Yuri Tarnopolsky                                                                                                           ESSAYS

34. On Loss

evolutionary loss. Second Law of thermodynamics.

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  Essay 34.  On Loss

Imagine a space traveler who came to Earth from another galaxy to compare his/her/its observations with those of another traveler who had visited the planet 3000 years earlier. The major observable change would be an immense expansion of all earthly man-made Things.

For the last ten thousand years, the humans have not acquired an extra eye or finger. The evolution of their Things, however, has been explosive. One can wonder if the Things are really theirs or it is the other way around.

Technos has populated the Earth in an insect-like swarms, but with much more variety. The kingdom of Things ranges from the pyramids and the inimitable cathedrals made of stone—the oldest and largest survivors—to countless disposable copies of the same design, for example, paper napkins. Technos supports a huge taxonomy of hierarchically arranged species, genera, families, orders, classes, phyla, kingdoms, and domains. Its abundance has been recorded in books, paintings, and films, which are also Things, as well as in the existing Things and old Things kept in museums.

I am not aware of any complete classification of Technos. There are partial classifications, for example, the
Classification System of the Library of Congress . Here are some excerpts:


General Technology
General Engineering, General Civil Engineering
Electrical Engineering, Nuclear  Engineering
Motor Vehicles, Aeronautics, Astronautics
Arts and Crafts, Handicrafts
Home Economics

HOME ECONOMICS is divided into:

 The House: Logistics, Finance, Care
 Nutrition, Food and  Food Supply
 Mobile Home Living
 Recreational Vehicle Living

TECHEXPO classification is more realistic:

1.Agriculture S&T (science and technology)
2.Astronomy & Astrophysics
3.Atmospheric Sciences
4.Aviation S&T
5.Biotechnology, Biomedical S&T
14.Manufacturing Technology & Automation
15.Marine Engineering & Technology
32.Subassemblies & Components 
33.Surface Transportation

 SURFACE TRANSPORTATION, for example, falls into:

Motor Vehicles Technology
Safety Devices
Surface Transportation Equipment
Traffic Control
Vehicle Electronics
Other Surface Transportation

There is also
Standard Industrial Classification. It lists, for example, 100 subclasses related to  the class COMPUTER, including services and occupations:

            2761 Computer forms, manifold or continuous (excludes paper simply lined)

2791 Typesetting, computer controlled
3571 Computers: digital, analog, and hybrid
3571 Mainframe computers
3572 Optical storage devices for computers
3572 Recorders, tape: for computers
3572 Tape storage units, computer
5045 Computers-wholesale
5045 Peripheral equipment computer-wholesale
5045 Printers computer-wholesale
8744 Facilities management, except computer
8744 Facilities support services, except computer
8748 Systems engineering consulting, except professional engineering
or computer related

I suspect nobody knows how many species of Things are there on Earth. For comparison, there are between 2 million to 100 million biological species, probably 10 million.  Only about 1.5 million are actually listed. Although many have not even been discovered, the biodiversity has been subjected to a terrible and, as some believe, catastrophic loss. According to some estimates, 600,000 species have been extinct in the last fifty years.

The decline of biodiversity is an example of the evolutionary loss
which is normal in any evolution. The current accelerating loss of biodiversity is attributed to the competition, often barbaric, of humans with other forms of life.

The extinction of biological species, from an alien point of view, can be considered normal within the framework of  the overall evolution on earth, which drives both Bios and Technos. "Why are you mourning the loss of so much Bios," the monotheist alien would say, "if you are gaining so much Technos? There is only one evolution on your planet and if it takes away, it also gives tenfold. You, pagans, worship two gods: nature and Things, plus numerous sex gods/goddesses." "No, we would object, we worship only one: money."

Aren't  the humans compensated for the loss of Bios with the ever growing variety of Things, some of them even capable of simulating life? Is that variety really growing? What else are we losing? What are we really getting instead? Can we control evolution on the global scale? These questions are for serious researchers. They cannot be answered in a casual and superficial essay.

Yet the problem bothers me despite my evolutionary and historical fatalism. On the one hand, I would like all the pests, such as the two species of caterpillars that attacked my pines and tomatoes in the summer of 2001, to be gone forever, together with mosquitoes, termites, and carpenter ants whom I hate as my personal enemies. On the other hand, the holocaust of elephants, rhinos, and tigers deeply depresses me, although I would never want to meet any of them face to face.

A complete extinction of all large animals would not change my life in any way, and yet I would see it as a tragedy. Animals are our beautiful relatives, whether distant or close. Plants are our beautiful food and shelter. Looking for a rationale, I may argue that the depletion of biodiversity would make human existence on the scorched planet boring, bleak, and outright dangerous, but people learned to live in deserts of sand and snow. If we believe in evolution, there is only one Evolution and it is as much loss as gain. As individuals, we are going to lose our lives. We have already lost classical (i.e., recognizable as life and resonating in emotions) music and art. Why to mourn snakes and spiders?
(I respect spiders and never kill one in sight. This is the only lasting effect of my prison experience. )

The loss of biological species, life, art, technology, ideology, institutions, and professions happens daily. The year 2001 alone will have on record enormous loss of life, Technos (in the World Trade Center), art (the Buddha statues in Afghanistan), and ideas (American ideology of domestic security), not to mention money and peace of mind.

How to measure gain and loss and what conclusions to draw from the difference between them require the mind of theoretical physicist with interests in non-equilibrium thermodynamics. It is certainly not a task for me. All I want is to take a closer look at the loss as universal phenomenon.  What are we losing and how?

Is the following really happening—or it is just the eternal generation lag—and if yes, what is so bad about it, and if it is not bad, what is its significance?

Loss of attention to fundamental concepts of science

Loss of privacy

Loss of common world view

Loss of uniqueness by standardization, fashion,  and assembly lines

Loss of new directions of inquiry cut in favor of the proven ones

Loss of direct face to face contact between people

Loss of common sense and long term goals

Loss of sophistication to life designed for dummies

Loss of simplicity (on tax code see Essay 18, On Everything )

Loss of courage, ambition, and non-conformism

Loss of categories of shame and honor

Loss of interest in the rest of the world

Loss of initiative, risk, and experiment

Loss of news in the filters of importance and priority

Loss of letters sacrificed to telephone and email

Loss of national state

Loss of purity (food, soil, air)

Loss of trust

Loss of education

Loss of loyalty

Loss of business independence (news, publishing, music, films, food, retail, etc.)

Loss of independence of expression due to political correctness


Each of the above can generate an Essay, but my interest here is more abstract.

The difference between the loss and the gain is fundamental: we know what we have lost but we don't fully know what we have gained until we lose it. This pattern of thinking can be attributed to Solon who said, according to Plutarch,  that nobody should be considered happy until he dies: the last moment can change everything.  The loss is all here to judge, while the gain is to be tested by time.

The loss of human life—death—was one of the most stimulating facts of human cultural evolution.

In the poor—by our standards—world of prehistory, death was, probably, the most tragic but also the easiest form of loss to cope with. By inventing the other world, completing the rituals of passage into it, and by maintaining symbolic links with the deceased ancestors, the complete loss of existence was prevented. The pyramids of Egypt look like monumental experiments with personal immortality, not without success. In the East, the loss was denied by the circular or cyclic concept of time.

We are shifting from the mystical polarity of life and death to the businesslike polarity of
gain and loss.

There seem to be a whole taxonomy of loss. The following inventory of major classes could be regarded as a seed of a nonexistent philosophy of nonexistentialsim.


1. Entropic loss. A material object can be destroyed due to accidental factors or simply by wear and tear. It can be a unique piece of art or a carrier of ideas, as, for example, a manuscript, or its author.  The range of this loss spans from large geological formations to an accidental destruction of a unique museum object and to a never saved computer file. Digital information can be accidentally and instantaneously erased without destroying the carrier, while information chiseled in stone can survive millennia. Stones, tablets, and steles die, too.

As its name indicates, this most universal type of loss seems to follow from the second law of thermodynamics, which says  ...well, there are at least four major definitions, based on the concepts of energy, entropy, heat, and universe, see APPENDIX 2.

"Universe" sounds exciting, but we still do not know what it is. Heat and energy are not applicable to human relations and ideas unless defined in a special way. Entropy, or disorder (uncertainty) is the only one of interest for us.

It turns out that the Second Law of thermodynamics applies only to closed systems, which do not communicate or exchange in any way with other systems. Human civilization is not isolated in any way because it ultimately takes from solar radiation its creative energy ("free energy" is the correct but misleadingly sounding physical term). It also discharges heat into space and waste into soil and water.

It would take a lot of space to examine the universal extra-physical aspects of the Second Law, but there is a lot of discussion on the Web and in numerous books. In the very long run, everything obeys the Second Law, but the Second Law does not tell us how soon the loss is going to happen. I even suspect that it is a logical consequence of the concept of infinite time: anything can happen in infinite time, for example, an incredible order of life arises from the chaos of the primeval Earth. I am not really interested in what happens after ten thousand years, not to mention millions. This is the subject that could never be tested because the reality of a faraway future could not be compared with today's predictions: they will be lost.

One of the best sites on the Second Law belongs to Frank L. Lambert, [not anymore in 2016, but his name is worth Googling; see this.] not accidentally, a chemist. The answer to the question "when," regarding the Second Law, cannot be found in classical thermodynamics, but in the kinetics based on the concept of transition state. It has been my main obsession for many decades that transition state is the key to the scientific picture of history, sociology, and psychology.

In any particular case of destruction, for example, when a glass breaks, the irreversibility of the loss is the consequence of the nature and circumstances of the process. Thus, chemical bonds between the atoms of the glass are not simply disengaged so that the atoms can be in principle reconnected as in snap fastener or zipper. The free unbonded atoms immediately react with each other and molecules of the air. Besides, while the pieces scatter on their own as result of the impact, somebody has to bring them together from different points in the space. This is possible when a Thing is held together not with chemical but with mechanical bolts and nuts and if it falls apart, it can be reassembled. The snap (and especially the magnetic snap) is an ideal contraption that beats the Second Law for as long as it lasts.

The Second Law may be responsible for the overall loss in millions of years, but not in the short run and not in the presence of human hands. The wear and tear takes its toll simply because we accept it. We cannot fix the material decay because our hands are too large and clumsy to fix all the misplaced chemical bonds one by one. Instead, we resurrect the Thing from its code, and we can do the same by cloning organisms.

Anyway, "this bloody tyrant, Time," as Shakespeare called it, brings the irreversible loss, which is as accidental as it is necessary. What we really observe on the time scale comparable with the duration of human life is that everything falls into disrepair and malfunction, the less we spend work on maintaining order, the sooner. This is equally true of machines and individual humans. In the end, every individual object is lost.

The types, classes, and categories of objects—anything immaterial and existing only as idea that could not be measured with a yardstick and weighed on a scale—are very resilient to entropic loss, see Essay 32, The Split.  But something can happen to ideas, too, see Competitive Loss.


Deliberate destruction by war, terrorism, sabotage, vandalism, and interference falls into this category of loss. Humans are dangerous neighbors of unique Things.

Why would anybody have a desire to destroy a life or a Thing or to deface the Great Sphinx of Giza? Herostratus burned the
temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, in 356 BC, to make himself famous.

I believe, it is related to the temperature of the social environment. Destructive urge rises not only in times of social unrest, but even among fans after a sports competition. Uncontrolled rage of animals is, probably, of the same nature.

A mass destruction of books and cultural artifacts happened during the fall of the Roman Empire in 5th century, Baghdad in 11th,  North India in 12th, China in 13th and  20th, and Russia in 20th.

When temperature comes up, the laws of thermodynamics are nearby on guard, waiting to be called to the stand.  

2. Evolutionary loss.
Life exists in spite of thermodynamics. This does not mean that physical laws are violated by life, but some of them are not applicable to open systems for however long but finite periods. Life creates an impression of escaping the entropic loss by making multiple copies and experimenting with them. Each individual copy, however, is vulnerable and mortal. Even species are mortal because they change. Evolutionary loss is the loss of species, not individuals.

An object or entire species can be lost because of the constant evolutionary drift within a larger systematic unit. The mammoth had been extinct, but the elephant survived. Both are members of the order Proboscidea.

Everybody is mortal, but the humankind lives on.

Most prehistoric species of life, perishable artifacts of past civilization, old laws, customs, manners, folk art, and technology, like mechanical calculator, quill and inkwell, manual telephone switchboard, absolute monarchy, and ancient weaponry were lost to evolution. The loss of Technos can be partially reversed by making new samples of the same species, unless the entropic loss destroys all descriptions and samples.

Each such loss occurs inside a larger and more resilient class of objects: a species could be easily lost, but genus, family, and order are incomparably more stable. The fountain and ball pens displaced the quill and inkwell, and they get along well with computer as a modern writing device. 

Evolutionary loss makes objects obsolete. New Things take place of the old ones, while Art and Ideas simply pile up to be slowly leached out by the rain of years. The old Things pile up, cracking and rusting, in the lofts, basements, and flea markets, as the extinct in the nature and Technos species will concentrate in the zoos, botanic gardens, and museums. The fading manners, ideals, and traditions are catalogued by historians. Same happens with institutions, moral norms, and fashion: they are preserved in old books which someday will become endangered species, too.

For more about this type of loss, see
Essay 32, The Split. It is as much loss as gain. The trick is that the wise alien was right, there is really one evolution for the entire planet, and the plants and animals must go without anything to replace them because they are not made by humans. When they are, as it is the case with artificial selection and breeding, the time to produce a new breed is too long for the fast metabolism of industrial society. There might be a separate kind of irreversible loss that is intrinsic to capitalist economy: competitive loss. 


3. Competitive (selective) loss.
  That capitalism brings variety and expands consumer choice is one of the modern mantras.

Even remembering the miserable poverty of the socialist choice, I don't feel enthusiastic about joining the chorus. This may be true about competition but not always about the overall result. I suspect that the plot of choice versus competition looks like the bell curve.

Variety increases only until the competition reaches a certain intensity, after which the choice declines.

Probably, this idea has been already expressed or refuted. As consumer, I see the depletion of choice everywhere: in publishing, movies, supermarket, car design, and computer industry.  The consolidation of the market goes on until the forces of concentration are balanced by the government anti-trust forces. There is another couple of opposite forces: to maintain choice costs money, and the desire to offer choice is balanced by its cost.

I believe it is a myth that competition increases choice. By its very nature, competition must decrease it. This is the essence of competition: to narrow choice.

Competitive loss occurs as result of an elimination of extra contenders in a competition for a limited resource, for example, in a beauty pageant, where the resource is the single crown.

The contest with one winner is the toughest. A softer alternative would be a pageant stopped at the semi-final step: five most beautiful women and ten runner-ups. Naturally, nobody interested in that because of the star culture and commercialization. Commercial advertisement needs a star as a drug addict a shot.

A species or individual loses competition for space to the winner simply because there is not enough space for both. This also happens if there is no resource of energy to supply both contenders even though they are at comparable levels of functional efficiency. Competition runs for both space and time (Essay 2: On the chronophages or time-eaters).

Competitive loss is part of the mechanism of the evolutionary loss. Before a biological species loses and exits the wrestling ring, it is guaranteed an access to the fight.  In human society and Technos, however, selection happens even before the species or individual even comes to existence because of the dramatic ability of humans to imagine nonexistent things.

The way of a newcomer into existence consists of two stages: the stage of the code and the stage of expression. With the exception of codes that are so garbled that they cannot be expressed, the DNA sequences of organisms must be expressed, i.e., born as organisms before they enter competition. Social, cultural, managerial, and technological projects, and sometimes even children, are first selected at the stage when they exist only as ideas, models, simulations, or just dreams.  This gives most mental (and some live children) no chance to be born, especially, when the criteria of selection are of business nature.

A material contender lucky enough to come to existence, for example, a new model of a Thing, can be later eliminated from contest by the winner.

Competitive loss is not necessarily destructive. It simply eliminates data and Things from the focus of attention, which is crucial at the conception stage. Thus, the former presidential candidate who lost the elections, loses most of attention, but he can still try to regain it. Some news are never delivered because of assumed lack of importance or because they are overshadowed by other news. Some data can be moved into deeper layers of the storage, like most books printed ten years ago, not to mention all documents. Information can be retrieved if necessary. The competitive loss is the loss of interest because new Things and data occupy the limited space and push out earlier ones. As result, topics and items are lost in “comprehensive” handbooks and reviews.

History, by convention, starts with Herodotus. In one of his books, page after page, he describes the Scythians, people living around the Black Sea, their way of life and war, and customs, such as drinking wine from the sculls of their enemies.

Here is the list of topics on Scythians in History by Herodotus (
the Fourth Book, Melpomene; the list is taken from The History of Herodotus, Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952, p. 339. Series: Great Books of the Western World.)

Scythia, its geography and people; unknown regions beyond; rigor of its winters; rivers in; hemp grown in; population of; measurements of  its sea-shore; its boundaries.

Scythians, their conquest of Asia; they plunder the temple of Venus; are massacred by the Medes; lords of Upper Asia; overthrow the Medes; their wives intermarry with slaves during the men's absence; their  method of obtaining mares' milk, and habit of blinding their slaves; their conflict with the slaves on their return home; account of their origin; Greek legend concerning; they conquer the land of the Cimmerians; Scythian husbandmen; wandering Scythians; the Royal Scythians; they are unconquerable; gods worshipped by; their sacrifices; special rites paid to Mars; their warlike customs; the skulls of their enemies used for  drinking-horns; their soothsayers; ceremonies accompanying their oaths; the  royal tombs; burial of their kings; ordinary burials; mode of cleaning them selves; their hatred of foreign customs; send to the neighboring tribes for help against Darius; their plan of war; they march to meet Darius; they continue to draw him on through their country, their haughty answer to the message sent by Darius; they assault the Persian camp; their horses alarmed by the braying of asses; send symbolic gifts to Darius; they march to the Ister and advise the Ionians to break the bridge; they miss the Persian army; their marauding expedition as far as the Chersonese; send ambassadors to Sparta; drink wine unmixed with water; their equipment for war; serve under Xerxes.

Herodotus used to be the encyclopedia for the Ancient and Medieval worlds. He is no more one.

For comparison, Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia gives a lot of new knowledge about Scythia in a wider context, but, of course, all Herodotus is gone.

Novels, poems, and stories published in millions of copies are forgotten by the public in thirty or less years and are used only for graduate theses and Ph.D. dissertations. It is not because of the fast changing life—which is fast only because of the incessant race of Things—but because some time ago life settled down to a new large pattern. Books became models of the Thing named Book, like the model and make of a car. They are worn out, fall out of fashion, and exchanged for new ones, some times, in a retro style.

I was really struck by two examples of loss.

Bill Joy, cofounder and Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems, who published an excellent essay on the future of technology, Why the future doesn't need us. ("Our most powerful 21st-century technologies - robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech - are threatening to make humans an endangered species.") mentions many names but not Norbert Wiener, the founder of cybernetics, who was the first to warn about a possible conflict between a man and a machine, especially if the machine had a computer inside.

Interestingly, the term cybernetics was initially invented by André Ampère, (1775-1836), but was lost, at least to Norbert Wiener.

This is an example of a generation loss: what was hot for one generation is cold history for another. Old ideas are either reinvented or appropriated.

The second example is Allan Bloom's book The Closing of the American Mind, a classical work of general importance (Essay 19, On Reading Across the Lines), which I discovered only accidentally because of a novel by Saul Bellow (Ravelstein) with Allan Bloom as the prototype.  Bloom's book was published as recently as in 1987 but it seems forgotten.

In the red hot competitive atmosphere, the contents of national memory are as short living as food on the branch table. Food for thought becomes more and more perishable.

Some Things (tin cans, newspaper), art (TV commercials), and ideas (statements of politicians) are created for a limited life time or a single use. This entire domain of manufacturing, with its fast metabolism, is very efficient in terms of making money, all the more because of the intense recycling.

4.  Haystack loss (loss by dilution).
Herodotus, Norbert Wiener, and Allan Bloom still can be found in the libraries. The procedure of search, however, is subject to another type of loss, related to the competition loss. It can be formulated as the problem of finding a needle in a haystack and is most typical for modern civilization. It is the phantom loss, not the actual extinction: the object exists but cannot be found. While competitive loss occurs because of the limited space for attention, the haystack loss happens because of the enormous expansion of the search space, caused by increased production of data.

In a very large space it was possible to forget a certain way through it, to lose directions from one point to another, or totally forget how to get to a whole continent. In such a space, an undiscovery was possible. Thus, the medieval art of courtship and chivalry, the ancient Greek art of philosophical discourse, the practice of astrology, and polytheistic religions  became desert islands at some time in the past. Some were rediscovered in due time.

The number of other objects of the same category can be so large, that the particular object has a very low probability to be found. This loss concerns large systems. It is usually caused by competition for time: anything can be found, but too slow.

A practical impossibility to process all surveillance data by an intelligence agency is an example of such loss. Thus, a large volume of spy information can be lost with vitally important signals among the waste. Even though the data are stored, the actual loss occurs when it is too late to use them.

Most publishers do not read manuscripts anymore: they rely on agents, credentials of the author, and the endorsements, as well as on the estimated interest in the topic.

This loss seems to be a direct result of the loss of the social stratification and hierarchy typical for all societies, but least of all for liberal democracy. The remedy for it is exactly the hierarchy of subjects, which is used in Internet search engines. It works when one knows the object of search.

I believe that this type of loss was the reason for great changes in philosophy, art, religion, and politics by the end of the nineteenth century.

An individual who could previously find a stable space in guild, cast, class, tribe, is now alone. The barriers seem incomparably higher (not in business, where it is as easy to borrow money as to lose it). The individual can amass social energy by attaching himself to as many names as possible, or to a single weighty one, or by creating a corg (Essay 33, The Corg).

The statistical loss accompanies democracy and contributes to its major paradox: all people are equal, but there is no way to give them equal voice. The universally accepted old solution was just to neglect the entire stratum, cast, estate, and race. Today the voices have to be neglected individually, one by one.

Modern expansion and entrenchment of bureaucracy has been a byproduct of computerization. Creating, copying, and compounding documents turned into a simple task, so that the documents became unreadable. Each bill, even at local level, was like Gibbon's history of Rome: a human had no chance to keep it all in head even if it was read from beginning to end. So, paradoxically, the computerization of bureaucracy had little effect on creating order, but introduced actually a lot of chaos.

Bureaucracy means that papers are never read, and even never written, but compounded form standard blocks, with their size and complexity unopposed by any counterforce. Non-implementation of directives was another form of loss.

5. Electronic loss is the back side of computerization. The electronic data require little energy to be either created, or copied, or erased.

Large volumes of digital and analogue data  are produced by the current electronic Technos. The volumes of data exceed not only the human capacity of processing them but also the computer capacity, and what is not used is trashed.

Automatic data processing, including classification, understanding, response, and implementation,  may stimulate delegating these tasks to Technos. But if the data processing system is faulty, some data are lost completely and absolutely. The easiest way to be lost is go on the Web, which is the most probable fate of these Essays. The survival in the ocean of loss can be achieved by spreading the microweb of links.

Digital code is becoming a universal code of all our knowledge, input from sensors and instruments, and output in the form of commands to people and machines. This is a process comparable with the establishment of the universal genetic code in the beginning of evolution. The significance of this event is that loss is "naturalized:" a certain part of files is expected to be deleted or lost. In the end, we can arrive at a steady state in which the amount of all stored information is kept either constant, or fluctuating, or slowly growing. I believe, we are witnessing this on the Web where there is a certain average life time for a page.

We can only guess what fragments of matter are going to be erased from the face of the earth due to the uncontrollable but perfectly natural—as death—loss of files or because of their offhand management. Having in mind biological evolution, we may expect catastrophic extinctions of information of the same magnitude as those on the record of biological evolution. Electronic wars can inflict enormous damage amount of this loss in an industrial society relying on flow of information.

But can the incineration of a garbage dump be called damage? Information is waiting for a firestorm, as any overgrown forest.

What could we draw from the nonexistentialist inventory?

1. The loss is unavoidable and natural process. We could not have working memory if our brain was unable to forget.

2. Any specific loss can be prevented by applying significant efforts of the same type as in business: advertisement. Mere preservation has little chance to beat production, unless the preserved species can be commercialized.

3. The essence of evolution is a continuous drift of species that enter a larger category and leave it. The same happens at the level of categories: smaller categories drift through larger ones, only very slowly. If we take the category of life, the ratio of plants and animals to humans and the entire distribution of species are changing. If we take the largest category that includes all forms of life and Technos (i.e., of meta-life existing as replication of the code and expression), the distribution of species may be changing there, too.

4. The loss is counteracted by forming a hierarchy of species and individuals instead of free competition and techno-democracy, in other words, by rigging the competition instead of equal chances. Hereditary monarchy was such a fix in the past, aristocracy later, and elites of influence today.

5. Born out of idealism, preservation is becoming business and industry.  

6. Representation of species is becoming a political issue. It was historical limited to humans and products for sale.

7. Human nature has become the largest natural reservoir of stability on earth. 

Loss is a dull subject. But the subject of gain is even duller.

NOTE (2016). Here is an interesting problem. We cannot speak about a loss of anything, for example, loss of courage, ambition, and non-conformism or loss of categories of shame and honor without numerical data.  It is possible to get that from the Web, but it would be of  low value without an independent source. The Web is limited memory span. Besides, humans disagree about everything. 



1. Edward O. Wilson is a unique figure in modern science for many reasons. His books are a wealth of factual and conceptual knowledge about biodiversity, biological components of human nature, the structure of modern science, and other interesting and important subjects. Together with Jaques Barzun, he is a figure resisting yet another ongoing loss: the loss of depth.

On biodiversity: Diversity of Life,  W.W.Norton, 1999 and The Future of Life, Alfred Knopf, 2002.

2. Second Law of thermodynamics: different formulations

Energy spontaneously tends to flow only from being concentrated in one place to becoming diffused and spread out.

Entropy in a closed system can never decrease.

The second law says that the entropy of the universe increases.

The Second Law states that in an isolated system any  transformation of energy into heat is essentially irreversible.

. Second Law of thermodynamics and open and social systems

  Open systems and production of order.

Frank L. Lambert:
Shakespeare   and the Second Law.

Douglas R White:
Thermodynamic Principles for the Social Sciences

4. Loss of information on the Internet

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