Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Repairing Reality - Part II

Last time, we looked at what constitutes memetic selection. As it turns out, the process by which memes are selected over their competitors has been very poorly defined -- and quite flawed -- ever since human beings began to share information through language and culture. Culture, contrary to the opinions of just about everyone, is a negative component of our lives, as it promotes static thinking. There is no culture which does not hold some superstition or other kind of preconception at its core, unchangeable if only because replacing it with something superior would be frightening to the populace at large. This static approach to ideas is an enemy of progress, for it encourages humans to grow attached to their beliefs; once attached, they become rabid proponents, unwilling to listen to reason and afraid that the idea in which they believe, should it be compromised, will leave their identities vulnerable.

Ideas are cast out all the time in favor of new ones, and this is a healthy part of learning. However, if a particular idea is associated with a person's identity, or proves to be part of the kernel at the core of the culture, rationality quickly falls to the wayside as fear and emotion take hold. This phenomenon is most evident when subscribers to religious myths encounter members of the "scientific community," though it is far more pervasive as a whole than that particular instance.

Unfortunately for most people, there is no one finite thing which has the power to define an individual. Serial killers cannot be "bad people," because some of them are reformed later in life. Likewise, someone who makes an important scientific discovery is not a "great man," because there may be other aspects of himself which are unhealthy. Just as technology is constantly being upgraded, so, too, are individual human beings; resisting this process for no other reason than because it makes you feel good to cling to your preconceptions, or because you enjoy "showing off" your identity in social settings, is dangerous. Our minds, by their very nature, are open systems; data is constantly being input into them and shaping how they operate. Cultural biases, preconceptions, and various forms of assumption hinder this process.

So, getting back to part I, why should the systems we use to maintain and evaluate our society be emergent?

Methodologies, though tentatively defined by the processes which birth them, must be emergent; otherwise, like in the case of any system predicated on a finite origin point, there will be an infinite regress of processes, each preceded by a system with built-in methods for how to produce its respective process. Instead, then, we should use an open system, predicated on an open methodology, and these things will be emergent.

Searching for the origin of a system and its preceding process:

1. Guidelines and methods as part of a systematic process for constructing a methodology
2. Methodology - a set of methods and guidelines for solving problems and operating/maintaining systems
3. What the methodology is applied toward -- usually some kind of system, prototypical or otherwise, as it runs a process or sequence of processes -- in an effort to solve a problem or set of problems
4. The output or product of the system in the form of more guidelines to be used in constructing the next methodology

In other words, people would be asking: if a system was designed via a methodology, what system designed the methodology, and by what process? This would continue ad infinitum, and therefore is impossible as a mega-process in the context of the human species.

Note, also, that methodologies differ from paradigms in that they have the capacity to remain open indefinitely, thus enabling them to change with time. The latest laptop is never the "final" design (though this could change at some point if there are real informational limitations built into existence). Remember that, though reality itself appears to be predicated on causally interconnected data, it is not necessarily linear, nor would contemplating finite origin points be an efficient or practical approach to understanding that data.

With the above in mind, harboring a small collection of finite beliefs and practices, or a culture, is extremely inefficient and archaic. The alternative is to allow ideas to compete with one another in an unbiased medium -- utilizing systems such as the human brain, sans cognitive biases and preconceptions -- as our database, and hence scope of reality, grows. This can only be facilitated and conducted if we eliminate all current models and systems in favor of an emergent, dynamic system, continuously running and open to all input.

In part III, we'll identify the two core problems that plague reality, then decompose them into their respective functional primitives. We'll also outline the tools and basic methodology we'll be working with to tackle all the problems we encounter as we live life.

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