On collective non-intelligence

Ken Allan, aka Blogger in Middle-Earth, left a provocative comment after reflecting on yesterday's post: According to design dictates. I'm republishing it here so subscribers who may have missed will get to ponder Ken's wonderful insights about collective non-intelligence and our individual relationship to design dictates (dna).
For a long time (and it continues) humankind has followed dictates. Oh yes, the form of the dictates has changed over the millennia, but never-the-less the dictates have called the shots.

Some last for a few years, some last for decades, some live out centuries before the dictates are overturned by some sort of knee-jerk reaction by (human) society. I think that it's in our dna.

You have recognised a feature of the effect of dictates. It's not particularly exciting. It simply dictates the status quo.

How often has society waited for that wonderful moment when religion or science or political inertia is about to announce a revelation that brings hope into the arena, only to find that the wait was a waste of time, and energy in hoping?

Somehow our dna prohibits humankind from behaving intelligently en masse. The collective intelligence we hear and read about never puts on its thinking cap when it's really needed.

Yet it can move swiftly and as deftly as a shoal of fish in following fashion and things seemingly trivial compared to the perceived real need for shifts in society. We've only to look at political choice of a nation.

Oh, I'm not talking about the present moves in elections. Politics has shifted under the influence of dictates for centuries like a pendulum.

As agile as it moves, the pendulum has its own inertia, never finding the balance, never resting in equilibrium. Never learning from its own mistakes. Yet at its centre is a need to solve a problem of sorts.

It is (in fact) like a collective non-intelligence. It's the case in point where the whole is NOT greater than the sum of its parts. Far from it.

History gives a fine reflection of how it works. They say we never learn from history. That saying has been around long enough. Yet we still don't. We have never learnt to learn from what we see as a blatant lesson for society.

No. Humankind doesn't think like brains do. How silly to think that the collective motion of millions of intelligences is not intelligent - as we perceive it. Not like bees. A bee seems to have a residual intelligence. But the swarm seems to have a mind of its own.

Maybe it's just the way individuals think. Maybe, in fact, the real intelligent way to move is how humankind moves and has been moving for centuries - despite the intelligent opinion of individuals on how it SHOULD move. So dictates may form a major part of that. Who knows?

Perhaps the dictates shold be revered more than they are.

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