The Goldilocks Effect

The principle theme of "The Goldilocks Effect" is that of an evolutionary continuum extending from the formation of stars from just hydrogen, right through the generation of the chemical elements, the formation of solar systems, the initiation and development of biology (and concurrent geology) to the establishment of human imagination, which provides the medium for the clearly seen current phase, the evolution of technology.

There is a strong directionality throughout these observed aspects of nature. Despite the fact that chance is undeniably a key factor in driving these natural processes, there is also a high degree of inevitability in gross outcomes, which is particularly evidenced by the various "just right" considerations of chemistry.  It is these which inspire the book's title.

An important sub-topic is that of learning the knack of viewing our species and, in particular, our minds, in a truly objective way.
To become aware of ourselves as societies of cells, or as swarms, rather than adopting the self-centred introspective mind-sets that we are so used to. 

By this means we are able to pin down our special quality, imagination, the ability to make extraordinarily complex maps of the external environment within our minds. Similarly our sense of agency, consciousness, call it what you will, can be ascribed to an essentially navigational function which has evolved, of necessity, to cope wth our unusually high degree of interaction with our environment.

The evolutionary patterns we observe can be meaningfully projected into the future and the vector points strongly towards what is now the internet replacing biology as the next phase of the on-going life process.  This aspect is of considerable practical importance as it impacts crucially upon the very survival of humankind.

In the years that have passed since the publication of "Unusual Perspectives" there has arisen a greatly increased  awareness of these all-pervasive manifestations of nature's wonderful machinery.

From fields as disparate as archeology (Timothy Taylor), mineralogy, (Rob
ert M Hazen) and psychology (Wasserman and Blumberg) and ecology (Sterner and Elser)
Henry Petroski, Professor of engineering and history has, in fact, been nibbling away at the aspect of the evolution of ideas
over many years.
As, even earlier, had George Basalla, and in a rather different contexts, the gene ethologist Richard Dawkins.

Noted writers Kevin Kelly and Steven Johnson, both of whom have been  heavily involved with Wired magazine and related projects, have also independently joined the fray with the more widely based new releases "What Technology Wants" and  "Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation"

While these contributions form a patchwork representing parts of the evolutionary spectrum, according to the area of specialisation, none of the proponents are sufficiently bold (or foolhardy) as to yet attempt a seamless integration of these segments over the whole gamut of observed natural processes such as is provided here.

The closest I have encountered so far is "The Chemistry of Evolution" by Williams & Frausto da Silva. This excellent work extends and emphasises points made in "Unusual Perspectives" regarding the critical qualities of the chemical elements which make biology possible. It also makes the connection from stellar beginnings through to biology and to the specialised nervous system  of our species, although the authors stop short of fully attributing a contiguous evolution of technology to the process.  

Some lessons have been learned from feed-back on "Unusual Perspectives". It can be seriously misinterpreted if skimmed (and some find it to be a hard read),
So in "The Goldilocks Effect" I have tried to provide an account that, as far as is practicable: 

1. Is more concise.
2. Adheres more closely to the main evolutionary theme.
3. Avoids unnecessary diversions and distractions
4. Outlines the very basic features of the sciences which provide its framework.
5. Explicitly rejects any religious or other superstitious interpretations.



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