SUNDAY, OCT 8, 2017
Eric Lee, A-SOCIATED PRESS
TOPICS: TO TRUST OR NOT, FROM THE WIRES, PEACE, COOPORATION
TUCSON (A-P) — Our ancestors, since adapting to life on the savanna, have become increasingly cooperative compared to other primates living the less open life away from climbable trees. Aside from the complexity of our verbal behavior, humans can claim to have achieved high levels of cooperation enabling tribal life and,more recently, complex empire-building societies up to one hundred million times larger (for a time) than worked for our hominid ancestors as the millennia passed.
Social systems that self-organize to opportunistically exploit resources for the taking (environmental and human), will collapse or 'fade away' when abundance declines (fall off the Seneca Cliff). Scarcity engenders conflict which increases overall scarcity even if the 'winner' is temporarily enriched. Increased scarcity leads to conflict, greater entropy/scarcity/conflict, and so on in a downward spiraling race to the bottom to see who inherits the rubble. Peace as cooperative coexistence during descent would be alternative. Peaceful coexistence of hominids working cooperatively to survive and prosper (i.e. have enough) during hard times while living within a functioning complex society requires trust.
Fabricating lies and spreading them is universally condemned in hadronic society. Spreading misinformation online is universally celebrated by those participating in it. For the Romans it came down to bread and circuses. For those living in the Euro-Sino Empire it may come down to bread and smartphones. Per a recent citizen science study, 60% of those walking outside on a major university campus were 'festooned with technology' in the form of 'smart' phones in hand with or without ear buds dangling from auditory canals.
H.G. Wells' concerns about the 'race between education and catastrophe' may be updated to a concern for the current race between our collective PFC (prefrontal cortex) and our shared amygdalas. Mass movements pander to the common ground of inflammable amygdala concerns. Executive functions involve thought and can be influenced by beliefs which are amygdala-based and empowered. Finding common ground apart from shared belief and emotion is problematic for humans who do not 'think about it' in terms of being engaged in a determined endeavor to inquire into and listen to 'Nature who has all the answers'. Nature can serve as a common ground, but all ideologues are decoupled from Nature.
Complex societies that find common ground, whether in political, economic, or religious shared belief (spontaneously shared or forced by decree) do so only for a time and fail, or have so far. Decoupling from Nature may not work long-term. Alternative would be a PFC-based managed descent while preserving a functional complex society based on cooperation and the precondition of trust. The problem with amygdala-based 'solutions' is that the amygdala is a Copycat by nature, utterly devoid of a capacity for forgiveness. Our reptile brains, singlely or collectively, always do the tit for tat thing, always retaliate and 'believe' in mistrust. It's a deeply held feeling thing. The fatal Copycat strategy flaw of being subject to a downward spiral unto dissolution is, well, fatal, as in has no good outcome until, against all amygdala urgings, peace breaks out, someone 'inherits the rubble' and comes to repeat the pattern, or the pattern finally ends in extinction.
Humanity, those preferring to get through the coming descent with functioning elements of culture/imemes/information intact, need to embrace and preserve their inner Copykittens and cooperate during a managed descent. This involves a 'just say no' to amygdala urgings and preserving a capacity to listen to Nature via our collective PFC. Never been done before, may not be collectively possible on a global scale in the near future, but pockets of PFC culture may persist and 'inherit the earth' or what is left of it, to finally become a majority 'that really does understand it and can live with it properly'. That technoindustrial humans haven't learned to 'live with it properly' yet doesn't mean that complex society is impossible. Maybe a low-power maximally long-term empowered Kogi-like society with information technology maintained within limits, along with everything else managed within limits (perhaps other than love and understanding) is alternative. Develop a workable OS now and prepare for a clean install.
Before writing a new OS, the old one needs to be understood, not merely disliked or opposed. Understanding geobiophysical reality will help. Some understanding of environment, power, and society is involved. As for society, current events cannot be understood (as distinct from being for or against) without developing an 'ecolate' view inclusive of at least humanity's past few million years on the planet, before endeavoring to understand the prior decade or century of the amygdala within the context of all prior societies that have come and gone during the recent past millennia.
If the above concerns seem dismissable, play The Game of Trust, online of course, based on game theory. We are playing a global endgame. Think carefully about how you play the game. All reason and evidence is dismissable, for a time, but reality doesn't go away because it is not believed in. Playing the online game has no effect on the hadronic world unless you learn something about the largely ignored real-life-thing. How we play the global endgame is a non-trivial concern, so playing reality-based simulation games may be of value if we 'think about it', i.e. the real world. Spend a few hours playing in the online Game of Trust's sandbox as children play in preparation for their hadronic future that matters. Winning online games isn't what matters as no genes or memes are passed on to future generations though some memes that merit passing on could be learned using information technology (e.g. some TV, some Internet content) if its content is not based on misinformation (e.g. most TV, Internet).
'Cheaters' are those who always favor self-interest. Many interactions in urban populations are in passing, not often repeated, and Cheaters are favored when repeated interactions with the same person are less than five as would almost never be the case among our hunter-gathers ancestors. If a simulation ends with all cheaters, don't think they all live happily together cheating each other forever as the simulation implies. Think collapse of complex society or any society (as in Zombie Apocalypse chaotic collapse as usual). The society simulated in the game contains 25 individuals, a size of society that simulates typical bands of hunter-gather humans, 20 to 50 individuals, mostly of extended family members who, for exogamous inclinations, take in not closely related individuals to avoid incest. Within such groups, cooperators tend to prevail over cheaters provided they do not always turn the other cheek.
Agriculture allowed for a non-nomadic life and empowered large complex societies that typically grow/breakdown/collapse/descend to be replace by other empire builders who repeat the pattern. An abundance of resources for the taking rewards cheaters, is a game changer, but abundance, growth, is only for a time. Scarcity, real or perceived, is a game changer. Conflict decreases the rewards for cooperating and favors a negative feedback loop unto dissolution.
If there's one big takeaway from all of game theory, it's this:
What the game is, defines what the players do, it's a contingencies of reinforcement thing. Our problem today isn't just that people are losing trust, it's that our social environment, increasingly virtual, acts against the evolution of real relationship trust. Redefining the social control system, rebooting our brains by installing a foundationally different operating system (as distinct from upgrading to Windows 22) that could actually work long-run is possible, would not break any biophysical laws.
That we collectively are defined by the SYSTEM/GAME may seem cynical or naive — that we're "merely" products of our environment — but we are the environment, both social and geobiophysical. As game theory reminds us, we are each others' social environment which is a subset of planetary environment. In the short run, the game defines the players. But in the long run, it's us players who have the potential to define the game so as to mold individual behavior into 'actions or avoidances that are oriented toward the maintenance of a viable equilibrium between Man’s demands and Nature’s resources'. We can 'think about it' or listen to and trust those who listen to Nature. Or not. There is no hadronic life (which leptonic life depends on) without ecolate thought about real solutions that might actually work.
So, do what you can do to create the conditions necessary to evolve trust. Build relationships. Find win-wins. Communicate clearly without falsehood or obfuscation as is the current norm. Maybe then we can stop firing at each other, like those involved in trench warfare during WWI, get out of our own trenches/silos and cross No Man's Land to come together in the hadronic world that matters....
And let us all endeavor to learn...to live and let live during a cooperative descent, given the alternative of man eat man will not be feel-good. Lepton mediated information may be vital, but leptonic feel-good for a time relationships may be fatal to life in a hadronic world. Choose to use technology wisely, within limits, or not as failure is an option. Humans are not the only life on Earth. Get right with reality or go extinct, bitches.