“Synergistic Selection”: A Darwinian Frame for the Evolution of Complexity

The “synergism hypothesis,” and the closely related concept of “synergistic selection,” involves a theoretical frame shift. The theory proposes that cooperative functional effects (synergies) of various kinds have provided selective advantages over time and has driven the evolution of complexity; the theory is concerned with the benefits and costs of various forms of cooperation.

Why We Need a Strategic Plan for 
Spaceship Earth

In a scholarly but readable book that should have set alarm bells ringing, literally around the world, the distinguished geoscientist Richard B. Alley warned us recently that the accumulating scientific evidence points to the likelihood, in the not too distant future, of an ecological equivalent of 9-11. Or worse.

“Smart Machines” As Philosopher Kings

During the course of an informal workshop that I attended recently on the long-term prospects for the planet Earth, a lively exchange was initiated by an astronomer/futurist who expressed the view that the impending development of “smart machines” represents a potential threat to humankind.

The Invasion of the Memes: Is It Science Fiction?

There is much ado in evolutionary biology and some of the social sciences these days about an imperialistic paradigm known as “universal Darwinism,” and the related concept of “memes.” Memes, it seems, are the “new, new thing” (to quote the title of a best-selling book on the high technology boom and Silicon Valley).