Monday, November 24, 2014

Have YOU Ever Heard Of A Human Aggregate That Ran Out Of Fiat?

It's sad & amazing that the function of national group-brains is declining (and our aggregate species group-brain too) ... even as neuroscientists worldwide obsessively over-study the structure of individual primate brains, all the while oblivious to the structure of the group-brain emerging all around them. 

That brings new comedy to the term OCD. 

On what scale? You can easily argue that the phenotypic persistence displayed in Deep State institutions mediate SSOCD, or social-species obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Consider the following trains of thought.

From the Renaissance to depression, in 500 years. Two impressions forward, one depression back? Is that the best we can do?

Somewhere in our current culture, we've forgotten that the whole purpose of social species is to take on Desired Consensus Outcomes which are beyond the ambition of individual skill sets.

Too few follow such discussions.

Hence, those that do are largely ignored, as aberrations.
Too much of our public discourse has been on various collision courses, & have actually already collided, years ago, producing our ongoing, slow-motion train wreck.

The US is supposedly acting slightly more intelligently than Japan or the Euro-zone ... yet not much, as the confusion in the following article shows.
"Weak banks don’t lend, highly indebted consumers don’t spend, and businesses with poor prospects don’t invest."

Yet this same WSJ author comes out with the oxymoronic statement:
"But U.S. policy makers failed to forge agreements to rein in long-run deficits, ..."
Why? Because ...
[a deficit in fiat] "could be a problem should another crisis hit."
WTF? And edges COULD be a problem too, IF the earth were flat.

I swear. Too many people in diverse disciplines forget the simple method of algebraic substitution, as a sanity check. 

To spell it out for non-thinkers, we all say we've used fiat currency for 80+ years. Yet what does "fiat" mean? At will? Who's will? The public's? So fiat currency denominates net Public Initiative? The word "fiat" means initiative, and/or nerve? Similar to public confidence?

Have YOU ever heard of a human aggregate that ran out of fiat?

And if there's a deficit, what is it that we're trying to balance? The balance of Public Initiative vs personal hoarding? Inflation vs deflation? Stockpiling Future Options vs Trying to Hoard Current Fiat? People get lost in making lists of things to balance, often losing track of form vs function. At the end of the day, we do have a constant, orienting reference: balance what continues to be adaptive vs what becomes maladaptive.

Yet some other slow boarder, trying to catch the thinking train, opines that"monetary policy is limited when an economy slows down considerably and lacks confidence."

LOL! Let me try to translate & extend that to it's logical implications. Groups run out of confidence, & generate a deficit in nerve, which they must then borrow? Can't spend nerve they don't have? Sub-groups often run out of confidence. When they do, they borrow - or rather receive - more nerve from the larger aggregate. That's what defines a social species.

All this lack of sense makes you wonder how humans made it through the last 200K years, always running a perpetual "deficit" in nerve. Does no one get the joke?

Who have we been "borrowing" nerve from all these millennia? Accountants presuming an external source for every sink? Was double-entry bookkeeping a miracle or a curse? Or always both simultaneously?

That all this social noise occurs in the year 2014 is a sad testament to the fragility of homo sapien logic. Homo sapiens still can't see the culture (or social species) for the individual?

And, there's the parallel myth that "job creators" create jobs by hiring people - even though that is just one receiving step in a cycle. One businessperson hires only when they have requests from other buyers to sell more, so they hire to meet that demand. Businesspeople rarely hire just to stockpile inventory, i.e., with no sales in sight. Optimal asset stockpiling occurs as aggregate stockpiling Policy Options, as a growing Policy Space, which they explore by increasing the distributed options available to their grandchildren.

Somewhere upstream in the circle of consuming/buying ... if buyers/consumers [i.e., job creators] have no income, limited options, and constrained innovation, how are they supposed to create jobs (i.e., demand for products and services)?
Acquisition pulls economies. Only drug dealers push.
Ok, greedy lobbyists do too.

Can we just redefine NeoLiberal's as those who don't believe in social species? Rather like those that don't believe in a round Earth or a helio-centric solar system?

Until then, we may as well stamp the following on the business card of Homo Sapiens:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Continuously Re-Distribute Ounces Of Cheap Cultural Preparation ... Or Pound Ourselves With Expensive Cultural Rehab?

If you've ever wondered how natural selection can proceed, if we don't always produce enough diversity beforehand to select from after the fact ... then read on. In the end, this should also remind any thinking person of the need to provision culture with distributed spending first ... and clawing back (capitalism) later. In fact, both those examples illustrate one, singular logic. Sow widely, to reap adequately.

Now let's diverge, so we can find some new circuits leading back to the same path.

Do you like puzzles? How about this one?

What links '60s rock music, parallel Roger Ericksons, Korzybski & Wittgenstein, LSD, network logic and capitalism?

Why, with a few extra links, this does! You'll laugh when you see how.

This is actually fascinating, not just comical.

"Science And Sanity", by the Polish-born mathematician Alfred Korzybski
5th edition (Institute Of General Semantics, New Jersey)

All this rehashed in a 1967 acid-rock album - written by a chem-engineer student! :)

"Since Aristotle, man has organized his knowledge vertically", the famous liner notes differ markedly from the juvenile poetry/hype that made up the average 1966 rock LP back covers. Written, though uncredited, by Tommy Hall, the liner notes go on to observe that our language has been used primarily to identify - and consequently distinguish between - objects, rather than to focus on the relationship between them. Such a way of thinking, Hall states, is keeping man from enjoying the perfect sanity which comes from being able to deal with life in its entirety. 
The terminology is Korzybskian, but the implementation is brand new. It definitely wasn't something they would teach you at alcohol drug rehab.
Hilarious! Who knew what acid-rock was really all about!
"The goal is to resystematize our knowledge so that it would all be related horizontally."
Ironically, they may have missed the point, and been wrong all along, by assuming the solution was to go too far in either direction.

Why? This story makes you wonder if the supposed appearance of dialectic mainly in Indo-European cultures was an accident of the discovery - or wide-spread use - of certain psychedelic drugs.

After all, many other tribal languages never embodied the distinction of simplified summary mappings and classifications vs coordinating ALL objects, and hence didn't NEED dialectic. :) 

The two strategies impose different amounts of complicated overhead, at different scales. 

How and why? Consider this. The process of sensory system evolution is always to reduce sensory-receptor bandwidth to that minimal range allowing adequate navigation. Humans, for example, didn't need ultraviolet or infrared vision, or ultra-sonic hearing or echo location to survive. We forsook those individual skills and instead invested in a more complex neocortex allowing more post-processing of limited-frequency sensory input.

If we apply that analogy to human language and human culture, not just human physiology, then a similar conclusion is apparent. The key to navigating increasingly complex cultural contexts with lean linguistics may be to limit group-discourse bandwidth & focus cultural-cognition on that skeletal backbone of context which is adequately vs totally relevant. 

To scale up any system, some micro-level features have to be sacrificed, as useless burdens on macro agility. No system scales unchanged.

The evolutionary advantage of aggressively "classifying" languages & cultures may be their ability to focus on what does vs doesn't scale, and hence allow accelerated evolution.

For those unfamiliar with these analogies, try using another, more similar one. There are advantages of delegating some aspects of micro vs macro context management to dedicated specialists, such as human genders - where "males" cannot possibly master the details of pregnancy & neonatal care, while "females" cannot as deeply grasp the details of large territory management - not to mention the many segments in the spectrum between those and other arbitrary behavior sets.

If nothing else, visualizing those system anomalies as necessary features, and not unwanted bugs, points out that arguing for either paternalistic or maternalistic cultures misses the bigger context. Rather, all human cultures feature interleaved as well as interdependent maternal & paternal subcultures, as well as all the intermediate variants demanded for retaining resiliency, via biological diversity.

Meanwhile, back to our Texas pyscho-rockers.
"In an intellectual quantum leap he suggested a modern and tangible way to effectuate the non-Aristotelian lifestyle that remains painfully abstract in Korzybski - psychedelic drugs."
Too bad that didn't work out for them. Being narrowly educated, they weren't aware of the different mental health dangers of disrupting basic neural-reward systems vs the more diffuse psychedelic (peripheral neural-ordering?) drugs.*

Intellectual quantum leap? Or tragic, juvenile generalization?

Their mistake - mixing heroin & LSD- was as fundamental as not appreciating the differing repercussions from tampering with foundation/plumbing/electrical building codes vs experimenting with interior design. Sad, but true.

Pity we can't get back to simply providing all students with:

1) awareness of infinitely changing & fleeting contexts;

2) familiarity & comfort with navigating change, as Context Nomads, and

3) joy in surfing accelerating change with boundless curiosity & fascination, PLUS

4) enough early feedback to appreciate the difference between foundations, and frontiers of exploration.
Why is it proving so difficult to have our growing culture and keep it too?

That observation holds for group brains as well as groups of neurons, i.e., an individual brain. Does that vaguely remind you of our two political parties? Even if in different ways at different times.

Perhaps the core purpose of cultural politics is to keep a population in the survival zone within the closed circle spanning passive-aggressive belief and anarchic-repressive cynicism?

* However, being at an early stage of cultural-dialectic, it might well be useful to imagine what the cultural equivalent of cultural-psychedelic drugs are. Diversity in student travel during their critical periods of cognitive development, their formative years?

Friday, November 7, 2014

How Does A V330million Cultural Engine TUNE Itself? Cultural Adaptive Rate And Public Discourse Bookkeeping.

A bit of yellow journalism triggered the following tongue-in-cheek discussion with colleagues, which quickly ran into a bigger question. Maybe all discussions do, when we take a moment to actually think?

First, the trigger.
[Russia Says] "It’s now total war against the BRICS"
Maybe. Or maybe this just propaganda meant to counter OUR propaganda against Russian policies, funded by our MICC (indirectly of course). Anything goes, but just don't try bombing or otherwise meddling in any country not called Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria.*

(* note; this list may be altered w/o warning :( )
(** we [& Israel] reserve the right to attack anyone we like, including ourselves)

One response, from a US journalist & engineer: 
"This RT article is so full of half-truths that anyone who read it is now dumber" Steve H
Another recent comment, from a colleague in Lithuania: 
"I'm more worried about the ECB than about Russia."

Follow up, and the immediate question "How could we be smarter?":
Yes, & well said, Steve! :)

If this increases RT's viewer base in the USA ... that'll probably be a maladaptive outcome overall.

Good thing Fox News is so much better! :(

Between our existing media factions, we might well end up with an effectively misinformed electorate.

Who gains then, however transiently (as the parasites slowly kill their host)?

Meanwhile, it's a good thing that adaptive people (mostly youth) are abandoning archaic forms of media, and turning to the increasing diversity of blogs to post & sample bigger samplings of our emerging distribution of public feedback & discourse.

If it weren't for public forums & public blogs, most of us would never have met an increasing proportion of the people we now know. Yes, we as a people are STILL increasingly moving on-line.

Yet there are PhD scientists who loftily proclaim that the internet can never replace academic journals - and that blogs should therefore be outlawed. [Same outlook that once said battle-tanks couldn't replace horses?]

Just because evolution isn't finished yet, that's no reason to not participate in it. 

In fact, we need to focus much more on our own adaptive RATE.

This whole topic of journalistic quality runs immediately into a bigger question:
How can we materially improve the QUALITY (including both participation rate and tempo) of distributed decision-making?

As just two little, suggested points of bookkeeping, wouldn't it be useful to keep a real-time tally of all the newly emerging FUNCTIONS clamoring for our attention - AND, to provide real-time access to notices of said events, to all people?

Let's look at it this way. Biology, business & military thinkers mostly seem to agree that evolution involves a constant, known cascade of events:

1) context always changes;
2) systemic awareness of things WE have to start doing differently;
3) systemic spawning of NEW FUNCTIONS to address new demands;
4) adjusting all OLD/NEW FUNCTIONS (& sometimes eliminating a few), in order to tune all to common task [cultural evolution].

If we're always struggling so much w #2, how the hell is group intelligence ever supposed to accelerate handling of #'s 3 & 4?

No wonder there's so much friction ... and attendant mayhem. 

If distributed feedback on net outcome lags ... then there are distributed frictions, and net tuning lags. That's a given.

To focus more group attention & effort on #'s 3 & 4, surely we need to make #2 a much more Automatic Stabilizer. That's a given. Nothing we didn't know in 1776 (i.e., a more informed electorate). We've been spinning our wheels, for 229 years?

A group brain is a terrible thing to waste, but that's what we're still over-focused on doing - by default.

What defines "cultural health?" How about retention & growth of net Adaptive Rate? Wallace & Darwin pointed that out 150 years ago. Is anyone listening?

How do we maintain & grow Cultural Adaptive Rate, if we don't practice measuring it? Here's one quick suggestion. We may need far more Public Discourse bookkeeping.

Couldn't every person's day start with access to a chart SUMMARIZING the entire spectrum of FEEDBACK on a hierarchy of "Emerging National Options To Explore?"

Not everyone would look every day, but at least everyone would always know that some attempt at hierarchical rankings of that still-cresting river of group options was always there?

That might even restore faith in the utility of having a US Congress. :(

Maybe more of us would periodically dip their toe in that river, & get sucked into participating in #s 3 & 4, on the basis of some hierarchical feedback ranking. That way we'd at least attempt a continuous ranking that systematically reduced frictions, rather than one that constantly increased frictions, via purely random, un-tuned participation?

How else does a V330million cultural engine TUNE itself, if not by seeking a constantly changing, dynamic balance between the full spectrum of enticing new options and the full spectrum of emerging frictions?