Conceptions of a Global Brain – An Historical Review
The “global brain” is a metaphor for the intelligent network formed by the people of this planet together with the knowledge and communication technologies that connect them together. The different approaches leading up to this conception, by authors such as Spencer, Otlet, Wells, Teilhard, Russell and Turchin, are reviewed in their historical order. The contributions are classified in three major approaches: organicism, which sees society or the planet as a living system; encyclopedism, which aims to develop a universal knowledge network; and emergentism, which anticipates the evolution of a suprahuman level of consciousness. The shortcomings of each perspective lead us to propose an integrated approach, based on evolutionary cybernetics. Its selectionist logic allows us to analyse the process whereby initially selfish individuals self-organize into a synergetic system functioning at a higher level of intelligence, making use of an advanced version of the world-wide web.