Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Control and Maturity

It's safe to say that most of us hate when someone or something controls our lives without our consent. Such people include dictators, intrusive or over-regulating governments, and business monopolies. From the time we are born, we try to meet our needs and wants by reducing our dependence on other people and everything else, and we learn to resist anyone or anything that takes away what control we have won.

As we mature – if we mature – we learn to share our identity with a growing number of people, then species, and voluntarily limit how much of the world we will occupy. If maturity doesn't come, we don't stop seeking more control until someone or something stops us because we're too much of a threat: we've become what we hate.

Where we are able to overwhelm those who try to stop us, the mismatch between the complexity of our own biology and the systems we're trying to control will lead to the demise of the systems, ourselves, or both. For full control, we would likely have to become who or what we were controlling, which is physically impossible.

A common model of control is the computer, but even with that marvel of technology, only a very limited number of variables in anything close to a natural system can be controlled. If, as some people hope, we are one day able to achieve immortality by encoding our consciousness in something like a computer, and then grow its complexity and capabilities to take over more of the Universe, we would still be competing with other such entities, and we would still be subject to unbreakable natural laws.

Organizations, like people, are subject to the same constraints. History is full of examples of groups invading others, and over time adapting, losing their identity, and becoming more like those they vanquished.

Recognizing these facts is part of the process of maturity, and a lot of unnecessary grief, death, and destruction could be avoided if more us could achieve it. With the great amount of power available to many of us, the survival of the planet depends on it.

1 comment:

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