Tuesday, October 28, 2014

trait leveraging

Our ability to act fast, with rationalization by our prefrontal-cortex "public-relations module" catching up only after the fact, as well as our evolved tendencies to look out for family and distinguish our belief system from those of others, can be leveraged for better or for worse. This is especially true in this information age, as all kinds of new ways to elicit these traits (sometimes even globally) come into focus.

In other words acting on impulse doesn't always work for the better, just as promotion of family and bias against other cultures have dark sides to them. Moreover today's information media can help elicit xenophobia toward others, prompting us to arm ourselves with tools that make our unthinking responses harmful to others as well as ourselves.

What are ways for us to help put these three important traits (namely fast reactions along with our care for family & belief-system) to use for the better, instead of for the worse?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

maladaptive primitives

Our six-layer social systems have self-assembled to serve organisms with five-layer neolithic traits. This is not a bad thing, but it does mean that as organisms we often mis-characterize mal-adaptive behaviors (e.g. hooked to new technologies like guns, drugs, and electronic communications). Humor is one important (and neolithic!) way to get folks' attention in this context, although so far we have been missing many important opportunities.

What are some examples of such mal-adaptive neolithic behaviors? A list might include:

  • the trivially-expected (and sadly ignorant) pressure to deconstruct the 6-layer structure of our social-systems e.g. by demagogues of communism, fascism, and religious-fundamentalism,
  • focus on the role of organisms rather than the role of processes and concepts, including:
    • a pre-occupation with self,
    • radio, film, TV and internet mediated xenophobia,
  • the idea that life is about objectification (e.g. with looks, chemicals, gadgets, money etc.) rather than the buffering of long-term relationships with self, friends, family, community, kindred-spirits & professional-colleagues.
  • the idea that our modular neurobiology (e.g. in the interest of speed it is natural to act without thinking) serves the greatest good when everyone is carrying a gun,serves the greatest good when everyone is carrying a gun,
and what else?

How might be we better put them into an informed context for everyone?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

making sense

Neuroscience appears to be telling us that vertebrate brains operate with help from a variety of fast-response modules which don't always communicate well with one another, and that in human brains the same is true of the idea-linked public-relations (PR) module which plays such a big role in the way that we inform behaviors on all levels i.e. behaviors that look inward and outward from the boundaries of skin, family and culture. As a result idea-based redirection of behaviors is by no means perfect, regardless of what our PR module likes to pretend.

Hence the desire to "make sense" of reactive-module (e.g. fight/flight) behaviors on the part of others may itself be missing the fact that fast-response modules can operate without conscious permission. In fact these modules can also guide which patterns our PR module chooses to think about, whether we recognize their involvement or not.

This does not release individuals from the responsibility of managing all of their behavior modules to the greater good. However, it might require that our attempts to make sense of behaviors (socially and economically) move beyond the narrative of "conscious motive". The PR module in our head often only gets to make up its story about a behavior's reasonability after the fact.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

reduction to code

Cross-disciplinary science may be pointing toward the conclusion that folks (as well as the social systems that we work to support) are being short-changed whether or not we credit them with preconceived values. That's because like the self-assembled communities of which we are a part, our activities are in general guided by the fast operation of evolved modules that underpin the idea-rich public-relations modules which (thanks to the electronic mobility of ideas today) feed back into our pattern recognition only after the fact.

Reductions to code that fail to give folks credit for this adaptability shortchange them. Thus cartoonifications of people for better and for worse may be bound to fail, if used naively to guide the design of societal structures.

What examples pop up in your mind of judgement failures, concerning both values we might have expected folks to have, and values that we might have expected folks to not have? Examples of such failures might be worth listening to from folks with a wide range of vantage points on what worked, and what didn't.

Monday, January 6, 2014

re-framing life

Over time, if we're observant in the light of a continuing stream of "thermodynamic availability" from the sun, we'll hopefully become smarter. The idea-sets that we use might even become more adaptive, particularly in today's world of electronic communications.

Alas as you might be noticing with the news in the past couple of decades, constructive-synthesis doesn't automatically happen. It turns out however, that clues to a constructive-synthesis are already available thanks to insights from many different walks of life.

In this note, therefore, let's discuss how to assemble those elements into something that works as sustainably as possible. What would you do first?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

multilayer I/O

Cycles of revenge between families and cultures (electronically mediated or not) are often viewed as organism behaviors. However they might also be seen as group behaviors elicited among individuals by an evolved survival mechanism for families and cultures.

In a complementary sense, social consensus may also be seen as an evolved survival trait for groups of organisms as well as a skill on the part of individuals. Social consensus in principle can give the group many eyes, many arms, and many brains!

Like most patterns of behavior it is also a double-edged sword. Thus for better and for worse, it has provided a path to domestication for many large mammals in today's human-communities (cf. Diamond 1999).

Consensus itself is also inherently inward-looking. Consider for example (cf. Kuhn 1962) the challenge of paradigm-change in science: Like organisms in a maze, consensus scientists may be good at working the system but have no reliable way to learn about the big picture i.e. about places where the particular maze they are running falls short.

Thus the perception of "experts in the old", i.e. the authorities of consensus, may understandably miss better paths that start below the point on the hill to which they've already climbed. This is a shortcoming that consensus communities should keep their eyes open for...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

viral self-isolation

Modern media's wide range of options has (ironically) opened the door to a new form of manipulation, by exploitation of our neolithically-evolved reward-systems like e.g. the joy of criticizing others. The result is that big money can predictably put anyone out of business who doesn't pander to it, by mounting a media-campaign which directs those addicted to the spectacle of bad-mouthing toward the target of the day.

This self-isolated population, moreover, might be particularly difficult to reach except by information that is delivered in a package which likewise exploits that addiction. Looks like we've discovered yet another means by which humans can (by just following their natural instincts) inadvertently guide a social-system toward collapse.