Imagine a future where the most revolutionary changes in our world have not come from nanotech, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence or even space development–but from cognitive science and a deepening understanding of how humans function (or not) in groups. What would such a future look like?
We're all familiar–maybe too familiar–with one model of such a future; it's exemplified by stories like Brave New World and 1984. Those books were direct reactions to the last great cycle of research into human nature. That was the era when Freud seemed to have a true model of human nature, Marx a true model of economics (or not) and when eugenics still seemed like a good idea. (If you want to read an excellent horror/slipstream novel about eugenics run amok, try David Nickle's Eutopia, which is available from Chizine Press). These and related theories were used to justify the great 20th century human engineering efforts such as The Great Leap Forward, Soviet collectivization, and so on. The problem wasn't just that ended up being harnessed for evil purposes, but that they were wrong or incomplete. But what would a correct theory of human nature look like, combined with the principles of self-organization and collective intelligence that are emerging right now? What would a cogsci singularity look like?
–Karl Schroeder in http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2011/08/rewilding-etiquette.html