cj#267> Coevolution & MEME 1.04


Richard Moore

Dear CJers,

Still haven't gotten around to the Bosnia update, but here's some thoughts
(slightly expanded for CJ) on coevolution that I sent to David Bennahum in
response to his article (cj#266).


Dear David,

Are you familiear with "The Self Organizing Universe", by Yantsch?  It
talks about a generalized notion of evolution, taking into account the
whole universe and cosmology.  The gradual development of more complex
molecules, for example, is considered part of evolution (hydrogen, then
helium, ... the heavier elements not coming about until super-nova had

One of the key observations is the parallel co-evolution of the macro and
micro scales.  Bottom-up developments are paired with top-down developments
(as I referred to with heavy elements and super-novas).  Somewhere in that
co-evolution sequence comes Gaia (at the macro, planetary scale) paired
with biological life (at the micro, cellular scale).

Or you might say evolution is a single stream, but with a large and small
aspect.  The chicken and egg evolve co-jointly, as do the ball-bearing and
the vehicle.

As regards the digital, nano, and genetic technologies, I can see a macro
and micro level.  From the micro direction, we have PC's, micro-tools,
bar-code implants, etc.; from the macro direction, we have Internet,
global-positioning satellites, communications infrastructures,
personal-history databases, etc.  Enhancements at either scale enable or
impel the next evolutionary step on the other scale.  As when faster chips
enable higher bandwidth communications, or broadband data availability
spurs development of faster, cheaper multimedia "players".


There are two particular kinds of robots that have been evolving since the
sixteenth century, and fifteenth century, respectively.  The first is the
money-making robot (aka: the corporation), the second is the
propaganda-robot (aka: the printing press, or mass-media).


The printing press starts out expanding the range of ideas, but ends up
homogenizing thinking.  That's because the large-scale counterpart of the
printing press is the mass media.  As communication tools evolve, with
inherently undirected potential, the centralized media evolves and controls
the use of the tools, trending humanity toward conditioned group


The corporation is a change of state, as compared to the personal business.
The personal business is a machine that makes money, but it is a machine
under the control of a person (or family), and it is a machine whose
behavior is the resposibility of that person or family.  The change came
when people wanted to escape from that responsibility, to get the money
without the risk, to get something for nothing.

The corporation was a new kind of money-robot, which operated without
anyone being responsible: but the side-effect was that it operated without
anyone's control.  This wasn't apparent at first, because the majority
stock-holders could always pull in the reins, after all the corporation was
just a fiction they created to serve their purposes.  But as things evolved
to public companies, with lots of stockholders, we got to the point where
the money-robot had escaped from human control, just as you refer to in the
case of mechanical and genetic robots, whose similar escape is likely to
occur before too long.  (Note: "launch on warning").

What is the large-scale counterpart of corparate-capitalism evolution?

The answer is a surprising one: constitutional government!  Just as the
corporation sought to avoid human responsibility, and lost human control in
the bargain, so constitutional government sought to avoid human control,
and lost human responsibility in the bargain!  The corporation is a robot
citizen, richer and more powerful than its human creators, while the U.S.
(and its clones, the other "democracies") is a robot-government, out of
control of any human constituency.

It is an historical fact that the American experience began at the same
time as corporations, and from the same source: Queen Elizabeth created the
first limited-liability corporation, and also launched the Virginia
company, and began the systematic British-style colonization of America.
The founding principles of the U.S., when it later declared its
independence, was the elimination of the powers of the church, royalty, and
the aristocracy.  What did that leave as a power-wielding class/entity?  --

These two have evolved toward one another -- the corporate citizen evolves,
forms community with its bretheren, and realizes that is the ruler of all
it surveys, including those limited life-span bio-beings that created it.
It looks up to see who rules it, and it finds a machine with nobody in
charge: a rudderless craft waiting for someone/something to take the helm.
Thus the corporations take over control of a craft (the constitutional
state) seemingly designed for them.

Constitutional government and the corporation fuse seamlessly into the
out-of-control corporate state: of, by, and for the anonymous accumulation
of wealth and power.  Add to this the mass media (a subset of corporate
capitalism), and you can see that humanity is hemmed in on all sides by
long-evolving robots already!

These considerations make the threat of bio/mechanical robots less unique,
but that discovery somehow fails to comfort one.


 Posted by      Richard K. Moore <•••@••.•••>
                Wexford, Ireland (USA citizen)
                Editor: The Cyberjournal (@CPSR.ORG)

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