￼In order to understand the significant of this question some background is required. During this lockdown period we have had an opportunity to reflect on our ‘essential priorities’ and the kind of world we would like to live in. It is not just a manner of going back to ’normal’ since that normal was not all that great for a large portion of humanity. We are also heading for a climate change disaster, there are huge income inequalities in most countries and the ‘for profit’ capitalism is not providing for the health and social requirements for a ‘just and fair society’.
The Back Story
Over the last 15 years or so, David Jones, a retired professor of microbiology and I have been meeting for lunches on a fortnightly basis during which we discuss the state of the world and contemplate the cosmos. David in his retirement has become interested in cosmology and the evolution of the universe and I would expound the idea of the fifth force of the universe, the force of intelligence. By and large we agree on the standard model of the four forces in the universe (the strong nuclear, the weak nuclear, the electromagnetic and the gravitational) and the overall outline of the Big Bang model of the universe.
David takes issues with many of the details of the Big Bang and the things that the model does not explain and proposes alternate scenarios to explain Black Holes, dark matter and the ‘flatness’ of the universe. I invoke the force of intelligence to explain how the universe works. I will let David explain his theory of cosmology in his own words in a future blog post, but I shall attempt to explain the force of intelligence in the following brief paragraphs.
The force of intelligence
Having a Taoist predisposition to seeing the universe as self-organising and naturally flowing along intelligence lines, the universal law of intelligence proposed by Wissner-Gross seemed imminently sensible. He proposed the equation:
F = T ∇ Sτ to explain this new fundamental force. In the equation, F is a force that acts so to maximise future freedom of action. It acts with some strength, T with the diversity of possible accessible futures, S, up to some future time horizon, τ (Tau). In short, intelligence maximises future freedom of action and keeps options open. It not only correlates with the production of long-term entropy, but actually emerges directly from it. The force carrier is the intelligon (my notation) much like the photon is for electromagnetism.
The results of the force intelligence are to maximise the future freedom of action and keeps options open. We cultivate open minds not because we are liberal or conservative, young or old, but because we understand intuitively that it is a matter of survival—physically, emotionally and intellectually—to maximise access to future possibilities. This occurs at all levels of biology, the physical and the cosmological world.
We as humans have a high level of consciousness and are sometimes awe-struck as we look up at the universe and are moved to feel at One-With-The-Universe. We can at first hand have the experience of the force of intelligence. Intelligons are the force carriers of this and carry information between things and how to behave. As photons give us light, intelligons are the information. (Here is where we encounter difficulties in using commonly used words to describe new and novel ideas. This is why the use of the language of mathematics is easier — but then we are not mathematicians. But indulge me for awhile and suspend your preconceived ideas and the ordinary meanings of the words.) At present we have no ways of measuring the force of intelligence and it is only recently that gravity waves (gravitons) have been detected but there are manifestations of the force of intelligence all around us from cityscapes to molecular biology.
From our understanding of the weak and strong nuclear forces and the electromagnetic force we have created not only destructive nuclear weapons but all manner of wondrous electronic devices that turn night into day and project images and information around the world. With internet connectivity we can link all of humanity into an interacting — dare I say an intelligent entity. As an aside, it is interesting that Issac Newton, a Trinity College student at Cambridge was sent home to continue his studies during the 17th century Black Plague pandemic. During this ’social distancing’ he used his time wisely and worked on the theory of gravity,
The earth has often been described as a Goldilock planet. It has the right proximity to a star allowing liquid water; is a rocky planet; has the ability to support an atmosphere neither too thick or too thin; has a magnetosphere strong enough to protect the atmosphere from Solar Wind stripping; temperatures that change not too little and not too much from night to day; diversity of life creating a food chain; tidal action from a large moon; a stable central star; an atmosphere with an ozone layer; both land and water on a surface with more water than land.
James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s developed the Gaia Hypothesis which conceived of the earth as a self-regulating system. The idea of a world having a planetary Logos, is ancient and is found in both Eastern and Western cultures. Gaia is usually conceived as a "formative force," an active, intelligent, purposeful presence at work in the material world to guide and guard the course of planetary evolution — the force of intelligence.
The story so far
The first human ancestors appeared between five million and seven million years ago, probably when some apelike creatures in Africa began to walk habitually on two legs. They were flaking crude stone tools by 2.5 million years ago. Then about two million years ago some of them spread from Africa into Asia and Europe. Then about 200,000 years ago, Homo sapiens emerged. In a relatively short period of time humans have taken dominion over the planet and we are now living in the Anthropocene period. This geological age can be viewed as the period during which human activity is the dominant influence on climate and the environment. This is not good news since human activity is causing the deterioration of the environment through depletion and pollution of air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems and habitats; the extinction of wildlife species; ocean acidification; global warming; ozone depletion — the list goes on.
Where does Covid-19 fit in?
The novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus emerged in the city of Wuhan, China at the end of 2019 and has since caused a large scale Covid-19 pandemic that has spread to 70 countries. The first known coronavirus to cause severe illness in 2003 was know as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) emerged from China after humans contracted the virus after direct exposure to civets. A second outbreak occurred in Saudi Arabia and became known as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) after direct exposure to camels. SARS-CoV-2 is very similar to a bat coronavirus but there is no evidence of direct bat to human transmission. There are suggestions that intermediate hosts such as pangolins or civets or ferrets were involved. This leaves the possibility that future outbreaks of illness causing strains of the virus could be circulating in animal populations and could once again jump into humans.
The conditions of the ‘wet’ markets in China where several species of animals are kept alive in cages under very stressful conditions provided ideal conditions for animal cross-infections. These are man-made profit-orientated situations that should be banned as bad practice and made illegal. The coronavirus in bats probably only causes a mild illness and may be useful for bats in combating predators which may intrude on their ecology.
Is Covid-19 a cosmological event? The answer is YES. Habit destruction and the extinction of wildlife species has been a key factor in the emergence of Covid-19 as well as HIV in West Africa and Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These actions can be seen as going against Gaia, the active, purposeful presence of the force of intelligence at work. When a society doesn’t invest in a sound healthcare system with safety nets for the underprivileged, protective equipment for emergencies, etc it will reap the results of those decisions.
YES, we will eventually be able to control Covid-19 using drugs and vaccines. But it will take years to repair the economic and social damage. YES, we will still be susceptible to the next pandemic virus emerging from wild animals.
YES, Covid-19 has caused us to pause in a global lockdown and forced to think about what is essential in life post-Covid-19. There is not a simple way to reset things to what they were before because things were not that good before Covid-19. During this pandemic governments were finding funds for healthcare, innovations in education and communications, wage subsidies towards a universal living wage and social support. Why not for a better future?
YES, even global companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple will need to reconsider their bottom-lines; it can not only be for profits and that they must have a social responsibility as well.
AND after Covid-19 we still have the problems of climate change.