A perfect world...

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by GRO$$, Dec 2, 2002.

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  1. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    That's a nice thought. I wish it were possible, but I sincerely doubt it for the following reason: If there exists limited resources, there will be competition for said resources. There has to be some way to let some people have more than others, because some people want more than others. Then there's jealousy, greed... philanthropy, group bonding, etc. Throw all that there into the mix and I'm seeing some uh... well, something inevitably different than your vision. I do like idealistic fantasies though (though being the hedonist that I am, most of them involve my cXXk). It seems that it's just human nature to long for that which seems unnatainable? Something like that.
     
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  3. GRO$$ Registered Senior Member

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    I think jealousy, greed, and competition are taught - people aren't born with them.
     
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  5. AntonK Technomage Registered Senior Member

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    I disagree...these are basic instincts. In a world of limited resources there can be no other way. The kings and queens of old were brought up in without want. Anything they ever desired was at their fingertips yet a good number of these monarchs were some of the greediest and most power hungry people ever. It's simple nature to take all you need to survive and then more incase you don't have enough later.

    -AntonK
     
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  7. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    Ayup.

    AntonK is on it!
     
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The problem is the lag between civilization and evolution.

    The truth is midway between your two extremes and it can be found by examining our history. Remember that humans are apes and look at our nearest relatives, the chimpanzees. They are social animals, but there are different kinds of social animals. Most species of macaws, for example, happily live together in flocks of thousands. Chimps, on the other hand, live in tribes of a few dozen, maybe even a hundred. For almost the entire history of Homo sapiens, we were just like them. We lived in tribal groups of no more than a couple of hundred. Every member of the tribe knew every other member. It was one big extended family. People would get into squabbles and fight the way chimpanzees still do and the way even human siblings still sometimes do. But most of the time most of the people put the good of the tribe first.

    This worked out OK until we became victims of our own success. Better weapons, more food. Better lodgings, more protection from the elements, lower infant mortality, longer life expectancy. Tribes got bigger. Members didn’t feel quite the same degree of kinship with a thousand people as they did with one or two hundred. Some of them really didn’t even know each other well enough to care about each other’s welfare. If resources became scarce in a bad hunting season, jealousy, greed and competition might come into play. In our most faintly remembered histories, the echoes of the last hunter-gatherers that became the legends of the first village-dwellers, we learn that formal rules had to be established to keep the peace within tribes that got too big to maintain a sense of family.

    Once we developed farming and cities and began living in groups of thousands, the sense of family was lost. Our instincts to take care of “our own” still only extended as far as they did for our Stone Age ancestors: a large family group. We do not have the instinct to equitably share resources among the 5,000 residents of a Bronze Age city, much less the hundreds of thousands that make up almost every population center of today’s world.

    Couldn’t we overcome our instincts? Couldn’t we just evolve to keep pace with the change? No. Evolution proceeds at a glacial pace compared to the changes we have made in our own environment. Just look at our oldest companions, our dogs. They have been domesticated and captive-bred for 12 thousand years, which is about 4,000 years longer than we ourselves have been “domesticated” into city-dwellers. We accelerated their evolution mercilessly. Any dog that didn’t conform to our standards of “civilized” behavior was killed and probably eaten. We played God with their gene pool and what have we achieved? The difference in instinctive behavior between today’s dogs and the original breed of dog, the grey wolf, is slight. When humans hit hard times and abandon their dogs, they go off into the wilderness and form packs maybe slightly larger than a wolf pack. Thirty or forty instead of fifteen or twenty.

    Twelve thousand years of draconian selective breeding. A species that goes through fifty generations in a century instead of our three or four. And I didn’t mention that they have more chromosomes than humans so it is easier to bring out selected traits in dogs. Yet their ability to feel kinship has barely expanded to twice as large a pack as their ancestors. That doesn't bode well for us...

    Our slow reproduction rate, the fact that nobody was pairing us off to selectively breed particular characteristics, our smaller number of chromosomes. And the fact that we gave dogs a four thousand year head start.

    We are our ancestors. We can feel love and loyalty and compassion for a tribe of one or two hundred humans that we know personally. We won’t steal from them or hide the extra blankets or be jealous of the great hunter whose family lives under a more spacious mammoth hide tent

    We can’t do that for the six billion inhabitants of the Earth or even the 300 million people in the USA or even the three million that commute alongside us on the freeway. It is not in our nature.

    We created our own problems by changing our environment faster than we could evolve to adapt to it. People are born with levels of greed, competition and jealousy that served them well 20,000 years ago. They just don’t work today.

    That is the problem. Any suggestions for solving it?
     
  9. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    Kudos Fraggle, awesome post. I found it very insightful. I've come to the same conclusion from different angles.... I loved your use of dogs as an example.... that was very very sharp. Nicely done, Kudos again.

    I think that only realistic hope for a solution is through technology, but it might be a little colder than our taste for it. I wonder if the religious folks will eventually start a holy war regarding whatever they deem is "the mark of the beast" as humans become cybernetic (if the AI's let us live). Technology is in my opinion our only hope as a species. It's simultaneously our curse of course, as larger forms of energy become available in smaller packages (even in biological form in a sense) the ability for a smaller "pack" or single person to inflict damage increases dramatically. Hopefully, the world, or rather, the conglomerate of the human experience will be able to "ride the wave" of chaotic influence as all generas of life collide over the next few centuries.

    I think there are reasons for hope. For instance, it's hypothetically possible that if you know what the brain does, you can create accelerated learning stuff that could increase the level of education in society and thusly the social conscience to a higher level. If you let your imagination work, there are as many reasons to think that species could make it as not, so I choose to think things will get more interesting rather than "worse". Okay I'm rambling. Rant off.
     
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