On 7/11/2012 6:47 PM, Alberto G. Corona wrote:
Matt Rydley "what is human" is a good introduction.
Science Writer; Founding chairman of the International Centre for Life;
rancis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code
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
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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