Monday, December 29, 2003

Steven Den Beste has a great post on Hive minds. I felt disoriented for a moment, because even though politics might well be one of the major concerns of a collective human Hive mind as relating to it's survival, the blogs I follow by people who have shown interest in collective intelligence seem less interested in politics than even random chance would dictate. I'm delighted to find an exception.

There is one thing I felt he could have spoken more about. The colony animals discussed in his post have near converging interests - it is difficult or impossible for an individual to help reproduce the genes it carries except by contributing to the group. Without this there is a strong incentive to 'slant' information to favor your own offspring in some way, or even go off and lay some eggs somewhere instead of foraging for the hive. It appears some female ants besides the queen can lay some eggs, but there are disincentives as well.

In some ways humans may actually have near converging interests. For instance, suppose somewhere in China livestock practices tend to contribute to the emergence of new contagious diseases. It might actually be cheaper to pay part of the costs of changing them than to try to quarrantine China at intervals or deal with the results after they spread to the United States.

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