kai_krause's picture
Software Pioneer; Philosopher; Author, A Realtime Literature Explorer
Anty Gravity: Chaos Theory in an all too practical sense

Dangerous Ideas? It is dangerous ideas you want? From this group of people ? That in itself ought to be nominated as one of the more dangerous ideas...

Danger is ubiquitous. If recent years have shown us anything, it should be that "very simple small events can cause real havoc in our society". A few hooded youths play cat and mouse with the police: bang, thousands of burned cars put all of Paris into a complete state of paralysis, mandatory curfew and the entire system in shock and horror.

My first thought was: what if any really smart set of people really set their mind to it...how utterly and scarily trivial it would be, to disrupt the very fabric of life, to bring society to a dead stop?

The relative innocence and stable period of the last 50 years may spiral into a nearly inevitable exposure to real chaos. What if it isn't haphazard testosterone driven riots, where they cannibalize their own neighborhood, much like in L.A. in the 80s, but someone with real insight behind that criminal energy ? What if Slashdotters start musing aloud about "Gee, the L.A. water supply is rather simplistic, isn't it?" An Open Source crime web, a Wiki for real WTO opposition ? Hacking L.A. may be a lot easier than hacking IE.
That is basic banter over a beer in a bar, I don't even want to actually speculate what a serious set of brainiacs could conjure up. And I refuse to even give it any more print space here. However, the danger of such sad memes is what requires our attention!

In fact, I will broaden the specter still: its not violent crime and global terrorism I worry about, as much as the basic underpinning of our entire civilization coming apart, as such. No acts of malevolence, no horrible plans by evil dark forces, neither the singular "Bond Nemesis" kind, nor masses of religious fanatics. None of that needed... It is the glue that is coming apart to topple this tower. And no, I am not referring to "spiraling trillions of debt".

No, what I am referring to is a slow process I observed over the last 30 years, ever since in my teens I wondered "How would this world work, if everyone were like me ?" and realized: it wouldn't !

It was amazing to me that there were just enough people to make just enough shoes so that everyone can avoid walking barefoot. That there are people volunteering to spend day-in, day-out, being dentists, and lawyers and salesmen. Almost any "jobjob" I look at, I have the most sincere admiration for the tenacity of the people...how do they do it? It would drive me nuts after hours, let alone years...Who makes those shoes ?

That was the wondrous introspection in adolescent phases, searching for a place in the jigsaw puzzle.

But in recent years, the haunting question has come back to me: "How the hell does this world function at all? And does it, really ? I feel an alienation zapping through the channels, I can't find myself connecting with those groups of humanoids trouncing around MTV. Especially the glimpses of "real life": on daytime-courtroom-dramas or just looking at faces in the street. On every scale, the closer I observe it, the more the creeping realization haunts me: individuals, families, groups, neighborhoods, cities, states, countries... they all just barely hang in there, between debt and dysfunction. The whole planet looks like Any town with mini malls cutting up the landscape and just down the road it's all white trash with rusty car wrecks in the back yard. A huge Groucho Club I don't want to be a member of.

But it does go further: what is particularly disturbing to see is this desperate search for Individualism that has rampantly increased in the last decade or so.

Everyone suddenly needs to be so special, be utterly unique. So unique that they race off like lemmings to get 'even more individual' tattoos, branded cattle, with branded chains in every mall, converging on a blanded sameness world wide, but every rap singer with ever more gold chains in ever longer stretched limos is singing the tune: Don't be a loser! Don't be normal! The desperation with which millions of youngsters try to be that one-in-a-million professional ball player may have been just a "sad but silly factoid" for a long time.

But now the tables are turning: the anthill is relying on the behaviour of the ants to function properly. And that implies: the social behaviour, the role playing, taking defined tasks and follow them through.

What if each ant suddenly wants to be the queen? What if soldiering and nest building and cleaning chores is just not cool enough any more?

If AntTV shows them every day nothing but un-Ant behaviour...?

In my youth we were whining about what to do and how to do it, but in the end,all of my friends did become "normal" humans, orthopedics and lawyers, social workers, teachers... There were always a few that lived on the edges of normality, like ending up as television celebrities, but on the whole: they were perfectly reasonable ants. 1.8 children, 2.7 cars, 3.3 TVs...

Now: I am no longer confident that line will continue. If every honeymoon is now booked in Bali on a Visa card, and every kid in Borneo wants to play ball in NYC... can the network of society be pliable enough to accommodate total upheaval? And what if 2 billion Chinese and Indians raise a generation of kids staring 6+ hours a day into All American values they can never attain... being taunted with Hollywood movies of heroic acts and pathetic dysfunctionality, coupled with ever increasing violence and disdain for ethics or morals.

Seeing scenes of desperate youths in South American slums watching "Kill Bill" makes me think: this is just oxygen thrown into the fire... The ants will not play along much longer. The anthill will not survive if even a small fraction of the system is falling apart.

Couple that inane drive for "Super Individualism" (and the Quest for Coolness by an ever increasing group destined to fail miserably) with the scarily simple realization of how effective even a small set of desperate people can become, then add the obvious penchant for religious fanaticism and you have an ugly picture of the long term future.

So many curves that grow upwards towards limits, so many statistics that show increases and no way to turn around.

Many in this forum may speculate about infinite life spans, changing the speed of light, finding ways to decode consciousness, wormholes to other dimensions and finding grand unified theories.

To make it clear: I applaud that! "It does take all kinds".
Diversity is indeed one of the definitions of the meaning of life.
Edge IS Applied Diversity.

Those are viable and necessary questions for mankind as a whole, however: I believe we need to clean house, re-evaluate, redefine the priorities.

While we look at the horizon here in these pages, it is the very ground beneath us, that may be crumbling. The ant hill could really go to ant hell!  Next year, let's ask for good ideas. Really practical, serious, good ideas. "The most immediate positive global impact of any kind that can be achieved within one year?". How to envision Internet3 and Web3 as a real platform for a global brainstorming with 6+ billion potential participants.

This was not meant to sound like doom and gloom naysaying.  I see myself as a sincere optimist, but one who believes in realistic pessimism as a useful tool to initiate change.