Information systems in biology and culture seek autonomous self-replication as a matter of emergent complexity and the iterating reproduction of a shared cognitive grammar in (and as) technology, language and culture. It is not a long bow to draw to assert that Facebook and friends possess an inadequate sophistication of understanding regarding the ways in which energy and information-processing systems autonomously self-replicate and reproduce themselves.
Viral memetic (and information-cultural) events are an example of runaway self-replication that in atavistic recall mimics cancer – a runaway self-replication of adverse entities. A conjecture: large corporations such as Facebook that “facilitate” social and cultural communication are themselves biased towards their own commercial self-reproduction at an axiomatic or foundational level and are consequently unable to act in a broader social interest. Indeed, the production of antagonism and difference generates attention, dissonance and “useful” entropy from which the subsequent interest generated provides commercial benefit.
How to rewrite a core business model when to do so invalidates the central reason for the success of that company in the first place?
This is a powerful and haunting image of brave young men throwing themselves into a horror of carnage and death on a Normandy beach in what does not really seem like such a long time ago. This week marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day, when the tide of war in Europe turned against Nazi Germany and the authoritarian regime of Adolph Hitler. What can we say of a world and global civilisation that endlessly staggers and stumbles from one self-inflicted catastrophe to another? It is a strange and disconcerting fact that, beyond the random opportunism of those charismatic, lucky or forceful personalities who have percolated their way into positions of persuasion or influence throughout history, all of these conflicts regarding who has the best way of running the world are all based in a logical fallacy. There is no single, certain or most efficient way for humanity to be organised; there is no unified structure or system that can ever provide all the answers or solutions to every possible contingency which arises; there is no single psychological, economic or ideological answer to the problems we all face. In the impossibility of unity there shines a light of opportunity as it is precisely in this logical antinomy that the solution also resides; indefinite systemic extensibility is the master key and tool through which we might improve and optimise our world. It is the orators and populists in all of their inflammatory and generally simplistic rhetoric who have captured the imagination of so many through the aggregate and implicit psychological vulberabilities that human being possess; it is the self-interest of those few that inhibits the best interest of us all.
When we look at the big picture and a gestalt overview of global human history and civilisation – all wars are civil wars. The question: are we collectively mature and intelligent enough to adapt and evolve into less dissonant and adversarial self-organisational solutions, or is this competitive belligerence hard-wired into the self-replication of information and logical metamorphosis that we all (only very briefly) embody while we are alive?
An observation from a General Systems and/or Information Theoretical perspective is that, considered as a gestalt system of self-propagating information patterns, non-linear systems are likely to seek optimal methods for their own self-replication. Complexity science instructs us as to the emergent properties of those biological and material systems which autonomously and adaptively recreate both the internal systemic and external environmental conditions that bias their own continuity.
The emergent patterns of optimally concise logical metamorphosis which generate sentience, civilisation and the cognitive extension(s) of technology find themselves most effectively self-replicated through an incentivised and accelerated phase of growth characterised by the “useful entropy” of adversarial competition. Ideologically agnostic analyses of Global information and political systems indicate that the logic and information systems themselves benefit most from restrained conflict. What we experience as fractious division and competition is (also) the iteration of an accelerating and self-propagating compression wave of evolving logic passing through a transmission medium of material and psychological culture.
Deriving a select few axiomatic principles with which to shape the influence and consequences of AI is an admirable aspiration. Statements of unity, shared purpose and democratic principle are valuable and are to be expected as a matter of proactive self-definition when faced with what is a major developmental inflection point in the history of technological civilisation on this planet.
The future of these autonomous systems, beyond even the economic oscillations or geostrategic vicissitudes and aspirations of our shared Global history, are more likely to be determined by the most efficient and effective methods by which AI itself self-propagates than by any particular ideology or culture. Technologies emerge as aggregate and convergent expressions of cognitive extension and then recursively bootstrap back into the flow and form of those cultural and ideological systems that birth them.
Democracy or Authoritarianism are very likely only the abstract mediums through (and as) which these self-propagating logical information and energy-processing systems pass. Assertions of political and economic self-determination are how human beings understand and organise themselves but in the long game of history, it is the self-replicating evolution of the logic of technology itself which wins.
Only the logic of technology wins war and war is indeed the one place that it’s accelerated technological evolution is guaranteed. All of which leads us to a probable inevitability of conflict, written deeply into nature of information systems and logic.
Unconscious and unacknowledged, the true power of narrative lies in the self-propagating autonomy it manifests – above and beyond any putative human control. We do not own the stories and meanings through which we live so much as they own us but an essential dissimulation of reflexive psychological self-definition endlessly fails, and is foundationally unable, to recognise this fallacy.
In as much as (an abstraction of) Narrative can be considered as a persistent, unconscious, and autonomously self-replicating or self-propagating entity – there is a useful convergence here with complexity science, information theory and physics more generally. Narrative represents an emergent property of distributed (yet) gestalt and globally-integrated cognitive systems; this in turn reveals itself as (a) most efficient or effective method of autonomous (global, cultural, psychological, communications) system self-propagation through (or as) a medium of material artefacts and minds; at a level of physics and rationale of material information or energy-processing systems, is further articulated as the path-of-least-resistance or lowest-energy solution. Narrative as unconscious, globally-distributed optimally concise and autonomously-emergent algorithmic systems solution is (both) the problem-space and the question to which a similarly evolving explanatory logic is the most plausible answer. It is not surprising that technology as cognitive-extension exhibits optimal compression heuristics for systemic self-propagation – physics and biology have been cultivating similar solutions for billions of years.
In a way, we are all precariously dangling off the side of the UN Secretariat building in NYC, squinting in the gleaming windows as those inside squint straight back out at us, in full cognisance of their own vertiginous place in a deeply fractious and troubled world. The work of seeking and maintaining unity and harmony both between and within the society of nation states is of critical importance but there exists a conspicuous absence here.
A foundational misunderstanding of the nature of logic, of information, of the ways in which “whole” and “complete” organisational systems can ever be considered to possible exist – this is not a unique possession of the UN alone. The only way that unity can exist is by, logically, not existing and the actual depths of this (superficially) nonsensical statement belie the facts of the science and the art of complexity when applied to understanding organisational systems.
It is a difficult job to attempt to bring about Peace but the necessities and vicissitudes of organisational, administrative and bureaucratic convention (themselves amplifications of psychological symmetries) incur that, even as much as the endless axiomatic and functional extensibility of logical and organisational systems provides directions and insight for us all, the reflexive psychological dependencies of human beings must inhibit growth and development and represent a paradoxical barrier to the best-interests of the same human beings. That necessary organisational vacuum, emptiness and logical absence which drives change and economic or technological development is also, mischievously, conspicuous buy it’s absence; world harmony and peace, like a Cheshire Cat smile… finds itself confronting nothing more than the deep question of it’s own impossibility.
The great enigma of scientific and technological progress: for every great leap forwards there exists a concurrent potential for even greater (catastrophic) leaps backwards. Every non-trivially sophisticated technical, technological advance encodes or (literally) embodies new logical methods of information and/or energy manipulation or exploitation but the potential cost of this is always in the manifest entropy of directed misuse or unacknowledged and unintentional effects.
A reflective (philosophical) question: if the procedural accumulation of technical and technological sophistication represents the increase of information and complexity as usefully-ordered systems of knowledge, is the existence and probable inevitability for unconscionable deployment of a technology evidence of the implicit entropic (energy-system) or information (disorder) cost inherent to any advance (or system) of technical knowledge?
The generation of new technical methods not merely expands the possibility space of all future recombinatory developments or convergent applications of technologies, it (also) vastly hyper-inflates all the possible disordered states of that system. Technological methods (and paradigms) generate their own possible and probable future states but the set of all possibilities (as we already know from thermodynamics) always includes more disordered states than ordered ones, making disorder, entropy (and potentially – catastrophe) more likely at every step forwards.
The TL;DR: we are (collectively) more likely to make a mess than a miracle when we discover new technologies because entropy and disorder are deeply embedded into the logic of physics, energy and information. And yet, somehow… we have managed to survive (to this point) and negotiate not merely a volatile and uncertain world, but the aggregate dissonance and turbulence we ourselves generate.