“…we have extended all parts of our bodies and senses by technology. We are haunted by the need for an outer consensus of technology and experience that would raise our communal lives to the level of a worldwide consensus”.
–Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media.
This, in fact, is merely the extension of our immune system as a defense to protect the nervous system within our bodies. Since electronic communications creates a “matrix” that can affect us worldwide at near light speed, we will more rapidly seek to define ways in which to protect or insulate ourselves by choosing more and more who agree with our point of view. This is an extension of a “database” by which we establish immunity against undefined or “untagged” invaders.
This brings us back to the quote from McLuhan earlier:
“…rationality or consciousness is itself a ratio, or proportion among the sensuous components of experience, and is not something added to such sense experience.”
If consciousness is merely the ratio of combined sense experience, it consists of a “system” that is a reflection of “me”, that is, a ratio of sensory data that combines to form a consistent “image” of self.
If we view this “self image” as a “message’ that we maintain about our self, then we will seek to filter out all messages that are NOT consistent with “self”, the same as the immune system “tags” and “identifies” all viral “messages’ that threaten the integrity of the body.
This leads us to Claude Shannon’s conclusion regarding information: the more probable the message, the less information it contains. W e might also say that the more a message is repeated, the less information it contains, which is why religion, with its emphasis on ritual, is constantly chosen to screen out jarring information or “noise” from other sources.
Alvin Toffler points out in Future Shock that technology breeds cults and sub-cults because technology increases the options available to us without any screening mechanism to judge the “good” or “evil” of such choices. Cults and sub-cults, therefore, minimize options by establishing “doctrine”, “law” or “dogma” to maintain our sense of security and well-being.
We might conclude that “law” or “doctrine” is a mechanism by which we maintain immunity. Where the immune system cannot act to preserve integrity from the external environment, we extend that system by creating laws that act as prohibitive extensions of the immune system. The more powerful that authority(God), the greater the control.
“God” as “law” becomes the process by which we immunize ourselves against excessive change. The greater our obedience to “God’s law”, the greater the sense of “self” as an extension of that law. What “God” tells us, we MUST do, and force others to do it(as primitive religions might say it).
“God”, therefore, becomes an extension of the personal immune system by selecting a statistical description of behaviors that can be applied collectively within certain environments. What “God” says, therefore, is for our own good. “I sure hate to do this to you, but it’s the law”, or “Sorry, but I’m just doing my job…”. Even the taking of a life, therefore, becomes an expression of necessary empathy. “We must take your life, or the culture/religion/government dies”.
The problem with this concept in mechanical technologies, is that there is a reversal when electric technologies operating at near light speed take over. The “decision load” imposed at such speed means we must find ways to preserve our integrity as a religion/culture/government, so we must identify those individuals who, like an invading virus, threatens the integrity of the system. There is a greater array of screens, controls, laws, protections that keep us from harm, in advance of the possible invasion. Therefore, we have a “war on terror”. There is a rapid attempt to recognize and identify those whose “message’ threatens the integrity of the religion/culture/government, just as there is a rapid attempt of the body’s immune system to recognize a nd identify viral or bacterial invaders.
At this point, I will try to define the basic function that links the immune system with intelligence:
1. A virus invades and “injects” DNA into the nucleus of the cell
2.This DNA is then combined with the cell’s DNA to create a ki nd of combined “blueprint” of the viral and cellular DNA.
3. This “re-combinant” DNA then becomes a kind of viral “mutant” that replicates itself and infects neighboring cells, causing them to burst open and allow the viral mutants to invade other cells.
4.Once the destruction of cells reach a threshold that threatens the integrity of the organism, the organism will seek to “tag” the invading mutant by sending out antibodies that create a “recognition” of the invader.
5. Once “recognized” the mutant invader is neutralized, but this can have positive effects:
a. The organism has enlarged its “database” of defenses for future reference, meaning that “memory” is enhanced. Te organism has enlarged its adaptive “intelligence’ because it has extended its own memory of what it is at the present time. That is the beginning of an operational decision process we know as consciousness. The overall tendency of this adaptive “intelligence’ is to screen out anything destructive, and allow anything useful or productive. Therefore, decision evolve according to that principle of “immunity”.
Another positive aspect of this “infection” by virus or bacteria is that the body goes through a “cleansing” process such as vomiting, diarrhea, sneezing, coughing, perhaps even bleeding, which serves as an attempt to expel the invader, but acts in symbiotic fashion to allow the invader to infect related species. The organism contributes, in this fashion, to a kind of statistical process by which the species is quickly “informed” of necessary adaptation at both the cellular and sexual reproductive levels.
What we recognize as ‘disease” acts to inform a constantly adaptive process. A culture seeks to screen what it perceives as “disease’ in this same fashion. We are now ready to explore the evolution of this process on world cultures.