[ 18/6/20 ]
What do you mean by “controlled”?
Of course we are influenced by many levels of “stuff” that most of us are only vaguely (if at all) aware of.
Many levels of those influences are essential for our survival.
We breath, mostly as required, mostly as a result of CO2 buildup. That allows us to get rid of the gases we don’t want (mostly CO2 but some others as well) and get more of the gases we need (mostly O2, and sometimes others as well).
We drink, as a response to thirst, which allows our bodies to maintain our body fluids at appropriate concentrations most of the time. We need to excrete a certain amount of urine to balance nitrogen in particular, and we also lose a certain amount of water from our lungs when breathing and from our skin when we get hot.
Lots of things are like that.
Many levels of social and cultural pattern are like that.
Many of them happen at higher levels, as social cues. We react to things we are not conscious of. We are attracted and repelled by things that we are not consciously aware of.
In today’s age of AI agents monitoring our likes and dislikes and feeding us more of what keeps our attention on a screen for longer, many of us are no longer getting a balance of information that allow us to make reasonably accurate models of what is happening. Our models are being influenced and biased to make someone else a few dollars.
Social media platforms are now driving people more and more into extremes, as many levels of subconscious bias that are necessary for us to make any sense of anything are being reinforced in an “unnatural way” that drives many people into belief structures and understandings that are a very long way from reasonable or balanced approximations to reality.
And we all need to accept that reality is sufficiently complex that any understanding we may have of it is necessarily incomplete and uncertain in many different ways.
And many of our modern systems are distorting our sense-making, and feeding us many different levels of false or inadequate information purely to make more money for someone in some context at some level – without any thought as to the long term dangers of doing so.
Sense-making is getting exponentially more difficult for most people.
Not all things are conspiracies, and there are many different levels of “agents” out there trying to achieve different objectives (which is in a sense what conspiracy is about).
Reality is far more complex than anyone can deal with consciously, so we must all use different levels of assumptions, simplifications, heuristics and habits to make our way in it.
The more aware we become of them, and the more we notice the many levels of systems that are attempting to influence us to behave in particular ways, the more choice we have in the ways we actually act in any particular context. And that can be a deeply recursive process, and nobody is capable of doing everything consciously, we are all far too complex for that, and reality is far too complex for that.
So yes – certainly – there are many levels of influence out there, and many sets of agents attempting to create influence at those levels; and the more aware we become of ourselves and others, the more freedom and choice we have. And all freedom comes with responsibilities, as all levels of complexity are based on levels of cooperation (real complexity, and real freedom, can only exist in cooperative contexts – the mathematics and logic of that are beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt). And even the simplest human capable of speech is an instance of very complex systems that are at least 15 levels deep, with thousands (and sometimes billions) of complex systems at each level. Just mind numbing complexity when you seriously look closely at it.
Most of what we recognise as simple in reality says more about our model of reality than it does about reality itself. Understanding something about how our many levels of subconscious process simplify down the complexity around us to deliver an experience of being that makes some sort of sense is a step in gaining awareness of the internal processes that “control” us at various levels. The levels of influences outside of us are now starting to compare in complexity to the levels within us.
It is fascinating, and it is new, and it has many dangers and many opportunities. And if we are to survive it, we must have systems that are fundamentally cooperative at base – that is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.