23 January 2009

Change in How Change Happens

Another cracking post from Kevin Kelly:

Of all the tricks that evolution came up for increasing its evolvability none compare to minds. Minds – and not just human minds – bestow on life a greatly accelerated way to learn and adapt. This should not be surprising because minds are built to find answers, and one of the key things to answer might be how to learn better, quicker. If what minds are good for is learning and adaptation, then learning how to learn will accelerate your learning. Even though most of the learning a mind does is not transferred directly into biological evolution, there are several ways in which minds accelerate evolution (see the Baldwin Effect), even in the lower animal kingdom. So the presence of minds in life has increased its evolvability; the discovery of mindness has driven evolution in many new directions while also creating a new territory to explore – the territory of possible minds.

The most recent extension of this expansion is technology. Technology is how human minds explore the space of possibilities. We power our minds via science and technology to make possible things real. More so technology is how our society learns and introduces change. It is almost a cliché to point out that technology has brought as much change on this planet in the last 100 years as life has in the last billion years.

Ray Kurzweil can provide you with dozens of graphs charting the accelerating change brought about by technology in the last 100 years or so. From the speed of computers, the bandwidth of communications, the power of engines, the yield of crops – all are accelerating in performance. Change is this century's middle name.

But meta-change is not about acceleration itself; it is not about faster change. Rather, the acceleration of evolution or increased evolvability is about the change in the nature of change. The basic mechanism by which our collective minds – as expressed by technology – adapt and produce change is undergoing a shift. In fact the most important change at work in our world right now is "the change in how change happens."

"Change in how change happens": that's a pretty good description of what openness is doing. It has changed *how* we change. It's also what we need to achieve on a *planetary* scale if was are going to save much of the world as we know it. It doesn't get much more profound than that.

4 comments:

plh said...

Cracking? Well, it's certainly a good example of the inane pseudoscientific-nonsense-on-crack one so often sees in technology writing.

glyn moody said...

Ah well, there's obviously no hope for me either...

plh said...

I wouldn't be reading your blog if I thought that, Glyn :)

glyn moody said...

Thanks - I appreciate your tolerance of my little foibles....