Is the Internet evolving into a Global Brain?

Open Access
$550
Raised
6%
Ended on 10/04/13
Campaign Ended
  • $550
    pledged
  • 6%
    funded
  • Finished
    on 10/04/13

About This Project

The leading hypothesis for the future evolution of the Internet is the emergence of a Global Brain (i.e., a real self-organized nervous system for our species). Currently the mathematical modelling and theory construction to help us better understand the emergence of this phenomenon is being conducted at the Global Brain Institute in Belgium. As an evolutionary anthropologist I believe I can contribute to this institutes vision by attempting to merge evolutionary and cybernetic theory. By doing this my goal is to create a systems-level theoretical understanding of human evolution. I believe that such a theory would enable us to chart the likely future evolution of our institutions (e.g., political, religious, scientific, medical, etc.) and the role they will play in our lives this century. I want to help everyone make better decisions today, for a world that will be very different tomorrow. I hope you can help me make my vision a reality!

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What is the context of this research?

The goal of my project is to help establish a model for the emergence of a 21st century collective intelligence. This goal can be achieved by better understanding the nature of previous human metasystem transitions, as well as the development of phenomena hypothesized to lead to the next transition (e.g., Internet, robotics, renewable energies, nanotechnology, virtual reality, crowd sourced economics).

What is the significance of this project?

The concept of the Global Brain is transitioning from a improperly used metaphor to a mathematical model describing a real phenomena. Currently, no traditional academic disciplines are actively studying the emergence of this network, even though it may represent the most significant technological development in human history. By better understanding the nature of the Global Brain, we will be able to accurately forecast the future of our system, as well as better understand the implications for our individual and collective existence.

What are the goals of the project?

The funds will be used for several purposes, including travel related to international presentations, interviews (with technology, science, medical, political, and business experts), statistical software packages, maintenance of public outreach and awareness raising activities, as well as living expenses at the Global Brain Institute in Belgium.

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I want to help build a model of the Global Brain, but in order to do that I need to be able to support myself while working at the Global Brain Institute (GBI) in Belgium. The GBI is currently the leading cybernetics institution working on emergent technological phenomena in the 21st century. They have researchers from diverse backgrounds (e.g., physics, mathematics, philosophy, cybernetics) who will be invaluable resources for me while applying anthropological, evolutionary, and cybernetic theory towards a deeper understanding of the Global Brain. The more base funding I have for the start of my Ph.D. the sooner I will be able to start my work. I would also like to use the funds for various public awareness and research opportunities. For example, I would like to start presenting my ideas about the human future at evolutionary and futurist conferences, as well as engage in online and physical public outreach and awareness raising campaigns. These outreach and awareness raising campaigns will include blogging, online video, and presentations. Finally, I would like to use the funds to conduct interviews and collaborate with other researchers working on similar research questions related to the future of human institutions.

Endorsed by

Cadell Last is an enthusiastic, intelligent guy with the right kind of background to realize such an important project.

Meet the Team

Cadell Last
Cadell Last

Team Bio

I am an evolutionary anthropologist (MSc.) with a multi-disciplinary educational background in biology, anthropology, and history. I completed my undergraduate degree at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and my Masters degree at the University of Toronto, in Toronto, Ontario. In the past my research has focused broadly on the evolution of primate sleeping patterns and the implications for understanding human bipedality and circadian rhythms. I have also conducted research on the evolution of language, the development of civilization, European colonialism, and the origin and development of evolutionary theory. In the past, my main academic passion was understanding the difference between chimpanzees and humans. Currently, I would like to direct my future research career towards developing an understanding of human system development by applying anthropological, evolutionary, and cybernetic theory at the Global Brain Institute in Belgium. I believe our species is a phenomenon of unparalleled complexity, unpredictability, and intelligence that is rapidly developing towards a new level of order best described as a Global Brain. Outside of academia, I am a science writer with publications in Scientific American, Humanity+, and Jane Goodall Institute and with a blog featured by Svbtle that focuses on human evolutionary science (theratchet.ca). Finally, I am also the creator, writer, researcher, and narrator for an animated science channel in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios. I believe popular science outreach is essential to building a global culture prepared to face the problems that exist (and will emerge) in the 21st century.

Cadell Last

I am an evolutionary anthropologist (MSc.) with a multi-disciplinary educational background in biology, anthropology, and history. I completed my undergraduate degree at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and my Masters degree at the University of Toronto, in Toronto, Ontario. In the past my research has focused broadly on the evolution of primate sleeping patterns and the implications for understanding human bipedality and circadian rhythms. I have also conducted research on the evolution of language, the development of civilization, European colonialism, and the origin and development of evolutionary theory. In the past, my main academic passion was understanding the difference between chimpanzees and humans. Currently, I would like to direct my future research career towards developing an understanding of human system development by applying anthropological, evolutionary, and cybernetic theory at the Global Brain Institute in Belgium. I believe our species is a phenomenon of unparalleled complexity, unpredictability, and intelligence that is rapidly developing towards a new level of order best described as a Global Brain. Outside of academia, I am a science writer with publications in Scientific American, Humanity+, and Jane Goodall Institute and with a blog featured by Svbtle that focuses on human evolutionary science (theratchet.ca). Finally, I am also the creator, writer, researcher, and narrator for an animated science channel in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios. I believe popular science outreach is essential to building a global culture prepared to face the problems that exist (and will emerge) in the 21st century.

Press and Media

Additional Information

Pathway to the Global Brain (five part series):

Part 1: Introduction to Cybernetics

Part 2: Waking Up

Part 3: Agriculture and Industry

Part 4-5: Coming soon!

Relevant Publications:

Antonov, A. 2011. From artificial intelligence to human super-intelligence. Artificial Intelligence.

Berners-Lee, T. 2000. Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web. San Francisco: Harper Business.

Bingham, P.M. Human evolution and human history: A complete theory. Evolutionary Anthropology Issues News and Reviews, 9: 248-257.

Bruner, E. 2007. Cranial shape and size variation in human evolution: structural and functional perspectives. Child's Nervous System, 23: 1357-1365.

Bostrom, N. 2004. The future of human evolution. Death and anti-death: Two hundred years after Kant, fifty years after Turing. 339-371.

Bostrom, N. 2005. A history of transhumanist thought. Journal of Evolution and Technology.

Bostrom, N. 2005. Transhumanist values. Review of Contemporary Philosophy 4, 87-101.

Bostrom, N. 2006. Welcome to the world of exponential change.

Bostrom, N. & Yudkowsky, E. 2011. The ethics of artificial intelligence. Draft for Cambridge handbook on artificial intelligence.

Foley, R. & Gamble, C. 2009. The ecology of social transitions in human evolution. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364: 3267-3279.

Goertzel, B. 2001. Creating Internet Intelligence: Wild Computing, Distributed Digital Consciousness, and the Emerging Global Brain. New York: Plenum.

Goertzel, B. 2007. Human-level artificial general intelligence and the possibility of a technological singularity: A reaction to Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity Is Near, and McDermott's critique of Kurzweil. Artificial Intelligence, 171: 1161-1173.

Hanson, R. 1998. Long-term growth as a sequence of exponential modes. George Mason University.

Hanson, R. 1998. Is a singularity just around the corner? Journal of Transhumanism, 2.

Hanson, R. 2001. Economic growth given machine intelligence. Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research.

Havel, I.M. 2013. On the Way to Intelligence Singularity. Beyond Artificial Intelligence. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 3-26.

Hedges, S.B. 2000. Human evolution: a start for population genomics. Nature, 408: 652-653.

Heylighen, F. 2004. Challenge propagation: a new paradigm for modeling distributed intelligence. Microbiology 12, 366-372.

Heylighen, F. 2007. The global superorganism: An evolutionary-cybernetic model of the emerging network society. Social Evolution & History, 6: 57-117.

Heylighen, F. 2008. Accelerating socio-technological evolution: From ephemeralization and stigmergy to the Global Brain. In Modelski, G., Devezas, T. & Thompson, W.R. Globalization as Evolutionary Process. New York: Routledge.

Heylighen, F. 2012. Conceptions of a Global Brain: An Historical Review. From Big Bang to Global Civilization: A Big History Anthology, eds: Barry Rodrigue, Leonid Grinin, and Andrey Korotayev. University of California Press.

Heylighen, F. 2012. Foundations for a Mathematical Model of the Global Brain: architecture, components, and specifications. No. 2012-05. GBI Working Papers.

Heylighen, F. 2012. The Global Brain Institute Vision: past, present, and future context of global brain research. GBI Working Papers.

Ingman, M. et al. 2000. Mitochondrial genome variation and the origin of modern humans. Nature, 408: 708-713.

Kurzweil, R. 2005. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Penguin.

Kurzweil, R. 2012. How To Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. New York: Penguin Group.

Levy, P. 1997. Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace. New York: Plenum.

Larsen, C.S. 2002. Post-Pleistocene human evolution: bioarchaeology of the agricultural transition. Human diet: its origin and evolution, 19-36.

Logan, R.K. 2007. The Extended Mind: The emergence of language, the human mind, and culture. University of Toronto Press.

Mayer-Kress, G. & Barczys, C. 1994. The Global Brain as an Emergent Structure from the Worldwide Computing Network, and its implications for Modelling. The Information Society. 11, 1-34.

Maynard, S.J. & Szathmary, E. 1995. The Major Transitions in Evolution. Oxford: W.H. Freeman.

Maynard, S.J. & Szathmary, E. 2000. The origins of life: From the birth of life to the origins of language. Oxford University Press.

McBrearty, S. & Brooks, A.S. 2000. The revolution that wasn't: a new interpretation of the origin of modern human behaviour. Journal of Human Evolution, 39: 453-563.

Mikkelsen, T.S. et al. 2005. Initial sequence of the chimpanzee genome and comparison with the human genome. Nature.

Muehlhauser, L. & Salamon, A. 2012. Intelligence explosion: Evidence and import. Singularity Hypotheses. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 15-42.

Nagy, B., Farmer, J.D., Trancik, J.E., & Gonzales, J.P. 2011. Superexponential long-term trends in information technology. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 78: 1356-1364.

Navarrete, A., van Schaik, C.P., & Isler, K. 2011. Energetics and the evolution of human brain size. Nature, 480: 91-93.

Pinker, S. 2011. The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Penguin.

Rayward, B.W. 1999. H.G. Well's Idea of a World Brain: A Critical Re-Assessment. Journal of the American Society of Information Science, 50: 557-573.

Rhodes, R. ed. 2000. Visions of Technology: A Century of Vital Debate About Machine Systems in the Human World. Simon and Schuster.

Richerson, P.J. & Boyd, R. 2008. Not By Genes Alone: How culture transformed human evolution. University of Chicago Press.

Russell, B. 1961. Fact and Fiction. New York: Routledge.

Sandberg, A. 2010. An overview of models of technological singularity. Roadmaps to AGI and the future of AGI workshop.

Smart, J. 2012. The transcension hypothesis: Sufficiently advanced civilization invariably leave our universe, and implications for METI and SETI. Acta Astronautica, 78: 55-68.

Tennie, C., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. 2009. Ratcheting up the ratchet: on the evolution of cumulative culture. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364, 2405-2415.

Torrance, S. 2012. Super-Intelligence and (Super-) Consciousness. International Journal of Machine Consciousness, 483-501.

Vallender, E.J., Mekel-Bobrov, N., & Bruce, L.T. 2008. Genetic basis of human brain evolution. Trends in Neurosciences, 31: 637-644.

Vinge, V. 1993. The Coming Technological Singularity: How To Survive In The Post-Human Era. Vision-21 Symposium, NASA Research Center and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, 30 to 31 March 1993.

Weinbaum, D. 2012. A framework for Scalable Cognition: Propagation of challenges, towards the implementation of Global Brain models. GBI working paper.

White, L. 2007. The evolution of culture: the development of civilization to the fall of Rome. Left Coast Press.

Miscellaneous:

Curation: How the Global Brain Evolves (via Wired)

Global Brain Institute

Global Brain (Wikipedia)

Francis Heylighen on the Global Brain (an interview with Ben Goertzel) (via Humanity+)

Technological Singularity (Wikipedia)

Selection of my thoughts on the future:

The Future of Intelligence

Dreaming About Forever

Reconnecting the Human Family

The Post-Human World

Future Humans

Redefining the Singularity

No Population Bomb

Robot Sex Revolution

Technology for the World

The Next Evolution


Project Backers

  • 11Backers
  • 6%Funded
  • $550Total Donations
  • $50.00Average Donation
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