Creativity: Democratizing Evolution

darwin

I have been reflecting on the concept of creation and the concept of evolution for the past week. For most of history humanity has thought about a first cause and has attributed it to different gods. Gods were creators. In the west after a 1300 year dark age, around 1500AD, the renaissance led humanity to democratize creation. Humans took creativity away from gods and attributed to themselves as well. Then Charles Darwin came along.

Darwin had an even more humbling proposition. There was no creation. And as modern minds have considered Darwin’s theory they have been finding that there may be no origin, no direction, no destination and no constants to the universe at all. There is only change.

Until now humans have been clinging to the belief that they are creative. However, as we learn more about nature and human beings we are finding that humans have to accept that we are a product of and no different than the evolution that produced us. There is no origin, direction, destination or constants in our lives either. Anyone who claims certainty is no less gambling on life than anyone who accepts uncertainty.

Everything and everyone is unique and unintelligent. There are no creators and no designs.  We have to democratize evolution.

We have to accept that we are all here for no other reason than evolution produced us. Darwin himself did not understand that there is no such thing as fitness. No one is more fit than anyone else because existence is arbitrary. Control is an illusion. All of humanity could cease to exist in a moment due to an unknown cosmic event.

So, when I look at people taking credit for anything or giving credit to a god, I am not persuaded at all. Because I know that they and all they produce as well as I and all I produce have no origin, no direction, no destination and no constants. Everyone is an impostor.

I have no need for guilt. No need for forgiveness. I can live as I wish. Quality and quantity of life are subjective. The motives and organization, events and locations, services and products, units and measures, currency and prices of life are arbitrary. Art and science, design and engineering, craft and trade, commerce and market are arbitrary. For all we do to alleviate our suffering there is always a new form of suffering to take its place.

Evolution is neutral.  Beyond our understanding and beyond our judgment.

That was Job’s true lesson.

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Secular Extremism: Smart Mob for Evolution Education

waterring

Fight for your right to be educated instead of indoctrinated.

The Religious Right violated the United States Constitution when they interrogated the presidential candidates as to their religious convictions.  No one has to share their religious convictions with anyone for any job including the presidency and making them do so is a criminal act.  Now, the Religious Right wants to violate the United States Constitution again by bringing Creationism into schools funded by the State.  There is a clear separation between Secular State Evolution Education and Christian Creationism Indoctrination.  Religious indoctrination in a Secular State school is a criminal act.

“Picture this: enterprising students in cities in Texas, particularly, and other cities nationwide – along with counterparts in Romania, which just mandated a Creationism-only science curriculum (I kid you not), and maybe Turkey, for good measure – organize Smart Mobs to strike, peacefully and simultaneously, out of the blue to demand only 21st century science – yes, I mean evolution – be included in their biology and other science textbooks.

“And they do it quickly, before Texas’ Creationist-dominated Board of Education votes next Spring to insert Creationism yet again into its science standards. (See this post.)

“They happen at such places as the Texas capitol building, the lobbies of textbook publishers’ headquarters, science museums, the national capitol, and wherever else seems like a good idea.

“And they simply follow the steps of this one of many excellent videos from the Personal Democracy Forum”

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— Clay Burell, how to smart mob against creationism in textbooks

This conduct is not only acceptable, it is essential to the success of Western civilization.  We cannot let extreme Islamicism drag our societies down into the quagmire of reactionary Christian extremism.  Our real opponents are preparing to conquer space, a vantage point where we will have no protection against an aggression that will make 9/11 look like a firecracker.  To fight back we will have to advance science like never before and pour resources into scientific development like never before.  We need evolution to advance as we need all sciences to survive in this century.  If it means bringing our secular youth out of the Middle East and sending the Religous Right’s Salvation Army in as cannon fodder against extreme Islam, I’m behind it.  Secular Constitutional societies will concentrate on supremacy in space which will decide the ultimate outcome on land, air and sea.

We require secular extremism to take hold in the minds of our youth.

Jared Diamond: Societal Collapse

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If you listen carefully to what Jared Diamond is saying in the TED video above, he is describing not a five part, but a six part power curve into a systemic singularity. This has been one of the core themes of discussion of this blog.  We all seem to be too close to our problems to see the commonality.  The interrogatives come into play here:

  1. Goals
  2. People
  3. Functions
  4. Forms
  5. Times
  6. Distances

Times and Distances being the basis on which the higher orders are built.

When we look at the recent economic “crisis” we see 300 trillion in currency circulating and roughly 1 trillion to 2 trillion shifting suddenly and unexpectedly.  We witnessed a systemic collapse, a singularity, a tipping point, a power curve, an exponential change, a phase transition or whatever label you want to call it.  These have been happening everywhere since Time and Distance began in different contexts and orders both in human and non-human systems.

What Jared Diamond and other alarmists are implying is that human society is now a system approaching its final singularity in this century on this planet.  We are implying that today we are experiencing a less than one percent crisis on a power curve into a singularity.  How many more iterations will the global system withstand?  Will humanity make the step into space successfully before we experience a global dark age?  How will the six or more factors in the power curve play out?

The truth to me appears to be that power curves whether they play out or not result in either a systemic climax or anti-climax followed by a systemic collapse.  Would it not be better if we experienced a systemic climax that led to us expanding into the solar system?

Systemic collapse seems to be the fashion of this generation.  Every generation looks with fascination at its own youth, maturition, reproduction and acceleration into mortality.  Some die early, some die late, but all die.  It is an irrevocable law of nature.  It is not about self-interest.  It is about what self-interest is defined as.

Related Posts:

Beyond the Singularity

Servitas and Libertas

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Singularity, Pluralarity and Lorentz Transformation

Working with Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping point, Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity and the Pareto Principle lead me to begin thinking about a pattern that presented itself. In an earlier post here and here I discussed how there had been many Singularities in history. It also lead me to talk about Pluralarites. Then it struck me there is an oscillation between Singularity and Plurality, giving us the Singularity Pluralarity Plot above. And the implications are interesting.

Any innovation follows the Singularity Pluralarity Plot as a complete life cycle. Kurzweil’s singularity will be no exception. The first working AI will be the domain of specialists it will not be unleashed uncontrolled on humanity and it will have been accomplished after several incremental developments that will leave humanity more than prepared for it. The AI will then have to be molded into compatibility to a variety of purposes. After that it will have to be iterated until it is reliable. Once it is reliable then the true singularity happens: the cost benefit ratio is achieved and AI becomes accessible to the general public. The next step is availability on the global market. Finally, AI will have to be always on and pluralarity is achieved. AI will be ubiquitous and the next innovation will take place. The commoditized original AI will begin its descent and a new innovation in AI or a completely new technology will take its place and begin its ascent.

There will be social upheaval, but I don’t think it will be as dramatic or as immediate as some think.  The anthropomorphization of AI will fade and it will just be considered another tool.

The first thing that occurred to me is that as there is a positive and negative infinity there is also a positive and negative zero. Whether the zero is positive or negative is determined by whether you approach it from positive values or negative values. The second thing that occurred to me is that a pluralarity to singularity transition is divisive while a pluralarity to singularity transition is multiplicative. The third thing that occurred to me is that it is possible to have a positive to negative transition. For example you could follow a positive singularity to positive pluralarity curve with a negative pluralarity to negative singularity curve which would ascend like a staircase. The fourth thing that became obvious is that on an exponential curve the Pareto Principle applies at both ends. It’s like applying Lorentz transformations. Fifth, I am currently reading Peter Drucker’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship and have discovered that seizing opportunity, Entrepreneurship, requires recognizing whether you are approaching a Singularity or a Pluralarity while creating opportunity, Innovation, is making a Singularity or Pluralarity. The final thought that occurred to me is what are the implications of this knowledge on network design, physics, chemistry, biology, databases, complexity, simplicity, organization, history, anthropology, evolution, commoditization? I’ll leave it there.

Genes, Memes and “Temes”

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Memetics is a pet concept of mine. I have always argued in favor of it even when it went out of vogue. Susan Blackmore in this TED.com presentation makes an excellent argument for memes and her extension of memes, “temes” by cutting through the crap to the definition of Universal Darwinism:

  1. IF there is variation and
  2. IF there is selection and
  3. IF there is heredity
  4. THEN There MUST be evolution

Memes are cultural replicators.  They vary, are selected and are inherited consequently evolving.  On the horizon are “Temes” technological memetic replicators that no longer need genes.

The Brain: Hardwiring and Softwiring

I’m just finishing a very fine book by Steven Pinker, The Languange Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

and several years ago I read Donald D. Hoffman’s book, Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See. Both books deal with the same subject: What part of our minds are hardwired–instinct–and what parts of our minds are softwired–reason. It is a truly fascinating exploration.

Stephen Pinker in The Language Instinct very thoroughly explores all the aspects of spoken language. He discusses how broken pidgin languages are turned into grammatically rich creoles by children. He explains that whether a person learns a language or not they can have complex thought he calls Mentalese. He explains Chomsky’s concept of a Universal Grammar and how, with language, learning does not cause mental complexity, but mental complexity causes learning. He reveals that children have an acute sense of the morphology of words and rapidly acquire vocabulary as listemes because of the nature of the relationship between child, adult and reality. The perception of speech as well as the physical production of speech is explored. How we derive meaning from language rejects the technical concept of packets being transmitted and received for a much more subjective process of interpretation. The ability of children to learn language is treated as an evolutionary trade off existing only long enough to adopt the tribes language and then shutdown to make way for other special priorities. The “Language Organ” or region of the brain that is responsible for speech is narrowed down. The chain of being is pushed aside for the bush of evolution to reveal that hundreds of thousands of generations existed for language and homo sapiens sapiens to evolve separate from all our other primate cousins. The difference between living spoken language is separated from living written language, the discipline required for each and the fact that language is never in decay. Finally the relativism of the Standard Social Science Model (SSSM) or tabula rasa as proposed by Margaret Mead is rejected, Pinker takes sides with the Evolutionary Psychologists stating that environment alone cannot create the complexity of the mind, the mind must have many complex modules to be able to learn from the environment at all. He discusses Donald E. Brown’s Universal Person (UP) inspired by Chomsky’s Universal Grammar (UG). Finally, Pinker tries to define the modules of the human mind and here I get excited as I find I am able to fit them easily into the Six Hats, Six Coats model. Pinker says that language is a system and extrapolates to say humans are a system of both hardwiring and softwiring.

Hoffman’s book deals with an aspect of mind that more easily subscribes to the module concept than language because it is a much more detached, empirical exercise to test for the visual hardwiring that humans have through the use of visual illusions. Hoffman takes us through many aspects of vision such as facial recognition, edge and shadow and color and the perceptual development of children to reveal what appears to be hardwired and softwired. He concludes with a relativistic statement, but I think that he chooses this because of the political desire of scientists to distance themselves from the eugenics of the first half of the 20th century instead of an objective conclusion that, yes, we have a complex module in our brain specifically hardwired and softwired for vision as used by our species. In other words, when presented with the depth of Steven Pinker’s work compared to the breadth of Donald Hoffman’s work, I believe that we do have a vision instinct.

All in all I believe that Steven Pinker’s and Donald Hoffman’s work is revealing that humans minds are far more than just an empty neural net at birth. That in fact there is an evolved complex predefined structure that humans make use of through the learning stages of childhood to understand their environment that diminishes to adult levels at puberty. Consequently, no form of Artificial Intelligence will succeed unless it also comes with a robust collection of Artificial Instincts.

Related Article:

Evolution: Growing Up In The Universe Series

In 1991 Richard Dawkins made a series of five one hour presentations discussing evolution called Growing Up in the Universe. The presentations are interesting and visual and aimed at young people, but as an adult I found them quite interesting myself. I have collected the links together here:

Growing Up In the Universe (Google Video)

  1. Waking Up In The Universe
  2. Designed and Designoid Objects
  3. Climbing Mount Improbable
  4. The Ultraviolet Garden
  5. The Genesis of Purpose

I hope you enjoy them with young people.