I remember how in childhood my mother told me that someday our Sun will go out and the Earth will perish. I remember how sorry I was for the people, and the assurances that it would be very, very soon would not sound very disappointing: after all, my distant descendants would live at that time! How so! They will perish!

    Many years later. Now I understand why it makes no sense to regret my distant descendants who can live to the end of the world. And this article is about that.

    Perhaps you know about the existence of the System Development Theory and about one of its laws, according to which all systems develop according to an S-shaped graph, which can be conditionally represented as follows:


    The main system parameters are laid out vertically, by which it is possible to evaluate its development, efficiency, etc. Horizontal - time, usually in years. The graph resembles the Latin letter S, hence the name “S-shaped curve”.

    In life, these S-images are much more clumsy - elongated, flattened and stretched, but the general structure, all 4 stages, is repeated:

    Stage I: the system begins its life and slowly develops over a long period of time (according to the graph, we see that the main system parameters almost do not grow). If, for example, a person is represented in the role of a system, then the first stage is childhood, which lasts for quite a few years, but we make little life achievements at this time.

    Stage II:the system overcame the difficulties of the first stage and its rapid growth begins. For a person, this is youth and adulthood, a relatively sharp transition from a child to a full member of society.

    Stage III: the system is at the peak of its development in terms of basic parameters, but at the same time it slows down, and then completely stops its growth. For a person, this is maturity - he is full of energy, has achieved a lot, but somewhere rests on the ceiling, above which he is no longer able to jump.

    Stage IV:old age, fading, death. The value of the main parameters decreases, the system ceases to meet the requirements of the present, contradictions accumulate in it, which lead to its crowding out by other systems. In the case of man (and many other systems), death ensues. But some systems can exist in the last stages of hundreds and even thousands of years - for example, state institutions, the army, the church.

    The fact that everything ends in the end is sad enough, but not quite: as a rule, when the system is on the way to stage III (or switched to it), and already begins to feel the oppression of contradictions, which prevents it from developing, on its base (or somewhere nearby) a new young system arises, which also begins its life from the first stage. For a person, this is the birth of a child who, as a rule, is in some way better than his parents and can achieve something more in his life.


    I used a person as a cross-cutting example only for simplicity, in the future we will talk about more global systems.

    Let’s take, for example, an abstract internet project. Let some conditional Vasily make a social network in his hometown. At the first stage, he was happy with each new user, tried to respond to their needs and debug functionality, used his project himself and actively involved friends and acquaintances in it. Vasya did all these efforts in the right direction, and this led to the fact that his project became popular - at some point, the number of users began to grow exponentially, and in a few months Vasina network gained ten times more users than in the whole past year. But, having existed for some time, the network fell into decay. Perhaps Vasya simply abandoned the project, he lived for some time by inertia, and then died. Or maybe Vasin, a development friend, Petya decided to make his own project (better and more functional, than Vasina’s network) and lured the core of users there. Or maybe everyone just switched to Odnoklassniki and VKontakte. Well, that’s it. You’ll end up all over.

    Let's do a small Zoom Out now and see what happened next to the Vasya project:


    We see other social networks and grids that fight for a place in the sun with varying degrees of success. Above them is the so-called “envelope curve”, which shows the general development of this phenomenon, the supersystem in which Vasina and competing systems develop. In our example, this is the “Social Networks” super-system.

    If we still think about it, we will see that this entire supersystem is also developing according to an S-shaped schedule: once it began its childhood in a world full of forums and homepages, and at first no one distinguished it as a separate entity. But, gaining momentum, at some point it went up and became the main subject of conversation for the entire Internet world.


    Yes, we understand that after some time the system "Social Networks" also awaits stagnation and death. But let's zoom further:


    Next to social networks there are other systems, each of which is at its own stage of development - someone is only gaining momentum, someone is already leaving the stage.

    Have you already guessed what kind of envelope curve passes over these systems? That's right, it's all of us so dearly beloved Internet.


    If you already want to throw rotten tomatoes into the author (after all, the Internet cannot die!) - believe me, they should be reserved for later, because the zoom continues:


    Here, the system that starts “on the bones of the Internet” is deliberately not mentioned - imagine yourself. For starters, there’s some more theory: stopping the development of a system does not necessarily mean stopping its functioning — often it enters as part, subsystem, into a newly created system. So, for example, e-mail as an independent system stopped developing many years ago, but is successfully used by most modern Internet systems as a message delivery subsystem.

    Well, zoom further? What is this envelope curve connecting such different things as radio, television, the Internet, as well as robots, ships, planes and much more? This is nothing more than a technical civilization familiar to us.


    Such a thing it turns out. Like it or not, it turns out that the end will come to it in due time (tomatoes flew, yeah).

    You and I can even guess at what stage of our development the technical civilization is now, and we are with it. Technique developed all the time while a person lived (remember from school a digging stick? Or is it already no longer in history textbooks?) However, for thousands of years the growth of technology has gone very smoothly - the tools used by people tens of thousands of years ago are not so fundamentally different from those that they used a few centuries ago. Only in the second half of the 18th century, with the invention of the steam engine and the beginning of the industrial revolution, did the situation begin to change radically. This marked the transition of Technical civilization to the second stage of the development of the S-shaped curve - after that, the growth of technology in all respects began to rapidly gain momentum.

    XX century was a century of rapid development of technology. Living in the XXIth, we seem to see a continuation of this growth, although ... not everything is so rosy, there are harbingers of future changes. Take, for example, the astronautics, which locomotive pushed forward and upward many related industries, demanded the creation of new technologies and materials - where is it? What was equally “locomotive” to replace it?

    Against this background, the opinions of some scientists sound completely strange that science has stopped in its development , and yet Science is the closest neighbor of Technology and they are developing side by side, only science a little earlier - it should create space for technology to develop. And if science really stops, is it strange to talk about the coming end of technical civilization?

    What awaits humanity after the end of Technical Civilization? We can only guess. But if the assumptions of TRIZ founder Heinrich Altshuller are correct, and the development of unicellular slows down since nature “invented” the organism, and the development of organisms has slowed down since society was “invented”, then we can assume that the next S-image will express a schedule for the development of social relationships in society.

    It is difficult to imagine, although it is interesting to dream up on this topic. In itself, it is worthy of a separate article, so I’ll just end this note with a quote from a material that I definitely recommend reading:

    “Now much attention is paid to the problem of extraterrestrial civilizations. What are these foreign civilizations? Why aren't they looking for us and honking us? Why do not we see manifestations of their activities?

    Supercivilization is conceived at the level of society, but only of a more developed, more energetically armed. But in fact, super-civilizations should be a floor higher, at the level of supra-society. Can a single cell count on what the body will specifically look for (to establish contact!)?

    More and more funds and efforts are being spent on projects of radio telescopes, on attempts to catch the signals of super-civilizations. Meanwhile, the diagram shows that each floor is increasingly creating the conditions for the appearance of the next floor. Above the floor "society" the super-community floor should appear relatively quickly, and then - even faster - the "super-community" floor. Supercivilizations may turn out to be remote from us (on floors) further than a person is removed from elementary particles ... "

    G.S. Altshuller. Creativity as an exact science. - M .: Owls. radio, 1979 . - S. 66-72.

    1. I apologize in advance for the deliberate gaps and simplifications that I made when writing this article. This is specially designed to make it more accessible and at the same time fit in a reasonable amount.
    2. Yes, I know - the drawings are terrible. But there weren’t ready, I had to sit down for Corel and scribble myself.
    3. All the curves shown in the graphs are purely illustrative and not based on real data.

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