09 April 2012

Do humans have Read Only Memory?


Are we a ‘blank slate’ that enters the world? Do we learn everything from our parents and institutions (such as government, religion, schools etc.)? Or, do we come we a set of ‘rules’ that determines what we do as individuals, groups, nations etc.?   The answer is not one or another, but both.  We definitely learn ‘stuff’ from our environment, but we also come with a programmed set of instructions.  The programmed set of instructions or rule could be considered our Read Only Memory (R.O.M.)  This  could be considered the  ‘embodied’ or ‘embedded mind, which is the foundation of all decisions individually and as groups. Animals come already with R.O.M and react to their environment based on it. This is called instinct in animals.  Humans have some the same characteristics, but modified.

What would be some of the R.O.M. characteristics of humans?  Some could be considered as basic as the ability to learn languages, desire to speak, awareness of environment, adaptability, survival, hunger, security, mobility, curiosity, need for other people, reproduction urges, to the more complex such as religion.  Of course, this R.O.M. is intertwined with family groups and institutional interactions.  A human enters the world with R.O. M. as a child, but is not an isolated individual from the very beginning. The child interacts with its mother, then its father (if present), his/her sibling and proceeds to interact with others outside his/her immediate family.

In complexity theory and within the metaphorical use of agent-based modeling, human beings can be considered agents.  However, human beings, as discussed earlier, have built in R.O.M.  These are rules from the genetic storehouse that we all carry with us that provide the ability to perform multiple tasks.  Some appear to be common for all humans such as speech, language, reasoning etc.  They ultimately create archetypes that are common in most cultures.  However, all human agents operate within an environment.  Increasingly, human agents operate in an urban environment.  All human agents are networked to family, friends, and institutions.  While, some of the basic rules are the same for all, there are distinct differences.  Human agents change according to their age group, sex, income, education and family influences, which alters the way that the basic rules are interpreted. A way of visualizing this simply is to think of ants, each with different roles and purposes which are networked together.  This simple mental visualization serves the foundation of my theory on complexity and urban environments. 

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