Over ten years of otoom.net
or, Why the 10th anniversary of the Otoom website is worth celebrating
This website was started over ten years ago, in November 2005.
From a few articles about the book On the origin of Mind (see Museum) the site has steadily grown in size. More explanatory texts, more versions of the original artificial mind program OtoomCM and related software (eg, CauseF), papers on associated themes, and last but not least the Parallels pages, they all serve to provide a further understanding of the cognitive dynamics that drive the human mind.
The sheer validity of the Otoom mind model is underlined by the almost 970 references from the real in the book itself and furthermore by the number of entries under Parallels, a collection of major events from politics, science and society in general that confirm the model ('major' as in, having made their rounds through the wider media so they can be accessed by anyone). At the time of writing there are 332 of them, not counting the Special Parallels section which contains articles each spanning several manifestations in society.
Not one of those over 1300 items meant that the Otoom model had to be modified, be added to, or required this or that aspect to be quietly forgotten in favour of some contradictory event or scientific discovery.
In some instances the model predicted later findings by others, whether in the case of the Iraq and/or Afghanistan involvement (for example, Notes on the Iraq Study Group Report), or the research related to memory recall (see Parallels/Science > Further to the issue of memory recall). There are many more.
It is no exaggeration to say that had the information from the Otoom model been used to re-think Australia's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, billions of dollars would have been saved and countless lives spared (see Parallels > Iraq war - and now Afghanistan for some 2012 figures).
Then there is the scenario predicted for the year 2050 in 2050: Age of the Silverback, written in December 2007: by now there have been 27 developments around the world which represent a step towards that picture (mentioned under the entries in Parallels).
Not only does the Otoom model provide a realistic view of society and human affairs, in many instances it has been far ahead of past and contemporary assertions.
As far as the field of artificial intelligence itself is concerned, the salient aspects dealt with in the Otoom mind model have either become gradually recognised as important after all or continue to present the usual stumbling blocks towards understanding intelligence through their neglect. Aspects such as the necessary bottom-up approach (instead of pre-defined algorithms thought up by their designer), the affinity relationships emerging from representative neuronal clusters, the need for the system to have the ability to abstract (in fact, what abstractions are in the first place), and so on, they all remain as relevant as ever.
Has the endeavour been a success?
Since its inception the site has had over 1.4 million hits. Its global ranking has reached '2', which, considering the exponential increase in the number of web pages around the world together with the specialised nature of the site's content (making for a somewhat 'heavy' reading), is not too bad.
During any given month there can be hundreds of links on other websites which were used to access otoom.net.
More importantly, comments from around the world on a variety of topics have shown a certain tendency to align with the perspective offered by Otoom. Views on topics such as immigration, the ageing of the population, the issues surrounding a society's complexity, in fact seeing society as a complex dynamic human activity system to begin with, they are in many cases now different from those entertained before. It would be presumptuous to claim that every one of the authors had been aware of Otoom, but it would be equally presumptuous to claim that, given the facts as they are known, the model has had no influence whatsoever.
To be sure, ongoing events themselves can prompt many to rethink their earlier opinions but, when it comes to the precise reasons, Otoom was there first.
One could call it 'slow journalism', not only in content but also with reference to the detailed explanations behind the news which will be relevant for a long time to come.
All in all, the On the origin of Mind website not only offers a comprehensive explanation of the system of mind, it also provides a guide to a valid and stable society in today's world.
And this despite the attempts to have the website shut down by Griffith University's vice-chancellor Ian O'Connor as well as other unsavoury tactics (see The social experiment and why I mention this).
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the otoom.net website On the origin of Mind has been published in printed form as Part I and Part II, see the Books page.
Perhaps it is fitting to end this page with yet another prediction. So here it is:
Much has been said about the value of democracy, how well it has served advanced nations but also how problematic its side effects can be in the face of significant threats to society. Many are starting to question its ultimate usefulness.
Interestingly even democratic governments resort to authoritarian measures during certain times. Such as, placing a locale under the jurisdiction of a single person in the aftermath of a cyclone or a major flood. On a smaller scale, decidedly non-democratic arrangements are used when it comes to handling a ship or an aircraft or a power plant.
They all have three things in common: the situation is highly precarious or at least potentially so, the individuals appointed as leaders are fully qualified, and their effective scope is limited to the task at hand.
Now transpose those principles to society at large.
Globalisation, the sheer number of people on this planet, the diminishing of resources, as well as the ease with which information spreads across the globe, they all combine to produce an aggregate challenge to the nations of today but even more so of the future.
Politicians are usually qualified when it comes to politics and parliamentary procedures, but much less so when it concerns societal dynamics. Yet it is those dynamics which need to be understood in a profound manner, especially under the currently evolving conditions.
Therefore the most successful nations will be those which are governed not through a democratic system in the conventional sense but those which have leaders who are fully qualified in terms of societal dynamics. In other words, Otoom.
Wisdom (personified in the proverbial 'philosopher king') is a hit-and-miss affair. Much better then to demand of politicians (and not just the top echelon) to have mastered an understanding of what drives a complex dynamic system such as a society. If they can demonstrate that understanding they are given the power, and not because they have won some election.
The above is not a wishful pleading to governments. The situation is part of reality, whether it is being recognised as such or not. Hence the prediction does not represent my personal desire to hoist the Otoom flag across the world. It is simply this: heed the underpinning principles governing human activity systems and your nation will be safe. Disregard them and anything can happen.
1 November 2015