Future Thinkers Podcast Episode 47 - Collective Intelligence During Global Collapse, with Jordan Greenhall
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Jordan: I work at a whole bunch of different kinds of projects, and I think that this is going to be how I’m increasing the case. I have skillsets in things like strategy, ranging across the board, business strategy, military strategy, technology strategy etcetera. I have skillsets in different kinds of science, in particular the edge of where science hits technology and where technology hits human society.

So, the way that technology has changed cultural evolution. And I actually spent a good 15 years in the pragmatic world of building [00:03:30] technology companies. So, I also have expertise in pragmatics and whether rubber hits the road and where people can and can’t do things. And so, those skillsets then link out into kind of the roles that I play in different projects, but my essential rule is we’re in a situation that is extremely challenging.

It’s for all the marbles, it’s happening much more rapidly than we have any ability to really deal with. And so, everybody has to be as fully deployed as they can be. And so, of course, [inaudible [0:03:58].6] [00:04:00] I’m as fully deployed as I can be. And so, I touch as many projects are necessary and effective for me to be involved in, using and giving those skills as to the degree which I can.

I’m currently spending a substantial amount of time in the third wave of the blockchain, which is showing up directly addressing the problems of decentralized governance which we’ll probably expand on. I’m spending a lot of time in meta-strategic formulations of what are the different paths of where the world is going to go and what are the risks that need to be [00:04:30] taken into account and addressed in the immediate term, in the mid-term, and the long-term.

And in trying to work with people to formulate what are the viable paths that we can take. So, think of that as at a, kind of, very high theoretical level. But then what I bring is what’s actually practically doable, given the theoretical requirements. You could categorize that as something called deep code, and there’s a whole group of people who are arranged from the deep code problems.

Most recently I just got pulled into a project to try to figure out how to actually actualize the notion of wisdom [00:05:00] in our emerging society, because a lot of the problems that we’re dealing with are problems of a gigantic wisdom deficit that exists in our contemporary civilization and learning how to actually take wisdom from being something that we gesture at to be something that’s actually practically applied in our daily lives continuously. Is a project that I’m just getting involved in. I could go on forever, by the way, the list is probably several hundred.

Mike: Interesting. So, if you look into the next five to 10 years, what do you think are some of the biggest problems that we’re facing as a species on the planet?

Jordan: [00:05:30] Okay, so I’ll actually categorize it in three distinct buckets. The first bucket is the fact that we are very powerful as a species and not disciplined or careful enough. And so, the consequences of our actions can no longer be ignored and so those consequences are coming back to get us. So, we’re going to be looking at all of the many, many, many, it’s not one or two, it’s hundreds of thousands. Distinct consequences of say, for example, [00:06:00] the amount of concentrated chemistry hormones and heavy metals that we introduce into our ecosystem, and the impact that has on the broader ecosystem and the impact it has back on us.

The impact that we have on our ontological environment by shifting the amount of time that we spend indoors versus outdoors, the effect that it has on us. Obviously, the various effects we have on the constitution of our atmosphere. The impacts we have on the constitution of our oceans. The impacts that we have on the constitution of our soil. Those are all one gigantic bucket, and the point is we have too much power, [00:06:30] we have too little wisdom, and that asymmetry is going to start in an accelerating fashion it’s biting us in the ass.

Second, has to do with our relationship to ourselves, as humans. So, again, for all of human history up until the 1940s we could kind of get away with being dicks and being pretty poor at managing ourselves and each other, and that’s no longer the case that the whole set of human management techniques that the forms of government and peace making [00:07:00] that we have had are inadequate to the challenge. And we’re going to have to get extremely good extremely quickly at actually resolving conflict really, truly, deeply healing the underlying thing that causes the conflict and getting every discrete human being into a position of what we call sovereignty.

Which I can talk about if you’d like. But basically, learning how to relate to humanity. And then the third category is our relationship to our own tools and technologies. And of course, that third category impacts the first two, as well.

[00:07:30] The way that this has to do with, say for example, the notion of how we empower machines like Facebook to then come back and manipulate our living system, which then makes us incapable of actually behaving well in the world. Or, we empower things like, say, energy systems like nuclear reactors which generate risks that we don’t really understand how to contemplate, or you know continue on, drawing a blank. Phones that have dopamine jacking systems that decrease our capacity to be adaptive to the environment. [00:08:00] All three of those are linked, but they’re all three distinct.

And the point is that they’re a union. The connection between them generates the total threshold that we have to get through. If we can’t handle the total complexity of all three of those simultaneously, then it literally does lead to a collapse of it.

Euvie: So, you talk about sense making and how the complexity in the world is increasing faster than we can cope with it. How can we mitigate that? What can we do about it?

Jordan: [00:08:30] Okay, so this is actually an extremely hard question, which I’m going to go ahead and just go right down the middle. The way that we adapt to respond to our world actually goes through phases of punctuated equilibrium. And so, at some point in the past, I don’t know when but let’s call it at least 500 hundred years ago and probably longer, probably even as late as the beginning of the Iron Age.

Human beings began to develop a neurocognitive psychological framework for responding to reality, a reality that changed at a certain pace. [00:09:00] And I’m going to call this the paradigmatic mind. So, the paradigmatic mind is a mind that creates a model of reality, it creates identities, create relationships, it creates heuristics and it uses that to be able to have high quality models for how to respond to reality under most circumstances.

So, your job as a developing human under the paradigmatic mind is to build a paradigm, learn how to run that paradigm, and then as you become an adult, run it. [00:09:30] And when the world is changing at a slow enough pace, this works pretty well. You know how to farm, you have a bunch of rituals on how to relate to society and the world. There’s a bunch of basic social contracts that everybody implicitly accepts. And there’s socially constructed set of paradigms is adequate to the problems you’re facing.

And then what ends up happening is that on some paretic basis, maybe once or twice during your life, or two or three times during a century, there might be a major paradigm shift where a big chunk of the paradigm system [00:10:00] doesn’t work. It collapses, it feels like a big social crisis, the society kind of recoheres around some new model, and then you glue that onto the paradigm and you move forward.

And over the past thousand years or so, civilizations proceeded by a process of building and modifying paradigms through this crisis recoherence approach. And that’s been an adaptive enough capacity to enable us to get where we are, which is pretty impressive. The problem is that with the pace of change is faster than the ability [00:10:30] of our paradigm mind to adapt paradigms, you’re going through paradigm collapses too frequently to ever cohere.

And you actually end up in a situation of complete confusion, you literally can’t make sense of your environment anymore because the thing that you use to make sense is, you can’t trust it because you expect that it’s going to be breaking or collapsing in unpredictable ways too often. And that’s actually a pretty good, a fair map of what’s going on in the world right now. So many things are happening that appear [00:11:00] to be surprises that, and this is because the environment is changing faster than the entire architecture of the paradigmatic mind can adapt to the environment.

So, what that means is we actually have to build an entirely different model of psychology, an entirely different model of modelling reality. Which is to say, a new mind. Now, this new mind is going to have a very different relationship to other humans or other sentience, and a very different relationship to reality. Which I think a lot of us, certainly [00:11:30] a lot of the younger generations, I think intuitively get a sense for, because it’s going to be an intrinsically collected intelligence. And by that, I mean there won’t be a strong sense of individuals having any degree of responsibility really understanding the world.

There won’t be an idea that I as an individual really ever even try to believe that I understand the world very much. My responsibility is to maintain a really high-quality sense of how clearly I am perceiving reality, [00:12:00] so this has to do with this concept of sovereignty which I explicate in a moment because I think it’ll be important to this conversation. And then how effectively I can share that perspective with truth and clarity out into some kind of collective space, and some shared space of insight.

And then what will end up happening is that we will be constantly coherent groups of sentience, and by sentience, I mean both humans and increasingly capable machines. When, and as if needed, [00:12:30] around particular problem domains sharing our distinct perspectives beginning to form an actual collective intelligence in the particular location, which collective intelligence is adequate to the scope of the real space, whatever it might be.

And then once that is resolved, well, then artefact that is effective as possible, and then we’ll deco (?) here. So, you know, the three of us might gather, we’ll then figure out how to come into coherence by establishing various protocols for communication and understanding how each of us shares our perspective, [00:13:00] until we’ve got enough clarity that then we’re really effectively have cohered into a collective intelligence. And then that thing has a certain capacity, which is vastly more than any of the three of us as individuals.

But then what will happen is that we’ll decohere, I’ll go away, I’ll go do something else. And getting extremely good at flowing between these coherences and decoherences, at orienting yourself towards the place where your energy and perspective is the most needful now, and entering into coherence quickly and fluidly with potentially extremely [00:13:30] heterogenous sentience is going to be in nature with what this new mind looks like.

Yeah, so would you like me to go further on that? Or, do more on sovereignty?

Mike: Yeah, I’d love to hear more on that. But I’d like to know if you have any examples of groups of people that are already succeeding in doing this.

Daniel: Well, okay. So, I’m going to give you a very pragmatic and prosaic example, and then we’ll dive harder. Because it actually happens all the time, pragmatically and prosaically, and then the challenge is having to go to whole society on this principle. And the reason why I’m going to start there is because [00:14:00] it gives us a little bit of hope, because it tells us that’s a part of the basic human tool kit. So, the good news is that human beings are obligate tribal, meaning that we’re already evolved to think in groups. And, in fact, my friend Brett Weinstein has proposed that we’re only truly conscious in groups, that consciousness exists for the purposes of mediating groups.

So, when you take a, you know, a very high quality musical band, or a very high-quality sports team, or, say, a military, like a SEAL team. These groups are operating [00:14:30] in exactly this fashion and it makes sense, like, you can’t imagine a single individual often being able to create the thing that a whole musical band can create. It’s just beyond their imaginal and active scope. So, that’s a simple example.

It’s prosaic, as most of us have experienced something like that. Entering into communion and a flow with a group of people that is very collaborative and creative. So, the real challenge is how do we scale that up, and how do we make it vastly more fluid? Because, typically, it might take years [00:15:00] of deep, deep, deep collaboration to enter into that level of communion flow.

And obviously, that doesn’t scale. So, now I’ll move to a group that I know pretty well that is almost there. So, this group is called the Santa Fe institute and they, to my knowledge, are the first group of people to be very, very aware of this kind of problem, and trying to figure out how to address it. So, back in the late 80s this is a scientific group, so these are all very well-established scientists in very diverse [00:15:30] domains. And they began to recognize that there was a need for some approach to science that was new or different to what they had all learned and mastered in the 20th century.

So, the 20th century developed at the very finest level of perfection, in what they called disciplinary science. So, I’m a physicist, I’m a chemist, I’m a biologist. And within that there’s this, you know, increasingly refined disciplinary edges that I’m part of, and then there’s a way [00:16:00] that we can glue those disciplines back together. What the Santa Fe institute discovered was the possibility for, and the need for, transdisciplinary science. And the word ‘trans’ there is a very important subject, it’s not multidisciplinary, right. If I take a whole bunch of disciplines and glue them together and they try to collaborate, that’s multidisciplinary.

Transdisciplinary is actually trying to figure how people who come from different worlds, different perspectives, different paradigms and models, can get together, dispense with the totality of [00:16:30] the artefacts of where they come from, and actually address reality directly in a fashion that is completely decoupled from the notions of discipline altogether. And so, they named the problem and then began trying to explore it, starting in the late 80s.

And they’re not very good at, they’re a heck of a lot better than most people and it’s yielded enormous positive results. Because, it turns out, there’s just these gigantic problems that, if you look at them from the point of view of given discipline – like, let’s say you’re in economics and physics, [00:17:00] physics can’t see the problem, economics can’t see the problem, even though the problem spans both economics and physics because the disciplines don’t have the epistemological capacity to precede it.

But if you get an economist and a physicist together they go through a process of deconstructing their disciplinary assumptions, still being able to hold the tools that they know how to use but now they’re holding the tools more lightly. And then go back all the way to base of responding simply to physical reality and querying reality with their tools that now in a collaborative [00:17:30] framework, where each of them are bringing their point of view to bear, and using the parallax of their diverse perspectives to begin highlighting something that exists in reality but is, in fact, not obviously embodied in any given particular domain as we understand it.

And so, the Santa Fe institute is an example of something that I might call, like, part of a transitionary framework where it’s at scale, there’s thousands of scientists who are roughly part of that community, and they have been for the past several decades trying to figure out how to do this sort of thing. [00:18:00] But, you know, almost all of the people who are part of that are folks who were developed, they grew up in the 20th century and so they’re minds are still very much paradigmatic minds. And even they’re at the furthest edges of that, you know, it’s just very difficult to do this sort of thing, reverse engineering.

Switch all the way to the other side, now take a look at the youngest affected generation, I call them generation omega because I think they are, in fact, the last human generation. But many people might refer to them as generation Z, so the kids who are [00:18:30] born probably about 1999, 2000 and then up until recently. So, they’re going to be 18 years or so and younger. When I actually watch them, in particular when I watch them coordinate in something like Minecraft I see the stuff that I observed at the Santa Fe institute happening at a cognitive level deliberately.

I see it actually happening intrinsically. So, it’s something about the way the generation omega has simply developed. [00:19:00] The fact that they have sort of always lived in a world where it was possible and useful to communicate with the people you wanted to communicate with, the people you wanted to communicate with in real time and that are sort of always on, always connected.

Mike: Can you give a little bit more of an example of how they’re communicating when they’re playing that game?

Jordan: Yeah, so my eldest daughter who now is, well, she’ll be 15 in a week. When she was in sixth grade we agreed that she would work on a project of creating something in Minecraft. So, [00:19:30] I was thinking very much in a 20th century idea, so I had the notion of a project plan and a series of phases where people would design and then they would create projects, and then they would collaborate, that kind of thing. A very 20th century, post World War II operational management mindset.

But I, you know, [inaudible [0:19:43].9] your grade that you’re going to create this kind of an object, here’s your design requirements. It’s going to have this amount of stuff, then it’s going to have these seven-people contributing, and you’re going to get it done by this date. And what I noticed was that within 48 hours she had already brought seven people into it. [00:20:00] So, first, the intuitive muscle of being able to reach out, communicate with, and cohere a group of people was the first stage. I don’t think she even had to spend that a moment thinking about it. She was just able to invoke a cohort of people who are willing to come together and play in this space almost instantly.

And this was like a three-month project, they had plenty of time to work on it. So, for the better part of three months, they just played, you know. They just did things, they collaborated, but they didn’t have any structure, no sort of planning around what they were going to do. And as I was just watching, I was very [00:20:30] interested to see how this played out. My expectation was that worst scenario it be a sort of learning experience and we’d be able to debrief about what worked and what didn’t work.

So, coming down to the last couple of weeks I said, “Hey, you know, you’re almost to the end of your timeline here. It doesn’t seem like you’ve actually created anything. Do you have a notion of how you’re going to go do it?” And she just looked at me for a moment and she said, “Yeah.”

And so, over a period of a week she just sent out a signal to them, said, “Hey, can we do this?” They all showed up, they had a conversation and then, honestly, I’m in this point where I can’t actually [00:21:00] tell you what happened because it’s outside of my lived experience. I was just watching something that I don’t actually get, but I can tell you what happened. An absolutely astounding level of creativity and this process where, you know, we’re talking about a sixth-grade kid.

She’s sitting at her computer, she has like seven windows open simultaneously. She’s typing in all the different windows, she actually has voice command, she’s talking to different people. And for four hours straight, four or five days in a row, this was going on. And [00:21:30] I was actually watching gigantic structures emerging, people being given or taking responsibility for different kinds of things.

Like, one person took responsibility for doing programming and creating various kinds of activities and the blocks that could do stuff. Somebody else began just kind of holding and outlining the framework of what the space would look like. Somebody else just decided they were going to be doing narrative and telling a story. And they had some capacity to simultaneously allow every individual to take a particular piece and run with it, while maintaining [00:22:00] the coherence of the whole but without any notion of like a top down leader. Or, any notion of everybody getting together and sort of deliberating on it in consensus.

And yet it happened. And so, at the end of the period they created something that was absolutely astounding. I mean, it was physically gorgeous, there’s layers and layers of richness, there was multi-modal like, it wasn’t just architectural. There was also really interesting interactivity. There was storytelling. There was actual different agents, different play, [00:22:30] different pieces in it. So, you know, I’m looking at it at the end, it’s not clear to me that I could have figured out anyway and, you know, I’m somebody who’s built complex stuff.

I don’t know that I could have built anything equivalent to that in the level of the richness in the modality given a team of extremely competent senior design resources and that amount of time. And they did it all intuitively. So, that’s another example right. So, you’ve got these three pieces where you’ve got folks who are older [00:23:00] beginning to grasp the necessity of operating in this transmedia, transdisciplinary environment beginning to experiment with what that looks like and how to do it.

And then you’ve got the folks who are younger who, for a variety of different reasons, adaptively have a lot of these skillsets. And I want to go to great detail of why that’s the case, like, what does it mean to grow up in an environment in the post-Wikipedia environment where the idea of disciplinary expertise and canonical knowledge just [00:23:30] doesn’t exist at all, and everything is a collaboratively co-created fluid object that everybody has some degree of scepticism about, and everybody has some degree of ownership and the possibility of shaping.

The epistemological consequences of being on the other side of that transition are part of what I’m talking about.

Mike: That is so interesting, hearing about how that.

Euvie: That’s fascinating. It sounds like some sort of swarm intelligence.

Jordan: Interestingly enough, Daniel and I and another one of our collaboratives, Forest, had determined that we should be very careful about using the word ‘swarm’ [00:24:00] as the metaphor. Because even though it’s an easy metaphor and it kind of feels right, it turns out it’s actually wrong in a very specific set of ways. We don’t want to get people locked into the wrong frameworks. It’s actually something that has not yet existed on the surface of the earth, although metaphorically it is similar to the way that swarm behaviour operates. It actually is operating in a transcendental modality, which means that it’s doing something categorically different than any kind of existing swarm intelligence has ever evolved to do.

Euvie: So, it’s different from stigmergy?

Jordan: [00:24:30] It’s, well, alright you ready? This is going to be a tough one. Let me see if I can do this right. This is a really, really hard concept but if we could do it it’s extremely powerful. Okay, so are you guys at all familiar with the emergence of calculus in Western civilization?

Euvie: Not quite.

Mike: No.

Jordan: I think I might be able to do it quickly enough that it’s useful. The key insight is that these two extraordinary geniuses, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, both developed calculus almost at the same time. [00:25:00] They’re both alive at the same time, they’re both working on similar problems and so, they both recognize the necessity of solving the problem. But the approach they took were very, very different. Newton’s approach to calculus and Leibniz’s approach to calculus. If you were intimately familiar, they would seem very different.

And so, what we might say is that there is an abstraction called calculus and there’s instantiations of calculus, the Newtonian version and the Leibnizian version which are both instantiations of the abstraction. The abstraction lives in a realm of [00:25:30] pure abstraction, meaning I could come up with an instantiation of calculus and, as long as it was actually an authentic instantiation of calculus, it would be compatible with what Newton and Leibniz did but it might be very different.

And so, this concept of an absolute abstraction, something that is non-mediated but nonetheless is real. And then the ability to instantiate that in some medium. In Leibniz’s case, instantiated in the format that he did. In Newton’s case, [00:26:30] instantiated in the format that he did. That’s a very deep fundamental concept, the ability to recognize that there are objects in reality that are pre-mediated, transmediated but real. And then there’s a mechanism by which human beings, by hypothesis any sentient, can perceive those abstractions and then allow them to be mediated into some kind of actuality.

Mike: It’s almost like you’re describing multi-dimensional objects that we’re somehow tapping into.

Jordan: Yeah, that is actually true. [00:27:00] Because there’s certain kinds of, if I describe something like a hypercube, which is just a cube entire dimensions. The beauty of that is that I can say the phrase ‘hypercube’ and you can’t really conceive of it, because we don’t really have mechanisms for perceiving or conceiving of things in, say, a ten-dimensional hypercube. I can say the words and if you understand math right you can do things with it, but the beauty of it is you can’t pretend that you actually are thinking about it. Whereas, if I say something like ‘the generator function from which stigmergy emerges’, you might think you know what that is.

But the key is as long as you hold it like you would hold a ten-dimensional hypercube, then you’re in the right space. So, now what I can say is there’s a generator function. There’s some transmedia object from which stigmergy, which is to say the mechanism by which swarms coordinate themselves, emerges. And the thing that I’m talking about, the thing that is now emergent in the contemporary environment, the thing that these kids were doing, [00:27:30] is coming from the same generator function but it’s not the same as stigmergy. Because it’s obviously dealing with a mediation layer, i.e. human beings and human technology, which is vastly, vastly different than what’s available to bees and termites. Does that make any sense?

Mike: Totally.

Euvie: Yes, absolutely.

Jordan: Awesome, that is fabulous that that happened. Now, we were talking about sovereignty. Ready?

Euvie: Yup.

Jordan: Now, already I’m going to have to make sure we have a caveat, because the word ‘sovereignty’ has all kinds of weird loading. And if people are listening to this and they feel [00:28:00] like they think they know what that means, I apologize in advance, because in some sense we’re trying to just redefine it but it’s the closest word that we have to the thing we’re trying to describe. So, in an individual agent, a sentient agent’s relationships to the world there are three distinct functions, we can actually map it to four if we want but I’m going to map it to three.

Three distinct functions that describe the capacity of the sentient agent’s ability to respond to the world. The first piece is the degree to which that sentient agent [00:29:30] is able to perceive reality. You might call that the perceptive modality. And so, perception here includes everything from, say, like your senses, your ability to see. If I lack eyesight I can’t perceive electromagnetic radiation. If I lack olfaction I can’t perceive chemical molecules, right. If I lack hearing I can’t perceive soundwaves.

So, the modality and also the bandwidth. So, for example, if I have vision but I can’t perceive ultraviolet, I can’t perceive ultraviolet. And similarly, if I have vision [00:30:00] but I’m looking at the sun I’ll be overwhelmed, I’ll have too much input to be able to process it. So, the first portion of sovereignty is the total capacity to perceive reality. The second portion combines sense making and choice making, which we might call meaning. Your capacity to take perception and move that through into making good choices about what to do in the world. [00:30:30] So, if I’m like a camera and I can see in the sense that light can come in and it can be converted into something. But if there’s nothing else and just a camera, there’s no sense making, there’s no meaning making happening at all. And the degree to which I have the capacity to make meaning is in many ways the degree to which I have the potential to have agency. There’s lots of variables there.

Again, there’s questions of overwhelm. Like, for example, let’s say I’m in a situation where somebody’s coming at me physically with a large threat of violence. I’m perceiving it, but now I’m trying to make meaning out of it, which is to say what do I do? I how do I respond to this? If I get fight or flight, if my adrenal system kicks off it actually kicks me into overwhelm then I’m actually decreasing my capacity to make good choices because the fight or flight response shifts me into a very narrow band of action.

Or, maybe I just have bad juristics, there’s just, you know, I’m perceiving some pattern in the world but I don’t know how to make sense of that pattern. So, the signal is out there but I just can’t do anything with it. And then the third dimension is your capacity to actually make effective action in the world.

So, perhaps I have perceived the pattern, I see that carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere has generated feedback loops that are raising the amount of temperature and the acidification of the oceans. And I perceive that that’s going to lead to catastrophic collapse of coral reefs, but I don’t have any capacity to respond to it in terms of agency. The problem is just too complex, my effective action it too limited or my ability, my power is too limited or my ability to understand the consequences of my actions is too limited.

[00:31:00] The rate limiting on action has to do with the scope of the problem in relationship to your power, bang for the buck which is to say the amount of energy that it takes for you to deliver on some degree of effectiveness and unattended consequences. The degree to which what you’re doing generates more change in the world than you’re intending. You know, so if I think about like a pond, I think many of us have run into this situation as a kid, there’s like a very, very smooth pond and I can see through it, it’s perfectly clear.

And I want to grab something [00:31:30] at the bottom of the pond as I put my fingers into the water, it creates ripples and makes it impossible for me to see. So, because I’m interfering with my own environment, my agency is preventing my ability to be effective. So, that consequence is my inability to relate to the world in a way that actually respond to the consequences of my own actions. So, every discrete sentient agent is going to have an envelope that takes all three of these aspects into consideration and we’ll call that envelope sovereignty.

And so, the more sovereign you are it’s like a sphere, the more capacity you have to perceive, [00:32:00] make meaning in, and response to the realty that you’re living in. And a [inaudible [0:32:04].7] in any one of these three modalities pretend to disrupt your sovereignty are limited in your environment. And so, what ends up happening is this thing that we’re talking about, this new frame of mind, this new kind of collective intelligence is extremely sensitive to the actual sovereignty of the individual agent that can pose it.

So, then use this concept of sovereignty, imagine right now the three of us are attempting to enter into a form of communion [00:32:30] meaning we’re trying to form a collective intelligence. And that collective intelligence is going to be bound by the sovereignty of each one of us, meaning, for example, if the two of you have a private language which you probably do, right. Your deep relationship, you’re aware of each other’s facial expressions, body language, tone of voice. So, there’s a lot of things that are going to be happening at the level of perception that I might not be able to perceive. So, you’ll have a sense of what’s happening that I won’t have any access to, because it’s outside the sphere of my sovereignty.

[00:33:00] But let’s say, for example, I’ve done a lot of work and practice, and so I have a high degree of discernment around those kinds of things, I could just watch and listen. Even though I won’t quite be able to make sense of it, I’ll be able to build a vastly better sense of it than if I was, you know, a lower level of discernment. I’ll just flip it around. The same, for example, that we’re engaging in something and I say something that triggers you emotionally. Meaning that there’s something that happens in the verbal domain that a series of sounds that come out of my mouth you hear and process [00:33:30] that simultaneously the way that you process things generates response in your body, which is highly emotional. And that emotion response actually pushes you to the point where you’ve got an adrenal response and a coryzal response, which then reduces your sovereignty. And so, now we’ve got two issues. One, the issue is the level of sovereignty that you had initially wasn’t adequate to the expression that I made. Meaning that it pushed you out of sovereignty. And now secondarily, your sovereignty’s reduced by the state that you’re in.

[00:34:00] So, then what ends up happening is using an [inaudible [0:34:00].9] would then ideally have a perception to recognize that happened, have a set of heuristics and actions to be able to hold and either help you process through that and get you back into sovereignty so our communion has integrity. Or, recognize that that’s just not going to happen, so we would just sort of step back and wait until we can kind of come back into integrity as a group. And that’s it, like that’s how it’s going to work is each discrete individual has to go through a process of really deep work [00:34:30] on their own individual capacity to show up in every dimension: cognitively, emotionally, perceptionally, and exploring possible modalities of reality that are conventional models of reality we don’t really have good names for, or we don’t even think exist because we don’t know.

And then secondarily, learning then how to use that individual capacity to increasingly come into faster, deeper, and more communion in groups. I should mention by the way, that in the practices that we’ve done so far [00:35:00] every geometry is qualitatively different. So, dyads are different than triads, and triads are different than fours etcetera.

Euvie: Interesting, very interesting. Very interesting. I wanted to rewind a little bit to what you said at the beginning. Can you talk a bit more about the global collapse that we’re going through right now and the war that you mentioned earlier?

Jordan: Sure, so let me put it into a framework first, and then talk about the pragmatics. So, the framework looks like this. I think everybody alive has [00:35:30] a degree of self-awareness, notices that, you know, sometimes they’re at the top of their game and sometimes they’re not. You know, if you’ve been driving all night, you had a bad choice for dinner, you haven’t slept, you drank too much coffee, your likelihood of doing things that you don’t think are wise later is much higher than if you’re well resourced, right? So, of course, that fact that that sort of metaphor is happening broadly all over the world. Every minute of every day and everybody’s interactions with each other and with the world is increasingly pushing us [00:36:00] into states where we’re making worse and worse choices.

You know, for example, I have recently fully unplugged from social media because social media is almost completely toxic. Which is to say that when I go into any social media environment, I find myself decreasingly capable of making good choices, and increasingly willing to make bad choices because it has that effect. Now, this is an interesting problem because we’ve got billions of people who are connected on social media and, by the way, I don’t just mean social media. [00:36:30] Also broadcast media, you know, if I read an article in the New York Times there’s a 99 percent chance that I’m worse off rather than better off.

Books, particularly old books by the way, are things that we can still rely on because they take so long to write and to read, they have this cool concept called – gosh, what’s the world. It slipped my mind, but the term has to do with a differential time element. So, books are slower than other things and so they’ll actually present a different framework for sense making than things that happen in real time. By the way, that’s a good mechanism. [00:37:00] If you’re feeling really, really demoralized, unplug from real time information and plug into a great book from, say, the 19th century. And that’ll actually help you build back up capacity.

Alright, so that’s one. So, what’s happening is that the mechanism by which we collaborate right now, the tools and techniques by which our information flows, our sense making frameworks, are really fucked up and they’re making us emotionally less capable of responding to reality. And they’re actually breaking down our cognitive capacity, as well, like you just look at the choice making, [00:37:30] the decision making that’s happening.

You guys are no in the US, so I don’t know what’s going on where you are but I can tell you the United States is in the process of going insane in every direction. I mean insane, almost like a technical term meaning increasingly incapable of actually perceiving and responding to reality and dropping into lower and lower levels of pragmatic sovereignty. And just like in a family where everybody’s getting tired and cranky, people start itching for a fight. And when somebody starts pushing because they’re just itching for a fight, that just pushes [00:38:00] other people. And so, we’re kind of eating the seed corn of civility.

Now, that’s one side. Other side. Reality is getting harder to deal with. The global financial system is now a full decade into a completely delusional false sense of stability where every single piece of it is becoming more and more fragile across the board. Eco systems. We’re now deeply into the environment where climate change and the consequences thereof are actually having pragmatic effects, decreasing crop yields, [00:38:30] decreasing freshwater reserves at the edges. It’s not yet so obviously catastrophic that everybody’s aware of it, but if you actually see where the sensitive locations are, say like Syria last year, you can see the absolute immediate consequences of those effects, and then that has a cascade effect.

Tapping into the fact that all the most fragile nation states, the ones that have the highest [inaudible [0:38:52].1] fragility and tension and lowest reserves are now beginning to fail, and they externalize their own instability into [00:39:00] the environment around them, which creates increasing tension on the other environments. So, for example, the flow of refugees out of Syria are now impacting, say, France and Italy which are themselves already going through like three different levels of challenge: economic, demographic, their own internal cultural dissonance, the impact of social media and technology on underlying frameworks.

Like, all these different variables are playing back on each other and so, that net we have is basically two distinct forces are happening simultaneously. [00:39:30] On the one hand, our individual collective capacities to make good choices in the world are decreasing because the tools that we have are actually pushing us in a negative direction. And on the other hand, the stuff we have to deal with is getting more and more present, and more and more urgent, and more and more intense. So, this is going to lead us into a situation where we’re going to make extremely bad choices because we’re using bad juristics.

I’ll give you a concrete example. [00:40:00] And, by the way, this is not just a purely theoretical example. The United States right now is in a classic scenario where good strategies from the past thousand years would say that we’re facing a choice between significant civil unrest, which in principle could very easily transition to some kind of civil war, although we don’t know exactly what that would like, you know. Things don’t ever look the same over and over again.

But very significant civil unrest, which traditionally, the Machiavellian response to that is pick some sort of other [00:40:30] outside of adequate threat, pick a fight with them so as to generate coherence internally, right. We’re all familiar with that basic approach, right. So, if I’m sitting in charge and maintaining the integrity of the United States and I watch it begin to fall apart into civil unrest, and increasingly accelerate towards something which smacks a lot like civil war.

I might choose to say, okay, I’m going to pick a fight with somebody of adequate threat and I don’t think North Korea’s enough, that would cause the people inside to say, “Boy, [00:41:00] this is a real shit, that we have to put our differences to the side and rally around the flag so as to protect ourselves from the external threat.” Or, at least give me the ability to impose the level of internal discipline, sometimes known as martial law, to just squash civil descent internally. Now, that play book has been played from for thousands of years. I’m not making that up and it’s not magic, like, lots and lots and lots of people understand that both intuitively and consciously.

One, the fact that that tells us that it’s likely to occur. [00:41:30] Two, I happen to know that these conversations are being had. But then three, and here’s the sneaky part, that play book is no longer valid, the set of tools that worked, even all the way up until the late 20th century no longer apply in our contemporary environment. So, this loops us all the way back to the failure of sense making. If I’m a strategic decision maker at the level of nation states, I’ve got a sense making model that includes the techniques that I just mentioned that unfortunately are obsolete.

But I don’t know they’re obsolete, which means that I’m going to be making choices based upon [00:42:00] an obsolete set of models without knowing that they’re obsolete, which means I’m making increasingly bad choices and maybe becoming increasingly confused as to why they’re bad choices. Which means then I have a choice. Either, I double down, I commit myself to my sense making model and assumed that my confusion is bad signal, or I accept the fact that I don’t know what’s going on and start double checking on my sense making model. Now, what do human beings tend to do in that scenario?

Mike: Assume the world is crazy and they’re sane.

Euvie: [00:42:30] They’re right, yeah.

Jordan: That is correct. And that’s not a bad choice. Like, from an evolutionary perspective, the phrase, “Often wrong but never in doubt,” is actually a good strategy. Except for when it’s not. And now is when it’s not.

Jordan Greenhall

If it looks like we love the folks from Neurohacker Collective, that’s because we do. This time we’re bringing on the co-founder and CEO Jordan Greenhall, after featuring his fellow co-founder Daniel Schmachtenberger in four Future Thinkers episodes. The interview with Jordan will air in two parts. Listen to the 2nd half of this Jordan Greenhall interview.

Jordan Greenhall has been building disruptive technology companies for seventeen years, from founding DivX in 2000 to his latest Neurohacker Collective. He is also an advisor for Backfeed, a decentralized governance project on the blockchain. His interests range from complex systems strategy, to third wave blockchain technology, to cultural evolution. As he puts it, he’s dwelling on the edge of where science meets technology, and technology meets society.

The Three Factors Leading to the Global Collapse

As Jordan sees it, we are facing a potentially apocalyptic scenario for our world for three main reasons.

We have become very powerful as a species, but we are not wise enough to handle that power.

The second factor is our relationship to ourselves. Our governments, our peacemaking methods and our relationship to the rest of humanity are not well suited to the pace of change in our world today.

Finally, we have an immature relationship to our technology, from mobile phones to nuclear weapons.

All these three factors can create catastrophic and potentially existential outcomes for the whole humanity.

Collective Intelligence – a Hope for Humanity?

Humanity is still largely operating in a ‘paradigmatic mind’ system. We create a model of reality, identities and relationships, and use it to respond to the environment in different situations. When the world changes slowly, this works very well. But when it changes at the speed as it does today, the paradigmatic mind is not enough. We get confused and unable to make good decisions.

Jordan argues that we need an entirely different model of dealing with reality, a new frame of mind, a collective intelligence. This is an ability to come into communion with a group and act as a single unit of intelligence. This new type of intelligence may already be at work in the Generation Omega – those born after the year 2000. It may be an evolutionary trait that this generation has developed as a response to our complex, fast-paced world.

The question is how to scale this ability and teach the other generations how to do it. At this point, we all have to take responsibility for our own development, and do deep work on own capacity to show up in every dimension – cognitive, emotional, and perceptual.

There's a gigantic deficit of wisdom in today's society. - Jordan Greenhall Click To Tweet


Jordan’s most recent venture is Neurohacker Collective, a smart drug company with a vision of holistic human neural optimization. Their first product Qualia is a reference to a philosophical concept meaning “an individual instance of subjective, conscious experience”.

We tried & liked Qualia ourselves, and decided to arrange a special deal for our listeners who are interested in neural enhancement. When you purchase Qualia at Neurohacker.com, just use the code FUTURE to get 10% off.

In This Episode of Future Thinkers Podcast:

  • Time to get our shit together
  • What is the paradigmatic mind and how it works
  • How collective intelligence works
  • The need for transdisciplinary science
  • Generation Omega as a prototype of collective intelligence
  • Operating in a transcendental modality – is it swarm intelligence?
  • What is sovereignty?
  • Are we heading for the global collapse?
  • What the is going on in the US


“The mechanisms by which we collaborate right now, the tools and techniques by which our information flows, our sense making frameworks, are really fucked up.”


“What does it mean to grow up in a post-Wikipedia environment, where the idea of disciplinary expertise and chronological knowledge just doesn’t exist any more, and everything is collaboratively co-created, everything is a fluid object, and everybody has some possiblity of shaping it?” 


“Getting extremely good at flowing between coherences and deconherences, at orienting yourself towards places where your energy is most needed now, and entering in coherence quickly and fluidly with potentially extremely heterogenous sentiences, is going to be in the nature of how this new model of collective inteligence looks like.”

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