I had a thought the other day (wow, another one? – ED), but bear with me because it gets strange. It builds upon the waking fever-dream I had probably around a year ago when I wasn’t sleeping, so you know it’s going to be weird.
Life on Earth began as very simple, multi-cellular forms, right? The big explosion in complexity upped that ante from single to multi-cellular life, in which organisms of a whole new order appeared which depended on but which were magisterially separate from the life that went before it.
To put that in simpler terms, we humans are mammals, which are large, multi-cellular life-forms in which exist and thrive a whole countless host of other, simpler single and multi-cellular life forms… but we cannot communicate with them. We can’t talk to the mitochondria in our cells any more than we can talk to the bacteria in our gut, and if we could we don’t know that they’d say anything comprehensible or relevant to us.
Going further, perhaps to reductio ad absurdum, we can pick apart a body and brain but we’ll never find the mind – in short, what we think of as “I” is really a massive collection of life-forms living and working together in mostly-harmony with the attached rider of an ephemeral information pattern tied to structures made from this mesh of life-forms which is at once wholly dependent and entirely independent of the base form.
so… something passes between neurons which looks essentially like electricity, and out of this storm condenses a mind.
I got to thinking: what else does this remind me of?
Well, I took a step back. What else constitutes a large semi-permanent structure populated by a mass of mostly-independent but essentially co-dependent life-forms which go about their own business working towards a whole which is neither understood nor properly defined? What else is there which has an ephemeral existence on the one hand, yet a permanent existence on the other, ill-defined in specifics yet well-defined on the larger scale? What else describes transmission of information through a signalling mechanism based on the block transfer of datum, mediated through signalling protocols and other binding agents?
And it became obvious.
Where can I find thousands – if not millions – of creatures all working in tandem? Where else can I find a mass aggregation of conflicting, ephemeral entities tied down to certain brick-and-mortar type locations?
Well, it became obvious. Brick and mortar. I’m talking about cities, and businesses form the thoughts of these cities. In a way, business are a mind built on top of the neurons of people, but it’s not even that. The buildings are the cells of the cities and businesses are the thoughts. Brands talking with brands and customers are just thoughts flitting through some gigantic overmind which could quite literally be sentient if not sapient but on a level which makes it quite impossible for us to communicate with them. They speak in no language we can hope to understand, and now perhaps form the dominant life-form of this planet. Humans have been relegated to the corpuscles of the world as a new form of life – businesses, flitting about between the neurons of our brick-and-mortar cities, now flit from store-front to store-front, feeding off the mass-energy transfer of structures built by lesser organisms as they evolve, change, merge, kill, reproduce and excrete towards a goal which is now completely out of our control.
You’ve heard of “predatory shell-companies”? Well, that should be taken literally. This is life trying out a new form of predation – businesses feasting on the IP grown by others is, I am suggesting, not metaphorical at all, but quite literal in a sense which we are not equipped to fully understand. This is an evolution which has taken maybe 200 years instead of 2 billion, and where it will next take us I don’t know, but don’t expect it to be satisfied with the one petri-dish called “Earth” much longer, though I don’t know if mere space-time is the stomping grounds of these new creatures. Whatever they are, wherever they are, as ephemeral and fleeting as they are, they may be far more tenacious than any of us understand.