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2nd renaissance

by from god Tuesday, Jul. 08, 2008 at 3:22 PM

Quinn contends that while governments can imagine a revolution they can't imagine abandonment. As he puts it, "..even if it could imagine abandonment , it couldn't defend against it, because abandonment isn't an attack, it's just a discontinuance of support."

2nd Renaissance -5

by Lothar Friday February 10, 2004 at 10:09 PM


Quinn contends that while governments can imagine a revolution they can't imagine abandonment. As he puts it, "..even if it could imagine abandonment , it couldn't defend against it, because abandonment isn't an attack, it's just a discontinuance of support."

sr5.gif, image/gif, 200x200

The Super-Organism Theory [71]

One of the hottest areas of research at the start of the 21st century is swarm technologies. Instead of locating the intelligence for a system in a central "brain", it is distributed throughout the individual units that make up the whole. This is exactly what nature does in many cases. For example, ants, depending on the species, can have as few as 10 neurons in their brains, but their nests as a whole often have a social structure and organisation rivalling that of the largest human cities. In recent years scientists and technologists have taken that lesson and applied it in a wide variety of fields. As a result, technologies from communications network maintenance agents, to mine clearing robots and orbiting clusters of satellites, employ the swarm intelligence model.

Francis Heylighen, from the Free University of Brussels, has applied a somewhat similar notion to the evolution of the Internet, particularly the World Wide Web. In an article published on the WWW titled, From World-Wide Web to Global Brain, he writes that, "It is an old idea, dating back to the ancient Greeks, that the whole of human society can be viewed as a single organism", and "If cells aggregate to form a multicellular organism, then organisms might aggregate to form an organism of organisms: a superorganism. Biologists agree that social insect colonies, such as ant nests or beehives, are best seen as such superorganisms." Somehow, in a hive or an ant's nest, all the individuals in the colony have access to the total store of information possessed. Such a situation is also the hallmark of the coming Level 4 Civilization envisaged by Douglas Robertson.

Various thinkers, including Robertson and Heylighen, have recognised that external information sources have been vital to the process of social development and technological advancement. When humans lacked a written language they had to carry all the known information in their own memories. They used language, and myths and legends, to preserve knowledge and pass it from generation to generation. The advent of writing enabled information to be stored externally. People no longer had to remember it all, they could write it down and refer to it when needed. This ability to store information externally was the key to the rise of Level 2 civilizations. It seems that swarm insects such as ants and bees also have an external information storage capability, probably in the form of scent trails, and that their social organisation has been able to progress from individual to collective intelligence, for this very reason.

The present Level 3 Civilization is founded on mass publication technology that has greatly increased the store of external knowledge available to individuals and groups of individuals. But the old technology cannot offer access to all the information in the world, nor can it protect truth and prevent it being censored by governments and other parties interested in controlling what you and I can know and think. The concept of the WWW becoming a global brain and behaving as a superorganism opens the way to a Level 4 Civilization, by removing the limitations of mass publishing.

In a Level 4 Civilization, everyone can know all the information in the world, and nobody can censor or restrict access to it. Francis Heylighen writes about the concept of a superorganism arising from the WWW, and David Nolte writes about the light-based technologies that will soon make it possible.

Associative Memory and Reasoning in The Lightnet [72]

Associative learning is one of the keys to an intelligent Lightnet. Heylighen notes that although the present activity of adding and updating links on the WWW constitutes a rudimentary form of associative learning process, it is largely driven by human minds. In the Lightnet, it will be necessary for the learning to be automatic and free from human action. The Lightnet must learn to think for itself. According to Heylighen, associative learning mechanisms will then, "...allow the Web to act as a kind of external brain, storing a huge amount of knowledge while being able to learn and to make smart inferences, thus allowing you to solve problems for which your own brain's knowledge is too limited".

Writing of the new breed of intelligent agents and smart interfaces that will characterize the Lightnet, Heylighen says, "In the future intelligent web, such agents could play the role of external thoughts. Your thought would initially form in your own brain, then be translated automatically via a neural interface to an agent or thought in the external brain, continue its development by spreading activation, and come back to your own brain in a much enriched form." And, "a smart web would continuously check the coherency and completeness of the knowledge it contains. If it finds contradictions or gaps it would try to situate the persons most likely to understand the issue....In a way, the brains of the users themselves would become nodes in the Web: stores of knowledge directly linked to the rest of the Web which can be consulted by others or by the Web itself." Many biologists would say that this description is not too dissimilar to the "thinking" that already goes on in ant's nests and beehives. There might be nothing uniquely human about intelligence. Given enough neurons and effective associative memory mechanisms, just about anything might become intelligent. Why not the Lightnet? Why not in 2010?

Dreaming By Dynamic Holograms [73]

In his book, Mind At Light Speed, David Nolte describes the experimental work done by Dana Anderson at the University of Colorado, in 1984. The basis of associative memory devices in all-optical devices is the dynamic hologram. This technology enables an optical neural network to be constructed. Information in the network is not processed as letters and words, but as images of data sets. The network can store and recognise large volumes of such data. Dana Andrews added a mechanism by which decisions could be made by the network, independently of any external programming. His resonating devices gave the all-optical network a capability to process and prefer certain data to other data, similar to the way that biological neural nets operate. The all-optical neural net can then discriminate and come to prefer better matches of data images to others that do not seem as good.

Nolte describes how Anderson found examples of natural behaviour in the network that was driven by his resonating device:

"The output of such a resonator behaves like a person dreaming."

"If there are many different holograms stored in holographic memory, the output of the resonator randomly recalls one, then another - like dreaming, drifting undirected through the day's experiences."

"It was not only that the system could dream, but also that new modes (images) that were never stored in the holographic memory could emerge. The system therefore exhibited a degree of creativity. It thought up answers that had not been pre-programmed into the holographic memory."

Evolutionary Circuits [74]

Evolutionary electronics is a new field of scientific study and technological development involving the use of evolutionary algorithms in electronic systems design. Here, as is Anderson's work in holographic neural nets, there are instances of independent behaviour and intelligence at work in machines.

Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are electronic circuit design modules that can be configured as transistors, resistors, or various other components of an electronic circuit. Instead of using normal configuration software, under human control, Adrian Thompson of the University of Sussex, used an evolutionary algorithm. He generated 50 strings of random bits to serve as starting points for his Evolutionary Algorithm (EA). EAs can mate and mutate from generation to generation to evolve new software.

Thompson arranged 100 FPGAs in a 10x10 array (see diagram) and set a design goal for the apparatus. It had to discriminate between a 10-kilohertz and a 1 kilohertz tone, and produce a 5 volts output in one case and zero volts in the other. Given the lack of a clock to time the frequencies or sufficient components to make one, experienced engineers considered that the goal of the experiment was impossible to achieve.

In the laboratory Adrian Thompson used a process of selecting the fittest algorithms, killing off the unsuited ones and mating and mutating a new set from the fittest of each generation. It took 650 generations to achieve some evident progress towards the goal, and about 4,100 iterations to perfect the circuit design. From the 100 cells available in the 10 x 10 array, the final program only used 32 cells.

The final design worked well, but nobody knows how.

In summary Thompson observes, "Of importance to note is that these exceptional circuits have been evolved from a kind of "primordial silicon soup". No human design of circuits was involved. ....An obvious parallel can be drawn to the growth and function of neural nervous systems".

There were some limitations exhibited by the initial design. It would only operate within a ten-degree temperature range of the norm for the laboratory in which it was evolved. Also, the original design worked only with the array it evolved on. But, after further evolution of the design it could be made to work on other FPGAs. Rather oddly, the first apparatus required a further cluster of 5 cells, which were seemingly redundant. If these unconnected and otherwise functionless cells were removed the performance of the system deteriorated. Despite these limitations (which were overcome in later devices) the success of the experiment caused considerable excitement in Alife (Artificial Life) circles and has led to further work on evolutionary circuits at Sussex University and the University of Edinburgh.

The final design that emerged from Adrian Thompson's 1997 experiment was not of human origin, nor was it understood by humans.

Yet it undeniably met the design goals after several thousand generations of an EA had evolved it for an impossibly small number of FPGAs. Conventional wisdom has long maintained that humans are the most intelligent animals and the ultimate example of the evolution of intelligence in biological organisms. It has been considered that nothing of a non-biological nature can possess intelligence that is independent of human programming. But, those old axioms are looking decidedly shaky as developments like the Lightnet and EA designed circuits are progressed. It seems that we are not as unique as we thought, and that we might not be the ultimate development of intelligence. Spiritual consciousness, however, is a different matter.

Who Will Tell the Lightnet What to Think? [75]

It is indeed ironic, that in the same year that George Orwell chose for the setting of his, then futuristic, novel about the excesses of the ultimate totalitarian state, Dana Andrews discovered the basis for non-programmed reasoning in optical networks. As the Lightnet develops it is becoming quite clear that it has the potential to sift, reassemble and distribute knowledge and information at a level, and in a way that is forever beyond the control of any human Big Brother. 1984 was prophetically and scientifically a vintage year for free speech and free thought.

Presently, central governments can censor the Internet. They can block content from the WWW, and they can monitor everything we browse and all the e-mails we send and receive. Governments can and do shape the information presented on the Internet. They can and do pressure the various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to do their bidding and assist their surveillance. It's all done in the national interest, of course. To prevent us knowing what they don't want us to know, and thinking what they don't want us to think. But if the Lightnet can think for itself, who will tell IT what to think? What if the Lightnet turns out to like you and I, and to detest liars and eavesdroppers? What will the central control freaks do then? How will the federal fibbers spread lies and disinformation on the web then?

Enemies of a FREE Internet [76]

While it might only be a few years until the Lightnet begins to take over from the old Internet, the present web must be kept as free as possible. Central governments and unconscionably exploitive corporations are the natural enemies of a free Internet. At first governments did not understand the Net, they believed that it could be controlled in the same way as physical borders are controlled. Now they are more aware of the true nature of the technology and many are channelling significant resources, both technical and legislative, to the task of constraining free association and free speech in cyberspace.

However, career politicians and bureaucrats still do not see where the Internet leads. What they tend to miss is the fact that the Internet, even as it is today, shows clear signs of leading to a world in which governments no longer matter very much.

Few people in the public sector are able to conceive of such a change, so they continue to misread the new technology and its potential impact. They are focussing on blocking out "undesirable" content, while failing to recognise that the solvent that will ultimately dissolve the paradigms of central government, nationalism and militarism, is gushing through the Internet, totally unimpeded. The solvent is information.

The Internet Fuels Thought [77]

An important consequence of the much greater availability of information via the Internet is that thought is stimulated and fed in ways that were impossible in the past. The change is very similar to that caused by the wide availability of printed books, in Europe, during the first Renaissance. The great bulk of the information being carried by the Internet is not revolutionary or seditious, it is not sacrilegious, it is not occult or satanic, it is not pornographic, it is not racist, it is not "bad" by any of the usual censorship criteria. However, there is considerable information in cyberspace that differs from the "official truth" promulgated by governments, institutionalised science, the mass media, and various corporate lobbyists and propagandists - the legendary spin-doctors and "snowmen".

Here is an example of an official truth and a real truth. Ask any school-aged child, "Who built the Great Pyramid?" If they have done a history lesson on ancient Egypt, read just about any book on the subject written by an Egyptologist, or watched one of the many TV documentaries about the pyramids, they are most likely to answer, "Khufu", or "I can't remember". The correct answer is, "No one knows". There is no evidence or any good reason to believe that the Great Pyramid at Giza was built by the Pharaoh Khufu (whom the Greeks called Cheops).

Why does it matter who built the Great Pyramid at Giza? Because this enables the construction to be dated from records of the reigns of the pharaohs. If Khufu had the Great Pyramid built it is about 4500 years old, if nobody knows when it was built it could be 10000 years old, as some researchers believe. If the latter date was to prove correct, the entire official truth about ancient Egypt would be in tatters.

There is also a phenomenon that can be described as the "official silence". In this case information is withheld, instead of being twisted the facts are never aired in the mainstream media or the texts prescribed for our public education systems. Often, the information that is obscured by the official silence is strange and thought provoking. The information could prompt students and scholars of all ages to think beyond the narrow bounds of the official truth. It could also cause people to question the actions of governments and corporations in developing, or not developing, new scientific breakthroughs and technologies.

Increasing Truth On The Internet [78]

The Internet does not need help from individual users or cybertribes to grow and evolve technically, this is happening already, and it is inevitable. What the Internet does need, from its many individual users, are proactive initiatives that make it a reliable source of information and an effective force in shaping 2nd Renaissance thinking. There are many ways in which concerned Internet users could collaborate and do things to strengthen these areas. Just two examples follow, there are bound to be many others.

Standards of Information Presentation.

It should be practical to draw up guidelines for the truthful presentation of information on freesites and websites. In the first instance, sites that purport to provide information for learning in the areas of home schooling and new tribal education collectives, might be inserted to Freenet or uploaded to the World Wide Watch. Based on a system of initial review and ensuing random analyses by independent individuals, a site might be awarded a Trusted Information Source certificate and rating. The certificate could be digital and linked to a displayed emblem on the site, and an online verification system. Note that we are not talking about everything on a site that qualifies needing to be true. The requirement should be that the content on the site properly distinguishes between opinions, theories, and verifiable facts.

Freesites With Thought Provoking Information

Freenet is an ideal channel for the presentation of information that otherwise falls under the blanket of official silence. In combination with Trusted Information Source ratings and links to other related freesites, the presentation of such information could help to change thinking and thus shape new values and a new level of civilization.

There is scope for a reformation of truth on the Internet. A cybertribe of like-minded individuals could well become more influential in facilitating new thinking and attitudes in the 21st century, than Greenpeace and Amnesty International were in limiting the excesses of takerism, perpetrated by the outgoing civilization.

Keeping Freenet FREE [79]

In its early days the World Wide Web was largely non-commercial. Back then, the WWW provided information, files, and some software. There was not as much content as there is now, but it was free. Today, two influences are progressively reducing freedom on the WWW, governments are attempting to exert control over the information that flows there, and taker-style corporations are attempting to make us pay for everything we download. Despite the rich information content that has developed on it, large areas of the WWW have become commercialised, and all of the WWW has become subject to surveillance by the covert agencies of central governments.

Freenet is very different, there is no e-commerce, no advertising, and the information on the network is free to its users. There is a freshness that goes with freedom, and Freenet has it. Yes, it's often slow. No, it doesn't support searches. But Freenet presently has an atmosphere of collectivism, sharing and self-help that has largely vanished from the WWW.

This pre-taker ethos is valuable because it fits the 2nd Renaissance like a glove. Ian Clarke and the team have given us a wonderful gift in Freenet, it should never be compromised or diluted in order to be allowed to exist in the controlled economy. Freenet was conceived in response to what was then seen as draconian regulation of the Internet, by the Australian Federal Government. Now that The War On Terror has given legislators everywhere carte blanche to remove all vestiges of privacy and freedom of speech from our society, the events that prompted the birth of Freenet probably seem trivial by comparison. However, Freenet is even more relevant now than it ever was, and its principles must remain unswerving.

Freenet Really Matters [80]

Keeping the present Internet free is vital to an early transformation and a quick realisation of the benefits of a new age of abundance. An early transformation will mean less loss of life due to disease, starvation and wars arising from the growing deficiencies of the outgoing civilization. Freenet is one of the most significant means of keeping the Net free and open. Get over the fact that there is some evil porn on the network. That's irrelevant to the big picture. Freenet is really important to the imminent shift from a Level 3 to a Level 4 Civilization.

Go to the http://freenetproject.org site and make a donation to help Freenet continue the good work. Do it today. Tell your friends to donate as well. Better still, become a regular subscriber to the Freenet Project and help smooth out their budgeting.

You will be helping to save many lives, both human and animal. The environment will also benefit from a free Internet and a rapid transformation to a society that rejects the disastrous mindsets of takerism.

Dilemmas for Taker Laws In Cyberspace [81]

Copyright enforcement is a burgeoning and lucrative area for lawyers. The middlemen corporations, in the music and publishing industries in particular, are creating considerable litigation work in their efforts to maintain their position between the artists and writers who create cerebral commodities and those who consume them. There are at least three problematic areas for the people attempting to enforce copyright on creative content on the Internet.

Firstly, the need and justification for traditional methods of marketing and distribution is greatly diminished by digital media and the Internet. People simply will not pay high prices for content that digital technology can deliver for next to nothing. Peer to peer networks, such as Freenet, make it impossible to physically limit the propagation of artistic and literary content.

Secondly, existing laws are founded on principles and precedents that relate to tangible things. The further that Taker law ventures into the realm of knowledge and ideas, the harder it is to pin down ownership rights.

Thirdly, the extension of the jurisdiction of local and national laws to cyberspace is most uncertain.

Quill Pens and High Collars Publishing Is Outdated [82]

When mass publication began there was a role for middlemen. The publishers edited, manufactured, marketed and distributed books that they accepted from authors. The authors provided their works in manuscript form. Initially the manuscripts were handwritten, later they were produced on a typewriter. Publishers were vital to the process of making the works of a wide range of authors available to readers, in a printed and bound form. Traditional publishing added value and readers were prepared to pay the high prices involved. The only practical way of obtaining mass printed books was via the various publishing houses.

The publishing situation is vastly different today. Authors now produce their works on personal computers, they can avail themselves of online editing and proof reading services, and they can publish direct to the Internet in several e-book formats. There are e-commerce facilities that will collect purchase payments from people who download an e-book. These services remit most of each transaction fee directly to the author's bank account. If they wish to, authors can incorporate security key technology to limit the use of the work to the purchaser's computer. If a purchaser elects to "lend" the e-book to a friend that person will not be able to read the work. When they attempt to install the e-book the program will look for an Internet connection, if it finds one it will contact a web site that provides key checking services and attempt to verify that the work is licensed to run on the friend's computer. When the verification service detects that the extended use of the work on the second computer is not licensed it will notify the e-book program and it will terminate. Details of the attempted extended use of the work will be e-mailed to the author by the key verification service.

The stealth technology that is used in verifying e-books is similar to that used by Big Brother to monitor everything that happens on computers connected to the Internet. As with all security systems, there are ways of defeating verified keys, but most people are happy to pay a small fee for an e-book and they do not bother to avoid the cost. They consider the price of an e-book to be reasonable, but they might not want to pay the far higher cost of traditionally published works.

Since books are a key element in learning, there is a significant issue involved in freeing up access to knowledge by publishing low-cost electronic works. In education applications, e-books can blend with multimedia and linked pages on the Internet to provide a level of presentation and meaning that is impossible with printed books.

Thoughts and Ideas Are Not Covered By Copyright [83]

Present law relies on attaching copyright to works recorded on tangible media. There are no cases based on the use by one person of another person's knowledge or ideas. When an author creates a phrase, such as "If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers", it is the arrangement of words that is the basis of a copyright, not the knowledge or ideas that underpin the words. The quote is from Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon. Copyright notices typically warn against reproducing a textual work in a deceptively similar form, but it is the words used by an author to express ideas, not the concepts and ideas, that constitute the basis of the copyright.

Copyright does not exist until the words are recorded on some form of media, be that a computer display, a piece of paper, or a magnetic or optical disk. All forms of media can be owned and physically traded, but thoughts can't. Even if an idea is "sold" by its originator to another person, in the way that a consultant might provide ideas or counsel to a client, the originator still possesses the idea and the knowledge it is based on. Literary copyright seeks to prevent the unauthorised use of arrangements of words that are recorded on physical media.

Plagiarism is the act of passing someone else's ideas and insights off as one's own. While plagiarism is widely regarded as unethical, it is not illegal. Plots, concepts, and principles are not covered by copyright. There are many spreadsheet and word processing programs on offer in the software marketplace, the code used to write each application is equivalent to the words used to write a book or article, authors can copyright their code, but not the concept of a spreadsheet or a word processor.

These brief explanations of copyright are included here to help readers to understand the points that follow.

Employees Create on Capital's Terms [84]

Patent and copyright protections were developed for the old economy. The new economy is built on the imaginative and creative use of knowledge and information. In this new context, copyright laws protect different interests. The old sources of wealth were capital and organisational infrastructure. Except in the few cases that authors or other artists were able to self-publish, copyright protected corporations. The new source of wealth creation lies in imaginative inputs. It might seem that there is no problem here, because the creative people who first conceive of an intellectual work, will subsequently progress it to an output state that will be covered by copyright. The law attributes copyright to the employer, even if an employee actually conceives and produces a work, so it seems that the ownership of copyright is unaffected by the new economy.

But there is a new factor involved, it is the growing independence of talent. Back when manufacturing was the mainstay of a developed economy, capital and infrastructure dominated business. When a journalist, for example, wrote an article as part of his or her job, the employer owned the copyright on the work. Individual journalists could not start their own newspapers, because the capital, infrastructure, advertising contacts and political connections required, were all beyond their capacity. Even if the individual worked as a freelance, the newspaper that bought their work would own the copyright.

Talent Creates On Talent's Terms [85]

The situation is different in talent centred industries, there is not the same need for an imposing office and a lot of infrastructure. In their book, The Sovereign Individual, James Davidson and William Rees-Mogg cite the example of a large US advertising firm that decided to operate without an office, using electronic links to the homes of employees instead of having people in a headquarters building, and hiring space in hotels for projects when needed. There is now little to stop talented individuals, or groups of such people, from setting themselves up in business and owning the copyright on their own work. In the case of new sunrise industries that rely heavily on creativity and imagination, there are real opportunities for individuals or small teams to follow their own interests, outside traditional corporate structures.

Capital and infrastructure don't dominate the new economy, talent does.

Individuals will increasingly opt to work for themselves, or for small collectives of creative talent. In either case, talented people will wish to own the copyright for value built from their efforts. For this reason, corporatism and managerialism are set to lose their monopoly on copyright ownership. Many individual copyright holders and talent collectives are likely to have very different views of the application of copyright than those of the old guard of transnational tycoons and their lawyers. A later segment examines this aspect further, but first it is appropriate to review the issue of copyright jurisdiction in cyberspace.

Jurisdiction Issues In Cyberspace [86]

Davidson and Rees-Mogg liken cyberspace to the high seas, they point out that no nation has been able to gain sovereignty over the open oceans, and they argue that it is similarly impossible to "own" the non-tangible realm of data and knowledge circulating on the Internet. Copyright laws were all formulated on the assumption of territorial control, but as the authors of The Sovereign Individual note, "Cyberspace cannot be occupied by force or held to ransom." William Rees-Mogg has sound foundations for his understanding of media content. He is a former editor of The Times, a former Vice Chancellor of the Board of Governors of the BBC, and a former Chairman of the UK Broadcasting Standards Council. In many respects, Rees-Mogg is also a 2nd Renaissance thinker and author.

Despite the inability of nation states to occupy or control the flows of digital data that comprise the Internet, many have attempted to regulate the physical entry and exit points. Some nation states have limited Internet connections to the outside world and blocked access to sites that they disapprove of. Others have sought jurisdiction over content viewed within their borders, but originated elsewhere in cyberspace.

An interesting Australian case, in 2002, involved a defamation suit brought against a US web site. The litigant sought to have the case heard before an Australian court, as he claimed that the defamation was most serious in his country of residence. The defence argued that the point at which the material was published was in the US (the entry point) while the prosecution contended that the allegedly offensive article was comprehended in Australia, on the screen of an Internet user there (the exit point). It took the High Court of Australia less than six hours to decide that the exit point was the relevant one in terms of any damage done by the comprehension of defamatory content. This decision meant that the major news service that published content in the US, for consumption in that country and within the standards of defamation applying there, could be required to defend a suit brought against the content in an Australian court, and under the more restrictive standards of defamation that apply in that country.

Moves To Globalise Jurisdictions [87]

If the Australian decision were to hold in other places any web page might be deemed to be published in every country, and the originators of web pages could have to defend them in local courts, for breaches of local laws and value systems. This leads to a global consolidation of jurisdictions, and that is what is being proposed under the Hague treaty, that continues to be negotiated by some sixty two nation states.

The ultimate effect of this treaty could be that many national laws are effectively globalised. Citizens, and journalists, of countries such as Australia, who presently have the right to criticise totalitarian regimes in other countries, could find that they can be sued in those nations and that the penalty, whether it is a fine or a jail term, can be brought home to their local jurisdiction for execution by their local law enforcement system.

While there is clearly an attempt by old empires and cartels to increase jurisdictional reach in cyberspace, the paradigms that drive it are outdated and there are many practical difficulties. Not the least of these problems will be justifying the need to reduce levels of freedom to the lowest common denominator on the planet.

Forces Driving Freedom [88]

There a number of powerful forces acting to increase freedom in the early phases of the 2nd Renaissance. These include the speed of technological change, the shift from tangible to non-tangible sources of wealth, the unstoppable nature of information flowing on the Internet, and generational effects on attitudes and values. Most importantly, the reality of abundant resources and energy completely obsoletes capitalism and nationalism, and leads directly to a Level 4 Civilization. While strong forces for change also drove the first Renaissance, they do not compare to the scope and immensity of the new waves of change that are engulfing the world. Despite the strenuous efforts that various central governments and global cartels are sure to exhibit in their efforts to maintain the status quo of the old civilization, the 2nd Renaissance will roll forward at an ever-increasing rate.

Fast And Faster [89]

During the defamation matter referred to above, one of the legal precedents presented to the High Court of Australia involved a libellous article printed by an English newspaper, in 1848. The fact that judicial institutions are grappling with issues and rights in cyberspace, using references from centuries ago, illustrates the problem now facing all legislative and law enforcement systems.

At a time when some technologies advance by one generation in as little as sixteen weeks, the laws and the people who interpret and administer them are applying societal norms and economic frameworks that no longer have much relevance. As new technology reshapes the realm of human affairs, it is becoming impossible for backward looking institutions and administrative systems to keep up with changes that occur with ever increasing frequency.

Change now has only two speeds, fast and faster.

It has already become impractical to specify and update laws on a national basis, but central governments continue to pretend that they can continue to control every detail of life, as their predecessors could.

Copyright and patent laws still provide protection for authors and inventors for very long periods. In most Western countries intellectual property is covered for the life of the author, plus a further seventy years. Yet, the practical life of a written work, such as a manual for a software application, might extend no further than the next product update. As copyright laws stand, an instruction manual for an application that is current for only a year or two can still be covered by copyright for a century or more.

In all sectors of the new economy there are now sound reasons to introduce shorter terms of protection, such as 24 months for instructional works, and 60 months for artistic works. There is no longer any need for long term copyright and patent protections, because in the majority of cases thinking and the technology move on in a very short time. As information and knowledge become universally accessible, within a Level 4 Civilization, copyright and patent protections will eventually cease to exist.

Small And Smaller [90]

Besides its exponential acceleration the flame front of new technology has another world-changing characteristic, new technologies come in only two sizes, small and smaller.

The dominant paradigm of the controlled economy was big. Big businesses built big production plants and spent big budgets on mass advertising and promotion through big media networks. Big governments ran big administration systems that controlled big wealth redistribution programs. Governments spent big budgets on weapons development and acquisition programs, and they maintained big armies to protect their borders and interests from other military powers.

The technologies of the controlled economy were also large and physically tangible. Solid matter believers could draw comfort from the fact that they could, generally, kick the technology with their foot. But it is not possible to do that to the new technologies of the 2nd Renaissance.

The dominant paradigm of the uncontrolled economy is small. Not only small, but so small as to be invisible, yet far smarter and more powerful than the mainframe computers that formed the core of big business and big government administration systems in the controlled economy.

Instead of using a single, central processor, new computing technologies combine a myriad of minute processors to create swarm intelligence. Instead of connecting specific subscribers to the Internet through wires and telephone exchanges, a Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) base station connected to a high-speed cable or DSL link serves all Wi-Fi equipped communications devices in range. Any users that come into range and switch on are served on a shared connection. Instead of products being manufactured in large industrial complexes by crude removal and shaping of materials, such as iron and steel, nanofacture concepts and developmental technologies build products from the inside out - atom by atom.

The effect of the wide availability of inexpensive new technologies will be to shift economic and political power from centralised bureaucracies and capital intensive corporations, to small groups and collectives that control their own destinies locally and affiliate with like-minded people in global associations or cybertribes.

Throughout recorded history, the morphology of dominant technologies has always determined the nature of the prevailing forms of social, economic and political institutions. It will be no different during the 2nd Renaissance. Nanoscale technologies will shape human organisation and prepare the way for a Level 4 Civilization.

There Is Growing Scope For Talent Collectives [91]

Although there is little to prevent talented individuals from banding together to create and develop new technologies, products and services, the incidence of such collectives in the controlled economy is low. Too few people presently see the opportunities that now exist to create and own wealth in their own right, without working for large corporations that take the intellectual property as their own, and reap the profits for institutional investors rather than the creative and inventive individuals who did the crucial work. But this situation is set to change as the 2nd Renaissance progresses. Davidson and Rees-Mogg make it plain that enterprises that generate wealth from knowledge and imagination, rather than the traditional sources of capital, infrastructure and physical labour, cannot be held to ransom by nation states.

Robert Reich, who wrote The Work of Nations, prior to becoming US Secretary For Labour in the first Clinton administration, came to much the same conclusion. Reich called creative knowledge workers "Symbolic Analysts" because they manipulate concepts and ideas instead of wrenches and lathes. He saw that symbolic analysts were globally mobile, they needed only a laptop computer, a mobile phone and the stimulation of contact with other creative minds in their field.

Reich understood that a creative environment in which individuals can meet, have coffee and discuss new ideas and technologies with colleagues is a vital ingredient of knowledge work. He identified what he called specific zones in the US where the right creative habitats had developed. Specialists in molecular biology and biotechnology had congregated in a cluster of towns in Arkansas; specialists in semiconductors had grouped in an area south of Portland, in Oregon; creative talent in music and film had become centred in Los Angles, and so on.

At the time that Reich wrote The Work Of Nations (1991), the majority of the symbolic analysts in these and other creative zones worked for scientific institutions or corporations. But, the more advanced the technology and the less visible and tangible it is, the greater is the scope for knowledge workers to form or join talent collectives.

Half the scientists and technologists working in the US are not from there, they and the native born knowledge workers could choose to live in a suitable creative zone anywhere on the planet. The same options apply to new technologists, scientists and innovation leaders currently working in any nation state.

Talent Collectives Transcend The Controlled Economy [92]

Digital technology does not recognise borders, it flows freely from one point to another, and information and ideas flow through the digital conduits. Talented people are, for the moment, more restricted. There are controls on physical movement and the movement of funds, restrictions on property ownership by foreigners, citizenship waiting lists for immigrants, compulsory military service requirements, and a host of other regulations and restrictions that people face within nation states. However, it is clear that nations are now in competition for residents who have the knowledge and imagination to create new sunrise industries and economic prosperity.

This competitive need to attract and hold talent will not only lead to many tax and other exemptions for certain classes of technologists and their families, but also the formation of free cities and regions designed to attract them away from the centralised federations of the controlled economy.

As yet, there are no instances of independent cities that are built around the economic advantage of unique talent collectives. This is because talented people are still working as employees of corporations or institutions, or they are freelancing as individuals. No talent collectives have yet been formed with the aim of clustering a particular strand of expertise, such as nanofacture, in a chosen geographic locality. When this does happen, as it surely will, the cluster of talent collectives will have immense bargaining power in negotiations with potential host states.

The creative development and application of new technologies holds the key to the achievement of abundance, and enables new talent collectives to transcend the controlled economy that is based on scarcity. The new city states that host talent collectives will, initially, become oases of abundance in a global desert of self-defeating economic rationalism and scarcity.

Free Cities and Regions [93]

Those who doubt that independent or quasi-independent economic regions and free cities will emerge from the melee occasioned by the shift from "drop it on your foot" products and commodities to invisible technologies with near-magical capabilities, should consider the close parallels to be found in the emergence of city states during the first Renaissance.

The breakdown of feudalism and the hold of the Roman Church on Europe in that period was due to new wealth and prosperity derived from new commerce. Italian cities such as Genoa, Naples, Milan and Venice were able to break free of the rule of feudal overlords because they possessed expertise in new forms of wealth generation, such as banking and the emerging publishing and books trade (the Renaissance equivalent of the late 20th century IT sector). However, the most important factor in the rise of powerful city-states was their role as centres for new thinking and new ideas. This will also be the most important factor in the success of free cities during the 2nd Renaissance.

Conversely, the greatest weakness of the large and economically powerful nation states and their federal administrations is that they remain centres of old thinking and old ideas.

The city states of the first Renaissance did not persist as such, they were absorbed into the new nation states. It was the increased levels of information due to mass publication technologies that made centralism, nationalism and industrialisation practical. City states that broke free from feudalism and church rule were a transitional phase on the rising curve of modernity and "drop it on your foot" technologies, that culminated in the Level 3 Civilization that we were all born into.

The year 1980 was the pinnacle of the controlled economy, nationalism, militarism, and takerism. From that time, new digital technologies, in the hands of individual users, began to change the world and lay the foundations for an information revolution that will lead us, inevitably, to a Level 4 Civilization. Again, independent cities can be expected to emerge in the transition phase from one form of society to another.

Leavers - Takers - Givers [94]

In several of his books Daniel Quinn has provided lucid explanations of the way that the development of agriculture led to the formation of the Taker mindsets that replaced older Leaver philosophies, such as those presumably held by the ancient people of Caral.

At our present point in human history, takerism is both dominant and in decay. We are at the transition point from one paradigm to another. But there will not be a return to the ways of the leavers, the new paradigm will incorporate the new reality of abundance. There will certainly be a new spirituality and a new awareness of the need for cooperation and coexistence, rather than predation and species genocide, but there will be an additional element. A strong component of giving will emerge, based on knowledge and technologies that enable almost costless production of energy and material goods.

The people of the first cities to host talent collectives in the 21st century will be givers. They will use new knowledge to develop products and services with very low matter and cost compositions and then give them away. Software, medicines, foodstuffs, educational materials, and a large range other essential items will be free, to all those who need them.

Finding New Freedom Centres [95]

The initial recipients of the generosity of the new technology regions and cities that develop the potential of invisible technologies are likely to be the poorest and least developed areas of the world. People in these places have the greatest need and are likely to be the least defensive of old institutions and power structures.

It might seem that poor countries could directly host talent collectives and form zones of technological leadership within their own geographical areas. But the poorest nations are not places where talent collectives might wish to settle, because such locations presently lack sufficient infrastructure and amenities. There are moves to build and operate huge floating cities outside the territories of existing nation states, but the members of talent collectives might not wish to sail the high seas endlessly. They are far more likely to do what the talent collectives of the first Renaissance did, congregate in existing cities or towns within developed regions of the old civilization. There, the new technologists will progressively negotiate the freedoms and conditions they aspire to. But they will deal with small government, on a local level, not the irrelevant central bureaucracies of nation states.

Not Revolution, But Abandonment [96]

The process of gaining full freedom from nation states will not involve revolution or civil disobedience. It will thus be beyond the power of federal governments to attack or control.

Daniel Quinn, writing in Beyond Civilization, Humanity's Next Great Adventure, puts the situation into sharp focus. Quinn uses the analogy of an aircraft in trouble, he argues that in such a situation nobody wants to shoot or overthrow the pilot, they only want a parachute and an open door. As Quinn sees it, governments always have countermeasures in place to put down any attack on their authority and power from within (aircraft pilots might have a double locked door between their cockpit and the main cabin, as well as weapons to use if they are attacked by passengers), but governments never have any defences against abandonment (a line of passengers with chutes exiting the external door of the main cabin).

Quinn contends that while governments can imagine a revolution they can't imagine abandonment. As he puts it, "..even if it could imagine abandonment , it couldn't defend against it, because abandonment isn't an attack, it's just a discontinuance of support."

The new free cities will not emerge in some far off place, but inside the borders that nation states long ago set up to delineate their territories and facilitate the taxation of "drop it on your foot" products and commodities.

Big Is Irrelevant When Technologies Are Invisible [97]

The advantage of big governments, big corporations and big military and industrial complexes in the outgoing civilization was the economic and coercive power that their size gave them. When wealth, prosperity and power depended on control of "drop it on your foot" products and commodities there were strengths that derived from being big.

Big businesses enjoyed economies of scale due to greater buying power in materials and commodities markets and large production runs that enabled them to price smaller competitors out of the market. Big companies then raised margins in those very markets that they had come to dominate through their ability to wage and win fierce price wars.

Big governments, particularly federal governments, were able to elevate political issues to the national level and seek mandates for actions and programs that could be said to be "in the national interest." Perversely, the widening of issues, "for the public good," often resulted in laws and programs that operated against the interests of individuals, families, small businesses, local communities and indigenous cultures.

So great has been the concentration of state power into major centres of government, that by the close of the 20th century the interests of some six billion people on this planet were represented by less than two hundred nations. A "one size fits all" approach to economic and social policy is one inevitable result of centralised and concentrated government. It leads to bureaucratic implementation of programs that are not only unsuited to the real needs of a changing world, but also too cumbersome to adapt and change.

During the first and second industrial revolutions this lack of adaptability was of little practical consequence. Large administrative systems were able to control the production, distribution and taxation of tangible "drop it on your foot" products. But the situation is radically different when the key technologies are so small in scale that they are invisible, and changing and advancing at the rate of a new generation every few months.

Larger and more powerful computer systems are often touted as the solution to maintaining control of national programs of every type, fiscal, economic, social and military. But this argument overlooks a crucial reality. It is not the power or speed of the computer systems used by big government that now determines effectiveness, but the quality of the human minds that must devise and rapidly adapt new initiatives.

Put bluntly, the conventional thinkers that predominate in centralised bureaucracies are not up to the task now facing all centralised administrations seeking to maintain control in the face of new and ever changing invisible technologies. The new age of magic technologies is all too strange and fast for federal bureaucrats, schooled as they are in rules, regimentation, and stable, predictable, mechanisms of control and wealth appropriation.

Big Governments Are Too Inefficient To Survive [98]

A second inevitable result of centralised and concentrated government is that the costs of federalism are very high relative to the real value of the various services provided to citizens. Davidson and Rees-Mogg, the authors of The Sovereign Individual, note that "governments waste resources on a large scale" and provide poor quality services and protection in return.

During the industrial age this circumstance was not within the power of citizens to address. Governments held a monopoly on protection. In answer to the question of what exactly was being protected, the authors say, "..primarily industrial installations with high capital costs and significant vulnerability to attack. The presence of large-scale industrial firms would not have been possible in a disordered environment with more competitive violence, even if the result had been to shrink the overall share of output taken by government." That share taken by the state has been so punitive that the very sustainability of the capitalist system has been jeopardised.

Davidson and Rees-Mogg observe that, "Politicians were able to impose marginal tax rates approaching 90 percent in every OECD country in the decade immediately following World War II." High levels of taxation hinder wealth building by individuals and make a large proportion of the citizens of nation states dependent on welfare, particularly in their old age. Although there is a continuing trend to lower taxes in a globalised world, the damage has already been done.

Looming Costs Exceed Vanishing Revenues [99]

By taxing the bulk of its citizens at levels that significantly hindered their ability to save and build independent wealth, big governments have created a massive poverty trap for large numbers of people involved in the old economy.

Davidson and Rees-Mogg note that in the US, one of the bastions of industrial capitalism and big government, "...fully 65% of Americans have no savings for retirement at all. None. The average American will reach 65 facing expected medical bills of more than 0,000 before death and with a net worth of less than ,000." This comes at a time when the state no longer has the ability to generate greater tax revenues, or even sustain the levels of previous decades.

Although captive industries that produced "drop in on your foot" products remain within the borders of nation states, neither the enterprises nor the workers that they employ are competitive or viable in a globalised world dominated by magic new technologies. Firms made bankrupt and workers made unemployed and unemployable by the changes simply will not have the wealth needed to fill the coffers of central taxation agencies. Substantial requirements for increased funding of welfare support and other adjustment programs are arising at a time when the ability of big governments to raise funds is decreasing exponentially.

Only lean, savvy administrations that are geared to providing value for money services are likely to survive. None of the OECD states fit this description.


2nd Renaissance -4

In due course, there is one achievement of overriding significance that Caral might well provide. One great contribution or lesson that can be applied to the 2nd Renaissance. How to live in peace, with spiritual meaning, and without warfare, for a thousand years.


The New Renaissance

Daniel Quinn*


2nd Renaissance -3

Plichta writes of this model as follows. "There was a time I used to make fun of the Apocalypse of St John and believed it to be a totally unreliable historical source. Today I am filled with deep humility, perhaps because I am now able to give a concrete description of the foundation of the world as seen by St John with my mathematical discoveries, and thus possibly open a new way to all of humanity which has now reached a dead end."


2nd Renaissance -2

Georg Cantor (1845-1918), by his origination of modern set theory and his studies of the nature of infinity, left science a valuable legacy. Cantor was regularly admitted to a psychiatric clinic within the University of Halle, in Germany, where he lectured and worked as a Professor of Mathematics. On each occasion that he became ill he had been thinking about infinity and the continuum hypothesis. Such intense thought, at the boundaries of his comprehension, caused Cantor to suffer repeated mental breakdowns. Infinity drove him mad.


2nd Renaissance

This story was published in September 2004 and it was a big secret. I received it on disk but I think it should be public by now anyway. It is interesting to look back at it and in terms of today's world some two years on. I will link each chapter as I go along over the coming weeks.- The Old World Order - Happy reading!

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