Human vision is based on pattern recognition by a neural net. First the outline is processed, then some of the parts inside that. After that, the locations of the parts in the image are processed. If the image is familiar, it is recognized after enough parts are processed to make the pattern of what is seen. An image may be recognized even if it is far from complete. Much of the detail may also be unrecognized, but can be examined more closely after the image is recognized. Human intelligence is a larger, more generalized neural net than our vision system, but it basically works the same way. While 99% of this book is science or reason, that is just to explain and communicate a vision I saw when much younger. I have worked for a long time to create that description in words, but really, others have seen the same vision of a different future for humanity that is about life, creativity, and planning instead of oriented around power, struggle, and reacting as animals must. Others that have seen the same vision may not have had the tools to describe it in words. That has taken more work, luck and talent than most people can bring to the task, but others have seen the same vision. It echoes in the lore. It is a story that never goes away because of its importance. What I am describing here is something many have seen. I am just hoping I can explain what they saw for them.
An About section in a book seems like something a little new. Technical books use it to explain the conventions used in writing the book. In this book, it's a bit different. This book is complicated and vast, so it needs something of a Pre-Introduction. By the way, don't let that throw you off. It works out and is worth it.
It is meant to be written at three levels of difficulty. This is mostly biology, so it's easy for me. I've found out it's harder for a lot of people, so I want to write parts of it as Easy that might be for non-biologist types, Middle Easy for the body of the book's message and Master Class for some of the conceptually weird stuff. Of course, that does present problems. Let's see how they work out.
This is written conversationally. I said that some people seem to have trouble figuring out what I am talking about. Well, that gets far worse when I write in a technical form such is often used for science topics. When I just tell people the idea of this, they actually tend to get it fairly easily. I think that is because most of this is about current problems that effect everyone, even if they have deeper theoretical foundations.
One of the most familiar questions in biology is called the Nature-Nurture debate that basically asks is a person a product of their genes or their environment. To anyone who researches the question or just thinks about it, it is obviously a complicated balance between the two. The problem is that it is complicated and so is this. Get used to it. If you look for simple answers, you will most likely not be creating an accurate understanding. Biology just doesn't work that way. Whether it is family size, violence, altruism, maturity, reason, emotion or anything else, it's going to exist as part of a balance in survival.
Also, everything in biology tends to be interconnected. I give the example of the alligator tail. Most things in biology are related to multiple functions or actually do multiple functions. Someone asked me how alligators survived in evolution and I pointed out that their tail was for swimming, for storing food and it could be used for both offense and defense. Not only must I explain things that tend to be highly interconnected which make them complicated, but the solutions to the problems I propose must follow the same principles.
So what is this book about? Well, humans have different ways of asking and answering questions such as the methods of science, the logic and reason of philosophy and even the obscure knowledge of morality. All of these must be used ... which just makes things more complicated. I'll start though with morality. A person has to be trained some to use science and philosophy. They may or may not be so trained. Everyone though has moral instincts and most have some moral training. I've learned that if you ask someone if it feels that we are in a moral crisis, they usually quickly agree we are. After that, everyone will usually agree it's because of all the crazy fast changes going on. This book is about those changes and what we can do about them. They seem endless and that the problems they cause will be endless, but they are not There is a "goal" and things will slow down to a far more comfortable pace when we reach that. How to accomplish that is the goal of this book.
It's a bit complicated though. It has to be understood. I'm a biologist and I look at this as a biological problem. No one cares about biological problems. Really though, these are problems people care about. The most basic is about how can we know what to do in this uncertain world. How can we and our children have a good future? Does that sound more interesting? It is also about questions like - what should I do; what should I value; how can I know right and wrong? This can give a fairly consistent, useful answer to questions like that. The answers will be given in different forms including science, reason, and morality because people think in those different ways. Ultimately, most of the most important questions are strategic - what should I do or how do I understand and judge this? Those are moral questions. It took me a long time to figure out how to think that way, but to be complete, those answers must be given.
This discusses modern problems, though most are actually pretty old. Different people see different problems and from different points of view. Know from the start that all these problems are related and the solutions must be as well or they won't help. That makes the book complicated too. Also, there are so many problems that it takes a real trick way to organize all the discussion of the problems and solutions. The tool used here for organizing it all is ecology, the science developed for describing everything a species needs and does in order to survive... as well as everything around them where they do survive. It's a great tool for organizing all the information, but there is more to it than that. It turns out that the problem or problems all start with one basic change we made long ago. It was when we started farming and living in towns instead of living in tribal villages and getting our food from nature by hunting and gathering. A bunch of other things came from that, but a biologist would say that what we had done was we had left our hunter-gatherer tribal ecology and moved into a new ecology. So more than just using ecology to organize the story of what's going on, it seems ecology is the problem and solution. Since that time, we've been going through temporary ecologies. You could call them any things, perhaps the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, Medieval times and Modern Ages. Biologists and historians could argue about it endlessly, but the point is that we left the ecology that tribal humans grew up in for millions of years and we need to find a New Ecology where we can survive long term and develop. A species without a fairly stable ecology is called ... extinct. This book, all my books, are about how we can create a new ecology where we can survive and become more than what we are now. It will be an ecology we create because it doesn't exist in nature. We have to create it by strategic and genetic adaptation. My last book, "Genetics For A New Human Ecology"
, described what we need to do to adapt genetically. This book is how we need to adapt Strategically. It's about making a good world where we want to live and grow.
Ecology is a great science and describes what a species needs to survive, but more than that is needed. At the other end from basic survival requirements are the hopes and dreams that make us human. This book must include that. It is about how we can make it a world where individuals can find challenges, inspirations, struggles, goals and growth. It must give a better understanding of what we feel
is right or wrong. It must describe a world good for families that has strong communities and vibrant societies. There is more to life than the obvious requirements of survival.
Another thing that makes this book complicated is that it doesn't repeat ... much. A professor told his students that if you want to get your point across when writing a book, make your point, repeat it and keep repeating it. That's fine if you only have one point you want to make. Unfortunately, I have very many. Humans just haven't really been looked at much this way in the past and we are very very complicated. Always in the past has been many either overt or hidden premises about humans that have come from religion. Those premises are still there and show up in science all the time. This book does not do that (hopefully). So much in this book has to be new and offer answers very different than have come from the past. For that matter, new understandings of religion and Gods are needed. Forget trying to ignore their meanings. Humans need better understandings of love, violence, value, status and so many other things. Much of what this book says relates to highly emotional topics and some parts are guaranteed to conflict with very personal biases. Keep in mind the adage that you don't have to agree with something to understand it. If you are open-minded enough to understand this, I'll trust your understanding over your feelings. You are going to have to work to understand the many things it has to offer, but at the same time, they will be familiar, because this is about what a human is.
It gets better. This is about strategy, but it really is not distinct from the Genetics part. To make this understandable, I wrote the Genetics part in a separate book, but none of this is separate from that. Most of the strategies of survival only make sense with the genetic issues taken into consideration. I'll mention them, but they must be brief and the genetic understandings are meant to come from the other book.
There is one premise to this book, that it is about how humans can survive into the future. There are lots of "futurists" these days. I feel that they think history begins when some new amazing technology is going to start working. This is about humans. Technology is the tools humans use. It is written very conservatively for a few reasons. Survival is the ultimate conservatism. Also, it is not for the purpose of futurism at all really. It is about how humans can "get to" a new long-term ecology where they can then have time to think about the future. This book is about the present few thousand year period between the old ecology we came from and new ecology we must "find". That is meant to be the extent of my futurism, the development of the new Ecology. Sure, I do make some longer-term speculations, my work has shown me more amazing things than I imagined, but that is not the purpose of this book. Of course I do look beyond that to try to avoid dangers or any path that will prevent other potentials we may want later. This is also conservative because if there is too much change it will just feel uncomfortably weird. Done badly enough and people will just quit reproducing like an unhappy animal in a zoo.
There is some reason to explain here the path I followed. Early on, I could feel the conflict between the beliefs of the past and the onrushing future. I had a knack for biology and when Lynn Ikoma was lecturing about tropical diseases, I asked the first question - what effect will modern medicine such as vaccines have on humans. I realized that more than that was reducing natural selection and that was going to be a problem. Later I realized that was only part of the problem. Really we needed to create a New Ecology to survive in long term. I decided we needed to adapt genetically and strategically. I wrote a book about it that was long and very difficult. Later, I wrote a book about the Genetics part of the problem that was short and hopefully, far easier to understand. That was the "Genetics For A New Human Ecology" book. This book is about the strategic adaptation and it too is meant to be a far easier read than the first long difficult book. The two books are actually meant to replace the first long one as well as add new understandings to it. The objective is still the same though, to describe a path of survival that right or wrong, does lay out the problem and lays out the method of solving it.
In this book, I write about a strategy for survival. It's not too hard to see that really, I'm more comfortable with the genetics part. It's a bit easier and more restricted to standard biology than strategy is. Ecology is about Energetic and Reproductive Strategy of a species though. I'm good that far. I'm even good with the small parts of philosophy I have to cover as required for survival because that's old stuff anyway and easy enough for people to agree on. The existential questions of a person's purpose could be ignored, because how could they be answered, but then they became important. Automation became part of the issue because it represented such a huge change and could only be answered by including considerations of status and resource requirements that other studies could just not answer broadly enough. The more I understood the key differences between the strategies of the old tribal ecology and the strategies needed for the new ecology, the more I realized they related to law and government. Human survival has always depended on leadership and our laws embody our strategies. This is getting to very modern problems, but what I learned, especially what I learned recently about morality, seemed to apply and provided some very good suggestions for solutions to some very important problems we have today, especially tribalism and its product - war. Whether I like it or not, those "related problems" include problems for our society, culture, nations, laws, government and other modern problems. I know that the biology I have learned offers some very relevant and useful solutions to intractable social and political problems.
The first problem I had to solve though was to confirm one thing. I am well trained in biology and that teaches that life is about survival and so we should have powerful instincts of survival. The first thing I had to do was test that, which I did by very undisciplined tests asking people questions that would tell me what they valued the most. Not surprisingly it was about survival but interestingly seemed to be expressed in words as about creativity. This may not seem so important, but it is a critical foundation premise, the importance of which a student of philosophy would recognize as a foundation of the logic of the book.
Am I going to get this right? No one is that smart, but I think with the tools I have available from biology I can actually get a lot of it right. More importantly though, I can lay out what the problem we face adapting to change as well as both how to understand it and how to look for ways to adapt to it.
I may as well say here that I am an obsessed fanatic that has worked on this over forty years since I was a teenager. Well, you have to have a hobby and to solve this, it takes a bit of obsession. (Michael Polanyi discusses how problems of this sort get solved - fanaticism.) I have met others trying to solve the same problem because our moral instincts tell us humanity is in trouble. Those with the ability to see it, are compelled by their basic survival instincts to try to do something about it, Most people I have met that instinctively try to solve it, start by studying marine biology because that is where the basics of the patterns of life can best be learned. Most others I have met give up in their early twenties. It is not only a difficult intellectual challenge, also a person must go against all convention and political correctness. It includes a study of heredity, the third forbidden question in science because it has been misused in the past to support racism. To understand humans though, it must be understood. Along with that, there is far more than biology. To understand humans, one must know a lot of history, philosophy, religion, culture, technology, and even lore. This is about using strategy, the mark of humans, instead of relying on instincts. The most difficult strategy to make sense of is morality because it was created by the trial and error of evolution instead of the reason and logic that is easier and more familiar to humans. I grew up in a new town during the time of the Moon landings. I was remarkably free of the past and its restraints. I'm very large which has freed me from other restraints including normal social demands for conformity. I'll thank my family here, for teaching me to think carefully... or else. I'll thank all the instructors that helped, many of whom apparently thought I did have unusual potential and so opened doors I might have ignored. I'll also thank all my friends because they were necessary too.
I don't think this will be an easy read, but if you want real knowledge, if you are driven to understand the questions that your deepest instincts demand an answer to, it will be worth the read.