Karl Schroeder on "Rewilding"

I enjoyed this rather heady talk Karl Schroeder gave at the O'Reilly Open Source Con. His claim is that the next breakthrough in technology is understanding when to not control things. An example is ecosystem services. The filtration provided by a healthy natural water table is more efficient than the filtration plant it could be replaced with, however, our economy can not easily represent the value of nature's services so the plant gets built and the water table gets destroyed. In the future, we may be capable of understanding the value inherent in the natural system and choose to allow it to do what it does well.

Rewilding, as Schroeder puts it, stems from understanding when to control something and when to leave it alone. Environmental services provide value by not controlling nature. This idea applies to human systems as well. Democracy derives its efficiencies by relinquishing control to an (hopefully) ever more diffuse power base. The next form of government will go a step further and relinquish control not just to individuals, but to man-made systems.