II. Planetary Prodigy: A Global Sapiensphere Learns by Her/His Self
C. Mindkind Sapiensphere: WorldWise Collective Intelligence
Dunbar, Robin, et al, eds. Social Brain, Distributed Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Volume 158 in the Proceedings of the British Academy of contributed papers from the “Lucy to Language Centenary Project.” The discourse follows the social brain hypothesis of Oxford University anthropologist Dunbar, whence hominid cerebration and group culture are seen to advance in tandem. Notable players such as Steven Mithen, Terrence Deacon, Dwight Read and others, consider this view from Neolithic times to the 21st century, and generally assume an encompassing societal mind and milieu beyond individual bodies. In all another take upon our transitional worldwide collaborative retrospective.
Dyson, George. Darwin Among the Machines. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1997. The evolution of intelligence is now manifest on a global plane through electronic communications, networked computers and technological culture. Dyson contends that if symbiosis is added to Darwinian theory then an emergent vector of mind is traced.
The introduction of distributed object-oriented programming languages (metalanguages, such as Java, that allow symbiogenesis to transcend the proprietary divisions between lower-level languages in use by different hosts) is enabling numerical symbioorganisms to roam, reproduce, and execute freely across the computational universe as a whole. (123)
Ebersbach, Anja, et al. Wiki: Web Collaboration. Berlin: Springer, 2008. An accessible entry to the nature and implementation in its many aspects of creative, user-interaction web sites and their informative content.
What we mean by the “wiki effect” is primarily the self-organization processes that can be observed in well-known and successful wiki projects. It is astounding that people will independently research, organize, write, and publish to provide the general public with a free service. (23)
Eden, Amnon, et al, eds. Singularity Hypotheses: A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment. Berlin: Springer, 2013. . In this Frontiers Collection edition, with co-editors Eric Steinhart, David Pearce and James Moor, philosophers of computation take on this nearing, looming technological takeover. Four Parts compose: A Singularity of Artificial Superintelligence, Concerns about Artificial Superintelligence, A Singularity of Posthuman Superintelligence, and Skepticisms. Cosmologist Eric Chaisson’s “A Singular Universe of Many Singularities: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context” is noted in Current Vistas. Typical papers are: “Why an Intelligence Explosion is Probable” by Richard Loosemore and Ben Goetzel, Eliezer Yudkowsky’s “Friendly Artificial Intelligence,” and The Biointelligence Intelligence” by David Pearce. For starters then, the chapters and commentaries are by 39 men and one woman (Diane Proudfoot, University of Canterbury, New Zealand), within a machine paradigm (or as John Horgan says “Geeks gone wild”). The very idea of or inquiry about a greater reality and creation of which everything and oneself is a phenomenon does not dawn, or seem admissible. A collection of opinions, sans any sense of a nascent noosphere coming to her/his own knowledge of an embryonic genesis cosmos. Although an immaterial (algorithmic) principle is broached, as long as abstractions persist with no narrative context, evolution runs from nothing to no one and nowhere.
Singularity Hypotheses: A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment offers authoritative, jargon-free essays and critical commentaries on accelerating technological progress and the notion of technological singularity. It focuses on conjectures about the intelligence explosion, transhumanism, and whole brain emulation. Recent years have seen a plethora of forecasts about the profound, disruptive impact that is likely to result from further progress in these areas. Many commentators however doubt the scientific rigor of these forecasts, rejecting them as speculative and unfounded. We therefore invited prominent computer scientists, physicists, philosophers, biologists, economists and other thinkers to assess the singularity hypotheses. Their contributions go beyond speculation, providing deep insights into the main issues and a balanced picture of the debate. (Publisher)
Engel, David and Thomas Malone. Integrated Information as a Metric for Group Interaction: Analyzing Human and Computer Groups Using a Technique Developed to Measure Consciousness. arXiv:1702.02462. We note this paper by MIT Center for Collective Intelligence scholars for its contribution, and as example of how this complex theory originally conceived by Giulio Tononi (search) to explain cerebral function is gaining broad popular acceptance. As it is here shown to likewise apply to smaller and larger social groupings, an implication would be that they too might possess a neural, cognitive faculty.
Researchers in many disciplines have previously used a variety of mathematical techniques for analyzing group interactions. Here we use a new metric for this purpose, called 'integrated information' or 'phi.' Phi was originally developed by neuroscientists as a measure of consciousness in brains, but it captures, in a single mathematical quantity, two properties that are important in many other kinds of groups as well: differentiated information and integration. Together, these results suggest that integrated information can be a useful way of characterizing a certain kind of interactional complexity that, at least sometimes, predicts group performance. In this sense, phi can be viewed as a potential metric of effective group collaboration. Since the metric was originally developed as a measure of consciousness, the results also raise intriguing questions about the conditions under which it might be useful to regard groups as having a kind of consciousness. (Abstract excerpts)
Falk, Emily and Danielle Bassett. Brain and Social Networks: Fundamental Building Blocks of Human Experience. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 21/9, 2017. University of Pennsylvania neuroscientists offer a nascent sense that personal brains and social discourse have much in common as both domains become quantified by the same interactive, multiplex webby essence. As a result, they could be studied in parallel as a common individual and public cogitation. With technical finesse, the integrative essay identifies deep similarities. But for this website, a further perception is that beyond brains and cultures, genomic, ecosystem, cosmic, quantomic, linguistic, and other areas are now found to have a cerebral-like character. See also Brain Connectivity Dynamics during Social Interaction Reflect Social Network Structure by Ralf Schmalzle, et al including Falk and Bassett in Proceedings of the national Academy of Sciences (114/5153, 2017).
How do brains shape social networks, and how do social ties shape the brain? Social networks are complex webs by which ideas spread among people. Brains comprise webs by which information is processed and transmitted among neural units. While brain activity and structure offer biological mechanisms for human behaviors, social networks offer external inducers or modulators of those behaviors. Together, these two axes represent fundamental contributors to human experience. Integrating foundational knowledge from social and developmental psychology and sociology on how individuals function within dyads, groups, and societies with recent advances in network neuroscience can offer new insights into both domains. Here, we use the example of how ideas and behaviors spread to illustrate the potential of multilayer network models. (Abstract)
Featherstone, Mike and Couze Venn.
Problematizing Global Knowledge and the New Encyclopedia Project.
Theory, Culture & Society.
An introduction to a large double issue on how to proceed with an egalitarian, on-going worldwide archive that transcends prior linear, western-centric biases. Surely a well intended, international effort with many papers collected under three headings: Metaconcepts (e.g. classification, language, complexity, body, aesthetics, network, life, culture), Metanarratives (civilization, religion, modernity, etc.), and Sites and Institutions (university, library, public sphere). But this postmodern endeavor seems to confound itself by a tacit denial that an encompassing, discoverable reality exists. Rather a rhizomatic, nomadic, (some of its dense jargon) or anarchic plurality is preferred. With a typical contributor ratio of men to women about 5 to 1, the very mental capacity to perceive common patterns and processes, to connect dots, seems is absent. An implicit consequence of a worldwide humankind coming to its own knowledge, the premise of this website, is not then accessible.
Finidori, Helene. Collective Intelligence is a Commons that Needs Protection and a Dedicated Language. Spanda Journal. Volume V/Issue 2, 2014. The author is an independent consultant for innovation, IT, education and social development who teaches Management and Leadership of Change at Staffordshire University. Similar to Pierre Levy in this issue she broaches how a planetary “pattern language,” akin to Christopher Alexander’s, could be evoked so as to heal, unite, salve and save a global body, brain, and spirit. We quote a paragraph where she cites the phenomenon of Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere, as a contrast to Francis Heylighen’s negation (search).
Collective intelligence arises, as a network of trust, from the empathy, the love and the compassion we have for each other. It is found in the synergy of cognition and skills that enables us to achieve great things when we collaborate. We see it at work in the responsibility we grant ourselves for stewarding the Earth that we have in custody. It manifests when the individual powers that enable us to take our destinies in our own hands aggregate into a collective power to change the world and take part in our shared evolution. We describe it as the global brain formed by the distributed intelligence of our interconnected human minds operating as a neural network, embodied in (Teilhard) Chardin’s noosphere. We see it also as the symbiotic connection between all living beings epitomized in Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis, each of us united through the wider system of things, with a role to play in the greater order of the universe. (78)
Fitch, W. Tecumseh. Evolving a Global Brain. www.edge.org/q2010/q10_3.html#fitch. A response by the University of Vienna cognitive biologist to the 2010 Edge Question: How has the Internet Changed the Way You Think?. But out of 172 respondents, 10/1 men to women, surely engaging but all over the place, this reply was the only one to perceive a real cerebral emergence as the next worldwide phase of life’s evolutionary nested ascent from microbes to organisms to societies. Such a noosphere vista, the very thought or larger question, eludes and seems unthinkable.
Since Gutenberg, human society has slowly groped its way towards a new organizational principle. Literacy, mail, telegraphs and democracy were steps along the way to a new organizational metaphor, more like the nervous system than hormones. The Internet completes the process: now arbitrarily far-flung individuals can link, share information, and base their decisions upon this new shared source of meaning. Like individual neurons in our neocortex, each human can potentially influence and be influenced, rapidly, by information from anyone, anywhere. We, the metaphoric neurons of the global brain, are on the brink of a wholly new system of societal organization, one spanning the globe with the metaphoric axons of the Internet linking us together.
Foster, Ian. The Grid: A New Infrastructure for 21st Century Science. Physics Today. February, 2002. On projections for an intensifying national and worldwide computer network that can instantly send trillions of bytes anywhere so that researchers can collaborate on large projects such as climate analysis or brain infrastructure.
For example, an astrophysicist who has performed a large, multiterabyte simulation might want colleagues around the world to visualize the results in the same way and at the same time so that the group can discuss the results in real time. (44)
Funabashi, Masatoshi. Citizen Science and Topology of Mind: Complexity, Computation and Criticality in Data-Driven Exploration of Open Complex Systems. Entropy. 19/4, 2017. A Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Tokyo researcher considers how a self-organizing component could enhance the effectiveness of such public collaborative endeavors. In regard, since these universal propensities are well established as cerebral qualities, ought we realize, and avail the nascent formation of a communal and global noosphere beginning to learn on her/his own?
Recently emerging data-driven citizen sciences need to harness an increasing amount of massive data with varying quality. This paper develops essential theoretical frameworks, example models, and a general definition of complexity measure, and examines its computational complexity for an interactive data-driven citizen science within the context of guided self-organization. We first define a conceptual model that incorporates the quality of observation in terms of accuracy and reproducibility, ranging between subjectivity, inter-subjectivity, and objectivity. Next, we examine the database’s algebraic and topological structure in relation to informational complexity measures, and evaluate its computational complexities with respect to an exhaustive optimization. Conjectures of criticality are obtained on the self-organizing processes of observation and dynamical model development. Example analysis is demonstrated with the use of biodiversity assessment database—the process that inevitably involves human subjectivity for management within open complex systems. (Abstract)
Gabella, Maxime. Structures of Knowledge from Wikipedia Networks. arXiv:1708.05368. An Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, physicist scholar achieves an ingenious discernment of inherent, spontaneous self-organized patterns of knowledge content in this vast public encyclopedia. A graphic display (Figure 1), although not cited, looks very much like a brain-based neural net with hubs, synapses and axons. The grand finding, as the quotes convey, is that the same complementarity of Eastern and Western civilizational cognitive attributes reported in that section herein seem to be manifestly evident via his webwork analysis of relative subject area interests and emphasis.
Knowledge is useless without structure. While the classification of knowledge has been an enduring philosophical enterprise, it recently found applications in computer science, notably for artificial intelligence. The availability of large databases allowed for complex ontologies to be built automatically, for example by extracting structured content from Wikipedia. However, this approach is subject to manual categorization decisions made by online editors. Here we show that an implicit classification system emerges spontaneously on Wikipedia. We study the network of first links between articles, and find that it centers on a core cycle involving concepts of fundamental classifying importance. We argue that this structure is rooted in cultural history. For European languages, articles like Philosophy and Science are central, whereas Human and Earth dominate for East Asian languages. This reflects the differences between ancient Greek thought and Chinese tradition. Our results reveal the powerful influence of culture on the intrinsic architecture of complex data sets. (Abstract)