Saturday, 16 June 2018
Hothouse Musings. A Deeper Understanding. Morphogenesis in Nature and Society.
On a recent wander around the Glasgow park-lands, some of which may at some stage be sold off to private developers for luxury housing projects as is already happening in many other parts of the UK at the moment under an increasing " it used to be a treasured public facility but it costs far too much to maintain so lets get rid of it and make some money " ongoing current popular agenda. A Common Blue Butterfly here which got me thinking about Alan Turing's Morphogenesis theory of Reaction:Diffusion to explain how animals, including us, have fingers and toes, how tigers and zebras end up with various stripes yet others have spots, flora and fauna patterns, and how all this can be explained as a form of natural engineering through chemicals and other factors interacting. Basically, the more we learn about the natural world the more it does seem to have been 'designed' or fits into mathematical profiling at any rate.
I don't pretend to understand all of this link but the general themes I can appreciate. Maybe at some future date using this theory in practice we can build not just 3D printed organs and structures but actually grow them organically- almost like a flower or an embryo grows using the same basic principles... Or buildings. Science Fiction has long imagined structures/ spaceships/ humans that combined both natural and synthetically grown materials into one cohesive unit.
After all, it's only eleven short years since the Ray Winstone film Beowulf came out in 2007 as an animated version of the classic tale. It was a good enough film but also memorable for the lifeless eyes of many of the characters in close up. Jump forwards eleven years and you get this-..... a complete world of realistic looking plants, animals and humans with eyes full of expressive intent.
In another 50 years will we know this world from the 'real' one? In 200 years will we know if we are still human and not just a regenerated version living in a simulated universe. What if we are there already and just don't realise it yet? Could we be created and designed? These fleeting thoughts and mental brush strokes of imagination certainly passed the time on a warm Sunday afternoon around the Kelvingrove district. Decades ago in the 1960s these ideas and concepts were certainly around in some of the books I read then but to be honest they seemed about as plausible and certain to come true as a flat earth with the oceans pouring over the edges... now though I'm not so sure given the leaps in technology over the last 30 years.
As unfair a set of scales as a recent programme about affordable social housing/ social cleansing/deliberate political tilted table engineering over decades highlighted in this link.
Before Grenfell: A Hidden History. BBC 2. A snapshot of what's happening across the rest of the UK as well but focused on this one estate where a normal poor/ordinary working class family can all be working industriously over decades yet never afford to buy into London's booming property market but just a few streets away in Notting Hill and other affluent districts folk can earn more just from house value increases alone in one decade as that entire family gainfully employed over a lifetime of toil, scrimping and saving can. Unfair enough in itself but of course due to the UK system at present many have used that extra cash to buy ex- council properties, snapping them up elsewhere then renting them out to poorer folks who actually live in that area but are way down the ladder, cash wise, for a further profit. Well, you would, wouldn't you? Now I understand how people can afford to buy all the luxury properties they seem to be building everywhere I've noticed on cycle rides over the last decade. Not since the mid 1800s has this level of inequality existed in the UK and it has been engineered deliberately in many instances. This programme raised interesting points going back 50 years into the birth and transformation of that estate and London as a city. It got me thinking at one point... 'are the so called 'UK working class' turning into a redundant extra we no longer require ...with traditional jobs disappearing fast over the horizon? Not at present but in the near future. Or are they just changing into a Piranha feeding station instead with various outlets springing up every year to grab an extra mouthful of the action, capitalizing on desperation or stupidity. Legitimate short term loans, credit card industry, University loans...etc...(I get a new credit card offer in the post at least once a month. I could have dozens by now if I was that way inclined)
After all in the 1980s we switched from manufacturing and heavy industry into mass unemployment and a business and service society. Maybe another big change is on the way now and not in an obvious direction either.
Robots and the desire to create artificial life is nothing new, of course. Here's a very lifelike attempt at it from the late 1800s. " for 100 dollars extra we can build you a soul." The ancient Clockwork Guild............or a future bio- engineering project.