[extropy-chat] FW: New Paper: Socio-Technological Acceleration

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Tue Jan 23 20:59:49 UTC 2007

Forwarding this link to a draft of a new paper by Francis Heylighen that is extremely relevant to extropian thinking.


This paper effectively communicates the basis of much of my own epistemology, but violates my self-imposed limit of five-paragraphs for postings to the list. ;-)


Add a layer of evolutionary psychology and resolve some implicit discontinuities involving the nature of subjective agents, and you would arrive at my Arrow of Morality theory.


Some of my few quibbles:


While the paper effectively states fundamental drivers and mechanism of progress, it comes across as over-optimistic in not mentioning the possibility of evolutionary cul-de-sac.


There are a few Copernican epicycles present.  One in the description of agents as acting to achieve goals, rather than acting as an expression of their values.  This is of minor significance with respect to this paper but obstructs the conceptual way forward.  Another is in the unnecessary introduction of a "medium" of interaction, in addition to agent and environment, with the implication of a discrete separation between an agent and its environment while ignoring the essential  interdependency.


Highly recommended!


- Jef



Francis Heylighen wrote:


I just finished a paper in which I elaborate my new ideas on stigmergic organization. All comments welcome!



Accelerating Socio-Technological Evolution:

 from ephemeralization and stigmergy to the global brain


Francis  Heylighen


to appear in: T. Devezas & W. Thompson (eds.) Globalization as Evolutionary Process,  Routledge, London (2007). (publication details may still change)

URL: http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Papers/AcceleratingEvolution.pdf



Abstract: Evolution is presented as a trial-and-error process that produces a progressive accumulation of knowledge. At the level of technology, this leads to ephemeralization, i.e. ever increasing productivity, or decreasing of the friction that normally dissipates resources. As a result, flows of matter, energy and information circulate ever more easily across the planet. This global connectivity increases the interactions between agents, and thus the possibilities for conflict. However, evolutionary progress also reduces social friction, via the creation of institutions. The emergence of such "mediators" is facilitated by stigmergy: the unintended collaboration between agents resulting from their actions on a shared environment. The Internet is a near ideal medium for stigmergic interaction. Quantitative stigmergy allows the web to learn from the activities of its users, thus becoming ever better at helping them to answer their queries. Qualitative stigmergy stimulates agents to collectively develop novel knowledge. Both mechanisms have direct analogues in the functioning of the human brain. This leads us to envision the future, super-intelligent web as a "global brain" for humanity. The feedback between social and technological advances leads to an extreme acceleration of innovation. An extrapolation of the corresponding hyperbolic growth model would forecast a singularity around 2040. This can be interpreted as the evolutionary transition to the Global Brain regime.





For a related paper, see:


Francis Heylighen: Why is Open Access Development so Successful? Stigmergic organization and the economics of information, to appear in: B. Lutterbeck, M. Bärwolff & R. A. Gehring (eds.), Open Source Jahrbuch 2007, Lehmanns Media, 2007





Francis Heylighen     
Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group
Free University of Brussels

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