Reshared post from Koen De Paus

Koen De Paus originally shared this post:

The Sentineli, a living memory of our history Part 2

Random thoughts on tribes vs mobs and how machines relate to both.

"It is in the long run essential to the growth of any new and high civilization that small groups of men can escape from their neighbors and from their government, to go and live as they please in the wilderness. A truly isolated, small, and creative society will never again be possible on this planet." ~Freeman J. Dyson

For us city dwellers it is hard to imagine just how different a life in isolation must be. A lifestyle completely independent from the outside world where you have to be one with nature if you hope to survive. When given the choice, most of us would not go back to such a life. Our tribe has grown to include millions of people and we no longer farm our own fields but instead count on others to provide us with the goods required for life. From water and food to jobs and justice, we depend on the web that society has built. We have outsourced many tasks of our early tribal lifestyle to the mob and the mob or system has offloaded many tasks onto technology. We are now at a point where an EMP blast would cause a mass extinction. 

In a small tribe you are directly connected with the consequences of your actions. You need to catch a fish and know how to make a fire because you want to feed your family tonight. No bosses, no money, action > reaction. Our system is so complex that it can be very hard to keep track of actions and consequences. If you work at a chemical plant that produces plastics, you might never even know what products you are creating. In fact you might never even use any of them but in our society this doesn't matter because you are not working for direct results, you are working for money to buy other things. Your plastics could end up being packaging material for medicine or used in weaponry. In the end you are only working in personnel administration so if they end up in weaponry, its not like you made the plastic, right? The real work is probably handled by robots anyway.

Councillor: Down here, sometimes I think about all those people still plugged into the Matrix and when I look at these machines I… I can't help thinking that in a way… we are plugged into them. 
Neo: But we control these machines; they don't control us. 
Councillor: Of course not. How could they? The idea is pure nonsense. But… it does make one wonder… just… what is control? 
Neo: If we wanted, we could shut these machines down. 
Councillor: Of course. That's it. You hit it. That's control, isn't it? If we wanted we could smash them to bits. Although, if we did, we'd have to consider what would happen to our lights, our heat, our air… 
Neo: So we need machines and they need us, is that your point, Councilor? 
Councillor Harmann: No. No point. Old men like me don't bother with making points. There's no point. 

A tribesman makes technology for himself, a bow is needed to hunt. Again a direct connection. In our society a software or hardware engineer designs parts of systems and socioeconomic factors determine what happens with them. A software engineer writes a complex algorithm that can track heat signatures for a heat sensor designed by a hardware specialist. This system could be used to detect fires before they get going and in doing so save many lives, or it could be incorporated in an automated machine gun to track down targets and take lives. A single person might never make that decision but put a bunch of generals in a room, bring up the enemy and it's go time. Not many taxpayers would spend their money on bombs when given direct control over where their taxes should be applied. Here too you can see the disconnect between actions and their consequences which are far less present in tribal societies. Their island is the world, no history and the future is tomorrow. We have a 13.7 billion year history and a responsibility to take care of our spaceship earth that comes with the obligation to look decades ahead. 

Our world system has so many variables that it has become nearly impossible to keep track of them all. Our action reaction chains have become miles long, go halfway around the world and span generations. Because of our cooperative nature, we share responsibility but this is becoming easier to ignore because our tribe now includes billions. A tribesman creating a bow is a 100% responsible for the final product and the person who wields it is responsible for the damage it does. In comparison, a soldier firing a gun today doesn't have to take 100% responsibility because they are required by law to follow orders. The keyboard I am using to type this message was probably handled by at least 3 robots and more than a 100 people before it made its way to my desk. This means that any one of the elements in its chain of production and delivery is less than 1% responsible. Nobody can say they made that keyboard. We (they) made that keyboard. 

People often say that when moving from a small town where you know everybody, to a city populated by millions, they feel like their voice gets lost in the masses and that it's much easier to "disappear" in such an environment. It becomes easier to give into that feeling that nothing really matters, that nothing you can do will change anything and that everything that can be done will be done better by someone else… Sometimes I fear that this effect is making our culture inert. When a system grows this large, the value of its parts seem to diminish when put in perspective against the whole. When sharing fractions of responsibility for reactions that lie 10 to 20 years into the future, it's easy to just go on with business as usual and not pay attention to them. This is a serious problem because it's not how reality works.

Time and time again it is shown that all great things have small beginnings. Organic molecules coming together in such a way that they ended up producing DNA which in turn proceeded to carve the entire tree of life through time. Even something as massive as 3000 year old sequoia started out as a little seed. Just like all of us, Einstein started out as a single cell and ended up changing our perspective on space, time and energy. Hell, the universe itself was once immeasurably small! Even something as silly as a video that goes viral comes down to one person, or in most cases a cat, invading the minds of millions.

"An idea is like a virus, resilient, highly contagious. The smallest seed of an idea can grow. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere." ~Cobb | Inception

Globalization is breaking down borders. Thanks to migration, education, technology and the media, we are now aware of our history, we know what happens around the globe at all times and we can even predict some aspects of the future. We are truly privileged to be able to access this wealth of information. As evidenced by the past, one man can change the world and now that every man is armed with more information than what his brain allows him to carry around, we should expect nothing less than a second age of enlightenment.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead

Tribes created cities, cities created the globalized and modern world. What will our global village create?

#ScienceSunday  | +ScienceSunday 

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