Cultural evolution produces hot garbage

Evolution is not a ladder. Even the tree metaphor is flawed because it gives the faulty impression of ‘progress’ upward. Evolution is only change in whatever direction leads to the most reproduction.

Cultural evolution is the idea that our ideas and way of life evolves generation to generation much the way an organism does, based on how easy the ideas/traditions/etc are to imprint on the next generation.

In much the way that you could sit down and design a self replicating organism that is way better at existing than a lot of life on earth, you can also come up with ideas and art that are way better than whatever music/art/entertainment gets passed on and on and on.

If evolution produces junk so often, maybe it’s time we start trying to influence it. Biologically, we can do this by editing our own genes. We are well on the way to doing this already.

But culturally, how do we do it? How can we change what is popular so that it’s something beautiful and meaningful that is gets created, instead of Transformers 8, season 10 of Jersey Shore, or a billion copies of 50 Shades of Gray?

The answer is probably education, as it seems to be with almost every problem in society. Someone who’s read history’s greats, and seen the most elegant art and been taught enough about the world to appreciate its most amazing creations, is going to have a lot less interest in the basic, surface level schlock that floods the market every day.

 

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Crows getting braver?

It seems that I see more and more crows walking the streets, picking at sidewalk trash in big crowds, not flying away when I come near… is it just me? Or are these birds becoming more a part of the city over time…

It seems to me they’ve learned that humans are not really much of a threat. That they can walk right up to us and we aren’t going to do anything. There have been numerous studies showing how smart crows are, and I think they are adapting and learning to live among us more and more.

A crow neighbor wouldn’t be the worst thing…

Birds will inherit the world

After humans are extinct, birds will be the next to conquer the world with their minds. We’ve already seen that ravens and crows can understand death, solve complex puzzles, and remember human faces–now it seems they can plan for the future at least as well as a human child.

What would a world ruled by birds look like? Will they fill all of humanity’s niches after we’ve gone? What kind of tools would birds invent? Will they discover the secrets of the universe a million years from now?

Maybe, if we don’t take them down with us…

Borne: why?

Finally finished this book, and I’m left with a lot of question. Mainly: what was the point? This post contains spoilers.

 

What was Borne’s purpose? What was Morde’s purpose? What was the magician trying to do, other than kill Morde? Was the whole story just an essay against scientific meddling? Borne, the most interesting part of the story, is not in it for the second half of the book, except to be involved in a giant off-screen monster fight–so why does he get the title of the story? Why is everything suddenly great once Morde is gone? If Rachel and Wick are ‘not people’ but instead ‘biotech’ what does this mean? How can I care if it has no effect on them or anything they do? Rachel’s parents died in such a horrible way that she chose to have her memory erased–so, how did they die? Is Rachel having her memory erased just a lazy way to avoid having a backstory? The surprise of this reveal is not worth the lack of development it causes in the viewpoint character.

On the verge of interesting most the time, but overall very frustrating to follow this along and see it reaching for, but not quite grasping, a good story.

 

brain cold

I’ve been sick the past couple days. Usually I don’t feel like this, but it feels like my brain is being affected. I feel slower, confused, foggy. Usually I just feel tired and achy. I wonder if the cold virus will evolve to make people stupid while they are sick. It would lead to more sneezes and coughs in other people’s faces after all…

I probably shouldn’t be writing in this state…

Mind games

I’ve started reading ‘The Glass Bead Game’ by Herman Hesse, mainly because the title made me think of go. The story features a fictional game that is very abstract and deals with concepts and ideas as the ‘pieces’. The players are intellectual elites who use pieces of knowledge or pieces of culture to play their games. The opening of the book is a history of the game’s origins and evolution to its current state, in the future world of the novel.

This opening, detailing a fictional future world where intellect and the mind are valued, made me wish our world could be like that. Thinking and knowledge for the sake of it, for the improvement of your own self and your understanding of the world–is not ‘in fashion’ anymore in our world. Knowledge and intellect are valued only as much as they can be used to make money or increase power. Philosophy is laughed at, the arts are considered a waste of time, history is viewed as a political tool, music is for selling tickets.

Can we return to an age of thought and reason and imagination and introspection? It’s what our species does best–what makes us stand out from the other animals. Let’s not let it fall away in favor of fighting and destruction.

 

 

 

Trading instincts for intelligence

I thought the other day about how animals know what to eat and how to find it, seemingly from birth. Do animals accidentally eat poisonous or harmful things? It doesn’t seem like it. But we humans, we don’t know how to eat, how to catch food, how to prepare it, until we’re taught. We don’t know how to do most things until taught. I wonder, if we’d even figure out how to have sex without being told…

Is that the cost of high intelligence? Perhaps there is no more room in our head for all that instinctual knowledge that other creatures seem to have. Or, maybe once we got intelligent enough to learn it all, the selective pressure to keep the instincts was removed, and they were bred out of us over the eons.

I wonder if the reverse could ever happen, and we could lose our intelligence in favor of instinct…