The Tragedy of the Commons & Collaborative Intelligence
Garrett Hardin’s insight visualized our current problem and stated it as a Hypothesis (Garrett Hardin, 1968): Competition for “survival of the fittest leads to the Tragedy of the Commons, where individual pursuit of advantage produces a poor outcome for all. Nearly fifty years later, we increasingly recognize that Hardin was prescient, that each agent pursuing his own self interest for survival of the fittest exploits shared resources to everyone’s detriment. We are poised to experience what Garrett Hardin predicted in 1968 would escalate into a “tragedy of the commons,” where competition for scarce resources and “survival of the fittest” could threaten the delicate balance of Earth’s ecosystems.
If our interpretation of evolution is incomplete, and Intelligent Design is a diversion, we need a third option. The Tragedy of the Commons creates the context that demands Collaborative Intelligence.
What Daedalus told Darwin questions assumptions we’ve taken for granted, suggesting that the Gaia Hypothesis, Synergetic Evolution and the New Economy offer an alternative perspective and that new tools and methods could now produce an “earthDECKS Game” addressing environmental sustainability challenges. We’ve embraced a misinterpretation of Darwinism that reflects back our own image, effectively explaining why life on Earth is heading toward “the Tragedy of the Commons.”
The metaphor of Social Darwinism is spent. The great competition for survival of the fittest, has led us to the brink of Garrett Hardin’s sobering prediction — “the tragedy of the commons.” Evolution’s brilliant reprise is Nature’s “world game,” which evolution has been playing all along to create our co-dependent biosphere. The Gaia Hypothesis recognized our whole biosphere as a supra-organism without explaining how it came to be that way. How did it come to be that way? And what are the implications of synergetic evolution for the future of life on Earth?
Current work to develop the meta•Discipline of Collaborative Intelligence via earthDECKS addresses our need for a third option.