Alien Anthropology

Continuity of Civilisation

What we more often fail to observe or acknowledge about the generally messy and entropic state of international relations and an apparent inevitability of internecine conflict is that, as a whole, human civilisation is autonomously calculating and computing the optimal means and methods for self-propagation and systemic continuity. 

Homeostasis is not engendered through aspiration towards static or unchanging aand final states of organisational or developmental closure.  The international society of states (such as it is) finds itself endlessly competing with an intractable, irreducible orientation of information and energy-processing systems to seek their own optimal environmental continuity and contextual tenure. 

The key insight is that optimally concise algorithmic self-propagation is the natural heir of abstract logical systems as much as of material or biological systems.  Psychological factors and dependence upon at least partially-invalidated and anachronistic paradigms of thought bind us to attempt to control that which, if approached with intelligence and mature humility, would quite adequately and efficiently manifest self-control and optimal efficiency. 

One does not require extensive experience with the psychological inertia of hierarchical bureaucracies to comprehend that their own narcissistic self-interest trumps their defined purposes and that this, in a nutshell, is the single greatest inhibition to the indefinite tenure of a successful and thriving planetary civilisation.

4 replies on “Continuity of Civilisation”

I think one of the reasons it is so difficult for us to achieve a single global civilization is that our societies grew from competition between “us” (members of a given family, tribe, city-state, country, or alliance) and “them” (those excluded by us). Until we are visited by aliens or threatened by something from outer space, we will not have sufficient impetus to organize ourselves into a planetary civilization. It just won’t be compelling enough in comparison to the usual internecine rivalries.

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Yes. Your thoughts are valuable, and inspire my own imagination to consider this problem-space more deeply. Ronald Reagan once made a remark concerning the value of an exterrestrial threat in uniting humanity against a common foe. It is curious that unity is always already characterised from within the grammar and circular logic of a competitive and adversarial game; this is not an inevitability or logical necessity but it does concisely characterise the linearity and goal-oriented substrate of our cognitive processes – a bias towards a goal is a subtly contoured arc of difference, information and entropy.

It is a bitter irony that our greatest threat and that single fact or adversary around which we might unite is our own intractable lack of unity, our own fallibility and orientation towards an atavistic egoism and all of its associated and primordial animalistic aggression, that we are already that source of turbulent discontinuity against which we might aspirationally unite.

Political will is poorly-informed by a median political (and shared or distributed and consensus) intellect which percolates the hierachical ladders and games of popularity and control into positions of power. The conceptual or organisational sophistication and intelligence to solve these problems of human civilisation for the most part already exist but it is yet another (recursively-embedded narrative or psychological and logical) irony that the autonomously self-propagating cultural and organisational systems that we inhabit seek their own continuity over that of the gestalt of humanity or life on Earth.

BTW and on the topic of aliens, this is interesting:

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Regarding the bitter irony you mentioned, if you look at us statistically, then you are right, of course, but if you decompose the gestalt somewhat, you see that some of us don’t see and think dualistically, do hold universal values, possess the long view, in short, are primed for a planetary civilization, while others still exist in the old mold of dualism, tribal values, and only have the most rudimentary short-sighted view of alternative futures. Unfortunately, the autonomously self-propagating cultural and organizational systems of the second group possess far more energy, force, or power than the first group. In considering which algorithms, memes, and/or logical systems are likely to trump all the others, one should also consider other dimensions of force projection operating in concert to bias the results of what otherwise would be a roll of the dice. Cyberwar doctrine asserts the view that each of the five dimensions/domains – Land, Sea, Air, Space and Information – should not be viewed as compartmentalized elements. In other words, in future wars, attacks will come from all 5 dimensions simultaneously. By the same token, the competition of different self-propagating cultural and organizational systems will occur along with human brute force and threats of such force. Ideas, memes, and algorithms with the most brute force behind them will win over more universal, sustainable ideas, until or unless we turn over the keys to the kingdom to AI systems IMHO.

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There may be advantages to handing over the organisational keys to AI but I am utterly sceptical as to our current ability to cultivate sufficiently sophisticated systems, regardless of what endless torrents of corporate marketing materials assert about their products. A deployment of autonomous information processing, control and decision-logic is always, interestingly, going to be a step-up to a new layer of complexity which brings it’s own costs and issues.

Stepping-up encryption from classical to quantum, for instance, does not provide final solutions, it merely makes the contested spaces and logical intricacy more complex. Even an introduction of Artificial General Intelligence which can then, Von Neumann universal constructor-style, reproduce further refinements and improvements of itself as exploration of logic, physics and information spaces will incur irreducible problems – merely at greater and greater degrees of complexity and sophistication.

So – should we find ourselves at a point where the offset logical enigmas and material (i.e energy) costs are offset to such a distant horizon that they are trivial as an effect in our lived world, it is a good thing. However the Managers of Civilisation are unlikely to allow such technological sophistication without enforcing limits and controls which warp a putative information symphony into grotesqueries of self-interest and ideological immaturity.

There is hope… but the innovative problem solvers who generally bring it are usually so limited by the politics and management of their contexts that it is currently a dim light.
(Impromptu thoughts)


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