Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Joe Omundson

order as intelligence

Some people believe that humans are the only intelligent beings on Earth. After spending some time in the deserts, mountains, and forests, I started to believe that this wasn’t true. I noticed that there was a lot of life and wisdom out there. Everything from bugs, to birds, mammals, plants, trees, and fungus, all have their own clever methods of interacting with the ecosystem. They all use very different strategies. Even common insects like mosquitoes, ants, flies, butterflies, and bees are extremely unique in the role they play and the methods they use.

I started to see it like this: maybe any force or system of forces which holds together a pattern in nature rather than dispersing it into uniform randomness, is intelligent. It is acting against entropy to preserve itself. This intelligence can range from anything that self-perpetuates using DNA, to social systems of belief like politics and economy, to galaxies and subatomic forces. Sometimes their intelligence and perception is apparent to us, like in other humans and animals. The more we learn about all different life forms, the more we realize that they are all reacting intelligently, even plants and microbes. The human’s singular mind with complex abstract and logical thinking is not the only way to be intelligent. Swarm intelligence, the hive mind, is one other kind. This whole adaptive learning system we call life has been complexifying in some way for billions of years now. Though it is beyond our comprehension, perhaps intelligence and awareness could exist innately in every system of electrons and atomic nucleus, or in the patterns of every galaxy.

Ideas can become alive, living collectively in the minds of all who participate in them. Maybe that is one reason why it is so hard for humans to do away with some of the unhealthy systems they live in, even when those systems are hurting every person involved; they are like intelligences with a will of their own and they use us to increase their power and influence. Doing battle with a sick ideology is like facing an abstract entity. It's easy for us to view the adherents of certain viewpoints as being the source of the problem, but really they can be victims of something that is beyond individual human control.

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