I am skeptical of the concept of "Conscious Evolution."
Perhaps I'm nitpicking the language, but to me, evolution means:
- You have a situation.
- You have something in that situation.
- You change, somehow, that something in a dozen ways.
- You see which of those ways worked out best, given the situation.
- Toss the ways that don't work, and focus in on the ways that do work.
- Go back to the beginning.
That, to me, pretty much throws out conscious direction. Since, really, what we're talking about, is just trying stuff out. We're talking about experimenting.
Is Design the same as Evolution? Edit
Evolution can be considered to be a "search algorithm." The room you have for direction comes from providing a space for the evolution to run in. You then run the evolution system in that space, it searches around, trying a bunch of different things, going forward more with the things that seem to work, permutating them, selecting the best, trying again in more ways, and so on.
So to repeat: We can direct evolution by choosing the space it works in.
When I design a computer program, that space is my mind, and the imaginary terrain that the system under design lives or dies in is the list of requirements.
I tweak the design, in my head, and then "run" it. If it bumps into the terrain in an unpleasant way, I mutate the design in a few ways that get around that "bump," and try them out as well.
After a few times through, I've designed/evolved a working system. (Or at least, it should work: Bugs in programs are due to the programmer's inability to see the logical consequences of their choices.)
So, in this sense, there is no development that is not evolutionary.
We should just through in the towel, and say: "If it's a process, if there's a consciousness watching it, if it's exploring a space, then it's conscious evolution."
But then we lose power of distinguishing one thing from another, and, in the end, really aren't saying a whole lot.
Evolution on the Internet Edit
It is clear to me that there is evolution at work in the Global Brain.
It goes like this: People try a bunch of crazy stuff. Someone does a crazy thing that actually works. The person becomes famous for it, and other people try it out to. Hey, it really works! Now everyone's doing it. We have a new "species," a new baseline.
Then people go on to do new crazy stuff, until, yet again, there's another epiphany.
"Tags" as a software movement came about in exactly this way.
Most knowledge about how to use computer software tools develop in this way, as well. Designers of software literally do not know what people will find fit to use their software for: What they intended is ignored, and what they never imagined becomes a star application.
Is this process conscious?
Well, people understand what's happening at the big picture, and some people understand the role they play in the small picture.
But it matters not: It just happens, regardless of whether we intend it or otherwise.
There is room for maximizing the process, of course, but I wouldn't call it evolution then; I would call it design. You know, as in: Intelligent design.
So, I prefer to keep design and evolution distinct. One happens within the mind, and is under conscious control. I define the other as that which meets the form and is not under conscious control.
Evolution of Social Consciousness Edit
It seems very likely to me that the process of evolution at work in the development of software machinery is that we will have software soon (5-10 years) that will make organizations of all kinds "transparent."
I call this scenario organized culture, because we will see the organization of our culture, written down before us, automatically.
It will be the difference between spoken word and written word: That is, enormous. The response people have to things people write is dramatically different than the response people have to things people say. This is because documents are vehicles for re-reading, whereas messages are not.
I think it is very likely that our augmented social networks will dramatically change our lives. I've written about one way it could go in a timeline I wrote in 2004; If you look at it, you might want to skip to around 2010.
At some point, we may discover that we are living in a system that is rapidly organizing itself into a new crystaline pattern.
I am a Free Software developer, and am already seeing it happen to me and my kind.
In short order, say by 2015, the crystalization may be dawning on the mainstream population as well, as they crystalize their relationships as well.
There is no darth of evidence that this is happening, there is a darth of concentration of the evidence. Each time I look at different activist organizations, I see it. If you touch the network, and really participate in it, then you will be placed in contact with others working in the same space. It is as simple as that. And the network is getting closer, closer, and closer, and clearer, clearer, and clearer.
That is why we are here, after all.
Is this conscious evolution?
It seems clear to me that this is a social evolution. And I am conscious of it.
So perhaps I should call it: "conscious evolution."
But I'd rather call it social evolution, and not confuse the terminology.
LionKimbro 09:15, 8 March 2006 (UTC)