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The following table provides a succinct summary of the many factors contributing to an Emerging Memetic Singularity in the Global Knowledge Society (2009).
The table is based on two well-known tales:
|Comparison of the "Emperor's New Clothes" with "Crying Wolf"|
|.||"New Clothes"||"Crying Wolf"|
|Tradition||Emperor distracted by the reality "spun" by his tailors||Little Boy seeking attention by causing panic amongst the villagers|
|Postmodern||Little Boy distracted by constantly renewed virtual reality applications (possibly with psychoactive drug enhancement)||Emperor constantly seeking strategic prominence by repeatedly proclaiming "the most urgent problem for the survival of humanity"|
|Implication||Total popular absorption in virtual distraction -- effectively avoiding the challenges of reality ("putting one's head in the sand")||Repeated official alarms of diminishing credibility, eliciting only popular irritation -- guaranteeing the vulnerability of society to a real threat|
|"Circuses" as an increasingly essential attractor||"Bread" as an increasingly threatened resource|
The implication of the "Emperor" in legitimating the semblance of finery, with which the population felt it appropriate to engage, bears a strong similarity to the implication of governments of the most powerful countries in the illusion promoted by the financial community -- which sustained the financial bubble that collapsed in 2008. But the "Emperor" acts now like the "Little Boy" in proclaiming ill-founded threats -- such as the possession of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq, whilst sustaining the illusion that a close neighbour was not in possession of them.
The systemic challenge is a form of binary weapon through which humanity may effectively "shoot itself in the foot". It derives from the formula of Panem et Circenses (Bread and Circuses) formulated by the Roman poet Juvenal as being the only remaining cares of a Roman populace during the decline of Imperial Rome. In a sense people are now increasingly nourished by virtual "circuses" -- whilst indulging in strategic game-playing with regard to the future of "bread" on the commodity market. "Panem" has become entangled in "Circenses" with the complicity of the Emperor and the Little Boy.
Karen A. Cerulo. Never Saw It Coming: cultural challenges to envisioning the worst. University of Chicago Press, 2006
Jared M. Diamond. Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed. Penguin, 2005
Susantha Goonatilake. Toward a Global Science: mining civilizational knowledge. Indiana University Press, 1999
Charles Handy. The Age of Unreason. Harvard Business School Press, 1990
Thomas Homer-Dixon. The Upside of Down: catastrophe, creativity, and the renewal of civilization. Island Press, 2006
Donald N. Michael. On Learning to Plan - And Planning to Learn. Miles River Press, 1997
Paul Ormerod. Why Most Things Fail: evolution, extinction and economics. Wiley; 2005 [extracts].
Joshua Cooper Ramo. The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It. Little, Brown and Company, 2009
Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable. Random House, 2007 [contents]
John Ralston Saul. The Unconscious Civilization. Free Press, 1995
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