The Borg Collective? LO11671

J.C. Lelie (
Sun, 05 Jan 1997 23:27:44 -0800

Replying to LO11639 --

Martha Landerman wrote:

> In LO11609, Jan Lelie made some comments about evolution, and about
> whether it's so bad to evolve a society like the Borg Collective.

I'm not part of A Borg Collective (ABC, for short), nor can i be. Using
imagination and not directly labelling responses, i expect to be able to
evaluate, not judge, any other society. It might be better, it might be
worse, who am i tp judge? I liked to read Science Fiction, and like to
watch Startrack (:)) programmes, because of the imagination of the
authors. And the distinction you make in your post is what they use to
create the tension in their story:

> I think we should make a distinction between evolution in a
> survival-of-the-species sense, and evolution in a
> make-the-most-of-the-individuals sense. ..

and this distinction is not evident to me. To me, evolution doesn't care
about the individual. I do, and you do, we all do, that is why i think we
organize; but evolution, like gravity, doesn't. Therefore the questions
i'm concerned with are the same as the questions in your post. Although
from a different vantage point, from another reality, another world so to

> So I'd bet that adopting a hive mentality wouldn't
> assure our survival, because we'd lose our flexibility to change and
> adapt, and so many people would be so unhappy we'd self-destruct.

Well, i wouldn't bet with you (as i never bet). Some termites dwellings
feature air-conditioning (without electricity!) to survive in deserts,
some cultivate fungi. Most members seem to be happy in doing the tasks
they were specially prepared for, not different than any other functional

There is als the famous fable about the ant and the creatively stimulated,
musical singing, self-expressing cricket... Also there is one type of
mammal living in a hive-like way, but i cannot find its name. If i
remember correctly, the sterile (?) men are the workers, servants and
guards for one female 'queen'.

> I do think evolution works with purpose. Unsuccessful mutations die.
> Successful ones flourish. In our case, we must make sure that our
> evolution isn't just physically successful, but mentally successful as
> well.

This is true from your perspective. However, there is also the idea of
co-evolution, like the bisons and the prairy, the car and the highway. For
instance: another type of engine, like a Stirling engine, might be much
environmental friendlier, but requires a different set of inventions, a
new infra-structure, a different economical system, perhaps a different
political system and therefore 'died'. Even Greenpeace doesn't propose
electrical cars with one engine for every wheel: making four times as many
engines to one car makes in the long run the engines cheaper. (And as much
as i like the way Shell builds its senario's nowadays, and the impact
Shell has on the flourishing Dutch economy (i would probably be
cultivating bulbs if it wasn't for The Royal Dutch :-)), the ways and
means of one of its founding fathers, Sir Henry Deterding, are certainly
not mine or yours. The same perhaps holds for Rockefeller and Esso, or the
other big companies.)

Another example, connected with the technology-thread and Clyde Howell's
contribution, is in my perspective, the Mac and the Windows-PC. Because
what's-his-name, was able to 'exploit' the IBM environment, an inferior
PC-architecture has flourished. For instance: why can i not just connect a
printer and print? Why doesn't my PC recognize a floppy out of its own
accord? Why do we accept all these 'fatal errors'? Apple is still trying
to recover, and however much i like their solutions, this is being typed
on a IBM-clone (word clone used intentionally). We're doomed to cope the
next million years with problems derived from DOS-errors (isn't there
already an episode in Startrek about this?).

So when all is said and done, it might seem that the results of evolution
are here with a purpose, but when i look at it in detail: underlying it is
chaos all the way down. It is a paradox, which i think cannot be solved.

I personally think the idea of a purposeful evolution is a cultural
artefact from a previous belief-system: that of the existence of a creator
outside ourselves. Also i suspect that a conclusion derived from this
belief is that of the existence of 'super humans' ('uebermensch'). I do
not like that conclusion. On the other hand, an evolution without purpose
leads me to the conclude that it is chaos all the way down and from that
one could say: we shouldn't have to care. Now, that i do not like either.

But you care too, as i interpret your lines:

> It's my fondly-held belief that for us to evolve successfully we DO
> have to incorporate respect for the individual and recognition of the
> breakthroughs that individuals make (I know of no scientific basis for
> this; it's just personal intuition ;-D). There's a lot of ground
> between a bunch of squabbling barbarians with no group management
> skills and the Borg Collective with no individual skills. Somewhere
> between there's room for a group of individuals who respect one
> another, care for one another, and can work together and alone to
> achieve greatness.

Nice; different perspective, same conclusion. Perhaps we are looking at
the same elephant.

Take care,

Jan Lelie


Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM (J.C. Lelie) @date@ @time@ CREATECH/LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development - + (31) 70 3243475 Fax: idem or + (31) 40 2443225

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