I do know the future. It has been told. The future is artificial intelligence. The future is augmented reality. The future (already here) is Big Brother, as George Orwell predicted, and as the World Brain that HG Wells predicted. The future is vast information from the World Brain reassembled by Big Brother using AI to create an “education” delivered via augmented reality.
This crazy sci-fi reality is largely already here. As crazy as it sounds, we love it. We love being told what to think. We love being told what to do. We love that life can be so easy. Big Brother is always there managing our food supply, our fuel supply, our infrastructure, our biosphere. The work of consciousness is over. Awareness is an artifact. Intelligence is for machines. The wisdom to do the right thing is out of our hands and we have never been so happy.
The past is untenable. History has a lesson but we wouldn’t know how to listen even if we cared to listen. Still, there is something some people might learn from thousands of years of human history.
What can be said about the many thousands of years of humanity? Before computers, television and automobiles. Before factories and compulsory education. What was in people, or in their technology, that was the thing that gave them the potential to create cell phones and rocket ships to the moon? They weren’t so different from us, you know. The genetics were almost exactly the same. The brain size was very similar. They walked. They communicated. They slept and ate. They were dependent, as we are, on each other.
Wait, back up. Back then people were dependent on each other, and they knew they were dependent on each other. Today, not so much. How many mornings does a person wake up feeling immense gratitude that while we slept there was an oil baron who made certain that millions of barrels of oil journeyed across oceans and to your town so you could have your morning coffee and toast? For thousands of years we were not so oblivious. People new exactly where the animal migration would happen and who would bring home the kill. Watchers kept an eye on the sky so they knew when the seasons were about to change. Everyone counted on these people to say when to make the migration to warmer territory. Even after people settled down, the watchers said when to plant and when to store up for winter. With the county library yet ten thousand years in the future, knowledge was presented by mouth and by example. This life of humanity was fundamentally 180 degrees different from today.
I know something about the past. Look carefully and you will feel it too. Yes, it is not an objective criteria but a feeling. Yet it is most essential, and changes everything. It is a step beyond the intellect of knowing data, and even beyond a person’s ability to reason. This obscure thing is what gave humanity its potential. This thing gave us cell phones and airplanes and a dream of going to Mars. This thing is… connection.
You were there ten thousand and a hundred thousand years ago. Well, most of us anyway. I suspect most people have had the opportunity, if some years ago, to join with friends around a fire. That thing was in us then, and still is in us now. Remember that moment of friendship and fire and remember what it was like for millennia of humanity. It is time slowed down. It is hearing the crackling of the fire. The wafting of the cool night air mixed with the aroma of wood smoke. The warmth of the fire mixed with warmth from the hearts of the people across the way. You were in agreement. This was a moment of trust. It was your moment to speak and be heard. Memories formed easily, bonds were formed, in this exchange that is somehow sacred. It is ancient.
So, cook some food, tell some tales, sing your songs, and share the smiles. Feel the warmth of the fire. Then remember in old times how this was the when the elders spoke their wisdom and everyone listened. The children learned which herbs. The teens learned how to approach the wild game, and they learned a new weave for basket making. They were told the fish would begin running next week. It was explained that the grain must be collected in the next month. They were told to patch garments and repair housing in preparation for winter. In this way, education, awareness, and the wisdom to act in the right time were not optional. Being watchful, having integrity, and being responsible were matters of life and death. Only the tribes that practiced intelligence survived millennia to eventually enjoy Facebook and iTunes. The intelligence I am taking about has little to do with an individual knowing anything. Rather it is the commitment they experienced sitting around the fire. It is the love and trust they shared in the glow. The tribe had something we have lost. They had each other. In the connection was the learning. In the connection was the drive to stay alert, watchful to everything about life. They created a tradition, an enculturation of mindfulness. They knew it was by mindfulness that they survived. However, they performed learning and research and organization because of the intimacy incurred around the fire. The inner unseen drive was their love.
Connection from love begets a different sort of intelligence. It is the power of synergy. It is mathematics. Just as one neuron with many dendrites allows seemingly infinite learning and organization in the mind, so does the connection of one person to many, in a functional committed support, allow seemingly infinite organization and action expanding throughout an environment. The order of the many is the next manifestation of intelligence. We certainly are not required to manifest this intelligence from love. That being so, let’s look at the options.
The future option is one we have already chosen. We chose to put knowledge into machines. Then we gave away the button that operates the machine. Big Brother has his finger on the button. You can say whatever you like about who is Big Brother and if he is evil or saint, but the fact is he comes from us. It was our decision to turn from the circle around the fire, leaving the fate of humanity in the hands of whomever is motivated to pick up the chalice.
Intelligence is democracy. Democracy is caring enough to know enough, reason enough, and do enough to cause society to function well enough to survive the next ten thousand years. There is no such thing as stupid democracy. We are either all in or all out. In, as in “intelligent”, or out, as in “out of our minds”. One path is synergy. The other path is chaos. In chaos, our only prayer is that some autocrat will manipulate us into something orderly, or some despot will force order at any cost. There are few options for leaders who are in charge of a rat race. At best they can follow the example of the rats who are in it only for themselves, expecting to get what they have coming, and without being causative or supportive. The nature of the tribe, and of our foundations in intelligence, is lost to our modern societies of millions of individuals. So, what to do?
Restore democracy. We are not restoring some political agenda. We are restoring intelligence as synergy. We are restoring the warmth, the connection, and the intention that brought forth civilization in a process over thousands of years. It is more than a proven process*. It is the fundamental nature of what makes up Homo sapiens sapiens. It is who we are to connect as like-minded individuals into tribes. The tribe is its people, driven by a caring attitude to be with the people we trust to share information and plan for the future. We in the tribe care enough to do our part to support the activities that bring survival. Together we create the intentions, and support the activities, that recreate life as empowerment, as wisdom. This is not about knowing something, but about the love of life and loving connection, making a difference because the whole is much greater than the sum.
I don’t know the future. But iAmSapien is the potential to begin restoring our tribal nature to synergistic wisdom. It is the opportunity to connect with people you trust so to connect as an intention so to become aware. We are all learners and teachers. In the sharing is the potential of a future for humanity. It is a great adventure. We can’t see what’s coming. We can but trust that what made us homo sapiens sapiens over millennia will steer us back on course from our side trip into selfishness.
*Apart from the offspring of a small number of rare interbreeding events, though, the Neanderthals did die out. Their brains might have been just as big as ours, but ours might have been better at a few key tasks–those involved in building social bonds in particular—allowing us to survive the most recent glacial period while the Neanderthals expired.
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/science-shows-why-youre-smarter-than-a-neanderthal-1885827/#vXpAr6KkRohxOtzs.99