I was listening today to an episode of Radio Lab about Emergence and it seemed to reflect and meld a few things that I’ve been wondering about lately.
Emergence is the concept that a group has an intelligence that an individual doesn’t have.
Take an ant colony. An individual ant will stupidly wandering around aimlessly doing what individual ants do and will perish in a short while without the help of others but when the ant is involved with a larger group the chances of one tripping across something that is of value to the nest increases. Then the group has the ability in their innate organisation and beneficial behaviours to create the patterns that will maximise situations. This emergent group behaviour allows the development of the nest.
The same is said for the way herds, swarms, cities and brains operate.
In the programme they say the the individual neuron in our brains is much like the single ant but when combined with the gazillions of neurons in our brain they work in harmony much like a nest or hive, to create something much greater than the sum of the individuals.
This got me thinking of a few things about human behavior and how for some of us we can grasp some concepts as self evident while other ideas, no matter how much we attempt to understand, we just can’t comprehend.
In my case I find the process of design, as in the assembly of the components to achieve a design in a proportional elegant way quite simple. I have the ability to take complex shapes and rotate, invert and rearrange it within my mind while balancing the engineering and end purpose all the time with cost and manufacturing technologies. Quite simple really. Some of this I’m sure is from my training but I’m equally sure that it’s one of my talents, the way I am, the way my neurons are wired up.
But ask me to do my tax and I’ll book out a day to get frustrated and even then procrastinate until the last moment. Try to have a discussion about share trading with me (and I have looked into it) and my mind starts to shut down no matter how important I want to make it. I just don’t care nor do I understand the importance of, and this is my main point, “MONEY”
We’re all told that we have to have money, and that we have to play the game or get out of the way. But no one says you have to make your own furniture, or our own clothes. If you can’t do these things your not told to get out of the game. However we’re all told that we have to know how to play the money game so we can get others to do the things that we can’t do. So why can’t we get someone to make us the money like we get someone to fix our car. Because the system is designed to screw us if we do. The only way to offset getting shafted is know how to play the money game or bad luck, you’re to blame for not taking care. Just consider everyone who are getting right royally shafted at present after taking the advice of consultants for the last couple of decades. As in the case of cheap home loans and Bernie Madoff.
Because of the importance that has been placed on playing the money game the few who have a natural harmony for it are held up as demigods for all of us to aspire to and emulate, while those that have equal skills as a mechanic, scientist or farmer are respectfully demeaned as not as valuable as an Investor.
We come into this world with our genetic heritage(nature) and life experiences(nurture) which when combined create the only possible way that an individual can be. Together these create our individual Emergent Mind that behaves in the only way that it can.
So if the outcome of who we are is controlled by the nature and nurture components that are involved in the life experience and we miss out on the, Money Stuff as outlined above, or for that matter the Parenting, Partnering or Making Stuff, how can we possibly get it?. Mmmmmm
Well the way things are now we have two choices.
1. We can’t do anything, so just deal with it.
2. Go get the education(experience) and learn how to do it.
We live in a money focused obsessed society. If you can’t do money your a dysfunctional and irrelevant member of society. After all look at all the ads in the papers and on the web of normal everyday folk making a fortune so why can’t you?????
Well maybe it’s not about knowledge, but about the particular way in which individual brains are wired(through genetics and experience) to see how money is created.
I’ve meet individuals as I’m sure you have who just say making money is easy and they have all the things that money can bring them. I’ve often looked at them and wondered what can you see that I can’t? What is the elusive obvious?
I did a week-end seminar a few years back, then for three days afterwards I could see opportunities all around me to make money, I could SEE(figuratively) money. For a brief time I had the vision as if someone had given me magic spectacles, to see what others could see but until then I couldn’t. I think the seminar rewired my neurons for a time.
Then it faded… It sounds bizarre I know, but it made me realise that there are physiological ways to perceive the world in different ways.
I know some things well and I see them easily. I know parenting and personal health without thinking. I can treat a partner well and I’m a good employer as well as a conversationalist. I’m empathetic and I have manual dexterity to make things along with the ability to laugh at the fact that I don’t know interior decoration and I can build a great matrimonial bed.
In our modern world it is said that many of these things are important but the ability to make money is number one and if you can do that all the others, as deficiencies, they are tolerable. We all know wealthy people who can’t do (insert deficiency here) but they are still respected because they are wealthy.
So my frustration is simply that I know that there is a emergent dynamic in our brains that enables us to see the world intuitively, to generate wealth like I know how to make a table. I know it’s simply not about knowledge but about having the components within the wiring of the brain to enable it to see the opportunities that are around us at all times.
I feel like my mind is like an ants nest that doesn’t have any idea how to collect bread crumbs. I know that they are there to be collected but I can’t sense them and when I trip over one it’s enough for just the moment. Meanwhile the bankers and corporations are strip mining the picnic table.