Ming the Mechanic - Tag:
collectiveintelligence

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Wednesday, July 14, 2010day link 

 Consciousness of Pattern
picture Our minds are to a large degree pattern matching machines. As kids we've learned the difference between tables and chairs, and to recognize which things are edible and which aren't, and that food goes into the mouth, and trash goes into the trashcan, and trashcans go outside on Thursdays. We can smoothly decipher letters and words and sentences, in the languages we know. We can recognize thin ice, friendly or angry faces, and tunes from old TV shows. We're pretty damned versatile.

We're less good with more complex patterns. We certainly have developed some, and worked out a partial understanding of others. We live in societies with complicated infrastructures and we can entertain intricate theories about science and philosophy. Some of them are very useful and reusable. But we're not terribly good at being conscious of several levels at the same time. It tends to be one or another. Most people live in the everyday routine, at best keeping good track of when they're going to work, when bills need to be paid, and who will be in the superbowl. Others live in a more abstract pattern, seeing the world as one big scientific model, or as a philosophical exercise, at the same time being a little dense when it comes to the most immediate stuff.

But how about being aware of the forest at the same time as the tree? How can you be focused on the work at hand AND the whole group or activity you're part of?

Can one simultaneously be aware of being an individual, and a collection of cells, and a part of a group, and an expression of universal consciousness?

To be conscious of patterns of a higher order, it helps to have a language to describe them. Pattern languages are just that. They're ways of making abstract patterns explicit and thus easier to be aware of and work with. It you don't have a word for something, it is hard to stay aware of it, without slipping into unconsciousness about it. If you know explicit patterns, you can apply them to stuff you construct or participate in. Easier to knit a sweater when you have a pattern, easier to learn the dance steps if there are footprints on the floor.

There can be, and are, pattern languages for architecture, for software development, for collaboration. It is maybe a little odd to call them languages, as we typically merely are talking about collections of described patterns. A pattern language can also go further, and attach words to stuff that previously was impossible to describe. The existence of patterns or a pattern language can allow you to deliberately create certain effects that maybe otherwise seemed completely random and out of your hands. An architect who uses a pattern language might deliberately create a space that people feel good in, because he can express himself in forms that have certain meanings to the people who use them, whether they are consciously aware of it or not.

Another simple example. You're having a meeting with some people. This post was inspired in part by an online discussion I had with George Pór and Seb Paquet. Like most people who need to have an online meeting, we picked from the most available tools for doing such a thing, and we used Skype. We can talk at the same time, and we can chat at the same time. It doesn't yet do video for 3 people, if they're Mac users. But tools and meeting formats shape what happens. Are you aware of how? When you meet with a group of people, are you aware how the pattern the meeting is structured by will influence what will happen?

Patterns are just as important as what you "do" or what you focus on. Maybe more. If you work really hard, but you work on the wrong thing, it doesn't do you much good. The pattern is the frame, the setting, the subtext, the context. A pattern is maybe something abstract, but is an expression of something very real and concrete, which often is outside our awareness, and often not within our ability to talk about.

If you have a meeting where everybody says whatever they feel like, whenever they feel like it, that's some kind of pattern. If you have a meeting where the head guy talks first, and then people ask questions, that's another pattern. A meeting where different roles are assigned to the participants is different from a meeting without any roles. Somebody might keep written notes, somebody might do a mind map, somebody might try to summarize conclusions. A meeting where the members commit to doing certain things after the meeting, like trying to communicate the essence of what happened, or implementing what was agreed upon, is different from a meeting without such a commitment. All of those are different patterns.

If we know we're dancing together, we can relax and just dance. If we don't know what we're doing, maybe somebody will analyze it afterwards and tell us. But there's something to say for a coherence between different levels in real time. If you stay conscious of more complex collective patterns you're participating in while you're doing your own thing, maybe it all will fit better together.

In the past I've once or twice had the job of designing information systems for medium sized companies with 50-100 employees, where I was supposed to essentially computerize most of the activities and workflows that were taking place. I was somewhat stunned to discover that although each person was quite sure of their own job, the whole picture usually didn't fit together. Person B would undo what person A had done. Person C would put the files in alphabetical order, and person D would put them back in numerical order. And person E would do absolutely nothing, without anybody noticing. Lots of effort was wasted because nobody ever had looked at the whole thing. The CEO was doing CEO kind of stuff, the Receptionist was doing receptionist kind of stuff. Nobody had the job of making the whole thing fit together. But I had to understand that in order to make any attempt of creating an information system to support these people.

If you're busy doing something, but it is out of sync with what the overall activity is about, or if a bunch of you are busy doing stuff, but nobody has any clue what it all is about, maybe there's not much synergy. Or maybe there is, and you don't know it. Just imagine that you could be conscious of the next higher level as well. While you do what you do, you somehow sense what the bigger picture is as well.

What a group of people do together can't always be reduced to a neat organizational chart or an executive summary. It might not even be possible to express exactly what it is. The coherence in a collective activity isn't dependent on words. There might be an entirely non-verbal thing going on, but it might still be coherent. Non-verbal memes might even spread elsewhere, without anybody being able to say exactly what happened.

There are many levels to what is happening. The more you become conscious of patterns, the more likely it is that you're sensing more levels.

You can be in sync with higher levels of the system you're operating in without necessarily being conscious about it. Individual ants don't have to walk around being super-conscious of the whole ant colony. They just do simple stuff and it adds up to a coherent whole. The trouble with us humans is that we have the capability to imagine higher order patterns, but we aren't yet well equipped to get it right. So we might end up working on discordant higher order patterns, even though we each superficially appear to be doing our jobs well.

It reminds me of the idea of holonomics. Developing a sense of patterns on many levels and how they intertwine.

The awareness of patterns and of levels is maybe more important than whether you get it exactly "right". It isn't about great precision, but rather about being approximately in the same ballpark. If you're dancing with a thousand other people, there are many ways of doing it right. Yet, lawn mowers and chain saws and blue whales might not really be in harmony with the action.

Six billion people doing each their own thing doesn't make a healthy civilization. It is a little better if they have a sense of what they are doing and where that is going. Even better if they could sense what patterns they're weaving together. Better yet if most of us were conscious of the patterns of patterns that evolve.

The world is becoming very complicated and complex. The times where single individuals could understand and explain most of what goes on in the world have passed a long time ago. Several hundred years ago, really, and since then the complexity of our information has grown exponentially.

What we need more than a lot of specialists is people who can operate at a higher level. People who can sense patterns within clouds of uncertainty. People who can see the lay of the land, even if in low resolution. If you're too left brain and focused and insistant on accounting for everything, you probably can't. It takes a different kind of peripheral vision to sense the patterns in the whole.

What you're clearly and consciously focused on is just the tip of the iceberg, in several directions. You, yourself, have lots more going on sub-consciously than consciously. If you're not sensing where things are going for you, you're gonna miss your own boat. Same with your role in bigger things, your part in groups you're in, and in the world. What you're immediately focusing on is just one small part of it. Much bigger things are in motion. If you somehow can sense those currents and become a little more conscious of them, you're a lot more likely to do something constructive.

We're all able to sense the coherence of patterns to one degree or another. If you're watching a movie or somebody's telling you a story, you know if it feels right or not. There are many possible variations of good stories, but they tend to have a certain kind of flow and rhythm. They're not just random stuff thrown together. Yet in everyday life we seem remarkably willing to put up with stuff that doesn't fit well together. If we turn up our awareness of the patterns around us, maybe we'll find that we do have more choice about it than we thought.
[ / , | 2010-07-14 13:35 | 239 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Thursday, July 8, 2010day link 

 Truth: superconductivity for scalable networks
picture A couple of comments to my recent articles made me consider the importance of truth in effective collaboration networks. How can people truly connect if their connection is based on lies? Maybe collective intelligence is proportional to the amount of truth in the system.

Truth can mean different things to different people, of course, and there are several angles to this. To me truth is a coherence between realities and their representations. There can be many levels of reality and many levels of abstract representations. Truth is when what you say or imply is there actually is what is there, and when you actually say what is there.

It is rather relative, but, still, we recognize truth. Have you ever experienced having a conflict with somebody else, where you dig into the defense of your separate positions, and it is really upsetting, and you judge each other as being wrong, but then at some point, some key piece of information is exchanged, and you both, at the same time, have an "Oh, that's what's going on, now I understand!" kind of realization? It is a big sigh of relief, where the conflict just instantly evaporates. You realize that you defined a key term differently, or that you made assumptions that turned out not to be true, or you used different approaches, valid in their own right, but conflicting. Truth is freeing. It opens doors, makes things flow.

Between individuals, a lack of truth is often unintentional. You just didn't realize a key difference or a missing piece of information, and you proceeded based on different assumptions. Once they're brought to light, the matter is quickly settled, and an effective collaboration or agreement can be reached.

You can control people by intentionally leaving out the truth, by presenting a picture that is different from the reality. You can make a lot of money by making some cheap crap look expensive and attractive. You get votes by leading lots of people to believe you care about their interests.

At a very practical level, you can't make very good decisions when you don't have the correct information.

That is of particular importance in networking, in cooperation and collaboration. It is of huge importance in harnessing the self-organizing power of groups, in the hope of increasing collective intelligence.

See, if every connection formed between two nodes in a network is based on lies and misinformation, not much synergy is achieved, and the connections will not be very effective. Imagine that each node in a network provides some kind of statement of "This is what I'm about. This is what I provide. This is what I need." and nodes connect with each other based on that, then it is important that such statements approximately represent something actual. If the people who say they provide funding have no money, and the people who repair cars don't know anything about cars, and the people who take care of children don't like kids, and the people who say they can fix things have no clue how - obviously the wrong connections are being made. You don't get the right people for the job, you don't find the right collaborators, you don't get the laundry detergent with the best price/quality ratio.

It might not make sense to describe it mathematically, but these errors in connection will certainly add up quickly, maybe exponentially. If you're trying to do something big, or you're part of a big network, these kinds of errors in connection might easily add up to making the whole thing completely ineffective.

Conversely, if you create a network of true connections, where it is clear what each node does, what is supplies, and what is needed, it starts scaling. Imagine the kind of superconductivity that takes place when all information is complete, relevant and correct. Self-organization can scale rapidly if there's little loss of integrity from untruth in each connection.

Currently, most types of organization are having a problem there. Even the very small organization of a single relationship between two people. Even people who've been married for years typically have a considerable problem saying the truth and relating based primarily on what is true. So, even more so, the more people you put together.

Our current civilization is to a large degree based on manipulation through untruth, by the few, of the many, exactly because we aren't good at cooperating truthfully.

The majority of the population in the industrialized world are employees. They produce a value for somebody else which is, on the average, a lot higher than the value they're being paid. They do that in part because they don't know how to produce that value on their own, and in part because they don't know the value of what they're producing. The reason they don't know those things is because the information isn't easily available. Rather, they're presented with entirely different and misleading information, emphasizing the stability of their situation, their benefits, their rights, random entertainment, weather and traffic reports, etc.

It typically isn't a matter of evil intentions on the part of the few who control the many. It is currently the most pragmatic and efficient choice. It is relatively more practical and productive to borrow money to create a company and hire a bunch of people and tell them what to do than it is to participate in a bottom-up self-organizing network of the same number of people. Not always. Sometimes small groups of people will freely do something great, without coercion, without needing payment. It is still a bit of an exception, but it is an important enough exception to indicate significant future possibilities. Sometimes open source communities will create a great product, fairly efficiently, for free, because a number of people voluntarily gather around a need or a solution, communicated clearly and truthfully enough so that they all can sense it, in one form or another.

Fuzzy projects and problems aren't yet easily undertaken by cooperative groups. Oh, strictly hierarchical groups are on their way out, but corporate network-like structures are still based on a hierarchy of control. The top still pays salaries and reaps the profit and outlines what one should work on, even if the finer details are loose.

There is lots of good information easily available. But huge areas are covered only by wildly misleading information, or information is largely missing, and that fact is well hidden. Do you think you know how most people make their money, or how large cooperations make their money? Sure, you can easily learn the average salaries of people in different professions, and the type of work they do, and you can easily look up the profits for public companies. But what actually is going on is mired in many layers of obfuscation.

Good information is something you readily can act upon and use. If I don't know how to fix the faucet in the bathroom, and I receive the right information, then I'll be able to fix the faucet. Maybe I first need to go to Home Depot and get a tool or a part, but that would be part of the good information, and I can still get the result I seek, right here, today.

There are plenty of outfits that will promise you similarly readymade information on how to make a good living doing one thing or another. Say, Internet Marketing or MLM. But once you receive that $2000 get rich quick manual or your supply of MLM vitamins, you discover that the instructions just don't get you there. They might be technically correct, and they might even give you a good overview and teach you something, but they're leaving out the specific information you would need to act in an effective way.

I have lots of friends online and offline. Yet I'm not really sure what to do with most of them. I mean, what can I do for them, what can they do for me? Oh, we don't have to do business in order to be friends, but if we do have something to offer or something we're looking for, it would be nice if we all knew what it was. And, I must admit, as to the majority of the people I know, I don't really know what they can do, and I probably haven't told them honestly what I need and want.

It is hard to be honest. If somebody asks me what I do or how I'm doing, I'm likely to tell them I'm fine, and things are going well, and I'll give them some general idea of what I do, which usually doesn't match neither what I actually do nor what I'd like to do. Why do I do that? In part because I myself am a little fuzzy on what it is I'm here for, and in part because I'm embarrassed if I actually need something, or I'm failing at something, and I'd like to look good. Different people have different hangups, but it is rare to get immediately actionable truth out of anybody.

Now, imagine that we were able to tell the honest truth most of the time. Imagine that it would be easy and natural to record and share the information about what really is there. Then imagine the possibility that lots of things actually would fit together when a lot of us start doing so. You know, I have something you need, you have a solution to my problem, X has the information that Y needs, A has a resource that B knows how to use. Synergy is much more likely when everything is visible.

Do our communication and collaboration tools lead us to be more or less honest? Do they increase truth, or obfuscate it? Do I have to wear a mask in order to protect myself, or do I get empowered by showing my real face?

How can we create environments where the truth is empowering?

I'm not talking about ultimate truth about the meaning of life and the universe. Simply, as I mentioned, a correspondance between what is going on and what one says is going on.

Masses of people who need to keep up appearances, trying to adhere to norms they never consciously agreed to, are relatively easy to control. They can be rendered rather harmless, as they each pursue individual rewards that don't truly match what they need and want.

If we make collaborative tools that simply reinforce our inclination to keep up appearances, they won't go far. If they only help us exchange impressively sounding declarations, abstract positions and lists of accomplishments, they won't have accomplished much.

Good information is actionable. It isn't just something to find interesting and to collect and pass on. There should preferably be something you can do about it or with it right now.

It is in itself a fairly fuzzy proposition to write an article about the need for truth in collaboration. Does that change anything? Maybe, maybe not. What is exactly the truth I'm calling for? I can only give vague examples.

There's a transparency that is needed. A lack of resistance. A matching of receptors. Things that match match. If one puts the wrong labels on stuff, one might erroneously try to match things that really don't fit.

Collective intelligence has something to do with increasing the number of opportunities for stuff to connect up, and lowering the resistance to it happening. Lacking or incorrect information are forms of resistance. Correct and complete information decreases resistance and increases connections.
[ / | 2010-07-08 02:27 | 136 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Monday, June 28, 2010day link 

 Pump up the synchronicity
picture Synchronicities are meaningful coincidences. Subjectively meaningful. Several things happen in adjacent space or time that somehow fit together, even though they supposedly didn't have anything to do with each other.

Really, everything is always connected with everything else. The multiverse is probably really all in one piece. But there are so damned many pieces, and we're so out of touch with the inter-connectedness of everything, that most of the time most of the pieces just don't fit together at all.

Just look at your own day and the inflow you probably got today. Loads of e-mails, news stories, tweets, advertisements, phone calls, etc. Some of them were maybe exactly what you needed at the right time, but more likely, most of them didn't hit any spot and were just distractions.

A synchronicity would be if you suddenly get a bright idea, say that you could have a mushroom farm. Two seconds later you check your e-mail and, lo and behold, one of your friends just sent you an article about basement mushroom farming. It is a synchronicity. We could say that it is a random coincidence, because your friend didn't really know you just got that idea, and he sent the article for totally unrelated reasons. But it is meaningful to you, like a sign from the universe that, yes, that's a good idea.

Or, you join some new group on Facebook, and immediately run into somebody who you went to school with, who incidentally is into some other obscure unrelated thing you're into too, like paragliding or 12th century Russian poetry. A synchronicity. It isn't just some superstitious silliness. It tells you that stuff is connecting.

Just imagine now that we can jack up the rate of synchronicity in your life. More synchronicity per unit of time, and less non-synchronicity. What if most of the chance meetings you had turned out to be tremendously meaningful and useful? What if most of the unexpected pieces of information you received turned out to unexpectedly be exactly what you needed at the time?

There are lots of quite straightforward ways of increasing relevancy in your life. If we were talking ads, you could receive more targeted ads. Instead of ads targeted at "anybody and everybody", you might get ads that fit your profile, and that are likely to suggest something to you that you actually might want. Of course it would be even better if they only suggested to you exactly what you want, but it would still be an improvement. Amazon's book suggestions are pretty good, because I've bought from them and they can approximate what I might like that I don't already have. Book suggestions in random magazines in my mailbox are not very good.

By simply increasing the number of things I'm exposed to, we might increase the number of fits I run into. Particularly if we can lower the cost per exposure at the same time. It requires me much less effort to scan the twitter feeds of hundreds of people than it would take me to read all their blogs, which again is much less effort than would me needed if I had to interview each one to find out if we match somehow.

What we need and want, what inspires us, what triggers us - it is like the receptors on genes and anti-genes. OK, it probably isn't, but it is a suitable metaphor. Certain anti-genes will fit together with certain genes, because their "plugs" fit together. It is a general principle for many parts of living organisms. Receptors are essentially protein molecules to which certain types of signaling molecules can attach. Put a bunch of each together, in a big mix of other stuff, shake and stir it vigorously, and a lot of the receptors will end up connecting with the matching molecules. Increase the volume of any of them, or increase the speed of flow, or increase the random shaking, and you'll see more of them connect. Meme-receptors probably work the same.

It is a selection bias as well. One sees what one is looking for. But it is more than that. Synchronities are matches that we weren't particularly looking for at that time. Granted, we were looking for them elsewhere, so they were still present in our consciousness somewhere.

But it is all also more than that.

I would claim that synchronicities are a sign of collective intelligence. You see more synchronicities, something about the bigger system around you is working at a higher level. There's an alignment happening, possibly at a level you couldn't easily understand all by yourself.

It is like being "in the flow". Things are aligned. But not just aligned in a very straightforward one-dimensional way. Things are aligned at levels you aren't conscious of. So, things just appear when you need them, answers appear seconds after the question, solutions show up when there's a problem. You take a step into the river and a rock happens to be there to support you.

None of us appear to be smart enough individually to solve the big problems in the world. It doesn't matter if we put everything we know into a neat spreadsheet and analyze it carefully. We just tend to think in too few dimensions, like trying to solve five dimensional problems with two-dimensional logic.

So, we really, really need to find ways of operating at a higher order. The hope is for collective intelligence. That somehow we'll succeed in organizing ourselves in such a way that our efforts not only don't cancel each other out, but all together we accomplish more than the sum of our individual efforts. And that somehow the net result of our actions demonstrates a higher level of intelligence than what any one of us could have demonstrated individually. Collective Intelligence. Being smarter together.

Since it isn't just something we can *figure out* brute force the same old way we'll figure out what career to pursue or why our car makes a funny sound, we need some new types of tools.

We need tools that increase collective intelligence.

We also need ways of being aware of an increase in the signs of collective intelligence. I claim that synchronicity is one of those signs. If you see more synchronicities, more collective intelligence is happening. Something is lining up.

Like bio-feedback, if you have an indicator of whether something is going in the "right" direction or not, you might suddenly find that you can increase it, even though you didn't think you could. It certainly beats operating in the dark.

So, if you experience more fits, something more intelligent is going on. Even if you don't understand what it is, you might still be able to steer towards even more.

More surprisingly meaningful connections will, of course, weave even more coherence, and give rise to even more delightful just-in-time surprises.

[ / , | 2010-06-28 00:03 | 637 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Sunday, June 27, 2010day link 

 Be afraid, be very afraid
picture The old civilization (human civilization in the last few thousand years) is pretty much based on the observation that humans, on the average, work badly together, but they can be controlled. Thus, history is the story of individuals, the lucky few who were in the right position to control others, and who knew how to do so. Alexander the Great couldn't have conquered much all by himself. His genius was in persuading 100s of thousands of soldiers to do what he said, to go and get killed so that he could be the dictator of a huge empire. Most memorable parts of history worked pretty much the same. Some guy used force and persuasion to make lots of people do what we wanted done, and the result became something impressive. Empires. Pyramids. Roman aqueducts. Greek temples.

Our society isn't much different today, other than that the control mechanisms have gotten much more clever and convoluted, and they've been camouflaged as democracy, free markets and free speech. What's different is that it is no longer the very visible kings or presidents who are in charge of very much. They go with the flow almost as much as everybody else. What hasn't changed is that it is the very, very few who control the majority of what's going on. But it is the vast majority that enable this to happen and that provide all the manpower. Despite that what they're getting isn't really working very well.

Western civilization - it would be a good idea, like Gandhi said. Democracy, that would be good idea too. Free markets would be an excellent thing to implement. We don't really have those, even though most people on the street would tell you that we do. They'd also tell you that money represents value, and that everybody has an equal opportunity, and one is free to say whatever one wants. All of which is a cartoonish propaganda reality which doesn't really exist anywhere on this planet.

However, the really good news is that all of it could change very, very quickly.

The thing is that we simply haven't worked out how to work together yet. The groups we're familiar with are simply collections of people who follow one leader, or a few leaders. Corporations. Governments. Religions. The News. We're talking about thousands or millions of people who voluntarily choose to do what a handful of people tell them to do. Usually towards their own ends, for their own gain, or simply based on their particular personal insanity.

Mind-boggling. Why do we do that?

Because collective intelligence hasn't worked for us so far.

You put a group of people together, most of the time, you'll end up with something more stupid than any of the individuals you put together. They'll argue, posture, waste time, and probably end up agreeing on something not very useful. But give them a leader, somebody who'll inspire them, give them a purpose, while making sure they get paid and fed, suddenly they'll all line up and do what they're told.

But imagine that a group of people actually suddenly could become more than the sum of its parts.

Imagine that the natural order of things would be that a group of people would self-organize in order to maximize their common interests. Imagine that together they'd accomplish more than simply the sum of their individual contributions, because of the synergy between then. They'd operate at a bigger order. Surprisingly clever and wonderful stuff would happen that none of them individually could have predicted, and that none of them directly caused.

That's called Collective Intelligence. That's when a group of people becomes smarter than any of them individually, and even smarter than them all together. It's a positive sum. 1 + 1 + 1 = 5.

That's not a wild-eyed fantasy. It is simply that humans haven't been very good at it so far. The result of that has been that 0.01% of the population control the other 99.99%, who do what they're told, and who're rewarded in some mediocre way for doing so.

Imagine that it changed one day. Maybe somebody came up with a tool that allowed people to actually work together. Maybe it just started happening by itself. Evolution. Suddenly we see win-win relationships around us.

Just like Alexander the Great by himself in his underwear wouldn't be worth much, and just like Adolf Hitler was just a little angry Austrian guy, part Jewish, mediocre painter, chronically constipated, most of the great leaders of civilization don't amount to much by themselves. Oh, some of them do. Some leaders would remain leaders even if we had a choice about it, because they're inspiring, because they're empowering and enabling catalysts who know how to make things happen.

But most of those very, very few who call the shots should probably be very afraid.

Because if we actually figured out how to work together, they'd be out of a job from one day to the next.

Elected leaders are only there because they've been elected. One little scandal, the truth coming out, will remove them from office in a couple of days. And nobody might vote for them next time.

Multi-billion dollar multi-national corporations are only in the position they are because people are buying their products, voluntarily, but without really knowing what's behind it, who's doing what, where these products come from, what the money is used for, etc. If they knew, they'd make different choices right away.

While we're scattered, disjoined, dispersed, unconnected, distracted and confused - we're not very effective.

We, the people, are the real power. If a million people agree on what is in our common interest, what's one anti-social asshole gonna do? Go hide? Unfortunately, today, that one guy is the CEO, and you could be laid off any day if you don't do what you're supposed to. But if we actually were talking with each other, he'd be the guy who'd be running for cover. Assuming he's one of those guys who got there by deceit and coercion.

There is one problem to solve. It is THE problem. How can we work together, towards our common interests, in a way that is constructive. In particular, how can we together solve complex problems that we wouldn't be able to solve individually.

It is called collective intelligence.

It isn't just some crazy left-wing idealist dream. It is probably the natural order of things. The universe works perfectly well. Stars are born, stars die. Evolution has gone on for billions of years. Billions of life forms coexist in great diversity and synergy. It is just us humans that for a few thousand years have gotten lost in the dark ages of mental and emotional separation. We found that we could think abstractly, invent stuff, communicate, organize, manipulate. That made us surprisingly productive and simultaneously surprisingly malleable and controllable.

Chances are that we don't remain dispersed for much longer. One way or another we'll figure out how to actually work together. Or we'll go extinct within the next couple of generations. Evolution happens when there's a bit of a crisis. Probably we'll change and we'll make it.

When we change, it will probably happen quickly. Because, really, it is not exactly about what any one of us are up to. Rather, when we find out that we can work together and the sum will be greater than the parts, there will be no way back.

That will be the Singularity.

When suddenly we no longer all are working against each other, allowing the few to manipulate us for their personal gain, when suddenly there is positive gain in all our collaborations. When suddenly humanity starts to feel smart and creative and constructive, rather than homicidal and suicidal. When humanity wakes up.

There are really only a few anti-social fucktards who'd even be against this. Most all of us want humanity to succeed. We want to be free. We want to make a difference. We want to be happy. Duh. Most people are good people.

If the truth is available, and easily communicated, and large groups of people can work together on common goals, big things can happen. It hasn't happened so far. It probably will soon. In part because technology is evolving rapidly. It will probably soon be impractical to keep us all apart.

Doesn't really matter if you're left wing or right wing or religious or scientific. There are a lot of artificial abstract ideas that separate us. But if we actually could talk about what we really care about, and work together on the solutions, nothing much would need to stop us.

Until we get there it is maybe a bit of a pain to try to work with others. Might be easier to either force somebody else to do it our way, or to follow somebody else's program.

But once we learn to actually network... the world will not be the same again. There probably won't be any way back.

So, if you're in the business of deceiving the many, for your own personal gain, be afraid. You'll need a new job soon. Something is emerging that you can't possibly compete with.
[ / | 2010-06-27 02:28 | 106 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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