve the other islands with their goods and services.

  4. painlord2k says:

    In many ways your vision of Islands of Competency is similar to the scenario of Ayn rand in Atlas Shrugs,
    But these Islands of Competency would have the need to trade with each other, be allied together to defend each other from external enemies (the Sea of incompetents could overwhelm them if they fail to stick together). These Islands would need to sell their goods and services to the Sea of Incompetents to obtain needed resources.

    The metaphor of Islands is good, because see travel and trade are old as the history (and probably older). And they are so old because they are cheap and efficient compared to land travel.

    If competent people is forced (or incentivized) to move to the Islands this imply the Sea will have not their skills to maintain infrastructures. This will cause the infrastructure of the Sea to fall in disrepair and the ability of the incompetent to eat and reproduce will be greatly impaired by the crumbling economy.

  5. painlord2k says:

    On the reverse, if the Islands are thriving economies, their populations would increase by breeding and immigration.
    The main problem would be to keep out incompetents and prevent these masses from being used by some elite to take control of the Islands.

    Current technologies are around to be cost effective to select embryos for mental and physical capabilities. If they become cheaper, they will be cost effective to be deployed to select the best 50% or 10% or 1% or 0.1% of the embryos of the Islanders. Selecting the best 1:1000 embryos would yield an average IQ increase around 23 points. Selecting out diabetes, schizophrenia and more would yield a population very healthy and productive at a level unprecedented and the level of innovation would skyrocket.

    In practice, after a couple of generations of breeding out defective genes (even with prudent choices) the Competent Islanders would be on a total different level in comparison to the Incompetents with an IQ of 90 or 80. And if they love life, they would start to outbreed the incompetents because with a lot more welath they would be able to have many more healthy dangerous children.

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