ideas for alternative measures of advancements.

Discuss the evolution of human culture, economics and politics in the decades and centuries ahead
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ideas for alternative measures of advancements.

Post by Ken_J »

There is the Kardashev scale, that measures technological progress by the amounts of energy harnessed.

We have seeming deliniations of advances by industrial revolutions.

But I feel like perhaps both of these are chasing the wrong indicators. There are likely several others ways of classifying the progress of civilisation, and I'd be curious to see ideas for alternative measures.

I've a half formed notion myself and I'm struggling right now to figure the rest of it out.
Largely it's based on two sorts of models. One being the theory that human anscestors that began cooking their food enabled more nutrition to be extracted from food and thus the bodies systems to devote less work toward digestion and more toward brain growth, likely selected for by tool use in preparation of foods to consume. The other being the idea that as civilisations we had a trend of socially organizing things in such a way that formerly things that we all did in small scale began to be partitioned out to a select few to do for the community so that we could spare others from that work towards other goals that allowed us to advance.

What this tends to look like is the idea that instead of wandering clans traveling like a pack without a given den, would all go out and hunt and gather food for themselves. To nomadic camps that would send out hunting parties while others did the work of setting and mataining the camps. To settled villages in the early stages of agriculture, where everybody was growing food for their families. Animal husbandry. City building with farming.

Eventually we start to look at things where fewer and fewer people are needed to produce the same degree of productivity, freeing others to explore, learn and innovate. Now we are in a time where almost nobody produces all of their own food, nor grows and works the textiles for their clothing and bedding, nor built their own house from lumber they harvested. we've culturally outsourced these processes to others in our community who can be so productive as individuals that those single people can supply the needs of thousands of others.

So in my mind, extrapolating that forward is likely to be a better predictive model of progress for our civilization.

I feel like the milestones would be something along the lines of settlement, agriculture, trading, crafting, writing, cities, aquaducts, waste managment, mechanics, ... manufacturing, electronics, computers (in this sense focussing specifically on computing), networking, ...

it's not quite right and it's got a great deal of holes. But I feel like it gives us more insight into things we rely on existing, and current is part of the labor of everyday existing, that we may well be on our way to making the responsability of a few specialists and free everyonelse from to push advances in other feilds or uncover new things and expand our grasp of the universe and it's mysteries.

now this isn't some true/right model, because I can think of an equally appropriate approach that examines progress by seeing how formerly things that were restricted to specialists are now 'democratized'. and maybe these two things can be paired to get a more whole view of the path of civilisations.

I don't know, maybe it's just a mad ramble. I'm curious to see what others think.
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Re: ideas for alternative measures of advancements.

Post by iridescentrae »

I’d also add something about our impact on our environment and how we’re running out of things and causing global warming. Whatever progress we have made is somewhat backwards because we’re not caring for the needs of the people. We’re leaving them to die in back-breaking heat because we had to do things the cheapest way possible.

Perhaps we should measure our solutions by the problems they cause, which balances out to an overall score of progress. We have to keep correcting and re-inventing in order to save ourselves from extinction. I don’t think we’ve progressed very far yet.
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Re: ideas for alternative measures of advancements.

Post by caltrek »

I know that the following article is probably not what Ken_J had in mind when this topic was started, but it does fits nicely under the title of this thread.

I have long argued that IQ is more properly thought of as a measure of cultural competency and not of intelligence. If nothing else puts a final nail in the coffin that IQ testing should be used as a measure of "intelligence" as opposed to a more relativistic notion related to cultural competency, then perhaps this will do it:

Danish Children Struggle to Learn Their Vowel-filled language – and This Changes How Adult Danes Interact
by Morton Christiansen and Fabio Trecca
June 28, 2021 ... act-161143

(The Conversation) Denmark is a rich country with an extensive welfare system and strong education. Yet surprisingly, Danish children have trouble learning their mother tongue. Compared to Norwegian children, who are learning a very similar language, Danish kids on average know 30% fewer words at 15 months and take nearly two years longer to learn the past tense. In “Hamlet,” William Shakespeare famously wrote that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” but he might as well have been talking about the Danish language.

We are a cognitive scientist and language scientist from the Puzzle of Danish group at Aarhus University and Cornell. Through our research, we have found that the uniquely peculiar way that Danes speak seems to make it difficult for Danish children to learn their native language – and this challenges some central tenets of the science of language.

Why is Danish so hard?

There are three main reasons why Danish is so complicated. First, with about 40 different vowel sounds – compared to between 13 and 15 vowels in English depending on dialect – Danish has one of the largest vowel inventories in the world. On top of that, Danes often turn consonants into vowel-like sounds when they speak. And finally, Danes also like to “swallow” the ends of words and omit, on average, about a quarter of all syllables. They do this not only in casual speech but also when reading aloud from written text.
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