Saturday, December 1, 2007

A New Dominant Life Form?

Whales and dolphins aside, humans have long considered themselves the dominant life form on the planet. But is this really still the case?

In the insect world, which of course has outlived humans by eons, it is probably more realistic to see an ant colony or the bee hive as the actual living organism. Individuals in these species do not really count for much; instead it is the survival of the colony/hive that is paramount.

It may be worth considering that in the human world, with the advent of technology and particularly worldwide networks, that the dominant life form is now... the Corporation.

It could well be that human evolution, particularly in terms of survival of the fittest, has taken a turn toward the insect world and is embracing the colony/hive.

Think about an entity like AT&T -- it is more powerful than any amagam of humans or even most countries and other institutions like religions.

It is certainly committed to its own survival and will fight its enemies by whatever means necessary.

Occasionally, as in the case of Enron, a corporate entity may run afoul of its human subjects and be destroyed by the laws of its host country -- but particularly in the realm of multi-nationals, many corporations are above the law of any single country.

And let's face it, most humans who can participate in the output or growth of a corporation, as stockholders, revel in its power. Humans who are part of Microsoft, either as employees or stockholders (or both) may well have more allegiance to the company's priorities and are more vested in its survival than they may be in that of their actual physical community.

It may be time to re-evaluate the path of evolution, to the extent that we are still able to influence it one way or the other, or else the way of the hive may well be the way of our own future.

As we wrestle with these issues it may also be time to change the laws of at least this country to hold a company liable as a complete entity for its transgressions, instead of simply prosecuting its officers (or lower level managers). After all, even if the individuals responsible for wrong-doing are sent packing or jailed, the company in most cases will continue to flourish, and its shareholders will continue to reap rewards.

Another issue to consider is the power of corporations, as opposed to individuals, in shaping our laws through the use of bribes -- otherwise known as lobbying.

Influence peddling was bad enough when it was just the richest and strongest individuals who could throw their weight around. As we have seen from Halliburton to Exxon the corporate hives can do almost anything they want, and although their drones or even their officers can move on or be replaced, they continue to thrive and evolve as entities in their own right.