Flourishing of the Playful

We are confident that we are the product of successful replicators be they biological or cultural. Within this framework we use shorthands that deceive us such as selfish genes or even survival of the fittest. Here we try an alternative formulation.

No one puts a message in a bottle expecting a reply. To do so is a playful act engaging the imagination as one wonders where the message might land. Similarly tossed into the universe, the Pioneer plaques are a pair of gold-anodized aluminum plaques placed on the spacecraft in case either probe were to be intercepted by intelligent extraterrestrial life. Wonderful indeed. wikipedia

It is easy to delight when a simple program exhibits unexpectedly complex behavior. WWII code breaker Alan Turing founded multiple disciplines based solely on his own curiosity. Less known are chemical pattern formation and computer music. post post

From outer space to cyberspace it is easy to think of recognized pioneers as somehow special in their motivation and accomplishment. This is to misunderstand success in a complex environment. We understand intuitively that an animal population must be largely fit to survive. In the same way our species must be largely playful if we are to flourish in this century.