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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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.

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