Harsh, but true

This argument is both empirically and rationally impeccable:

If you cooperate to kill and eat large animals, that is a lot more cooperation than if you live on fruit, nuts, and insects.

If you cooperate to make war and genocide, that is a lot more cooperation than if you cooperate to kill large animals.

Chimps and men kill and eat deer, monkeys and suchlike. Chimps and men make war. Therefore the common ancestor of chimps and men made killed and ate large animals, and made war – was a killer ape. The ancestors of men are that branch of the lineage that ate meat more heavily, the ancestors of chimps are that branch of the lineage that ate meat less heavily.

Cooperative killing is the killer application for intelligence.

February 28, 2013admin 19 Comments »
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19 Responses to this entry

  • spandrell Says:

    That’s so Jim.

    I fail to see the corollary though.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    It’s probably not something that the Friendly-AI-types want to hear.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 28th, 2013 at 3:23 pm Reply | Quote
  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    “There can be only one.” Highlander

    “The Weakest Link”: a show where the ‘mediocre’ win, after voting off the ‘strongest’. The winner is always the best social tactician, not the superior intellect.

    “There is another conjecture, which is alien to the Spanish orb and even to the Western world and requires a more ancient, more complex and more weary atmosphere. Don Quixote – who is no longer Don Quixote but a king of the cycles of Hindustan – senses, standing before the dead body of his enemy, that killing and engendering are divine or magical acts which notably transcend the human condition. He knows that the dead man is illusory, the same as the bloody sword weighing in his hand and himself and all his past life and the vast gods and the universe.”
    JL Borges, “A Problem”

    What game shall we play today, Mr. Land? “Evolution”? “Truth”?

    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fi5Y485bp6E)

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Entertaining the hope that we’ll ever have a better way to truth than through evolution is the quickest way to empower lies.

    [Reply]

    Posted on March 18th, 2013 at 1:17 am Reply | Quote
  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    ‘Evolution’ is just a partially understood biomechanics, as it were. When I was a teenager, I felt that what is known as Lamarckian theory of “transmission acquired characteristics” (but I didn’t know about Lamarck then), was right. Even though the mutation by ‘natural selectiion’ and radiation, etc., were touted as the sole mechanism, I thought that was wrong and limited. Recent findings (epigenetics, etc.,) suggest that environment plays a stronger role than previously thought, and that Lamarck wasn’t so wrong.

    I’m not sure what your conception of ‘truth’ is, so its relevance to evolution isn’t clear.

    I’ve delayed responding because I don’t want to get into tired reruns of unimaginative debates that the rest of the world seems so fond of – it is the 21st century, after all.

    [Reply]

    Posted on March 27th, 2013 at 9:57 pm Reply | Quote
  • SDL Says:

    “The Weakest Link”: a show where the ‘mediocre’ win, after voting off the ‘strongest’. The winner is always the best social tactician, not the superior intellect.

    Yes, which demonstrates why this whole ‘everyone can vote’ thing should be suspect.

    Recent findings (epigenetics, etc.,) suggest that environment plays a stronger role than previously thought, and that Lamarck wasn’t so wrong.

    Remarkably overstated. Did you bother to read even the Wikipedia page on epgigenetics before you wrote that?

    [Reply]

    Posted on March 28th, 2013 at 12:47 pm Reply | Quote
  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    “Yes, which demonstrates why this whole ‘everyone can vote’ thing should be suspect.”

    If the ideals of ‘democracy’ don’t configure voting practices, is there any point in voting at all? What would you suggest?

    “Remarkably overstated. Did you bother to read even the Wikipedia page on epgigenetics before you wrote that?”

    Do you think phenotypic plasticity is insignificant? No, I haven’t bothered yet, perhaps your response, if you bother, will be more edifying?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    SDL is going to win this argument.

    [Reply]

    Posted on March 28th, 2013 at 5:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    “SDL is going to win this argument.”

    I wasn’t arguing, just asking questions, And I’m not going to be baited into a pointless contest, unless I feel that I’m going to learn something from it, ‘win’ or ‘lose’.
    Perhaps ‘SDL’ is a geneticist: I’m not a geneticist, don’t really know anything about it,
    As it stands, it’s impossible for him to win because I haven’t made any claims yet.
    If you join in, the two of you could vote me off! lol

    [Reply]

    SDL Reply:

    Equating epigenetics with Lamarckism is a bit of a stretch, that’s all. Epigenetics includes anything outside the DNA sequence–but there’s a whole lot of ‘anything’ between nucleobase pairs and government policy. Maybe I was reading into your post, but typically when people say, “B, b, b, but epigenetics,” they want it to mean that we can swing to the other extreme, ignore genetic research, and spend more money on government programs.

    Look, I’m not a strict determinist. But even the most left-wing social science generally comes to the conclusion that environment only matters during the early years of childhood, or into pre-pubescence at best . My freshman year sociology seminar was taught by the Blankiest Blank Slater you’ll ever care to meet, and even she admitted–during the week about ‘rape culture’–that males showing signs of sexually deviant behavior are beyond help once they’re past the age of 14 or so. After that, all the therapy in the world won’t lower the likelihood of recidivism.

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    “Epigenetics”

    I’m all for more research, and for ‘government programmes’ that are informed by such research and by a truly egalitarian structure of principles that works towards the good of all. In practice, that might sound utopian, but to abandon such a rubric is to abandon the sphere of considerations which enable any kind of judgments to be made: only local partisanship would remain, Somehow, if Mcdonald’s is capable of such global appeal, I don’t see why the kinds of communities that people claim to idealise, should be so ‘utopian’, or difficult to realise.

    In July, 2012, I was speaking to an artist friend about my feelings on genetics, trying to theorise about it. She said that I was saying similar things to this chap, Bruce Lipton, and gave me a link for the first of these two videos-

    Bruce Lipton – The New Biology – Where Mind and Matter Meet 1of 2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVECAlT4AXY

    Bruce Lipton – The New Biology – Where Mind and Matter Meet 2o f2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zcg_ldoU40c

    They’re quite long, geared to the ‘Mind/Body/Spirit’ market, I guess, and both of you will probably be sceptical and dismissive. There’s a lot there, and I’m not qualified to assess his claims on a scientific level, but it sounds plausible enough to me. I do feel his mention of Heisenberg had a touch of gratuitousness about it. I’ve been trying to watch it again, but I fell asleep. My own theorisings drew from musings from long ago (38 years ago?), they would have been informed by ideas of ‘feedback’ and reflexivity as applied to a thoroughgoing deterministic conception of genetics.

    Bruce Lipton describes mechanisms that interact with, and complicate, DNA expression, to the extent of showing environmental factors and even (un)conscious ‘belief’ as a factor in the physical growth of an organism. If what he says is correct, then it very much seems that social problems (rape, etc.) are generated by more than DNA alone.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The problem is, most of the ‘epigenetics’ hype is being pushed by social constructivists trying to re-ignite the debate they lost last time. Check out someone knowledgeable, clear, and honest, like Razib Khan, and the situation is obvious. Sure there are some real epigenetic phenomena — and maybe we could claw our way towards them (awkwardly and amateurishly) if this discussion has momentum — but the first-order topic is anti-hereditarian straw-clutching, equipped with some vaguely credible sounding new ammunition.

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    “Razib Khan”

    I googled his name yesterday: he seems to be an apostate Muslim, renouncing Islam and basking in the scientific light. I’m sure he’s very good, haven’t had time to read his stuff yet.

    It’s interesting that “natural selection” was proposed by Al-Jahiz (born in Basra, 781 – December 868/January 869), an Afro-Muslim, as well as Charles Darwin. Two contexts of expansive imperialism, two power drives, both contemplating the inner administrations of bios. Wasn’t it Nietzsche who saw ‘science’ as an outgrowth of ‘religion’, I can’t remember where he wrote that?

    “and the situation is obvious.”

    Is any ‘situation’ obvious? And if, paraphrasing now, such self-evidence is bound by environment, are not environmental contextualisations boundless? As ‘environments’ are now designed: as a multiplicity of possibilities are available regarding environmental configuration: as the horizons of possible engineerings proliferate: is it even feasible to predict what might eventuate? Are the old and ‘obvious’ models said to generate present constitutions viable in a scenario where every horizon or ‘limit’ becomes a potential variable, and where possible scenarios of interaction can spin off into the radically unforeseen? In such conditions, is it any longer possible to determine evaluative criteria of ‘human’ performance or behaviour according to prior valorisations? The onset of these alien futures can only be accelerated by the rigid gestures of an unimaginative anthropic kontrol, rendered schizoid and contradictory by the vanities of the kapitalist playground. And it will be through the schisms and contradictions of this clumsiness, that the unknown emerges…

    “but the first-order topic is anti-hereditarian straw-clutching, equipped with some vaguely credible sounding new ammunition.”

    Noone is really “anti-hereditarian”: the question is to what extent heredity is a significant factor in constituting the present: how it could affect the future: and whether it can be contextualised-configured-managed in beneficial, humane, and productive ways. I think there’s a possibility here of coming up with something new. I don’t know the field, I’m sure governments have spent a great deal on researching the social implications of genetics. I’m sure there are ‘right’ and ‘left’ wing policies and extremities to all this, too. Let’s see if we can burn through all that and get to something else. It’s time to dance into the future.

    [Reply]

    Posted on March 29th, 2013 at 2:25 am Reply | Quote
  • SDL Says:

    Yes, epigenetic phenomena seem quite limited in scope.

    Arxtell, there is legit epigenetic research across a wide array of kingdoms and species. But epigenetics, in humans and all other species, still involves changes to cellular material and is still reliant on genetic information. In other words, it still exists at the level of biology and is thus not useful ammunition for social constructivist arguments.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6004/611.short

    This growing interest, along with the desire to understand the “deprogramming” of differentiated cells into pluripotent/totipotent states, has led to “epigenetic” becoming shorthand for many regulatory systems involving DNA methylation, histone modification, nucleosome location, or noncoding RNA. This is to be encouraged, but the labeling of nongenetic systems as epigenetic by default has the potential to confuse.

    And no, I’m not a geneticist. I’m a linguist. But in linguistics, the ‘nature/nurture’ debate has its own parallel, with lines drawn between those who think language is an innate computational faculty (enabled ultimately by some deep genetic trait), and those who think language is just learned cultural behavior. The two debates are quite similar, insofar as the different sides in both fields make similar argumentative moves, which means I can keep up much more easily with the genetics debate (though I could never add to it meaningfully).

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    “Yes, epigenetic phenomena seem quite limited in scope. In other words, it still exists at the level of biology and is thus not useful ammunition for social constructivist arguments. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6004/611.short

    This quote is from your link:

    “So what is epigenetics? An epigenetic system should be heritable, self-perpetuating, and reversible (Bonasio et al., p. 612). Whether histone modifications (and many noncoding RNAs) are epigenetic is debated; it is likely that relatively few of these modifications or RNAs will be self-perpetuating and inherited. Looking beyond DNA associated molecules, prions (infectious proteins) are clearly epigenetic, perpetuating themselves through altered folding states. These states can act as sensors of environmental stress and, through the phenotypic changes they promote, potentially drive evolution (Halfmann and Lindquist, p. 629).”

    I don’t really understand it, not being a geneticist, but the last line mentions “environmental stress” in the context of a mechanism that can “potentially drive evolution”.

    “I can keep up much more easily with the genetics debate (though I could never add to it meaningfully).”

    I would’ve thought ‘meaning’ is the very thing that linguistics could provision, but I know what you mean. lol

    [Reply]

    Posted on March 30th, 2013 at 1:06 pm Reply | Quote
  • Brooding on the Genesis of Reality, Nightmare and Dreams Says:

    […] was an exchange on Nick Land's blog, here, that broached the topics of evolution and genetics. It's not very long, didn't really get off the […]

    Posted on April 17th, 2013 at 2:58 am Reply | Quote
  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    A silent debate? It seems that minds are caught up in a ‘reality’, so involved in (d)evolution? ‘Up-to-the-minute’ flows, weaving ‘can-do’ narratives of a tangible empiricism, tracking the ‘market’, repeating the decisional practices of ‘administration’, political phantasies, playing games of power.

    I think I’ll carry on dreaming…

    Continuing Nick Land’s logic:

    If you cooperate to ‘kill’ the entropic forces that threaten an ecologically informed democracy, that is a lot more cooperation than converting vegetation resources into ‘meat’ through the vector of domesticated forms of animal vitality…

    (Continued at: http://visionfiction.theotechne.com/WordPress/?p=623)

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Thanks for that — you’ve obviously put a lot of thought into it. I still haven’t reached true insight into your position, but I’m working on it. We’re bound to ‘do Darwin’ more thoroughly here in the fairly near future.

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    You’re welcome, Mr. Land. I chose the word ‘brooding’ for the title because of its relation to ‘breeding’, and thus, genetics. There are always more perspectives available, I’m only trying to indicate that. Don’t know that I have a ‘position’ really. I grew up reading SF, my core approaches to thinking come from what that experience opened up. Nagarjuna, the Mahayana Buddhist philosopher, is someone I feel close to. So, all in all, I think it’s important to acknowledge that Darwin was a great 19th century ‘naturalist’, but ‘Nature’ moves on: it has the technology, it can rebuild itself.

    Feel free to critique my comment/post, it looks like Terence Blake from Agent Swarm has critiqued the ‘position’ of your “Harsh, but true” post, there’s a comment to approve.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 17th, 2013 at 3:08 am Reply | Quote

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