Never have we travelled so quickly. New discoveries seem to be endless, networks give us roads to transport data faster and further and smarter than ever before. Where will it end.
A concept or Ideology that has been discussed and studied for some time is the concept of a Global Brain. With the exponential increase in connected devices, IoT, the Global Brain hypothesis is becoming more relevant. So in this article I wanted to touch on the concept of a Global Brain and discuss benefits and the pitfalls.
To explain what the Global Brain is or refers to is complex and beyond the word limit of this article, but for the purpose of explaining at a very high level what the Global brain refers to I will keep it simple and my apologies if it seems a little too simplistic to some.
The Global Brain then is the emerging intelligent network formed by all people on this planet, together with the computers and communication links that connect them together. Like a real brain, this network is an immensely complex, self organising system, that processes information, makes decisions, solves problems, learns new connections and discovers new ideas. It plays the role of a collective nervous system for the whole of humanity. No person, orgainsation or computer is in control of this system: Its “thought” processes are distributed over all its components.
We in essence have an entity that goes beyond the collection of data, or the storage of data and starts to act and behave in a way that provides outputs in decisions and actions that are relevant. Very much like our own brain but can access all data and results from all of history and then use this to enhance all humanity.
Assuming this can be achieved, one benefit talked about is the concept of “mind uploading”. The ability to have your brain copied to the cloud enabling superhuman ability to process information by using the world wide data stored in the centralised cloud brain. The concept is further explained as being entwined with our consciousness meaning we could rely on the cloud brain to make decisions for us based on the input from our consciousness.
If this complex Global Brain could somehow collate all data points from everything that was collected (IoT) and apply logic then we have an entity that could solve many of humanities biggest problems. It doesn’t take much to imagine what could be achieved, a world where everyone had enough food, a planet that could collectively address climate change, just two examples.
Combining everything that is known to humanity about growing food would expediate the eradication of some plant diseases, would enable food to be grown in hostile environments and generally improve efficiency of food production.
Likewise the collection of data globally could managed CO2 emissions by switching on and off main sources when emissions are too high, coordinating the worlds emissions
to operate within the parameters of the planets requirements (currently 65% of global emissions are from industry and fossil fuel)
The benefits of a system are clearly huge and will impact absolutely everything we do, possibly even extend human life.
But just because we can doesn’t mean we should and therein lies the greatest challenge to the Global Brain. What will it be used for and who will use it and for what purpose.
It would be unimaginable if a government was able to use this power for evil,
but then some would argue if we have a global brain this its utopia so that wouldn’t happen. However as I said at the start we are at the cusp of this and so these questions need to be answered. Technology is like money, not good, not bad, it merely exists.
There needs a fundamental shift in the world’s governments and organisation’s approach to collaborate in order for this concept to materialise. Getting all universities, governments and individuals to collaborate will be the greatest challenge humanity face but yet the greatest goal.
So the disadvantages of this system could well be in its developmental evolution. Setting the ethics, dealing with privacy, dealing with surveillance are very important.
Its exciting times, the reality is there is momentum and as we connect more and more devices to the internet its almost a natural evolution to have a Global Brain…. in my lifetime? Maybe.
I’m looking forward to the ride, I’m already impressed with things like adaptive cruise control in my car, Augmented Reality, blockchain, the Internet of Things, so my suggestion is make yourself a cup of tea and watch this space!