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Posts Tagged ‘Superorganism’

Last night, I was lucky enough to get a personal tour of the California Academy of Sciences from Dr. Brian Fisher, a taxonomist specializing in ants.  He’s doing some amazing work trying to help Madagascar prioritize and save the 10% of native rainforest they have left.  It’s reminiscent of Willie Smits‘ work in Borneo, though focused on preservation rather than revitalization.  But it has the same feel of getting the local people committed to managing their own ecological resources.

You can donate here (I gave them $500), but make sure to write “For the Fisher Madagascar Project” in the “Comments” field.  Otherwise, you’ll be paying for the building lights.  Go ahead and leave the “Allocation” field at the default, “Campaign for a New Academy”. Update: Forgot to mention that if you donate $2,000 they’ll name a new species after you or whomever you designate.

It’s hard to do justice to what I saw last night in a blog post, but here goes…

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I had a thought today when I was reading Arnold Kling’s post on always trying to fight the last war with financial regulations.  We seem to reliably have financial crises.  They don’t follow a schedule, but they do happen somewhat frequently.  What if the financial system is gripped by the same pehonomenon of synchronized chaos that I described in this post? A brief survey of Google and Google Scholar doesn’t turn up much.  Anybody know of work in this area?  In other words, “Is there a mathematical economist in the house?”

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Kevin has a few threads regarding the effect that micro behaviors have when aggregated to macro behaviors:

It occurred to me as I was reading this Huffington Post article that there is a reverse-emergent dynamic that occurs when countries (often through their leaders) send signals to other countries through word and action. (more…)

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Continuation of: Focusing on “Autonomy”

I’ve been trying to reconcile Rafe’s an my views on this topic.  I actually think we agree on the broad themes related to our argument over “autonomy”.  From my perspective, it seems like the only real disagreement is on the implications for humans.

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Continuation of: Superfoo

Rafe and I had a great chat on the phone today about Superfoos.  I think we agreed that there will be multiple instances of agents emerging in the level immediately above humans but there is always a single top-level network in local space.  I think we also agreed that the “awareness” at this level will be different from human -awareness.  It probably won’t subsume our awareness (at least without a technological singularity) but will exhibit properties such as self-preservation.

Where we got stuck was on the concept of autonomy.  Stuck isn’t really the right word.  We both greatly expanded our conceptual space around autonomy.  But we didn’t come to agreement on a definition.  However, it was a very productive conversation, so I thought I’d put my impressions down here.

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Response to Superorganism as Terminology.

I was actually about to post something about terminology, so I’m glad this came up. It’s just so difficult to choose words to describe concepts that have little precedent, without going to the extreme of overloading on the one end (e.g. “organism”) or the other extreme of being totally meaningless (e.g. “foo”). I have tried to use terms that are the closest in meaning to what I’m after but there’s no avoiding the misinterpretation. I can only hope by defining and redefining to an audience that is not quick to make snap judgments but rather considers the word usage in context, we can converge to at least a common understanding of what I am claiming. From there at least we have a shot at real communication of ideas and hopefully even agreement.

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