When we left off at our previous moment of complexity, the author finally stopped dropping big names on campus (e.g. Derrida, Hegel, Heidegger, Kant) and got around to defining complex adaptive systems.
My suspicions were aroused when the author launches into a ten-page review of Gödel, Escher, Bach. (A leftover from another project? A paper from a grad student?) Using the word "ant" as a transition, we're suddenly reading John Holland's observation that the economy, our central nervous systems, ecologies, immune systmes, the development of multicellular organisms, and the processes of evolutionary genetics are all adaptive nonlinear networks at heart. Murray Gell-Mann throws in culture and computer programs.
The instability of complex systems makes you consider them over time. Stuart Kauffman critiques Darwin, noting that organisms resemble Rube Goldberg machines. Kauffman's hot; without self-organization, he notes, evolution would not be possible. If you thought Holland covered a lot of territory, be aware that Kauffman's vision covers not only science but also society, politics, metaphysics, and religion. Kauffman is convinced that the emergence of order is spontaneous but not accidental. We're inevitably headed for a single, global culture wherein people, tech, economics, and knowledge all blend together all over the planet.
Wow. That's one hell of a paragraph. I read it three times. Web without a weaver. Nothing new under the sun. Reproducing, not producing. Nobody will re-engineer this one. Unless they look at it as denial of responsibility. Or taking on a new religion which submerges the individual. Or Mark smoking something.
Gotta love this one:
Oh, God. Kill me before I write again!
The title of Kevin Kelly's great bio book springs to mind: Out of Control.
Gell-Mann writes of cultural DNA, "borrowing a term from Hazel Henderson." Plate-o-shrimp. I'd never heard of Hazel Henderson until June of last year. She said that the economists who control the political side nationally pay attention to only four factors — unemployment, deficits, inflation, and interest rates. But the world is more complex than that. The economists are linear and therefore can’t grok complex systems. A “Post-Cartesian Scientific Worldview” sees interconnectedness, redistribution (recycling), heterarchy (webs), complimentarity (both/and), etc. Bingo! Later in the day I thanked Hazel for cluing me in to why I'd always thought economics was a crock.
Daniel Dennett takes memes seriously. He figures they can reprogram with operating system of the brain. Memes and genes are in a coevolutionary, coadaptive relationship. Ray Kurtzweil goes further: our human software will replace our bodily hardware.
The founder of Knowledge Universe was telling academic institutions "We are going to eat your lunch." (A couple of years after this, Milken had bailed, closing the doors of almost all of his educational acquisitions except Leap Frog, which has become such a big winner it has more than covered Milken's losses in the rest of his Universe.)
Bankrolled by investment banker Herbert Allen, the author founds Global Educaiton Network. His faculty critics just aren't seeing the big picture. "The most important legacy we can leave the next generation is the hope that creative change is still possible."
This final chapter has next to nothing to do with what comes before. It's as if Mark needed another forty pages to fulfilll his book contract, so he excised parts of his business plan for GEN and his diary from that time, and just slapped them onto the end of the manuscript.
Now the "book without an author" theme which I found capivating the first time through seems an apologia, a rationalization for starting a book but not finishing it.
Mark C. Taylor's webiste at WIlliams
The website of the Global Education Network has a screenshot, an 800 number, and the words "Our website is undergoing maintenance.
We apologize for the inconvenience."
30 Poppy Lane
Berkeley, California 94708
1.510.528.3105 (office & cell)
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