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    This is interesting, and well stated. It reminded me strongly of Tainter’s The Collapse Of Complex Societies, which posits that as societies become more complex, the marginal returns of complexity decrease, but the society itself cannot reverse course on complexity. It’s a wonderful book; I’m not 100% sure I believe that he’s right, but it is a deeply troublesome thesis to chew on.

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      This quickly became one of my favorite essays.

      It speaks to the impedance mismatch I’d started to feel as I grew older, a sort of nagging sensation that emerges from a fundamental mismatch of values. I knew from a young age I’d always wanted to build things, and I don’t see that changing. But it feels like building things well isn’t respected as much as accruing profits and success. (It was a naive view.) This contributes to the tumors the author speaks of. There’s a big difference between building things with technology and wanting to use technology to self-aggrandize.

      The causes of the leak are myriad, and ultimately systemic, as much as I hate to fall back to that. Oftentimes institutions do a spectacular job of replicating it, by constantly drumming the ambient economic anxiety of the times into all of the worker bees. It is a sort of virus that seeks to replicate itself, feeding on anxiety, enabling laziness, and relegating aesthetic properties of programming to some other future that never arrives.

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        A couple of months ago, Trixter of Hornet released a demo called “8088 Domination”, which shows off real-time video and audio playback on the original 1981 IBM PC. This demo, among many others, contrasts favorably against today’s wasteful use of computing resources.

        “contrasts favorably” is a bit of an understatement: YouTube, demozoo, pouët (for those who dare). It also has been shown/discussed quite a few times here on lobste.rs already, but it deserves another watch, together with the “followup” 8088 MPH (YT/demozoo/Pouët)

        EDIT: you should check out viznut’s own demos as well, for example “Robotic Liberation” (YT/DZ/Pouët), featuring a speech synth on the VIC-20, the predecessor of the C64 with 5k of RAM.

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          This seems to have two thesese. One, that resources are used more to do the same amount of work, is almost true. We could make do with much fewer resources, if our stacks got much simpler. Look at how heavy things like ZFS are in terms of complexity for what they do. Some of this can be cleaned up.

          The second is that we are doomed because of it. Our doom follows historical trends in decreasing rates of childbirth, not in trivial things like how many clock cycles a clock simulation takes every second.

          Also I don’t take kindly his dismissal of libertarians. He seems to be misguided.

          Also: human time is a resource too. It can be exhausted like any other.

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            One, that resources are used more to do the same amount of work

            This is not his thesis. He picks up Borgmann’s device paradigm, which leads to an alienating approach of resource consumption. This is not that too much is consumed for the current work, but that the base reflex of “encapsulating” complexity leads to a kind of impedance mismatch with your environment, a loss of focus on what matters in our lives.

            Seeing this as only an issue of “too much resource for too little results” is completely myopic. The issue is not that it is inefficient, though it is, but that it leads to an ever-increasing resource consumption, without regard to things and principles that matters (“focal things and practices” from Borgmann).

            His view of libertarians having completely lost touch from this is right, and his quips at them building their ethics on this flaw is well stated. Libertarianism is the death of any society, a completely delusional dismissal of basic economic concepts like “market failure”.

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              Resource consumption without regard ignores other resources not listed. Or: all resource consumption is to lower other resource consumption, ideally not in equal measure.