The Information Age
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The development of digital technology has ushered in an information-centric era, brought about by of high-speed computers and global networks. This technology is transforming all three levels of the human-based living system hierarchy. At the cell level, it promises an ability for humans to control and modify a living organism's genetic structure. At the organism level, it is providing quantum increases in accessible information, together with powerful new kinds of social networking mechanisms for instant information processing, evaluation and decision making. And at the superorganism level, the global sharing of information is accelerating the transition from individual nation-states to a single world-state superorganism.


Beyond the Limitations of a Fixed Genome
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Scientists have now deciphered the entire genetic code for many kinds of organism. Motivated by an increasing desire to correct a person's genetic weaknesses and abnormalities, they are pursuing various avenues of research that will soon give individuals control of their own DNA within their lifetimes. From the standpoint of evolution, this will be an extraordinary turning point that will forever change the nature of human species development.
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Beyond the Limitations of Individual Belief Systems and Values
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For human organisms, belief systems and their values have provided a governance framework for making decisions and interacting with their complex external world.  As ever-increasing amounts of information about that world are becoming available, the limited human capacity to individually receive, evaluate and apply this information is being overwhelmed.
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The advent of digital and internet technologies has accelerated this information tsunami, with instant access to website displays of vast arrays of information on any subject. Even while all world knowledge is rapidly going online, the technology is also facilitating a shift toward instant communication with friends and associates for collaboration in analyzing and evaluating new information. This involvement in realtime social networks is providing a powerful mechanism that shows great promise for coping with the information overload problem.
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Beyond the Limitations of Individual Decision Making
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For its members, a realtime social network provides an external mechanism for fast, collective evaluation of new ideas. Provided as internet, PDA and cell phone services, the new kinds of social network assemble and pool the resources of their members, enabling them to quickly form a consensus view on any item of interest. These networks allow a collection of individual members to act as a single cohesive unit in establishing on-the-fly analyses and conclusions about new information and related actions to be taken.
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For a social network’s members, this service-based information pool embodies a common collective extension of their individual perceptions of the world, producing a quickly evolving and adaptive externally-maintained set of values. The end product is similar to the traditional role of culture in maintaining community values, but is extremely fast, more detailed, and instantly adaptable to new conditions. The result is a realtime, externally-driven, value-based information processing and decision-making mechanism that relieves its members of individual time-consuming information evaluation and associated action planning. As with any cultural influence, it also limits the scope of discourse to concensus-driven areas of interest, and reduces the need for individual deep thinking.
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For the individual, these service-based social networks are augmented by search engine services that provide a much broader window into the world's collective information repositories. Through the use of key words and sophisticated algorithms, search engines provide the user with an algorithmically selected, partially digested and infinitely expandable window into any worldwide subject of interest.
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The View from a Superorganism Perspective
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The current trend toward instant access to world information, with support from service-based social networks, can be extrapolated within the three-level living system framework. For their superorganism, it portends a time when individual human organisms will be able to perform their superorganism's life-function work much more quickly and efficiently, with less need for time-consuming individual thought and deliberation. As this trend progresses, it may also reduce the need for individuals to think deeply about how they should live, work, and view their world. All they will need to know about how to interact with their world may eventually be provided by these efficient online social network mechanisms and other internet services.
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The internet is also greatly accelerating the development of worldwide markets, businesses, organizations, and governance. The resulting world-orientation is facilitating a merging of autonomous nation-states into a single world-state. This transition can be viewed as a continuation of the earlier tribe, chiefdom, city-state, nation-state development sequence. Through greatly improved communication and sharing of information, digital technology is helping nations shift from a posture of competition to that of cooperation, where they can safely begin to relinquish their autonomy for the benefits of world government.
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When completed, the world-state entity will still be at the Superorganism level of the living system three-level hierarchy. This is because the active components of the new superorganism will continue to be human organisms, not nation-states. The existing nation-state governments will simply become regional sub-states within a single, hierarchical world-state government. Just as the United States subsumed the originally independent American states, governance of the United Nations (by whatever name) will subsume the governance of independent nations throughout the world into a controlled structure of regional representatives.


Finally, Conclusions provides a summary of some findings that have been brought to light by the model, and their significance for understanding our world of living systems.


©1995-2012 Ackley Associates   Last revised: 7/20/11
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