Beyond Sustainable Trades

Beyond Sustainable Trades is a technical vision to 2012 from Efficient Civics Guild, released under CC-by-nc-sa. First version by Craig Hubley 2004-12.''

Of all green priorities, nothing is more critical than the revolution in municipal infrastructure assets: the rise of "green building" and the potential of sustainable trades, especially new trades to deal with (at least) design, assembly and integration of low-impact potable water, stormwater, sewer, power, signals (radio, TV, computers, phones, etc.), security including keys of all kinds, air filtering systems and other complex technologies:

These have prefabricated parts and known tolerances like everything else and it is long past time that the "systems integration" field matures so that these trades can also be learned in vocational schools, high school level vocabulary at most being required (plus a few specialized terms).

The worst problem in our civilization is under-training and over-education. There is no need whatsoever to have an overeducated computer science graduate configuring your ergonomic furniture, wiring up your various home automation devices, diagnosing your boot drive's problems, etc... in fact the skills required for autonomy here have been reduced to just four courses:

These need some updating, but, the terminology isn't changing, since it was designed to refer to abstract interfaces that themselves don't and can't change. Some of the interfaces will become invisible over time - as technology advances - but this too is allowed for as there is a 'top level' vision that is about one-generation out at any given time, that is vaguely characterized as "suit-bit-slot" to divide things into those physical things that fit or are worn on the body (suit), those abstract means by which bodies communicate (bits), and elements of infrastructure which must be physically contacted, at least by keys, to be used. So:

If one considers a car and driver, the keychain is a suit concern, and must be located on the body somewhere. The signal sent by keychains to cars to open doors or turn lights on or lock doors is a bit concern, and the actual keyholes required to open the door or drive the car are 'slots'.

Using biometrics simply merges the body into the suit, or requires some element of 'suit' to be removed (gloves on hands, sunglasses on eyes) - whether one is exposing ones body or a bit of technology, there is some action required here and some design issues arising from that action.

At this extreme level of abstraction a "suit" becomes actually more like a lens, a way of looking at the body (actually a legally binding way, so 'suit' is overloaded to include lawsuit - any confusions that cause conceptual problems are rooted out, so only those that are useful remain).

Notice though that these concerns are still very contained, they do not change the nature of the 'bit' based signal that moves between the biometric identity device and the receiving device or vehicle. Nor does it change the fundamental abstraction of whatever is attached to that device or vehicle to interpret or accept the signal - that device still, certainly, has a slot, for a finger or eyeball, that may not involve turning and twisting but still requires physical contact.

Now imagine something even more extreme: a body-fitting symbiotic suit (4G) of genetically engineered union suit that absorbs or contains body wastes and recycles them to water and nutrients (a 'Dune' stillsuit if you recall that novel), and an infrastructure that is wholly wireless and contact-free, where entry to buildings and so on is determined by social networks (and, if abstracted to currency) social capital alone.

The model still works: the suit is responsible to signal who you are, at whatever level of abstraction (e.g. "a citizen of this city"), and, the infrastructure itself is nothing but slots, containing bodies and bays of devices used by them (e.g. cooking devices, computers, etc.). The signalling required to open a library carrel to a student, a City office to a citizen, or a sleeping bay to a homeless person, is still subject to a quite different level of design, but it's still about bits.

The challenge in eco-centric design is to get from today's twelve signal infrastructure (/infra/) trades to three abstract professions dealing in those three concerns (2G)
  • design of 'clothing' to most closely fit, protect, comfort the body
  • design of infrastructure to most efficiently serve bodies in groups or singly, responding to their various concerns (mating, research)
  • design of protocols to most effectively route those who need to be in communication, together, those who need to be separated, apart, and those who are required in a given time and place, to get there

Imagine the world if this is done optimally, even if just in cities. An intermediary step is revealed as the "/infra/ vision" you can see at hubley.org infra vision.

That 'vision' is however only for the next generation out, if that. A genuine vision has two-generation 2G and four-generation 4G and seven-generation implications. At least, for Greens, it does. Though some potentials (genetic modification of the human body itself, use of any telepathic communication i.e. embedded wireless devices in the body, genetic modification of animals simply to make them better foodstuffs, etc.) are eliminated in the Green thinking, that is not true for all:

There are other visions of how the human species might evolve. See individual capitalism speculation.

That paper might intrigue you. It is supported by several others dealing with pre-requisite concerns:

and that's not even to deal with the economics, which is another track:

There's more to emerge when the six styles of capital are in common use.

A key concern is village design - the kind of places we live in. Certainly eco-villages and my own thinking about sustainable infrastructure in the abstract have in common a certain B. F. Skinner sort of view of the
importance of infrastructure and decisions embedded in it, in making up a culture. If you do not *build* in a green way, you are not a green, eh?

One's very survival cannot depend on non-green artifacts and processes if one is to actually lead such a movement... if we want to be taken seriously we must eat our own dog food.