by Mike Meyer
The most common question that I receive in response to discussions of paradigmatic change and the resulting political collapse and institutional failure is, how do we get beyond this and how must we change?
We have built systems and expanded our knowledge to the level that well being can be envisioned for everyone on the planet. Our planet has been sabotaged, however, by self destructive systems driven by greed and various kinds of failure. This was previously the result of ignorance but is now being driven by a minority of our population reacting in fear, denial, and delusion.
These are people who have been so fully indoctrinated into the passing capitalist age that they cannot imagine anything but more of the same even as they are exploited and live on the edge of poverty in a time of vast wealth. The most problematic have demanded a return to feudal forms of government and tribalistic forms of hate.
The most logical element of this group are the current “winners” who have become parasitic owners of massive financial wealth that expands automatically and replaces productivity in the failed capitalist system. They are the 2% or so who are the beneficiaries of the broken economic system. Any correction will greatly reduce their “wealth” which is the only criteria of value that they have. They are fighting that even though maintenance of the system providing that wealth may well kill some of our children and all of our grandchildren and life on this planet. So even the most logical group is irrational.
As a result we watch the rise of racism, bigotry, corruption and greed that replaces our future with very immediate tragedy, disaster, and mindless denunciations of the science that can save us. How do we deal with this?
The problems are far bigger than the newly emboldened racist, fascists, and nationalists can imagine. Their world is based in willful ignorance and the hope of wealth by theft. In a world where wealth has negative value stealing it doesn’t increase that value. We need to move on to a logically administered planet to counter climate destruction and that administration must be logical and scientific. It must have the moral obligation to ensure well being for all life on this planet.
Unfortunately that removes people as the managers of these new systems. We are facing an accelerating collapse of both our climate and our future due to the failure of a significant portion of our population to understand our radically changing planet. Instead of building on our past gains we have active acts of denial and destruction. This indicates the need for rapid evolution to enhance Homo sapiens.
Gaia, the unified living system of our planet, handles rapid environmental change via evolution in a form generally identified as punctuated equilibrium. Among biological life forms accelerated change works to develop alternative forms that could thrive or, at least, survive in the new environment. But this is a species generated environmental disaster and, even accelerated change, takes multiple generations. We have worked ourselves into a corner with our hubris at being above biological evolution. But that attitude is, itself, another layer of hubris.
Fortunately we are a sentient species with the ability to understand and manage evolutionary change. We have been building for this for the last three hundred or so years. We are rapidly developing our future forms that we now need to survive. We just don’t recognize this as evolution.
We are diversifying into a range of new subspecies that will be able to, not only, handle heat, drought, land area loss, and food problems but analyze, engineer, and implement the needed planetary systems to correct for our past mistakes. This will merge electronic, digital, and fully logical systems into our biological infrastructure. Initially this will be new types of human agents, which we already have, in AI and Machine Learning, with augmentation of people which we also already have begun.
Very quickly our needs, driven by the failure of people to handle non linear, complex change and social management of our governmental units in response to climate disasters, will result in our handing over management of our too complex systems and, ultimately, all of our systems to our biodigital offspring. This is also beginning to be recognized with inevitable worsening of trauma for even more people. That will simply need to be dealt with.
We have no choice. Our survival now requires us to evolve in a range of new ways. The need to change in response to disasters that we have created means we evolve or die. While that has been denied by the already traumatized minority and their opportunistic, and not very bright, leaders that denial is being overwhelmed by planetary climate realities.
The speed of climate disaster appears to be far faster than even the latest scientific models Uand completely beyond the levels presented in our politically manipulated popular media. Several years of increasing climate tragedy is a hard thing to deny. This year’s unprecedented heat waves will, I think, be the death of anything but fringe climate crisis denial. Denial will become denial of past denials. Unfortunately it is too late to do more than attempt to slow the disaster and that will take decades of work.
We have a critical number of issues now blocking implementation of the very large changes that we need. Broadly these are the changes needed to transform human administration so that it is universally focused on quality of life for all life on this planet while managing reduction in carbon in the atmosphere to prevent increases beyond 3° C. As we are now at 1.5°C it is already certain that we will be at 2° C within the next few years.
This is far too complex for people to fully grasp, the big problem, but the time span and critical points can be understood if repeated constantly. We appear to be aimed at over 4° C by 2100 unless all fossil fuels and unnecessary production of goods are stopped and many other changes are implemented.
It is likely that 4° C average warming will mean that human civilization will not survive and most other life forms similar to us will already be dead. The process will be continuous. 2100 or 4° C is not the end. 2100 may actually be 2050 or 2075. 4° C is only a point on the rising scale.
These are very big issues that have never been handled previously in human history. What will this require?
Planetary Climate Management
As stated above I don’t believe that our species is currently able to design and implement what must be done. We need to modify the concept of human government to remove almost all of what we call politics. We need self audited automation (the means of eliminating human bias from data and algorithms) busing massive planetary data sets while ensuring diverse populations and self identified groups within that population the security and individual rights that we consider essential.
To manage the planet will require a planetary system with the force of law to achieve a sustainable future for life forms such as ours and all other species. This process must be planetary in nature and scope but must also be maintained for two to three centuries. These are projects not at current human scale.
Systems to accomplish this will need to be continuously scalable and able to operate for several human lifetimes. Obviously this will need to be given to self auditing AI/ML arrays operating around the planet, and perhaps in orbit, for redundancy in an increasingly volatile environment.
Management for People
At the human social level government needs to be modified so that it provides universal rights and guaranteed life services for all sentient beings. This will need to be directly integrated with the planetary climate management systems as those systems will be defining and redefining resource allocations, food management, and population movements in response to changing environmental conditions to ensure minimums standards are met for all.
The wildly illogical movement of parts of our population to tribalism, xenophobia, nationalism, racism, and fascism in any form, while always pathological, are now deadly. These tendencies must be restrained and controlled. Survival allows no place for emotion and hate driven reactions such we see in many troubled areas, e.g. the US, Brazil, Great Britain, Poland, Turkey, the Philippines, etc.
This cannot be a planetary dictatorship or set of dictatorships in the traditonal human reaction but fully rational systems modeling all resources for climate optimization and sentinet well being. Note the term: sentient, as opposed to human. We will quickly be dealing with very intelligent systems and potentially biologically diverse offspring of humans and cyborg combinations that may have differing needs and, definitely, differing abilities.
Given the steady movement to regional urban centers with 55% there now rising to 68% by 2050, human management is already primarily by local urban governments. These are cultural and economic centers incorporating surrounding cities, towns and rural areas. It seems to me that we can no longer afford redundant layers of government when our focus must be on planetary and climate issues with planetary resources managed at that level.
It is well understood that local government is most effective in meeting the needs of specific regional populations and urban governments are, by definition, managers of diversity. Political problems currently threatening to overwhelm some nations are the result of minority groups attempting to take control of large nations to impose arbitrary rules on different populations who will fight back. While these conflicts certainly will continue we can, I think, reduce this by allowing people much more direct democratic rule by urban region than by archaic nation states developed in 18th century Europe.
At the planetary level allowing full sovereign autonomous political entities struggling with internal political conflicts while attempting to demarcate with hard borders is already impossible to manage. The loss of livable areas and regional crop failures will necessitate large planetary population movements. At the broadest level we will spend the rest of the 21st century with current topical populations moving north or south to more temperate climates while current temperate populations will have the opportunity to move farther north or south to newly temperate areas.
Adding in seal level rise and regions of potential heat death, such as the American southwest exacerbates this complexity. These population movement challenges alone, given the current insanity of those groups claiming sole control of planetary regions and the right to exclude people arbitrarily, indicate the critical need to move this to automated AI/ML systems. People are unable to handle this without a complete breakdown into ethnocentrism and racism. That will be the death of our species and most others on this planet. AI management can transition into an equitable and unemotional local government system.
Evolution is moving very quickly now as it has been for some years. Biological change in the traditional pattern has been fairly effectively blocked by our ability to maintain people no matter there ability to survive independently. In fact we traditionally take pride in that.
The assumption has been that the 15,000 years of human civilization, post Neolithic agricultural revolution, is not long enough to achieve evolutionary change. That has fallen by the wayside as our fixation on genes as the sole mode of change has been replaced by a range of other factors allowing environmental effects on inheritable characteristics but that is not what we will see first.
Biological evolution on a time scale to allow us to deal with what we face may be possible but it will be dependent on us. CRISPR, itself an evolving tool, frightens people, as it should, but that will not slow down our need to change and change quickly.
Without disappearing into the philosophical brush, I think it is important to say that there are larger forces at work on us and our planet than we had thought. These are not mystical or mythological forces but the evolutionary force(s) of our universe. We are linked as sentient beings consciously to everything around us. While we still tend to think exclusively in terms of tangible objects on this planet those objects are no more real than we are. They only appear so. Realizing this allows us to, perhaps, accept that there may be ideas that are embodied in the dynamic evolution of this planet and beyond. As sentient beings in a quantum mechanical universe we are active agents in that evolution.
Our preferred tools for evolution at this stage are electromechanical and digital. We have been advancing geometrically over the last forty years in augmented information processing, storage, and communication. That is taking two evolutionary paths for our species.
The first is one we are totally focused on now and that is AI/ML as we design intelligent, learning systems for process automation. These are our digital children and our next generation. We are training them as fast as possible and worrying endlessly over their shortcomings and every instance of poor performance.
We are already struggling with that next stage when we accept that we have reached our limit and accept the help and management of our grown children. Even harder is the realization that we may need to accept the help and care of our grandchildren who are even less like us. This is the logical development of what we call Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. We are creating a continuation of our biological line to include electronic offspring. The faster we realize that, the easier it will be even though parenthood is never easy.
The second strand or line of evolution for our species is the merger of electromechanical line directly with our biological line in an augmented human form. The critical component in this line of development is the brain-machine interface now in development planetwide and most publicized being Elon Musk's Neurolink corporation with Facebook working on this also.
While this coincides with the growing Transhumanist movement, that movement started from a desire to extend human life by scientific and technical means. Ironically, I see this now as the only means to extend not just individual human life but the life or our species.
Despite the best attempts at Hollywood horror this is not a competition to replace Homo sapiens but diversification of our species into subforms and, ultimately, perhaps distinct species whether biological, electromechanical, or cyborgs. We are already well on our way to that with the near permanent attachment of smartphones to our bodies.
The most direct statement of this future as the only way to ensure our survival in some form on this planet has been made by the father of the Gaea hypothesis, James Lovelock. He has just published a small book on his one hundredth birthday entitled: Novacine: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence.
We will owe our survival, if they succeed, to our electromechanical and digital cyborg children. The next generation of humans in the Novacine age.
This is what we must learn to understand as we work to achieve managed evolution of our species to survive our greatest disaster. Nothing will remain the same but there is hope.