A Complicated Recipe : Diversity and Infocap Content [MT105]

David Noel
Ben Franklin Centre for Theoretical Research
PO Box 27, Subiaco, WA 6008, Australia.

If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity
-- John F Kennedy (1963)

On the Star Ferry

Crossing Hong Kong Harbour on the Star Ferry one day, I happened to reflect upon why the European-origin passengers looked so obviously different from the bulk of the Chineseorigin commuters.

It wasn't their skin or hair colour, it wasn't their dress, it wasn't even the difference in eyes -- these were all fairly superficial. And there was no difference in behaviour.

Suddenly it struck me that what was different was the degree of uniformity in the two groups. The Chinese were far more homogeneous than the Europeans. They all had basically black, straight hair, physically they were mostly of slighter build, not especially tall. They had sallow skins. There wasn't a beard to be seen among them.

The Europeans, on the other hand, looked like mixed specimens from a zoo turned out into a field of sheep. Short fat ones, tall thin ones, ones with long blond hair, ones with tight red curls, black-bearded ones, they were all there -- even some slight, not especially tall beardless ones with sallow skins. An exuberant show of genetic diversity.

In a way, it was like the situation in a carefully-formulated, complex alloy. Most of it would be made up of a single, uniform element -- the matrix. Scattered through it would be atoms and aggregations of other 'impurity' elements, disturbing the chemical uniformity and the crystal lattice structure of the matrix.

It is worth pointing out that it is these 'impurity' atoms which give an alloy its special properties -- perhaps superior strength or hardness, or better resistance to chemical attack. Often the composite material will have far superior, that is more extreme, properties than those of any of its components.

We will go on to examine the Proposition that a similar situation applies with human systons.

Proposition 105A**. Genetic diversity is an advantage for a human syston

The Civilizations of History

We know that at various times in the past, great civilizations have arisen on Earth in widely different parts of the planet.

Specialist historians have studied some of these civilizations in great detail. Their rise and their fall have been traced, and often detailed reasons can be adduced for these rises and falls -- the success of a particular military campaign, the acquisition of valuable territory, the development or adoption of new techniques or technologies, and so on.

Some of these analyses are well documented and reasoned, and few would argue with them. However, the application of Matrix Thinking to this area will provide a different slant. Rather than asking for detailed reasons why a particular civilization or nation did well or badly, we can ask whether there are characteristics common to all successful civilizations.

I suggest that one of the most vital components for 'success' of a nation or a civilization is to have diversity among its component people. The current leader in world affairs, the United States of America, is well-known as the product of a vast racial melting-pot, a blending of genes, cultures, customs, and thoughts which has now been on the boil for several centuries. We could say that into this melting-pot has been poured, not only the individual systons represented by the people involved, but also a vast quantity of infocap in the skills and characteristics they carried with them. And out of this mix, like a new star coalescing out of interstellar gas, has come America.

Proposition 105B**. The success of nations and civilizations is promoted by the possession of a wide, but blended, diversity among its people

A century ago, the dominant world power was Britain, which had built up an empire stretching over all the continents. The history of Britain is a history of wars and invasions. Ancient Britons, Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Normans -- a sweep of peoples, of genetic pools, pushed back and forth, inevitably intermingling, with few parallels in known history. And when the Empire was being built, it made use of a most powerful technique in creating a stable entity. This was integration, integration of systons at every level, from people to whole pre-existing states and nations.

There was no attempt to create a slave caste, an underpeople, in these British colonies. Instead the native leaders were knighted and encouraged to send their children to Britain for education, armies of missionaries went in to set up schooling and introduce modern medical practices, engineers went in to set up improved transport, communication, and sanitation systems.

Of course there were still terrible discrepancies in wealth and social conditions, and at times great injustices, crippling disasters, and huge bloodsheds. But these happened against the tenor and ethos of the Empire, not because of it. The way was open, in principle at least, for any citizen of the Empire to do well in their chosen field, to travel freely and work elsewhere in the Empire, to buy land and occupy public positions without any reference to their origins.

Many of them did just this. And so there was inevitable large-scale genetic intermingling as the English planter 'went native' with a local wife, Indians moved to East Africa and Fiji to set up shops and businesses, and, somewhat more recently, Jamaicans and Pakistanis sailed to Britain to run the buses and hospitals.

The same thing can be noted in earlier civilizations. Like the British, the Romans were the product of racial mingling, a people built on the dispossession of the earlier Etruscans by other tribes. And again as with the British, a vital component of their later empire-building policy was that conquered people could strive to become full citizens of the empire.

Before the Romans, the Greeks too were the product of large-scale tribal mixing [eg Reference 11]. And in spite of their current comparative uniformity, the Chinese too were the subject of immense mixing in long-past centuries.

This brings us to another interesting question, which is that of the life-cycle of a civilization. We can distinguish a number of stages:

	Stage 1. Genetic aggregation (Syston mergers)
	Stage 2. Genetic blending (Syston consolidation)
	Stage 3. Internal enrichment (Infocap creation and accumulation)
	Stage 4. Expansion of boundaries (Syston absorption)
	Stage 5. Repeat(s) of stages 2-4
	Stage 6. Degeneration and failure (Infocap decay and devaluation)

The general point to be brought out is that a civilization is just another sort of syston, and so should obey general syston characteristics. In particular, it should have a half-life, an average time by which half of all the entities in its class will have completed their life-cycle. The position is complicated by the fact that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the cycle of a full civilization and that of an expansion phase -- whether Stage 5 appears or not, and if so, how many times.

Even so, from past history it would appear that a first-approximation value for the half-life of a civilization would be around 250 years. Obviously some may last much longer, others less.

Proposition 105C**. A civilization is a type of syston and so will obey syston behaviour rules

Proposition 105D*. The half-life of a civilization syston has been around 250 years

There is a further complication. I am suggesting that the Genetic Aggregation stage, Stage 1, is a basic part of the whole development cycle. In more distant history, this aggregation was generally accomplished through war and fighting, rape and pillage. In more recent centuries there has been a gradual and as yet incomplete switch to more peaceful means, mostly through migration. The current example is that of the United States.

The rate of development of the United States syston has been much more rapid than that of comparable systons in the past. Of course, this could be purely a matter of chance -- the half-life quoted is only an average among wide variants -- but I suspect not. I think there may be a difference of kind, rather than degree.

This difference may lie in Stage 1. Instead of an ordinary Genetic Aggregation, the US example may be more closely described as an Infocap Aggregation, one in which many more types of infocap in addition to genetic resources go into the melting pot. Because of the relatively peaceful way in which this aggregation was accomplished, the opportunities to preserve infocap during the transfer, and to permit rapid infocap breeding in the new mix, were considerably enhanced.

Proposition 105E*. Peaceful migration has started to replace military conquest as the basis of the aggregation phase of the civilization-syston cycle

Proposition 105F*. Migratory aggregation preserves infocap and subsequently promotes infocap breeding, resulting in more rapid syston development

Of course these propositions raise as many new questions as they answer. Why has South America, also the product of intense racial mixing, not advanced to the same degree as the US? Perhaps because it had a much greater degree of military conquest, or because of imperfect integration with the existing large populations. Why has Japan advanced so much on the world scene, although its society is notably homogeneous?

For the moment we will leave these matters and look at some other aspects of homogeneity in society.

The Combination Man

First we may try seeking an explanation for some of the above, a reason why diversity promotes the well-being of a syston. Linear thinking tends to view the individual systels of a national syston, the people involved, as conforming with or diverging away from given character/behaviour norms. Charlie is rich, Sally is right-wing, Peter is clever, Bruce is a fast runner, Jolene is beautiful.

Some of these attributes, being rich or poor, able to run fast or slowly, are fairly linear in nature. Others are not. What makes Jolene beautiful? She may have flaming locks of auburn hair and eyes of emerald green, and still be ugly.

Probably what makes beauty is a fortuitous combination of all sorts of characteristics. In addition, the impression of beauty seems to be reinforced when some of these characteristics are a little exotic, like red hair or green eyes, when they are away from the norm. We could say that beauty is a matrix quality, not a linear one.

Proposition 105G**. Many syston qualities are matrix qualities, dependent on combination and interrelation of more linear attributes for their value
Proposition 105H*. Matrix qualities are enhanced by inclusion of a proportion of off-norm attributes

One can see these principles working in people of mixed race, where the mixing tends to throw up people of exceptional attractiveness. It is the touch of the exotic, the inclusion of out-syston genes, which adds to their beauty.

The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships

An interesting feature of matrix qualities is that they may not obey the same rules as linear qualities. Take the Principle of Natural Selection, in evolutionary theory. If a species is in a situation where height is an advantage, the principle tells us that natural selection will tend to favour individuals who happen to be taller, and so increase their chance of passing on their tallness quality to succeeding generations. So the average height of an individual of the species increases as time passes.

No-one seriously disputes that such a mechanism operates. It is logically sound, gives an accurate explanation of observed measurements, and can be predicted and applied in practice, as is done routinely in animal breeding.

But what about something like beauty? If Natural Selection applied to this quality, then we would expect people to have become more and more beautiful over the ages -- there is no denying that possession of beauty is a huge survival and breeding plus. Yet if we go back to the statues of the ancient Greeks, the portraits of older civilizations, we can find beauty to match anything seen today. It seems that Natural Selection does not apply to matrix qualities -- at least not at the conventional point of measurement.

Proposition 105I***. Matrix qualities may not be subject to the same laws as linear qualities

A Nation of Shopkeepers

Continuing change is a feature of life. Changes within a syston mean new challenges, new demands for abilities to cope with altered circumstances. How are the ones able to meet these new challenges selected?

It seems to me that the attributes needed to handle and drive change are often matrix qualities. Intelligence, creativity, persistence are all non-linear qualities -- so-called Intelligence Quotient figures measure something very much more restricted than 'true' intelligence. In fact, 'being good at their job' is an obvious portmanteau characteristic which may imply the combination of a host of characteristics. In an overseas dam-building project, it may require not only formal qualifications and experience in engineering, but also a linguistic bent, an inbuilt appreciation of psychology in handling staff, and much, much more. All these combined requirements may be summed up up saying that someone 'has a feel for' a situation.

The point I am making here is that for someone to excel at their job, they will often need a mix of exceptional (off-norm) characteristics. Only then can they appreciate that the holdup in getting the rock shifted may be solved by distributing sacred flowers around the barracks. Of course any required combination of off-norm characteristics is much more likely to be found in a genetically diverse or infocap-rich syston.

Proposition 105J**. Internal diversity in a syston enhances its abilities to handle and promote change

We can see the operation of this principle in looking at the British. In spite of Napoleon's derogatory remark about them being a 'nation of shopkeepers', in fact a feature of the British is that they are extremely varied and non-homogeneous. Somewhere among them it is usually possible to find people who can excel at anything you care to name, whether it is scientific competence, athletic ability, blind courage, or crass stupidity.

A serious study of eccentrics by an American psychiatrist, David Weeks [Reference 13], concluded that Britain's eccentrics were "extraordinarily creative" and of much higher quality than anywhere else in the world. "They are a much under-utilized resource", he said.

Another interesting point to come out of Weeks' study was that the eccentrics enjoyed exceptionally good health, visiting a doctor only once every eight or nine years, in contrast to the general average of twice a year. They were also unfailingly happy: "They are very curious about everything, and usually have an obsessive preoccupation with five or six different things at once. It all adds up to a recipe for happiness".

Weeks commented that "happiness could also explain their good health, because it enhances immune response systems so they were less prone to infection".

Of course the word 'eccentric' means 'away from the centre' or 'off-norm'. The conclusion from all this is apparent:

Proposition 105K***. Infocap diversity promotes the well-being of a syston

Ninety-Nine Percent Perspiration

Right at one end of the vast spectrum of human abilities and characteristics lies a tiny area labelled 'genius'. We have already seen reasoning which suggests that a person identified with this tag is one who happens to have a fortuitous combination of characteristics which may be individually uncommon, and in combination, extremely rare.

What these characteristics are will vary markedly from individual to individual. Thomas Edison said that "Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration" -- a reference to the undoubted fact that ideas are not self-developing, but require persistent effort to produce a tangible advance. Bright ideas are only a part of genius. Intelligence is not necessary: often a genius will be an instinctive genius, functioning without knowing how they do it. Outside their own field of genius, they may be quite dull.

There is nothing particularly novel in saying this. The word 'genius' implies someone who is at a personality extreme, so by definition we could not have most of a population being geniuses. But it is worth stressing the point that geniuses probably arrive at their status because they happen to have a lot of some varieties of ability. The interesting question arises, as to whether they are prone to also possess significant ability gaps.

Dissolving the Device-Handler Code

During the early 1970s, computers were undergoing great development, and were beginning to take their place in all sorts of areas of human activity. At that time perhaps their most pressing limitation was their restricted amount of 'memory' -- the area in the computer where programs and the data they were currently manipulating actually existed. The memory was in the form of 'cores', tiny loops of wire, each hand-wound by some source of cheap labour.

In those days 16K of memory cost a lot, and to buy another 4K represented a major purchase. Nowadays, of course, core memory has been replaced by very much cheaper silicon chip memory, and home computers come off the shelf with a hundred times the memory of those days. But then it was a real struggle to fit all you had to, within the limited memory available. I remember, on one project, contributing towards a lottery ticket to buy 'our' computer some memory it sorely needed (the ticket lost!).

Most of the memory was taken up in two things; the operating system, which allowed the user to interact with the hardware to bring in particular programs, and was more or less the same all the time; and the programs, which were switched in individually as needed. To save memory space, the operating systems were 'generated' for each particular installation, rather like customizing a new car. All would have the same 'chassis', 'drive shaft', and so on, but the apparatus for options (say 'air-conditioning') was only included if needed.

In generating the operating system, the procedure was to to take a 'standard' version of the system and customize ('tailor') it by adding modules which were needed for that installation, and subtracting modules which were not. For example, if your machine did not have a paper-tape drive, and the 'standard' operating system had a module of computer code to handle a paper tape, then memory could be saved in the final tailored operating system by deleting the unneeded paper-tape handler code module.

The interesting thing is how this was actually done. The instruction code inside the standard operating system was set up like the bookshelves inside a huge library, and the position of particular parcels of code was important -- the system expected the chemistry books to be on the shelves immediately after the physics books, as it were. So when the system was tailored to remove the paper-tape handler, no attempt was made to close up the space with the later code. Instead the space was allocated to a totally unrelated use.

In fact the space freed was used for 'small buffers', in effect sets of pigeon-holes for small bits of data the system was passing around during its operation. It was like having sets of in-trays and out-trays for different users, so Professor Brown picked up his letters from a certain gap in the history book shelves, and put his memos for typing in another gap in the psychology books. Unlike people, computers are good at handling a 'distributed' facility like these small buffers, and so good use was made of the limited memory space.

The question which arises from this diversion is this. If you have people who are using part of their brain in some specially effective way, a way which makes them outstanding to the genius level, does it make them liable to corresponding functional lacks?

Proposition 105L*. In a particular human, outstanding ability in one area may be balanced by corresponding deficiencies in others

I have not examined the implications of this proposition in detail, and would be interested in evidence supporting or contradicting it. Of course there is anecdotal support -- the 'absent-minded professor' who can remember the most complex formula but not where his car is parked, and so on. This is an interesting area which could be investigated further.

We can turn now to another aspect of genius -- not how it affects the individual, but how it affects their syston, and, ultimately, the wider matrix.

Fruit of Genius

There is a point about the effects of genius which is not controversial, but even so is not often recognized. We will later deal in some detail with evidence for the view that infocap is not easily restricted so it remains confined within syston boundaries. Nowhere is this more true than with the effects of genius.

The effects of the output from a particular genius spread almost without restraint right through the entire human-society matrix. If the genius is in the form of performance on the violin, the speed of spread may be that of electromagnetic communication, appearing in Australia only a fraction of a second after its origination in, say, Europe. If the genius is such as to lead to a fundamental scientific discovery, its rate of spread will be slower, because of the complex filters and barriers which systons set up, knowingly and unknowingly, to restrict these flows.

Nevertheless, even when such barriers exist, the effects of any genius-level advance usually flow through from one syston to another rather easily. Research scientists are eager to publish their results and get these spread round the world as rapidly as possible. On the technological side, if say a new, very innovative type of solar cell is invented in Japan, its sale and use will occur elsewhere in the world quite soon after trials have been completed in its home area. The nature of the economic system will see to that -- there is no point in developing something innovative at great cost and then trying to artificially restrict its use to a particular geographic area.

Here is point one. Genius leads to the creation of infocap. This infocap is not then restrained within its local systons, but can rapidly spread throughout the world. We can present this as a formal proposition:

Proposition 105M*. Genius-created infocap is not retained solely within its syston of origin, but may propagate freely throughout the world holosyston

There is a further consequence, involving an interesting subtlety. With an increasing world human population, we may expect an increasing number of geniuses to appear, on whatever definition of genius, and assuming the proportion to remain steady. One genius affects the whole world -- if we get more geniuses, the effects on the world will be at least in proportion.

Here then is a preliminary explanation of why growth in many areas of human endeavour tends to be very marked -- geometric or exponential growth, rather than linear. Thus scientific advances improve health levels, which lead to population increases, which lead to more more people being involved in scientific research, and so.

Where does this preliminary explanation break down? It does so in areas where the infocap is imported and does not lead to more research. Where the population is increasing because of imported health measures, and just leads to more people, not more people creating infocap for export.

So the big increases in world population take place in areas of Africa, South America, Asia which are already infocap-poor. These increases do not lead to the appearance of more geniuses, more infocap. We could say that the infocap levels are not great enough to allow much infocap breeding to occur.

Take China. China was the source of many major inventions -- paper, explosives, and moveable type among them. But these happened some tens of centuries ago, when, as we have seen, the genetic mixing there was much fresher.

What major invention has ever come out of non-Mediterranean Africa? Out of South America? Out of modern Asia? While examples can be found, they are few in number, and usually relate to natives of those areas who have studied and worked in 'the West', that is in areas of high infocap. So the supposition that increasing populations lead to increasing numbers of geniuses may be only a half-truth. What is more likely is that increasing infocap levels lead to more geniuses, especially where these levels are above some critical 'breeding' level.

Proposition 105N**. Above certain critical levels, infocap 'breeds', with the recursive creation of geniuses and infocap

So far we have not gone into the structure of infocap very much. We will look further at it and its implications in more detail later. But first we need to bring out a whole new element of the Matrix, in Synenergy (MT106).

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(Full list of references at MTRefs)

[11]. H D F Kitto. The Greeks. Penguin, UK, 1951.
[13]. Christine McGourty. Funny you should say that. The West Australian/ 1991 Feb 2 pW7

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