20 Years Ago

Photo Credit: Lars Mulder

20 years ago today several planes were used as weapons, while one was not. The passengers and crew of United Flight 93 had two essential advantages which the others didn’t. They had knowledge of the situation, and they acted as a collective.

People tend to hyper-focus on the emotionally manipulative triggers intentionally circulated on this anniversary, and no doubt the 20-year anniversary will only offer more of the same. However, emotional manipulation has done a far better job of destroying the US over the past 20 years than a handful of Saudi citizens with box cutters ever could.

Nearly 3,000 US citizens were killed as a result of these attacks, with the two wars (waged against the wrong countries) in turn producing between 200 and 300 thousand local civilian deaths, likely undercounted (Iraq)(Afghanistan). These wars also produced more than 3,000 US soldier deaths, along with countless more left disabled and mentally traumatized. That also doesn’t account for the massive financial cost of waging extended and pointless wars.

Most people can agree that this was a bad idea, for any number and combination of reasons, but most still haven’t learned the lesson that United Flight 93 died to teach.

Collective superintelligence can naturally occur in rare situations, where a group overcomes obstacles none of the individuals in that group could alone, and in this case having the right knowledge and common ground was all that it required. However, we aren’t limited to naturally occurring events any more than we need a lightning strike to start a fire for cooking a meal, this process could be the norm, rather than the exception.

Though the field of Collective Intelligence is fairly new, with research largely emerging in the past two decades, well-known institutions such as MIT have already devoted considerable resources to the study of it. When groups learn to act as collectives they tap into an immense potential, and when such potential is tapped at scale it may quickly transform society.

When such a collective is given the information they need to make an informed decision then the course of events may change significantly.

We’ve seen the alternative to collective intelligence, mob mentalities easily manipulated by misinformation, rioting, and assaulting the US capitol. We’ve seen the “shadow docket” rapidly dispelling the illusion of a US legal system. We’ve seen the US slowly imploding as most of the population now seems to embrace one or more conspiracy theories as part of their own alternative reality. We’ve had our fill of “Security Theater” from the TSA:

If you don’t like what the last 20 years have become, don’t make the next 20 years more of the same.

If you respect the dead, then learn from them.

 

 

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