Thursday, February 5, 2015

Opposable thumbs and opposable minds!

So today, being a "writing day" break from the hectic production and post production schedules on the two films, it will take great restraint not to disappear down the 140-character-wisdom rabbit hole. Social media debates are informed largely by the same set of principles that pump the adrenaline in any sport - a sense of belonging, an idea of the "other", the sharpening of skills that seem necessary for survival, a competition between the kin and the "outsiders", a race to claim resources of survival, the preservation of your "own", an intention to leading "the team" towards a more sustainable choice, and even avenge insult or injury with a "lesson taught well" to stave off further risk of intrusion.
If I indulge in this notion beyond the obvious parallels, it would be at my own peril. The consequences of an idea can go far beyond the earliest participants exchanging it or engaging with it. While we enjoy the life sustaining and life enhancing effects of good ideas, world transforming and enlightening effects of great ones, we also suffer the repercussions of bad ones for generations. (Of course, good ideas can also have seen/unforeseen detrimental consequences). Like the appendix and the wisdom tooth, some ideas are vestigial – could have had some evolutionary benefit thousands of years ago, but have lost all reason to exist. At their best, they can be mostly harmless, at their worst, fatal.
We know now that ideas, like genes, mutate, fuse, vary, replicate themselves, inherit traits, co-evolve, and die off. Ideas are “selfish”. They can be symbiotic or parasitical to their hosts, and the paradigm that reflects the nature of this relationship is “cui bono?” – the question, “to whose benefit?”
How do we negotiate our way through this? Can we chart out a “quantum” constitution, a “manual to spaceship earth” that is in a constant state of flux, varying, evolving, contextual, while having a (more or less) solid preamble? A preamble that distills thousands of years of “good” intention into a singular aspiration – equal rights, equitably distributed resources and opportunities, future proof collective sustenance (?), prioritized anthropocentrically (?), but extending to all life.
The world exists in the continua of contradicting forces. The opposable thumb sped up the evolution of the species and so did the “opposable mind”. Here’s a wonderful thought experiment created by Loren Carpenter in 1991, examining swarm intelligence and the continuum effect of contradiction –
http://vimeo.com/78043173

(You can also start with the newer replica of the experiment here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9eVz4wBBgU )
This brings me back to my little twitter experiment in this morning. Sharing here -
Well, so much for an opposable thumb without a firm grip!