An excellent and imaginative post from Everett.

The upcoming climate/energy crisis is the product of a clash between two competing ecosystems, the biosphere and the technosphere. This is not to say that machine and animal are automatically in opposition, the issue is that the biosphere is unable to react to the technosphere fast enough to maintain equilibrium. Evolution is a process that affects all entities with heredity. The biological process of evolution is an established fact. Evolution in machines is a more radical idea, but one espoused by many STS theorists. To summarize, technologies are built on previous technologies, that is to say they express a heredity. The course of technological development is guided by selection pressures of technical possibility, and the desires of human actors.

The biosphere and technosphere are incompatible, because technical evolution occurs on a time scale orders of magnitude faster than biological evolution. Without protection, the biosphere will be forced back by technological artifacts that occupy the same macro-niches, in terms of land and resources. The technosphere, areas substantially altered by human technology, now occupies most of the land area of the planet. With its speed enhanced efficiency, without external pressures, it will expand to cover the entire world.

I cannot predict the state of the post-crisis equilibrium. The biosphere will survive, as the rocks and seas that existed before life remain. But as Mike's post postulates, we may see a convergences between biological and technological. Biology will take place on technical substrates rather than physical ones. Genetic technologies will decrease the timescale of biological evolution, perhaps providing a method for the biosphere to compete with the technosphere. Of course, a genetically engineered organism is a technical process, so this is another means by which the biosphere is being rendered obsolete.

Timescales: Expect mankind to become extinct when posthuman evolutionary timescales significantly outpace human evolutionary timescales by an order of 5-10.


  1. The culture of environmental sustainability is unstable since it requires energy to be actively diverted to halt the growth of the technosphere.

    As long as human ingenuity exists to combat the slow retaliation of the biosphere, the technosphere will continue to grow and to consume the native biosphere.

    At this time practically no pristine ecosystems remain.

    Unless environmental preservation is taken up with an almost religious devotion by every member of the planet,

    we can look forward to a total unification of the technosphere and biosphere.

    This is just one of the many possible post-singularity complexity domain collapses.

  2. There is also the old speculation of

    "consciousness is evolution on infinitely faster timescales"

  3. Anonymous12.8.11

    How does the disturbance in the technosphere affects the biosphere?... Speedometer