Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Needs-Wants-Beliefs (3) – the vulnerability of complexity

A heading in a recent Politico Transport article by Laurens Cerulus has stuck in my head for several days: “The vulnerability of complexity”. I think, feel and believe it provides the key to the answer I was looking for: what triggers the “passage” from Needs to Wants in life & nature?

Most forms of life have natural defence mechanisms against attacks from predators (eg, birds fly, apes/monkeys climb, rabbits run and dig holes, some plants are toxic). Humans have hardly any natural defence mechanism compared to animals and plants. Humans are extremely vulnerable when they must live without tools (eg, clothing, shoes, weapons). Humans lack both strength (ie, fight) and speed (ie, flight). Essentially, the vulnerability of complexity (of human brains).

Extreme vulnerability, survival (of the fittest), and an ever-expanding human population, is no logical combination. The vulnerability of complexity must have opened the doors to consciousness and self-awareness. Human consciousness and self-awareness ultimately created technology: from the use of fire to cook, to warm and to scare off predators towards sending astronauts into space. The only other logical alternative would have been human extinction given our extreme vulnerability.

A line from Michael Crichton‘s Westworld (1973 movie and 2016 HBO series) had stuck in my mind for days: the main difference between Artificially Intelligent robots and humans is consciousness and self-awareness. In HBO episode 3 the AI robots become conscious and self-aware and start to remember parts of their ugly history. The episode suggests that a human was responsible for entering that software coding.

Since several days, I have been struggling to put these pieces together. I think, feel and believe that I finally managed to do so. Consciousness and self-awareness are also the logical drivers for migrating from Needs to Wants. A 2013 TED video of primatologist Frans de Waal shows that a primate recognises that another monkey gets more than (s)he does. Now (s)he wants the same and becomes angry when her/his wants are ignored in that short TED video

Human vulnerability in nature is probably the main – subconscious – reason why many of us live at least 20 out of 24 hours per day inside buildings (eg, Atlantic, NHAPS, RIBA). These buildings are also shelters to protect our human vulnerability. I now wonder if urbanisation is another example of the 7 Belief systems. The flip side of that same coin is that we lost touch with nature. It may even explain why we – subconsciously – use nature as a dump for our human waste. 

Nowadays, we perceive the vulnerability of complexity merely in technology and ignore ourselves. I think, feel and believe that our self-awareness is migrating into self-love. Psychology Today (2015): “A new study appearing in an upcoming issue of Personality and Individual Differences examined the relationship between selfie-posting, photo-editing and personality. Are people who post selfies on social media sites narcissistic and psychopathic, or self-objectifying, or both?”

Interconnected, conscious and self-aware AI robots would most likely perceive us for what we truly are: extremely vulnerable. Guardian, 19 October 2016: Professor Stephen Hawking has warned that the creation of powerful artificial intelligence will be “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity”.


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