A Thought Experiment

05 Nov 2014 in Ceptr, Currency, DNA, Evolution, Language, Living Systems, Social DNA

Imagine an intelligent alien species with such powerful skills of telepathy that they have no concept of language. They experience instantaneous knowledge of each other’s mental and emotional states just by shifting their attention to another of their kind. How would this alien perceive a meeting session of Parliament, Congress or the United Nations? How could they possibly make sense of it?

Remember, this alien species is not just failing to understand the language being used, but rather they have no concept of the existence of language in ANY spoken or written FORM. They’d have no frame of reference to understand they’re witnessing communication of any kind because there is no such kind of communication in their universe of experience. They wouldn’t know about the policies being written , discussed , translated or read . They would have no notion that any kind of discussion, negotiation or agreement was occurring.

What kind of nonsense might they make up about what was happening? They’d see people in strange patterns of attire parading around in some kind of ceremonial manner, seemingly devoid of any organizing purpose or productive outcome. And repeating this behavior again and again and again and again.

Just think about it for a minute. This alien wouldn’t be looking for communication. All the time the people he was watching were speaking, writing, reading and motioning, it would not appear to be communication of any kind. The alien would assume that we communicate with each other like any intelligent species… by direct knowing of each other’s needs, notions and desires. All the energy we spend communicating would be frivolous random nonsense.

Imagine the alien’s ideas of the strange forces that must be at play which make these human creatures behave in such ways. What crazy behaviors must be programmed into the human DNA to lead to these noises, twitches and scribbles? It must be some sort of extremely elaborate mating ritual!  All the activities involved in education, law, literature, news, media and culture would look as random as molecules of a gas bouncing around yet as repetitive as the orbits of planets or electrons.

Many of us can’t even imagine this alien scenario because language is such a core and obvious phenomenon, that we can hardly imagine intelligence without it. Mainstream science fiction renderings of sentient alien species depict “normal” communication in this manner. You don’t have to speak Klingon to understand that Klingons must have some language they speak. How else could they be an intelligent species?

The idea of language is an extremely elaborate conceptual construct. It doesn’t just mean hand signals, grunts, sounds, letters or pictograms. It involves grammar, patterns, rhythms, relationships, meaning and structure, repetition and sequence.

What if there is a similar construct which is critical to understanding all living systems? Without it, our ideas about living systems are just as groundless and off base. We would invent mysterious forces to explain patterns. We’d pretend nonsensical constructs like “genetic memory” make some sort of sense.

What if there is a “language” to all interacting and interconnected systems?

Schools of fish, flocks of birds, forests full of life...

Maybe proteins speak DNA, electrons speak electromagnetic force, and planets speak gravity,

For the sake of convenience, let’s give this language-like system a name – Ceptr.

Then Cepr is a pattern language for all languages -- a template for all communication protocols.

That is indeed what we're building right now to enable the next leap of human evolution in the domain of social collective human intelligence. 

I think having it is going to be surprisingly fun!