“The Starry Night”, Vincent van Gogh, 1889
If Nobel Prize winner Albert Szent-Gyorgyi was precise in defining brain as “… another organ of survival, like fangs, or claws” that “does not search for truth, but for advantage, and … tries to make us accept as truth what only self-interest is allowing our thoughts to be dominated by our desires”, then its decisions on where do we go and what we do, determine the interplay of both existentialist and behavioral sides of our existence through a very simple command: Chase Values!
Some values that are important to us, we have for free from Nature. Most of our dearest things, however are related to or made by people.
Civilizational Value is a physical or non-material product of human activity that has the capacity by itself, or aggregated with other civilizational or natural values, to be recognized by other humans as a potential source to accomplish one or more self-interest components. In economic terms, an entity incorporating civilizational and natural values, can appear on the market in the form of goods or service.
As an example, let’s follow 15 minutes of your routine morning: your croissant for breakfast incorporates pieces of civilizational values such as farmers cultivating land, harvest of crops, mill, transportation, baking, etc; in a similar way – through a chain of pieces of civilizational value, your coffee comes on your table. And while sipping your hot espresso, you check news and mail on your smart phone – with Van Gogh’s ”Starry Night” selected for the background picture. Did you know that the handset only is a product that incorporates several hundred pieces of civilizational values in the form of patents? The 4G telecommunications connectivity you need to reach internet servers with your smart phone, functions on another set of 80 000 active patents. And that does not include other many thousands of civilizational value pieces: such as already expired patents, or previous inventions and discoveries. You would definitely agree that your smart phone would not exist if William Gilbert had not discovered electricity in year 1600. While having breakfast, you are keeping an eye also on the TV – a different set of many more tens of thousands civilizational value pieces. You switch that off, and head to your car, that represents yet another set of tens of thousands civilizational value pieces. In reality, for those 15 minutes you might have consumed close to million pieces of civilizational value, each of them designed or manufactured by one or more human beings.
Just think about it: If we take for granted that Happiness is the momentary measure of self-interest, then one million people or teams of people, who lived in different centuries of human history, have worked hard to make you happy and feel comfortable in that 15 minutes of your routine morning! And very importantly – by your personal preferences and definitions of happiness and comfort!
No matter if a finalized civilizational value is a direct outcome of human activity, or was made by a robot that was made by a robotic plant that has been designed by humans, ultimately, humans only can be the source of any civilizational value. The greater the numbers of healthy and well educated people who enjoy high life standards and have successful careers, the higher the total output of civilizational values generated globally. And because civilizational values are what essentially has the capacity to serve our individual self-interest and make us happy, everything what we tend to categorize as “altruism” is, in reality, based on plain egoism.
Civilizational values cannot be measured by money. Otherwise, it would be impossible to explain why Van Gogh died penniless, after he painted more than 900 pictures with some of them, like your favourite ”Starry Night”, are worth each well over 100 million dollars? And how does that compare with John Smith, who made a few millions on the stock market: he has done for you what?
It all means one thing: Time has come to design the metrics that provide quantifiable assessment of civilizational values.
Today Big Data processing practically enables analysing the market information about who of us, (7.4 billions of people on the planet), likes what, and that will have two major cognitive (and not only) consequences:
First, Artificial Intelligence Deep Learning already is in position to peel off the layers of each complex product conglomerate of civilizational values and to reach the frequency and the multiplicated usage of every civilizational value piece ever generated in human history; then AI can measure, in exact figures – in CiVal units, the overall contribution of that particular piece of civilizational value to the advancement of human civiliztion.
And second: by composing a trustable algorithm to attach each piece of civilizational value, as indexed in the above method, to its creator – we can design, for the first time in human history, a precisely calculated quantitative assessment of how great minds of Humankind – both from history and our contemporaries, have contributed to the long-term wellbeing of our human race. Are you not curious to see the Civilizational Ratings of Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein, Mozart or Archimedes? Or that of Elon Musk?
That will change a range of attitudes and decision-making processes: from the way people sitting in the Nobel Prize Committee and institutions vote, to news media editors-in-chief deciding who to publish on the front page.
But most importantly, Civilizational Value Rating will change individual and public perception about not what, but who is really important to Your Life.
For, if we don’t hold in our hand the compass of humanity’s basic values, how can we live confident, that we are walking our singular mile of human civilization’s long way, in the right direction?