Meadows Reading Reflection

The leverage points described by Meadows in this reading were very insightful, though I noticed that the higher on the list I went, the more difficult it seemed to be able to use the leverage points. I suppose this is how leverage works; if you want a small change to have a large impact, it requires a lot of force, but if you only want a small impact, it becomes much easier. For this reason, I was intrigued by both ends of the spectrum.

The first thing that caught my attention was the way Meadows talked about technology: Technology allows information to travel more quickly, but itself takes time to become distributed. For me, this brought up a lot of questions. Are we using technology the right way? Could the ever increasing sea of information be used to regulate itself? What would happen when technology becomes its own platform for distribution, allowing it to proliferate much more quickly? What are the impacts and implications of such a change? That’s a lot to unpack, but we can start with the first question: Are we using technology the right way?

I ask this because Meadows describes the stock trading system, and how the shortening of delays between trades “is just asking for wild gyrations.” Perhaps instead of using the internet to allow for millisecond level transactions, it would be possible to use the information to automate a process for regulating the system. And then, if the system was regulated, how would that effect the economy? Who will be impacted? Would it be possible to create a paradigm shift to value stability over growth? There are a lot of questions.

Computers are fairly good at regulating feedback loops, many algorithms have been created to tune fancier types of feedback loops to increase stability and reduce noise and oscillation. Perhaps there are solutions that use higher level points of leverage to cause change at the other points: A change in paradigm could facilitate the regulation of positive and negative feedback loops… but that sounds very complicated.