Continued from here. A new class of warning.**
I* should perhaps reassure you that I had not lost my mind in considering the example of evolution of the genome and mechanisms producing physiological structures so important in guiding my decisions about how to plan and reorganize an entire world-wide civilization.
In fact, I regarded Biology as the deepest of the sciences as measured by the height of the stack of solid, scientific explanations for the many phenomena of life. It extended, in the reading I had been doing, explanations from the beginnings of life through the evolutionary development of genomes, human nature, human cultures and human minds in a reasonably coherent framework of widely supported, mutually-supporting and cross-checked science. Certainly there were things we didn’t know, areas such as the knowledge of ancient genomes and detailed timing of cultural changes in all areas of the world were still changing fast. Nevertheless, between genetics, genomics and biology and the many allied and cross-checking sciences including physics, chemistry and anthropology, the story of sexual selection directing the evolution of human nature was a developing consensus, I thought.
Kirschner and Gerhard were both extensions of previous research and theory, crosschecks of those theories, and supported not just by their own arguments, but also by other works I had been reading, completely independent lines of research. For example, I thought that one of the imports of K&G’s arguments for the evolutionary advantages of facilitated genetic change is that nobody should be surprised by how nearly animals’ actual physiology scales by the laws that govern fluid transport. And many examples of optimizations in biology are like that, also that evolutionary algorithms are widely used in computer program’s algorithms, which suggests 2 things : Evolution is really good at optimizing complex systems and continuously improving them and that the mechanisms to do that have been evolving themselves for 3 billion years or so.
It seemed to me we should study these mechanisms for tips on how to do this, as I had not been impressed by our civilization’s prior efforts — almost all planners had crashed and left the historical stage, and I didn’t find evidence that the heads of their intelligence agencies had kept their heads at any higher rate than the other ministers of failed governments. Evolved ecosystems of complexity far beyond the complexity of pre-modern civilizations had lasted millennia, human empires a few hundred years at most. Humans had guided the evolution of ecosystems, e.g. the North American northern forests or prairie and the Amazonian rainforest, to be nearly a permaculture, the food-producing rainforest has lasted 500 years after their cultures died in the epidemics brought by the Spanish, longer than empires run by living descendants of the Europeans.
Another thing that was attractive about the K&G concepts was the discussion of systems that enabled cells to cooperate in producing an organism and also producing mechanisms for translating genotype to phenotype so that random genetic change is rarely lethal, except in “critical sections” of the genome, the core modules producing nerves, muscles, cell types,…. That bias to ‘no change’ meant that mutations made mostly no phenotypic changes at all, tho the genetic change ‘lurks’ waiting for a trigger that allows a new phenotype to be expressed. Those signals can be further genetic changes or environmental changes that effectively unleash latent genetic change by existing signalling mechanisms. Thus, organisms can more easily express new adaptive ranges in any process of growth or physiological functions.
The mechanisms evolved to evolve are a combination of mechanisms of great sensitivity to genetic change, and therefore strongly conserved across geologic time and many evolutionary changes in physical form, with a layer of control of those conserved elements that applied analog control on the conserved forms, but was itself easily changed. This mechanism made it possible to have genes very specialized for a particular function in one small tissue compartment, evoked by changes in environment and/or genome.
Among the strongly conserved elements were signalling elements that coordinated other elements in the gastrula and embryo. Those guided the development of the inner grastula cells (the multi-parent induced Pluripotent Stem Cells replaced those in our Tessels) through their growth and differentiation in the embryo and on into a functioning adult, and did so by programming every cell in the body relative to 28 reference signals that bootstrapped the gastrula into embryo. The individual reference signals could be traced back to major stages in the evolution of the phyla and classes. More recent changes in the effects of individual genes could be traced to breeds of animal where a trait originated. So certainly we did not have a complete understanding, but also certainly more than broad outlines were clear.
K&G noted that the signalling mechanisms were easily changed in the random walk of evolution, and that this produced small and gradual changes of biological form, exactly as needed for efficient evolution of new forms. All of this accounted for all of the amazing diversity of life, the great complexity of ecosystems and the near-miraculous approximations to theoretical efficiencies of biological mechanisms.
That combination of fixed and variable elements mapped, it seemed to me, onto models of society and commerce both. One needed strong clear signals, un-ambiguous, for some social functions, e.g. planning. Personal life or business, without knowing costs and risks, planning had high probabilities of failure. Thus, stable environments required that money change value very slowly, if at all, that contracts be honored and enforced, if necessary. That laws be consistently interpreted and that they guide the society, which means that they must be easily understood by all, which means in turn both that they must be a minimum set and that the laws must change slowly. If they are to change slowly, they must be a minimal set, intelligently interpreted in a local context, thus laws mandating honesty and justice, not process.
Those things changing slowly promoted both stability and evolutionary change of an economy, science, society and civilization.
Like K&G’s concept of biological evolution, other aspects cannot be tightly controlled for efficient evolution. For example, trying to control all aspects of a society, who worked where, who married whom, what people thought, etc., produced more static systems that failed in competition with neighbors.
Trying to keep all of that in mind, the structure of the families and businesses was the next problem. I immersed myself in social anthropology and psychology for the next few weeks. I wasted a lot of paper working through variations of those. Human systems, I found, were incomparably more complex than the computer control systems I had been architect for previously. Fail-safe, soft real-time systems, my previously most-difficult design feat, were very much less complex than hard real-time very fail-safe systems.
Only the fact that I was designing a small element which would self-assemble into the civilization I envisioned made this task at all feasible. I didn’t have to do more than design a stable extended family able to run a modern technologically-based business. It took some special elements to do that for mid-range complexity of techs, I thought, and they would need to combine forces to handle complex technologies or large scales. But families had been doing that since Gobekli Tepe, 11,000 years ago. Families had scaled into cities since at least Uruk, 5000 years ago, in exactly this family-business form, I could depend on that capability to deal with building a civilization.
Evolution had to happen, it had to be designed into those initial elements of family and business. Making the relationships inside the family flexible, but focused on providing satisfaction of individual humans in individual and human-family values, that was bedrock, the unchanging core of my design element, the part that needed to be very sensitive to changes that disrupted eternally-conservative, biological, built into the genome individual satisfactions. The relationships between families were left undefined, to be ones of mutual benefit. The family-business was my cell. The societies and economies that resulted would be the multi-cellular organisms, the social structures and institutions of the civilizations I was confident would evolve.
I was confident for all of the reasons of Wagner and Kirschner and Gerhart and Edward O. Wilson, Matt Ridley. They dissected out and analyzed the mechanisms that built the organisms and societies that had evolved, and why those mechanisms had evolved to evolve so well.
I was confident that human nature had done the same. I have made the argument that there was no single, constant, fundamental human nature, compared it to water’s nature, which is an agreement between it and its environment, liquid, solid or vapor. Whatever your circumstances or period of history, people changed many things about themselves as they grew and developed and matured through life. People you met changed you, redirected your goals, amplified different aspects of ‘your true self’. School, courses, books, jobs, significant others, and the changes in all of them, all changed you.
But changed you, it seemed to you and outsiders, in the details surrounding some essential core that remained constant enough to identify. Yes, even a level constant through cases of the cold and hard bitten minds produced by bitter enmity and strife and hatred and the black depression that comes with a life of that being transformed by religious revelation or love.
This is not the same as believing humans are perfectable: It is, however, a version of ‘humans are perfect at being humans, which includes being malleable in ways we have not yet explored’. Partly because of that, and the demonstrated wide range of cooperative social arrangements humans had lived in and evolved civilizations through, I thought entire societies were even more malleable than individuals, tho this was rarely considered a mark of an intelligent society, rather nearly always a loss of the benefits of ‘the old ways’, of traditions and social cohesion, conveniently forgetting the strife those traditions and cohesions had produced, and the resulting massacres and death rates.
On my side, the cases of official society liberalizing in a generation every variety of social rule. As an example in the US, we went from Hollywood blacklists and production codes, through Playboy and Linda Lovelace to the output of the San Fernando Valley surpassing Hollywood proper, or Proper Hollywood’s, output on the world market and to becoming 25% of video rentals before the market saturated.
As a demonstration of human core values and pent-up demand, they would be hard to beat. As a demonstration of social change, pretty ordinary. This kind of thing happens in many areas of society every few generations. From kicking Bertrand Russell out of the State University in 1950s for having unAmerican thoughts to 30% of Congress female in 40 years, originals are still in Congress. From Catholics thought being too controlled from the Vatican to Israelis in high office. From Mormons being rather suspect to running major federal bureaucracies. From civil rights to a black president. From simple mid-western food everywhere to loving Pizza and Chinese and dozens of ethnic restaurants scattered across the landscape. Mexican is a staple everywhere, same as McDonalds. If you are lucky, you will have a Chinese place too. Very remote places have amazingly good food (tho not yet Salt Lake city 15 years ago when I worked there on a contract). And music, film, literature, and every other area, social change has been proportional to the human attention available to evolve it, another measure of wealth. When we were a poor country, change had been slow, accelerating as we expanded into new states, technologies, and had more immigrants. More wealth, more and faster change.
In fact, so surprisingly many, once you start totaling all of those many astonishing transformations of individuals and societies, you are driven to conclude it can’t even be that hard, the society just has to want to change. (Sorry, a terrible sense of humor is a perogative I allow myself in my official role*.)
‘Want to change’, meaning has time and energy to explore and grow. Every society that has become rich has progressed through the same liberalizations, the most traditional economies on the planet are doing so unless they work hard to prevent change. Amish are the most successful, none of the rest have prospered, a point not often noted.
I did not want to specify anything about a political system, my Psyops Corp was meant to be a monitor for any and all social systems. Formal political systems, in my thinking, were the ultimate one size fits all. Whatever the goal of a political system might be thought to be, its actual effect is always to slow down changes. Some aspects of events may well benefit from that, lynchings vs trials, as an example. Others, not so much, lynchings vs no trials, as an example. Even as policy, merely slowing down change is not a proper goal for any entity including you, your family and business, as the effects on the future of the inevitable lurches in the system order as things out of synch re-synchronize with a grinding of gears and gnashing of teeth are seriously non-optimal.
So if you define ‘political system’ as ‘effective means of settling disputes and known to be such, therefore effective’, all sentient entities will evolve a political system. Human’s systems are merely those of family and clan scaled up and formalized. No formal system will ever really work if you mean ‘make decisions that are not gamed’. There is no such system. But, make them transparent enough, have enough transports into the minds of the individuals involved, and you can do pretty well.
At least, if you keep all such questions simple, and resolutely avoid any possible disproportional accumulation of power or wealth. Those will always be inter-convertible, in the nature of humans. Thus, Psyops Corp is the only possible long-term trustworthy entity yet in existence.
This is a discussion of ‘leadership targeting’ and asymmetric warfare in general, in the context of Darwin’s Ratchet, another name for an evolutionary arms race, a Red Queen race. Remember, it takes all the running you can do to stay in one place in those contexts, which is why we are doing so badly in our ME wars.
In psyops, the message is the op.
*Generalissimo Grand Strategy, Intelligence Analysis and Psyops, First Volunteer Panzer Psyops Corp. Cleverly Gently Martial In Spirit
**I just realized that for racists or mono-culturalists, we are writing a horror story. A bit more work, and we will make it a horror story for modern Liberals and less-than-thoughtful Conservatives, also. This is getting to the level of insidious subversion of the entire modern Status Quo I envisioned in starting this blog, tho I had no idea it would end up in this form, based on solid anthropology, genetics, science, or that the Generalissimo and Scherrhy, a Sexbot would be the stars. A fine example of how there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit. Chalk this up to my sterling character, one you can trust with that ultimate power, the power to change your point of view.
And, did you see how cleverly that paragraph set me into an opposite category of those we all denigrate? Did you compensate for that, or just follow along, and let me put some unspecified and unspecifiable groups of Liberals and Conservatives, many of whom trend mon0-culturalist for reasons that include real evidence and thought with opinions that at least deserve refutation rather than such blithe dismissal, into a similar low position, or at least jar your thinking a bit, make you doubt what you think you know about them? Note the smooth step past the insidiousness bit to standing on a base of solid science?
Honestly honest member of the Honest Party that I am, I tell you I wrote that without any such intent, only explained it after the fact, no changes to make it better. Really, they just happened, because that is the way people argue their points, we are all natural propagandists. We humans have very sophisticated theories of mind, seems to me.
You aren’t being careful enough, dammit. I just walked you back through that warning, put it more firmly into your mind, changed you thinking a bit more on every pass AND made myself look pretty good. Theory of mind at work.
Other sites aren’t honest like this, which makes mine the most dangerous to your current thinking. I keep warning you about warnings, especially warnings so obviously in your interest, they are the most disarming of your mental defenses. Warnings just like this, in fact.