On 7/11/2012 6:47 PM, Alberto G. Corona wrote:
Matt Rydley "what is human" is a good introduction.
From: http://www.scribd.com/doc/47413560/69/MATT-RIDLEY


Science Writer; Founding chairman of the International Centre for Life; Author,F
rancis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code
Collective intelligence
Brilliant people, be they anthropologists, psychologists or economists, assumethat brilliance is the key to human achievement. They vote for the cleverestpeople to run governments, they ask the cleverest experts to devise plans for theeconomy, they credit the cleverest scientists with discoveries, and they speculateon how human intelligence evolved in the first place.They are all barking up the wrong tree. The key to human achievement is notindividual intelligence at all. The reason human beings dominate the planet is notbecause they have big brains: Neanderthals had big brains but were just anotherkind of predatory ape. Evolving a 1200-cc brain and a lot of fancy software likelanguage was necessary but not sufficient for civilization. The reason someeconomies work better than others is certainly not because they have clevererpeople in charge, and the reason some places make great discoveries is notbecause they have smarter people.Human achievement is entirely a networking phenomenon. It is by putting brainstogether through the division of labor — through trade and specialisation — thathuman society stumbled upon a way to raise the living standards, carryingcapacity, technological virtuosity and knowledge base of the species. We can seethis in all sorts of phenomena: the correlation between technology and connectedpopulation size in Pacific islands; the collapse of technology in people who

95became isolated, like native Tasmanians; the success of trading city states inGreece, Italy, Holland and south-east Asia; the creative consequences of trade.Human achievement is based on collective intelligence — the nodes in the humanneural network are people themselves. By each doing one thing and getting goodat it, then sharing and combining the results through exchange, people becomecapable of doing things
they do not even understand
. As the economist LeonardRead observed in his essay "I, Pencil' (which I'd like everybody to read), nosingle person knows how to make even a pencil — the knowledge is distributedin society among many thousands of graphite miners, lumberjacks, designers andfactory workers.That's why, as Friedrich Hayek observed, central planning never worked: thecleverest person is no match for the collective brain at working out how todistribute consumer goods. The idea of bottom-up collective intelligence, whichAdam Smith understood and Charles Darwin echoed, and which Hayekexpounded in his remarkable essay "The use of knowledge in society", is one ideaI wish everybody had in their cognitive toolkit.



"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."
~ Francis Bacon

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