Thank you for your gracious response.
First, I want to tell you how delighted I am by your site at
http://www.universimmedia.com. It is a model for me (including the little
alien). I am grateful for the bilingual approach too. I mostly work
between English and Italian. Your pages afford me a warm experience of
On your points,
1. Well, I am a child of the 50's. My sister recently reminded me that her
older brother was digging a bomb shelter in the cellar part of our house,
until my father discovered I was undermining the footings for the chimney.
So I went safely back to my teenage chemistry set and photography work. We
had similar conversations but our models were beatniks, not hippies!
2. On the global system evolving by itself, I do resonate with that.
3. With regard to collective action and knowledge, I notice how much I have
come to appreciate that I am part of many activities that are larger than
any I can conduct on my own. Our ability to cooperatively produce results
greater than any of us can individually accomplish and that are somehow
greater even than the aggregation of individual acts (i.e., there is
synergy) is something to marvel at. When I take the time to observe my
surroundings and what I am part of, I am often overcome. And it is all so
much about people and what we want for ourselves and each other.
We have no choice but to act in our world, and there are consequences of
every action. We are always left with the question about "right action."
It is in the struggle with this that responsibility emerges, it seems to me.
4. Interesting that it comes down to language and communication. Helen
Keller, who became deaf and blind in her infancy, did not "get" language
until she was a youngster. She later could recall exactly when that
happened, and that an entire world opened up the moment she got her first
concept. (In "The Miracle Worker," the drama created about it, it is when
she learns "water.") There was no world, and she had no existence (was not
situated, as a self, perhaps), until that moment.
It is perhaps fitting to end this part of our exchange with a quotation from
Hellen Keller, on reality:
How reconcile this world of fact with the bright world of my imagining? My
darkness has been filled with the light of intelligence, and behold, the
outer day-light world was stumbling and groping in social blindness.
Encarta® Book of Quotations © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights
reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
From: Bernard Vatant [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2001 02:03
Subject: [unrev-II] Re: Collective Intelligence
[n: markers inserted by dh:2001-02-06]
[1:] Your interesting viewpoint about collective intelligence recalls me of
recurrent idea of mine when I was a student, back in the 70's. Remember - I
don't know if you were around - that was the time where we had overnight
conversations on how we'll make a better world, and everyone had his/her
method for that : back to tribal communities, armed communist revolution,
spiritual new age, anything ...
[2:] Sometimes in that debates I suggested that
anyway, the global system is evolving by itself, following complex and
invisible laws that have nothing to do with our models, that the power is
not where it seems to be, and that it is no use to fight to get to that
place of apparent power, that we have anyway no proper way to evaluate in
the complex global system the very results of our action, and so consider
in our evaluation process only those aspects that are relevant to argument
we are in the good action line and the other are bad etc.
Since the communities I put that sort of argument in were mainly activist,
I was bound to meet strong rebuttals, the main one being that it would be a
too easy argument to give up any form of action - the Unforgivable Sin !
So I buried that weird idea in some corner of my mind, convinced that life
is action, and to perform action you have to be confident, at least that if
your action if not fully efficient, it makes things somehow move in the
direction you'd like them to move.
[3:] I think we are back to a same kind of debate about collective
I agree with you the complex processes involved in it are, like economic
and social processes, far to be understood and we don't have at this point
the ability to represent and compute in an effective way their evolution.
I'm very reluctant anyway to the idea that the term "collective
intelligence" points to anything else that a shorthand for a class of
processes where synergy of many brains is involved, and yields results that
no single brain would have produced. I don't really believe of the emerging
of it as a"upper" level of being, and give up the comparison with the
neurons in the human brain at that point. It's the same with processes in a
complex ecosystem : the emerging of complex phenomena in a rainforest, not
reductible to individual behaviours of all species in it, does not prove
that there is something like a "Nature" governing it. So much for Gaia
theory and alikes.
I agree with you that I can't set any valuable argument for that, and if
this upper level have some identity - whatever that means - I have no way
to grasp it. But if this *whatever* is out of any attempt to understand or
represent or conceive or make measure on it, that means, on a pragmatic
viewpoint, it is not in our universe.
[4:] I had a question lately in my mail
about my website : "Can you tell me : what is universe ?" My answer was :
*your* universe is made of whatever *you* can exchange information with.
The rest is silence :)
----- Message d'origine -----
De : Dennis E. Hamilton <email@example.com>
À : <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc : <unrev-II@yahoogroups.com>
Envoyé : lundi 5 février 2001 07:04
Objet : OT: Collective Intelligence
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