Thursday, March 21, 2002

Global brains

AKMA sees the net as a mind we are building together. This is a persistent metaphor from Nonzero too:

gadgets that pile up at an ever faster rate as population grows are not just subsistence technologies. Even back during the Middle Paleolithic, more than 50,000 years ago, people were intrigued by ochre (for painting) and pyrite crystals. And, as we've seen, during the Mesolithic, such "prestige technologies" as jewelry became an appreciable chunk of gross domestic product.

Great effort went into getting these status symbols. They seem to have been traded over hundreds of miles, back in a time when hundreds of miles was nothing to sneeze at. Even by 30,000 B.C., long before the Mesolithic, beads made of pierced seashells were migrating 400 miles from their point of- origin. Later, regular networks of exchange blossomed, linking local invisible brains to distant invisible brains. The faint outlines of giant regional brains began to form. And the driving force wasn't periodic environmental "stress" but a more constant force: human vanity, powered by the status competition that is part of all known societies and seems to be innate.

The fitful but relentless tendency of invisible social brains to hook up with each other, and eventually submerge themselves into a larger brain, is a central theme of history. The culmination of that process— the construction of a single, planetary brain—is what we are witnessing today, with all its disruptive yet ultimately integrative effects...

Trust and communicationa re what we need for non-zero sum gains, and the net provides a whole new level of both.

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