A random thought arising from the Panana papers release - I'll save ranting about the obvious stuff for another time. Looking at a map of 'where the money is hiding' I was reminded of money's mercurial nature. This has been buzzing round my brain for a number of years - not just that it's mercurial, but that it has its own internal logic that gifts it with something that, if you squint, could look like intention.
What the hell do I mean? First-up: my idea of the meaning of 'intention' comes directly from work I did on programming an evolving system of predator/prey 'boids' (this wayback machine link being the only remaining write-up). Both types of boid start out with completely random behaviour. As that article said:
"this means that to start with, some predators, on seeing a preyboid, will try and run away from their food. These poor sods, therefore, don't eat. If predators don't eat, they eventually die of hunger. (Prey only die if they're eaten.) Equally, prey can go for the Darwin award if their random rules send them happily into the jaws of a predator they see."
As they evolve, however, predators learn to chase and prey learn to fly away. And, for me, that's enough to ascribe intention - of the most elemental, blind form, but I think that label fits because, when broken down into its consituent parts, our own intention is nothing more than this.
Michael Pollan's take on corn (vid also) is another way of looking at it: humans are just 'pawns in corn's clever strategy game to rule the Earth'. It has 'domesticated' humans to its own ends and now rules unassailable across vast swathes of the Earth's landscape. Intention? Not the same as humans', but the same basic dynamic is at play - the corn that survives is the corn that carries its genes on. Growth and continuity is the only determinant of success.
See, nice little segue into money there. The idea that humans might be serving money and not vice versa is hardly new. I'm just wondering if thinking about it this way - and considering how something as apparently static as money that couldn't exist at all beyond human support (yet...) could be considered to be pursuing its own goals.
It's an idea that teeters alarmingly close to complete gibberish and madness, all getting a bit Ginsberg. "Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money!" (This is a fun piece looking at Moloch as an agent, among other things.) But I think it's still possible to flip the human/money intention view without being too stoned and see something interesting. It's visible in, say, the way that taxis move around a city and stop for people: money looking for ways to move, the driver co-evolved to pilot the machine that does it. As one gets closer to money's most obvious homelands, in the banking sectors, so the human-money symbiosis creates all sorts of bloated weirdness.
And maybe humans aren't really needed for that much these days. Most money movement has nothing to do with us any more, it's all machine-managed, feeding off nanosecond differences in the wires. That we still leave this system actually connected to the human economy may come to be seen as complete insanity - about as wise as trying to keep warm by setting a fire in your front room using all your furniture.
This is obviously nonsense on some levels. Money's own intention looks suspiciously human. If money only wanted to grow, why would it slink off into the rivulets of global tax havens? Tax is still money flowing, after all, and states are plenty good at spending. So yes: there's either (a) something here worth thinking about more or (b) I might as well be stoned.
Still, carrying on with the stonedness... that Moloch article has this goddess/human dialogue:
Everyone is hurting each other, the planet is rampant with injustices, whole societies plunder groups of their own people, mothers imprison sons, children perish while brothers war.
What is the matter with that, if it’s what you want to do?
But nobody wants it! Everybody hates it!
Oh. Well, then stop.
This notion that emergence or corn or money might have its own agenda helps explain why 'just stopping' might be beyond us. We're wedded to various different kinds of symbiotic partners who squeeze those parts of us that they know will keep us doing what we do. We are not sovereign.
New year's earnestness 7/17. Ten more by the end April? Err. Well, let's see about hitting double figures...