“Liberating our Capacity for Thinking and Collaboration” with Jordan Hall
Watch the episode below:
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- Jordan talks about the importance of knowing and pursuing what is meaningful to you.
- Discover how our socio-institutional frameworks affect the world around us.
- Uncover why identifying the limits of possibilities can be incredibly empowering.
- Duncan and Jordan discuss why the rules of our current Game A civilization will lead to catastrophe and what it will take to create a sustainable Game B reality
- Understand why authenticity and self-forgiveness are vital to creating our future.
- Learn the difference between the imaginal and the imaginary.
- Jordan and Duncan ponder how we might bring our extraordinarily capacity for collaboration to scale.
- Jordan talks about how we need to realize that we act as an egregore, not as individuals.
Click here for the transcript
Duncan Autrey: Well, Jordan thank you for being on the Omni win project podcast. And I am really excited to talk to you because I’ve been listening over the years to your efforts to help talk about how our civilization and our society. Going through a transition and, or needs to go through a transition. And I appreciate the way that you’ve been framing it and the way that you’ve been talking about it.
And in this project, I’ve been connecting various people who are coming from like different fields. People have very practical skills, people who are working on individual stuff, people are trying to do some of that systems change and I’m talking a lot and I’m also talking to philosophers and thinkers and people who are.
Kind of Really looking at the big picture and cause I think some of that is like a really important for us to think about how to move forward. And so that’s why I’m here. And
I wanted to know if I could just get you to start by just explaining a little bit about kind of what you wish people knew or wish people were paying attention to regarding like some of the things that you’re interested in.
Jordan Hall: Okay, well, I’ll just combine those two, and say that I wish people knew how critical it was to pay attention to the things they care about most.
Duncan Autrey: The things that they care about the most, this reminds me a little bit of like Jeremy lent talking about meaning and so forth, but It’s like part of what I hear you saying is like, what actually is meaningful to you. And that actually is important for you to pay attention to why.
Jordan Hall: It’s like a whole bunch of things are implicated in that
Duncan Autrey: Yeah.
Jordan Hall: is something like that’s in my friend, my friend, Joey Edelman has put a lot of work into digging deeply into the degree to which. We don’t notice or seem to actually properly excavate in ourselves, what we actually care about. Which is to say our own values.
And so one aspect of that is just to, what would it look like to take the time and the care to become clear your values are? Okay. And then second would be something like noticing that
we cannot help, but Kind of spend our time on and our energy and our choices and our focus on the things that we attend to.
So to the degree, to which we’re attending to things that are not the things we actually find to be most meaningful, the things that are most relevant in the context of our values at the very least we’re distracted. And in fact, quite often we would find ourselves getting in our own. way so there was something along the lines of like the image I have is let’s see.
It’s like when you’re driving. And you, maybe somebody at some point in your life mentioned, like don’t stare at the wall. Cause if you’re looking at the wall you’ll drive towards the wall,
you have to actually kind of notice it in your peripheral vision, but, but actually focus your attention in the place.
You want to be something like that might be a nice heuristic. So first become capable of having some capacity to orient yourself with what you think you actually want, and then begin to cultivate the practices in your life that are likely to lead. Towards your getting to the things that you want.
And that would be a very simple piece. This is much, much more of course, but in the context of that question, that’s what popped up first.
Duncan Autrey: Thank you. I appreciate the precision of this and. One of the things that comes up for me a lot working in the field of conflict transformation is there’s always this tension between people actually speaking on for what they want and figuring out how to be in a relationship and being with other folks. But it has to start with people what you want.
And one of the things that can go really sideways is people not being clear about what direction they’re trying to go or not recognizing the value of bringing their voice into the room. But I’m gonna take us down this playing with your metaphor here of what are we paying attention to or what are we driving towards that’s where we’re gonna end up going.
One of the things that I’ve heard you break down in the, in the concept of like game B is that in a certain way, our society and our culture and as individuals, were following a set of rules and we’re paying attention to certain things and therefore we’re going that way and what you’ve pointed out is that,
there’s actually other ways we can be going then that, and that if we had different rules or different parameters or set our compass point differently that we would start, we would go somewhere different. And so I was wondering if you’d be willing to unpack a little bit, of kind of like, where do you see us going?
And and you that whole concept of what other directions we might need to be going with.
Jordan Hall: Sure. Let me, if you don’t mind, let me maybe put a couple of different kinds of frames into the conversation because I, I noticed the quite often there’s a challenge that when a certain frame is orient is, is identified. Oftentimes there’s a feeling that other frames are being treated. excluded. And I want to make sure that that’s not the case we’re dealing
is by definition the whole everything all of reality and all of possibility.
And by definition, anything that’s real is part of the story. So in the, in the scarce attention that we have, we are obligated to foreground some aspect of that. It’s important to notice that that’s what we’re doing, but not endeavoring to say that piece is the whole, right. And this by itself is already a Cohen of kind of the essence of the point I’m trying to make.
So, so one aspect would be something like maybe we call it structured. There’s something happening in the socio institutional habits and frameworks that in many ways we find ourselves immersed in quite often, we had nothing to do with but nonetheless has a lot to do with us. And frankly it’s kind of the cybernetic enhancement of our sort of basic human capacity, for example, like very simply as a basic human need. And quite often, actually, maybe not as much as we currently do, but certainly more, more often than zero. And for me to meet that need these days, I have to actually mediate my capacity through an entire field and institutional structures, like grocery stores and money that I have very little to do with.
Okay. So that’s, that’s that piece, there’s a piece there that we need to talk about and notice how those particular kinds of things have implications for the way that we show up. We, we live our lives, that we are relationships show up and how we impact the world around us. All right. So that’s a piece, it’s a big piece, very important.
And also not the whole story. Then we can talk about something like the the various sort of assumptions and habits of mind that I have the frameworks that either have been coded deeply into. Some people might call malware or that I myself have adopted sometimes quite effectively and sometimes not particularly as effectively as perhaps the I’d like them to be.
And how those also shaped the way that I show up. We have things like trauma and the way that I actually hold trauma. And then also the way that I respond to the trauma that I hold and how that navigates my capacity to show up in relationship. And by the way, in relationship to the previous systemic point, then we have something like, let’s call it.
And that there are things that are really possible, and there are things that are not really possible. And it’s useful to know that there’s a distinction. give you an example.
This is an extremely banal example, but it’s what popped into my head because it irked me. I found myself watching a movie and I don’t watch movies very much anymore, but there’s a reason that seemed to be a thing to watch.
And it, it was kismet that made it possible to put us out of that. There’s only one movie theater within like seven hour drive and it didn’t seem likely to have the movie and yet it was there. So I went, it’s called everything everywhere all at once I believe. And there’s some, a lot of good there, a lot of good, but there was one thing that irked me tremendously and it’s very idiosyncratic, which was one of the characteristics was that there was a world in that particular story where human beings had evolved to have fingers that were effectively sausages. the trouble,
that’s actually not possible. There are no universities where that can happen and it’s important, right. Just because we can imagine it doesn’t mean it’s actually part of the, of real possibility. It’s kind of interesting. And this says, okay, there are actually constraints in what we can and can’t do. And it’s important to notice those constraints and in some sense, very empowering because then that allows us to simplify the choices we’re making as best as possible in alignment with what those constraints of reality happened to be.
That’s another aspect, another characteristic of what we’re talking about. So, you know, the framing that, that I brought up in the context of language game A and game B, which was, I think how we actually ended up you becoming aware of me. Tries to think about those kinds of things. Right? So the notion of game B is saying, Hey, in the context of what’s really possible, what might it look like for us to endeavor, to collaborate together, noticing how we’re limited by our own frames and traumas and habits and noticing how we’re struggling against a structured.
External sort of institutional forces that have profound implications for everything. So we need to change this. We also need to changes in ways that are real, both in terms of our capacity to change. And in terms of the destination, like to get to, and in order to be able to do those sorts of things, we’re going to have to collectively heal, heal ourselves and heal our relationships.
So that’s sort of the, a metal frame. So you’ve got four different elements there. So I suppose maybe now what I’ll do is a love the ping pong ball back into your court, but would you, what feels like the right thing to focus on?
Duncan Autrey: Yeah, one of the things that I mean, I appreciate, first of all, you just naming of like, you know, foreground and background and just like, what are we focusing on? What are we not? And also this distinction about what’s possible. That’s not impossible.
I mean, it’s a funny example that you’re giving, but we live in a univers of infinite possibilities, but it doesn’t mean Everything is possible. There’s a finite amount of options and sausage fingers are not one of them. But I’m gonna actually pick up on your thread about collaboration and I’ve heard you talk about game B. I think in like some Jim red interview like years ago, but, the you know, it’s like, how do we create like a hyper collaborative world? I mean, like how do we really get collaborative? And and it seems like we’re not. A lot of the people I hear talking about this, don’t seem to be aware that we have a lot of collaborative tools, but yet that still runs up against the frame of like what’s actually possible and what’s not possible and I’m in agreement about this idea that, that healing is kind of one of these core things that is gonna have to somehow be part of the package.
So I guess I just want to hear your thinking about what’s possible and not possible around collaboration and what are you seeing around our society, as we’re trying to figure out how to collaborate.
Jordan Hall: Well maybe the first thing I would, I would put out there is something like, when timing, timing is very relevant. The Hawaiian would say something like in the, in the term Pono includes the notion of order of operations or sequence, right? So I can say it is certainly possible that a woman can give birth to a child.
However, in order for that to happen first, she has to be pregnant. So we noticed that there’s there’s constraints on possibility having to do with things like sequence and causal relationships over time, things like that. So it’s important to say, okay, where are we now? And what’s possible right now. Okay, nice.
That’s the thing we can talk about. What are the adjacent possibilities? What are the, what are the paths? And then we can have a sense of what John has called for me. The imaginal as distinct from the imaginary, which is how far can we extend that adjacency in practicality? Well, so this is an example.
I am only ever so moderately skillful in carpentry and plumbing, and I have some skill, but not much, which means that my capacity to really imagine the imaginal space articulate a possibility let’s Hey, I want to do plumbing for a house. That’s actually imaginary. It’s bullshit. And making it up. I don’t really know what I’m doing.
I’m going to fuck it up a big way. I can imagine I can in the imaginal space as a certain possibility. Now I also have a very long life history of a certain level of competence. So if I accept the fact that I can learn while I’m doing it, may fuck it up a lot, but eventually I’ll get there. Yes, that’s possible.
Am getting there cleanly and smoothly under budget on time. Definitely not possible. Okay, nice. This gives us a shaping of how these things work. You can pick any metaphor you want. Plumbing came up for me, carpentry initially. Okay. So that’s piece of the piece of the answer is to say, okay, we need to think about things like sequence.
Alright, constraints, humans. Here’s what I would say. Ordinary humans, the homo sapiens are extraordinarily capable at collaboration. I would say three orders of magnitude more than is commonplace among contemporary. Civilized humans. And I mean that I’m using that term both as a particular term and also as a sort of pejorative.
And there’s a whole lot of reasons why that is, and it may be the way be much larger than three orders of magnitude. That’s a lot, by the way, that’s a huge enough, particularly because it has a high exponent In combinations. Yeah. Two people collaborating a thousand X, three people collaborating is more right.
It has the whole synergy thing.
So the, the, the we’ll call the practical possibility or the imaginable possibility of what could be where we to restore or regenerate. native capacity for collaboration is very large, quite significant. And I can give lots of historical examples of circumstances where small increases.
Small recoveries of collaborative capacity have developed enormous shifts in, was actually occurred. So now I’m bringing up two different things. One has to do with what’s in the way, and how do we find ourselves in this circumstance? So what does it mean for us to unwind? I’ll be the determined part is actually on fuck that entire thing.
And then the other is what does this sort of native capacity. And what does it look like to sort of bring that back to regenerate that, and then maybe the third would be something like, okay, what else is there that isn’t just pure natural homo-sapiens that we do really need to be thinking about in terms of really hitting the note?
I would say trivializing that if we were able to achieve something like a. Couple of hundred thousand people collaborating in an ordinary human level in the contemporary environment will be more than enough actual applied capacity to resolve the complete set of hyper objects facing humanity at the moment, and would almost certainly get us out to being a full earth species. And I mean, I can just define what I mean by that and quite plausibly full soul or the solar system species. Okay. So that’s as a statement,
Duncan Autrey: Great. This is I’m loving where this is going. So, the and let’s kind of take then like a little bit like 1, 2, 3. So first I’d love for you to unpack this like possibility space, you know, like in your ideal world, like where would you like to see us going?
And this idea of like this whole, whole earth, I wanna hear more about this whole earth species. And and then we can talk a bit about some of the challenges, like what are the obstacles to this right now? And then I think the third point you met, you talked about was like some, you know, adjacent possibilities or trajectories to get there.
And before you talk about the possibility, I’m gonna try to frame up my understanding of the meta crisis. Just in quick sentence here that I understand that part of what we see is the problem of the game, a culture is one that it is rival is, has rival dynamics So people are competing with each other.
Competing has a destructive capacity for consuming the planet which is increasingly happening and we’re have increasing technology. So we’re getting better and better and better at competing by eating up the planet. So this is kind of like our problem space. And so I heard you framing this like Yeah. If we can get like a hundred thousand people into a coherent collaborative conversation, we’ve been moving things a lot. So that’s like a north star of sorts. of an anti rivalry Tell me more about what that future looks like.
Jordan Hall: Well to be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time engaging in that kind of speculation.
my sense would be
I focus on my efforts on something like, could we get to 300 beyond that? It’s really not my responsibility. It’s the responsibility of whatever that 300 is. And what happens after that? It will be really nice.
I can tell you that it’s not, it’s the kind of things that actually bring bring back all the way back to the beginning of the conversation and we’ll have a beautifully interesting thing. People will begin to have a lot of clarity on what their value. They will have a real capacity in themselves and real support in their context to live their lives in accordance with their values.
We will discover that we can all do that, but that’s not a con there’s no conflict intrinsic in our living our lives. According to our values at all, there are conflicts intrinsic in the means that we choose to do so. And that requires that we be. And thoughtful about how we solve particular kinds of problems and that there is nothing intrinsic about humanity’s relationship with the natural world.
In fact that’d be destructive or extractive and quite the opposite. Humanity and technology can perfectly support. And hold a kind of a lived wholeness with the natural world and thereby be fully supported by the natural world. So these are all sort of propositions that I don’t make as true.
And. As all of these are simultaneously necessary for us to make it through anything like in good working order in the next century. And all of these are within the zone. What could accom occur if we were to achieve something like a a hundred thousand or a couple hundred thousand people in a coherent collaboration, then I would propose that they are quite likely to be characteristics of that sort of future.
It seems very likely what that looks like physical. Very hard to imagine, actually, because many of the imaginations that we have have been coded into us that aren’t really in alignment with a true wholesome future. There will be, kids will be healthy and loved and have access to the things they need to discover what they’re supposed to be doing in the world.
And old people will pass away deeply. And feeling extraordinary about the meaningfulness of the brief period of time that they had on earth. Most of life will simply be beautiful and relatively simple. And I don’t mean that even the slightest bit utopian, they can be beautiful and relatively simple.
That’s not a hard thing to accomplish. Most of it is about getting us on fucked and not about doing neat new things. Will it involve like bio ceramic, hovercrafts in you know, CIS lunar orbit, no idea. Maybe it sounds pretty somebody else’s vision that was in my head at some point and seemed not too bad.
Are there giant tree ships holding biospheres between the stars. that sounds fun to not vaguely in the zone of what I’m concerned with at the moment.
Duncan Autrey: It’s I just have to say one of the things, that’s this hundred thousand people. So I, when I went to grad school, I was DIPP and studying mediation and after learning mediation, I was in the learning dialogue processes.
And, you know, we can get up to a thousand people into a coherent conversation. And then, and so I was like, how do we scale it up? Well, what would it be like for a hundred thousand or a million, you know, or seven and a half billion, you know? And and I realized that. It, Nope. We’re gonna have to break ’em into smaller parts.
But in the last years there’s been some pretty interesting technologies that people who come up with, like some really great, like online platforms for people to be able to talk about what they wanna do with the park or whatever, and it can get 10 30,000 people interacting.
breaking in, aparts not necessarily a problem, one, cuz it gives us kind of more immediate control over the things that are impacting our lives. Right. And it’s actually, it’s bring it home, right. We don’t have to talk on a national level about what we’re doing in our school next door.
but the other Aspect of that is because all of these challenges are fractal in nature, the big picture has a bunch of self-similar parts within it. So there’s like all the conversations need to happen. Lots and lots of times anyways, so we can actually break it down in like the smaller parts and it becomes relevant to the larger system.
Especially if we tweaked the algorithms a bit that were of our thinking.
Jordan Hall: we can get people into what I would call narrow in terms of topic, in terms of let’s call it space. Obviously virtuality bends the nature of space,
but it’s still a space
in terms of time. And we can get, you know, we can get tens of thousands of people to meditate around
the world. Exactly the same time. And in that context, by the way, they are incoherence, the challenge is the whole of life will hold. That’s the challenge. I just meditating, not just chatting, not just talking about a topic, but actually fully living their complete capacity, always and making all of their choices from that place.
Literally evolving it and growing it from that place that. The tricky business.
Duncan Autrey: Yes. There’s like a little metaphor here with artificial intelligence That’s coming to mind, right. That we can have specific artificial intelligence it’s way smarter than a human and beat us such as every time. And And then we could have general artificial intelligence, so it can do the same thing as, a, as our own brain.
And then of course, that quickly skips into AR general artificial super intelligence, because they can think as much as a human and they have access to all the information and none of the boundaries of a brain, you know, then they can get super smart. And so. Right. So even though we can get like, just this weekend, I mean, it’d be.
Participating in a dialogue about what do we do about the county fairgrounds and this very specific city? There’s gonna be 150 people, and they’re all gonna be having a dialogue together and we’re using world cafe model. And, and but that’s those people talking about that topic. That’s not the same as that general. Coherence, right.
Jordan Hall: I’ll put a very particular one. They’re not ready to talk about what they should be talking about.
Even with three people it can get really tricky. In fact, in some sense in soluble, it’s a three body problem at the level of three people just agreeing.
And by the way, mutually, we agree here as a term of art
on what we should be talking about. Isn’t that. It’s, it’s not inside, but we saw that all the time, but it, it brings forth the actual complexity of the problem. I think it’s a real, really sticky issue, particularly if you’re, if it’s meaningful, but mysterious, right.
If the problem is meaningful, but how do I say finite and soluble in a non mysterious fashion? So let’s say the classic example here would be something like a very big puzzle. I got a 3000 or call it 10,000 piece puzzle. All right. It’s big, big problem. This is called a complicated problem, a very big problem.
But in principle, if we’re smart enough, we can actually put together a, exactly proper structure on how to solve that problem. It’s that kind of an epistemological issue, which means our challenge is essentially to figure out how to reach that. And then do it, but there are some problems that either it’s, it’s, it’s unknown, it’s just an unknown, whether that exists or it’s entirely plausible, that, that doesn’t, that isn’t part of the problem space.
It isn’t bounded in that fashion, it holds, for example, the simplicity of any problem where human agency changes the nature of the problem. By definition open can’t close it. We can’t something that doesn’t it up even further. So the point is, yes, this is this right here.
Very tricky business. Very challenging.
Duncan Autrey: thank you. Yeah, it brings to mind I’ve been just recently making like a series of videos about complexity and wicked problems. And just trying to explain, you know, what these are about and Yeah, it’s a very different thing. If there actually is a solution, right.
And and I I talk about this a lot, cause there’s this, we have chronic conflicts in our political world, whether guns or abortion or immigration, they’re gonna be around forever. We’re not gonna get, there’s not a final answer or whatever. And that’s the nature of a wicked problem is that there isn’t necessarily
one single answer, that’s gonna solve it. We’re not gonna get to the end. And also every tweak that you make or every response that you make changes the whole system and so with this fairgrounds example, they’re gonna decide, do they get rid of the fairgrounds or do they keep the fairgrounds?
And then if they decide to get rid of it, then they’re gonna figure out what to replace it with. And then that’ll, at least within our time, lifetime will be a finite answer and they’ll be able to be concrete Part of what we’re looking for then is how to be an ongoing dynamic collaborative relationship.
So this is wonderful, learned already so what are you seeing as some of the challenges to doing that? Like, I mean, obviously there’s inherent challenges with wicked problems and complex things.
Jordan Hall: Okay. Again, this will be a a not particularly prioritize list
or not the whole list, but here’s a few one. Both concepts and institutions like nations in schools are a complete waste of time. Meaning simultaneously neither can solve anything meaningful in the current moment and both almost entirely get in the way.
And yet almost everybody has a habit of mind tries to solve problems using those kinds of tools. That’s quite a wicked. So that’s an example. All right. So if I want to unwind that the sort of the meta problem, there is something like how does one become conscious of the implications of what I just said? And then what does it look like? Or how do we go about liberating our capacity for thinking about the world from the habits of mind that do things like import nations in schools as unconscious tools, how do we notice where those tools are? In fact inappropriate? To what degree are those tools appropriate or useful?
And how do we actually begin to develop and innovate tools, institutions, processes, constructs, et cetera, that are in fact actually appropriate. Right? And that last piece is a very sharp edge because it means appropriate both in the context of the real problems we’re endeavoring to address. And in the context of the monopoly on resources, in mindset, out of the institutional structures that we’re just talking about having to separate from I, so it’s the, that’s a very nice clean example of that category.
I’ll give you another one. Thinking that the problem of thinking. So in the problem of thinking, we have a number of different channels. One is for the most part, the developmental environment that we’ve been put through has, has as a primary characteristic, an enormous reduction in our individual collective capacity to.
It almost perfectly teaches us not to think. A thing that I called simulated thinking it did inculcates a facility in capacity, and upregulates the use of that capacity. Similarly thinking both as a way that excludes our attention on thinking in many ways, even abuses our capacity to think.
All right. That’s one, two for the most part, the concept. That we endeavored to use to think are not very effective, the poor it’s okay. I mean, the people who invented them were doing their best over long periods of time and a very particular local context, which we’re very far from, in addition, a how do I say this?
Right. A, a niche exists for fucking with us. And there are systems which I’ve named unconscious Egregores that. Have been exploiting that niche for a very long time. And so even to the degree to which the concepts that we’re using were born healthy and vital. In many cases, we’re operating with things that are the perfect inversion of those concepts, which not only confuses us, but separates us from effectiveness and capacity.
So we need to simultaneously liberate ourselves from simulated thinking, regenerate a capacity to think, and then very carefully pull concepts in front of us. Notice the degree to which they were ever useful at all. Dust them off, Polish them back up, bring them back into shape, or if necessary, throw them into the fire and build new concepts that are in fact responsive to our real environment.
A seriously non-trivial endeavor. Hey, I’ll give you a third. The clock is ticking. The actual reality is that we don’t have a whole lot of time. This isn’t a centuries long kind of effort, probably not a decades long kind of effort with hyper. We’re probably need to play a game where we buy time to buy time, to buy time.
It is simultaneously a multi-generational effort and one with immediate. Intensity and urgency it’s both are true and we are not going to solve the whole problem in a generation as far as I can tell.
Very unlikely, even if we begin to collaborate effectively there’s just a lot of unfucking to be done. Something like, you know, 15 to 30,000 years of stuff, that’s been pumped into our individual and collective unconscious and physics physiology for that matter. Certainly the structural environment that we happen to live in and Rome will not be unmated. you know, things are, the wheels are coming off the bus as we speak. And so keeping the ship of Thebes water worthy so that we can under-do the journey is a whole thing, right? So those are three distinct kinds of problems and they’re all the inter interrelate, as you might imagine. So there’s a decent bite to chew on.
Duncan Autrey: Yeah, that’s that excellent. Yeah, we have the structural issues. We have our models of thinking, and we have the fact that we have urge urgent need to figure it out really quickly.
Jordan Hall: So the notion is actually I think, quite powerful. The, the basic, the big picture to say evolution, right. Operates at the level of species.
Duncan Autrey: Right?
Jordan Hall: Not humans or ducks species, duck homosapien in the context of species, the fact that that species operated according to different sub-components is obvious, right?
An ant. The whole ant hill is a kind of organism, right? Aspens are not individually trees there. A whole collective organism humans, happy made up of lots of discrete discrete cells. They’ll show up as a single phenotype of individual, which is a sub unit of the species homo sapiens. Right. Okay. As it turns out, this operates also in the realm of human behaviors, there are structures that emerge that have.
Species like characteristics in what we can call culture space. Oftentimes we refer to these as institutions, for example, but they include things like save money, which is not really an institution in its simplest sense,
but broad sense. It certainly is, but say an institution like general motors, right.
Or the institution like the public school system or the institution of tech talk like this, we can slice and dice it all we want. The point is evolution actually operates in that context as well. And these kinds of institutions have a capacity to have a certain sense of self-interest. We use that term, right?
There’s a term that we use and I’m saying it’s real. It’s not, it’s not just a metaphor that the department of defense has a certain self-interest. That is not just the, self-interest not just the, some of the self interest of the individual humans that are. Kind of collected around it and it’s not just the corruption of a given defense contractor or the nobility of a given soldier.
It’s actually something going on there at the level of the DOD. There’s a real agent in the world. It’s a very unusual intelligence action because it has an enormous number of human beings. They’re acting kind of like it’s ants in his anthill. It’s only getting a small fraction of their total agency.
So it’s like a an Intel is quite nice metaphor. And if you poke an anthill response in a particular fashion, it has a capacity to perceive threat to itself and the capacity to respond to threat to itself. So this kind of an object, which I’m just using the term egregore, because it seems ready to hand it isn’t too bad.
As far as I can tell is one of the primary agents in our. These days the most humans are because of this previous issue operating according to simulated thinking are largely operating in as, as a result of short-term incentive landscapes and relatively received habits and constructs, meaning. The embodiment, the actual physical body of an egregore, our incentive landscapes and ideological frameworks, example. so to degree to which a human is making their local choices or less on the basis of their local incentive landscapes and some set of prefab constructs that are not necessarily at all theirs and not in the frame of thinking, acting as an agent of an egregore, not as a human in that, in the more fundamental sense.
Duncan Autrey: Wow. Oh, wow. that’s a important distinction. I think it’s in a lot of different ways. It’s very easy to identify like, okay, this is the person causing this problem, all the different conspiracies and different kinds of things that are going on. And I’m like, honestly, I can explain a lot of the things that I see happening in our world, just by saying, people are following a Ancor in a way, like they’re following a certain line of thinking capitalism’s making it beneficial for these people, not to care about this.
People are, you know, there’s a lot of different things that can just be explained by the fact that there’s. Bigger forces at play that are causing us to think in certain ways. So knows. I appreciate the distinction. I I wanna bring us into a question that’s, that’s kind of a risen for me, But’s also one that but since we’ve been talking You mentioned at the beginning about that kind of level of healing.
And so we have on institutional changes, we have cultural changes. We have big level things, but then there’s also the individual personal capacity and desire to want to be in this best next world and better world, or to be in a collaborative space and to wanna be in coherence and to, wanna, and then.
There’s the opening to the desire and then there’s actually even the capacity anyway. So I wanted, I’d be interested to hear what your thoughts are about I don’t know, the challenges and opportunities around like that personal healing or you know, any of your thoughts on this topic?
Jordan Hall: Well, the first thing that really comes to me is, is something like, forgive me.
So, let me lay out the, I said earlier that the notion of ordinary human capacity, but let me then lay out ordinary human context. And if your heart sinks upon hearing that this may be a very reasonable response, but an ordinary human is born into a context where they are actually surrounded by other humans who live.
That’s an ordinary human context, and all the different kinds of humans, more or less they’ll have cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents and, and many different kinds of friends of different ages. And there’ll be taught how to navigate their relationships with other humans from the very beginning in a place of deep caring.
And their, their physical environment will be something to which they are well-suited and to which their culture is well adapted will be easy, but perhaps it’s better than easy, easiest, not necessarily healthy. And they’ll have an enormous continuous relationship with nature, which is a great teacher as opposed to saying machines, which aren’t particularly good teachers. And almost nothing in their local environment will be oriented towards things like violating their own sense of integrity or manipulating them because it’s not at all of any interest to the group that the individual is destabilized. A true human group is deeply invested in the full competence, capacity, maturity, and wellbeing of each individual and real human group.
You have to go back a long way to be talking about real human groups, but it’s the baseline from which we emerged. So we’re very, very, very, very, very, very far from that, even in our best circumstances. And so we should be in a space of forgiveness. Much of the trouble is how very far away we are from simple contexts that would support us as being just natural humans.
And we do our best to respond to that. I mentioned that’s very confusing. I pointed to the notion of. I mean, think about how much of our lives, how many signals we get from such an early age that teaches us not to be in integrity with ourselves. And our body tells us Hmm, not good and big chunks of our environment.
Tell us do it anyway. Or even no, don’t listen to yourself. Is. And we get confused and we get addled and we get on the road to addiction. We’re addicted like crazy, all over the place in every direction. quite monstrous heartbreaking quite daunting. you drink deeply of that, can be quite difficult to even believe there’s any possibility of hope.
Duncan Autrey: Yeah, I really enjoy how you’ve explained human context, healthy human context will look like and and how far we are from that. And you mentioned forgiveness. And I actually I consider forgiveness to be like the core problem, right.
Or the core. It’s not the problem It’s the, the lack of forgiveness in our society, So part I think what I’m hearing you say is that, you know, in a world. Where really far off from our natural, like our our best state. And that we’ve been off for a long time in order to bring it back. We have to be able to recognize while we’re off track and in order to, to really be able to face that we have to be able to be able to forgive ourselves for getting off track.
Is that the context in which you’re talking about forgiveness?
Jordan Hall: Yes. Very
much so as
individuals, for us to figure out, figure ourselves and forgive others, say, okay, we introduced this forgiveness, which by the way, does not mean licensed to do stupid things obviously means, okay. The, the Hawaiian is quite nice. They have the, the whole. It’s a more like commitment even than forgiveness, whereas,
okay. We’re going to enter into a space of deep forgiveness, but glued to that space, like intrinsic to the space is even deeper commitment. You’ve been liberated to actually commit by virtue, forgiveness, almost forgiveness as a responsible. Very powerful, I think quite appropriate. And this goes back to the notion of confusion.
Like these things all come together. It’s a whole thing fake and take parts of it.
Can’t do this without also taking the responsibility. Then of course, proper responsibility and many people take the responsibility. In properly, right? It’s not your responsibility to take on the whole world. It’s not how it works.
You’ve got whatever piece is yours. And it’s probably a pretty small piece because the world’s real big. And you know, who knows what it is right now, maybe it’s to, you know, shift some small relationship of addiction into a slightly less traumatic addiction. You know, learn how to, like I said, how to just pay attention to the things you care about a little bit better, like, like tiny things.
The good news is okay. We had a concept, anti rivalrous,
all of those are anti rivalrous.
Duncan Autrey: Anti rival risk, not just with others, but like it’s part of like finding the anti rival ness With ourselves and with our past, and then with the, and with our future, with our present, you know? Yeah.
Jordan Hall: Yeah, the notion of fractals.
All right. Any given every, any given individual is of course a society in any given society is of course made up of individuals. And so the anti rivalrous above, so below all the way down to the micro-cosmic limit into the macro cosmic, limit it as a whole. And it is a whole made up of holons, I hate to use those are the terms that are available to them.
Duncan Autrey: Yeah, thank God for living in these days. When we have these terms, I actually, it strikes me that we live in a time where, We’re the first civilization that knows that we could be we’re at the precipice and that civilizations can collapse. And we have all the information that we ever could possibly need about our history.
and, And we actually have all the solutions and it’s interesting to see pull it together.
Jordan Hall: And we’ll definitely be a very interesting story to people.
Duncan Autrey: yeah, Yeah. it’s. I thought about when that there was like that alignment of like Jupiter and Saturn. The solstice star from like young, last year, or two years ago. And it’s gonna happen again in 80 years. And I remember thinking, okay, so 80 years, well, our PE people watching this star are gonna be remembering this happen in 2020.
And they’re either gonna be like, Wow. Those people really pulled it off. Thank goodness we’re living in pretty good life right now, or relatively good, or they’re gonna be like what a bunch of assholes. Didn’t even try to save Didn’t even pull us back from the brink you know, we’ll know. We’ll know pretty soon I think
Well thank you Jordan, for your time today. And doing some actual, real thinking with me this has been helpful Yeah.
About this episode’s guest
Jordan Hall is the co-founder and executive chair of Neurohacker Collective, a groundbreaking supplements company based on complex systems science.
Jordan is a person who is endeavoring to support the emergence of a possible, maybe plausible but definitely necessary transition in the culture of humanity. This effort is something that he cultivates in himself, in his relationships and in the world around him.
He is one of the originators of the idea of Game B, an infinite civilizational game where the goal is to continue playing. Game B is in contrast to our status quo Game A civilization, which is a finite game where the goal is to win.
A Selection of Podcasts with Jordan Hall
Future Thinkers Podcast
Modern Wisdom Podcast
Omni-Win Project Content
Here are some podcast episodes related to the conversation in today’s episode:
- “Integrating Wisdom & Finding Meaning” with Jeremy Lent (Fractal Friends, 2020)
- “How Can We Make Dialogue More Attractive And Accessible?” Thinking Together with Olga Liapis-Muzzy (Omni-Win Project Podcast, 2022)
Videos & Essays
On the Survival of Humanity
On Game B and Anti-Rivalry
Topics Discussed in Episode
“Game B is notoriously difficult to think and talk about for the very good reason that if you were using the conceptual structures that came out of Game A to do so, you may very well be poisoning the well.” – Jordan Hall
Game B is a memetic tag that aggregates a myriad of visions, projects and experiments that model potential future civilisational forms. The flag on the hill for Game B is an anti-fragile, scalable, increasingly omni-win-win civilisation. This is distinct from our current rivalrous Game A civilisation that is replete with destructive externalities and power asymmetries that produce existential risk. Yet Game B is not a prescriptive ideology (or an ideology at all): while the eyes of Game B players may be fixed on the same flag, the hills are multitudes and the flag sits atop each, and no player individually is equipped to map a route in advance.
Here are some different constructions that point to Game B:
- Game B is the flag on the hill for an omni-win civilization that maximizes human flourishing.
- Game B is the environment that maximizes collective intelligence, collaboration, and increasing omni-consideration.
- Game B is building or developing the capacity to navigate complexity without resorting to complicated systems.
- Game B is establishing coherence within complex systems.
- Game B is a meta-protocol for hyper-collaboration.
- Game B is the infinite game where the purpose is to continue playing. Game A is the finite game where the purpose is to win.
- Game B is the theoretically optimal condition for creative collaboration and, thus, for maximal innovation.
- Game B must orient its primary innovation capacity towards cultivating individual and collective sovereignty. It must foster awareness of how choices show up and are decided, more than it augments individual and collective power.
- Game B is a new mode of societal, economic, and political organization that leverages people’s authentic, long-term interests towards a healthier, more cooperative society and improved well-being. A Game B system is any cooperative, mutually-beneficial system that can outcompete exploitative, adversarial systems through manifest appeal and willful, voluntary participation.
Join the ongoing Game B movement here: game-b.org
This article by Jim Rutt offers a detailed story of Game B: A Journey To GameB
Here’s “An Introduction to Game B “
These films and podcast episodes provide an excellent introduction to Game B:
These articles provide a good review of the meta crisis:
- “We Can No Longer Save The World By Playing By The Rules”by Tomas Björkman
- “How To Think About The Meta-Crisis Without Getting Too Excited” by Jonathan Rowson
- “Understanding the Meta Crisis” by Andrew Sweeny
- “Comparing Approaches to Addressing the Meta-Crisis” by Brandon Norgaard
The Search for Large-Scale Collaborative Coherence
There are two approaches. 1) you can try to have a large scale comunication or 2) you can break the conversation down into smaller groups that are representative of the whole.
Here are a few of many examples:
Online Collaboration Platforms
“We provide best-in-class engagement technology, coupled with expert services that make big decisions easy. We combine fairness and collective intelligence to unlock the answers to hard, contentious problems.”
“we seek a world in which political agenda-setting power rests in the hands of the most inclusive possible set of engaged citizens and independent public servants, rather than in the hands of established factions, special interests, parties, and pundits.
We research, develop, support and maintain open tools and systems which leverage advanced mathematics and computation to enable novel processes of citizen driven decision making, public deliberation and participatory self governance.”
“Ho’oponopono” (pronounced HO-oh-Po-no-Po-no) is an ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness. It functions as both a communication concept for reconciliation and a tool for restoring self-love and balance.
It works like a mantra for self-love.
“I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you.”
In his blog Handwaving Freakoutery, BJ Campbell describes Egregores as “A bundle of indoctrinated beliefs that propagates through the new universe we call the internet” and “A group of people meditating on a concept gives rise to an avatar of that concept which then controls them as its tool.” and later as “bundles of evolving behavioral indoctrinations summoned like demons by a mindless cellphone zombie mob to rule that mob and dictate their actions.”
You can read those articles here: “Memespace Egregores and Google Maps”. Handwaving Freakoutery
“Memespace Egregores and Nuclear War”. Handwaving Freakoutery
This article by Daniel Townhead and Kenneth Florence (June 5, 2022) offers a thorough exploration of the topic:
This clip from “In Search of the Third Attractor, Daniel Schmachtenberger (part 2)” by Rebel Wisdom offers a great definition for egregores:
Here’s a full conversation about egregores on The Stoa:
About The Omni-Win Project
The Omni-Win Project is a multimedia effort to raise awareness of the myriad existing and emergent opportunities to improve our democracy and heal our political culture.
Our mission: facilitating the healing and evolution of our democratic systems and political culture, so that we can co-create a future that works for everyone.
Meet The Host
I am omnipartial: I am biased in favor of the success of everyone and the whole. I believe it is possible to improve systems of communication and interaction in ways that will allow humanity to thrive and evolve through our complexity and diversity.
My purpose in life is to support an omnipartial revolution. How? By helping the world understand the fractal nature of conflict and how we can transform conflict into a positive and inspiring experience. We are all in this together. I firmly believe we can do this complex dance through life with much more grace and beauty.
I am specifically committed to transforming how we work together in teams and organizations and how we experience conflict and collaboration in our democracy.
Fans of the Omni-Win project podcast will enjoy this collection of episodes: https://www.fractalfriends.us/transforming-politics about Transforming Politics and Healing Democracy