The human ant-hill is stupid

Think about this: most cooperative organisms are made of component organisms which have very simple behaviors, and thus the group being is generally more capable. More capable of interacting with the world in a flexible and subtle way. Smarter.

Take for example an ant-hill or a beehive. Simple individual behavior, and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That’s *why* ant or bees get a survival advantage by being mainly non-reproductive worker drones.

With humans this was almost certainly the case when we lived in small groups. The medicine man, the warriors, the old women, the gatherers. The breakdown of work and transmission of knowledge made the clan super capable. But modern, large scale societies are built to ignore individual wisdom. They take advantage of division of labor in a really sophisticated way. I spend my time in a terribly narrow field and that gives my society an advantage. But overall direction of movement, so to speak – long term planning and goals – these arise largely to maintain social cohesion. They’re built on motivations like greed and pride. They’re also subverted by small sections of the group to the benefit of some and the detriment of all. So humans on a big scale are stupid.

We have to do something about this, it’s getting urgent.

(also reference this, for another perspective on the same problem.)

This entry was posted in philosophy, society. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>