19 October 2011

2 Synopsis (revision of 1)

Zoological History:
The accelerative growth in complexity with respect to a lineage of neural networks started around 550 million years ago and must end at latest around the year 2043


There exists a roughly 550 million year old trajectory with accelerative growth in complexity continuously traceable with respect to a lineage of neural networks.  This trajectory manifests emergent order by way of communication revolutions.  These points in time form the terms of a geometric progression originating at the Cambrian explosion to verge in the future around the year 2048.  Interspersed between these points is a period throughout which an ecological revolution is completed resulting in a mode of sustenance transition.  The next communication revolution is due around the year 2043, but regardless of what might emerge it will not support continued accelerative growth in complexity beyond this point.


A neural network is defined to be any communication network whose foundational level is composed of interconnected neurons and therefore includes all aspects of human communication.  For context, the universe is estimated to be about 13 700 million years old, and life on earth, 3 800 million years old.

The diversification of animals during the Cambrian explosion as witnessed in the fossil record, in retrospect, represents evidence for the start of a now roughly 550 million year old trajectory with accelerative growth in complexity.  Subsequently, in a numerical list, it will be demonstrated that this trajectory manifests emergent order by way of communication revolutions.  These points in time map onto this course, in a probabilistic manner, where the intervals between points are around one tenth in duration of the previous interval.  The sum of this geometric series occurs around the year 2048.  This future date will be referred to as the communication climax (henceforth CC).

Subsequently, in an alphabetical list, it will be demonstrated that interspersed between every pair of these successive points lies a period throughout which an ecological revolution is completed.  These transitional periods are randomly placed as if in essence they were sensitive to environmental circumstances.

The reorganization of interconnected neurons from a diffuse network to a concentrated network, made possible by the advent of an animal body plan having bilateral symmetry instead of radial symmetry, led to the emergence of a centralized nervous system.  The accelerative growth in complexity of this neural network through descendent lineages now began.

This lineage is initially traced through genetic ancestry and then, after the advent of Behaviourally Modern Humans, through cultural ancestry.  An approach inspired by cladistics is used to identify and characterize communication revolution points and ecological revolution period boundaries by evaluating all branching points.


(0)  Centralized Nervous System:
Originating roughly .55 billion years before CC in the last common ancestor (henceforth LCA) of the protostomes (for illustration, its most successful group is arguably the holometabolous insects) and the deuterostomes (for illustration, its most successful group is arguably the jawed vertebrates).  These two clades together incorporate almost all animal species to form the eubilaterian clade.

(A)  Nurturing of Offspring:
Start - Protected embryonic development in the LCA of the amniotes.  This group diverged to become the sauropsid lineage that led to the reptiles (a term representing a paraphyletic group) and birds and the synapsid lineage that led to the mammals.
Finish – Supplemental nourishing following a viviparous birth provided by milk delivered from teats in the LCA of the therian mammals (a clade that excludes primitive egg laying mammals).

(1)  Eye-Hand Coordination:
Originating roughly 55 million years before CC in the LCA of the strepsirrhines (wet-nosed primates for whom olfactory perception is still relatively important) and the haplorhines (dry-nosed primates for whom relatively there is a greater reliance on visual perception).  Eye-hand coordination would have appeared in the LCA of primates alongside binocular vision and hands capable of grasping.

(B)  Manipulation of Matter:
Start - Fully opposable thumbs in the LCA of the catarrhines (a clade formed by the Old World monkeys and apes).
Finish – Manual dexterity in the LCA of the great apes as evidenced by the use of a semi-precision grip and the necessary muscular coordination required for nest building.

(2)  Culture:
Originating roughly 5.5 million years before CC in the LCA of chimpanzees (our closest surviving relatives) and humans (descended from an ancestry that, early on with the divergence away from the chimpanzee ancestry, became increasingly adapted for bipedal locomotion).  The transmission of culture required observational learning and purposeful imitation.

(C)  Technology:
Start - Selective use of naturally occurring stone objects as hammering tools or as the raw material these hammers can be used upon to skillfully create cutting tools as witnessed in the archaeological record of the Oldowan culture in the LCA of all human species.
Finish – Stone tools designed for hand use with respect to their geometry as witnessed in the archaeological record of the Acheulean culture in the LCA of Homo erectus (sensu lato).

(3)  Language:
Originating roughly .55 million years before CC in the LCA of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (our closest significantly dissimilar extinct relatives) and Homo sapiens sapiens (Anatomically Modern Humans).  This LCA is probably represented in the fossil record by Homo sapiens heidelbergensis.

(D)  Social differentiation:
Start - Division of labor according to gender in the LCA of Anatomically Modern Humans like that documented for hunter-gatherer societies, except that these roles would not as yet be so specialized.  The inherent self domesticating nature of this new mode of living would explain the transformation of the skeletal frame from robust to gracile in the fossil record.
Finish – Generation of societal variation through the ordered movement of individuals between bands of hunter-gatherers in the LCA of Anatomically Modern Humans that practiced ceremonial customs.  The maintenance of this type of shared identity amongst a community of hunter-gatherers would have provided the foundation for choices concerning band allegiance.  Any resulting subdivisional variety served to create potential for adaptability to unexploited niches.  The earliest evidence in the archaeological record for such symbolic behaviour is the use of red ochre as a pigment during burial rituals at Qafzeh Cave.

(4)  Conceptual Intelligence:
Originating roughly 55 thousand years before CC in the LCA of Behaviourally Modern Humans whom are first associated with the Later Stone Age in Africa.  A collection of words could now encode a ‘picture’.  A fundamental impasse was reached at this point.  Henceforth, continued accelerative growth in complexity required human social networks getting larger or better connected.  The accelerative growth in human population now seems to have begun.

(E)  Control of the Environment:
Start – Cultivation of cereal crops and the employment of dogs in the Late Natufian culture.  The Levant is a natural geographical crossroad for the accumulation and spread of advancements.  Here, and in the neighbouring regions of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Anatolia, neolithic settlements exploiting a mixed range of, plant and animal, domesticates would subsequently arise.
Finish – Agricultural base capable of supporting state formation and continuous urbanization thereafter in the Naqada II culture.  The Ancient Egyptian civilization can trace its ancestry back to this hierarchical chalcolithic society of Upper Egypt.  The Ancient Egyptian language is a member of the Afro-Asiatic language family.  The two most likely scenarios are that either proto-Afro-Asiatic spread with farming from the Levant or expanded in Northeast Africa after farming had spread there from the Levant.

(5)  Writing:
Originating roughly 5.5 thousand years before CC in Ancient Egypt as an information storage process for telecommunication, preservation and visual analysis.  Prior to this event, a prototype of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, although inadequate for expressing sentences, still had applications for administrative purposes.

(F)  Imperial Commerce:
Start –International trade across transcontinental geographic barriers facilitated by the use of gold as money in the ‘Caananite Empire’.  Commencing with the trade treaty between Israel (where caravan routes between Egypt and Syria were controlled by Hebrew tribes) and Tyre (the prime city state of the maritime Phoenicians).  Both these Caananite language family populations wrote using a script descended from one used by Caananites resident in Ancient Egypt.  This alphabetic script was the ancestor of subsequent major alphabets via the Aramaic alphabet (spread widest by the Persian Achaemenid Empire) and the Greek alphabet (spread widest by the Greek Macedonian Empire).
Finish – Expansion of business resulting from the regulation of the currency by a stable centralized authority in the Roman Empire.  Commencing with the administrative reforms giving the responsibility for issuing gold and silver coinage to the imperial government.  Telecommunication was by then significantly enhanced: mail could be transported quickly inland on a well managed road network.  The Latin alphabet descended from the Greek alphabet.

(6)  Printing Press:
Originating roughly .55 thousand years before CC in the Holy Roman Empire as an information broadcasting device.  The process of information duplication was successfully mechanized by the use of moveable type in combination with a press.  The Holy Roman Empire was a predominantly German speaking state, but Latin was the language of scholarship and a lingua franca - as it was across Western Europe.  The Latin discourse and imperial organization of Western Christianity helped carry forward the progress made prior to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

(G)  Industrial Production:
Start - Manufacturing in the British Empire as embodied by use of the factory system for cotton spinning at the Cromford Mill.  Only relatively recently had Latin been the language of scholarship in England before the switch was made to English.
Finish - Mass production in the United States of America as embodied by use of the automated assembly line for automobile construction at the Highland Park Plant.  English language publications were, for some while now, a mass media (ever since the advent of steam-powered presses).  The orientation of industry towards mass consumption would diffuse across the world.

(7)  World Wide Web:
Originating roughly 55 years before CC in the global community as an information organization system linking documents, via hypertext, distributed across computers connected to the internet.  The world wide web became popular once it could be easily accessed on personal computers through a graphical user interface with the debut of the Mosaic web browser in the year 1993.


The next communication revolution is anticipated around the year 2043 based upon the simplistic calculation 1993 + 50 = 2043.  When taking into account the continuing scope for affluence globally, it seems likely that there will be continued accelerative growth in complexity up until this point, despite a plateauing world population, as long as another ecological revolution is completed before then.

Important events are concentrated inside mode of sustenance transitional periods (following the start of the first ecological revolution).  Those important events (other than those related to communication revolutions) that fall outwith these periods still seem to always have a direct lineage back to moments within them.  Also, it seems as if the overarching beginnings in anatomical organization (and accordingly in behaviour) and then, after the advent of Behaviourally Modern Humans, in economic organization (and accordingly in knowledge and the arts) occur within these transitional periods.  Furthermore, the primary attribute of each ecological revolution seems to always become further developed in all subsequent transitional periods.

By ruling out what would simply be an elaboration of the characteristics of previous modes of sustenance, and so not constitute an ecological revolution, we can speculate that the next transitional period will be:

(H)  Fluid Cybernetic Interfaces?:
Optimization of cybernetic interfaces will result in greater economic efficiency for example by improving information management.  The recent popular uptake of mobile computing devices, like smartphones and tablet computers, are an indicator of the current trend towards a fluid human-computer interface that will eventually constitute a form of augmented intelligence.  This might be accomplished by a new computing platform comprising a head mounted projector that beams the computer display directly onto the retina while being controlled with hand gestures and voice commands.  Interactions involving such personal computers and everyday objects embedded with computational capabilities will become ubiquitous.

The functionality of the world wide web will increase greatly, especially during (H), to have by around the year 2043 surmounted almost all communication obstacles.  By ruling out what would not constitute a significant advancement, compared to and on top of all previous communication revolutions, we can speculate that the next communication revolution will be:

(8)  Artificial General Intelligence?:
Originating roughly 5.5 years before CC with respect to natural language processing?  Benefits derived would include the effective elimination of language barriers, when applied to machine translation, allowing even concepts to be accurately conveyed between all humans.

Whatever might emerge, as communication obstacles will no longer be a limiting factor to development by around 2043, this communication revolution would mark the end point of accelerative growth in complexity.

Tanwir Wazir-Khaksar
19 October 2011, Glasgow

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