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Emerging of global mind – new trend of social evolution

Society is “a living organism” – it evolves becoming more complicated and complex. Throughout history thousands tribes have been “melted” into two hundred nations. Now those nations are in a process of unification called globalisation, creating truly single social organism. Complexity of modern society is comparable only with the complexity of human brain. So, could future society be organised in a way resembling the structure and functions of human brain?

Both society and human brain make decisions. Becoming more complex, society change its decision-making mechanism from autocracy (single ruler: king, emperor etc.) to democracy, which is collective decision-making mechanism. The last one includes voting system and final decisions are made in favour of majority. Human brain works in different way. To make a decision most “competent” brain cells are associated and collaborate in an attempt to find a workable hypothesis, which is verified in real practice. There is no voting system at all. This is collaborative decision-making mechanism.

In modern society there are clear indications for moving from collective to collaborative decision-making mechanism.

  • Perhaps Internet, which was born twenty years ago, is the first significant change in this direction. The Internet is something like global “nerve system”, connecting all human beings in just one network. However the Internet is still not a “brain”. It is a predisposition, facilitating further structural changes in society resembling human brain.
  • The second such change is emerging of discussion forums. Specially designed software facilitates global communication among people sharing similar interests. These communications resemble associations among brain cells exchanging information.
  • The third change is a boom of social networks. Also specialised platforms facilitate not only communications but social activities like dating, entertainment, professional actions etc globally. Social network services resemble specialised areas of human brain.
  • Perhaps the most significant such change for the time being is wiki movement. Best known wiki based collaborative project is Wikipedia. Thousands of people across the world collaborate to select and organise existed knowledge, creating cyclopaedia, which look a lot like the memory of mankind. Wikipedians (wiki collaborators) work as “brain cells”, resembling processing power of human brain and cognitive functions of human mind. Currently there are around 3000 websites based on collaborative MediaWiki platform (see www.wikiindex.org for last updates), which are truly up-and-coming virtual global brain.
  • The next level in development of modern society is emerging of collaborative decision-making networks (CDMNs). As a platform they are still in infancy, available for limited corporative projects. Nevertheless emerging of collaborative platforms and decision-making mechanism is a core in transforming society from hierarchical to heterarchical structure resembling virtual global mind. (See www.netsmind.org as a flavour of collaborative decision-making network).

Collaborative decision-making mechanism is not entirely new phenomenon. Scientific knowledge is build up through collaboration among scientist in an attempt to find solutions of scientific problems. To do that, the scientists do not vote; they elaborate hypotheses, which are verified through experiments. The final solution is established truth. Only difference is that scientific collaboration is based on printing press as a platform until CDMNs are based on digital platform like MediaWiki and decisions could be made globally in real time.

As was mentioned above, the CDMNs are still in infancy. At the first place it is necessary to upgrade collaborative software like MediaWiki adapting to necessity of decision-making process: templates for two, three and even more alternative feasible models of decisions etc. Secondly CDMNs need to grow up to level of “critical mass” to become fully functional mechanism. Perhaps some of existed discussion forums and think-thanks will go online, creating CDMNs in an attempt to solve one particular social problem.

In short term CDMNs could act as a jury in jury trail system, confirming which decisions should be implemented. In long term CDMNs will gain “self-consciousness” or will become fully functional global “brain and mind”. As a result CDMNs will act as “global mind” taking most important decisions on all levels: local, national, regional and global. For long period of time collective (institutional) and collaborative (self-selected and truly independent) decision-making mechanisms will work in parallel supplementing each other. So, if collective decision-making mechanism is a foundation of democracy, “upgrading” to collaborative decision-making mechanism should be considered as higher level of democracy. At this point society will become self-governing, which is qualitative different from self-organisation of society as a living and rational system.

Perhaps in very distant future people will be divided not depending on how much they take from society, but how they contribute to society – as “brain cells” or as “somatic cells”. Who knows?

London, December 2009

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December 24, 2009 - Posted by | Society | , , ,

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