Classifying Global Consciousness

January 1, 2010

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In the previous post I introduced a quantitative definition for global consciousness derived from the Collective Entity Space (CES). While quantitative analysis based on this definition helps to understand (or lay down) the fundamentals of a global consciousness, we need a more abstract frame of reference: a comprehensible system of criteria through which we can observe, classify or even design its perceivable characteristics.

Consciousness Classification Criteria (CCC)

I propose one such system that’s connected to the CES and consists of five components: communication, problem solving, maturity, usefulness and control.

Communication

How do we communicate with it?

It’s reasonable to expect a global consciousness to be able to communicate with other intelligent entities, including humans.

To find a communication channel to a global consciousness, it’s vital to understand its event – response mechanisms. One entity may offer several choices of various complexity and response time. For instance, a Lovelockian Gaia entity would take eons to respond, making communication with humans practically impossible due to non-matching time windows.

For communication to succeed the complexities and response times must agree on both sides.

Entity Event Response
Weak Gaia changes in the biota Darwinian process (evolution)
GCP world events correlated quantum state changes
Twitter – global brain tweets retweet patterns

Language

The mechanisms described above model the internal working of the ‘brain’. Based on our own experiences however, communication hardly occurs in a brain-to-brain fashion. There’s usually a series of abstraction layers on top forming an interface, through which flows a stream of information encoded by a mutually understood protocol.

In a human analogy the brain controls the diaphragm, vocal cords and tongue, and interprets audio signals captured by the tympanum. All this is accurately coordinated to form a structured system of voice patterns we call language.

How are the same kind of abstractions found or developed for / by a global consciousness? For instance, how do we manipulate world events in case of GCP in order to purposefully teach it something, or ask a question? Similarly, how do we arrange its correlation patterns into meaningful answers, acknowledgements, warnings or requests?

Problem solving

What problems does it solve?

Sometimes the existence of a global consciousness in itself solves certain problems. For instance, Twitter is today the medium of choice even when other means of news reporting are available. Natural disasters, protests against totalitarian regimes and unexpected events in general are repeatedly reported on Twitter for the first time due to its accessibility and real-time nature.

But that’s not the kind of problem solving my question refers to.

Assume we’ve overcome the difficulties of communication. There’s a collective intelligence with the combined (or entirely new level of) wisdom of the people (and perhaps the whole biosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere, etc.) of Earth, and we are able to conduct meaningful conversations. What sort of problems can it solve as a collective intelligence? What sort of questions can we ask from the global brain – Twitter?

It’s quite likely that the problem solving capabilities of a global consciousness restrict to a very narrow set of problems.

Maturity

How far developed is it?

I define two major stages in the development of a collective consciousness: preconscious (unrelated to the same term used in psychoanalysis) and postconscious development.

Preconscious development covers the process up to the point of gaining consciousness. During this stage components are probably still underdeveloped or too few, or the required technology, activeness or awareness has not yet arisen. The ‘brain’ is not yet functional at this point. Imagine a global ‘preconsciousness’ as a five dimensional blob forming and expanding in the Collective Entity Space.

After gaining consciousness development advances to the postconscious stage. For the sake of simplicity, I divide this one into two sub-stages: infancy and maturity. During infancy the collective consciousness is learning. Although it already has the capacity to communicate or solve problems, it’s lacking the necessary amount of information, experience and wisdom. As soon as those are obtained the collective consciousness reaches maturity. That is when its full potential is unleashed and becomes a true global consciousness.

Here’s an example for a lifeline.

Entity Preconscious Infancy Maturity
Twitter users are too few and interaction too slow language being formed upon retweet patterns communication using developed language

For global consciousnesses that presumably already exist, these stages are mostly unknown. For instance the Global Consciousness Project doesn’t investigate the internal mechanisms of the noosphere, only gathers evidence for its existence and studies its behavior. The same applies to the Gaia theory.

Even if the lifeline of a collective consciousness is known it’s still not necessarily clear which stage it is currently in. The Twitter example aptly demonstrates the connection between the obviousness of a lifeline and the fact that it is based on well-known technology.

Usefulness

What do we benefit from it?

Similar to problem solving, the usefulness of a global consciousness may originate in either a) its existence (native usefulness), or b) its conscious quality (conscious usefulness). But unlike at problem solving, both are equally important as both may have an impact on evaluation or design. Furthermore, a global consciousness can be beneficial on both individual and global scale.

The following examples show these conceivable benefits for three different entities.

Gaia

The Gaia entity as Earth is the only known stellar object in the universe to support life. Even if it does not consciously maintain the optimal circumstances for life, life does exist on Earth, and that’s certainly useful for every living thing on its surface.

Depending on the different views (strong Gaia vs. weak Gaia), a conscious Gaia facilitates co-evolution, or manipulates the physical environment for biologically optimal conditions. Both are advantageous on a global scale even though individual benefits are not so straightforward to see.

Gaia Individual Global
Native individual life life
Conscious ? co-evolution / homeostasis

Global Consciousness Project

The GCP project is very much like eavesdropping on a global consciousness. We don’t know anything about the entity itself, we only hear it whispering and look for patterns. As long as we don’t get to know more, native usefulness remains a mystery on both global and individual level.

The conscious usefulness of GCP however, is exactly what the project is about. The correlation between world events (resonance in the noosphere) and REG output may help predict and avoid disasters.

GCP Individual Global
Native ? ?
Conscious avoiding disasters predicting disasters

Twitter – global brain

The native usefulness of Twitter is very easy to identify. It’s obvious to anyone who understands how and for what purpose it is being used. An individual may connect with friends, build a network, access information, keep in touch, and all that in real-time. There’s no consensus about its advantages, but it’s mostly agreed that it ignites personal and professional communities and increases online transparency.

The benefits of a conscious Twitter, or any real-time social network for that matter that, enhanced with automated agents, resemble a neural network are unknown as of today.

Twitter Individual Global
Native access to news emerging communities
Conscious ? ?

Again, it seems that the use of technology affects our knowledge of a global consciousness. As the examples indicate, information on native usefulness is more likely to be obtained when the entity relies on technology.

Control

Are we in control of it?

The word consciousness implies autonomous behavior. Without it the abilities, knowledge and wisdom of a global consciousness would not be exploitable. Still, I anticipate people to be afraid of a planet-size autonomous, conscious entity even if they are parts of it.

To that end I outline two ways to ‘neutralize’ a global consciousness.

  1. Disabling its components by reducing the level of engagement or awareness below the entity’s threshold.
  2. Destroying connections between components by restricting access to the technology or natural phenomena involved.

In quantitative terms, it’s a suitable transformation in the CES. There may be certain cases however, where such transformation is not possible. A global consciousness that doesn’t require active involvement nor awareness from its components and where connections are made on the quantum-level (GCP comes to mind), would require highly advanced (and thus currently unattainable) technology reaching down from individual consciousness to the most basic elements of matter.

Control and technology do too, seem connected. The more technology dependent a global consciousness is the more control we have over it.

Structure and goals

The five criteria making up the CCC are connected to each other, depend on each other. Communication is a prerequisite for problem solving and maturity. Usefulness refers to both. Communication implicitly, maturity, usefulness and control directly refer to the CES.

Beside these connections, criteria may also be categorized by bias. Communication, problem solving and maturity are unbiased as they are viewed from an objective perspective. Usefulness and control however, are concerns very specific to human society.

Maturity, usefulness and control are also connected by their reliance on technology. Through that we see how technology affects our knowledge about global consciousnesses.

  • Maturity is easier to determine if the entity is technology-based.
  • Usefulness shows differently for technology-dependent and natural entities.
  • We have much more control over entities that are technology-dependent.

The three points prove how much we still don’t understand beyond what’s already in our control. The CCC aims to uncover these blind spots in regard to global consciousness by asking the right questions.

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