In what has come before, I have argued that the incorporation of machine agents into large organizations has resulted in a new form of hybrid superintelligences. And, furthermore, that these superintelligences pose a threat to human freedom. To set up this story I have pointed to two forces from the mid-20th century (over-population and over-organization) that Huxley argued posed significant threats to human freedom from his vantage point in the mid-20th century.
The mid 20th century, already transformed by innovative war machines, also gave birth to the modern computing machine. The brilliance of Alan Turing, John Von Neumann, and many others gave birth to a computing machine that was programmable. It stored memory and it processed code. It was an architecture that provided for the execution of anything that could be coded into the computer's language.
The war machines of WWI and WWII had brought destruction barely imaginable before their creation. The balance between human effort and machine capability in war broke in favor of machine destruction. This destructive power of machines was to be subsumed by the broad ranging power of computer code. The birth of the modern computer, found in the Von Neumann architecture, was a general architecture for machine intelligence. Machines that that could store knowledge, process it, and act upon it, with goal oriented behavior in its environment. It was a general structure for telling adaptable machines what to do. This machine structure, when connected into a networked environment, gave us the internet and the birth of the digital universe.
The digital universe, owing its name to the binary digit calculations being conducted at its core, has expanded at a rate that puts the trend of over-population to shame and amplifies over-organization to such a degree to become the more relevant crashing wave. It is to the growth rate of the digital universe, its sheer size, and its outsized impact on our modern lives, and both its behavior and constitution that we need to explore. These trends of over-digitalization have given us the birth of Analogia.
Before turning to a more detailed account of the rise of Analogia, I've decided that an extended prelude is first in order. A setting of the stakes, if you will. And, for the human mind, few devices appropriately set the stakes like literature. To this end, I share two excerpts below. The first is titled "Complete Freedom Democracy: The New Constitution" and is taken, directly, from the beautifully satirical "The Tale of the Big Computer A Vision" by Olof Johannesson (a pseudonym for Hannes Alfvén). In this story, there is a surprise narrator, one that I won't reveal here. But, this excerpt imagines, a government by machine, by a programmable machine. It was written in 1968. The satire is made even more clear elsewhere in the book. Here, I point to the allure of the complete freedom democracy as a potential outcropping of over-digitalization. It is here also that you can see pathways by which the digital world, when properly placed and given proper capabilities, can begin to assert meaningful control over human political, economic, and social affairs. And, hence, the birth of Analogia.
The second excerpt is from Aldous Huxley's "The Perennial Philosophy" from a section titled Organized Lovelessness. This excerpt highlights a second major challenge from over-digitalization. As with over-population and over-organization, where we saw that both the scale and rate of change were the culprits that turned the balance of power from individuals to supra individual entities, with over-digitalization we will see that digitalization itself is a phenomenon that brings many benefits, many of which can be utilized to increase human freedom, knowledge, and love. But, over-digitalization, a force that's rate of growth and sheer scale of influence over human affairs, has, as with over-population and over-organization, led to imbalances of power against the individual, and is further presenting more opportunities for dehumanization and, organized lovelessness. Organized lovelessness can be found in mechanical reproductions and is also present throughout large organizations from Huxley's time until now. Now, this organized lovelessness has imposed its structure on the digital universe, by which so much of our modern culture is, well, organized. Huxley reminds us why this is dangerous to the human spirit.
"An even greater and more important advance came with the reform of government. This had long been the most antiquated and ineffectual section of society, for the leaders of the state, fearing lest reform should curtail their power, opposed it desperately. Yet progress in other fields automatically brought about a fundamental change in the status of the government.
In the very earliest times, most states had been ruled by a monarch or dictator with the help of a relatively small, permanent organization under his command. This was possible because the great mass of the population was unorganized and found it difficult to put up any effective opposition to small but efficient organization. Technical development, however, forced a radical organization on all groups, and as society depended on these groups in order to function at all, the concentration of power automatically diminished. Indeed, governments soon lost all capacity to lead the advance, which pursued the same course whether a conservative, liberal, or Communist administration was nominally in office. The different parties clung faithfully to their own ideologies as to beloved old relics. Yet in one country a liberal government might rally around the monarchy although its party program included the setting up of a republic; in another a conservative government retained a far-reaching socialization while putting its abolition on the agenda, and in a third, very great class differences were introduced into a Communist administration which was pledged to the eradication of such a thing.
With the continued improvements in technology it became increasingly obvious that the government was in reality quite incompetent to govern or to lead. The essential changes in society were brought about by technological progress and the parallel growth of bureaucracy. Whenever any change occurred in the social setup, it might be five years at least before the government grasped what had happened, and another five for it to take appropriate action. Thus all official measures came into force about ten years too late and usually did more harm than good. As soon as this fact was demonstrated by means of the Sociological Complexity Theorem, the most urgent social reform was seen to be the abolition of government through reorganization. It proved impossible, however, to make the government perceive even this necessity.
Government having lost its power to rule the nation, its most important task was to work out reasonable compromise solutions between the opposing interests of the various social groups. Yet experience had shown that all such conflicts were best resolved by data machines, which by reason of their enormous faculty of combination and permutation could as a rule rapidly work out compromises acceptable to all parties. Good examples had been set by industry, where increase in productivity stood in direct relation to the decrease in managerial powers. It had been shown that industrial enterprises worked best where the manager's task was restricted to that of public relations, while the business itself was run by data machines. From this it was evident that the community as a whole would greatly profit by the substitution of a data machine for government. This idea was vigorously opposed by the administration; yet the problem was happily solved.
Clearly the leaders' primary concern was to remain in power, and for this reason they had little time to keep abreast of the important technical developments which were reshaping society. They lost touch; they had less and less idea of the implications of the acts they passed. When, therefore, a plan was proposed, providing that a new computer should be acquired in order to reorganize the administration, they failed to perceive from the wiring diagram that they themselves would be put out of business. The technicians who worked out the scheme never had the chance to enter into detailed explanations. The government gave its approval, that this computer should be connected between parliamentary, civil service, and certain other data machines. Not until it was too late did the government discover that it had abolished itself. It made a desperate bid to regain power, but as not one of the members knew how to program a computer, the attempt failed. The government could exercise no influence whatsoever upon the now completely computer-controlled administrative machinery.
Just as the emblems of royalty had been preserved after the king lost his power, so people were concerned to preserve some symbol of government. The data machine that replaced it was mounted on a gilt framework and topped by a big gilt crown and bore the inscription: "H. M. Government Machine." Members of the government were entitled to sign their names once on each mile of tape produced by the machine, after which the tape was presented to monarch in council. Members were also permitted to travel all over the state and make speeches concerning the wise measures adopted by the Government Machine. However, it soon turned out to be more practical to transfer the functions of the Government Machine to other computers, so that the gilded one became an empty shell except for the tape punch producing the tape of government members. When at a later date the great cities were abandoned, the Government Machine fell into oblivion, although some of the more energetic tourist guides still led their flocks to see it. Although exposed to wind and weather among the ruins, it shows traces of gilding to this day.
As soon as the government was got rid of, society began to develop much more quickly, and a series of important reforms could be carried through. Parliament no longer had to meet in an old, outdated building, but held its sessions via teletotal. There was no need for members to leave their own districts, and the concept of a capital city lost its meaning. The speed with which society was progressing added to the work of parliament, so that the number of its members had to be increased, and thanks to advances in teletotal technique, this increase could be achieved without inconvenience. Thus the ground was prepared for the fundamental reform of the constitution: i.e., the introduction of the Complete Freedom Democracy.
It was when the first Stone Age man made himself master of his neighbors and organized a tribe that the evolution of society began. The tribal chief foreshadowed the absolute monarch and the dictator. This social structure gave place to so-called democracy or, in our modern terminology, pseudo-democracy: a form of society which arose at the beginning of our own era. The absolute ruler had been relieved of his power by a coterie which had formed what was known as a political party. This coterie. This coterie was self-recruiting, and it ruled in the name of the people. It was assumed that the people had placed their confidence in it by voting for it at an election, but what the people really expressed by their vote was their feeling that the rival parties were even worse bungler than their own. There was therefore no guarantee that the government in a pseudo-democracy would fulfill the people's real wishes.
It was a fortunate thing that the abolition of government which we have described was effected so rapidly and painlessly, but with the development of society a government had in any case become an anomaly, and its disappearance in one way or another could only have been a question of time. The advance toward the Complete Freedom Democracy was inexorable, and the way led via an increase in parliamentary membership.
At every parliamentary election there were many competing candidates, and it was often a great pity that they could not all be elected and place their abilities at the service of the state. After the introduction of teletotal and the reorganization of parliamentary work there was no longer any need to restrict the number of members and so exclude many intelligent and respected men and women; so the numbers were continually increased. But it was realized after awhile that the election of members of parliament was fundamentally undemocratic; for it gave one group of people more power than others and seriously contravened the fundamental principle of equal rights for all. And as soon as this was generally appreciated, the fate of pseudo-democracy was sealed. The Complete Freedom Democracy was inaugurated by making all citizens members of parliament.
When parliament was in session, therefore, all the inhabitants of the country could take part via teletotal. The proposals put forward had been minutely prepared beforehand by computer, but every citizen had the right to speak. All speeches were transmitted by teletotal, and so that the day's business should not take too long they were sent out on a number of parallel channels. This meant that not all citizens could hear all the speeches, but as a rule that had not been possible in the pseudo-democratic parliament either, where most members were absent during speeches and came in only when summoned by a bell to vote. The same principle was adapted to the present case. When the speeches came to an end every individual in the country was roused by ringing from the teletotal. Voting could then take place.
At first many people were nonplussed, and uncertain what measure to vote for, although all proposals had been fully expounded in debate. It was not easy to grasp the implications of a complex measure which had perhaps taken even the computers a long time to work out in detail. There was general satisfaction, therefore, when a rule was introduced whereby the proposal shown by computer analysis to be the best should always be presented as Proposal No. 1, while inferior measures were numbered 2, 3, etc. Every citizen could thus confidently not for No. 1. To save trouble and avoid the inconvenience of being summoned to vote from time to time, an ingenious device called the automatic voter was invented. One could provide one's teletotal with an automatic attachment which voted Yes to Proposal No. 1 and No to all the others. This of course is no way encroached upon the fully democratic rights of the citizen. Each and every person was entitled to make his voice heard in debate at any time, and if anyone thought he could understand a bill better than the computers, he was free to switch off the automatic voter and support No. 2 or No. 3. No penalties whatever attached to his doing so. In other words, he enjoyed greater freedom than the members of pseudo-democratic parliament, who seldom dared to vote against their party. Despite this, the brilliant automatic voter was unknown to them; which shows how irrationally organized was the pre-computer age.
The Complete Freedom Democracy is the finest form of society that has ever existed. With its introductions, all the strivings of idealists toward a society where complete freedom should prevail reached fulfillment. The principle was that no one could oppress or be oppressed. All were equal. Universal freedom had been realized. It was toward this form of society that the whole of evolution had been tending, when governed by the community's ablest citizens, and it was thanks to data machines that the ideal became the reality, for without them such an organization would have been impossible. We know from the great Sociological Complexity Theorem that the capacity of the human brain is inadequate to work out a rational organization of society.
Since the technique is by its nature universal, the same development occurred in every state, and different in name only. In some countries the administration was called the Complete Freedom Peoples' Democracy, in others Complete Freedom Social Democracy or the Complete Freedom Republican Democracy or His Majesty's Complete Freedom Democracy. But in content all these were identical."
"Our present economic, social and international arrangements are based, in large measure, upon organized lovelessness. We begin by lacking charity towards Nature, so that instead of trying to co-operate with Tao or Logos on the inanimate and subhuman levels, we try to dominate and exploit, we waste the earth's mineral resources, ruin its soil, ravage its forests, pour filth into its rivers and poisonous fumes into its air. From lovelessness in relation to Nature we advance to lovelessness in relation to art -- a lovelessness so extreme that we have effectively killed all the fundamental or useful arts and set up various kinds of mass production by machines in their place. And of course this lovelessness in regard to art is at the same time a lovelessness in regard to human beings who have to perform the fool-proof and grace-proof tasks imposed by our mechanical art-surrogates and by the interminable paper work connected with mass production and mass distribution.
With mass-production and mass-distribution go mass-financing, and the three have conspired to expropriate ever-increasing numbers of small owners of land and productive equipment, thus reducing the sum of freedom among the majority and increasing the power of a minority to exercise a coercive control over the lives of their fellows. This coercively controlling minority is composed of private capitalists or governmental bureaucrats or of both classes of bosses acting in collaboration -- and, of course, the coercive and therefore essentially lovelessness nature of the control remains the same, whether the bosses call themselves "company directors" or "civil servants." The only difference between these two kinds of oligarchical rulers is that the first derive more of their power from wealth than from position within a conventionally respected hierarchy, while the second derive more power from position than from wealth.
Upon this fairly uniform groundwork of loveless relationships are imposed others, which vary widely from one society to another, according to local conditions and local habits of thought and feeling. Here are a few examples: contempt and exploitation of coloured minorities living among white majorities, or of coloured majorities governed by minorities of white imperialists; hatred of Jews, Catholics, Free Masons or of any other minority whose language, habits, appearance or religion happen to differ from those of the local majority. And the crowning superstructure of uncharity is the organized lovelessness of the relations between state and sovereign state -- a lovelessness that expresses itself in the axiomatic assumption that it is right and natural for national organizations to behave like thieves and murderers, armed to the teeth and ready, at the first favourable opportunity, to steal and kill. (Just how axiomatic is this assumption about the nature of nationhood is shown by the history of Central America. So long as the arbitrarily delimited territories of Central America were called provinces of the Spanish colonial empire, there was peace between their inhabitants. But early in the nineteenth century the various administrative districts of the Spanish empire broke from their allegiance to the "mother country" and decided to become nations on the European model. Result: they immediately went to war with one another. Why? Because, by definition, a sovereign national state is an organization that has the right and duty to coerce its members to steal and kill on the largest scale possible.)
"Lead us not into temptation" must be the guiding principle of all social organization, and the temptations to be guarded against and, so far as possible, eliminated by means of appropriate economic and political arrangements are temptations against charity, that is to say, against the disinterested love of God, Nature, and man. First, the dissemination and general acceptance of the Perennial Philosophy will do something to preserve men and women from the temptation to idolatrous worship of things in time -- church-worship, state-worship, revolutionary future-worship, humanistic self-worship, all of them essentially and necessarily opposed to charity. Next, come decentralization, widespread private ownership of land and the means of production of a small scale, discouragement of monopoly by state or corporation, division of economic and political power (the only guarantee, as Lord Acton was never tired of insisting, of civil liberty under law).
These social rearrangements would do much to prevent ambitious individuals, organizations and governments from being led into the temptation of behaving tyrannously, while co-operatives, democratically controlled professional organizations and town meetings would deliver the masses of the people from the temptation of making their decentralized individualism too rugged. But of course none of these intrinsically desirable reforms can possibly be carried out, so long as it is thought right and natural that sovereign states should prepare to make war on one another. For modern was cannot be waged except by countries with an over-developed capital goods industry; countries in which economic power is wielded either by the state or by a few monopolistic corporations which it is easy to tax and, if necessary, temporarily to nationalize; countries where the labouring masses, being without property, are rootless, easily transferable from one place to another, highly regimented by factory discipline.
Any decentralized society of free, uncoerced small owners, with a properly balanced economy must, in a war-making world such as ours, be at the mercy of one whose production is highly mechanized and centralized, whose people are without property and therefore easily coercible, and whose economy is lop-sided. This is why the one desire of industrially underdeveloped countries like Mexico and China is to become like Germany, or England, or the United States. So long as the organized lovelessness of war and preparation for war remains, there can be no mitigation, on any large, nation-wide or world-wide scale, of the organized lovelessness of our economic and political relationships. War and preparation for war are standing temptations to make the present bad, God-eclipsing arrangements of society progressively worse as technology becomes progressively more efficient."
From Complete Freedom Democracy to Organized Lovelessness, some of the challenges of over-population, over-organization, and over-digitalization can be made clear, despite that both of the literary works were written at the earliest days of the modern computing machine. Complete Freedom Democracy suggests to us a world where the major functions of society have been turned over to machines, including the function of governments and governing. The role of the human is reduced simply to voting and then later on even this is replaced by the automatic voting machine. In this world, the humans have completely succumbed to control by machines, in the name of complete freedom democracy. Organized Lovelessness illustrates how mass organization, mass-production, and mass-finance lead directly to a world of loveless relationships among humans, one where social organization dominates and charity flounders. This account is particularly troubling as the forces leading to this organized lovelessness were in full bloom before the accelerating force of over-digitalization amplified these trends alongside mass-mechanization, which, both, by their very nature, increase the lovelessness among us. This is the world of Analogia. And it is to a more full description of the land of Analogia that we will now, now that this prelude has been given, turn our attention.
This has been Chapter 6 of the blog sequence "How Humanity Lost Control and Humans Lost Liberty: From Our Brave New World to Analogia"
Here is Welcome to Analogia! (Chapter 7)
Below are links to each of the previous chapters if you would like to revisit, or visit them for the first time:
- Machine Agents, Hybrid Superintelligences, and The Loss of Human Control (Chapter 1)
- The Other Earth (Chapter 2)
- Revisiting Brave New World Revisited (Chapter 3)
- The Age of Over-population (Chapter 4)
- Over-Organization (Chapter 5)