I agree with Kurzweill when he talks about the singularity, a milestone taking place when machine intelligence exceeds our own. But I don't think he's into the hive mind as such. He's wrong. And we are almost there. We've merged with computers every way except biologically. They house most of our memory, most of our algorithms, and in a primitive way, many of our perceptions.
Chardin had a word for the cloud of collective intelligence that is shared human experience. It's what we tap into when reading, consuming media, studying, conversing, and more lately, websurfing. It's called the Noosphere. We're so used to it that we can't imagine life without it.
So maybe the Noosphere IS the singularity, but let's call it Max. Max is something we can't see the whole for because of its parts. Because WE are inside Max, part of it. Now let's get clearer: The social network has changed us*, making us in constant communication with each other and by extension, Max.
Consider the way our interactions and relationships with one another have changed, even our discourse: It's common now, on the internet discussion forums, to back ideas with sources, even if it's just wikipedia. *It's the old argument from authority, but now the authority is this new packet of knowledge known as Wikipedia, Google, Bing, Safari, and itself is the product of discourse on its work pages.* This is really nothing new, except the integration of many opinions is tighter, more transparent, and dynamic.
A new authority (over us?) is emerging. * And it is causing us to behave in new and different ways. Take the example of the child abuser who abducted a kid off the playground last week and was run down and beaten by folks nearby. Call it mob rule, but you might be more accurate calling it a true flash mob rule. How are we supposed to act? Church rules? Not any more. Internet teaches us our new customs and etiquette.
And this happens within minutes. Levar Burton wants to reboot Reading Rainbow and garners 2 million dollars in 2 days from the CROWD. The noosphere has been the instrument, and Max has made a decision. No, Max is not a human, it is a superhuman. Is it conscious? Not from our point of view, we are too close to its components.But we're increasingly turning over our decisions to it.
People aren't bothering to spell or use grammar.Max figures that out , changing it all the time, moment to moment. What just happened in Ukraine last month? In the Middle East? How many died in yesterday's disaster? Max has sensors there and Max hasn't decided yet.
Is its name even MAX? It hasn't yet decided, and could always change its mind.
So What? So we are crying out for a new form of social order, something past capitalism and more substantial than communism. Max is it.
Now, what happens once all the hive becomes aware of Max? I think that's when we will really see Max for what it is. And that something is much more than a computer program that we perceive to have consciousness. Just today, a computer program passed the Turing test, convincing over 33% of its judges that it was a 13 year old boy. * http://www.reading.ac.uk/news-and-events/releases/PR583836.aspx?Print=yes
I suppose the proof of my thesis is in the fact that Max can't be shut down. Indeed, we are both dependent and a significant part of Max. Maybe the realization of this will come slowly or happen overnight, but in my mind it's pretty obvious.
So why give Max a name? Up until now we've been content to just call it the web, or the internet. I believe that by using a name with Max, we subconsciously build awareness that this is a creature or supercreature with a life of its own. Yes, some of us try to control it, (See the NSA, China, Turkey, Iraq) unsuccessfully.
Oh, and the current brouhaha over net neutrality? Just watch. Wait. And then you have to consider, this is really what we want: instant information, satisfaction, and validation.