A FOREBRAIN FOR THE WORLD MIND



"In 1851, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, "Is it a fact — or have I dreamt it — that, by means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time? Rather, the round globe is a vast head, a brain, instinct with intelligence!" He was writing about the telegraph, but today we make essentially the same observation about the Internet.


If there is such a thing as a world mind today, then its thoughts are primarily about commerce. It is the "invisible hand" of Adam Smith, deciding the prices, allocating the capital. Its brain is composed not only of the human buyers and sellers, but also of the trading programs on Wall Street and of the economic models of the central banks. The wires "vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time" are not just carrying messages between human minds, they are participating in the decisions of the world mind as a whole. This unconscious system is the world's hindbrain.


What the world mind really needs is a forebrain, with conscious goals, access to explicit knowledge, and the ability to reason and plan. A world forebrain would need the capacity to perceive collectively, to decide collectively, and to act collectively. Of these three functions, our ability to act collectively is the most developed."




http://www.edge.org/q2009/q09_12.html#hillis