internet and consciousness

Paul Wolf paulwolf at
Sun Feb 12 15:00:59 EST 1995

In <Lbern.114.000CBB16 at> Lbern at (Louie B.) writes: 

>In article <3him96$m80 at> paulwolf at (Paul 
Wolf) writes:
>>From: paulwolf at (Paul Wolf)
>>Subject: Re: internet and consciousness
>>Date: 11 Feb 1995 15:48:54 GMT
>>In <D3tJ9I.Gn3 at> etabello at (Elias 
>>Tabello) writes: 
>>>>  All the Internet will ever be is an extremely complex set
>>>> of connected computers.  It won't become "conscious" and thereby 
>>>>administer itself 
>>>I think that {lotsa stuff snipped} the internet is an interconnection of
>>>conscious {ie: human} units: meta-consciousness.
>>I think consciousness has something to do with the creation of an 
>>internal model of the external world, and also a model for oneself. 
> No the internet is not conscious - it is an indirect reflection of the human 
> consciousness.  But until conscious computers are developed the internet will 
> remain only a reflection of consciousness.  I am using the standard   
> definition of consciousness here (you know - the one that says inanimate  
> objects are not conscious.) 

I'm not sure I understand your standard definition.  Bees and ants exhibit 
emergent behavior and function as if they had a group consciousness.  I'm not 
saying the internet is a system which works together in that way, but the human 
race responds to its environment as a single entity sometimes.  For example, no 
one understands how a computer works - some people understand software, others 
can design circuits, still others work on the physical properties of doped Si 
and other materials used in manufacturing chips - this goes down to QM effects 
in semiconductors.  Social structures evolve and the strong ones survive.  
Biological brains aren't the only things capable of modeling themselves, being 
aware of their own existence.  

An indirect reflection of the human consciousness?  Is the human mind an 
indirect reflection of the consciousness of individual neurons?  I agreee that 
internet is only a method of communication, but better methods of communication 
may enable the human race to function with a group consciousness which we will 
not be aware of on an individual level - it could even be said to do that 
already.  Consciousness must be defined impartially, by measurement, and not by 
our gut feelings or our beliefs.  

I think it's more likely that the human race will exhibit group consciousness 
through communications media like Inet, than to believe that conscious 
computers will be built anytime soon.  (BTW no one really thinks that networked 
PC's have consciousness.)

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