Imagine that archaeologists, digging around in the jungles somewhere, stumbled upon what they think are the remains of ancient buildings. Upon closer examination they learn that it is very old, but has technology that is advanced, more advanced than the most advanced technology of today. This is the sort of premise that makes for a good science fiction story or even a mediocre sci-fi series. The next step in the plot is a drama between the characters over what to do with the newly discovered alien technology.
In real life, there would be an endless rounds of committee meetings and memorandum as the bureaucracy tried hard to not do anything with the new technology. The original discoverers would die of old age long before a decision was made. Even without the byzantine processes, nothing would be done, as no one would know what to do with the alien technology. Anything that far advanced would be the product of a race with an entirely different evolutionary arc. No one would know why they created the technology.
That’s the part that gets left out of the science fiction version of the story. Technological advance often seems like leaps and bounds, but in the long run it is glacial. For example, plow design remained fairly crude into the 19th century, then all of sudden it advanced rapidly to what we know as the modern design. That great leap in technology was the result of the glacial advance in material science, economics and social organization that started in the Middle Ages. The plow was the result of that.
That alien discovered in the jungle would have been the result of a similarly long evolution of an unknown race of beings. Without that long arc, their technology would be like the final pages of a mystery novel, without the rest of the book or even the knowledge surrounding the book. At best, we would be able to guess at parts of the arc, but we would have no idea why the thing was created, so we would have no idea what to do with it. An example of this is the Antikythera mechanism.
Now, this is not advanced alien technology, but it is alien technology. The ancient Greeks are alien to us, not quite as alien as people from space, but we really can’t know that for sure. The Antikythera mechanism was discovered in the spring of 1901 and it took 70 years to begin to understand it. In 2008, researchers announced that it was an instrument for predicting astronomical positions, eclipses and for maintaining a calendar. They still don’t know all of it.
Now, if it took a century to puzzle through a piece of alien technology from 2500 years in our past, from a people about whom we know a lot, how long would it take to unravel advanced technology from a mysterious alien people? It is a pretty safe bet that the CIA has learned nothing from that crashed alien spaceship they keep at Area 51 in Nevada. Unless the aliens sent scientists trained in working with retarded people, we would have no way of figuring out where to start with the technology.
Now, what does this have to do with anything? Technological advance is a feedback loop within a society. It’s why technological advances can move from one people to a similar people, but they take a long time to work into alien cultures. Europe went through a rapid technological advance starting around 1500, racing ahead of the rest of the world. Much of what the West created did not make it into Asia and Africa until the 20th century. Advances in social organization remain alien to much of the world.
Now, imagine what happens when a people become too stupid to maintain the technology created by their ancestors. This is something that would be predicted by social cycle theory. As the ruling elites, the smart fraction, sees its fertility rate decline, the overall IQ of the people declines. There could reach a point where the society no longer has the social capital to maintain the social and material complexity created by their ancestors. At some point, their world becomes chimps flying airplanes.
Think of it this way. Imagine if tomorrow, everyone with a working knowledge of turbines died from some awful disease. We would still have smart people capable of learning about turbines, but they would have to learn it. They would also have to acquire the experience of working with turbines. It would take years before we had enough people able to work on and maintain existing turbines. By that point, the work needed to repair existing turbines would be massive. It may never get done at all.
Now, the evidence is strong that Europeans are getting dumber, and that is putting aside the issues related to immigration. In fact, the decline into stupidity may be accelerating. When you add in immigration by people with significantly lower intelligence than existing European people, the effect is an acceleration toward a much lower average IQ for Western nations. Again, this is predicted by social cycle theory to a degree, but also backed up by research into the subject by people like Ed Dutton.
The social instability of the West, things like the inability to control borders and the revival of primitive beliefs, promoted by female shamans, could very well be due to the decline of general intelligence. The people populating the machinery for running a modern Western society no longer possess the intelligence to properly operate the machinery. They are like those researchers who discovered alien technology, except our rulers, bureaucrats, and intellectuals are convinced they know how all of it works.
There is another angle to this. Take the financial system, which is probably the most automated system today. It has reached a level of complexity where no one person knows how all of it works. This is not just the narrow technological stuff. Transactions have reached a level of complexity where specialists focus on just one part. About 70 percent of overall trading volume is now generated through algorithmic trading. The markets are literally run by robots that no one fully understands.
As a result of this realty, like the science fiction movies, the world markets now have what amount to dead man switches. If the robots get out of control, the breakers put a halt to trading in order to give humans a chance to figure out what’s happening. This is a preview of what lies ahead for Western society as a best case scenario. The apparatus of the state will be kitted out with circuit breakers and dead man switches, not to control the algos, but the stupid people operating the machinery. It is apes flying planes.
A more likely scenario is something beyond anarcho-tyranny. Instead of the authoritarian institutions harassing citizens over petty matters and ignoring the serious issues they were designed to address, the machinery of society will slowly grind to a halt, as happened in post-colonial Africa. The organizational systems, not just the physical machinery, will become too complex for the people to master. As a result, we will enter a period of technological and social regression toward the new mean IQ.
Put another way, the society created by our ancestors of just a few generations ago is beyond the event horizon of our modern ruling and intellectual elites. The physical manifestations are all around us, but the cultural aptitude to create and maintain such a world is now beyond the reach of our elites. While they remain smarter and more sophisticated than the main body of citizens, they are relatively primitive compared to their ancestors and as a result we are ruled by people puzzled by their own inheritance.
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