complexity can

build stage by stage

but there are threshold moments

when complex things get more fragile

complexity means vulnerability

13.7 billion years ago, approximately the beginning of time…there is nothing…not even time or space…suddenly a universe appears…it’s tiny, hot, small, expanding at incredible speed…energy shatters into distinct forces including electromagnetism and gravity…it congeals to form matter….380 thousand years later….atoms of hydrogen and helium appear…the universe is very simple…gravity is more powerful in the denser areas…clouds compact…temperature of 10,000,000 degrees form the first star out of protons….billions of stars appear….then stars die and create conditions in which protons fuse into all the elements of the periodic table…the universe becomes more complex chemically…around young suns young stars form and particles and snowflakes and asteroids and planets and moons form our planetary sytem.    Now living organism are formed and are even more fragile and small.  Energy in just the right amount (close to stars but not too close) in just the right conditions (solids, liquids, etc.) form molecules.   Our early earth had just the right conditions.   Deep oceanic vents create all combinations of atoms.   Huge molecules are stabilized by the template, the dna, the double helix, copies itself, scatters the template(s) throughout the universe, learns from its errors and builds greater diversity and complexity.  Living organisms are mostly single-celled.   Multi celled organisms appear.  65,000,000 years ago an asteroid came and wiped out the dinosaurs and left niches for humans that could then thrive in that environment.  Organisms with brains could learn in real time.  Human language passed on the information from generation to generation and accumulated in the collective memory.  We became creative and powerful via the ability to learn collectively.   We evolved in the Savannah of Africa….migrated and exploited changes in the global climate….we learned to farm….societies got denser and more interconnected and finally linked up globally.  Now we have formed a single global brain that is learning at warp speed.  Here we are.  13.7 billion years later.

Collective learning is a powerful force.  We may not be in charge of it.  The biosphere can move to the verge of destruction and we can undermine our civilization.  We can destroy the conditions that enable our life and continuation into the next generation.  We are at a threshold moment.

Advertisements