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« Is There Hope? | Main | The Truth Party? »

November 20, 2011

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Robin Datta

Taking it to the bank could be less than a prudent choice.

Kaiken


We don't want to be equal, we want to be superior. We don't want a certain amount of pleasure, we want more. These characteristics will outlast the energy and resource gradients we have to exploit. The desires of a single leader or political group to dominate and acquire others resources can create instant misery for hundreds of millions of people, and will. We have worldwide food reserves that would last less than two months in case of collapse. We are not going to become “peace and love” people on the downslopes of these gradients. Evolution has given us enough rope to hang ourselves and the noose is around our necks. Instead of cooperating to scuttle the ship in shallow water, we will fight to be the last rat in the water as the ship's mast disappears beneath the waves.

AlT

George,

excellent post again

i feel like you are getting better at posting or maybe i have read enough to tune into your language :) or maybe both

either way you are right on the money in terms of continuos evolution of homo genus and a sub-group of homo sapiens emerging and "auto-organizing" into a system that eventualy will take over and subplant homo sapiens organization in an evolutionary way

regardless whether we understand it or not this process is under way

those of us who has discerned the nature and course of human evolution can _consciously_ examine their beliefs and re-arrange them as to _include_ activities that would promote this speciation

to me one of the most important first steps is identification of such individuals who understand this process of evolution and the need to consciously manipulate beliefs and belief-forming mechanisms on a societal level

once enough individuals identify each other they can work as a group and think up next steps but most importantly they can test and practice the new form of organizartion within their group!

those next steps will be aiming at not dieing in the population bottleneck event and eventually appropriating energy flows diverting them from mindless maltiplication of homo sapiens into supporting higher-order orginization of the new homo species

your blog serve important role of being a beacon towards which this individuals can orient their intellectual gaze and eventually we can find each other, form the group and start planning and implementing

AlT

bruce,

you never fail to post some links :)

but why you do it?

to say science exist but we are not using it?

what is your take on it?

Michio Kaku may be right or wrong depending how one interpretes his words but the nature and course of human evolution is "predetermined" by the system properties: it is out there for us to discover; and it will unravel regardless of our opinions about it

i have followed your comments and see you have fine brain holding a lot of data - you can usually back up your opinions very well

but why you do it in the first place?

what is your goal?

do you have any?

are you just entertaining yourself showing to others your erudition and reasoning abilities?

i am just curious :)

ps. of course all of us post to express our opinions - that's a given - i am talking about practical goals beyond making ourselves feeling good about ourselves and of course there is nothing wrong with having no practical goals and doing things for the sake of doing)

Tom

It seems to me that we never learned from our mistakes. Example, the Industrial Revolution was a big mistake. Rampant population growth was another one. We've continued to compound our mistakes over centuries to the point where it's going to take a giant collapse to even POSSIBLY allow for the human species to exist in some small numbers somewhere undamaged by the still peaking climate change we've caused (a result of the aforementioned Industrial Revolution). Hopefully they'll get it right next time, but i kind of doubt it - we're too stupid to survive by the evidence of history. Uncooperative chaste systems are always created, someone (or some group) always wants more (or to be the boss, or to live better than everyone else, or to be worshipped, or to just be different) - we just don't get it. Our desires are our undoing, we're far better at destroying than creating, and we can't agree on much of anything.

This was a great essay however and i enjoyed reading it - hoping you're correct and that it's way beyond us. Here's to the future - without us.

Selfgovus

"The problem is really how to continue exploring design space, how to increase organization and complexity in manageable ways so as to allow the emergence of yet new things with new properties. Human brains along with their artifactual products, and especially that mind augmenter, the computer, have formed the ultimate level of organization on the face of the Earth."

The things we create in this world are a reflection of us.

I'd like to point out that our artifacts are hugely influenced by our genes.

Think about the design of your keyboard, for example. The size of the keys, the color of the symbols and the layout of the buttons is all the way it is because of our DNA.

To me, our artifacts seem very biological. They're definitely as natural as we are since they too, now exist in nature.

Our brains have a body which has evolved certain abilities which help the brain survive.

The body is the "biological" artifact of the brain.

Humanity, The Planet, Gaia, The Internet is the Newest Evolutionary Medium

That is hard to digest but please hear me out.

There is something emerging from humanity's use of the internet. People are starting to have the same thoughts and feelings at the same time. This is leading them to take action at the same time. People are having epiphanies all at the same time.

This is so profound it is easy to overlook.

Evolution loves a good juxtaposition and is the child of paradox. Consider the co-evolution of predator and prey or the necessary balances between cooperation and competition.

The latest paradox I've seen...

Right now the planet is facing so many looming crises it gave me writers' block trying to figure out which ones to list here.

VS...

Right now there is a global awakening taking place. It has many names and billions of faces but make no mistake...

...the world is thinking

In order to form the civilized societies that we have, humans have had to modify and often fight our internal "hierarchical control structure."

Well the world has woken up and realized that it's been pooping in its own playpen. It is now fighting its own "hierarchical control structure" which it blames for the mess it is now sitting in.

Most, when asked, also blame themselves.

The internet gives the world the ability to "project into the future as well as remember the past."

The path that a tweet takes through a network is also so profoundly neuronal that it too is easy to overlook.

If you've ever wanted to guide evolution now is your chance!

Just by reading this blog and participating we are a part of the global brain.

I am the universe thanking all of you for the wisdom you bring to the world.

But what about resource depletion?

Some part of the world has already realized that we are in dire straits. That is pretty much all of the good news right there.

The world will need to take action quick and even that won't prevent a massive amount of death from starvation and violence.

Sari

This is one of your best posts I have read so far. It's very refreshing to have someone examine the really big scheme of things.

Related to what Selfgovus wrote: is it possible (biologically\evolutionary\physically) for a greater "mind" to emerge from something like the internet, that it greater than the sum of its parts?

Could the internet even survive peak oil? I don't know much about how the internet functions, but it seems that while the content itself is diffused, the infrastructure is centralized, and therefore less likely to survive. On the other hand, the global network of optical cables has already been laid down, and it doesn't seem like it would take too much energy to maintain. Perhaps after the decline in net energy we could still use it to transfer data (sort of like how medieval travellers kept on using paved Roman highways after the decline of the Roman empire). I don't know how servers would survive, though. Maybe the energy decline would serve to prune the internet of all the junk out there - as internet services become more expensive, people who only use it for base entertainment won't be able to afford it. However, it would still be in use by those who can make a profit from it, or those who value wisdom and view the knowledge on the internet as a good exchange for their money. So at least in the beginning, the internet will probably shrink in size but grow in quality (hopefully, with lots of thoughtful blogs like this one).

Tony

Hi George, energy -> change(dynamics) -> life -> evolution, what do you think about culture (nurture)? What is its role in coming evolution event?

George Mobus

Bruce,

Thanks for the links and increasing my already heavy workload! Though I will say I think Kaku is smoking something called selective reasoning. He seems to be focused on gross anatomical features rather than the subtleties of behavioral evolution. The latter depends much more on subtle changes in brain structures that can make a big difference in how people think and relate to their environments. Also, it seems to me he left out a tremendously important issue - climate change. I'd call that a pretty gross factor in both behavioral and anatomical feature selection! Too bad none of us will be around to check on our prognostications!

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Robin,

OK. You are right. I should have said take it to the mattress (or credit union)!

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Kaiken,

The "we" you refer to is Homo sapiens as currently constituted. There is yet a chance, and a reasonably good one in my estimation, for a newer, more fit species to evolve which has the potential to be much wiser, and hence have much greater control over the baser aspects you mention. I assert that the progenitors of such a species are already members of the extant population. What has to happen is that they differentially succeed in surviving the coming evolutionary bottleneck event and are significantly more adaptable in the future climate changes so as to out-breed any other remnants of mere sapiens.

Your indictment may apply to the majority of our species, but it is not universally true for all humans alive today. In my opinion.

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AIT,

Thanks for the supportive words.

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Tom,

You have to have "faith" in the distribution of traits in a population. We are not a uniform species. It may prove to be true that the most potentially fit (mentally speaking) individuals are greatly in the minority (as my theoretical model suggests) but they must exist. I have difficulty imagining a future climate model that is so radically different that it completely destroys all human life. Even a major extinction event is not a one hundred percent wipe out of all life, or biomass. It differentially affects species. And those that do survive usually rapidly exploit the niches opened up. A lot depends on climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases. And as of right now there seems to be a great deal of uncertainty regarding the upper limits on that. I certainly cannot rule out the extinction of our species, which also means the extinction of our genus and sentience on Earth, but I think it really would take a radical environmental shift to accomplish that end. All we can do, then, is hope for a better outcome.

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Selfgovus,

Thank you for giving voice to the hope. And for realistically (in my opinion) recognizing that there will be a cost incurred to reach a new level. I strongly suspect that most of what we now think of as the artifacts of civilization (co-evolved into existence as you rightly point out) will decay to dust once the necessary civilization support is gone. But, what can remain, if we put our minds and efforts to it, is the knowledge of how things work (e.g. network theory is now recognized as indispensable to systems science). The preservation of knowledge in the face of the collapse of modern society should be one of our primary objectives. That preservation must take into account the length of time that may pass before the knowledge can be useful again, and that it must be encoded in a way that allows it to be interpreted in the future no matter how languages have evolved. This is a wonderful intellectual and moral challenge. I think of it as the last will and testament of Homo sapiens!

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Sari,

My comment to Selfgovus, above, is applicable here, I think.

Basically I do believe the ultimate fate of human civilization, globally, is to collapse and decay beyond recognition. I think future generations will be faced with survival in an unfriendly (climate and resource limited) world. And that far fewer people will survive than would be needed to maintain even a small fraction of technologically advanced societies.

But, as I said above, that doesn't mean we should abandon the hard-won knowledge that has emerged from the advances of civilization over the past millennia, and especially the last several hundred years. Here I mean the key knowledge (not every little fact or application), which means the principles of how the world works.

Your vision of the evolution of the internet may very well describe an intermediate phase in the decline of civilization as we know it. But in the long run I suspect the net energy available will just be that needed to maintain local communities in the face of probably severe climate disruptions. Growing and storing food will become the main knowledge activity for humans for a while to come. But one day in the distant future we (or rather our successor species) will find ways to use what energy there is (e.g. biomass) to develop an adequate form of technology that can work as long as the populations are kept in check and in balance with solar influx.

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Tony,

As mentioned by Selfgovus, co-evolution has come to be largely ruled by our relationship with our culture. While the latter changes rapidly it has been the source of most of the evolutionary pressures that have acted selectively on humans, especially since the advent of agriculture and animal husbandry.

Currently, however, its role is in producing the big "negative" selection pressures that will rule evolutionary directions in the future. Specifically climate change and resource depletion due to our materialistic/consumeristic cultures are going to produce the kinds of forces that will shape future humans, especially with respect to behaviors (and mental abilities). Humans will need to be increasingly adaptive, even beyond our abilities to occupy every climate on the planet to date (which largely rely on resource and energy availabilities). Personally I do not think mere cleverness will suffice. Group cooperation vs. between-group or between-individuals competition will come to dominate, I think. That is why I put so much stock in the idea that truer sapience will be favored. This may be merely wishful thinking on my part, however I continue to review the assumptions I have drawn (question everything!) and have yet to find a compelling reason to believe otherwise. In the end it is only a probabilistic argument, not a certainty. But I think the probability is higher for such a scenario than, say, one of individualistic brutality, which is the more favored version among the cynics.

Shorter answer: our evolved culture is going to cause the forces that will choose future fitness.

George

Lyn Holland

i feel as though i have stumbled upon a website that i truly think should be known to everyone. i'm only 20 years old and when i pose these questions to others and get into deep discussion i feel like there is something lacking in the communication process. this blog will surely be my daily reading, it makes me feel as though all hope is not lost and there are still some intelligent people on the planet. i thank you for your site, your words, and your time.

George Mobus

Lyn,

Thank you for your kind words and sentiments. Please feel free to pose your questions and thoughts here or e-mail me directly. By your interest I suspect the future is yours.

George

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