The many parallels between 1/6/21 and 1/8/23 makes me wonder if there is more to this world-wide phenomenon of fascist flowering than mere Trump MAGA clones. It is tempting to think of authoritarian populist movements copying from each other’s playbooks, but there is another possibility. What we may be seeing here is an example of independent emerging systems, complex structures arising from similar substrates, as in different biochemistries evolving from the same primordial soup of briny amino acid solutions.
Emergent complexities occur when complex systems achieve a form of self-awareness, or at least, a behavior which is clearly a function of its individual parts, but which could have never been predicted of arising from those components. Examples are insect societies, human cultures, biological nervous systems, corporations, nation-states, flocks of birds, schools of fish, herds of caribou, gravitational resonances in Newtonian planetary systems. The behavior of the whole is more than just the sum of the behavior of the parts, in fact, it seems distinct and separate from it. Its the same architecture you see in artificial intelligences arising in neural nets.
Simple systems in which emergent complexity arises appear to have many features in common.
1) they are composed of many similar (but not necessarily identical) units
2) the units are connected, or can communicate to many (but not all) of their fellow units
3) The collections, or “communities” if you prefer, can change, and adapt, so that relationships seem to morph in a Darwinian/natural selection manner. However, the relationships and configurations formed are fairly robust, and resistant to change.
4) the behavior of the community responds to its environment and can even interact with it.
5) The individual components (think: ants, neurons, fish in a school, boids in a flock, exhibit very different behavior in groups than they do individually.
6) Specialization of labor and compartmentalization of function seem to arise spontaneously, as well as PARTIALLY hierarchical subsystems, but always highly redundant and cross-connected.
The attack on Brazilian federal buildings by mobs of political activists may have been the result of a well thought out conspiracy masterminded by Bolsonaro and his henchman, perhaps under the inspiration and tutelage of Trump and his minions. Then again, perhaps those events emerged naturally, from similar systems responding to similar environments. All the elements are present; like minded, ideologically similar people in similar socioeconomic circumstances, all connected by a communications network on the internet. Perhaps a mastermind is not necessary, just a single crystal of salt around which ideas can adhere and accumulate and be transmitted throughout the body of the creature.
Perhaps this explains similar political movements in other countries, and even at other times in history. I really can’t visualize Trump studying Mussolini or Hitler, and maybe Bolsonaro and Viktor Orban in cahoots, or Steve Bannon and Marine Le Pen whispering sweet nothings to each other in a Paris hotel room. We come close to explaining this as an example of similar results arising from similar circumstances–history repeating itself. Then again, perhaps a better way to think of it is of parallel systems emerging from comparable environments, of primitive pre-biotic life forms arising in the primordial soup of modern sociology.
Conspiracies are bad enough, but they can be defeated, or at least, their behavior predicted. But semi-conscious
disembodied intelligences operating with purposes independent to those of their individual component cells, well–
how do you reason with, or fight against, that?
The Singularity may already be here, and it isn’t a mechanical or artificial intelligence at all.