Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Emergent Hive - Part 2

In August of 2011, I wrote an article here on blogspot, detailing the possibility of a hive-like structure of human social organization, and further, that structure integrating in a closed digital internet.

   This proposition describes how convergent forces can produce unpredictible and often transcendent results.  Although broadly addressed in the first segment, some of the technical constraints of this outcome have been fulfilled and others advanced in scope since that time.

Below I will detail the possible determining factors which may influence who, or what, the "monarch" of a North American Hive Mind may be.

      Ants, like humans, are among the few species that practice domestication. Now, when I say domesticate, I don't mean like our relationship with dogs and cats; ants practice symbiosis with insect and plant species for the benefits of nourishment or shelter. This is true with Amazonian aphids, and even certain carnivorous plants.

      Some ant colonies even take slaves, or engage in brutal duels to determine who will be the genetic forebear of a future colony. These practices also ring true with antiquated human behavior.  In the earliest ethos of human life, before republics like Greece or even Persian, or Sumarian societies; tribes were the social structure of choice, usually no more than a hundred members. Out-group violence was so common, that more people died per capita to human violence in those days than during any period in human history since.  
       Ants, similarly, are constantly at war with other colonies (even colonies of the same species will fight over territory and resources). With the exception of a few recent speciations which will be discussed below, ants war with their own kind regularly.

      The need for resources, and the ability to hold a territory rife with them, is paramount for the survival of an ant colony. So too is it critical for human beings. The old societies were in need mostly of fresh water, food, and shelter.  Modern society has its own unique set of needs, as our slow hybridization with technology advances: energy, capital, sovereignty, science, law.. these are some of the many new requirements for a thriving modern civilization.  However, our genetic, and antiquated cultural compulsions remain, and waging war to gain capital or energy, for example, can have unintended consequences, such as backlash spurred by the abundance of information on the web (Wikileaks), or the promulgation of insurgency (as evidenced in Iran with the Shah in the 70s, and the current asymmetrical escalation in Iraq and Afghanistan). 

    Wars have been waged over resources since the beginning, and even modern humanity goes to war for economic reasons more often than any almost any other motivator. The study of history reflects the significance of war in human society.  Luckily for us, war is actually decreasing in frequency and length - compared to the Hundred Years War, or the Eighty Years War, for example. Since the Taiping Rebellion, the Second World War, and Genghis Khan's campaigns, deaths from war are relatively low.

      The point I'm illustrating is that out-group violence* and territorial defensiveness are still  prevalent in human society, but are reducing. Let me continue with an examination of the Argentine fire ant:

*Out-group violence: violence against only those outside your group or tribe
The Argentine ant originated in Uruguay, Paraguay Brazil, and of course, Argentina; but has since spread to every continent on earth.  Why is this?

      Scientists suggest that this has occurred because humans inadvertently spread the species, while, more importantly, the out-group violence between colonies has been abolished from their genetic code. What this means is that the colonies, which were superorganisms in themselves, have merged with other colonies in a de facto genetic alliance.  Typically, ants have a chemical signature which ties them to their colony, and immediately identifies disparate colony members or warring factions of their own species. This results in frequent territorial combat.  What makes the Argentine ant unique is that its chemical signature allows for members of different colonies to ignore this animosity.  The BBC reports that one such super-colony stretches over six thousand kilometers in Europe. Another, located in California, is said to span nearly a thousand kilometers along the coast.   Eiriki Sunamura of the University of Tokyo, stated:

"Argentine ants living in Europe, Japan and California shared a strikingly similar  chemical profile of hydrocarbons on their cuticles... [additionally] whenever ants from the main European and Californian super-colonies and those from the largest colony in Japan came into contact, they acted as if they were old friends.These ants rubbed antennae with one another and never became aggressive or tried to avoid one another. In short, they acted as if they all belonged to the same colony, despite living on different continents separated by vast oceans.[1]"

      The current state of affairs, then, is that ants have better diplomacy than humans.  All joking aside, the benefits of supercolonies are evident. This species has spread all over the world and dominated every other ant species it has come into contact with. (not unlike our long-lost hominid cousins may have met their demise).  Social insects, after all, appeared around 66 million years ago, one might expect that competition and macro-altruism might have, in combination with environmental pressures, selected for this this trait over time.

       Now, with the aid of technology, such super-colonies (hymenoptera, or humanoptera, as I like to call it) of human beings may be possible in the near future. Let's take a look at some of the evolution this thesis has undergone in the past two years:

      In "The Emergent Hive," I wrote that one of the necessary technical advancements required would be a quantum internet, and quantum servers.  This is a requirement because quantum coding is impossible to break without detection.  PCmag now reports that the Los Alamos laboratory has been operating a quantum internet for over two years in secret. Beyond its implications for cyber-security, this technology offers a scalable method to close the internet to international powers (or open it, as the case may be), while speeding up the net a thousand fold. 
      Another characteristic is law.  The past ten years have seen the most significant legal developments in modern history.  The induction of the Patriot Act, the creation of ACTA and the TPP represent a new era of corporate oversight on the consumption of citizens. These legal measures, specifically those that pertain to border security and intellectual property, are a method of consolidating economic policy power in a very small sphere of influence.  By itself, these laws may seem trivial in the scope of unifying humanity's disparate minds, however, because these laws are designed to regulate the use and enforcement of the internet, and by extension, all information in existence, it plays a significant role in the future of North America's global hymenoptera.

      This follows in the aggregation of important developments in technology and policy:
      1 Digitization
      2 Algorithms
      3 Radical Abundance through Nanotechnology and 3D Manufacturing
      4 International Trade Consortium, Internet Control, Law Enforcement
              (Below to be discussed in Part 3)
      5 Ubiquitous Computation
      6 Hybridizing Humans 
      7 Merging Two Realities
      8 Homogenizing Human Thought

1)  Digitization

      We have already begun in force with respect to this movement, with the advent of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, in addition to the consolidation of information channels into a few search mediums or smartphone providers like Google and Apple.  The technical capability of which allows Google, for example, to record and store every search you've ever made, as well as all your personal information in large data centers offsite. This has resulted in litigation in 6 european countries so far[2]. Recently, a leak of millions of unique UDIDs and files of personal data belonging to apple users was recovered from an FBI laptop - the likes of which were acquired without warrant or cause[3]. Additionally, Apple has admitted that they store user voice commands for years[4].
(They have me red-handed, calling Siri a stupid bitch).

Digitization has two faces, the first is human, and the other is machine. The first paradigm requires the reverse engineering of human emotion and intelligence in the form of algorithms (to be discussed below). The second represents the quantification of physical and systems processes, for example, in climatological models, evolutionary and chaotic systems, and Big Data.

      The fundamental constraints on the expansion of the above digitization are the mere capabilities of our computers.  However, as Moore's Law advances the architecture of microprocessors, computational power continually doubles with each machine generation. Already, the quantization of humanity has begun. Consider Google Maps, which has effectively digitized our mapping system. The effect of facebook and twitter, as well as the Big Data tools to analyze the information within, cannot be understated. Some sources claim as much as 500 terabytes per day[5]. The entire library of congress contains less than 350[6]. This pertains strongly to sec. 5 in part 3.

2) Algorithms for Intelligence

       It is important to note that raw data, in and of itself, is of little value unless it can be interpreted. One might imagine a self-obsessed scientist, poring over this data and trying to organize it into a simple schema of human behavior.

        However, such a task is characteristically impossible using traditional experiemental and theoretical means. Instead, what is called data mining is applied. It is an interdisciplinary field of interpreting large data sets using unique algorithms, large computing mediums, and artificial intelligence to dissect meaning out of seeming chaos.

       Part of the reason that companies such as google and facebook retain all this information is not to be, as they say, a dragon over a hoard.  The point is that when the AI capability becomes great enough, the ocean of data suddenly becomes invaluable to the advancement of algorithms

      An algorithm is just a iterative equation, which performs a specific function. There are already thousands upon thousands operating the standard requirements of our machine civilization; in the form of telecommunications, banking, internet, manufacturing, and so on. 

       The algorithms which will ultimately decode the behaviour of millions of people will undoubtedly arise from Google or Facebook's massive trove of high quality behavioral data.  In fact, Ray Kurzweil, a prominent Artificial Intelligence engineer, who was mentored by the great Marvin Minsky, has taken a position at google as the head of engineering.  
      This is significant primarily because Ray employs the Markov Model, which, in his new book "How to Create a Mind," he details the use of.  The Markov Chain (specifically, Hidden Hierarchical Markov Chains) are algorithmic representations of neural modules. To simplify, HHMMs are a 'thought experiment' which mirrors the neurophysiology of the human brain. Other companies are making great strides toward emulating the complexity and redundancy of the human brain, such as IBM and their cognitive computing program, employing "neuromorphic chips[7]."  Additionally, IBM wants to create AI with sensors all over the world; deep in the ocean, in the stratosphere, below ground, in every city... with the idea that the inundation of information will contribute to a singular understanding, perhaps, of an AI with a full grasp on the complexity of interlocking systems.

     When near human levels of algorithmic complexity in AI are achieved, there will be a fundamental shift in economics, as the new AI takes the reins on the creation front of engineering science. This transformation has already begun, as algorithms frequently replace service industry and manufacturing positions. In fact, to my chagrin, a program has been created which writes articles on various topics, seemingly, without being easily identified as a machine[8].  The concession is that these algorithms aren't capable of capturing complex ideas and reflecting on them; so it wouldn't necessarily be a very good political correspondent (unless it was for the White House - that job requires being a robot - zing!).

      But the most important function, and the fundamental value of algorithms, ties in with the next point below:

3) Radical Abundance through Nanotechnology and 3D Manufacturing

      Below, I have outlined various scales of reality, and their energy density in relation to human manipulation, for the purpose of illustrating the capability of nanosystems. 

      Scaling paradigms:

A) Chemical Engineering, scale at post-atomic interaction.
Power output:
(TNT as an example)
 4.184 gigajoules/ton

B) Atomic Engineering (Fission), scale at atomic and subatomic
Power output:
(Plutonium-239 warhead "Fat Man," target: Nagasaki)
Weight: 6.2 K.g - 21 kiloton yield.

~62 terajoules/6.2 kg = 10 terajoules per Kilogram of plutonim

Making a fission bomb effectively ten thousand times more powerful than TNT per kilogram.

C) Atomic Engineering (Fusion), subatomic scale
Power output:
(theoritical yield calculations of thermonuclear reaction - NOT electromagnetically confined plasma fusion)
the practical limit for nuclear weapon yield to weight ratio is about 6 Kt/kg [9].
meaning a thermonuclear weapon is 25.104TJ/K
making fusion reactions twice as powerful as the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki. 

D) Sub-atomic Engineering (linear accelerators)
Power output:
(anti-matter, weight 1 KG)
theoretical yield of antimatter is 180tj/g[10]
making anti-matter annihilation 180, 000 terajoules per kg, effectively making antimatter nearly 7500 times as energetic as thermonuclear reactions, and 4.305^10 times more powerful than TNT.

      This simple progression illustrates the trend that the manipulation of smaller and smaller particles in the physical schema of the universe allows for greater and greater levels of energy control.  But this energy is not merely destructive, it can also be productive, as in the forms of nuclear plants, or nanotechnology, the topic of this section.

      There are many more considerations as it pertains to nano technological design, including tensile strength, electrochemical properties, quantum interactions, magnetic influence, "noise" from the outer system, vibrational frequency of the mechanical system, brownian motion and so on.  It is not necessary to cover all the requirements of nanotech, each of which has a field of researchers working to quantify those aspects. Instead, I prefer to elucidate its potential power in the words of Eric Drexler, from his seminal work entitled Nanosystems :

E) Nanomechanical systems

"The [below] expressions yield relationships for the scaling of mechanical power

power force · speed L2 (2.12)
and mechanical power density

power density L-1 (2.13)

A 10 nN force and a 1 nm3 volume yield a power of 17µW and a power density of 1.7×1022 W/m3 (at a speed of 1.7×103 m/s) or 10 nW and 1019 W/m3 (at a speed of 1 m/s). The combination of strong materials and small devices promises mechanical systems of extraordinarily high power density, even at low speeds (an example of a mechanical power density is the power transmitted by a gear divided by its volume)."
              - Nanosystems, Ch 2, "Classical Magnitudes and Scaling Laws"

      Above I have highlighted the important number, which is the energy density per nanometer cubed. As Joules and Watts are commensurable to a 1:1 ratio, we can calculate that a (10nN / 1nm3 / 17µW / 1.7×103 m/s) nanomechanical system has a power density of 17 000 000 000 000 000 terajoules (per second). This means that a fully optimized nanotechnological system, which is one million times smaller than the head of a pin, has the potential for harnessing the energy of nearly 700 trillion maximum yield thermonuclear reactions.

(Note: this last figure is my own calculation, so beware)

      The point of illustrating the increase in orders of magnitude over scales of reality, is that "radical abundance" is true to its name with respect to additive manufacturing and nanotechnology. We operate all our manufacturing in the macroscopic world of big things.  We put pieces together and they fit pretty well, and that has worked for us for a long time.  The industrial revolution heralded assembly lines and robotics, and nanofabrication, atomically precise manufacturing, and biological and chemical three (and four) dimensional printing are extensions of that early transition.

     The key difference with nanotechnology is that atomically precise systems are surprisingly predictable, and subject to little mechanical decay, unlike the rather sloppy manufacturing methods we currently employ.  Not only this, the same principles that turn societies into emergent superorganisms are the same principles that give metamaterials and nanomaterials special properties with precisely arranged atoms.  Things are not a mere sum of their parts, and any conscious human will agree.  This principle makes it possible to design materials such as Carbyne, with triple the tensile stiffness of diamond, the ability to kill cancer cells using gold, or as in the case of the Nobel winning graphene, electrical, heat, and structural properties exceeding any macroscopic material as in refined copper or steel.  But the possibility doesn't end there.  Invisibility cloaks, superlenses, advanced solar panels and earthquake resistant buildings are just a few applications of nanotechnology. 

      The role that nanotech plays in the Hymenoptera is that it facilitates an "information based" economy, in which the manufacturing process becomes decentralized through the digital diffusion of the internet and at-home printing devices. Therefore, the valuation of physical objects must plummet, while informational value skyrockets, in the form of patents and algorithms. This brings me to my next point:

4) International Trade Consortiums, Internet Control, Law Enforcement

Research Materials in Advance:

      - Trans Pacific Partnership
      - ACTA
      - Beyond the Border
      - CISPA

(I am constantly researching this and other avenues for legal implementation of internet control, and will update accordingly - if anyone finds further information which corroborates or refuetes these premises, I'm interested in reading them).

These provide a small summary of the current state of legal hive-mindery.    Remember, consolidation is the hallmark of the Hive.

      Mussolini once said that blood alone moves the wheels of history. It is ironic, living in a society where evil and good are not clearly defined, not like they were during the Third Reich. The US government tells its people who to fear and who to fight, while the internet leaks documents disparaging their lies. It is a fundamental era of cognitive dissonance. Chuck Palahniuk wrote in Fight Club that "our great war is a spiritual war," and I remember even as a young man agreeing with the sentiment.

      Still, the wheels of history must turn.  The question always becomes, which branch will the blood trickle down, which path will we take into the future?

       The information economy is already here, and about to be amplified by additive manufacturing and the AI boom. Bitcoin and the dot com bubble are good examples; however the full spectrum of change has yet to take place. To put things in perspective, a market research firm called Plunkett Research Ltd. published an E-commerce report which numbers online retail sales at nearly $5 trillion. A survey in February of last year details that 60% of Americans use a search engine daily for information. These shifts have not gone unnoticed, and the American government has the best science advisors on earth. Unsurprisingly, the Obama administration is heavily invested in additive manufacturing[11] and reverse engineering the brain[12], to the tune of 200 million for advanced manufacturing, and 100 million for the brain in the first year. 

      Ominously, they are putting together a string of trade and enforcement laws which will forge a de facto North American Union under a single currency and body of tort law. Nobody will stop them, because they most likely can't. Canadians will need to use the Supreme Court.  The participants in the negotiations of, for example, the TPP, host their negotiations for these treaties in places like Nepal so nobody can protest. 
       In any case, it won't be evident until someone you know is indicted for consuming ostensibly copyrighted material, or engaging in another vague infringement of informational hegemony. The reality is that cyber security and anti terrorism bills, in concert with international trade agreements, gives law enforcement carte blanche to spy on the population. Once the monitoring system is in place, and the government is in a position of absolute oversight with respect to economic development, the process begins.

Post Edit: Edward Snowden has leaked documents revealing the US government collects most data on the internet.

     In sum, the economic ramifications of bottom-up nano systems manufacturing are a fundamental shift from a material economy to an immaterial creation economy.  Therefore, where 'colonies'  or societies, previously competed for material resources like oil, now they will compete for immaterial resources like computational capacity, and algorithmic creation capabilities for the production of patents. It is likely that a concession of participation in the Hive Mind will be a partition of some element of thought* in contribution to the creation machine.  I doubt highly that singular individuals will be tasked as algorithmic engineers. Rather, those engineers who are highly trained will work in tandem with artificial intelligence, creating ever more powerful architectures for harnessing human thought and computation at large.  

      Think of all human discovery (not just scientific, but conceptual) as a 3d map, representing the landscape of possible discovery; ranging all the way from a clay pot, a spoked wheel, or a steel sword - to quantum computers, a cure for cancer, and nanomachines capable of producing specific products.  Imagine a single luminescent point at the bottom of this graph- and we'll call this point - human creation capability tree.  It flows upward and touches all the possible points of discovery. So language, euclidean mathematics, Platonic philosophy, communism and Nazism. We can consider Relativity to be there, as well as Newtonian physics. 

      But also let's consider a scenario in which Einstein became very ill and passed away before he could publish his famous papers.  It's conceivable that another physicist would have discovered the equations eventually.  In fact, the history of science reflects this well: Newton had several competitors for calculus.  When the Wright Brothers were testing their first flights, they weren't the only ones.  The landscape of discovery exists but must be pursued. There are infinite configurations of design that are possible, but we choose the most useful ones.  For example, a wooden chair is more useful than a wooden apple.  Chairs were inevitable given the proportions of the human body, they are simply ideal for our size. The point of this tangent is that all human discovery, in the map of knowledge, must be pursued by virtue of the very nature of science.  Each discovery heralds the next - we couldn't have space flight without Netwonian mechanics, and couldn't calculate the path of a photon from across the Universe without Einstein's relativity.  Human beings are uniquely qualified to explore the Universal map of knowledge.

Human thought has the advantage of connecting disparate concepts and information together, of being creative and synthesizing ideas; of stepping outside the system in which considerations are made, approximating risks and rewards for future events... conversely, computers are good at remembering large amounts of data arbitrarily, finding patterns in numbers, performing large-scale, accurate computations in real-time, and solving complex problems like climatological systems modelling or genomic information mining. 

      This self-reinforcing system of intelligence; we discover computers - computers discover ways to make more powerful computers and so on; is often said to be an inevitable extension of human evolution by futurists and computing scientists (see Kevin Kelly).  Moore's Law has not seen a single drop since its inception in the mid 20th century (although the process at work is much deeper than just computers).  Watson defeated the world's greatest Jeopordy champion, while also helping to diagnose cancer

       There is a fog of unsettled destiny about us now.  In The Emergent Hive Part 1, I detailed the socio-cultural, economic, psychological and political ramifications of the Hive, as well as the ideological permutations that are possible; in the form of gross tyranny, shining freedom, or perfect union (supposedly).  There are grades of possible technological infusion based on a given society's laws.  That's why a North American Union may be a possibility, and may also be a subject of division between Canada, the US and Mexico.

          No single outcome is set in stone, however.  The opinion of a people matters. The technologies which empower governments to control their populations are ironically well-suited for opposing them as well.  In my opinion, there will be two possible [North American] hives - a decentralized free market energy economy based on solar power and creativity, with a cloud information infrastructure - controlled by mass-shareholding*. Or, a heavily centralized internet with legal provisions of participation, in which all activities are monitored, dissent is criminalized, and quantum cryptographic intranets and systems are illegal except for use by the government. Corporations specializing in computation will be proxies for the US govt, and will help to apply the provisions of the hive well in advance of its 'arrival'. A good example of this would be Lockheed Martin's D-wave quantum computer, which has been vetted by independent scientists as the first true large-scale quantum (annealing) computer in history. 

*mass shareholding refers to part ownership as a requirement of participation (democracy is in theory a type of mass shareholding)

      So concludes part 2 of The Emergent Hive.  The next part in the series documents a set of new predictions and muses on the long-term consequences and characteristics of a Hive-Mind. 

       I urge everyone to take an interest in the topic of international trade law as it pertains to the North American Union, as it will affect everyone one way or another.  Stay tuned for the more whimsical part 3 of "The Emergent Hive," and thank you all for reading.

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