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coberst
04-04-2010, 01:06 PM
Hi-Tech Society: Race to the Bottom?

Will our hi-tech hand-held gadgets lead us to becoming a less sophisticated society?

It appears to me that such gadgets seem to dramatically increase the interaction within the adolescent peer group. I suspect that this interaction tends to create a greater group-think than before. It appears to me that adolescence is reached younger and lasts longer than before; I would say that generally this age of adolescence period is from 12 to the mid-twenties.

Scientists are studying and trying to develop an ability to emulate the actions of animal swarms. The birds and the bees can do it; why cannot humans emulate their behavior to our advantage?

The collective behavior of animal swarms displays advantageous collective actions without the guidance of organized leadership. Ants, as individuals, are not clever—as a collective ants, bees, birds, caribou, etc. are amazingly clever—there seems to exist something one might label as swarm intelligence—simple creatures following simple rules equal swarm intelligence.

Computer engineers attempt to emulate swarm intelligence to solve complex human problems.

Compare animal swarm intelligence with group psychology.

What is the nature of the ‘group mind’, i.e. the mental changes such individuals undergo as a result of becoming part of a group?

A bond develops much like cells which constitute a living body—group mind is more of an unconscious than a conscious force—there are motives for action that elude conscious attention—distinctiveness and individuality become group behavior based upon unconscious motives—there develops a sentiment of invincible power, anonymous and irresponsible attitudes--repressions of unconscious forces under normal situations are ignored—conscience which results from social anxiety disappear.

Contagion sets in—hypnotic order becomes prevalent—individuals sacrifice personal interest for the group interest.

Suggestibility, of which contagion is a symptom, leads to the lose of conscious personality—the individual follows suggestions for actions totally contradictory to person conscience—hypnotic like fascination sets in—will and discernment vanishes—direction is taken from the leader in an hypnotic like manner—the conscious personality disappears.

“Moreover, by the mere fact that he forms part of an organized group, a man descends several rungs in the ladder of civilization.” Isolated, he may be a cultivated individual; in a crowd, he is a barbarian—a creature acting by instinct. “He possesses the spontaneity, the violence, the ferocity, and also the enthusiasm and heroism of primitive beings.”

There is a lowering of intellectual ability “pointing to its similarity with the mental life of primitive people and of children…A group is credulous and easily influenced”—the improbable seldom exists—they think in images—feelings are very simple and exaggerated—the group knows neither doubt nor uncertainty—extremes are prevalent, antipathy becomes hate and suspicion becomes certainty.

Force is king—force is respected and obeyed without question—kindness is weakness—tradition is triumphant—words have a magical power—supernatural powers are easily accepted—groups never thirst for truth, they demand illusions—the unreal receives precedence over the real—the group is an obedient herd—prestige is a source for domination, however it “is also dependent upon success, and is lost in the event of failure”.

Perhaps human groups cannot develop in a similar manner as does swarm intelligence but the existence of such successful ways of handling complex problems indicates that some critical thinking regarding human group behavior is certainly in order.

Questions for discussion:

Do you think it is possible for humans to significantly improve performance within a group?

Do you think that we can find a way to make group behavior more sophisticated?

Sources for ideas and quotes in this OP come from Swarm Theory--an article in the July 2007 edition of “National Geographic” and from Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego by Freud.

Starwatcher162536
04-05-2010, 02:28 AM
That you are here now spreading your rather unconventional ideas and in the past (pre-widespread internet penetration) would have had to convince one or more publishers before being able to disseminate your ideas undermines one of the premises that your entire diatribe is based on.

A few random thoughts;

i) Swarm intelligence is overrated, I haven't seen very many engineering marvels originate from ants or bees.

ii) In the long history of decrying the newer generation(s), blaming society's increasing technological prowess is perhaps the least convincing argument in the entire set. No past generation could look up what the transmission vectors for malaria are or how to calculate the slip in a polyphase electric motor as easy as I can. No past generation can play a chess game with a master level opponent as easily as I can. No past generation can look up the current events in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as easily as I can.

Somehow, I do not think that going fishing at the creek or playing with the cattle measure up.

listener
04-05-2010, 02:47 AM
That you are here now spreading your rather unconventional ideas and in the past (pre-widespread internet penetration) would have had to convince one or more publishers before being able to disseminate your ideas undermines one of the premises that your entire diatribe is based on.

A few random thoughts;

i) Swarm intelligence is overrated, I haven't seen very many engineering marvels originate from ants or bees.

ii) In the long history of decrying the newer generation(s), blaming society's increasing technological prowess is perhaps the least convincing argument in the entire set. No past generation could look up what the transmission vectors for malaria are or how to calculate the slip in a polyphase electric motor as easy as I can. No past generation can play a chess game with a master level opponent as easily as I can. No past generation can look up the current events in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as easily as I can.

Somehow, I do not think that going fishing at the creek or playing with the cattle measure up.

Your points are well-argued and well-taken. Younger generations are always criticized by their elders, and new technologies are always decried as evil and corrupting of morals. I would take issue only with your last sentence, by putting it in modified reverse form: no technological developments, however dazzling or useful, can substitute for the experiences of going fishing at the creek or playing with the cattle (or watching the stars, for that matter).

JonIrenicus
04-05-2010, 03:30 AM
The only degeneration of my abilities from new technology deals with my spelling ability. I just type words into google with less care to whether they are misspelled, because I know google will correct me. A transaction that is easier and faster than taking the extra seconds to memorize the correct spelling.

listener
04-05-2010, 03:38 AM
The only degeneration of my abilities from new technology deals with my spelling ability. I just type words into google with less care to whether they are misspelled, because I know google will correct me. A transaction that is easier and faster than taking the extra seconds to memorize the correct spelling.

Agreed that spell check is a boon (I too have taken advantage of Google's spelling functions just as you describe, and it's very time-saving), but as far as I know, thus far spell check programming hasn't become contextually sensitive enough to catch many of the most common usage errors, such as distinguishing between "its" and it's," or "their" and "they're."

bjkeefe
04-05-2010, 09:32 AM
Agreed that spell check is a boon (I too have taken advantage of Google's spelling functions just as you describe, and it's very time-saving), but as far as I know, thus far spell check programming hasn't become contextually sensitive enough to catch many of the most common usage errors, such as distinguishing between "its" and it's," or "their" and "they're."

This particularly infuriates my sister the college prof, who bemoans her students' unwillingness to proofread their work, which is then compounded by their protestations of, "Hey, I ran it through the spell-checker! What else am I supposed to do?"

Starwatcher162536
04-05-2010, 08:12 PM
I have never understood how people find most "country" activities* fun. To much waiting around waiting for something interesting to happen.

*Exception; Sneaking out and riding the oil derricks was sort of fun I guess.

coberst
04-06-2010, 09:20 AM
Does peer group networking, facilitated by hand-held gadgets, enhance the probability for the following kind of group behavior?

The following quotes come from the Washington Post article:

Kids Gone Wild, Parents Gone Missing by By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, April 6,

“It is either significant or merely interesting that William Golding dedicated his classic, "Lord of the Flies," to his mother and father. It is precisely the absence of parents, or any adult actually, that enables the boys of the island to descend into savagery, and it is the sudden appearance of an adult at the end that restores what we would now call law and order. This tale, way before its time, was a precursor to South Hadley High School in Massachusetts and the suicide of Phoebe Prince. It was the only way she could get off the island.”

“After a lengthy investigation, District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel had nine students arrested on criminal charges. At the same time, she alleged that while the teenagers had tormented Phoebe to the point where she hanged herself, teachers and administrators were somehow complicit because they knew -- or should have known -- that Phoebe was being bullied by a coterie of aspiring fascists. Phoebe was a newcomer from Ireland and thus, as anyone with the slightest novelist bent would know, the stranger with no champions, no defenders and, in her mind, no way out.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/05/AR2010040503549.html

bjkeefe
04-06-2010, 09:34 AM
Kids Gone Wild, Parents Gone Missing by By Richard Cohen

Let me just say that if you're relying on the World's Worst Columnist (http://wonkette.com/tag/richard-cohen)* to support your case, it has become automatically self-refuting.

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* (Well, one of them (http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/12/listicle-of-the-day-worst-washington-post-columnists-of-the-zeroes.php#comments), anyway.)

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"Ad hominem!!!1!" response coming in 5..., 4..., 3...