Being (Multi)Human

Humans are eusocial. We form colonies and superorganisms as do ants and bees. These superorganisms are defined by and embodied as networks or webs of patterns that are recognized and recapitulated by their member organisms. Human superorganisms (multihumanisms) are sometimes vaguely understood as families, communities, tribes, colonies, corporations, states, etc.

fractal hand 480px × 408px

A superorganism may have metabolism, physiology, and cognition. Multihumanisms overlap or interpenetrate to various degrees with other superorganisms, including other multihumanisms, in their environments. Different multihumanisms have differing degrees of stability or permanence, pattern density, pattern regularity, etc. They also differ in the number of individuals of which they are composed. They range from whispy, ephemeral things to highly substantial and long lasting things. Many existing multihumanisms are still surviving from antiquity.  Besides their ability to interpenetrate and interact with each other, multiple multihumanisms can have family ties and family trees. Individuals can be related to the other members of a multihumanism biologically (via genes), cognitively (via memes), or both.

Participation in multihuman recognition, recapitulation, metabolism, cognition, etc. occurs mainly on a subconscious level. Dfferent members often play different, specialized roles. The participation of each member goes through a progressive learning or development process.

The idea of a multihumanism has been around in various forms for ages. I first wrote about it a few years ago in Stalking The Wild Multihumanism. But the degree to which multihumanisms are literally real and organic; and a simple, concrete way in which they have metabolism, physiology, cognition, and coordinated behaviors; came to me very recently in a dream. In this dream I found myself a stranger in a small urban center in what seemed like ancient India. I didn’t know how I got there and I was apprehensive and hypervigilant. Most of the people around me appeared to be peasants. The major architecture was grand but it seemed old and poorly maintained. The newer minor structures were ramshackle.

I was in an open square. I tried to watch and interpret the behavior patterns of those around me. Some were partaking from what seemed to be sparse public supplies of food and drink. I watched one man roll a small ball of food at the edge of an open platter. Once or twice he dipped the ball in a dish and then rolled it more with his fingers. In one hand he held a wooden or bamboo tube from which he occasionally drew a small stick. The tube seemed to hold a variety of these sticks. Each stick appeared to be inscribed with marks or symbols and I took them to be some kind of texts. Eventually I perceived a repetative pattern by which the man rolled and dipped the balls of food on the public platter, drank from a public gourd dipped in an open stone reservoir about one foot in diameter, and fingered the little sticks.

I watched other people, many dressed in various degrees of rags, come and go about the square and the smaller structures around it. I noticed they seemed to follow common paths. No one cut diagonally across an open area. I gradually perceived there were major paths and minor paths, and I could see the traces of some of these paths worn by bare feet into the stone paving of the square. They may have been following these same paths for hundreds or thousands of years by the look of the major buildings surrounding the square.

At first any moves or activities on my part drew attention. I realized that deviating from any of the normal, expected behavior patterns would reveal me as a stranger and perhaps, to some, as a threat. So I began to try to progressively fit in to the patterns I observed. I was a quick study, as I think most people are when motivated by paranoia and self preservation. Perhaps we owe our ability to rapidly detect and assimilate social patterns to our large brain size, or vice versa.

I listened carefully to the verbal communication around me, especially it’s tonal and emotional qualities; but since I had no language in common with these people, I became highly sensitized to their conduct, their body language, microexpressions, etc. I quickly became progressively more familiar with many kinds of patterns, patterns of patterns, and patterns within patterns. I was learning how to become part of a multihumanism. Eventually I would perceive that this city and its families, communities and tribes were multiple interrelated and interdependent multihumanisms.

I noticed that activity patterns were often closely related to the design of the spaces in which they took place. I realized that activities often involved combinations of breathing common air, eating and drinking common food and water supplies, and touching common materials, objects, structures, etc. In all these activities there was an incidental transference of messages, memes, energies, chemicals (including pheromones), microrganisms,  parasites (which may transfer blood from one person to another), and materials such as dirt, fecal material, etc. In these pattern recapitulations, combinations, and transfers I began to see the metabolism, physiology, and cognition of the multihumanisms.

As I learned to fit in with the social patterns around me in my dream, my participation in each particular pattern would become more automatic and subconscious over time. The assimilation process and the assimilated patterns are largely subconscious. We are only vaguely conscious of the multihumanisms in which we live and breathe and have our being. But many of the memes and narratives in which we believe most firmly were passed to us via the multihumanisms in which we subconsciously, automatically participate and which helped shape our individual development and cognition.

One of the main points that I took from my dream “revelations” was that the concept of human superorganisms was not just a metaphor or a potential in our possible future evolution, as I formerly thought. Instead the literal, organic existence of human superorganisms and the participation of a vast majority of human individuals in them by default goes back into the early prehistory of our species, and perhaps as far back as pre-human primates. Most of this remains invisible or at most metaphorical to us because our participation in our superorganisms is mostly subconscious.

We may need a great deal of research to make our superorganisms more visible and tangible for us. We need to improve our ability to recognize them, find their boundaries and overlaps, understand their biology and cognition, and discover the ways that our superorganisms mold us, their individual members.


Poor Richard



Stalking The Wild Multihumanism (PRA 2.0)

The Meaning of Life (PRA 2.0)

Living systems are open self-organizing living things that interact with their environment. These systems are maintained by flows of information, energy and matter.





Me And You

timeline of ancient history 2The lamps of sages pierce dark ages,
guiding us through history
but Time has swept us out the door
and swallowed up the key.

Somehow, Love, as of now
Its just you and me.

Paradise was promised us,
but this is what nobody knew:
war and rumors of war in Heaven
kept help from getting through

Somehow, Love, here and now
its just me and you.


Notes on Property in Commons (draft)

[I’m publishing this draft work-in-progress here to make it easier to get feedback. Feel free to leave a question or comment]

Elinor Ostrom makes the point that commons-pool resources and commons property are different animals. Any particular commons resource can be held under a variety of different property regimes or property law systems. But commons resources and commons property are often confused and used interchangeably.

Resources vs Rights


The Bundle of Rights



Bundles, Systems, and Holders of Property Rights (Schlager and Ostrom 1992)

“…most institutional analysts are familiar with the Schlager and Ostrom work on property rights (Schlager, Edella, and Elinor Ostrom. “Property-rights regimes and natural resources: a conceptual analysis.” Land economics (1992): 249-262.). In this piece, they lay out a conceptual map for bundling of various types of property rights with a goal of showing that ownership is more than a simple binary division. Their revised table (from a 1996 book chapter) looks like this:”

property roles and bundles of rights - Ostromspace




property-rights bundle - big

The Bundle of Property Rights — Click to enlarge (


Estates—Rights in real property which are or may become, possessory

1. Freehold estates—exist for an indefinite period of time

a. Fee estates (a fee, an estate in fee, estate of inheritance)

(1) Fee simple absolute—the greatest degree of ownership.

(2) Fee simple defeasible—can be defeated by some condition subsequent

2. Less-than-freehold estates (a leasehold estate)—exists for a determinable period of time—a form of personal property.

a. Estate for years

b. Estate from period to period (e.g., month-to-month)

c. Estate at will

d. Estate at sufferance

[from  Real Estate Trainers, Inc..Legal Aspects of Real Estate]


Concurrent Estates (tenancy in common, joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety)



Trust (private, charitable, beneficial, etc.)

Beneficial Interest

Community Land Trust

Public Conservation Area

Private Conservancy


Doctrine of Mortmain


Do collective property rights make sense? Insights from central Vietnam


We draw on empirical results from three case studies of property rights change across forest and fisheries ecosystems in central Vietnam to investigate the circumstances under which collective property rights may make sense. A generic property rights framework was used to examine the bundles of rights and associated rights holders in each case, and to assess these arrangements with regard to their contextual fit, legitimacy and enforceability. The cases illustrate the interactions between private and collective rights to lands and resources, and the trade-offs inherent with different mixes of rights.

1. Introduction

Responding to the challenges of rural poverty and environmental sustainability requires a flexible mix of individual and collective property rights. Resource-based activities shift, depending upon, among other things, household needs, local ecologies and market opportunities. For these reasons, conventional categorization or advocacy of private, collective or public rights rarely account for the complex realities found in particular places (Barry and Meinzen-Dick 2008; German and Keeler 2010). Many property rights arrangements tend to enclose specific areas or reduce some people’s access to specific goods. Overlapping but differentiated ‘bundles of rights’ (Schlager and Ostrom 1992) and hybrid property regimes can offer a more effective lens for understanding property rights complexity. In the context of a mixed public-private or collective rights situation, such bundles of rights may be related to access, withdrawal, management, exclusion and alienation of resources, or parts of a resource, through time and space (Barry and Meinzen-Dick 2008). Farmers or fishers may advocate for part of a bundle of rights (extraction, for example) with other rights residing with the collective or the state (management or alienation, as an example). Sensitivity to circumstance or context reveals that individual, collective and public property rights each have merits (Evans et al. 2010). The challenge for the resource manager, donor or policy-maker is to ‘read’ when and where different rights regimes may be appropriate to support poverty alleviation and sustainable rural livelihoods more generally.

Vietnam has moved from forms of collectivization and state ownership that began in the late 1950s to an ambitious ‘renovation’ program leading to individual land titling in the late 1980s (Do and Iyer 2008). The Doi Moi period (or ‘renovation’) aimed to transform a centralized, state-planned economic system into a more decentralized, market-oriented system whereby the private sector would become the main engine of growth1. One aspect of these reform policies was to devolve authority over production decisions to farmers and enterprises, and to establish property rights (for agricultural land and in some cases for individual households to manage forest areas) to encourage investment and provide a form of collateral for rural dwellers (Sunderlin et al. 2008). The majority of Vietnam’s 90 million people have access to small amounts of land (1–2 ha), particularly in rural, agriculture-focused areas (where 72% of the population lives) (HDR 2009). Policy reforms in the 2000s (e.g. changes to the 2003 Land Law and Fisheries Law) recognized the role for collective rights, once again, to manage forest areas and fishing grounds. However, in the context of increasing privatization of land and marketization of rural production, the contextual fit, legitimacy and enforceability of collective rights has been uncertain…

Insights from the cases highlight how the needs and aspirations of individuals and households do not easily conform to conventional property rights narratives (private vs. collective) or the implementation of policy prescriptions that emerge from these narratives. Results of the analysis contribute to common property theory by showing how local actors may choose to collectively manage and use natural resources (forest lands and aquatic resources in this case) as part of a broader strategy to obtain individual bundles of rights (which may include access, withdrawal, management, exclusion and alienation of resources, or parts of a resource) within the context of a collective rights policy framework.


Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems, by Elinor Ostrom (2009 Nobel Prize lecture slides)


Individual garden plots on soviet collective farms

The sovkhozy tended to emphasize larger scale production than the kolkhozy and had the ability to specialize in certain crops. The government tended to supply them with better machinery and fertilizers. Labor productivity (and in turn incomes) tended to be greater on the sovkhozy. Workers in state farms received wages and social benefits, whereas those on the collective farms tended to receive a portion of the net income of their farm, based, in part, on the success of the harvest and their individual contribution.

Although accounting for a small share of cultivated area, private plots produced a substantial share of the country’s meat, milk, eggs, and vegetables.[citation needed]Although never more than 4% of the arable land in the USSR, private plots consistently produced roughly a quarter to a third of agricultural produce. Private plots were among many attempts made to restructure Soviet farming.[citation needed] However, the weak worker incentives and managerial autonomy, which were the crux of the problem, were not addressed.[citation needed]

The private plots were also an important source of income for rural households. In 1977, families of kolkhoz members obtained 72% of their meat, 76% of their eggs and most of their potatoes and eggs from private holdings. Surplus products, as well as surplus livestock, were sold to kolkhozy and sovkhozy and also to state consumer cooperatives. Statistics may actually under-represent the total contribution of private plots to Soviet agriculture.[4] The only time when private plots were completely banned was during collectivization, when famine took millions of lives.[5]

Soviets Pushing Food Production On Small Individual Plots…

Soviet law allows country and city dwellers alike to farm as much as one half a plots,— and the yield per acre far outstrips that of state and collective farms.


Party, State, and Citizen in the Soviet Union: A Collection of … – Page 258 – Google Books Result

The collective farm member’s personal household plot 57. use of a plot of land adjacent to their house as a vegetable garden, orchard, or to meet other needs.

Under the Collective Farm Charter (1935), individual farmers were permitted to keep small garden plots and a few animals for domestic use, and to sell surplus production in local free markets.


See R. W. Davies, The Soviet Collective Farm (1980); W. Hinton, The Great Reversal (1989); A. Etzioni et al., ed., The Organizational Structure of the Kibbutz (1980).


owners lavished more care and effort on their own crops than on collective or state fields. Comparative Economic Systems: Transition and capitalism alternatives – Page 96 – Google Books Result

Self-Sustainability of Subsidiary Household Plots: Lessons for

region actually was a combination of collective, state, and individual farming. Subsidiary household plots (lichnyye podsobnyye khozyaystva in Russian) culti ….. hectare, while the average yields in Russia are 18-20 centners per hectare. ….. Durgin, F., “Household Garden Plots,” RSEEA Newsletter, 13, 3, September 1991
The Meaning of Property “Rights:” Law vs. Economics?“Given the importance of property “rights” in economics, it might be expected that there would be some consensus in economic theory about what property “rights” are. But no such consensus appears to exist. In fact, property “rights” are defined variously and inconsistently in the economics literature.”

Analysis: Cuba’s derechos de superficie: Are they ‘real’ property rights?

A derecho de superficie is a derecho real over land that does not belong to its holder (the superficiario), but that the owner of the land in question concedes while retaining the title (dominio, or ownership) to the land itself. The superficiario is thus allowed to build and/or plant on the land while the laws acknowledge his own rights over the buildings or structures and plantations so emplaced as independent from the title holder or land-owner’s rights. Superficie rights are usually only temporary in nature. Once the superficie rights expire, when the term stipulated in its title (the grant or concession creating it) runs its course, or when it is otherwise extinguished, a reversion takes place and the owner of the land takes title to the buildings or improvements made on his land by the superficiario.

Over the past few years, the derecho de superficie has been enjoying a comeback in a number of countries — in Spain, in Argentina, even in China. And the Cuban Civil Code’s provisions on this topic are often cited as an example by those who urge their countries’ legislatures to make superficie rights part of their laws.

One of the reasons behind this resurge is intrinsically tied to societal models that, even if presently evolving (some faster than others), seek to keep the direct ownership of land in the hands of the state, such as Cuba.


Pensacola Beach is actually located on a barrier island in Escambia County, connected to the mainland Pensacola and Gulf Breeze by the Bob Sykes bridge. The land belongs to the Federal Government by virtue of a 1947 deed which leases it to the businesses and residents in 99 year increments, making them long-term leaseholders through the Santa Rosa Island Authority, instead of property owners.

Santa Rosa Island Authority

Pensacola Beach, is owned by Escambia County, Florida, and is under the direction of the Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA). The SRIA was created by the Florida legislature in 1947 under Chapter 24500. The SRIA does not receive tax support from the taxpayers of the county. It is fully funded from rental fees collected from business and residences on the beach.

The Authority is made up of six members, five are named by members of the Escambia County Board of County Commissioner and whose term is the same as the commissioner who appointed them. The sixth member is elected by the registered voters on Pensacola Beach. The sixth members’ term is two years.

Because of restrictions placed in the legal document from the United States government, land may not be purchased on Pensacola Beach; instead property is rented by the Island Authority for varying periods of time.

Pensacola Beach is about 1,474 acres, which make up approximately 30% of Escambia County on Santa Rosa Island. Pensacola Beach is about eight miles long and a quarter mile at its widest. At the present time 60% of Pensacola Beach is public use or public service land with the remaining 40% rented for residential and commercial use.


Open access vs. the commons

When Hardin (1968, p. 1244) asked his readers to “[p]icture a pasture open to all,” he was referencing an ungoverned open-access regime from which nobody could be excluded. Yet by calling the resulting collective action problem “the tragedy of the commons,” the notion of common property became conflated with the lawless (or law-free) condition of open access. The distinction between open-access and common property was made decades ago by Ciriacy-Wantrup and Bishop (1975) and has been reiterated by Ostrom (e.g. 1999, pp. 335–336; see also Schlager and Ostrom 1992) and others (e.g. McCay 1996, p. 113; Dagan and Heller 2001, pp. 556–557; Eggertsson 2003, pp. 75–76). Yet confusion on this point has yet to be fully eradicated. Recognizing that nearly all “private” property is actually owned (or at least used) by groups, such as households or firms, offers one way around this blind spot. These everyday examples of non-tragic commons lead us to ask not whether common property is feasible at all, but rather under what circumstances and at what scale.


Lee Anne FennellUniversity of Chicago Law School,

Elinor Ostrom’s work has immeasurably enhanced legal scholars’ understanding of property. Although the richness of these contributions cannot be distilled into a single thesis, their flavor can be captured in a maxim I call Ostrom’s Law: A resource arrangement that works in practice can work in theory. Ostrom’s scholarship challenges the conventional wisdom by examining how people interact over resources on the ground – an approach that enables her to identify recurring institutional features associated with long-term success. In this essay, I trace some of the ways that Ostrom’s focus on situated examples has advanced interdisciplinary dialogue about property as a legal institution and as a human invention for solving practical problems. I begin by highlighting the attention to detail that characterizes Ostrom’s methodology. I then examine how Ostrom’s scholarship yields insights for, and employs insights from, property theory. Next, I consider the question of scale, an important focal point of Ostrom’s work, and one that carries profound implications for law. I conclude with some observations about interdisciplinarity as it relates to research on the commons.


anticommons; commons; interdisciplinarity; models; scale; semicommons

New World Justice League

Justice League of America

Justice League of America (

This is a crowd-funding proposal to support a series of encounter sessions between outstanding intellectual and cultural leaders, together with some leaders of tomorrow.

It may also evolve into a permanent institute with its own office/lab complex and attached jetport.

I love and admire the people listed below as possible candidates for these events, but I perceive that  our moral and intellectual leadership is in a crisis just as the rest of us are. We are stuck. I believe it’s because in some way we have become too alienated, too isolated, and too used to our grooves, as energetic as they may be. And it is only so much worse for our men and women of great depth and vision, atop their solitary mountaintops of genius. And I’m sure that to these penetrating minds, the converging crises facing life on this planet can seem pretty hopeless.

Like the superheroes in the Justice League comics, our public intellectuals and activists tend to be an individualistic lot with strong, independent personalities. What I find to be such a great metaphor in the comics is the way the superheroes argue and fight amongst themselves.

Furthermore, humans fail to communicate and cooperate at our full capacities because of addictive and narcissistic obsessions with our individual egos. We are all compulsive ego masturbators addicted to auto-stimulating the release of endogenous neurochemical cocktails. Ironically our most intelligent, creative, and charismatic individuals seem to suffer from this the most.

One thing we may need is some face time and some campfire time together. While the sages sit around a circle of their peers, the rest of us will gather in larger circles of our own peers around them.

Marc Edwards recently wrote in the Integral Leadership Review,

“…followership has been neglected as an essential quality of leaders at the executive level of management. The qualities of good followership, for example, of being able to listen, to provide and seek feedback, of loyalty and of signalling errors and anomalies have been undervalued at senior levels of executive leadership.” –, Leadership as Holarchy: leading/following in peer governance

One way in which I feel our intellectual leadership fails at followership and peership may be due more to their individualism than to their scheduling constraints– I don’t think they share enough common face-time with their own peers. I think we need a general assembly of our public mentors and intellectual innovators. I wouldn’t completely rule out locking batches of them up in 24 hour encounter marathons, Esalen style.

It is customary for third parties to host the odd forum of two or three such celebs now and then, but I think it is a failure of both leadership and followership that larger groups of our brightest and best don’t get together on their own initiative far more often. IMO this is one of the key obstacles to creating the critical mass and internal cohesion needed for a stronger, more confident, and more sustained mass movement. It is inevitable that we take certain cues from our mentors. Books, articles, emails, one-on-one interviews, and individual public lectures are necessary but not sufficient. The US Founders had to occasionally caucus together in common rooms at close quarters–or the US may ultimately have been still-born.

The people listed below are among our very best and brightest, and that means they are filling big shoes–shoes that in other generations were filled by people like Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, Thoreau,  Gandhi, MLK, Sojourner Truth, “Mother” Jones , or Eleanor Roosevelt .

Now things have come around to the point that our current  leaders are facing a kind of moment no less grave and momentous than that which prompted Ben Franklin to say “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Human culture has always evolved more rapidly than our anatomy. But even the rapid progress of our culture in the past few centuries has begun to fall behind the pace of changes and challenges we now face in our crowded societies and  our ravaged environment. Rather than rising to meet these challenges, our social institutions show signs of actually breaking down and becoming less effective. Increasing competition over land, water, food, and other resources is likely to favor increasingly authoritarian institutions. While technology offers solutions to resource problems in theory, in practice it also favors greater stratification of wealth and power. If recent trends continue we may be faced with a future of highly authoritarian corporate neofeudalism (privatized government).

As we congress with one another on the most human level possible we need to begin from a point of deeply troubling  confession. No matter how sincere and committed we have all been in our lives, the world has undergone increasing destruction on our watch. Our past, best efforts haven’t been good enough. Somehow we must up our game. Isn’t that clear yet? But none of us knows how to do that alone, using our old, familiar  moves. We must find something new in the synergy of our shared love, hope, fear and grief. Perhaps we can do as our forefathers once did, in the closing words of the United States Declaration of Independence, and “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

This is an initial list of suggested social and intellectual leaders who will be invited to attend these events.


This might take the form of a retreat center that would give the top 100 public intellectuals, activists, progressive leaders, etc. lots more face time with each other without a busy, crowded “conference” agenda.

I started by thinking of the comic books “Justice League” and “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and extending that intuitive or instinctive approach of calling upon heroes to calling upon our present day progressive heroes and thought leaders to join forces.

Of course they already see themselves (wrongly) as being in joined forces but for that to be true and actually work they need to hang out more. Crossing paths at a conference or interview doesn’t really get them in sync.

Probably what we need is a college that can give all these people an office/lab complex and paid seats on an “institute” for saving the world. There might be an attached jetport as well.

There might also be continuous retreat “pools” that people can join and leave at will, or scheduled events over a course of years. The entire project would be not-for-profit and the funding target will allow scholarships to each public event.

There will be three main tiers of funding–institutional, organizational, and individual. The higher tiers get more input in selecting the participants, venues, and schedules. Lower tiers get to nominate “pioneers” and attend the events.

Poor Richard



Deceler8: A peer-driven retreat to declutter & refocus yourself

Human Broadband Connections

Source: Wikimedia

[Note: this is a reposting of material that is buried rather deeply in two other essays on this blog, xTopia and  The Meaning of Life.]

We all know things we don’t know how to express in words. When we try, they often sound like cliches and tautologies. But sometimes progress comes through persistent interaction with a friend, a partner, or a colleague. Sometimes two heads or three heads are better than one. Sometimes people who spend a lot of time together develop special kinds of connections. If we live or work together long enough and closely enough we may begin to establish what I call human broadband connections. This may evolve further as we keep house, interact with nature, travel, solve problems, share adventures, meet challenges and survive crises together, until we can finish each others sentences. We are beginning to realize that such intimacy can gradually change the chemistry and structure of the nervous system and allow for progressively increasing inter-personal communication bandwidth and synchronization. One example is menstrual synchrony.

Some might consider it to be an interpersonal spiritual connection, but it is a natural phenomenon that I would call bio-cognitive development (bio-cognitive = body + brain) and psycho-neuro-synchronization.

Bio-cognitive development partners are two or more peers engaging in an in-person practice that focuses not on learning facts but developing and practicing bio-cognitive skills such as high-bandwidth psycho-neuro-synchronization. Perhaps a more self-explanatory term is “interpersonal neural synchronization”. As psycho-physiological intimacy and coordination increases over time, the bandwidth and synchronization of the bio-cognitive communication increase. Some of the coordinating feedback channels are:



.Voice modulation, body language , airborne chemicals, and physical contact all stimulate the release of a wide array of neurotransmitters and other hormones throughout the body. These change the states of neural networks, nerves, and tissues throughout the body. That much is established fact.


My additional hypothesis is that all these channels of communication can gradually come into greater synchronization between people. Its similar to the way higher data throughput is achieved between nodes in a communication network as they each synchronize to the same timing, states, and protocols. The rate at which this happens between people and the degree to which it happens depends on the innate psycho-physiological characteristics of the participants as well as their acquired proficiencies. When well developed, interpersonal bio-cognitive communication bandwidth may change as much as the difference between a 300 baud asynchronous modem connection and a 10-gigabit broadband connection.

The importance of shared activity to developing bio-cognitive intimacy and high communication bandwidth can’t be over-emphasized. Important activities include, but aren’t limited to: singing and dancing, eating and drinking (especially alcohol), domestic housekeeping (especially kitchen work), manual labor (gardening/farm work, carpentry, etc.), professional work, artistic collaboration, dialog/debate, sports and recreation (camping is great), traveling, and adventure. Sharing risks and crises is especially effective for promoting empathy and trust. The more time participants spend together the better. Sharing living quarters and workplaces is especially effective, within the limits of intimacy fatigue. And of course if these things are done mindfully, with the intention of developing high-bandwidth intimacy, and with appropriate methods and skills, excellent results are possible. I have achieved such intimacy with several individuals and small groups who lived and worked together.

“There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.”
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

As my friend Natural Lefty points out, on some level this is common sense and I am merely stating a truism of social psychology: people who hang together synchronize their language, culture, and behavior to some extent. This can have survival advantages but it can also have negative consequences such as excessive conformity or “group-think”. It can promote cooperation or it can lead to intra-group or inter-group conflicts. Even members of a well-organized wolf pack may attack each other savagely. So the devil is in the details–what are the actual empirical effects of cognitive synchronization and development in practice, on the ground. What effects prove positive and what effects lead to negative consequences. The process of distinguishing between the positive and negative results, maximizing one and minimizing the other, can be thought of as a process of quality control and continuous improvement.

To achieve continuous improvement and positive quality control, we should systematize and instrument our intentional community of self-study and self-development. We should consciously formalize our group dynamics in a context of systems science and rigorous experimental design. Process transcends objectives, but measurable objectives provide important feedback for process improvement.

The prerequisites for bio-cognitive development and psycho-neuro-synchronization of groups are motivation, opportunity, and resources. It is important that various conditions and tools are provided.

One way to provide conditions for bio-cognitive group development is to establish venues for the kinds of activities mentioned above, in which those activities can be offered to the public and simultaneously shared by a residential staff group. Another approach is to establish intentional communities. These can be urban or rural.

In addition to the shared activities mentioned above, some of the possible tools and techniques for bio-cognitive development and psycho-neuro-synchronization include:

These and many other tools can be used for increasing adult brain plasticity and promoting emotional and physiological states that enhance learning, memory, and neural network integration. Conducted in groups they can also promote psycho-neuro-synchronization and bio-cognitive group intimacy.

All this provides a matrix for accelerated cultural and cognitive evolution that is independent of gross brain anatomy. (Lets face it, we aren’t getting bigger brains any time soon.) Nonetheless, there is good reason to hope that radical self-knowledge, bio-cognitive development, neuro-physiological practice, and psycho-neuro-synchronization may all work together to promote developmental changes in the brain’s micro-structure and its operational patterns. We can try to examine and consciously modify various aspects of our irrationality, automaticity, implicit associations, cognitive biases, etc. With all these tools and techniques we may have a shot at developing a kind of persistent group consciousness capable of hosting perceptions and representations of reality and establishing behavioral innovations and capabilities well beyond the confines of the mainstream culture and language.

This just might help us keep each other alive a few decades longer.

Poor Richard

Related PRA 2.0 Posts:

Related Resources

Stalking The Wild Multihumanism

Alternate (better) title: Becoming (multi)Human (thanks to Mark Frazier)

True and perfect Friendship is, to make one heart and mind of many hearts and bodies.

fractal hand 480px × 408px

Perhaps the most momentous biological innovation next to the origin of life itself was when single-celled organisms evolved into multicellular ones. What were the specific survival advantages that promoted that transition? What were the small steps involved?

Per Wikipedia:

There are various mechanisms by which multicellularity could have evolved.

One hypothesis is that a group of function-specific cells aggregated into a slug-like mass called a grex, which moved as a multicellular unit. This is essentially what slime molds do. Another hypothesis is that a primitive cell underwent nucleus division, thereby becoming a syncytium. A membrane would then form around each nucleus (and the cellular space and organelles occupied in the space), thereby resulting in a group of connected cells in one organism (this mechanism is observable in Drosophila). A third hypothesis is that, as a unicellular organism divided, the daughter cells failed to separate, resulting in a conglomeration of identical cells in one organism, which could later develop specialized tissues. This is what plant and animal embryos do as well as colonial choanoflagellates.[6][7]   (Wikipedia/multicellular_organism)

In that context I’d like to discuss another possible phase-shift in the evolution of living systems that might be equally momentous– the multi-multicellular organism, and more specifically the multihuman organism or multihumanism. Theoretically, the multihuman organism is to the single-human organism as the multicellular organism is to the single-celled organism.

What would a multihumanism look like? How might it come about?

What it isn’t:

  1. It is not sociality or eusociality, although that is most certainly a prerequisite. Social structures or institutions like marriage, family, community, tribes, geopolitical states, religions, etc. are probably necessary precursors to multiorganism; but they are not it. Certain religious cults (YUCK!) may be as far as sociality alone can take us towards multihumanism. Hopefully those are no more than evolutionary false starts or dead ends.
  2.  It is not asymmetric inclusion. Most multicellular organisms are hosts to a microbiome of other organisms that are typically of lower phylogenetic types–viruses, bacteria, and even multicellular parasites.

Plagiomnium affine, Laminazellen, Rostock

A multiorganism is a union of multiple organisms of the same or comparable type at a level that is more profound and stable than sociality alone. A multiorganism also reproduces in kind.

Consider the slime molds. Their properties and behavior seem to fluctuate between that of a social colony of single-celled organisms and a true multicellular organism. Highly eusocial insects (ants, bees, etc.) seem to approach or border on being multiorganisms.

So, again, what might a multiorganism of humans or a human multiorganism — a multihumanism — look like?

Hopefully not like “The Human Centipede.”

Credit: South Park

After all, even the cells in our bodies are not “stitched” together that rigidly. There is a wide range between extremes of structural rigidity or solidity, and structural flexibility or fluidity, in organisms. Existing examples of semi-multiorganism such as slime molds or ant colonies are very fluid in their physical structure. A multihumanism might be even more so, and yet its structure or configuration would be more spatially, functionally, and temporally coherent and stable than anything produced by sociality alone and it would have the ability to reproduce itself in kind.

Nor should it be like the Borg (Star Trek).

Captain Picard as Locutus. “Resistance is futile–you will be assimilated.”

Like the Human Centipede, the Borg is another example of a very, very bad multihumanism design. The somewhat libertarian creators of Star Trek viewed all forms of collectivism (except perhaps the United Federation of Planets) with extreme skepticism.  So should we all as far as implementation details are concerned, but our skepticism should be of the scientific, open-minded type –not  the closed-minded reactionary type.

Any proposal or plan for becoming (multi)human constitutes an extraordinary hypotheses and as such demands extraordinary proof of safety, efficacy, and general utility. At the very least we need approval from The Consumer Report, the Underwriters Laboratory, and a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

No matter what else we might imagine or suppose, things like love, empathy, compassion, etc. are essential for a multihumanism that will be palatable to its human constituents and consistent with their best interests.

The self-actualization and well-being of a multihumanism should not come at the cost of corresponding needs of the individual constituents. There must be a net increase in happiness and well-being.

Any thoughts?

Poor Richard

[This essay is brought to you by coffee + Napoleon brandy]

Related PRA 2.0 Posts:

Portuguese Man o’ War: An Organism Made of Organisms?

Adam Smith on taxes, inequality of riches, regulating banks

adam smith on taxes“The subjects of every state ought to contribute toward the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state ….[As Henry Home (Lord Kames) has written, a goal of taxation should be to] ‘remedy inequality of riches as much as possible, by relieving the poor and burdening the rich.'” — Adam Smith

“Though the principles of the banking trade may appear somewhat abstruse, the practice is capable of being reduced to strict rules. To depart upon any occasion from those rules, in consequence of some flattering speculation of extraordinary gain, is almost always extremely dangerous and frequently fatal to the banking company which attempts it.” — Adam Smith

%d bloggers like this: