The Thermodynamics of Life as a Speculative Model for Planetary Technology


  • Cristian Hernandez-Blick University of British Columbia



Dissipative systems, Entropy, Thermodynamics, Biology, Self-organization, Living technology


Originating from nineteenth century physics, the concept of entropy—a measure of disorder, randomness, and/or the dissipation of useful energy—underlay a cosmology where order and complexity were seen as highly improbable phenomena in a universe tending toward chaos and disorganisation. Nearly a century later, theoretical frameworks were developed for understanding the production of entropy as an enabling feature of self-organized complexity in the natural world. These ideas would contribute to establishing connections between the origins, development, and evolution of life and the principles of a thermodynamic universe. For some, they also supplied the conceptual foundations for theorizing about a universal natural tendency driving the development of increasingly complex and ordered systems which amplify processes of entropy production and energy dissipation and dispersal. In this paper I chart a path through the aforementioned ideas and present their relevance in framing a relationship between our technological civilization and the Earth system. I then speculate about the prospect of a technosphere whose constitution and activity are aligned with thermodynamic principles of dissipation and entropy-production, drawing on theoretical biology and recent developments in bioengineering to envision a paradigm where technology becomes living matter itself.






Entropies (Edited by Joel White and Gerald Moore)

How to Cite

“The Thermodynamics of Life As a Speculative Model for Planetary Technology”. 2024. Technophany, A Journal for Philosophy and Technology 2 (1): 1-31.