Dimensions of The Global Superbrain

This is a positioning exercise intended to help place the superbrain side of factasia in relation to other sources on the Global SuperBrain. There are really two dimensions or axes (Superorganism/Artefact and Engineer/Evolve/Emerge) and a codicil on "Super". You might be forgiven for thinking that the two axes are not independent, surely the superorganism would emerge and the artefact would be engineered? We think not. We think social engineering is important and don't rule out evolutionary techniques for putting together intelligent artefacts.
SuperOrganism or Artefact?
At one end of this axis the global brain is just what you get when you network together enough people. So it's really just a communication enhancement to the global community. The communications systems need not have much claim to intelligence in their own right. People provide the intelligence. When you tie enough of them together each human brain may be thought of as a neuron in a gargantuan global brain. If everyone takes a nap, the global superbrain takes a nap with them.

At the other end of this axis we have the global computer network as an intelligent force in its own right. At this end the main role of people is as beneficiaries. Once it's there the system doesn't need our help to be smart, it just is.

Factasia superbrain thinking is toward the artefact end of this axis. The effects on society and its institutions of the superorganism end of the business are probably at least as important, but I'm not sure how useful the superbrain metaphor is. I prefer to discuss the network's economic role as the primary marketplace of the future, its role in enabling the transformation of our political institutions and of our conception of how individuals relate to society as a whole.

Engineer, Evolve or Emerge?
This axis is about whether we make the superbrain or whether it just happens.

At the engineering end of the spectrum, we think hard about how we want this superbrain to work, we design it and we build it. The downside here is that if it depends on good design then we might screw it all up and get a monster. And its probably so complex that we'll never get it finished.

In the middle we have the genetic, evolutionary, connectionist patch. We are doing engineering, but the system needs to be so complex that we have to engineer a start point and then nuture its self propelled evolution into the kind of system that we are after.

At the other end, the superbrain emerges as a side effect of other changes which are taking place, e.g. the growth of global digital communications networks. Intelligence emerges in some mysterious way that we don't really understand. The downside here is that if we don't design it then we just have to put up with whatever emerges. Could be a nightmare.

Factasia is proactive and wants to be chosing what kind of a superbrain we have, so factasia is positioned toward the engineering end of this axis.

Brain or SuperBrain?
A lot of the material doesn't have the "super" bit in it. Global is enough.

Factasia prefers the "super" in because there is a lot of interest and importance attached to technical capabilities which go beyond what we can achieve with our ordinary brains. (no intended mystery here, just like a JCB has capabilities which go some way beyond what we can do with mere muscle).

see also: Conceptions of the Global Brain.

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