In https://embassyofthefuture.wordpress.com/2015/04/18/civilizations/, I have defined civilizations as creative dissipative systems. It looks like not many people have understood what I meant by that and how terrible a thing it is.
A dissipative system is keeping its structure (or is growing) by using up some resource. It is producing entropy and it is getting rid of this entropy by using a low entropy resource and sheding high entropy waste. For example, a plant is taking up low entropy solar radiation and is radiating high entropy termal radiation. Another example is a flame. A fire turns a low entropy fuel into high entropy end products and heat radiation.
A creative system is a system that can change the way it works. It can reprogram itself. It can find new resources and new ways of using them. It can find new technologies.
Think of a fire that, when it has used up its fuel, does not burn down but changes its chemistry or its technology and starts burning something else. An intelligent fire that will find every available resource (including those unavailable at first).
Within the process of that fire burning, there will be some selection: the faster burning parts of it that have learnt more tricks will outcompete the slower parts.
Think of putting such a fire on the surface of a planet. Come back some time later and you will only find a desert.
We are such a fire. A creative dissipative system. The perfect fire. Thats us.
(The picture is from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fire02.jpg).