To answer the age-old question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”, one must first travel back in time and examine the molecular ontogeny where the conservation of probabilistically unlikely molecular species was accomplished by ribonucleic acids (RNA) in the primordial soup or upon a substrate bathed by the primordial soup. The non-replicating environment of the RNA may have had catalytic and bonding properties (clay substrate?) which could concentrate the necessary nucleotides for strand assembly. RNA are also known to have enzymatic properties, although not as varied or capabable as the enzymatic proteins, but perhaps enough to facilitate self-replication. In any case, the most important condition for reproduction is the accumulation of resources necessary to build a replica. For such a molecule to reproduce successfully a “profit” must first be realized in that components must be concentrated against a tendency to otherwise disperse. These conditions, concentrating the building blocks of life and reproduction, are the foundations of life and have been conserved without exception. Those species, whether molecular, cellular, organismal or technological, behave in a manner to obtain the greatest profit to use in maximizing reproduction and growth. Some building blocks are diverted to defensive measures to thwart efforts at predation. The forms that are best at gathering the components for their own reproduction, which may occur multiple times before the mother form is defunct, will eventually displace less successful forms, unless the less successful occupy different environmental niches that bestow a reproductive advantage.
The freely reproducing molecules were eventually enclosed within cells, perhaps with primitive protein tools that allowed the capturing and sequestration of nutrients within the cellular envelope. At some point, a mechanical splitting process would occur separating randomly distributed populations of molecules. Perhaps not a complex fissioning that occurs with eukaryotic cells, but simply a budding-off due to mechanical necessity. Research continues on these subjects and the entirety of evolutionary steps may never be entirely elucidated before civilization fails to meet its own nutritional requirements. There were numerous steps and refinements leading to the complexity found within eukaryotic cells and undoubtedly it required significant amounts of energy as provided by the mitochondria. But just as a human mind is incapable of retaining large amounts of detailed information necessary for significant complexity, such as the diagrams and specifications for building and tools and related structures, RNA or RNA complexes didn’t do well at retaining all of the information in their populations, especially after the somewhat unpredictable process of fissioning. Much of the extra energy necessary to establish a permanent and replicable DNA library that could be separated with a spindle mechanism, must have been derived from the endosymbiotic relationship with the mitochondria. The increased energy also gave cells the extra energy necessary to form multicellular organsism. Human discovery and utilization of fossil fuels has allowed a similar increase in complexity, but on a temporary basis.
The addition of DNA, a written library of tools that could be transcribed into RNA and then protein tools and complex organelles like the Golgi apparatus, made reproduction more complicated and a spindle apparatus was required to make sure daughter cells obtained a full copy of information., DNA is copied and segregated to both sides of a dividing plate before fission occurs. Incorporated into a cell, the RNA were no longer able to maximize their individual reproduction, but rather had to specialize functionally within the cell to maximize efficiency within the reproducing system. Their controlled reproduction came to serve the needs of the cell whose primary activity was making tools to use in accumulating the profit necessary to enable cellular fission. Humans have been pulled inside a similar structure, the technological cell to function in a manner similar to molecular RNA. Many RNA no longer reproduce themselves, but rather function in the cells to maximize profit and essentially become a “job” within a technological metabolism. If these “domesticated” humans do reproduce, their children will be modified and schooled to also function within the technological metabolism. Some free-living humans continue to use primitive tools to obtain profit from the ecosystem, necessary for their individual reproduction.
Dissipative organisms feeding in order to nourish themselves and larvae back at the colony. Many of these worker ants, like their biological cousins, the human RNA, have lost the capacity or will to reproduce, but unlike human RNA, these ants are not involved in using information to produce tools.
There is a natural “greed” built into life that is difficult or impossible to temper in that the dissipative organism must obtain an excess or profit to reproduce successfully, and for the most part all of its behaviors and forms are built around that necessity. It isn’t enough simply to maintain the fires of basal metabolism, a profit must be obtained and invested in the offspring. Reproduction is the foundation of complex life, but what started as a molecular happenstance has become the sole preoccupation of dissipative structures – the meaning of life (although modern RNA humans may think jobs, businesses and their profit are the meaning of life.) All forms subsequent to the molecular beginnings have followed in the same mold and cannot escape the “greed” to which they owe their reproductive success. By failing to reproduce, you have simply foregone the opportunity to burden a being with the responsibility for at least balancing the books and making a profit for reproduction in what is usually a competitive and vicious world. However, the reproductive sequence usually happens spontaneously, the dopamine/opioid rewards are sufficient to result in reproduction, no reasons necessary. The most recent human additions, 7.5 billion persons, have been born into a world of temporary abundance. Conditions will be returning to normal as soon as the finite gradients have been exhausted.
When you observe the humans, with their lust for accumulating wealth, their reproductive excesses (at least until they’re subverted into a cellular society and become jobs), with their idolization of billionaires and preoccupation with portfolios of wealth, just realize that they’re not different than any other reproducing life, life that must obtain a profit to reproduce. Unfortunately they have drifted from the ecosystem into a technological system that can readily consume and destroy the ecosystem in its natural tendency to accumulate profit and maximally reproduce. Just as organisms gather profit maximally and reproduce maximally, not because they want to, but because they’re programmed to do so, so too does the human in technological society strive to be wealthier and take market share from their perceived competition without any limitations.
Is this why questioning population control and capitalism (growth) are taboo topics for discussion in technological society? Because these traits (reproduction and pursuit of profit) are the basis of life and mentioning their undesirability brings about a juxtaposition in the brain between the idea in the neocortex and the “two commandments” of the limbic system? The strong and fertile survive while the weak and infertile do not and this has been the basis of evolution for billions of years, but to carry the same motivations and impulses into the technological system, the desire to consume, grow, reproduce and produce a profit guarantees destruction and collapse. Under this natural occurring regime, sustainability will never be achieved in the technological system. But seeing that humans are basically automatons following deeply embedded behaviors established over billions of years of evolution, can we expect that they will ever gain control before growing themselves into oblivion.
Model of the human brain from Wellcome Trust. The egg-shaped area at the center of the brain is where the “Two Commandments” are written (thou shalt accumulate resources and reproduce.) This area is also known as “(head)quarters” and or the limbic system.
All of the behaviors observable in the ecosystem and technosystem are derived from the need to extract a profit from the environment to enable reproduction. The human is programmed to ring-fence wealth to use in a reproductive capacity and because humans are a social, hierarchical species and the impression is that the more wealth you possess the more successful your reproduction will be, there can be no end to the conversion of the ecosystem and fossil gradients into wealth markers for humans, even though the innate behavior will eventually destroy them.
Throughout history, if resources were not available in the environment, reproduction failed through starvation and/or disease. Under the current circumstances for humans, because the natural areas for accumulating wealth (foraging, hunting and fishing) have been claimed and fenced by the cancer, the modern human must strive to make their own business (cells) succeed just to obtain money to obtain nutrition from other cells, the farms and groceries. The specialized RNA inside technological cells probably have no idea how to obtain nutrition from a natural ecosystem or through simple farming or gardening and are therefore at considerable risk of starvation once the technological system fails. The egotistical class accumulates wealth far above what is necessary for successful reproduction, thereby denying others that possibility. The brain of the multi-billionaire seems to work in much the same way as the brain of a peasant that successfully raises twenty kids in the ecosystem. Both seem to be guided by a limbic autopilot. Human civilization is a cancer whose open-ended appetite for the accumulation of wealth will destroy the ecosystem.
There seem to be many rational reasons for restricting growth and consumption, since technological competition within the ecosystem commons will eventually result in total system(s) failure. It should be sufficient by examining the despoiled landscape and the melting ice to determine that limitations must be observed, but there are very strong biases chiseled into the neurology of every organism’s brain that encourage the gathering of resources, getting rich and provisioning of offspring. Unfortunately we continue to follow the same old algorithms even though things have profoundly changed. For every increment of technological growth, an equal or greater amount of biological growth is damaged or made extinct. Most humans believe that a healthy techno-system is in their interest, but they are mistaken. The inhabitants of the cancer fail to perceive the nature of the malignant system that has captured them.
The human is a collection of minute predatory protists that follow the Maximum Reproduction Principle (MRP) whose combined values and behaviors have been transcribed into a suitable neurology at the core of the human brain. The maximum reproduction and growth tendencies no longer reside within the cells, but these goals have been invested in the neurology of the various organisms. Nations, businesses, humans, cells, and molecules are all a continuation of the first reproducing entity. This goal of dissipative structures, common to all of life has been preserved, passed into the overarching structure of the organism as trillions of cells cooperate to consume large masses of nutrition (individuals of other species) found in the environment. We can refer to this open-ended desire to control and utilize resources, limited only by the time necessary to digest them and turn them into offspring conduits, as greed.
Complex protist cells whose forms have specialized for independent living. Human cells are also specialized, but work within a system that consumes massive organisms before nutrients are distributed throughout an internal circulatory system.
Greed, the desire to acquire and accumulate wealth cannot be questioned effectively by the human because greed, individual and tribal, is the imperative of reproducing entities. Maintaining homeostasis and basal metabolism are insufficient, a profit must be had until the offspring are formed and then actively obtaining energy from the environment for themselves. It’s no wonder that academics are reluctant to speak of the hazards of unbridled greed as they will be ejected from the company of fellow conduits and be deprived of income and profit. Even for the well-reasoned scientist there is little control of greed or the prime motive of garnering more pay, more benefits, more grants, more power. The greed had to be present in the first reproducing entities, the RNA, then cells, organisms, tribes and technological businesses and nations. It seems that many technological RNA (humans using tools) have successfully thwarted their own natural desires to reproduce, but they have simply been fully entrained by the technological system that prepared them for their role in society. Even the “religious” seek expansion and enrichment for their own dissipative needs. The only “reasonable” question for the human is how to get around the limits to growth through technological innovation so that more resources and energy may be delivered to the insatiable population. Humans are not equipped to throttle their subconscious desires and motivations, and any social barriers to obtaining more than one’s fair share of resources are often breached through lying, cheating and stealing, nefarious behaviors pulled from the Mr. Hyde’s toolbox as opportunities arise.
President Trump, sensitive to the “no-growth” dissatisfaction of his citizenry, almost all of which “know in their heart” that they want more, strives to satisfy their needs by eliminating any impediment to further growth, even though “reason” should lead one to believe that this is suicidal. The rational brain has evolved so as not to question the desires and motivations of the limbic brain and reward systems.
Human RNA walk to and from various cells to make metabolic connections including gaining organic nourishment at groceries and restaurants. If the system is not meeting their needs, they are likely to communicate back to the Trumpothalamus and demand action.
The future appears bleak as humans continue to build more cells and pack them full of “wealth”. Industry profits from this wealth accumulating tendency by periodically offering new and improved versions of products to replace those that have fallen out of fashion or been prematurely deposited in a waste dump. Unfortunately it is unlikely that humans will ever gain control of their behavioral tendencies instead continuing in an automatic mode, converting the natural world and fossil fuels into additional “wealth.” The end result is foretold in the prognostics of the “Limits to Growth”. Humans will march to their demise in a zombie-like state of stunned silence with occasional outbursts of violence, as opportunities to satisfy their greed disappear forever and previous gains are erased.
From the primordial soup of replicating RNA, to the complex cellular eukaryotic cell, to the human technological cancer, evolution shows an unbroken energy and resource flow through conduits which must reproduce before parent structures degrade. Humans have leveraged their ability to be successful predators through the use of technological tools and fossil fuel energy but fail to realize that they consume their own body just as a cellular cancer consumes its own body. In both cases, the biased mind will avoid truthful examination of the predicament as the disease slowly progresses towards catastrophic resolution.
Human civilization is a cancer which grows within the tissues of the ecosystem. It eats, it grows, it kills and its over. From where would it obtain the energy necessary for a second round of equivalent growth, even if the ecosystem were capable of surviving it and a third, fourth…a thousand generations. Will the energy and resources come from the vastly overstated collateral underlying an enormous debt that will supposedly be exchanged for a richness of resources in the future? The currency, bonds and stocks will be worthless in the future, as soon as the system breaks, capitalism, any -ism, will be finished and any reorganization will temporarily provide only meager salaries for a few and zero profit. As soon as a faltering economy induces the liquidation of paper assets, it’s only a matter of time before everyone rushes for the door to convert their paper into something real, only to find the algorithms have already passed through and locked the door a millisecond before them Most will be kept from liquidating in a timely fashion and will watch their illusory wealth realize its full potential – zero, leaving them with little hope of survival. A fully fledged zero sum game will emerge as impoverished masses spur governments to nationalize all assets, out-law hoarding, seize assets and distribute to those clamoring for salvation, a last ditch effort to keep the human RNA populations alive, even though the technological metabolism has ceased to function and cannot effectively restart. As soon as residual metabolites have been exhausted, the RNA will begin to starve and the technological order will descend into chaos and final disintegration.
But go about your business, enjoy your last days, you’re a winner in life, and that’s all that counts in the realm of competing dissipative structures. Make your last roll of the dice. When the game of accumulating wealth and reproduction restarts your grandchildren won’t be playing.