Culture is a glue

Here are listed a few quick notes, reminders and personal opinions about “culture” in its widest definition in evolutionary terms:

1. Culture is the most “human” factor:
Every group of folks who gather around something (a figure, an object or a set of values) tend to create culture. It’s the most definitive single element that separate us from other animals. True that we are language-speaking animals, thinking mammals or tool-making apes, but all of these stem from our cultural abilities.

2. Culture evolves randomly:
Cultural equilibrium is shaped when cultural memes are transmitted long enough, among the members of a rather closed population, through social interaction and cooperation. Much of these memes are either random “mutations” at origin, or randomly fluctuate while being faultily copied by other individuals.

3. Culture is a glue:
Culture is important to us humans because it – in any of its forms – has been the glue that helped us scale up from tribes of hundreds not so long ago, to populations of up to hundreds of millions today. These present-day groups of people can be identified by races and ethnicities, religions and cults, geographies, occupation or social classes, political parties, etc. but they are actually functional clusters that can cooperate in-group while survive in their embedding ecology. All these “super-organisms” have their own type of cultural glues, codes and mechanisms that bound them together to cooperate with each other within the same system and sustain their equilibrium.

4. Culture has phase transitions:
According to history this equilibrium collapses eventually and gives rise to bigger and stronger populations, rather suddenly than slowly. There are leaps and usually they end up finding a way to include even bigger populations, than previously possible.

5. Culture is relative:
Another thing about culture is that it is relative. It’s made-up. It doesn’t matter what components have made this glue as long as it can act as a glue. And this is why culture gets old. A glue that could connect hundreds (a stone or a tree) fails to gather thousands efficiently; they need language and law. And a local set of rules can’t unite a population of a size of a country. They need technology. Our today’s religions, political divides and classes have played their important role to unite populations previously but have failed to scale-up to take us to the next level: To include us all.

6. Culture has synergy:
Every culture has emergent properties beyond the mind-set of its individuals and even beyond the original values that created it at the first place. People wrongfully assume their individual tendencies (inclusion, care, good intentions) is also acted out by them collectively. It is not correct. A group of nice and kind-hearted people can act as savages collectively. In fact that is what’s happening all across the geographical and political landscape right now .

7. Culture is greedy:
One of the emergent properties of culture is that it is greedy. Every culture seeks for dominance. It is inevitable as memes and genes – information in general – tend to copy and only those who manage to propagate and adapt best will survive.

8. We need a global culture:
To survive… Well, not necessarily a moon-size tree or a super massive stone that all ten billion in 2050 would subscribe to [just like their tribal ancestors]. But a system of global governance approved by all humans, something that can operate on our still physiologically tribal brains but can also make the next big scale-up to a planetary-level, also without blowing us up altogether. And this global culture needs to be at least minimally recognized by all humanity, and thus pragmatically needs to have empathy for all of us. It is hard but we need to admit that the current global cultures are not efficient enough for this inevitable stage. That “world new order” has got to be more efficient – and inclusive – than Abrahamic religions, our unsustainable consumerist capitalism, or that oppressive communism cult. Their incompatible perspectives have come to clash with each other and so their era has passed just like that of the stone idols, holy trees and commandments. We need to transcend them too to cooperate in a global level. We are not there yet but really, not so far from it either.

9. “Culture is not our friend”:
It’s just a glue! At the end of the day, being embedded in a tribe, country, a global monetary economy, or a trillion size AI society around a Dyson Sphere, we are individuals. We are as different as we are similar. And we have always been that way. We should be cultures of one that operates safely within a bigger, much bigger, community. How will this embedding global culture will eventually look like? Will it shape before our extinction, or will it remain an idea? Yet to be seen. We don’t know and can’t predict how things evolve beyond the parts that we currently observe. But one thing is for sure. It needs to include all humanity – pragmatically. I can’t imagine any of the underdog groups of present-day, be poor countries, minority groups, worker class, etc. would tolerate to be totally supressed, undermined in the long-run or excluded from the game. It’s just impractical because they are all powerful enough to retaliate and give a hard time to the forces that seek to dominate them. All the billions have to either be enslaved [somehow], eradicated completely, or be bought into it. We are merging in, we need to make it as least painful as possible.

Your mom knows better!

Kitchen was certainly one of the areas of life that I tried to liberate myself.

… from culturally reinforced rules and regulations. I understood that “culture is not my friend”, and changed the way I had seen people do Persian food. Especially when I moved to Norway I regarded many of those common recipes as religious superstitions and started to do things my own way.

Amongst others, I got rid of my mom’s superstitious way of cooking rice! That for better quality rice must be “soaked, rinced and drained” prior to it being “boiled, drained and steamed”. So from those six stages I skipped the first three and made a shortcut to the last three to save time.

There I hacked a couple of other things too. Not waiting for cold water to boil in a pot and do it faster in an electric kettle first. Then pouring it in to an already hot empty pot. So deconstructing the axiom of “ingredients first, heat second”. Also removed that useless ugly “damkoni”, the fabric Iranian housholds use to cover the pot’s lid. As I assumed it’s meant to tighten the lid so steam doesn’t escape, though its actual function is to absorb the stem, so it doesn’t condence and drip in the rice.

After all the end result was still delicious!

Now turns out that my shortcuts were costly, sometimes even cancerous. And my mother was right!

Guys, those of you who don’t follow your mom’s recipe will eventually get cancer and die out. Evolution will take care of you and your recipes, so don’t dare to mutate in the codes of the collective wisdom when it comes to cuisine.

Your mom knows better!

Consensus

Everyone knows that common sense is a reliable source for the truth. Everyone is wrong.

– Myself!

Now can you bring up a particular truthful belief, that the majority of the human society agrees with it? Something that you can confidently claim that the majority of your species – finally – got it totally right.

The most complicated (least trivial) comment wins all. I’ll start the thread:

“The earth is not flat.”

Happy 2017

2017

Here’s my wish list for the world in 2017:

1. Not more stable countries and functioning pieces of the developping world fall in to the destiny of Syria. Not more peaceful cities be subjected to invasion, wars, conflicts, destruction and evacuation.
2. More refuguees go back home safe.
3. Less terrorist operations be observed in the western world.
4. The freedom of expression does not get more limited where it still exists.
5. There will be less policing, unnecessarily harsher law enforcement, survailance and control.
6. Less number of species go extinct during the year to come.
7. Multinational corporates do not come closer to a monopoly over our lives and choices. In particular there will not be more frequent mergers and acquisitions more than 10B dollars value.
8. Rich-poor gap does not get wider worldwide.
9. America becomes a democracy again!
10. The other democracies of the western world do not move to that direction, away from fair distribution of decision making and cashing out the political power.

Looking at the trends, most likely none of these will come true, so I make one last wish hoping less celebrities die in 2017. This one stands a relative chance. Specially because many more people asked for it.

Happy New Year!

Science is a Random Walk

RandomWalk
Rain on asfalt.

“Science is a random walk of accumulated literature.”

What do I mean by this compact claim is that the scientific code and its instrumentation evolve organically within an ecosystem of ideas and objects.

By scientific code I mean its language, terminologies and formulations, as well as their results and interpretations. And by its instrumentation I refer to the science-making technologies; tools and instruments.

The scientific code in its evolving journey is profoundly sensitive to its initial states as well as randomness along the way. Random elements of all kinds such as mistakes and accidents, cultural bias, geographic self-reinforcement among the scientists, charisma, manipulation by power and even the order of discoveries. All of these factors have potential to deviate scientific claims to drastically different directions.

We are limited beings trapped in a narrow set of interpretations that we call reality and therefore we are not using our imagination as much as we can to realize how things could have been otherwise. More interesting, useful, truthful alternatives do not get the chance to be seen or discussed in the dictatorship of the scientific enterprise. And scientists are behaving very politely with a fear of being abandoned, excluded or fallen in the blacklist of pseudo-sciences determined by the dominant story. And things doesn’t have to be this way.

Now speaking of the chaotic self-organized nature of the scientific random-walk, we would like to believe that there is an objective truth out there that functions as an external field and leads the scientific endeavor to get closer and closer to an “attractor” of the ultimate truth, neutralizing the effect of its random fluctuations.

This is not obvious.

How do we know that we are dealing with a controlled random walk, that there is an attractor? There may be many attractors. There may be none. There may be infinitely many with a different cardinality even. If we are destined to one thing is that we belive in destinty. And we think of science as having a destiny too. This may be an unwritten assumption but widely accepted that there’s a naturally truthful science. It may be randomly deviating people admit, but it is moving towards the attractor of the holy truth. In my experience the common claim is that not only that truth exists, we are also approaching it rather effectively. And so how can you even dare to argue over this when you are wittnessing the fantastic discoveries and the ground breaking achievements of science?

I am not unfamiliar with this world-view and can comprehend their logic, but have a completely different idea. I am saying that the myth of a naturally truthful science should be debated because it undermines the profound chaotic nature of the evolution of the scientific code and its instrumentatlity. It should be questioned because it ignores how fundamentally trapped we are in our cognitive tunnel and left alone with a very narrow and specific set of wide-spread stories that we have made about the reality.

And let’s say that the attractor of reality does exist in a sense, and that we humans are getting there because we have launched an honest journey with a solid plan. Even if so, I think without bringing up discussions like this post, such a goal is unattainable and navigating towards such a truth is impossible. We can not be sure we are on the right path, let alone the only path, if we suppress any effort to overcome our blindspots, simply because we don’t see them.

So this is what I summarize in the compact claim that science is not about the truth. Science is about the instrumental growth of the human ape, developed and expanded collectively and in a deep sense accidentally. Science is developped with the help of the limited capacities of our brain and its selfish interaction with the environment, ultimately for the sake of survival. We are fundamentally trapped in this thinking organ and besides that we do not try to keep in focus what our hard-wired biases are, as much as we should. We don’t even ask simpler questions such as how our cultural biases shape the way we think often enough. The answers can be sometimes really surprising if we dare to digg into this.

While it is still a meaningful topic to question for example how science would look like for some alien intelligent life form, I will not go that far here. I am claiming that even with the very same structure of the human brain, in a parallel version of our – let’s say – post-agricultural civilization, branched out as late as five thousand years ago and formed with a different throws of dice, the scientific code could have looked very very differently. And at this point only imagination can speculate on this important question about “how else” things could have looked like in an alternative human society. Let’s just specualte a bit. This is pure contemplation:

I think we may not have come up with Newtonian mechanics and then two theories of relativity later on, very unlikely. Instead we could have had things in between or completely different models that would still work. For example with a whole new set of definitions angular momentum did not necessarily have to imply rotation and who knows may be not a single scientist of that parallel world would have even heard of the analogy that some particles rotate around others similar to our planetary system. Imagine the possibility that Einstein’s idea of spacetime was thrown earlier than anything like Newtonian mechanics, simply on a different food diet or given another set of conflicts, power shifts and revolutions.

Imagine Which parts of Algebra would look different beyond its symbolic representation. And then to explain our cosmos how would we expect more complex formulations – such as string theory – to have formed similarly out of a completely different context? The whole axiomatization of our mathematics and how it would state its open problems could look different. It stil can. My personal hope is that it could look more fractal, and more transcendental in a sense. Or not. But we may have not had the Euclidean dominance on our early geometries, the following Cartesian coordinates and thus the use of complex numbers in some form of electronics or any technologies that would give us functionalities similar to smartphones or chip implants. Instead remarkably different tools and languages would serve a similar purpose.

The most solid pillars of our sciences shake if we think in these terms. Even the idea of evolution itself which is the support story behind this post could be told differently. Darwinism and Lamarckism wouldn’t be exposed as distinct theories with a form of epigenetics as their compromise. Other good functioning legends could be told with a different order of discoveries and their marketing.

Well, and on the other hand some core ideas and theories could have been told similarly. And it is not quite impossible to contemplate and guess which of them. It’s very difficult to place a bet for me here but I think we would still have numbers in a sense, and mathematical constants. We would somehow know the families of π and e. We would have had telecommunication and eventually at some point we would sequence our genes and hack ourselves to the next level.

What would remain intact and what would change? This is an important question for all sciences and we do have the tools and resources to make a move towards some answers these days. It’s not necessarily expensive in terms of research fund nor environmental footprint to get on to this. Imagine we live in a world when a comprehensive digitized copy of our scholarly literature is publicly available with all sorts of accessible algorithms. We can now supervise machines to evaluate a whole body of the scientific literature in a matter of days if not shorter. Machines can now reveal contradictions and fallacies in proofs and arguments, detect and neutralize the marketing bias in scientific work to extract the quality, detect and promote ignored nobel ideas and bring up the missed gems, deconstruct existing notions to come up with new ideas, and simulate the future of the whole science itself in multiparallel versions.

None of rhis is any longer farfetched. For those of you who love brands and abbreviations, I came across SSK and SSI, one in many posssible projects of meta-science in this regard. They stand for sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) and its complementory, sociology of scientific ignorance (SSI). The maturity of these projects were the dream of philosophers such as Fayerabend and Kuhn long before the age of Big Data. That idea didn’t take off and was suppressed by other dominant codes which could make more money and thus stood the selection pressures of the scientific enterprise better, to address its demends.

Fair! They were too vague and not regirous enough. And they were not affordable at the time. Our processing power is now millions of times bigger and the immediate availability of pretty much every important scientific idea that have been created is not a dream anymore. So we can get on to such a project again.

And those of you who love stories about AI take over, would agree that if we don’t do this, at some points machines will go ahead and do it for us; or for themselves. This one is not a new story anymore, since we have probably read a piece of fiction journalism on a similar idea lately. So, crazy ideas don’t seem that farfetched when they are repeated enough or endorsed by the public.

Science is an amazing achievement and the fact that its pioneers have constantly used it to transcend itself with new paradigms, ideas and breakthroughs is simply beautiful.

Science deserves to be better than an idiocracy. While, despite its core values of a truthful struggle, like other human achievements that have become old enough in a rigid framework, it seems attracted in to that direction now. People who rightfully claim that science is white or masculine are only scratching the surface.

If you love science, care about it. Try to see its fundamental limits and so transcend it. You may still call it science and I won’t argue over terms. I think it will still not be about finding the truth; however, it is a neater struggle to serve such a purpose.

P.S. I am not viewing this post as a truthful post, either. This is just a code. It’s a rather unconventional idea in the sphere of ideas out there. Your human brains recieve it; some relate to it and some object. The process of understanding something is a set of biochemical algorithms; Logic and reasoning have that shady characteristic in common with emotions and feelings. This is why there is so much disagreement out there in the world. It’s not that people are almost always wrong. It’s because folks are different and the evolution of their worldviews take totally different pathways and so different things make sense to them based on their previous experience and knowledge. From these many ideas out there some of them get lucky enough to survive, take over and dominate for a period but it is not necessarily an indicator of their truthful. Truth may be non-monotonic in a very deep sense. It is alarming when we realize that even if the external field of reality or the attractor of truth had not existed, we would still assume them. And what I have said here has been said before in different tones and terminologies. The scientific climate has not been so friendly to those ideas and they have not got enough exposure or resources. All instances of similar claims that I managed to find have faded out due to what I think as a form of early exposure. This post is not about the truth either. You can view it as a mutation that I would like to promote. This time around it may take off somewhere around here.

Science and Truth

Science is not about the truth. It’s about our instrumental growth.

It’s a human specific language for the short-term dominance of this very species; a subjective and relative cultural viewpoint; a man-made phenomenon not only sensitive to geography and demography of its producers, but fundamentally relying on our specific physiological features.

Science is a random walk of accumulated literature largely indifferent to the reality; a set of self-reinforced terminologies that has hypnotised our collective mind.

Science is one in many possibilities that turned out to be the dominant widespread culture of our time due to a series of thrown dice with similar dynamics as rock pigeons colonized the urban landscape worldwide.

So if you take all of it too seriously you may as well think of a pterodactyl as the superior form of a flying object; the shape of a moldy bread as the most genuine form of the truth, or the last check-mate snapshot of a mediocre chess game as the ultimate possibility of a chess board.

Technology and the Substantiality of Experience

Melvin Sokolsky - from the bubble series
Melvin Sokolsky – from the bubble series

Technology is a great thing [for us humans], but it has a negative aspect not many talk about.

It deprives us from feeling the “real experience” in accordance to how we are biologically wired. Technology builds a protective bubble around the human body that however takes care of a lot of challenges for us, leaves us peculiarly unchallanged inside. And to elaborate a bit more on the “challange of unchallended”, it unemploys and unsues the sensorimotor circuitry in our pre-historic brains. And since we percieve happiness more directly inside our brains than on the surface of our skin or outside our bodies, this can be enough to spoil a good deal of fun for us.

In many cases technology offers the same functionality for our survival needs, but with less substance. Same outcome, less work for it. But what if “working for it” was a part of the satisfaction, that was planted in us by evolution to keep us motivated to persue tasks vital for our survival?

The main reason we have brains is sensorimotor circuitry. Some researchers claim it is the only reason. As organisms we need to act upon the world for our survival (the motor system) and in order to do that correctly we need to sense it by a sensory system. So the motor act is the primary goal and the sensory is secondary; it is needed only for the motor act to be decided correctly. Nature doesn’t care if you observe the details of the environment perfectly. Your gene code is passed on if you survive.

Now the technology sits in the way by enhancing the sensory channel and empowering the motor act. It eases the deeply emotional process of decision making, and by doing so leaves those circuitry unused and unemployed. But hasn this not made us unhappy? I used to think that technology enhances feelings and emotions since it assists and magnifies the sensory channel but at our core we are not passive sensors. We are active performers of our lives and spoiled in the comfort of our civilization we have truly lost our natural reference of comparison to our bodily similar ancestors. Lots of process that used to happen in our brains now takes place outside our bodies. Most of the signals that we used to constantly process and handle for survival does not reach the surface of our skins or don’t come even close to us. People go to the nature or gym, try extreme sports or play video games to experience those situations and trigger those condditions; It is a retro movement.

We have all heard modern-time complains about how people nowadays use digital messages instead of real ink on paper postcards, navigate the reality with GPS, and now get dates from apps without holding face-to-face conversations. The outcome is the same; conveying the message, mating or reprodution, or getting to a destination. But something is missing during the process.

Now, this familiar contemporary observations may be worrisome, but it is nothing new.

The technological dumb-down of mankind even if admitted is usually associated to the modern times. This seems to be a new trend in a couple of generations, if we take our own norms and typical lifestyles as the ultimate base for the real experience. Much of “the real experience” had already been taken away from us and before that from our ancestors for dozens of millenia:

* People express worry these days that driving skills, the real experience of navigating the roads is going to fade away with self-driving cars. But do we remember how horse riding felt before cars? Or did our horse-rider ancestors know what they were missing not to hunt an animal while running after it, barefoot?

* Spending too much time in the digital conversations and dealing with only letters and emojis makes us deaf to the intonations of the spoken language. The ability to grasp the meanings conveyed in the rise and fall of the pitch and loudness of the speech needs to be practiced. But was it not the verbal language itself that provided a parallel channel of communication and made us blind to the previous forms of communication, such as reading of emtions from facial expressions? How often do we even try to read each other’s eyes nowadays? In such intuitive social skills that were vital for tribal survival, our illiterate ancestors were more intelligent than us.

* Youth nowadays get dates for their digital profiles sometimes without composing a sentence, or having to make a face-to-face charm. An Irish man in Trondheim told me once “There was a time that people couldn’t hide behind dating profiles. You had to show up in person in real places and talk to real people and prove yourself”. As if a bar is a gladiator arena, or the spoken language itself, just like dating profiles, is not used for people to hide behind. This complain is sound but to me sounds like we would complain to our grand children: “There was a time that you couldn’t just telepathically go through a hundred thousand profiles with the chip in your brain to get a mutual date. You actually had to open an app, a real app! And had to go through profiles one by one. And you had to chat with them, for real. Like composing sentences word by word to make a connection. And then there was still a high chance that they wouldn’t match you because it was not pre-calculated!”

Much of our sensorimotor circuits are inactive since their function is outsourced to the technology. And I think that comes in an order. First the motor act, the outcome of the whole process gets outsourced and inactive, since the machinary around us does it on our behalf. Then there’s no longer need for the sensory part and so that part gets dull and dormant too.

Your worry may be right. The new generation gets spoiled by the new technology and loses the real feel of an experience. They are handed in something as functional but less sensational; less powerful, engaging, and real. Just like we were.

We know it, by comparison.
Our parents knew it, by comparison.
Their parents knew it, …

It’s been fifty thousand years folks!

Illuminati is us!

Illuminati Pyramid as a Sand Pile
Illuminati Pyramid as a Sand Pile

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. Quite the contrary, I believe in accident, in self-organization. If you hear my opinions as theorizing a form of conscious conspiracy I have failed to communicate my message. In the absence of enough evidence, I refuse to believe that a secret society of few humans have teamed up to plot against the rest of us with a plot so seamless that no one has any direct evidence of. That a secret group of people have succeeded to gain control over the rest of mankind only because it is conceivable to persue a goal as such through technological tools like vaccines, chemtrails, or GMOs.

I am not saying that the effect is not there. Tracing the cascade of causalities and reducing the root cause to a bunch of folks around a hypothetical table sounds a very naive explanation to me. Our diverse pool of interconnections is full of false positives to fish for to support pretty much any theory that you can think of. To impose non-existing patterns upon the reality is like designing a crosswords puzzle. All it takes is to search for pieces of evidence that you need to put them together to create the pattern you are willing to see or believe. Not that I trust any longer in science as it works in rather similar ways, but the practice of making up unrepeatable patterns at its best is the work of art.

The biggest problem with conspiracy theorists is that they fail to show that randomness is not the root cause of the spotted pattern, and thus some intelligent design, albeit of human nature must have caused it. Most of popular conspiracy claims are quite unlikely when you think of how difficult it is for conspirators to execute, predict and control a chaotic system such as the modern human society without leaving a trace behind.

So having an ideal society where rulers are transparent and observed by the media and grass-root movements and whistleblowers monitor any wrong-doing or dirty plot, is there still no threat by the evil? Yes, there is. And here is the bad news:

Innocent intentions can collectively cause evil outcomes.

Sand pile experiment

There is a simple physical experiment during which grains of sands are dropped one at a time on a conical pile of sands and as a result once in a while there is a sudden avalanche. It was a Danish experiment in the 80s and was replicated by Norwegians on piles of rice in the 90s. Not so old findings yet they are the first physical experiments to demonstrate a phenomenon called “self-organized criticality” which is an “emergent property” of a complex system:

“Emergence: The larger entities that arise through interactions among smaller entities can show properties the smaller entities do not exhibit.”

The occurance of an avalanche is an emergent property for the sand pile. it is extremely unpredictable to the local sand grains and also to the experimenter. But if you could ask the local sands somewhere in the pile, what they would make out of their horrible experience of an avalanche, or its cause, they would probably blame few sands somewhere on top of the hierarchy. In fact no single grain of sand has control over the behavior of the whole pile. Even the experimenter who is God-like to the grains by having the whole picture fails to predict when and how the next avalanche will occur.

We humans are the sands in a complex sand pile, our civilzation. Based on our limited view of the local neighberhood we tend to believe that there must be a designer behind every human phenomenon around us. We tend to connect big events such as wars, revolutions, scientific discoveries and historical breakthroughs to certain leaders or public figures. Such good simplified story makes sense to our little monkey brains, cause we can never get even close to comprehend it cognitively. The best we can do is to oversimplify it in other ways, and simulate it. Our civilization is much more collective and complex than it is portrayed in the narratives of our history books or newspapers, no matter how honest they try to be.

When an unpredictably big social or political event – and usually negative – takes place, sometimes even when it clearly has a natural cause such as an earthquake or a volcano, people tend to point fingers at other humans. If we didn’t see a war, epidemic or a revolution to come, somewhere out there has to be someone who knew about it. Some one who has planned it.

It doesn’t have to be explained that way. Political events are the collective behavior of our actions, but since we can’t comprehend the details involved, we tend to believe that there should be minds, and minds of our own type, behind them all. There should be an intelligent designer behind these and that they must exhibit some form of team work behavior and perhaps in a way that we are used to in our daily organizations.

The conclusion is that secret organized societies with God-like predictive power and flawless control do not have to be the explanation for the political or societal evil that we face. Illuminati doesn’t exist in that naive form.

Or it does, it actually does. And I tell you, it is in fact me, it’s you, and it’s is all of us combined. Illuminati is our emergent property.

We are the building blocks of a complex hierarchical society and we have achieved the current state of our civilization due to two main factors that separated us from other animals: Individual and collective. Collectively the advent of language and the poewr of communications which helped us preserving our knowledge and build up a system of advanced tools by simpler tools. And individually due to the power of our thinking organ; the human brain. None of these two had to be extraordinarily different from other animals, but combined they passed a critical level that redefined our nature and turned us to something entirely different, in such a short time.

In the past fifty thousand years we have transformed our lives from tribal animals into interconnected socioeconomic beings in an advanced technological society. Meanwhile our brains has not changed much and we have arguably become slightly dumber even. Our brains, including the brains of our powerful decision makers, celebrities and politicians with a broad range of influence, is still tribal. This organ grew from 0.5 to 1.5 kg from three million years ago to some fifty thousand years ago, so two third of that brain, one kilogram, consists of programs that were shaped during our tribal life on the ground. Our bodies and brains have not changed much since then, but our collective environment has, drastically. We tend to think that we do things for truth and reason, though we only do what we do for one reason: survival.

The red button

Back in the tribal times the “red button” did not exist. Symbolically put, if Eve and Adam would push a button, at most a fruit would fall off a tree. Now there are buttons around us that if we push we could somewhat blow up things out of your sight; lives can be affected by a minor task of us. Now we can simply make changes by pushing a like button, ordering an item from a restaurant menu, buying a share from stock market, or deploying a code.

We do it all for the sake of our survival, indeed with our kindness and affection towards our local tribe. The people for which we naturally have capacity to care, are only a couple of hundred people who are around us, socially or geographically. We can never affectively reach out to seven billion people out there, and not in fact to zillions of animals and beings. Nature has simply not given us the empathic tools to do so. Despite that, in order to increase the power of our influence, we have redefined our environment and hacked the natural resources around us. Just like any other animal we do it for our survival with disregard to other beings. The difference is though we do it beyond our natural habit, systematically and  technologically.

This already started from the first man who made a tool; the manifestation of grabbing and touching an object, using it, and leaving it NOT unchanged. Animals don’t do that. They either eat or kill the thing and destroy it permanently, or they let it be. We grabbed things around us with our hands and left them changed, still in our service. We made the first tools and then tools made more tools and that escalated. And well with an ultimate disregard to the nature and things that we touched, or things that we touched touched, we set up this advanced system. And now the complexity has reached a level that the mentioned disregard may come back to ourselves.

We tend to put our animalistic tribal behavior in a divine and holistic light. We are proud that we have made judiciary systems and rules, democracies and beurrocracies, technologies and computational systems to be soft and civilized and avoid the downsides of our wild tribal behavior. But are we still not let by apes like ourselves? Is the wild animalistic behavior limited to third world dictatorships and underdeveloped tyrannies, or to the ancient kings and emperors?

Now check this out. Apes and ravens are extremely social animals. As a group they sometimes team up to attack an isolated victim who did not play with the rules or to project a group failure onto that individual. When you see that for example 160 republicans (about the natural size of a human tribe) in a group act stop supporting Donald Trump, do you expect some of them to be brave enough and admit that this was not a calculated act independent from the truth of Donald Trump, and that was simply a tribal act of mimicking a group to conform? When you see such an animalistic behavior in such high levels or power hierarchy, do you really need to believe in conspiracy theories to explain evil? Let us not our problems on to the political parties or even broadly politicians. These are normal people like me and you. This is not about political parties or the individuals. It is about all of us and how rapidly and blindly we scaled up. This is what Hannah Arendt argues introducing the term “The Banality of Evil”.

Scaling up the human power to influence, without scaling its control mechanism (empathy) accordingly has been going on in waves since the prehistoric times and in each round the wave collapsed and taught us a new lesson on how to scale. Ever since we united in bigger groups than a tribe, an external force was required, after a collapse, to teach us how to scale in numbers while being in peace with each other. Depending on the size of the human populations we learned that we need to synchronize with music or stone idols, we need to invent language or religion, and that we need to set rules, judiciary systems and bureaucracies. The problem with our age is that we have never experienced the connectivity to this level, ever before. This is historically is not a good sign cause we don’t know what kind of collapse we will get after this and sadly it does not seem that predicting a collapse is enough to take measures to stop it. We need to see it with our eyes to reverse some of the aggressive and self-destructive aspects of our scaling.

Getting connected from a tribal to a global level, from a couple of hundreds to a few billions, is in fact a scale-up of a 7 to 8 orders of magnitude. Yet our amygdala has remained the same size as a hundred thousand years ago. What do we expect from such dynamics except for a catastrophic apocalypse? How can we theoretically see any other sustainable horizon in the near future when the scale-up is still going on and no one is trying to adjust it or advance it a bit more mindfully?

You see, you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or a fatalist to warn others that The Doomsday’s Clock might be ticking. You don’t need to spot and blame some conscious master minds or group for every disaster that comes along our way. The evil is not always one of us. It is bigger than us. It is our emergent property.

To put it intuitively, this video sums up the politics of our era. One doesn’t need to know more than this about politics: Scaling up the human power to influence, without scaling its control mechanism, empathy, accordingly.

We are not completely helpless though. There are solutions ahead of us. We can in fact take advantage of our destructive connectivity and design a data-driven system for functional empathy to avoid its collapse. This is not what we are doing. Nothing but a “technological self-consciousness” (interpret it in anyway you wish) can possibly save us from an exponential over-exhaustion of our limited resources and an apocalyptic breakdown.

Should we do something about that, or should we let the system collapse and wait for a new order to rise from its ashes? What’s right to do?

Revolution or Reform?

vincent-callebaut-paris-smart-city-2050-3

Imagine this hypothetical landscape: You live in 2300. Humanity is still around and somehow through calculated global programs, colonizing mars or deadly wars has reduced its earth population from ten down to three billion already. And has fixed it there. The earth is tolerably warm but sustained.

Politics:

Countries are provinces of the world federal government and they have different state rules to practice their local cultural differences.
Different races campaign politically to defend the continuation of their gene traits and complaining about the others reproducing more than regulated.
The word “freedom” has mixed meanings and is used with the word “from” not to be misunderstood.

Economy:

There is no centralized money and even digital currency is just a hidden layer of the world economy that some expert may still look at.
People use public services more than their private properties, however that’s a cultural thing; Everyone is given a minimum of private ownership by birth, and several times during their life span. People can lose their private stuff accidentally or choose to donate it at will, however the world welfare system may restore it for them.

There is a notion of money, but that is negative (like debt) which is calculated by an individual’s cost of living such as their footprint as long as it is calculably affected by their personal choices.
Therefore there is no money. There is fine.

Business:

Growth of companies are limited through regulating their shareholder’s wealth. New-capitalism is practiced safely.
Work is constitutional right but voluntary and companies act more like temporary social games shaped by entrepreneurs and closed and cashed out once they serve their purpose. Land and land resources, infrastructure, utilities, transport and media belong to the public and can not be bought by companies or other legal entities by the world constitution.

Every citizen is granted an equivalent of some work/office space and work equipment after a certain age. They can use the equivalent of their office space for individual business or they can exchange it with an equivalent of that when they get a job or build a company.
Education is too a constitutional right and voluntary. People get educated to fit the available work opportunities. Public education is accessible globally and private education is the service that educational companies serve.

Democracy:

Terms above are regulated by the world federal government, which is a distributed post-digital consensus system on the Internet. Democracy is not a hard-coded system and is a complicated structure for collective decision making by humans (and partly even by pets and rightful animals). It senses and collects data from different levels of humans’ lives and aggregate it organically to sense what people want (implicit voting) and thus regulates the society democratically. It’s optimisation will be focused on human’s psychological level and it’s well being. Feeling good is a constitutional right. Citizens get notified about the important updates of their local or federal rules depending on importance and relevance to their lives, and can always overwrite their predicted vote or temporarily exit the decision-making networks voluntarily. Politicians, lawyers and developers aid the machine. General assemblies are held by politicians who are themselves through the machine. Newer versions of democracies are be deployed. All citizens of the world have constitutional right to access the overall simulations and predictions that the system provide based upon the latest rules. Cultural differences will be shaped by local rules decided by the local people at the time. Climate, genetic differences and culture will self-organise the world to a peaceful multicultural equilibrium.

Legal system:

Over-scaling is a unified crime. Occupying other’s territories, violence, killing of rightful beings, exceeding the individual footprint limit, are all forms of over-scaling and will be fined by custody or private property depending on the degree of crime. People scale for sport in the virtual world.

Celebrities:

Plato, Darwin and Mandelbrot are more famous than Einstein. Few nerds know Obama. No body knows Kanye West. But there’s this terrible dancing monkey all over the fucking virtual world.

Other species:

People talk to pets through chips and devices. Eating animals (and humans!) is highly regulated and lab-grown meat (and a lot of other lab food) has taken off. People consume them according to their fashion, taste and lifestyle.

Animals or humans are not being slaughtered in the real world unless there is a legal warrant or a specific type of digital authorization signed for it. Of course people (and pets) still cheat when you don’t see them, but machines watch, warn and stop the cheaters who kill “rightful animals” illegally. There are debates around the definition of that term. Say there is a list including mammals and big land animals. There are debates and protests to include or exclude a certain species.

In Spain (or north Africa?) they still chase bulls in a safer and non-fatal form of bullfighting. And those who love fishing have to go to, let’s say china, because it’s still legal there.

Parenthood:

There are still families, although people are free to live in different social settings and move on to new groups. This will be reinforced by cultural differences in each region and the cultural differences will be maintained.

Psychology:

People take things for granted. They are civilized and they behave but they can easily get depressed and die a fragile life if they get isolated. It’s called “laziside”.
People have become even lazier than us in a sense that they have outsourced their surviving “actions” to the technology and thus they have also outsourced many of their “sensations” because keeping them is not crucial. Shortly, many sensorimotor functions of the brain are practically outsourced to the machines and that’s worrisome due to the depression and numbness that it creates.

Sport:

For the reason mentioned above, “nature gyms” are all around and somewhat mandatory to train people to practice their sensations in the absence of some practical technologies. Professional sports have become intellectual. People compete over their “nature gym” skills by using their physical, social and cognitive skills to show off that they are best. There are cognitive games in the “nature gyms” where people look into each other’s eyes to read feelings and stuff like that. Sex comes to sport with different forms of convertors.

Architecture:

Nature and civilization are mixed up technologically. Buildings breathe and cities are self-sustained. Rooms rotate and change size and adapt with the light conditions democratically by the wishes of people in them.

The list goes on.

A future landscape that is missing a lot of unimaginable technological advances or their cultural artefacts. Just one in a zillion possibilities. Just fantasize and expand it on your own vision.

Then, question:

Is it fun? Should we start talking about a scenery like this? If yes, should we discuss how we should act accordingly to move towards something like this? And not further away from it? Should we wait till machines do it for us?

Or should we – really painfully – go extinct?

Surreality

I fail to take any side in this. My heart feels every one involved in the picture. My mind criticises them all. Just zoom out and see for yourself that our value system has come to a halt.

Burkini

So some males wrap females in fabric to gain control. From which some migrate to new places. In the new places, the females insist on wrapping themselves in a carpet. Say in 30 degrees, this time to make political statements. See, she is the only one not having a mat under. Cause she prefers it around. Armed cops rush in to the scene to address the “public concern”. But how can she untell a statement? By uncovering the fabric of course! Meanwhile bystanders are chilling by the beach and judging the scene in one way or another… And sitting on their own mats by the way, instead of wearing them! Everyone has their own strong opinion. No one knows what they are doing or why. Confused state.

Now add a truck that drives over the whole absurd scenery. Our world has already become surreal… #nice #france #world #wonderland

PS. Now Facebook wants me to tag 6 people in there. And I was on the exact same beach just two days ago, so I probably could!