• Introducing aiac – a new word for Western Civilization

    by  • August 5, 2010 • Everything Else • 3 Comments

    Aiac is a new word, an acronym coming from Agro-Industrial Auto-Catalysis. It’s intended as a precise, technical term to refer to the “technically important bits” of what is often loosely called Western Civilization or Market Capitalism or various other loose, not-quite-precise names.

    So let me break the term down.

    Agro-industrial meaning of agriculture and industry.

    Autocatalysis meaning, literally, a thing which makes it easier for more of itself to exist. Some chemical processes produce molecules which act as catalysts which accelerate the reaction even further.

    The Profusion – the age of cheap plenty – is produced by aiac. We have machines which produce cheap, reliable parts for other machines. That makes it cheap to make machines, which makes it cheap to make things. We use machines to make plentiful cheap food. That leaves us lots of time to work the machines which make things. This whole network has evolved (and I mean that quite literally) to make its own function more and more efficient in certain areas. There are some quirks – we don’t seem to do energy efficiency even when it is profitable – but generally speaking aiac is marvelously sleek and fit for purpose.

    Aiac has two problems. It is extractive at one end (mining, cannibalization of the ecosystem and so on) and aiac is polluting at the other end. The challenge of sustainability is to close the loops on aiac so that it is no longer extractive or polluting.

    The collapsonomics problem can be stated as “to what degree could an economic contraction cause a failure in aiac?” – if the banks seize up, do we suddenly find ourselves in a cascade of events which makes industrial bolts cost $11 each and so on down the supply chain, suddenly resulting in the loss of our ability to make cheap, reliable machines to multiply our labor.

    Protecting aiac is critical. Protecting the world from aiac’s flaws is also critical.

    Aiac. It’s a good word. You should use it!

    flattr this!


    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


    3 Responses to Introducing aiac – a new word for Western Civilization

    1. August 5, 2010 at 11:28 pm

      Agrinac – the pronounceable face of aiac?


    2. August 10, 2010 at 4:02 pm

      I like this, partly because it leads to a very concise but useful definition of the sustainability problem, and partly because it clarifies my own thoughts about why DIY culture / humblefacture / cottage industry are never going to take over from Big Industry in good times, but are still crucially important cultural things to keep alive.

    3. Pingback: The Bucky-Gandhi Design Institution › The November Plan – finishing The Future We Deserve

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *