Improbable Insights

A question which strikes me is: if all of material reality (physics), biology and (for that matter, also) psycholinguistics is at base the recursive representation and autonomous self-perpetuation of the patterned, emergently complex information structure and logic of dynamical systems – why is it that there exist such monumental hurdles and difficulties in articulating this complexity, in encoding and communicating it ? A Cosmos in which the logic of emergence and creatively useful algorithmic information compression is ubiquitous and in some sense all-encompassing would surely also be one in which this logic of self-replication is best-served and maintains sustainable continuity through ease of information formulation (encoding) and transmission (communication).

But there are problems and seemingly intractable difficulties which arise when articulating and efficiently transmitting the structured or encoded information and message, again – these are the kinds of problems that material reality “solves” all over the place but when percolating through human beings, bottlenecks and chokepoints are endemic. Each one of us of necessity develops private languages and cognitive or linguistic compression methods with unique vocabularies and contexts which, other than isolating ourselves in ways similar to the siloed mutual-estrangements of academic specialisation, create difficulties of interpersonal or intertribal communication. Small surprise that popular communications and consensus reality is of generally lowest-common-denominator complexity – it may be that the generally and self-evidently trivial froth and bubble of cultural communications artefacts is the one true survivor and heir of human language, thought and technlogy – i.e. that which is most successfully (self-)replicated.

It may be, deep down in the conceptual coal mine (as we currently are), that the benefit that human beings derive through the successful structural replication (via information encoding and transmission) as logical, linguistic or symbolic information systems is primarily in some sense through the participation in those systems. We may be hard-wired for participation in the ongoing process of global information and communications systems self-replication; further, this may privilege function over semantics. The function being the participation in the process, the semantics being the meaning and revealed or discovered truths or facts of reality. The Universe may be structured in ways which privilege self-replicating logical, informational and material systems but the phylogenetic burden of an extended evolutionary process in biology and culture has created a human mind and society which is unwittingly and neurolinguistically oriented and probabilistically biased towards gossip over literary or scientific insight.

We have difficulty explaining the world because our own biological emergence in it privileges functional participation over structured intellectual insight, as information encoding or as subsequent communication of that structured data. Science and philosophy are also cognitive methods of informational self-replication but they remain improbable linguistic entities in comparison to the latest football scores or other common ideological caricatures of everyday thought, language and communication.

What we require most critically is insight and effective methods for sharing this valuable information to other minds. Again, it seems that our biological inheritance and all-too-human shared cognitive methods in language and the cognitive extension of technology may be actively (and counter-intuitively) working against our own (collective) best interests.

Harm Minimisation and Epidemiological Criminology ?

Context: Why we should treat violence like an epidemic

An epidemiological approach to violent crime ? Seems to me to be eminently sensible. Consider Portugal’s experiment with decriminalising drugs as a harm minimisation and public health strategy, by all measures – a thorough success. But that would perhaps be to diminish or distract from the intelligence and insight exhibited in an organisationally mature and adaptive approach such as that discussed in the article.

The facts are, whatever institutional affectations and political labelling may find themselves associated with violence and violent crime, the interdiction at a public health policy level is not only more effective but is also (arguably) likely to be cheaper over a longer time scale. There is much to be said for the applied intelligence of rendering social issues as networked, emergent patterns of behaviour and as seen from a public health perspective. I am absolutely certain that such approaches will be astoundingly successful, if instances of uptake across government are sufficient enough to generate self-propagating cultural momentum at a government-organisational level.

As ever, I am also interested in the sting in the tail of semantic discovery. A question which occurs to me is: if violence propagates by memetic replication or entrainment (among other vectors) and is an emergent, complex self-propagating waveform through cultures and societies, is there some other function that violence serves such that an inability or inefficiency to successfully manage this social phenomenon generates useful entropy for other social and economic interests to harness and exploit ? From such a perspective, it is to suggest that where entropy and disorder emerges in one area, social and organisational systems possess implicit self-propagating and organic methods of harnessing and exploiting this disorder; what appears from one direction to be a social ill is simultaneously harnessed and exploited by other components or organisational entities with the social systems. Local entropy in systemic microstates may in this way contribute to overall social-systemic (macrostate) and cultural self-propagation, structural coherence and continuity; if in unexpected or at least unorthodox ways. What benefits at a whole-systems level can in microcosm appear as useless disorder, entropy and cost to the participatory inhabitants of that system. I must be clear: I am not validating violence or any other social ill; I am asserting that there are always multiple subterranean layers and forces to this dynamic social geography.

The industries of incarceration and law enforcement are one layer in a tentative answer to the question of _cui bono ?_. There are clearly socioeconomic factors, elements of power and inequity, political pros and cons, stereotypes, behavioural advantage and disadvantage, collective perseveration. It is quite difficult to abstract one’s self sufficiently from the semiotic and semantic networks of information and communication that we live through (and that live through us) to be able to disentangle causative or benefactor agents in this matrix, globally-considered. It seems to me that when we think we know what the reasons for a social phenomenon are, it usually emerges that there are other factors, subliminal effects and unacknowledged (perhaps even – unintelligible) forces at work within and through ourselves and our shared worlds that remain indistinct or poorly defined.

The extension of such an analysis to conflict and war is a logical next stage of extrapolation.