[ExI] Why Cities Keep Growing, Corporations and People Always Die, and Life Gets Faster

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Sat Jun 4 15:58:22 UTC 2011

On Sat, Jun 4, 2011 at 5:49 AM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:
> Kelly Anderson wrote:
>> I think that's just basic math. Whether a singularity is reached in
>> real cities, who knows? Is this what happened to Mohenjo Daro, or in
>> the American Southwest, or Easter Island?
> Easter Island ended up in an ecological overshoot leading to a limited
> carrying capacity, but I think most declining cities decline for far less
> interesting reasons. Brugge and many cities lost access to the sea due
> silting and declined into obscurity. The rust belt got outcompeted by
> foreign industry and new industrial demands.

The rust belt, Detroit for a very good example, also has suffered the
effects of bad politicians and internal unionization parasitism. In
other words, the external competition was inevitable. The horrid reply
to this competition was not.

> It is interesting to see that a lot of cities do decline quite strongly:
> http://www.digitalurban.org/2010/10/visualising-space-time-dynamics-in.html

Interesting. I wish they labelled the axis better, it is a little hard
to follow, but I get the idea.

>>> He is kind of aware. I talked with him about it, and he plans to meet
>>> with
>>> Nick next time he is over here in Oxford. It is just that he doesn't buy
>>> into AGI and similar things straight away, and at the very least not that
>>> that it would not be having the same kind of resource limits.
>> The double negative is throwing me here, is he saying AGI would follow
>> a different power law than people?
> Sorry, that was my bad English. He seems to think (reasonably) that AGI will
> of course also have resource limits. If his analysis is truly universal then
> it would apply to the AGI too. They would have roughly the same growth
> problem as cities.

Although perhaps a different exponent...

>> How about something related to the tax rate? Seems that is running
>> into a singularity. :-)
> It just feels like that.
> https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/File:MarginalIncomeTax.svg

I wonder if we are seeing a series of singularities here. That graph
goes up and down a lot, it's very frightening actually. Growth and
collapse, growth and collapse.

>> Ya. What would you measure as government efficiency given that
>> government doesn't really produce anything itself. Biologically
>> government is a parasite. Wonder if he has anything to say about
>> parasites in his whole analogy.
> Brains are just parasites on bodies, they don't actually ingest or process
> food, right? :-)

Ok, sure. But I think government is only part of society's brain. The
reptilian part, perhaps.

> Governments do produce various things - law enforcement, coordination,
> various services. Measuring their efficiency in doing so (and whether they
> just produce what they ought to and not a lot of other stuff) is trickier.

I guess they direct production of roads, military equipment and so
forth. But ALL the production is actually accomplished by government
contractors, which are mostly in the private sector (in the US). We do
have GM now... sigh. It is very hard to determine government
efficiency, but it is easy to look at it and see that it is low,
however you would assign numbers.

> Apropos parasites, note the superexponential growth of crime rate in the
> city paper. There might be parasite singularities too.

Look at the collapse of crime in New York. Perhaps that was a
singularity or collapse if you will of crime parasitism?


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list