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The Greed Gene


Evolution has provided many species including human with a greed gene.

The greed gene is essential to ensure optimal functioning within a biological evolved entity, to store energy. To understand the greed gene I could explain it in terms of cellular biology but there is an easier way. It is well understood and recognized that similar patterns are reflected throughout the universe, in many aspect and at many level of magnitude. So to observe and understand the process of the evolution of the greed gene, you need only look at the evolution of human society.

Way back, the basic unit of life, from which humans evolved, provided all their requirement unilaterally.

Then slowly, through evolution, organelle developed to specialize in function delivery. These organelle provided additional benefits to the unit.

Like most things though, to gain something you usually have to give up something and so organelle in developing specialities gave up there capacity for independent survival. For example when your heart dies, (without delegation of it's function) so does your brain.

Some examples of specialized cell and organs are, the stomach and bowel for energy processing and fat cells for storage.

The next stage of specialisation occurred when the program extended to the external environment of a single organism and developed into a symbioses at the macro level, thus replicating the process that had been evolving over thousands of millions of years.

The first major step in the external environment, in the development of humans, was the evolution of sex (male and female).

The next big step was the developments of single ‘family’ units and just as in was with the evolution of cells way back, each 'family unit' provided all their requirement in-house, so to speak.

Then families units began to co-operatively work as groups.

These groups provided additional benefits to each individual 'family' unit.

Not only were there benefits in a horizontal sense (such as security and food gathering) but also in a vertical sense (such as providing for tasks to be undertaken by a member of the group who could best perform them).

A social examples of horizontal is a lookout while you graze and vertical is the strongest as a warriors.

I reiterate, to gain something you usually have to give up something and the better you are at what you specialize in, the more likely you are to be hopeless, at almost everything else.

However in all circumstances where benefits outweigh the risks, the adoption of the benefiting behaviour is inevitable.

The demonstration of the evolution of specialization, is most pronounced in the human species at this point in time. Currently within one generation, we now have specialists in just a portions of what a specialist, of the previous generation, covered as their entire field.

FOR EXAMPLE. Try fixing a 2016 car (the most modern form of independent personal transport). Less than 0.001% of it's owners can fix it's mechanical problems. In 1860's, 98% of personal transport owner could fix any problem for their 'most modern' form of independent mechanical transport - the push bike.

But specialization is only Part A of the story of the greed gene.

Part B starts with an understanding, easiest explained by another example, this time more modern, that there is absolutely no sense in developing computer hardware if you do not have the software to drive it.

Which in evolutionary biology terms means there is absolutely no sense in developing specialised storage cells for energy if you don't have a software program that ensures they are fully utilized.

So the greed gene program evolved.

The function of this gene is to drives an organism to harvest from its environment the maximum amount of resources of energy that are available and do so by optimising the use of their stomach (processor) and fat storage cells (products).

When this optimization is achieved the organism’s software program (if functioning without defect) would send a message to the brain telling it that the processor was full of 'product' and the activity of harvesting should cease until more, on-board storage capacity became available.

This, get all you can, while you can, greed gene program was essential to our capacity to endure - because we lived in variable environment where survival depended on an organism 'making hay while the sun shines', thus equipping us to endure the periods of energy droughts

Now we don’t know when the 2nd most profound development (off site storage ) occurred in the history of the evolution of the human species but probably some where in the last 500,000 years.

Until then there was no real capability and therefore no rational incentive to drive the facility to store 'off-site' - so to speak.

Next: We don’t know when the 3rd most profound development (tool use) occurred in the history of the evolution of the human species but probably some where in the last 100,000 years.   

Up to that event, the Hominids , like millions of other species, would only harvest energy using the anatomical attributes of the independent unit. - But Tools did two things

Now Hominids could be aided with :

  • energy harvesting; and
  • capacity to develop off-site storage capability.

These advancement was sponsored by the greed gene.

This process continued to evolved and by about 20,000 years ago the human species had refined the capacity to not only manipulate existing food supplies by modifying the environment to favour the proliferation of advantageous food species, both plant and animal but developed, with the aid of tools, the capacity to construct storage units and systems for their the off-site energy stores.

The impact of this development was to allow the greed gene to be now expressed in such a fashion that satisfaction of the internal storage facilities was no longer the mechanism by which the human drive for accumulation of life supporting energy was regulated, but by this new external capability and capacity.

Energy, in the source of food, could be harvested, treated and stored in quantities several thousand time the capacity of the internal systems. The termination point for expression of the gene activity was now relocated to the availability of external resources, their off site storage capacity and importantly, the durability nature of these resource.

Although we know the day when the first human ventured into space, we don’t even know the century when the first human developed, the most profound event that would shape the long term stainability of the human species, - "currency" .

Until the invention of currency, the expression of the greed gene was regulated by the long term physical restriction placed by the viability of the energy resource, produced and stored.

While this resource also represented "money" it was money of the perishable type. and not multilaterally tradeable.

For Example: Accumulating a million tonnes of Mammoth meat in rock walled building was not a stimulatory activity if the resource would:

  • inevitably expire before it could be consumed; and
  • only tradeable to people desiring Mammoth meat.

However currency, for the first time in the history of this planet, provided a species with the capacity to convert perishable energy resource into a non-perishable product.

Currency also brought with it another characteristic which is based on statement that 'size does matter'. 1,000,000 tonnes of mammoth meat would require a huge storage repository. The equivalent value in currency might require less than 1/10,000 of that volume.

Couple this with a software program that had evolved over a massive period of time, in a self limiting environment, which had no fail-safe or contingency code to cater for this previously un-encountered phenomena (tools and currency) and you are in for a wild ride.

Overlay this with the capacity for currency to became more and more compact as the "chosen token" changed from metal to fibre through plastic to now cyber [locked safely (illusionary) in a secure vault] and the possibility of reaching the control trigger of "FULL" grew ever more and more remote, resulting in a totally unregulated and continuous drive to acquire.

So like the wizard's wand, the program keeps faithfully feeding the drive instruction to the biological entity to accumulate resource until the storage capacity, feed back loop flashed -“FULL

But like a black hole, the greed gene relentiously now drives on in an ever growing fervor to acquire energy based money, leading to a larger and more energetic entity that in turn expands the capacity to acquire ever more energy and growing even more in consumption capability, with only one possible control - collapse.    

Now you would be reasonable and correct to challenge me about my view on this DNA based behaviour and that that this is nothing but wild speculation. However I am very fortunate to have lived 70 years and to have had a front seat in the evolution of a lot of tools during that period of time and have observed how humans have behaved in response to those events and facilities.

I was born into a working-class family in a small provincial coastal town in Queensland three years after the end of World War 2.

By modern standards we were extremely poor but then we were just typical working class. My dad was a labourer on the wharfs loading bags of sugar onto coastal shipping and my mum was a stayhomer - looking after the house and the family.

We used a ice chest as a means of preserving food because we could not afford the cost to buy and run a modern kerosene fridge and an electric fridges cost the equivalent of 12 weeks gross income to the family - making it absolutely totally unaffordable.

Like 80% of the people in our area we got by with a large veggie garden, chooks and being in a coastal city, harvesting copious amounts of protein from the ocean.

I jokingly tell my grandchildren that we were so poor all we could eat was crabs, prawns, barramundi, coral trout, crayfish, hormone free meat and organic fruit and vegetables.

My point -The ocean bounded with produce. Machines had not yet been invented to manufacture cast fishing nets and so we meshed all our nets by hand. When fishing either by hand-line or net we could easily fill a basket with enough fish for the week within one hour.

But an ice chest would not keep produce viable for a week. In fact, three days was the maximum stretch with dry ice assistance, so it was always our practice to harvest no more than 3 days supply. Fish resources were so bountiful that it was impossible to sell your surplus in fact often if we got a greater catch in a net than we could utilise it was very difficult just to give them a away.

My point - We (and I mean all the people like us that lived in our area) never took more than we could practically and sensibly store or redeem.

But within 10 years the deep freeze had not only been invented but the manufacturing costs had tumbled and a large deep freeze cost only one week's wages and the power costs were incredibly small.

So - just like us, everybody else who lived like us, now harvested increased amounts of produce and would process and pack the produce into the deep freeze for use when the seasonal run of the species had long passed.

My point? Again - the greed gene works in operation with the entire program that moderates behaviour of the organism. It sits at the table of the meeting of the board of directors along with intellectual and cognitive capacity. It does not operate in a vacuum.

Once the Corporation of "you" knows what CAN be done the greed gene will argue strenuously what MUST be done and with a lineage going back a hell of a long way, it has a powerful voting weight at the meeting.

This process underpins the massive accumulation of wealth, firstly in individuals and more recently in Corporation, of which Google and Facebook are but two of the more famous and recent examples of the tens of thousands that have developed.