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Thinking together Steps to an ecology of mind

Subconscious – Gordon Brander / on Substack: “While analyzing a global history databank spanning 10,000 years, Shin, et al found a disconcerting pattern. Civilizations scale until they are overwhelmed by the information environment they create. This is The Information Scaling Threshold.

Throughout the Holocene, societies developed additional layers of administration and more information-rich instruments for managing and recording transactions and events as they grew in population and territory. Yet, while such increases seem inevitable, they are not. Here we use the Seshat database to investigate the development of hundreds of polities, from multiple continents, over thousands of years. We find that sociopolitical development is dominated first by growth in polity scale, then by improvements in information processing and economic systems, and then by further increases in scale. We thus define a Scale Threshold for societies, beyond which growth in information processing becomes paramount, and an Information Threshold, which once crossed facilitates additional growth in scale… We also suggest a mechanism to help explain social collapses with no evident external causes. (Shin, et al. 2020. Scale and information-processing thresholds in Holocene social evolution)

When a society hits the information scaling threshold, it stalls out. It can’t function until it invents new ways of making sense that can cope with the complexity of the information environment. And societies that don’t pull off this transition? The paper posits they collapse…”

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