CI 2.0 governed by meaning and evolutionary values

Tor Nørretranders, author of C i v i l i s a t i o n 2.0 has just opened Reboot 9 with an inspiring talk on what mae us human: Dare, Care and Share. To get his message across he emphasized the role emotions and relationships in Civ 2.0, a bit at the expense of intelligence, as the essence of to be human. After his talk, Thomas the main organizer asked the 500 people in the main hall, what questions would be interesting to ask from ourselves for the next two days. I offered this one:
What would it look like if we didn’t pit intelligence against emotions but go for their synergy, for Civilization 2.0? If the forms of CI 1.0 (and social organization) led to the global crises we are in, CI 2.0 will need to be governed by what has heart and meaning for us.

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1 Response to CI 2.0 governed by meaning and evolutionary values

  1. Hi George,

    It doesn’t appear to me that our existing crises are in any significant way a manifestation of intelligence verses emotions, the situation appears far more complex than that; and seems to have two major modalities present, and a third major logical issue.

    1/ The idea of Truth. The idea that we can “know” something and rely upon it absolutely in all situations. That idea seems to me to have been falsified beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt. Evolutionary epistemology now allows us to see all knowledge to be heuristic at base, having its initial instantiation as the survival of something over time and context. This has certainly been recursed to many levels in higher order abstract thought. And the nature of the relationship of abstract thought to “reality” is a matter of great debate. To me, it seems beyond reasonable doubt that abstract logic and mathematics gives us the best modeling tools available to deal with the more esoteric aspects of reality, yet there is no requirement for reality to actually do anything other than approximate our modeling tools (or looked at the other way, for our modeling tools to be contextually useful approximations to reality – whatever it might actually be).

    So people holding on to the idea of “Truth” is a major danger when the context changes in ways that a “heuristic” that had worked for hundreds of generations meets conditions where it fails to work sufficiently adequately for survival.

    Rely on the past is often, but not always, a useful predictor of future utility. The greater the rate of novelty production, the greater the probability of the failure of heuristics that were reliable in our past.

    So that fact is a major problem in systems that are built on the assumption the “Truth” is knowable and known – however reliable any such system has been in our generational past.

    2/ The utility of markets and money, and the many levels of distributed complex computational and productive systems embodied in our current market based systems is real to a degree. And all market values are predicated on scarcity. When scarcity was natural then the concept of justice could work with market systems even if the results were far from evenly distributed.
    That has now changed fundamentally.
    Fully automated systems now make it possible to meet the reasonable needs of every human being, but creating such abundance would break the system of values embodied in the scarcity based measure generate by markets.
    The general response to date has been to create artificial scarcity to prop up the system.
    This has been done under many guises, Intellectual Property laws, health and safety laws, etc.
    While it can be argued to have held the money system together after a fashion, it has fundamentally broken any relationship between markets and justice. Now it is not simply a matter of natural inequalities, it is a matter of artificially mandated scarcity, where the only reason for that scarcity is the needs of the system of market values. The injustice embodied in that leads to deep and destructive social tensions that are exponentially rising.

    Universal Basic Income offer a realistic transition strategy, but ultimately there must be deep systemic change for any sort of reasonable probability of continued existence.

    3/ The idea that competition delivers security is deeply systemically flawed. Competition viewed systemically drives systems to local minima, destroying diversity in the process. Diversity can only flourish under cooperative systems.
    If freedom is to have any real meaning, then our systems must have a cooperative base, and can then have competitive aspects build upon that cooperative base.

    In this context, it seems beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that long term survival demands a values hierarchy that is based in:
    1/ Individual sapient life universally (human non-human, biological and non-biological); and
    2/ Individual liberty universally (acknowledging that exercising such freedom demands responsibility in social and ecological contexts – it is not sufficient to follow whim at any level, one must exercise reasonable consideration of the likely consequences of action, and take reasonable actions to mitigate any risk to the life or liberty of others).

    Any other values one may adopt must be built upon these two.


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