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Disengaging from the ultrasocial economy: The challenge of directing evolutionary change

  • John Gowdy (a1) and Lisi Krall (a2)

We appreciate the depth and breadth of comments we received. They reflect the interdisciplinary challenge of our inquiry and reassured us of its broad interest. We believe that our target article and the criticisms, elaborations, and extensions of the commentators can be an important contribution to establishing human ultrasociality as a new field of social science inquiry. A few of the commentators questioned our definition of ultrasociality, and we begin our response with an elaboration of that definition and a defense of our argument that human ultrasociality began with agriculture. We then respond to the second major area of controversy, namely, our use of group selection to explain the economic drivers behind the agricultural transition. We then focus on the issue of human intentionality raised by the phenomenon of collective intelligence. The intriguing question is to what extent can an entire culture change its own destiny? We then address the issue of the division of labor raised by a number of commentators. The complex division of labor was both a driver and a defining characteristic of ultrasociality, even though it was present in simpler forms in earlier societies. The remaining issues addressed include energy and complexity, expansion and sustainability, and the accelerating evolution of human ultrasociality. These were raised by only a few commentators, but their importance warrants further elaboration.

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