You hit the technological maximum when you have systems that can rapidly perform natural selection on technological designs. As one of the characters puts it in my novel The Sunless Countries, “Everybody’s equally able to evolve new devices because everybody has the same, perfect physics model. Once you’ve got that model, and fast enough calculation, nobody in the universe should be able to come up with a machine that you can’t duplicate. You just select for it and its design eventually pops out. So there’s a technological stalemate everywhere in the universe.” This is analogous to the biological stalemate that pertained on Earth prior to the evolution of human beings.
The Rewilding, by contrast, is simply a vision of what happens when you erase the distinction between the natural and the artificial. Some cognitive studies, for instance, suggest that the human brain offloads difficult calculations to the physical environment whenever it can. When catching a pop-fly in baseball, for instance, the brain does not attempt to do the calculations necessary to predict the trajectory of the ball; instead it gets you to run backward while occluding the ball with your glove and keeping a fixed angle between your arm and the horizon. This replaces the calculations. Such ‘partial programs’ mean that you’re not required to process all information internally; you use your ambient environment as part of your thinking apparatus. In The Rewilding, we have a world of physical partial programs. Why build a water treatment plant when you can use the local wetlands for the same purpose? In The Rewilding, we establish mutually beneficial relationships with physical and ecological systems while not compromising our ambitions; if you need a nuclear power plant, you still
build a nuclear power plant, but if there’s a partnership with some natural system that will provide the same result, you go that way.