I think our imaginations are being stretched to the point where we can begin to believe anything is possible. The web connecting billions of people you don’t know is a fire-hose of information that overwhelms our cognitive capacities and sends us into shock, further reducing our capacity to manage information. Is there a way out?
This is a positive feedback loop, meaning that as a vicious circle it is self-reinforcing and only worsens until we hit bottom. We become evermore desperate for certainty. This leaves us vulnerable to both prophets of doom and prophets of hope as well as the draw of the crowds.
We are struck with a false sense of competence that keeps us going, with intermittent feelings of inadequacy, But we suffer the experience of either the Impostor Syndrome or FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). We might become “Snowflakes“.
We may be driven by a manic desire to learn more, then get burnt out while climbing all those unending learning curves. After all, knowledge is power, isn’t it? Soon we have days of anxiety punctuated with moments of desperate hope.
We used to say “the more I learn, the more I realise how little I know“. Now twist that to, “the more information I have, the more uncertain I am about anything“.
There is a universal Scaling Law. We know that in an economy of scale, more is better or cheaper (per unit produced). But beyond some tipping point, there is also a diseconomy of scale – more becomes too expensive. At some point, very large companies, for example, become inefficient and ineffective. This is true for all living systems, including governments, communities and civilizations. Maybe we have adapted. Maybe we have adapted badly.
In Network Theory there is an algorithm that states that beyond a critical number of relationships among nodes in the network (complexity), there is a growing level of noise in the network. Noise is like entropy in energy physics. It is junk information that makes other information dubious or suspect. We apply mental filters to sift out the noise, but eventually, as information grows, we can no longer keep up. Its like a cancerous cell that got its DNA mixed up and grows cancerous tissue rapidly.
Civilizations are networks of organizational hierarchies and therefore subject to the laws of physics, information, complexity, scale, networks, etc. They have a life-cycle based on their specific organizational premises. Our civilization has grown so rapidly that we have lost our “system integrity“. We have little idea of the consequences of our vast collective actions and interactions. The inter-dependencies are far too complex to sort out. Only the more fantasy-prone futurists make longer-term forecasts.
Traditions, standard practices, legacy doctrines and dogmas, common sense — all become contaminated, disrupted and meaningless. This is probably what happened to previous civilizations that got too complex to manage and were abandoned (Mayan, Angkor Wat, Olmec, Babel, etc.).
We have come to believe that our political ideologies have a scientific foundation. They do not! Both left and right ideologues argue for both flat networks and pitched or centralized hierarchies. We should be searching for the optimum mix of the two, depending on civil conditions.
The apparent coherence of ideological positions is based on loyalty. In a highly complex world, we can find logic to make any two diverse ideas seem compatible. Left and right polarity is well beyond a simplistic model of our complex civil reality.
We don’t know reality directly except through consciousness and mental models of reality. These models, or worldviews, are always complex, incomplete, biased and noisy. So far, we have been able to get by because most of what we do is not critical to our survival. We drink, eat, sleep, talk and get through each day regardless of being right or wrong about politics, religion and even sex. Even homeless people can live for decades.
There are leaders who, knowingly or not, see opportunity in this. They see fear and exploit it for personal aggrandizement. Tell people bedtime stories of angels and demons, of good and evil, and the masses will follow.
This is why I am studying the universal information architecture, searching for an algorithm that will spell out, not only the sufficient civil order, but the optimal civil ordering process. The optimal civil order is not a utopia. It is a process, a way, or a path through chaos and entropy. It uses a fractal to order the world from chaos and randomness to some order that preserves the essential human identity, including its diverse expressions, and provides for the pursuit of happiness through self-actualization.
Energy, by itself is rather boring. It is information that gives the universe it shape and form. I believe that there is an elemental fractal algorithm that expresses itself repeatedly through all levels of organization, from force-fields and sub-atomic particles to galaxy clusters. We are sandwiched between complex organic molecules and planetary ecosystems, navigating a path largely by innate instinct.
Humanity has come of age, an age of relative self-awareness. We are learning awareness of our collectivity and our synchronicity in Nature. Will we succeed as we approach the tipping point? Are we already too late? Have we sufficiently tested our youthful naivety?