A guest article by HWFO reader Levi McDowell
Good article. One caveat.
I see many articles lately that at least infer (if not feverishly enumerate and extoll) the many hideous strengths of the modern day, digitally enhanced egregore, but precious few that examine its weaknesses (which I believe to be inherent). To name just a few:
1. No sense of humor
An evolving superintelligence strongly selects away from laughter (and indeed from most spontaneous reactions that aren't violent and/or innately intimidating). This pogrom against spontaneous response to the absurd is a vast chink in the armor, because their gravitation towards absurdum (ad-reductio or infintum) is equally strong.
2. No sense of honor
By this I don't mean the ettiquettes of various ""blood and soul"-type honor cults. More like something along the lines of the tacit agreement of the hand not to stab the thigh, or the feet not to march the head off a cliff. Betrayal is innate to the system, and lack of trust breeds disastrous results on a long enough timescale. In the networked form, even a particular large and powerful demon can self-destruct quite rapidly, in waves of what I like to think of as betrayal cascades. Towards the end of such a cascade, it will find itself consumed in the task of building ever more buses to throw itself under, (and some will even allow its enemies to.lend a hand).
3.,No limiting principle
Like an artist with an infinitely large canvas stretched before him, it eventually loses the ability to effectively *plan* anything apart from its next meal. Again, I'd argue this weakness is actually broadened by digital networks. The word salad and toxic bromides that captivate attention today more swiftly lose their novelty, and therefore their potency. It doesn't mean the body falls asleep, but it becomes sluggish, disoriented, the constutent parts less attentive to commands.
These are just a few exploits that I think will prove useful in mounting an effective counter-offensive, even (or especially?) if we build communities with significant virtue overlay.
This finally made "egregore" click in my head! -
"Some ancient peoples believed in demons called “egregores,” which could be manifested by groups of humans focusing their thoughts and wills in concert. "
I'm glad the author mentioned world religions. Without getting into arguments one way or another I wonder if ancient people used these same concepts (eg. Sovereign Creed) as part of their belief systems to protect against their egregores. Being Catholic, I find I'm often on the "outside" of much of what's going on in today's world and that 2000 year old religion does a good job at insulating me from the demons that are in the world. Said another way, I wonder if any community created now to protect against the modern day egregores will be just like Christianity 2000 years from now - warts and all.
I have always thought of it as looking for the sweet spot on the bell curve of technology. Too little tech and we suffer...too much tech and we suffer differently. Somewhere in the middle gives us the most power without making us a slave.
Values and morals are a scarce commodity, that as we can see in this current “new world order” are knowingly, willingly and with intent destroying.
> If you’re not worried about any of this and are optimistic that everything will turn out fine
No... I'm more "pessimistic that everything will fall apart no matter what anyone does".
Though I'm sure the constant depression and unceasing sequence of horrible events in my life isn't helping that any.