From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Ephemeralization is a term coined by R. Buckminster Fuller. It refers to the ability of technological advancement to do "more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing." Fuller’s vision was that ephemeralization will result in ever-increasing standards of living for an ever-growing population despite finite resources.

Fuller refers to Henry Ford’s assembly line as an example of how ephemeralization can continuously lead to better products at lower cost with no upper bounds on productivity.

Fuller saw ephemeralization as an inevitable trend in human development. The progression was from “compression” to “tension” to “visual” to “abstract electrical” (i.e., nonsensorial radiation, such as radio waves, x rays, etc.). Length measurement technologies in human development, for example, started with a compressive measure, such as a ruler. The compressive technique reached an upper limit with a rod. For longer measures, a tensive measure such as a string or rope was used. This reached an upper limit with sagging of the string. Next was a surveyor’s telescope (visual). This reached an upper limit with curvature of the earth. Next was radio triangulation (abstract electrical). The technological progression was constantly greater length-measuring ability per pound of instrument, with no apparent upper limit. [1]

[edit] Consequences to society

Heyligen[2] , Alvin Toffler, and others have written about how ephemeralization, though it may increase our power to solve physical problems, can make non-physical problems much worse. Increasing system complexity and information overload make it difficult and stressful for the people who must control the ephemeralized systems. This can negate the advantages of ephemeralization.

[edit] References

  1. ^ R Buckminster Fuller, Nine Chains to the Moon, Anchor Books 1938, 1971 pp 252- 259
  2. ^ Heyligen, Complexity and Information Overload in Society: why increasing efficiency leads to decreasing control http://web.archive.org/web/20070103091059/http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/papers/Info-overload.pdf
This article about an engineering topic is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.

[edit] External links

Personal tools