internet and consciousness

rmallott rmallott at percep.demon.co.uk
Wed Feb 8 07:03:21 EST 1995


In article <3grin5$m2 at ixnews1.ix.netcom.com> Gerald McNerney
<mcnerney at ix.netcom.com> wrote:

> Is the internet ever capable of attaining consciousness?  How can we 
> tell if it has?  Should we try to make developments in the internet that 
> will make it more likely to become conscious?
> [deletion]
> Any ideas? - gm

Given the unsettled debate about human consciousness, it  might be more 
profitable though slightly less ambitious to consider how far the Internet 
can be seen as a world-brain (or world-mind) in process of development or 
evolution. As McNerney suggests, individual participants could be (loosely) 
equated with individual neurons, there is a synaptic structure with each 
individual communicating to and receiving communications from a specific 
and limited set of other individuals, the connections are strengthened by 
repeated interaction, there is a modular organisation to the Internet 
represented by the different newsgroups though with the possibility of 
crossposting between modules, there is storage and retrieval of information 
resulting from the active modules and so on. 

Maybe the stage of the Internet's nervous evolution or development as
a world-brain is at that reached by a lowly organism, still with no very
noticeable central organisation.  Or this may understate what has been
achieved. In any case comparison of the way the Internet has progressed
and is progressing may stimulate ideas about analogies or homologies with
the evolutionary process by which central nervous systems developed. From
this angle, it will interesting to see over the next few years how the
Internet changes and complexifies.


Robin Allott     email:  rmallott at percep.demon.co.uk



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