Sunday, December 10, 2017

Collective Intelligence Will Solve Identity Politics The Way The Internet Solved Racism..., |  A more optimistic view would expect us to learn the cultural habits of being part of a collective intelligence—better able to share, listen, or take turns. It would hope too that we can learn the wisdom to cope with opposites—to understand suspicion as necessary for truth, fear for hope, and surveillance for freedom.

It’s tempting to link possible future evolutions of collective intelligence to what we already know of evolution. John Maynard Smith and Eörs Szathmary offered one of the best summaries of these processes when they described the eight main transitions in the evolution of complexity in life. These were the shift from chromosomes to multicellular organisms, prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells, plants to animals, and simple to sexual reproduction. Every transition involved a new form of cooperation and interdependence (so that things that before the transition could replicate independently, afterward could only replicate as “part of a larger whole”), and new kinds of communication, ways of both storing and transmitting information.

It’s entirely plausible that future evolutions of intelligence will have comparable properties—with new forms of cooperation and interdependence along with new ways of handling communication that bring with them deeper understanding of both the outer as well as inner world. The idea of an evolution of consciousness is both obvious and daunting. It is obvious that consciousness does evolve and can in the future. But social science fears speculation, and much that has been written on this theme is either abstract or empty. We see in films and novels visions of machines with dramatically enhanced capacities to calculate, observe, and respond. They may be benign or malign (they’re more interesting when they are evil), but we can grasp their implications when we see them scanning emotions on faces, shooting down swarms of attacking missiles, or manipulating complex networks to direct people.