next stage in evolution (in fact the current one) is a socialization, the
development of a Noosphere, consisting in a continuously progressing integration
of the individual mind contents. This process culminates into a global
or universal unanimity of minds, with an intense global interaction, but
without losing their indivuality, and thus conserving the ability tp stay
aware of, and to consciously control reality, each individual at the highest
possible intellectual level. Of course, devices from Internet to direct
computer-to-brain connections will significantly enhance this ability.
The arguments for this hypothesis state that such a vision is perhaps more
in compliance with the general laws of universal evolution than the Gobal
Brain hypothesis does.
If we make projections
for the future, i.e. the future of the current socialisation stage (stratum 9 of the evolving Universe
model), most of authors are unanimous that probably a greater form
of collective consciousness will be developed. Yet two major hypotheses
are advanced: the Global
Brain hypothesis with the related Gaia
hypothesis, and the Global Mind hypothesis.
The Global Brain hypothesis is a "hardware" hypothesis, describing the ultimate integration
of all human minds, probably combined with powerful computers, forming
together one hyper-brain, functioning on a higher level than each separate
brain, like then human brain functions on a higher level than each separate
nerve cell. As nerve cells don't get a global image of the brain activities,
ultimately the individual human brains will no longer hold a global impression
of the intellectual activities of the Global Brain. A comparison can be
made with company employees (or soldiers, or spies), each working on some
limited aspect of a big project, and just transmitting their results to
a board of directors, who assemble the details and are the ones to oversee
the whole operation.
this Global Brain hypothesis we can consider the Global Mind hypothesis,
developed by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, though without this name.
The most popular
hypothesis of both is the Global Brain hypothesis. It is more compatible
with Science Fiction (the development of a electronic Superbeing), and
seems even to be obvious when one looks to certain schemes of Teilhard:
the basic entity of each stratum is built up from individual elements from
the previous stratum. As cells form metazoa (multicellular beings, including
man), the development of a multi-human super-organism seems to be the next
But along Teilhard
and a number of other evolutionists (including Wildiers)
individuality of each human will be preserved, at least with some nuances.
The Global Mind hypothesis
is a "software" hypothesis. It states that the individual psyches can be considered as independent variants of a more general psyche programme.
We could compare
it with a computer programme that can be personalised by each user, making
macro's and adding higher definitions. Some creative people elaborate new
"routines", that progressively are "copied" by other people, and become
ultimately a part of the "updated" culture. As happened with the host of
totally different word processors that existed since the 80s and progressively
converged ("integrated") towards two or three programs with little or no
differences, we can expect that the different psychological ways of functioning,
by interaction and mutual inspiration during education and each form of
social contact, will progressively converge to one polyvalent, but fundamentally
identical "psychological software" used by all men, each adding some personal
flavours and nuances.
The notion Global
Mind is currently used in a series of other although related meanings
(1.300.000 links from Google)
1. Any kind of "intelligence"
guiding a complex behaviour of a group of organisms. E.g. the rather successful
struggle of bacteria against antibiotic drugs and the immune system seems
to be directed by a bacterian
2. A world-wide feeling
of responsibility, at least a curiosity for things that happen elsewhere on this globe.
3. A Global "consciousness"
that can be achieved by paranormal interaction when people on the globe
4. A bio-neurological,
electromagnetic induced form of mind
control which will block men's higher sensory abilities; this attack
will occur in 2004 (sic).
5. A name for management
and global economical vision development companies.
The Global Mind hypothesis
offers perhaps the most plausible explanation for the age-old immortality
dream. Immortality can be defined as the transition of the individual
"mind" towards another hardware, e.g. another person. Of course, this implies
a discussion of many personalization issues, discussed elsewhere. Individual people die, but the Global Mind
seems to be immortal. Computer software never exists outside a computer
(only as a "dead" printout or a file on a disk), but always needs a kind
of hardware "to come into life". The same way the Global Mind, the Psyche
functions: it never exists ouside a human.
To describe the Global
Mind hypothesis we enumerate some of its most striking characteristics:
1. The most important
aspect of this hypothesis is the fact that each individual consciousness
keeps an integral awareness of what it/he/she is thinking about.
Human cooperation occurs along a synergistic, i.e. an egalitarian,
democratic model (comparable with a good relationship between two or more
people), and not along a hierarchic model (comparable with an army,
religious community, etc.). The participants of the synergy never delegate
the globality of their consciousness to a kind of higher authority, as
the Global Brain hypothesis suggests.
2. The inevitable
convergence of human thinking, defined as an increasing similarity between independent
(human) intelligences and minds, is not realised by replacing the individuals
by some or one super-brain (as suggested by the Global Brain hypothesis),
but by the simple fact that the utilized "software" becomes even more similar.
here the computer comparison can be very inspiring: although nearly everyone
nowadays uses the same text editor, probably Word, (while the competitors,
Claris Word have become surprisingly similar), this does not
imply that all those individual computers are replaced by one. Nor does
it presuppose that each user knows the process at every level. One can delegate some
aspects of the global process without quitting a global control, even if
one is responsible for a part of these subordinate processes.
3. Even with the
same psychological "programme", each individual can react with personal
differences and variations.
music illustrates this Global Mind phenomenon. It is not because musical
rules practically are the same for each piece of classical music, that
any such piece sounds identical. Each piece can exploit other aspects of
the same rules, as each programme user can install personal preferences
within the same programme. 4. The Global Mind is
a possible explanation for the human immortality desire. Although individuals die, their dead has to be compared to a drop-out
of the hardware for this particular global psyche programme, that, in itself,
continues its existence running on billions of other biological hardwares.
This Global Mind, at least up to now, never exists ouside a human.
5. Its steady progress is induced by adopting and integrating the contributions of creative fellow-humans.
Culture is just another name for this fertilizing interaction.
6. The computer analogy
is very insufficient concerning the 'anthropomorphic', personalized characteristics,
leading to the feeling of an individual that (s)he is an autonomous, unique
person. He doesn't feel himself a hardware, nor the zillionth reproduction
of a standard code. He just feels, acts and reacts as if he were
the Global Mind, and --well considered-- he is, also in his illogical conviction
that he is or ought to be and eventually will probably be immortal. These
personalization aspects are discussed elsewhere.
7. Probably the socialisation
stage is the last phase of evolution. The individual organisms progressively
(but now very quickly) attain the maximum level of awareness and conscious
participation in the evolution of the universe.
8. Teilhard was aware
of the probability of other inhabited planets, the existence of other intelligent
organisms. Along Wildiers his viewpoint
was that there will occur some day a socialisation with these other living
beings, but not with these planets as building blocks, adding a new complexification
stratum on top of the nine we discern today, but with the mixed individuals
of these planets developing one interplanetary socialisation. Anyway, the
socialisation stage leading to the Omega Point, is the last stage of this
from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (The Phenomenon
of Man, Revised English translation, 1975)
elements infiltrated more and more into each other, their minds ... were
mutually stimulated by proximity. (p. 240) And, perhaps most
the noosphere tends
to constitute a single closed system in which each element sees, feels,
desires and suffers for itself the same things as all the others at the
same time. (p. 251)
the plurality of
individual reflections grouping themselves together and reinforcing one
another in the act of a single unanimous reflection. (p.252)
In the perspective
of a noogenesis, time and space become truly humanised ---or rather super-humanised.
Far from being mutually exclusive, the Universal and Personal (that is
to say, the 'centred') grow in the same direction and culminate simultaneously
in each other. (p. 260)
the collective future of totalised grains of thought. (p.260)
what is the work
of works for man if not to establish, in and by each one of us, an absolutely
original centre in which the universe reflects itself in a unique and inimitable
way? And these centres are our very selves and personalities. The very
centre of our consciousness, deeper than all its radii; that is the essence
which Omega, if it is to be truly Omega, must reclaim. And this essence
is obviously not something of which we can disposses ourselves for the
benefit of others as we might give away a coat or pass on a torch. For
we are the very flame of that torch. To communicate itself, my ego must
subsist through abandoning itself or the gift will fade away. (p.261)
the grains of consciousness
do not tend to lose their outlines and blend, but, on the contrary, to
accentuate the depth and incommunicability of their egos. The more ' other
' they become in conjunction, the more they find themselves as 'self '.
Love alone is capable
of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfil them,
for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.
...In truth, does not love every instant achieve all around us, in the
couple or the team, the magic feat, the feat reputed to be contradictory,
of ' personalising ' by totalising? (p. 265)
Mankind, the spirit
of the earth, the synthesis of individuals and peoples, the paradoxical
conciliation of the element with the whole, and of unity with multitude
--all of these are called Utopian and yet they are biologically necessary.
Expressed in terms
of internal energy, the cosmic function of Omega consists in initiating
and maintaining within its radius the unanimity of the world's ' reflective
' particles. (p.269)
we have as yet
no idea of the possible magnitude of ' noospheric ' effects. ...human
vibrations resounding by the million --a whole layer of consciousness exerting
simultaneous pressure upon the future and the collected and hoarded produce
of a million years of thought. Have we ever tried to form an idea of what
such magnitudes represent? (p.286)
is within this generalized cosmic process that the noosphere, a particular
and extreme case, has its natural place and takes its shape. The maximum
of complexification, represented by phyletic infolding, and in consequence
the maximum of consciousness emerging from the system of individual brains,
coordinated and mutually supporting. (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Formation
of the Noosphere, Revue des questions scientifiques, Louvain 1947,
in The Future of Man, New York 1964, quoted by Lawrence Hagerty,
Spirit of the Internet, 2001, p. 61-62) These quotations seem
to clearly suggest that Teilhard envisages the Noosphere rather as a collectivity
of personalized individuals than as a kind of a higher degree organism
wherein the human brains --the building blocks-- lose their individuality.
He even feels that such an integration is the ultimate realisation of the
Of course, the fact
Teilhard suggests the conservation of the individual within the Omega point,
doesn't in itself be a proof that this hypothesis should be more
plausible than the Global Brain hypothesis. Other arguments are to be advanced,
and they essentially consist of the indication that the Global Mind hypothesis
is more compatible with the universal
laws of evolution than the Global Brain vision.
b. On first view
some arguments --even Teilhardian-- seem to suggest a global Brain rather than Mind:
An eye of Supercomputer
HAL 9000 in 2001, A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick
1. A superficial
between layer 8 (the metazoa) and layer 9 (the socialization culminating into the noosphere) seems to suggest that, like individual
cells lose their individuality to form a unity at a higher level, i.e.
man (and, of course, plant and animal), individual brain (and its biological
seat: man) will lose its individuality to form a higher unity, i.e. global
brain, in fact a novel evolutionary organism. In this "intregration" intelligent
computers could take part at the same level as biological brains. One could
even think of artificial biological computers, and/or a kind of biological
neural networks, added to this global brain network. This trend could be
continued: suppose that each inhabited planet builds up such a planetary
brain, one could envisage one day a superbrain of planetary brains, let's
call it a Cosmic Brain, or should there be Galactic Brains as superstructure
between Planetary Brains and the Cosmic Brain? Each such brain develops
its own consciousness and elaborates global knowledge and visions which
the "lower" individual constituents --men-- are unable to comprehend. c. Arguments for
a Global Mind rather than a Brain
2. There are arguments
for the formation of a super-organism:
have noticed the similarity between the roles played by different organizations
in society and the functions of organs, systems and circuits in the body.
For example, industrial plants extract energy and building blocks from
raw materials, just like the digestive system. Roads, railways and waterways
transport these products from one part of the system to another one, just
like the arteries and veins. Garbage dumps and sewage systems collect waste
products, just like the colon and the bladder. The army and police protect
the society against invaders and rogue elements, just like the immune system.
(Heylighen) This approach culminated
in the Gaia Hypothesis (Lovelock and Margulis)
which describes the whole living nature on earth, and even the whole earth,
as one biological or at least cybernetical organism, a Cybiont (de
3. Recent developments
in computer applications, and especially the World-Wide
Web seem to point into the same direction. The WWW will enable the
development of intelligent agents, a kind of miniprograms circulating
through the Internet and trying to answer or resolve specific questions,
retrieving adequate bits of knowledge where they can be found, and developing
new insights. After such an intelligent search the answer will be sent
back to the person who started the intelligent search. Such an intelligent
Internet is only one step from a kind of Superbrain, emerging by a Metasystem
transition (a step towards a more complex 'Teilhardian' evolutionary
a metasystem, thinking in the super-brain must not be just quantitatively,
but qualitatively, different from human thinking. The continuous reorganization
and improvement of the super-brain's knowledge by analysing and synthesising
knowledge from individuals, and eliciting more knowledge from those individuals
in order to fill gaps or inconsistencies, is a metalevel process: it not
only uses existing, individual knowledge but actively creates new knowledge,
which is more fit for tackling different problems. (Heylighen)
1. Man himself
doesn't want to be surpassed by a machine, how ever intelligent
that could be. The profound aspiration to be and remain autonomous and
equal to his fellow-humans seem to emerge ineluctably each time certain
temporarily stronger social subgroups try to install a control upon
other social groups. Social hierarchy, that progressively seemed to be
the destination of human kind, already installed well circumscribed social
"layers": slaves, priests, nobility, kings and princes. As occurred with
the Indian castes, the appartenance to such a subgroup tended to become
inheritable, making a physical or genetical split between those groups
even more likely in the long run. Aldous Huxley, in his A Brave New
World divided future people into 4 physical categories, from alpha to delta, showing that in his perception and time such a segregation
seemed an essential characteristic of future society. The ants nest
hierarchy seemed to be an appropriate model for modern society. Conclusions
Man always opposed
to this apparently "natural" organization of society. The Great Dictator
and Big Brother model rather seem to belong to the past than to the future.
His opposition to the revolt of the Supercomputer HAL in Stanley Kubrick's
A Space Odyssey, is more than a fight of the astronauts to preserve
their personal safety. If man is opposed to the supremacy of some fellow-men,
his reluctance to accept the supremacy of a machine, even an intelligent
and a "sensible" one, probably will be even stronger.
His ability, and
hence his desire to keep a total vision and consciousness of reality and
universe, and to play an active role in any kind of decision making concerning
himself, appears to be one of his strongest drives, perhaps his most fundamental
aspiration and, in a way, the sense of existence.
To be reduced to just an element of a higher mechanism should be even more
frustrating and humiliating than to be a slave.
2. In the earlier
stages of evolution, progress and complexification always meant structural
adaptation and loss of individuality of the components: cells as well as
tissues in the body become building blocks with a restricted functionality;
developing new physical abilities (swimming, eating, flying) implies phyical
changes ("differentiation") creating new possibilities for the organisms,
but often blocking further development. The highest developed organisms
developed most often from poorly differentiated predecessors, as cells
do. Homo can be considered as one of the least specialized mammals,
save for his brains.
But starting with
man, the biological evolution stops,
and is replaced by extra-corporeal technology (tools from hammers to computers)
and psychological evolution (education, personality development, culture).
Physical adaptations are no longer required to implement evolution. Material
and physical evolution transited to a software evolution, freeing man,
in all senses of the word.
Returning to a kind
of physical dependance and subjugation to a Supercomputer seems highly
improbable in the light of the laws of evolution.
3. An argument that
perhaps could be just temporary, is the fact that, up to now, all computers
function along a deductive mode of thinking, combined with a high
exactness and unchangeability (and undeletability --unless on purpose or
by accident) of their memories. Contrary to this, human brains brains function
essentially along an associative mode, enabling in the first place inductive thinking. Moreover, most of man's knowledge is irrational, in the
sence that it can't be completely rationally formulated. Therefore, his
creativity is mostly subconscious, making it very difficult to communicate. It is
even better to call his knowledge experience or even intuition.
This mode of thinking seems also to be rather inexact,and his memory
is quickly fading out. This inexactness could prove more linked to the
essence of his creativity and abstracting potential than we like.
A thinking device
is by its very nature less accessible to experience, inexact intuitions
and extinguishing memories, which could prove the conditions for inductive,
creative and integrative thinking.
Of course, one could
extend a computer with experiential and intuitive facilities;
moreover, one day the
induction paradigm, searched now for several
centuries, could be discovered. One could even put a computer into a humanoid
case, so that biological humans should not be aware of the difference,
as long they don't stab a knife into its chest. But that kind of humanoid is perhaps not what is aimed by the protagonists of the Global Brain hypothesis.
4. As was the case
with earlier stages of social and political structures, the fact that humans
have access to all kinds of knowledge and experience enhances dramatically
their inspiration, creativity and motivation. Reducing their intellectual
territory to some pre-circumscribed and delimited application fields will
at the same time probably reduce their intellectual productivity.
1. One could state
that this hypothesis is at the same time an integration between the eastern
and the western soul hypotheses: the collective aspect and the progressive
evolution, stressed in the reincarnation hypothesis, is preserved, as well
as the personalised aspects of the soul in western monotheistic religions.
In the light of the Global Mind hypothesis, both primitive soul hypotheses
appear to be much less naive as they were at first glance.
2. That a global
information technology is developping at light speed is beyond doubt, and
that its implications are still unpredictable is a certainty. As happened
with calcultators, it's highly probable that important intellectual functions
will be assisted by or even replaced by "intelligent" devices. We are already
enhancing our global awareness thanks to information tools, and this technology
could eventually yield very "enriched" human brains. The Global Mind hypothesis
only suggests that, whatever the technological progress, man will eventually
remain at the controls of his destiny and probably the destiny of universe,
by a complete awareness and comprehension of all important things to know,
enabling him to intervene at a panetary and later at a cosmic scale, and
replacing Coincidence (or Design) by his conscious
actions, to finish cosmic Evolution.
science doesn't search the right answer between several proposals.
It's only aim is to integrate apparently conflictuous hypotheses, proceeding
from the conviction that each approach probably hides some important contributrion
for the final insight. As long as these theories can't be completely integrated,
it's essential to remain aware of their implications.
A more creative approach,
and a greater concern about inductive thought processes could perhaps bridge
the gap between both hypotheses. The approach
of Heylighen with the intelligent agents looks very promising.