Posts Tagged ‘collective entity space’

Collective Entity – Robustness

January 8, 2010

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Originally this post started out as an analysis of collective intelligence in Asimov‘s Foundation universe just to see if my model is applicable to fictional entities as well. By the time I finished the first draft I realized it all boiled down to a new collective consciousness property: robustness.

Following my original plan, I’m going to start by examining the two kinds of collective consciousness that form the parallel and competing alternatives for the development of the Galaxy.


Asimov’s Gaia is a planet-size autonomous collective entity formed by every living and inanimate objects connected to it. Gaia’s consciousness is so strong that for anything to become a part of it has to be ingested first through an energy-consuming process. Once an object or being becomes a part of Gaia, its own consciousness is added to the whole, and from then on contributes to the collective wisdom, memory and actions of Gaia. The ingestion process is reversible: one may leave the collective of Gaia by severing the connection either by distance or becoming a part of a non-Gaia system. Death doesn’t lead out of Gaia, only decreases its overall consciousness, which is kept in balance by the birth of new highly conscious components.

To see the Asimovian Gaia in context, I’m going to use the Lovelockian Gaia as reference in its analysis.

Quantitative analysis

Asimov’s Gaia and the Lovelockian Gaia share most of their properties in the Collective Entity Space (CES). The only obvious difference is in their level of awareness. In the Asimovian Gaia one is not only aware of the collective consciousness and his/her/its connection to it, but also actively accessing and using it for individual and global purposes.

Gaia Components Engagement Awareness Nature Technology
Lovelockian Entire planet Passive Unaware Mixed None
Asimovian Entire planet Passive Aware Mixed None

Qualitative analysis

Through Asimov’s story we get to know a lot more about Gaia than we know about the collective consciousness of the Gaia Theory. The only Consciousness Classification Criteria (CCC) property that we don’t know is control, probably because of its irrelevance to the deeply integrated Gaians.

In the Foundation universe,

  • Components communicate with Gaia through telepathy to access collective memories, or mentally influence non-Gaian individuals or groups.
  • Problem solving capabilities extend to (global and individual) self-defense.
  • Gaia consciously maintains ecological balance that best suits the needs of its habitants.
  • The mental well-being and happiness of Gaians is credited to collective consciousness.
Gaia Communication Problem solving Maturity Usefulness Control
Lovelockian ? ? Infant / mature Life ?
Asimovian Telepathy Multiple Mature Multiple ?

In a way, the Asimovian Gaia is an evolved Lovelockian Gaia.


Although it’s not explicitly referred to as a collective consciousness in the novels, the First Foundation unquestionably shows the expected characteristics. The existence of the Second Foundation is the proof: it communicates with it, controls it and uses it for a purpose (the hastened establishment of a stable second Galactic Empire).

Quantitative analysis

The First Foundation just as any collective entity, can be placed in the CES. If you’ve read the series you know about the importance of unawareness. The science of psychohistory and the control exerted by the Second Foundation don’t work if the First Foundation becomes aware that they are observed or manipulated in any way. This translates to the CES as a small nudge on the awareness axis.

Components Engagement Awareness Nature Technology
The galaxy’s human population Passive Unaware Psychical / mixed None

Qualitative analysis

The First Foundation, as a collective entity (galactic consciousness) is communicated with by the Second Foundation through their mental powers and the mathematics of psychohistory. It needs to be under constant control in order to keep it on track and have its purpose fulfilled, hence it’s reasonable to assume that it’s still in a state of infancy.

Communication Problem solving Maturity Usefulness Control
Psychohistory ? Infant Social development Second Foundation

The Mule

An analysis of the Foundation can’t be thorough without a glimpse on the Mule and his actions. The Mule is a mutant individual with unusual mental powers which he uses to manipulate the ruling class of the First Foundation and take over the Galaxy.

In terms of the CES he changes the behavioral structure of the entity’s components by altering their engagement and introducing a technology (governing by his mental influence) into the entity.

The Second Foundation

The Mule’s search for the Second Foundation during his struggle to rule the Galaxy draws the First Foundation’s attention to it, who, feeling threatened by its mere existence, wipes out the group that is believed to be its members. Only by the purposeful and delicate planning of the Second Foundation is its total destruction avoided, unawareness restored and the galactic consciousness returned to its previous state.


If we compare Asimov’s two collective consciousnesses we’ll see that there’s a fundamental difference in how they react to perturbation in the CES. While Gaia is either indifferent to it or responds by returning to (near) its original position, the Foundation could be ruined by a small shift on the awareness axis, and returned only at extreme difficulties. Gaia therefore is a robust collective entity, while the First Foundation is a fragile one.

The robustness property of a collective consciousness reflects the probability of returning to its original state in the Collective Entity Space in response to perturbation.

Let’s take a look at the examples I used in the previous posts. The following table shows the expected reaction and robustness of a collective entity to perturbation on the given axis.

Entity Engagement Nature Technology Robustness
Weak Gaia ? robust
GCP collapses communication collapses moderately fragile
Twitter collapses collapses collapses fragile

Note that components and awareness are not included in the table as all three entities are indifferent to small changes along those axes. Adding or removing a few components, as well as awareness, even when spread among components don’t have an impact on any of them.

Through robustness we are able to measure the sustainability of a collective entity. The examples from Asimov’s Foundation indirectly indicate its importance by the choice made in the story between the Foundation and a galactic Gaia, “Galaxia” in favor of the latter. Golan Trevize, the protagonist of Foundation’s Edge, unconsciously chooses the robust collective entity that ensures the long-term safety of humankind that is scattered throughout the galaxy.

Classifying Global Consciousness

January 1, 2010

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Defining Global Consciousness

December 24, 2009

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

The emergence of the next generation Web forces us to engage ourselves in deeper and deeper conversations on the topic of global consciousness. While the concept has been around for decades, it’s starting to gain more and more attention as we crawl closer to a new Web experience where the amount of information and connections between peers is reaching heights never seen before.

Semantic definition

When we’re talking about global consciousness, it is not always clear what we mean by it. Jay Earley describes global consciousness as the next step in human evolution. His definition goes as,

By global consciousness I mean “collective global reflexive consciousness.” The word “reflexive” refers to the ability of consciousness to reflect back on itself, the ability of a being to be aware of itself. “Global” refers to all of humanity. I use the world “collective” because I am referring to the consciousness of the human race as a whole, not a global consciousness that any of us might have as individuals.

While Jay’s semantic definition is very clear and helps us a great deal to understand and visualize the meaning of global consciousness, it can’t be used for analysis exactly because of that semantic nature.

The Collective Entity Space

Jay Earley’s definition however, provides a framework in which a multitude of global consciousnesses may co-exist. These autonomous entities might agree in their components, but they may differ in the extent of individual engagement and awareness, as well as in the nature and technology dependence of connections between components.

These independent properties (components, engagement, awareness, nature, technology) form the grid of a multi-dimensional space in which a collective entity (collective reflexive consciousness) such as a global consciousness, manifests.

  • Components: A collective entity is formed by its components. Depending on the theory or technology the entity is fundamentally based on, components may be constituted by living, inanimate or even abstract entities.
  • Engagement: Engagement expresses the level of activeness shown by components. A collective entity is considered active, if its formation and functioning requires its components to actively engage themselves in the process. Consequently, the entity is passive, if they don’t.
  • Awareness: Whether components are aware of their contribution to the collective entity.
  • Nature: The process of maintaining connections between components, which is essential to the entity’s existence, must be rooted in natural phenomena: physical, chemical, bio-chemical, biological, psychical or social, or their combination. The exact mixture is often specific to the entity.
  • Technology: Connections, beside being based on a mix of natural laws, may also emerge by the use of technology.

Looking at the possible values each property may take, the possibilities are endless.

Quantitative definition

Using the concept of Collective Entity Space (CES), we can now put the definition of global consciousness in different wording.

A global consciousness is a finite volume in the Collective Entity Space, which, projected to the components axis, reveals the relevant components of Earth.

This definition has two advantages.

  • It’s applicable to analysis as it’s derived from the Collective Entity Space.
  • The possible existence of multiple global consciousnesses is obvious, since projection is surjective.

In the definition, I used “relevant components of Earth” as opposed to Jay Earley’s “humanity”, because there are theories out there that do not restrict components to human beings (e.g. the Gaia Theory).


The viability of the Collective Entity Space concept is proven by how existing theories and projects concerning global consciousness fit into it. Four examples are listed below with a short description and their CES properties.

Gaia Theory

The Gaia Theory presumes that the entire planet, including the biosphere forms an organic system that maintains a homeostasis in favor of life.

Components Engagement Awareness Nature Technology
All components of Earth Passive Unaware Mixed None


The Global Consciousness Project (GCP) is an experimental network of quantum random number generators where output patterns are observed, recorded, and correlated to world events.

Components Engagement Awareness Nature Technology
All humanity Passive Unaware Physical (quantum), Psychical None

Global Brain

The Global Brain theory, as described by Dean Pomerleau, compares the characteristics of real-time social networks, such as Twitter, to those of the human brain. Consciousness is reached by the ever improving complexity and responsiveness of these networks.

Components Engagement Awareness Nature Technology
Twitter users Active (retweeting) Unaware Physical (electrodynamics) Internet


Lightworkers is a spiritual group aiming to create global consciousness (“divine consciousness”, or “collective whole”) on a spiritual level through meditation (“Global Unity Meditation”).

Components Engagement Awareness Nature Technology
Group followers Active (meditation) Aware Psychical (spiritual) “Hemisynch Meditation”


Comparing and analyzing instances of any concept starts with a clear and quantitative definition. In the very case of global consciousness one way of obtaining such a definition is through the Collective Entity Space which is constructed of generalizations made during the deconstruction of global consciousness itself.