Hi-Tech Society: Race to the Bottom?

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by coberst, Apr 4, 2010.

  1. coberst Registered Senior Member

    Hi-Tech Society: Race to the Bottom?

    Will our hi-tech hand-held gadgets lead us to becoming a less sophisticated society?

    It appears to me that such gadgets seem to dramatically increase the interaction within the adolescent peer group. I suspect that this interaction tends to create a greater group-think than before. It appears to me that adolescence is reached younger and lasts longer than before; I would say that generally this age of adolescence period is from 12 to the mid-twenties.

    Scientists are studying and trying to develop an ability to emulate the actions of animal swarms. The birds and the bees can do it; why cannot humans emulate their behavior to our advantage?

    The collective behavior of animal swarms displays advantageous collective actions without the guidance of organized leadership. Ants, as individuals, are not clever—as a collective ants, bees, birds, caribou, etc. are amazingly clever—there seems to exist something one might label as swarm intelligence—simple creatures following simple rules equal swarm intelligence.

    Computer engineers attempt to emulate swarm intelligence to solve complex human problems.

    Compare animal swarm intelligence with group psychology.

    What is the nature of the ‘group mind’, i.e. the mental changes such individuals undergo as a result of becoming part of a group?

    A bond develops much like cells which constitute a living body—group mind is more of an unconscious than a conscious force—there are motives for action that elude conscious attention—distinctiveness and individuality become group behavior based upon unconscious motives—there develops a sentiment of invincible power, anonymous and irresponsible attitudes--repressions of unconscious forces under normal situations are ignored—conscience which results from social anxiety disappear.

    Contagion sets in—hypnotic order becomes prevalent—individuals sacrifice personal interest for the group interest.

    Suggestibility, of which contagion is a symptom, leads to the lose of conscious personality—the individual follows suggestions for actions totally contradictory to person conscience—hypnotic like fascination sets in—will and discernment vanishes—direction is taken from the leader in an hypnotic like manner—the conscious personality disappears.

    “Moreover, by the mere fact that he forms part of an organized group, a man descends several rungs in the ladder of civilization.” Isolated, he may be a cultivated individual; in a crowd, he is a barbarian—a creature acting by instinct. “He possesses the spontaneity, the violence, the ferocity, and also the enthusiasm and heroism of primitive beings.”

    There is a lowering of intellectual ability “pointing to its similarity with the mental life of primitive people and of children…A group is credulous and easily influenced”—the improbable seldom exists—they think in images—feelings are very simple and exaggerated—the group knows neither doubt nor uncertainty—extremes are prevalent, antipathy becomes hate and suspicion becomes certainty.

    Force is king—force is respected and obeyed without question—kindness is weakness—tradition is triumphant—words have a magical power—supernatural powers are easily accepted—groups never thirst for truth, they demand illusions—the unreal receives precedence over the real—the group is an obedient herd—prestige is a source for domination, however it “is also dependent upon success, and is lost in the event of failure”.

    Perhaps human groups cannot develop in a similar manner as does swarm intelligence but the existence of such successful ways of handling complex problems indicates that some critical thinking regarding human group behavior is certainly in order.

    Questions for discussion:

    Do you think it is possible for humans to significantly improve performance within a group?

    Do you think that we can find a way to make group behavior more sophisticated?

    Sources for ideas and quotes in this OP come from Swarm Theory--an article in the July 2007 edition of “National Geographic” and from Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego by Freud.
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  3. Kennyc Registered Senior Member

    I think our gadgets and media have "dumbed down" the population. People expect to be spoon-fed or rely on others to think for them. It's very sad. I'm not sure it is totally due to our technology, but certainly seems related to the media.
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  5. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member


    there's always schools and media that can fix anything,

    in everything, there's always advantages and disadvantages...
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I think it merely changes the scope and nature of that interaction. In my adolescent years (the late 1950s and early 1960s) we spent more time in each other's physical company than today's kids, but of necessity in smaller groups than they maintain contact with electronically today. Our communication also had vastly greater bandwidth: the hundred muscles that form facial expressions, the body language, the affectionate punches on the shoulder and derisive slaps on the back of the head. And when it comes to textual communication rather than oral, today's bandwidth is even more pathetic: emoticons substitute for tone, cadence, volume and all of the other non-linguistic dynamics; and tweets substitute for longer and more nuanced expressions.

    So today's kids interact with a larger group of peers, but the interaction is more shallow. They can exchange information (as much as can be squeezed into 140 characters), but not feelings.
    With their emotional links to each other weakening, I think that they are far less likely to influence each other into a group think tank than we were. Do the virtual homies in these virtual packs even have leaders to exert influence? Humans are a pack-social species (more on that later) so we're more likely to be influenced by leaders than by peers.
    That hasn't changed much since my day. Pat Boone had a big hit in the mid 1950s about "The Years twixt Twelve and Twenty." Kids are reaching puberty a bit earlier today, but I think that is more a function of nutrition and the parts-per-billion concentration of medicinal hormones in human waste that elude the filters and seep into the drinking water. Look at what it's done to those hermaphrodite fish!

    And of course adolescent behavior extends longer now. Only a minority of my generation went to college. Everybody else went to work, got married and had children. They had to behave like grownups. Today 30-year-olds are dicking around in the seventh year of their master's degree, living in their parents' house, taking contraceptives, and spending half of their time stoned.
    There is a vast difference among the various types of social behavior. Sparrows and zebras are herd/flock social: they congregate because one of them found a great food supply or a sturdy tree, and because a large group confuses a predator visually and is harder to attack than an individual. Wolves and lions are pack-social: cooperative hunting brings down more game. Bees are hive-social: they bring food back to the queen because the individuals do not participate in reproduction.

    By instinct, humans are pack-social like wolves and lions: cooperative hunters. But over the millennia we have used reasoned and learned behavior to override that instinctive behavior, and are becoming more like a herd-social species. Once we invented the technology of agriculture we discovered that working together in larger groups made everyone safer and more prosperous, using the principles that we now call "division of labor" and "economy of scale."

    In fact, as I have often suggested, it can be argued that we have created a new type of organism: civilization. We are its cells, and as we are born and die as individuals, it continues to survive. I think we need a new term for this kind of social behavior, something like "civilization-social" but less clumsy.
    Sometimes the leadership is biological. In many insects there is only one queen who is capable of reproduction, so she is the leader and all the others do her bidding by instinct.
    Be careful when you get into the warm-blooded vertebrates. There often is a leader. Every pack has one, that's one of the defining characterists of a pack, whether we imprecisely call it a "pack" like wolves or a "herd" like elephants or a "clan" like gorillas. Even many true herds have a leader, usually a female who leads them all to their next feeding ground, like the American bison.
    Hmmm. In our species we usually credit the person with more intelligence who is able to make good decisions without rules.

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    Of course. Digital computers are as stupid as bumblebees! Perhaps analog computers might have had more potential for animal-like intelligence, but that line of research seems to have been abandoned for many important technical reasons.
    This is one of Freud's many bizarre little nuggets that comprise the reason his teachings have been supplanted by Jung virtually everywhere--except, unfortunately, in medical schools.

    Civilization is an organized group! As we ascended through the various levels of organization, from the hunter-gatherer clan of a couple of dozen extended-family members of our Paleolithic ancestors, to the village of the Neolithic Era, to the cities of the next Paradigm Shift, to the nation, to the state, to today's transnational alliances, and (hopefully) to the single global civilization whose formation awaits only the disappearance of the atavistic instinct of religion, we have become more organized and more civilized. Freud, as usual, is all wet.
    You're only talking about Christians and Republicans.

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    You're talking about a Stone Age clan, or the followers of Fox News, more than any group of cyberbuddies such as the members of SciForums.
    Swarm intelligence is only capable of solving problems that it is programmed for. It has no capacity for transcendence.
    We've been doing that for several million years, as the size of our groups have continued to expand. I see no reason why we would reach a plateau now. The rate of the advance of civilization has increased tremendously over the eras.
    The essence of sophistication is greater complexity and nuance through education and experience. So the answer to that one is obviously "yes."
  8. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Mob behavior reminds me of an algorithm which provides a good estimate of the effective intelligence of a committee.
    • Take the average IQ of the two smartest members & divide by the total number of members.
    I think the above algorithm applies to both the intelligence & the ethical standards of a mob.
  9. Kennyc Registered Senior Member

    Ain't it true!
  10. coberst Registered Senior Member

    Does peer group networking, facilitated by hand-held gadgets, enhance the probability for the following kind of group behavior?

    The following quotes come from the Washington Post article:

    Kids Gone Wild, Parents Gone Missing by By Richard Cohen
    Tuesday, April 6,

    “It is either significant or merely interesting that William Golding dedicated his classic, "Lord of the Flies," to his mother and father. It is precisely the absence of parents, or any adult actually, that enables the boys of the island to descend into savagery, and it is the sudden appearance of an adult at the end that restores what we would now call law and order. This tale, way before its time, was a precursor to South Hadley High School in Massachusetts and the suicide of Phoebe Prince. It was the only way she could get off the island.”

    “After a lengthy investigation, District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel had nine students arrested on criminal charges. At the same time, she alleged that while the teenagers had tormented Phoebe to the point where she hanged herself, teachers and administrators were somehow complicit because they knew -- or should have known -- that Phoebe was being bullied by a coterie of aspiring fascists. Phoebe was a newcomer from Ireland and thus, as anyone with the slightest novelist bent would know, the stranger with no champions, no defenders and, in her mind, no way out.”

  11. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I did not want to start new thread and this seems best existing one for my question: How does this death rate compare to western societies, especially the USA?

    "A total of 431 police officers died on security service duty in 2009, and another 2,871 were wounded (excluding minor injuries), said the Chinese Ministry of Public Security..." From: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-04/06/content_9691004.htm

    Also is there higher or lower death rates of the law officers in lower tech societies? For example in the USA, circa 1900.

    I suspect that the higher pace and tensions of modern society does increase the rate that the officers trying to keep order in that society are killed in the line of duty. Modern "fire power" (guns) in the hands of many surely increases their death rates too. Here it would useful to compare US and England, where hand guns are much less widely owned by the citizens.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2010
  12. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member


    technology advancement, and hight-tech is necerry for the human race in the future, if we continued with our current needs, and our current technology, the planet earth will die just in some dicates, technology is supposed to creat water, liek sea water destialltion, and water from he air, also i saw a new device, that only use electricity like a lamp, and it can purify, or, seperate water , from any liquid mater, even if it was so polluted, and it provide 1000 leters a day, also naturla resources will be teh future problem, so, human will have to expand to other planets, mayeb he can find other resources there, also water, already exist with huge amounts, on moon, and mars, etc... on moon, they discovered that there are alot more water than they expected, and that water, can provide the water needs, of a colony, on a very long time, on the moon, also, we will need more efficase technology, than can make plants grow faster, already happening, but that fast, etc... also skycrapers farms, we will defferently need them, and other... alot others... i saw a show last night on tv.
    so hight-tech is our future, and there's no way that we can run away of it, we will need it to survive, also, goverments, can always can find ways to creat activities for people, (machines will do the hard work, and easy work) so human will just entertain, and manage, here, is the rle of education, wich everyoen should be educated about everything,, so they can keep control on the technology, or it will damage them, the future sounds bright for technology, but not for humans alot, but, who knows, it's FUTURE, you cant pridict everything, also, you didnt predict of teh financial crisis, etc... humans, will just take kare of arts, thinking, and entertain, managing, learning, etc... (inless machines will think for us :bugeye: )
    the technology advancement, is a future that we can't get rid of , and we cant runaway of it, it's our future, and we can't live, and survive without it. in this centery, we have major problems, pollution, energy, oil, global worming, desasters, etc.. but it's not that bad, in teh future, humans will be able to control the weatehr disaster, by increasing by 1 degree the area where teh horecane exists, by using satleites, that concentrate sun light on that spot, and that way, teh storm disippear, or, become weaker, before it reach the city, also they can controll in other stuff, like cloudy weather, or not, sunny, rainy, etc... there's also human DNA, and genes ingenering, there are some pills, already tested on animals, that can provide some kind of energy, or back-up, for a part of teh DNA, just one stick or something (sorry, don't know the english word,

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    ) this oen here, will send orders to teh human body cells, to reconstruct itself, that way, human will live longer, before be become old, ( i mean old cells, weka body, etc...) he can live the twice that we live toaday, and others .... so don't worry so much about our future, there will be always place for humans, like in china, china can transform it's industry into hight-tech industry, or with alot of machines, that can replace humans, but in that case, humans want find a job, and can't live, or maybe go to crime, that's why china, emply the highest number of people that china can in industries and others...
    don't also forget the human population, that people will need to work, and maybe alot of contries, will build more industries, or reduce machines in industries, that that cotnry can employ it's unemployed people,

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