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« Computers Improving Rapidly | Main | Scientific Illiteracy »

June 28, 2007


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Tim Lundeen

Interesting article, and I agree with you that there could be a genetic component. I suspect that higher levels of trust lead to less violence, and that as our society/economy has improved, higher levels of trust are a more successful strategy for doing well and thus for having more children. The violent and/or untrustworthy are not as successful.

Wade makes the point about changes in trust being a key component of our current society in his book, Before the Dawn. But it would make sense that there is ongoing pressure for this trait to be successful over the last few thousand years.

Mike Treder, CRN

Thanks, Tim. I meant to recommend Wade's book in my blog entry but forgot. It's a great read, so thanks for making the point!

jim moore

At an individual level we have increased the size of languages, increased our ability to communicate and empathize with each other. Genetics plays a role here but the majority of the change that we see has to be do to the social environment.

From a social point of view, what stands is: As the complexity of social systems increases the level of violence goes down. (One way you can think about social complexity is think about how many different types of full time "jobs" in a society.) It seems to reason that in order for societies to get more complex they have increasingly effective ways of controlling the behaviors of its members. The key has been to get people to internalize the right rules.

What does this mean for nanofactories? I think it means that how we deal with nanofactories will be overshadowed by the how society deals with ongoing computer/communication explosion. We are just now getting to the point were most of us carry increasingly capable communication/information systems all the time. Its no longer human to human communication its human - computer - human communication. With this capability just now emerging on a mass scale, it should allow for very different type of society to follow shortly after.

A. Rahmo

The society has been actively pacifying individuals, mainly by meeting their basic needs not by reshaping them. This has been increasingly possible at no or low cost to other, individuals, groups, or societies. Even what remains inherent as background aggression have been mostly channeled through cultural means (sports, games…). This however cannot exclude the potential threat that a psychopathic individual can impose on a society that provides unlimited access to nanofactories . Although technology convergence might solve that issue by providing easy and accurate access to brain structure and thought. I think principle solutions to these problems lay in promoting careful balanced evolution and active collective intervention, that is to promote the ability to react (social reactivity) that requires preemptive removal of social inbalances and contradictions. In fact maintaining ability to cooperate collectively nationally and internationally in case of any danger is instrumental in preventing freak cases from dominating the future scene.

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