Of the Acceleration of Algorithms

Seminar by Thierry Caminel, June 3rd, 2016

Autonomous cars without human drivers, “Go” (a strategy board game), robots taking over jobs previously held by workers: these innovations are all evidence of the acceleration of technological change, which progresses at a much faster rate than genetic evolution. The speed at which algorithms can make comparisons has increased for the benefit of Uber, Google and the “Gafa”. Amazon now predicts that drones will be in charge of order shipment and delivery thanks to algorithms. Humans will be replaced by robots in a large spectrum of sectors, including health and justice. What form can degrowth take to oppose this tidal wave of technological innovations? Can algorithms be used is a resilient manner? Can the information technologies be used to create a resilient society? Can this society also be convivial?

We are undergoing a new digital revolution due to the massive increase in the amount of collected information and the ability to automatically treat and trade this data. Some would rather believe that this revolution will bring about growth and happiness, while others fear for our individual liberties or question the durability of such changes. We will be analyzing the different arguments put forward in the context of a systemic collapse, partly caused by the depletion of energy resources. To do so, we will be reconsidering the fundamental equivalence between entropy and information, to then focus on the existing links between energy and control, complexity and stability. We will also be revisiting a certain number of works published by “Momentum” – such as those in respects to rationing, the low-techs, local currencies, the commons and democracy – using concepts from thermodynamics, Darwinism and conservation of information. This will enable us to develop new readings grids that will help us understand how human societies evolve. A few examples will be given to illustrate how this might work. We should also come up with parts of the answer to the questions we have previously asked.

To read the notes from the seminar in French click here.


Author: Thierry Caminel

Articles written by Thiery Caminel:

L’impossible découplage entre énergie et croissance

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De l’accélération des algorithmes