"If we stopped running around like headless chickens"
-- And if only that just got us nowhere! Unfortunately this implies the statistics of a "drunkard's walk." To clarify, we should inspect that we are making the situation more confused -- just plain worse -- per approximately the square root of the number of steps we totally take multiplied by the average change in the situation caused by such a step.
-- And yes, indeed, I'd imagine myself as a heart patient with a choice between brand NOW and brand HOPE pacemakers.
Brand NOW consists of a bunch of independent single-transistors pulse circuits spraying my heart with a barrage of small, randomly interspersed electric pulses.
Brand HOPE, on the other hand is a single integrated circuit with complete sensory input to my heart's surface beat pattern and reacts in real-time with a well-balanced complementary pulse pattern, synchronized in both space and time with just the right power.
I am reminded here of a particularly poignant political cartoon from a few years ago. There is a godzilla- esque fire breathing monster labeled "Big Business" destroying a city. A man at a window of one of the still-surviving building looks out into the distance and seeing the approach of an identical monster destroying everything marked "Big Government" approaching in the distance, cries out in joy to a woman in another window, "Thank Heaven -- help is on the way!" With the corruption of any power oligarchy at the helm, switching direction or remaining on one, continues to be at best a drunkards walk ever further from hope. We must change basic human relations at every level to one of mutual responsibility -- through basic integral education to a media campaign of altering societal values (the media can sell anything -- even this...). I recall in late 1973 or early 1974, seeing at a grocery checkout one of these small hype tabloids of "questionable" reliability stating that through hypnosis, Bud Abbott (of the Abbott & Costello comedy team) had determined that his tumors were benign. This may have given him some kind of confidence or hope, but in any case in died in April of 1974. And I can't help thinking, where is this tabloid any worse than the most respect paper and journals that blithely offer the confident predictions and approaches of economic and political pundits. Shall we do something real before our "April" -- or shall we learn the hard way on just what the flowers shall be blooming in May...
In his 1989 NEW REALITIES, among a number of insightful predictions, Peter F. Drucker warns of the implication of a global economy on 4 tiers of nonlinear equations as likely indicating deterministic chaos. The reasons that such was not noticed were that we were still in the relatively early throws of globalization. For one thing, the Internet was still in its infancy. Nonlinear effects moved slowly enough that decently insightful economists like Milton Friedman could still takes measures, recognize drift, and course correct. Also, America still being the dominant economic superpower, those corrections had strong enough teeth. Coordinating with America, the world economy could keep stable. But now globalization has come to full strength and still grows stronger. Evermore links crossing between economic layers -- and evermore coupling strengths to those links, evermore diffusion of economic control, evermore unstable swelling and random gambling by distributed powerful individuals, evermore distrust. And the Internet baby has grown up at warp speed -- giving it all a fully-functional nervous system. In short, we are entering a full-fledged chaos, which like the Internet itself, can no longer be mapped, measured, and predicted -- not in time, or with any power, to implement anything more than almost random noise -- delaying a dam burst at the cost of greater total cost at best, and just making the decay accelerate from the get go at worst (i.e., it might be better to just fold your hands and do nothing). As all systems in nature, there is no longer a simple black box to homeostasis, but rather the full complexity of the system must be taken into account -- and only the system itself can do that. We must assist in the evolution of this via the one thing that we can. This is using educational and media psychology means to create an environment conducive to a sense of mutual responsibility -- the type of "altruism" seem in the members of successful natural systems. We must switch from the top-down view of economics, to this bottom-up behavioral model, if we are to permit the entire system of global Humanity -- and in particular its economics -- to evolve into a healthy, literally biological system. The alternative is to enter a full-scale nonlinearity in which natural entropy can only magnify to chaos ("Murphy's law") and lead to the death of the system before it is born. Please give pause and serious consideration to this -- because this is not some abortion statistic -- we are, altogether 7 billion of us -- the fetus in question.
Good points Mr. Hermann -- only you don't go far enough. Forgive me for extending the "Sci-Fi" into what you are saying -- because I believe it can become the most powerful science that we've ever known.
What I propose is that the very network you talk of -- an d on the human level, lets add some "white matter" to it with the internet and the intertwining of globalization (the rest of the system you mention is already quite well connected naturally). This whole need only become a full-fledged neural network by a low-level sense of mutual responsibility.
The system can undergo something akin to Hebbean learning (Donald Hebb, 1949 introduced a learning algorithm for the unsupervised neural network. Per Hebb, "When an axom in cell A is near enough to excite cell B and repeatedly and persistently takes part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells such that A's efficiency in firing B is increased".
Hebb's rule is that two cells with similar activations, the strength ("weight") of their interconnect should be increased, thus causing reinforcement of each other that promotes learning.
This interconnect weighting system is mimic in general in nature in swarming/schooling/flocking behaviour (in AI -- "particle swarm optimization"), and would do so most equivalently within Humanity via a system of "round table" interfaces -- whether in physical proximity or remotely (via Internet or wireless).
The needed jump start at the human-level to complete the system, would again be a hardware of a mutual-society valuing society that could be initiated by self-help "selling" of these environmental values by the media, and a global course of integral education.
Admittedly the above is an oversimplification -- an idealized framework. However, so is basic Hebbean learning theory without introducing the "interface layer," etc. Similarly, the hopeless limitations of the early one-stage perceptrons as pointed out by Minsky and Papert (**Perceptrons: An Introduction to Computational Geometry**), were later bypassed by the unforeseen two-stage perceptron.
I do believe that if we begin the focus on just integral education alone, we can start the ball rolling to a much brighter future. The presently insurmountable problems of today's humans could well become "child's play" adaption to the "artifical" (maybe not...) intelligence of a newborn holistic Humanity.
There is a particularly fascinating thought that we are on the verge -- through globalization, Internet, and wireless communication -- of a "brain squared" Humanity. That is, where individual human brains become as the neurons of a vast, world-wide Humanity brain.
The only difference I see to this natural organization is the fact that neurons -- so-to-speak -- are concerned with the welfare and functioning of all other neurons, while humans are principally concerned with themselves. In an age of ever-growing interconnection, this ever-growing self-swelling of ego, especially in oligarchical groups -- cartels, political parties, terrorist organizations, and so forth, is a brain swelling with tumors.
So the question seems not academic -- can we become mutually responsible and transform into the Humanity brain that could have powers of homeostatic solutions to internal human and external natural problems beyond our wildest hopes? Or will we travel the entropy path of Murphy's law into complete brain death?
The crises and its two roads lay before us. A very interesting video in this regards will be found at www.crossroadsfilm.com