The following are the abstracts of presentations that have been made at the Global Brain Workshop, which was organized in July 2001 at the Free University of Brussels by the Global Brain Group (presently: the Global Brain Institute).


Tue, July 3

Discussion: what is the GB and how does it evolve?

Wed, July 4

Discussion: which technologies can support the GB?

Thu, July 5

Discussion: how can we practically manage and design a GB?

Bruce Edmonds

Evolutionary Units and Adaptive Intelligence
why a brain could not be produced by internal evolutionary processes (but could be composed of such)

full presentation

Centre for Policy Modelling
Manchester Metropolitan University

From an evolutionary perspective the brain is an organ whose purpose is to help implement adaptive behaviour useful to the organism. It presumably arose because it conferred selective advantage to the individuals who had it - individuals who were subject to an evolutionary process as a whole. It seems likely that some of the benefit of the adaptivity that the brain provides is that it allows sophisticated social coordination which may allow the instigation of a new evolutionary process - that of memes. It also seems almost certain that the adaptive behaviour is implemented in the brain using evolutionary mechanisms - e.g. Edelman's neuronal Darwinism (1991) or Dennett's multiple drafts (1992). For an evolutionary process to occur you need units that are: replicated, selected and varied in response to an environment. In the case of humans they evolved a brain to survive and perpetuate themselves in their environment. In the case of memes they evolve as units as those that will be socially perpetuated in the (human) social environment. In the case of neural structures they are copied, reinforced and selected in response to the environment driven by perceptions. Other kinds of units can only evolve adaptive behaviour if they can replicate, vary and be selected out.

A culture can not itself evolve by internal evolutionary or computational process - however sophisticated these processes are but a culture could evolve as part of a population of cultures which replicate and propagate etc. One of the differences in the outcomes is that a community of interacting and evolving (as separate units) individuals can become socially embedded and improve their own fitness/computational load so that the fitness of the whole system marginally drops (Edmonds 1999), whereas if the whole system is being evolved as a unit the fitness of the individuals is (at least somewhat) sacrificed to improve the fitness of the whole. Being a part of a brain is a different experience from being part of an interacting community of individually evolving actors.

Thus the internet as a whole can not become a Global Brain, however sophisticated the interactions, but parts of the internet could. This requires that parts of the internet become distinct units capable of reliable replication etc. The engine of their evolution would probably be our informational needs as users of the internet. These units would probably have to evolve to become quite complex entities - well entrenched using their own replicatory processes - before it would be worth the "cost" of supporting brains of their own. Efforts to design processes inside the internet to make the whole intelligent will probably fail - what you will get is a computer (Edmonds 2000). If a brain is characterised by intelligence rather than computation then this will require the abandonment of a detailed design stance and the adoption of a more evolutionary approach.


George Pór

Using Dynamic Knowledge Repositories to Support "Real-Time/Delayed Time" Synergy in Global Communities that Learn

full paper (draft, word format)
Full paper final (HTML)

Email address -- (or
URL of my home page --
Affiliations -- * Senior Research Fellow, Center for Advanced Learning Technologies, INSEAD
* Founder, Community Intelligence Labs
Address -- 13, rue St. Severin
75005 Paris, France

The dual function of this presentation is to make a contribution that makes a difference in the development of:

The motivation for this dual purpose comes from my assessment that the social dynamics of communities that learn will play a larger and more fundamental role in the evolution of GB than individuals, yet the sociological perspective is lagging behind the technological, epistemological, and the"individual-as-neuron" focus of GB research.

The intent of the suggested presentation is to foster a dialogue on the nervous system of social organisms perceived as networks of conversation, and how their facilitated constellations may promote the evolution of GB. To test the usefulness of the ideas presented in that context, it will be proposed that we design next year's event as an opportunity to not only talk about GB but to trigger and optimize a community dynamics supportive to its evolution.

This presentation will be comprised of three sections as follow.

1. Overview and "lessons learned" commentary on current trends in R&D pertinent to Dynamic Knowledge Repositories, including the work of:

2. Exploration of "Real-Time/Delayed Time" (RT/DT) synergy and the learning breakthroughs that become possible when we combine the best "features" of these two primary modes of collective cognition.

3. The implications of the key points developed in the first two sections, for the organizing patterns of GB 2002.

Keywords: bootstrapping, collaborative ontologies, collective intelligence, knowledge ecology, knowledge ecosystem, nervous system in social organisms, network of conversations, transformative conferencing.



* Nurturing Systemic Wisdom Through Knowledge Ecology, by George Pór, in collaboration with Janice Molloy, in "Systems Thinker",

* Knowledge - Intelligence - Wisdom: Essential Value Chain of the New Economy

Keynote address delivered by George Pór at the "Consultation Meeting on the Future of Organisations and Knowledge Management" of the European Commission's Directorate-General Information Society Technologies, Brussels,

* The Value of Emergent Value Creation Models in the Knowledge Economy

Position paper by George Pór, presented in the "Future of Organisations" session of the "Consultation Meeting on the Future of Organisations and Knowledge Management" held by the European Commission's Directorate-General Information Society Technologies, Brussels,

* Source Document for Knowledge Ecology


Gottfried Mayer-Kress

Time-Scales and the Historical Role of Conferences for the Emergence of Global Brains

full presentation

Department of Kinesiology
Penn State University
University Park, PA 16802,

The formation of cell-assemblies in the biological brain is believed to be associated with cognitive events and feature binding in perception and learning. In the context of a global brain we interpret gatherings of intelligent agents with the objective to communicate intensively on a common topic as an analogous event. We know from biological brains that the formation of cell assemblies also is accompanied by gamma band ( "40Hz"), synchronized electrical activity of participating neurons. Thereby characteristic time-scales of biological brains are established. We know that in human communication there exist similar "universal" time-scales that facilitate constructive interaction and the emergence of collective, self-organized behavior. One of the shortest time-scales is that of synchronous interaction (e.g. 300ms in conversation etc) but other time-scales determined by biological factors ("how long can a person sit and listen to a speaker" ) can be of similar importance. Current mega-conferences with the order of 10^4 participants push the limits of the concept of "face-to-face" interactions among participants. At the same time we currently witness the advent of modern electronic communication tools that could push the envelope of meaningful interactions in big conferences all the way to scales relevant to global brain dimensions (10^10). We finally will discuss some of the electronic support tools that are available today or that we can expect to become available in the near future. We count on constructive and critical input from participants and other members of the Global Brain community.

Parker Rossman

University and the Global Brain - Some Questions

full paper
Full paper-revised
3 Lemmon Drive
Columbia MO 65201

I wish to ask some questions for discussion at Brussels or afterwards, related to only one small part of the global brain agenda. I welcome Rayward's criticisms of the world brain concept of H.G. Wells. But Wells raises some useful questions which can be separated from his political, social and philosophical assumptions.

(1) For example I am intrigued by a suggestion made by Bill Gates that perhaps the entry into the World Wide Web should be an encyclopedia. Could this be a global encyclopedia--perhaps consisting many cross-indexed and linked online encyclopedias scattered all over the world? Could this be a way to help individuals cope with the knowledge explosion without some authoritarian control over the organization of knowledge? Couldn't peer reviewed definitive articles in those encylopedias be linked to many conflicting points of view, thus pointing to areas where most research is needed? As for `control' isn't the Internet a model?

(2) Is the global brain an inevitable product of the evolution of technologies? As Moravec and Kurzweil right that linked supercomputers will ultimately make human minds obsolete and unable to control the technology? Or, on the other hand, isn't the global brain to be a combination of such future technology plus collective human intelligence that may involve millions of human brains? And more?

(3) Will not that collective intelligence be centered in linked universities and linked research libraries (whatever their virtual shape may be), which will continue to assume responsibility for peer review and indexing. . .on the Internet, Web and whatever follows them? Would they divide responsibilies and collaborate on one massive index? Or will something like many cross-linked search engines--some commercial, some university library centered, continue to organize and link various kinds of index systems?

About the author:

A bit about myself? Instead of a vita (since I am retired anyway) I report some of my experiences in relationship to my study of the nature and future of higher education, and its relation to the Global Brain and new ways to solve human problems._

During my second undergraduate year I decided that I wanted to spend my life helping universities be what they ought to be. In that I was influenced by Sir Walter Moberley_s THE CRISIS IN THE UNIVERSITY. So I wrote a graduate thesis on a phase of `the sociology of the university community._ While at the University of Chicago I greatly enjoyed weekly public lectures on what was going on currently in various disciplines, so while doing a Ph.D in higher education I taught a seminar in which I invited young Yale faculty and graduate students in various disciplines to tell about the `cutting edge_ in their fields and I asked them how it might help solve society_s big crises.  I set up a plan to write a series of books (AFTER PUNISHMENT WHAT, HOSPICE, etc., challenging various professions that way.

While spending a sabbatical in Geneva I visited many European universities. (When a couple of years ago I sought out the last rector of Humboldt University_under communism--to talk about the dream of the future of the university which was developed there in the last days before the wall came down, I discovered that he had years earlier been my host when I had given a lecture there.) As a member of the board of World University Service, I spent three months with a team of scholars, including university presidents, who visited universities all around the rim of Asia. In this and other studies of universities, my personal priority was on their possible role in solving global crises ? the problem-centered university. (When In Burma to interview students government officers in Rangoon, I was sitting in the office of the American ambassador_a former student of our department at Yale_when I got the news that the Burmese army had shot all of the students I was to interview!)

Probing into the dreams students had for new kinds of society, for some years I was part of a research project studying the impact of Marxism on students, mainly in Latin America. As part of that I talked with revolutionaries in Philippines (I was told that the leading ideologue of the Marxist revolutionaries there would never talk with an American, but he showed up at 3 a.m. one morning and turned out to be a theologian.), I also went up into the hills of Colombia, Venezuela--and with Congresswoman Edith Green to interview ex-comrades of Fidel Castro.

In the 1960_s, while on a sabbatical year in Beirut, I had long café conversations with some future leaders of the PLO. (I urged them to try Martin Luther King_s nonviolent approach, but their ideology had convinced them that revolutionary change happened only at the point of a gun.)  Some of these experiences led me to some research on undergrounds_terrorist, prison, revolutionary, sexual, criminal etc.  So I became vice-president of a group that was helping fund research on the mafia, which took me to Naples and Sicily many times. I am convinced that the research center of Danilo Dolci_the Gandhi of Sicily_deserves much credit for the decline of the Mafia in Italy. (Of course I was told in South Italy late in 1999 that many wish the old Mafia_that loved Sicily_was back, rather than the highly funded international mafias that have moved into the vacuum. Even the old mafia had some good dreams, I found_when a young mafia soldier sought me out for `an exchange of views._ My book THE EMERGING WORLDWIDE ELECTRONIC UNIVERSITY got me invited to brief student delegates to the UNESCO higher education conference_where students talked with me about the changes in higher education that they dream about-- and into the ASIS World Brain group, some World Bank projects to explore how to provide education for everyone in the world, and other efforts to cope better with human crises, --.following up on my last efforts at Yale to create interdisciplinary teams to help professionals in mid-career planning. . .in ways that would focus on  bringing many minds together to work on serious global and human problems. (I was intrigued by a Swedish futurist who said that everyone should take a sabbatical at age fifty to plan the rest of  er or his life.  That, however, is a bit late.)

Do we all, collectively, have some common dreams for the future of humanity in this, our early years in the universe?

Benjamin N. Goertzel

The Webmind AI Engine as the Cortex of the Global Brain , ,
Webmind, Inc., 50 Broadway,
New York, NY 10004, USA.

 The Webmind AI Engine, an integrative AI architecture, will be discussed, along with Webworld, a sister architecture allowing the AI Engine to make use of massively distributed peer-to-peer computing.  A focus will be placed on the potential of this framework to seed the evolution of a newly coherent "global brain", and the emergence of superhuman digital intelligence (the Singularity).  See for a related article.

Benjamin N. Goertzel1) , Yuri V. Macklakov 2) , Vladimir G. Red'ko 3)

Model of Evolution of Web Agents

1) , , Webmind, Inc., 50 Broadway, New York, NY 10004, USA. 2) , Webmind, Inc. 3) , , Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics, Russian Academy of Science, 4 Miusskaya sq., Moscow, 125047, Russia

The model of evolution of Artificial Life agents in Internet environment has been designed. The model is based on the following assumptions:

The computer program that implements the model has been created; the first simulations have been performed. The results of simulations demonstrate that evolution is able to find simplest possible solutions. Though we included some intelligent options into the control system of agents (three types of communications, neural network learning, informational exchange between friends), agents donât use such "fine structure" of intelligence. Agents find "very good" solution (mating for 80% of time and solving tasks to find food for 20% of time) at large amount of food income or a combination of random search with "very goodä solution at small amount of food income.

A possible direction of development of the model that might ensure effective operation of a "fine structureä of intelligence of agents is discussed.

The detailed description of the model and results of experiments is given at the site:

Bill Hibbard

Network Diameter and Emotional Values in the Global Brain

Full paper

Email address:
URL of home page:
Affiliation: University of Wisconsin
Address: SSEC, 1225 W. Dayton St., Madison, WI 53706 USA

The global network of humans and machines is evolving into a global brain. We can try to understand its nature by analogy with human and animal brains, which are our only current examples of intelligent, conscious brains.

Studies of mammal brains reveal that the number of connections per neuron increases with the number of neurons according to a mathematical relation that is consistent over four orders of magnitude of brain volume (from mice to whales) [2]. The relation between these values is tuned so that the diameter of the neuron network remains constant at about 2.6, where network diameter is defined as the average distance between pairs of neurons. There is some evidence that a small diameter is important for the efficiency of learning. If the average number of connections per neuron remains constant, then network diameter increases without limit as the number of neurons increases.

The number of connections that humans can support as nodes in the global brain is limited (e.g., people can understand only 1 or 2 simultaneous conversations and can know only about 200 other people well [1]). In order for the size of the global brain to increase without limit, and to maintain a limited diameter as mammal brains do, then it must include components whose average connectivity increases without limit. Thus machines rather than humans must ultimately be the largest nodes of the global brain.

Learning and the emotional values that define positive and negative reinforcement for learning are essential to intelligence and consciousness [3]. The values of human and animal brains promote the interests of self and of others who share their genes, although some human emotions (e.g., guilt and gratitude) and abilities (e.g., language and lie detecting) exist to enable social cooperation [6]. However, there are strong limits to human cooperation [4] including xenophobia that may be the accidental result of the choice of ape species that humans evolved from [1].

But the values of the global brain can be influenced through the values of the intelligent machines that will be its largest nodes, and their values can be designed rather than accepted as the result of evolution. We can design intelligent machines with values to promote human happiness and without values to promote their own interests [5]. There will certainly be motives for corporations and governments to design intelligent machines with selfish values. This will be very dangerous to humanity and must be resisted by an effort to educate the public.


1. Bownds, M. D. 1999. Biology of Mind. Bethesda. Fitzgerald Science Press, Inc. Available at

2. Clark, D. Constant parameters in the anatomy and wiring of the mammalian brain. Available at

3. Edelman, G. M. and Tononi, G. 2000. A Universe of Consciousness. New York. Perseus Books Group.

4. Heylighen, F. & Campbell, D.T. (1995) Selection of organization at the social level: obstacles and facilitators of metasystem transitions. World Futures: the Journal of General Evolution 45, 181-212. 1995. Available at

5. Hibbard, W. Super-intelligent machines. Computer Graphics 35(1), 11-13. 2001. Available at

6. Pinker, S. 1997. How the Mind Works. New York and London. W. W. Norton and Co.

Craig A. Kaplan

Forecasting Stock Prices Using Collective Intelligence

Full paper
Lecturer at University of California Santa Cruz,
Sigma Xi, ACM, ASQ, APA
ADDRESS: iQ Company, 1840 41st Avenue, #102-171
Capitola, CA 95010 USA
Curriculum Vitae

Heylighen (1999) defines collective intelligence as the ability of a group to solve more problems than its individual members. Expanding the scope of this definition allows inclusion of other types of cognition besides problem-solving. For example, in this paper, a group that makes better decisions than its individual members is considered to exhibit collective ntelligence. In the future it might be desirable to expand the scope of collective intelligence to include not only problem-solving and decision making but also other cognitive functions studied by cognitive scientists (Simon & Kaplan 1989).

While it is theoretically possible to implement a general problem solving system that exhibits collective intelligence (Kaplan 2001), problem representation (Heylighen 1988 & 1990, Kaplan & Simon 1990) and problem decomposition (Newell & Simon 1972) remain tough practical challenges. An easier first step is to build a simple decision making system that exhibits collective intelligence.

This paper describes the design and testing of a prototype system that makes stock trading decisions based on collective intelligence. During an eleven trading-day test period, the system out-performed the NASDAQ, S&P 500, and DJIA stock indices by margins of 12.40%, 5.68%, and 2.25% respectively.

Statistical analysis showed that it was highly unlikely that a random sample of NASDAQ stock picks would have performed as well as our system (p<.02). We also found that the system performed better when more people participated, suggesting that the system's good performance was due to collective intelligence.

Further testing is needed to see if these results will hold up over a longer period of time and with more participants. Implications of this research for general decision-making and problem-solving systems based on collective intelligence are discussed.


Shann Turnbull

Design criteria for a Global Brain

full paper

Graduate School of Management
Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
C/-PO Box 266,Woollahra, Sydney, NSW, 1350
Ph: +612 9328 7466, Fax: +612 9327 1497, Mobile
+0418 222 378

The design criteria for connecting humans on the planet through their five senses needs to recognise that their capacity to receive, store, organise and transmit information is subject to physiological and neurological limits. These limits can be determined in bytes/second (Turnbull, 2000a: Table 4) to provide a basis to identify the maximum rates that data, information, knowledge and wisdom can be shared. Transaction Byte Analysis developed by Turnbull (2000a,b,c) provides a basis for grounding organisational analysis and a theory of social construction in the natural sciences to design a global brain.

Other criteria for designing a global brain is that the human neo-cortex is limited to making around 200 calculations per second (Kurzweil 1999: 103) with the architecture of its neural nets being best suited to solve complex problems through pattern recognition (Kurzweil 1999: 79). However, the "chunks of knowledge that a human expert in a particular field" can master is between 50,000 to 100,000 (Kurzweil 1999: 119). Dunbar (1993: 685) reports that size of the neo-cortex also limits the number of people a person can trust to around 150 to provide a limit on the number of people a person can communicate with most efficiently.

A contributing problem in establishing reliable communications is that the operating characteristics of humans can be subject to change, inconsistency, errors and contrary behaviour (Wearing 1975). However, Turnbull (2000b) points out that these variations can be minimised as much as desired by using cybernetic criteria in designing the architecture by which people are connected like synapses. Increased reliability being obtained by providing requisite variety in decision making, communications, and control by using the principles identified respectively by von Neuman (1947), Shannon (1949), and Ashby (1968). Utilisation of the contrary characteristics of people to create checks and balances has been identified by Turnbull (2000c) as the most efficient way of establishing the strongest self-organising social structures with the minimum transaction of bytes. This design principle of using materials with contrary characteristics is described as "tensegrity" (Ingbar 1998) and is found throughout nature to provide the greatest strength for the least weight.

Additional design criteria to minimise information overload and "bounded rationality" (Williamson 1975: 4?7) is provided by the Principle of Subsidiary Function (Pius XI 1931:40; Schumacher 1975: 203). Also by using architecture based on "holons" and "holarchies" (Koestler 1967) described by Simon (1962) as "sub-assemblies" and Beer (1985: 117) as a "viable system". Mathews (1996s: 30) states that "The reduction in data transmission, and in data complexity, achieved by the holonic architecture, is prodigious" and identifies three levels of learning in holarchies (Mathews 1996b: 119). All these design features are illustrated in the structure of the stakeholder cooperatives established around the town of Mondragon in Spain (Turnbull 2000c).

The ways in which all these design criteria are used in designing a global brain depends upon defining the functional role for a global brain. The role of establishing World government to sustain life on earth provides one self-motivating interest for the mind of "Gaia "(Lovelock, 1988).


Ashby, W.R. 1968, An introduction to cybernetics, University Paperback, London.

Beer, S. 1985, Diagnosing the system for organizations, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, England.

Ingber, D.E. 1998, _The architecture of life_, Scientific American, 30?39, January.

Koestler, C.O. 1967, The ghost in the machine, Hutchinson, London.

Kurzweil, R. 1999, The age of spiritual machines: When computers exceed human intelligence, Viking, New York.

Lovelock, J., 1988, The Ages of Gaia. W. W. Norton & Co., New York

Schumacher, E.F. 1975, Small is beautiful: A study of economics if people mattered, Abacus, London.

Mathews, J. 1996a, 'Holonic organisational architectures', Human Systems Management, 15, 27?54.

Mathews, J. 1996b, 'Organizational foundations of economic learning', Human Systems Management, 15, 113?24

Pius XI, 1931, Enclyclical letter on social reconstruction, St Paul Editions, Boston, MA.

Neumann, J. von, 1947, Theory of games and economic behaviour, Yale University Press, Conneticut.

Shannon, C.E. 1949, The mathematical theory of communications, The University of Illinois Press: Urbana, 1?94

Simon, H.A. 1962, 'The architecture of complexity,' Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 106, December, 467?82.

Turnbull, S. 2000a Gouvernement d'entreprise:Théories, Enjeux et paradigmes (Corporate Governance: Theories, challenges and paradigms), Gouvernance: Revenue internationale, 1:1, 11-43, Montréal, 2000. English text only at

Turnbull, S. 2000b _The competitive advantages of stakeholder mutuals_, presented to the 12th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-economics, London School of Economics, July 9th, 2000. Abridged version forthcoming 2001 in The New Mutualism, ed. J. Birchall Chapter 9, Routledge, 2001, London.

Turnbull, S. 2000c _Why unitary boards are not best practice: A case for compound boards_, presented to the First European Conference on Corporate Governance, Belgian Directors_ Institute, November 16th, Belgium's National Bank Brussels.

Wearing, A.J. 1973, _Economic growth: Magnificent obsession_, Paper presented to 44th Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science Congress, August, Perth, Australia.

Williamson, O.E. 1975, Markets and hierarchies: Analysis and anti?trust implications, Free Press, NY.

About the author:
Shann Turnbull graduated in engineering, science and business.  He working life has mainly been in business but with a strong interest in utilising the proposals of his 1975 book, <>Democratising the Wealth of Nations.  He pioneered in 1975 the study and teaching of corporate governance as a founding author of the first educational qualification for company directors.  He is now researching the theory and practice of self-governance for democratising the control of nations.  He obtained his PhD degree for showing how the science of information and control can be applied to social organisations.

Personnel web page at and family page at The full text of his 1975 book and twelve associated articles is at Abstracts of 15 academic articles on governance and the full text of 11 are at the Social Science Research Network at Five topical corporate governance articles are in The Corporate Library at  and the World Bank has three articles on its anti-corruption strategies page at  Strategies for the future operations of the bank are at and will locate over 200 other items under his name.

Anthony Judge and Nadia McLaren

Simulating a Global Brain ? Phobias, Delusions, Psychoses and All: using networks of international organizations, world problems, strategies, and values

full paper

Union of International Associations - UIA (
Anthony Judge
Director, Communications and Research
Union of International Associations
Rue Washington 40
B-1050 Brussels, BELGIUM
Tel:(32 2) 640.18.08 Fax:(32 2) 643 61 99

The paper reports briefly on the ongoing process of systematic information collection and web presentation by the UIA of networks of some 20,000 international organizations, 45,000 perceived world problems, 30,000 advocated action strategies, and some 3,000 values -- resulting in a total of 500,000 hyperlinks. These different entities are understood to constitute an interesting focal sub-system of whatever is to be understood by an emerging global brain _ for which the "problems" might be understood as "neuroses", if not "tumours". This is followed by a description of implemented features to improve the way in which organizations can use this facility to articulate the collaborative networks within which they collectively develop strategic responses to subsets of the network of problems (perceived in the light of networks of partially shared values). The concrete challenge is the manner in which this network of features can become self-aware via its web representation, at least to a degree that is less dysfunctional in partially coordinating world system responses. Steps taken towards facilitating cognitive coherence include dynamic self-organizing visualizations (and sound equivalents) of these network features. The approach is being designed to maximize the degree to which providers of information become users of the resulting knowledge patterns with which they can interact, notably as a means of evoking richer patterning of the complexity reflected in "synaptic" hyperlinks. The conceptual challenge of developing improved hyperlink editing tools and supportive knowledge management methods is addressed, as well as associated tools through which coalitions of users can derive more coherent patterns of meaning from what they access in the light of often significantly incompatible perspectives. The more fundamental concern of the paper is to highlight the conceptual difficulties of providing information in a form that needs to be variously ordered according to user "bias" whilst providing a non-intrusive, facilitative cognitive framework that can maintain some degree of coherence, or allow for its emergence. A particular concern is the dynamic between the necessary diversity of (often strongly held) preferences for meaningful knowledge representation and the need for (often overly simplistic) coherence within coalitions whose consensus is fundamental to any concrete global response. These challenges raise questions about integrating intelligent sub-systems into a global brain, ezpecially if some of the networks might be understood as sub- intelligent from a global perspective. The paper also reports on steps to shift the level of analysis, and representation, from isolated entities to the multitude of feedback loops buried within such patterns of information.


Susantha Goonatilake

Information currents in an interlinked ocean of genes, cultures and computing artifacts.

Center for Study of Social Change
New School for Social Research
5Th Av
New York, NY USA
Emai laddress

The use of the concept _information_ as pragmatic information, that is, a set of instructions of how to interact with its environment, allows for an overarching theoretical scheme in dealing with three sets of information lineages. These lineages respectively encompass genetic information, some machine-based information (as in neural networks and genetic algorithms and artificial life) as well as human cultural information. Each of these lineages can be shown to have common evolutionary characteristics..

These common characteristics are memory preservation, creation of novelty, speciation, self-construction, subjectivity to the external world and an evolutionary epistemology. The two non-cultural information systems are now being acted upon by the cultural through biotechnology and information technology. The three lineages interact with each other merging directly or indirectly their information streams, merging the information content as well as their modes of interacting with their environments. This results in changes in all three streams, the genetic, the artefactual and the cultural. These processes profoundly change in describable ways, the long term evolutionary and other characteristics of all three lineages, giving rise to fundamental changes.

This process will redefine what constitutes "social" and what constitutes "community." A community_s members communicate with their "significant others" and change their internal information states (and their internal and external behaviors). Under conditions of merging, information exchanges occur across all the three lineages. In this sense, the concept of significant other, that is a communicating entity, is now spread from human communities to encompass also the biological and the artefactual. A seamless merging between the three realms now occurs.

The resulting image of interactions that now arises is of multiple oceans of communities, operating at different levels, the genetic, the cultural and the artefactual. There are exchanges across the different levels, up and down and sideways, as information is translated from one realm to the other. These exchanges arise from internally generated signals due to the internal dynamics of each community as well as from those generated through dynamics between lineages. These dynamics result in changes in the evolutionary characteristics of each lineage and sub-lineage, including the internal perceptions from within a lineage, namely in the language of evolutionary epistemology, its " meaning" and "hypotheses" on the world. Thermodynamically this is an open system with a constant increase of organization within the system, upward and onward accompanied necessarily by changes in inflows and outflows to and from the system. The study of social phenomena in the new millennium must necessarily take into account these factors. A future sociology must incorporate dynamics of all three realms.


Susantha Goonatilake:Evolution of Information: Lineages in Genes, Culture and Artefact (Pinter Publishers, London 1992),

Susantha Goonatilake:Merged Evolution: the Long Term Implications of Information Technology and Biotechnology (Gordon and Breach, New York 1998)

Susantha Goonatilake:"Towards a "meta-ethic" derived from evolutionary lineages" in Evolutionary Systems - Biological and Epistemological Perspectives on Selection and Self-Organization by Gertrudis Van De Vijver (Editor), et al (1998) Kluwer Academic Dordecht/Boston/London

Susantha Goonatilake:"The Structure of "Communities" and Communications in the New Millennium" in The Quest for a Unified Theory of Information Wolfgang Hofkirchner (Editor) (Gordon and Breach, New York 1998)

Vladimir Mokiy

Transdisciplinary safety of the "Global Brain" project

Full paper

Scientific Degrees: Doctor of Philosophy, professor
Position: Head of the Theoretical Center
Head-office: Informological Institute AG (Switzerland)
Location: Moscow Representative Office of Informological Institute AG
Address: 12 Trubnaya str., 103045 Moscow, Russia

Projects like "Global Brain" contribute to a larger endeavor to address a radically new problem our society faces, with new organizational forms. This should be welcomed. Nobody doubts that disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches ought to be employed for the gripping with separate components of this problem. Nevertheless hazards for the society from the impact of "the self-organized system of the Global Brain" should not be neglected.

To analyze the risk of the likely impact of the complex multi-factor and multi-component systems on humans and society is an evident transdisciplinary problem in our case. Thereby an adequate variant of the transdisciplinary approach has to be applied for its solution. To our minds, an informological variant of the transdisciplinary approach (worked out by Informological Institute) can profess to take this role. An advantage of this approach is that it was molded as an independent general scientific discipline for the first time. It yielded in the possibility to legalize its language, universal patterns, a method of information analysis. All this allows to carry out a transdisciplinary analysis of the "Global Brain" from the uniform conceptual stance and focus experts on those peculiarities of its further development that hide potential danger for the society. Our thoughts on this subject are expressed in this abstract.

A planet can be represented as a certain informological space (an organized environment). The general condition of space represents an order of the potency realization (hidden force) that stipulates co-evolutionary harmonic development of all its fragments. All the objects, processes, interactions and any complex organized environments of the planetary space perform as fragments. Deviation of a general condition from the norm brings about a change into the order of the potency realization. Informology considers that in this situation a real condition of the space represents two potencies - a potency of the real process and a potency of the margin. Order of realization of the potency of the entire space is the law for realization of all its spatial fragments. Therefore, if the real condition of space does not coincide with the norm, a potency of all its fragments will be subtracted for the margin value.

Let's project this theoretical discourse on the substantiation of transdisciplinary safety of the project:

It should become obvious that the extent of deviation of the general condition of the planetary space from a norm indicates the extent of the deviation (or of a predisposition to such a deviation) of the general condition of people and any complex organized environments to which "Global Brain" also belongs, from a norm. This is an unconditional rule. The emerging margin in this case diminishes the magnitude of the constructive potency of "the space of Global Brain". So the first dangerous feature of the "Global Brain" for the society is an objective curb on the degree of the complexity of tasks that can be solved with its aid under the actual general state of the planetary space.

The second perilous and latent peculiarity of the "Global Brain" for the society is a realization of the margin's potency, which value demonstrates stable growth every year. The value of the margin's potency predetermines an emergence of several negative situations at once:

First, it may exemplify "a value of illusions" that will be inevitably generated, when "Global Brain" tries to solve complex multi-factor tasks exceeding its actually existing potential.

Second, it may embody "a value of estrangement" from the offered reliable solutions of complex multi-factor tasks due to the excessive level of perception of a potential of scientific concepts by the "Global Brain".

The third potentially dangerous and concealed from the society peculiarity of the "Global Brain" is the absence of "Global Ethics for the Global Brain". In this case it is the matter of absence of a concept of the common worldview of the humankind. This worldview is to establish obvious and indisputable principles of the relationship inside such a complex combined system as "Global Brain". Otherwise the "Global Brain" is capable to become a hindrance to the harmonious development of each man and the community on the whole.

Provided a transdisciplinary technology is applied, disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches will be enforced by it, and thus a forestalled solution of these potentially dangerous for humans and the society peculiarities of the "Global Brain" can be provided. The subsequent elaboration of a concept of the current and strategic risk-analysis of the "Global Brain" will make its activities an important and safe element of the development of the Human Race.


1. Margaret A. Somerville & David J. Rapport (editors): Transdisciplinarity: reCreating Integrated Knowledge, EOLSS Publishers Co. Ltd, 2000.

2. Vladimir Mokiy, Anna Zhamborova and Olga Shegai: Brief introduction to Informology, Noviy Tsentr, Moscow, 1998.

3. Alexandr Nikiforov, Mikhail Mokiy and Vladimir Mokiy: System and informological approach to cognition and practical work, Noviy Tsentr, Moscow, 1999.

4. Vladimir Mokiy, Anna Zhamborova and Olga Shegai: Method of informological analysis, Noviy Tsentr, Moscow, 1999.

5. Anatoliy Putintsev, Valentina Artiukhova and Galina Lebedeva: 'Phenomenal condition of biological and ecological systems in the organized space' in the materials of the International scientific - practical conference Analysis of systems on a threshold of the 21st century: a theory and a practice, Moscow, Vol. 2, p. 414; February, 1996.

6. Valdimir Mokiy, Natalia Fedorenko: 'About an opportunity of the current and long-term forecasting of adverse (extreme) situations for the concrete man' in Military medicine at the down of the 21st century: realities and prospects (dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the State research probe institute of military medicine). The theses of reports at the all-Russia scientific - practical conference, Moscow. pp. 64-65; November 28, 2000.

Francis Heylighen

Why the Global Superorganism Must Evolve a Brain

full presentation

It is well-known that society is in many respects similar to an organism-like system, with various institutions and organizations performing the functions of various organs and tissues in the body. In this presentation I do not so much want to elaborate on this analogy, but rather study how the present evolutionary pressures on society will affect it.

I assume society to be based on a division of labor, in which different individuals and organizations specialize in producing a particular type of good or service for the rest of society, neglecting the production of other commodities. In return, they get some form of payment, which allows them to acquire those goods and services that they need but which they themselves no longer are capable of producing. This makes the different subsystems of society dependent on each other, and thus creates a network of exchanges and interdependencies. These trends of specialization or differentiation, and interconnection or integration, continue at an ever faster pace, for the simple reason that greater specialization and greater exchange allows greater efficiency, and thus a relative advantage compared to those that do no differentiate and integrate.

The net effect is that all processes in society become more efficient or more productive: less time and less resources are needed to produce more goods or services. Thus, the general "throughput" of social systems increases ever more: matter, energy and information are transferred and processed more quickly, making us ever more powerful to achieve our aims. Generally, this leads to more wealth, health, knowledge, freedom, safety, and equality, that is, to higher quality of life for the average citizen of this earth. As a result the age-old constraints of material scarcity, geographic separation, and temporal duration, are becoming increasingly marginal. The question is no longer how to get enough of a particular scarce good, but how to choose from the myriad possible ways to get it.

This general increase of productivity, or reduction of "friction", has a number of negative consequences, though. First, as already suggested, it increases the complexity of choice, and leads to an information overload. The scarcity of information has made place for a scarcity of attention: people are only able to attend to so many messages, signals or options per day. This creates increasing stress on individuals and organizations. Second, reduced friction and increased interconnections mean that the causal effects of events in any particular subsystem will spread much further, affecting many more nearby and remote subsystems. Thus, society as a whole becomes more sensitive to perturbations in any of its parts, and more complex and unpredictable in its overall functioning. Third, reduced friction will amplify the danger or runaway effects, where a small fluctuation, through a positive feedback, can snowball very quickly into a major catastrophe.

All of these dangers call for a "control" at the global level, the equivalent of a central nervous system that coordinates the actions of  the different components by transmitting and processing information. This "global brain" would be able to attend to and intelligently choose between myriads of stimuli, thus relieving individuals from information overload. It would constantly monitor, follow through, and if necessary redirect the myriad of causal connections between the different parts of society, so as give us an understading of, and the capacity to intervene in, this inimaginably complex system. Finally, it  will help the emergence of a global consensus on collective values aiming to control the dangers of runaway problems, such as greenhouse effects, spread of infectious diseases, or financial collapse.

Most of this global brain is at present emerging spontaneously, "bottom-up", through the self-organization of increasingly efficient channels for communication and transaction. However, to tackle the most difficult problems at the global level, where side effects of generally positive developments can snowball out of control, some form of top-down agreements about global governance seem to be in order, as exemplified by the Kyoto protocol, the World Trade Organization, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Francis Heylighen

Technologies for an Intelligent Web

full presentation

This talk will review several technologies, algorithms and protocols that could transform the web, in the broadest possible sense, from a medium for the communication and storage of information into an intelligent, brain-like system. The web can be viewed as a network of nodes or resources, connected by links. Resources can include HTML documents, pictures, multimedia documents, virtual environments, databases, programs, agents, remotely controlled devices, and even the human users themselves. Links between nodes mean that a signal ("activation") can travel directly from one resource to a linked resource, because these resources are closely associated. An intelligent web will continuously exploit, analyse and adapt this linking pattern, so as to maximally support its users in solving their individual and collective problems.

The functional components of this distributed intelligence can be best conceptualized through the series of cognitive metasystem transitions that characterize the evolution of the human brain: reflexes - learning - thinking - metacognition or knowledge discovery. At present the web is is in the "reflex" stage: it transmits and processes complex signals, but in a rigid, "hard-wired" manner. To reach the next stage, learning, links should be able to adapt to the way they are used, e.g. by strengthening the links between resources that are frequently used together. This can be implemented through an equivalent of the Hebbian rule, or the equivalent of collaborative filtering. Thinking requires first of all the spread of activation, so that selected or activated resources can spontaneously activate further, but still related resources. However, to efficiently control activation, and avoid its diffusion, the goals or criteria of the problem-solving process should be formulated explicitly, using conventional categories that mirror those available in the web. This requires the creation of a semantic web, based on a shared ontology of resource types and link types. Agents, who know their user's preferences, goals and constraints, could use this semantic architecture to efficiently retrieve those resources that would best solve their users' problems. The final stage, discovery of new concepts and rules, may be implemented by various methods of clustering and machine learning that try to find ordered patterns in the complex, self-organizing network of data, thus continuously generating new insights and models.


Cliff Joslyn (LANL)

What Could We Mean By "Global Brain": How Distributed Knowledge Systems Facilitate Social Control in Semiotic Agent-Based Architectures

slides of presentation

Distribtued Knowledge Systems and Modeling Team
Modeling, Algorithms, and Informatics Group (CCS-3)
MS B265, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos, NM 87545,

The IT and Internet revolutions concluded the 20th century in a state of substantial doubt and speculation. Practically, in the wake of its extraordinary economic hype and financial speculation, could information technology fulfill its promise to transform society through automated markets, decision support environments, collaborative environments for scientific and technical knowledge development, infrastructure control, disaster response, etc.? Theoretically, in the wake of the recognition of the limitations of automated intelligence and computer simulations, is there any strength to the reigning metaphor of the ``Global Brain'' (GB), that the internet is to society as brain is to multi-cellular organism, as mind is to body, indeed, as information is to matter and energy?

Fortunately, scientific interest in the area predates recent developments, and, indeed, there are whole scientific fields, in particular those of Cybernetics (or Complex Systems Science) and Semiotics, which are historically dedicated to the study of systems of all types as distributed information systems. Thus there is a great deal which can be known about these kinds of systems in principle, and furthermore about their interaction with human society according to the principles of cybernetic evolutionary theory.

In this talk I will discuss both this general perspective and its consequences for some specific technological issues. In particular, I will explicate the concepts of a Distributed Knowledge System (DKS) (communities of semiotic agents interacting with networked information resources) and of Socio-Technical Organizations (DKS coupled to network-meditated physical systems to maintain a control relation).  I assert these as general representations of the kinds of system architectures necessary for a social knowledge network to have the possibility of displaying the properties necessary to be described as something approaching what a true GB should be conceived of.

By considering these two architectures in the context of the cybernetic concepts of the Meta-System Transition (MST) as the mechanism for the evolution of levels of control, we will discuss centralized vs.~distributed control in social systems, social organization as an MST, and the potential for DKS to effect a social MST at the global level. Possibilities for realizing such ideas will be described in the context of modern movements to develop formal algebraic theories of semiotic transformations and portable inter-agent knowledge exchange protocols.

Joël de Rosnay (Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, Paris):

Increase of complexity of Internet interfaces and the Darwinian process of selective stabilization of Internet nodes.

Summary of presentation (July 4, 2001)

Joël de Rosnay
Director of Forecasting and Assessment
Cité des Sciences et de l_Industrie, La Villette, Paris, France.

The convergence of biology and computers

New interfaces between man and computers are developed. They result from the marriage of biology and computers. A new fundamental and applied discipline is being born of this convergence and, more generally, of the hybridization and coevolution of the methodologies and techniques used in computers and of those used in biology and supramolecular chemistry. In 1981, I proposed to call this new discipline : biotics (a combination of biology and informatics). (de Rosnay 1981-2000). Biotics opens the way to the developpement of new molecular electronic components and circuits (biochips, biotransistors) and bioelectronic interfaces linking humans, computers, and networks.

Biotics comprises two complementary areas of application: that of analog signals (in this case, bioelectronics) and that of digital signals (molecular electronics). The construction of a "biocomputer" based on circuits and memory from DNA or molecular electronics and using materials compatible with living systems, is part of biotics. (Aldeman 1994, Kolata 1995, Kari 1997). The field emerged from recent advances in biology, solid-state physics, organic chemistry, micro-electronics, robotics, and nanotechnology. Today it constitutes a new area of research with many applications.

Molecular electronic components are currently considered the potential successors to semiconductors. These synthetic components offer many advantages over traditional semiconductors: three-dimensional assembly, synthetic materials that allow the custom design of properties, miniaturization approaching that of biological structures, and possibilities for interfacing with living systems. (Reed 1999, Joachim 2000, Tour 2000).

New interfaces between the human brain and computers

Direct neurons to machines interfaces have been developed during the last years. Boris Rubinsky at Caltech has developed a "biotransistor" made of living cells interconnected with a microprocessor. The cells acts as diodes. (Rubinsky 1999). William L. Ditto, a physicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology working with a group at the University of Bordeaux in France, has developed hybrid computers that mate living neurons with silicon circuits. He has called this new field "neurosilicon computers." In 1999, he was able to do arithmetic with two large neurons from leeches, joined together and linked to a personal computer. (Spano and Ditto, 1999)

Another step on the road to creating biocomputers was achieved by Jerry Pine, a biophysicist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He was able to "grow" microcircuits made of living neurons on top of an array of electrodes. He calls the device the "Neurochip." By assigning a specific place to each neuron, it is possible to "listen" to their chatter and develop reproducible logic gates out of combinations of neurons.(Regehr and Pine 1988, Maher and Pine in press, Pine et coll 1996).

A similar type of research has been undertaken by Keiichi Torimitsu at the NTT_s Biosciences Research Group in Atsugi, Japan. (Niwa and Torimitsu, 1998 His group is trying to develop an effective interface between computers and the brain. To test this possibility, his laboratory sent electronic signals to slices of neuronal tissue placed close to tiny electrodes and researchers monitored the electronic current naturally generated by the neurons when they communicated with each other. (Torimitsu 1998).

More recently, Miguel Nicolelis of the Duke University Medical Center, has trained two owl monkeys to control a robotic arm through brain signals. The arm was placed at MIT_s lab for Human and Machine Haptics and controlled by the monkeys through an Internet interface. (Nicolelis 2000)

Biological evolution and the Internet as massive parallel multiprocessors

The new symbiotic interfaces between man, computer and networks, creates a massive parallel multiprocessor. Biological evolution performs like such parallel multiprocessor. The basis of biological evolution is the three-part process of mutation, competition, and selection. Random variations occur in the programming of living things (DNA). This results in new species that are more or less suited to the environment in which the species are in competition. The fittest survive, are selected ? or rather self-select ? and transmit to their descendants the genetic code for survival and competitiveness, the new mutant genes. This process takes place in parallel within the DNA of billions of individuals in competition for limited resources. Biological evolution, is therefore comparable to a huge parallel multiprocessor that seeks solutions to problems by trying out potential solutions and storing those that work in memory. This is how the diversity of the living world, biodiversity, is created. (de Rosnay 2000)

The autocatalytic development of the Internet is an illustration of a coevolutionary process of order emerging from chaos. Millions of agents acting in parallel according to simple rules also form a gigantic multiprocessor that can collectively find solutions to complex problems and adapt to the evolution of its informational ecosystem. As a result of these rules and emergent properties, the Internet has become an increasingly intelligent planetary metacomputer. It processes data in parallel, combining the actions of millions of agents testing procedures and programs in real time in a competitive environment ? a process that is not unlike Darwinian biological evolution. We can therefore expect the Internet to select increasingly powerful solutions in electronic communications and software applications. Intelligent agents manage interfaces by interconnecting all the existing networks, allowing people to access information and act in real time, as do the neurons of the brain. This new planetary neural hypernetwork functions chaotically, fluidly, and in a way that is constantly reconfigurable, in response to decisions made in parallel by hundreds of millions of interacting human agents and virtual robots. In this, it resembles the immune system, the hormonal system, and the nervous system, three interconnected networks that determine an organism_s psycho-neuro-immunological behavior.

Selective stabilization and reconfiguration of Internet links and nodes

In 1949, in his book The Organization of Behaviour, Donald O. Hebb, a neurophysiologist at McGill University, in Montreal, proposed a revolutionary new theory of psychological behavior. (Hebb 1949). According to this theory, the brain constantly reconfigures the synapses that transmit nerve impulses. Through the chemical action of activator or inhibitor hormones, the synapses are reprogrammed as a result of various stimuli. Through the successive stimulation of neural connections and pathways, whole areas made up of thousands of neurons are activated and connect so as to form subsets that store information through the reinforcement of impressions (shapes, colors, sounds, words). These subsets constitute dynamic networks of neuronal interactions, the brain_s building blocks of information.

I propose to look at the formation and functioning of the Global Brain, (that I call "the Cybiont"), in a similar way. Human beings, multiple agents in chaotic interaction, are the neurons of the hypernetwork. The links among them, occurring through computers (and even more directly through biotic interfaces), are giving rise to a conscious representation of the "mental" functioning of the Cybiont, a global consciousness that is reflected in the introsphere. (de Rosnay 2000). These links are reversible, and they can be reinforced or inhibited. Autocatalytic processes take place, leading to new concepts, solutions, or ideas. The Internet today abounds with examples of such processes.

Jean-Pierre Changeux, of the Institut Pasteur and his collaborators have proposed a model of epigenesis of neural networks by selective stabilisation of synapses and analysed in these terms the molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of acetylcholine receptor genes expression during the development of the motor endplate. (Changeux 1985, Kerszberg and Changeux 1992). In particular, they have identified DNA regulatory elements, as first/second messengers, specifically involved in the regulation of acetylcholine receptor genes transcription by electrical activity in extra junctional areas, and by "trophic" factors in the subneural domain. These issues are of relevance for the understanding of long term synaptic plasticity.

I propose that the selective stabilization of Internet node follows an analogous principle through HTML links, bookmarks, address books, Web sites, creating a situation of intercommutability and increasing the complexity of the network. New properties will emerge from such highly complex system.

Autocatalytic processes, self selection and emergence of new properties

Emergence, mutation, and breakthroughs can be observed in the light of rapid accelerations resulting from sudden phase transitions. These phenomena are typical of the Internet_s fast development, and can be seen as autocatalytic systems creating dense "time bubbles" and fostering the emergence of new properties through rapid phase transitions. To illustrate this type of self-selection, I propose to adapt to the Internet the random graph model used by Stuart Kauffman to outline the role of collectively autocatalytic molecular systems in the origins of life. (Kauffman 1995). His model is based on the interconnection of many buttons using threads. As Stuart Kauffman puts it, "When there are very few threads compared to the number of buttons, most buttons will be unconnected. But as the ratio of threads to buttons increases, small connected clusters begin to form. As the ratio of threads to buttons continues to increase, the size of these clusters of buttons tends to grow." A phase transition suddenly occurs when the ratio of threads to buttons reaches 0.5, and a giant cluster is formed. The rate of growth of the giant cluster then slows down as the number of isolated buttons and small clusters decreases. This is represented by the top of the S-shaped curve.

I propose to replace the buttons with web sites (nodes) and the threads with Internet links (edges). Let_s imagine millions of web sites and millions of links. Beyond a given ratio of links to web sites (0.5?), a phase transition must occur. With 400 million users, 170 million host computers, and an average of 50 links per site (bookmarks and email addresses), new properties will certainly emerge. What about with 2 billion users, 800 million host computers, and 500 links per site? With such a giant electronic cluster of interconnected brains and machines, what will these properties look like? Probably a new form of macrolife becoming progressively conscious of its own existence and self-maintenance.


Aldeman, Leonard , ´ Molecular Computation of Solutions of Combinatorial Problems ª, Science, 266 : 1021-1024, November 11, 1994.

Changeux, Jean-Pierre, ´ Neuronal Man: The Biology of Mind ª, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1985

de Rosnay, Joël, " Les biotransistors: la microélectronique du XXIème siècle ", La Recherche, n° 124, Vol 12, Juillet-Août 1981, pp. 870-872.

de Rosnay, Joël, " La biotique : vers l_ordinateur biologique ? ", L_Expansion, 1er-21 mai 1981, pp.149-150.

de Rosnay, Joël, " From Biotechnology to Biotics : the Engineering of Molecular Machines ", in : Biotechnology : Applications and Research. ed by Paul N. Cheremisinoff and Robert P. Ouellette, chapter 1, pp. 1-8 Lancaster: Technomic Publishing Co, inc. 1985

de Rosnay, Joël, " Molecular Information Processing and Molecular Electronic Devices ", Fifth International Conference on Langmuir-Blodgett Films, Août 1991, Cité des Sciences et de l_Industrie, La Villette, Paris..

de Rosnay, Joël, " The Symbiotic Man: A New Understanding of the Organization of Life and a Vision of the Future", McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, March 31, 2000, (ISBN: 0071357440)

Hebb, D.O., ´ The Organization of Behaviour ª, New York, Wiley, 1949.

Joachim, C., Gimzewski, J.K., Aviram, A., ´ Electronics using Hybrid-molecular and Mono-molecular Devices ª, Nature, volume 408, pages 541 à 548, November 30, 2000.

Kari, L., "DNA computing: the arrival of biological mathematics". The mathematical intelligencer 19:9-22, 1997

Kauffman, Stuart A., "At Home in the Universe : The Search for Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity", Oxford Univ Press; October 1995.

Kolata, Gina. "A vat of DNA may become the computer of the future". N.Y. Times News Service, 1995

Kerszberg, Michel, Stanislas Dehaene, and Jean-Pierre Changeux, "Stabilization of complex input-output functions in neural clusters formed by synapse selection", Neural Networks, volume 5 (1992), number 3 pp. 403-414.

Maher, M. P., Pine, J., Wright, J. and Tai, Y.-C., "The Neurochip: A new multielectrode device for stimulating and recording from cultured neurons," J. Neurosci. Meth., in press.

Nicolelis, Miguel A. L. et all, "Real-time prediction of hand trajectory by ensembles of cortical neurons in primates", Nature, volume 408, pages 361 to 365, November 16, 2000

Niwa, Osamu and Torimitsu, Keiichi, "Real-time Measurement of Neurotransmitters Released from Cultured Nerve Cells with Online Enzyme Sensors", NTT Basic Research Laboratories, 1998

Pine, J., Maher, M., Potter, S.M., Tai, Y.-C., Tatic-Lucic, S. and Wright, J. (1996). "A cultured neuron probe". Proceedings, IEEE-EMBS Annual Meeting, Amsterdam 10/31/96.

Reed, Mark A. et coll ´ Conductance of a Molecular Junction ª, Science, Vol. 278, pages 252_254; 10 Octobre, 1997

Regehr, W.G., Pine, J., and Rutledge, D.B., "A Chronic In-vitro Neuron-microdevice Connection,", IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng'g, 35, 1023 (1988).

Rubinsky, Boris and Huang, Yong ´ A Microfabricated Chip for the Study of Cell Electroporation ª, Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley CA 94720, February 1999.

Spano, M.L. and Ditto, W.L., "Chaos control in biological systems", in : Handbook of Chaos Control, pages 427 - 456, 1999).,

Torimitsu, Keiichi et coll., "Application of Microfabricated Biosensor Chip for Neuroscience", Electrochemistry, Vol. 68. No. 04, 2000, p. 284

Tour, James M. and Reed, Mark A. ´ Computing with Molecules ª, Scientific American, June 2000

Johan Bollen  (LANL)

Experiments with web learning and spreading activation

The efficiency of browsing hypertext networks or the web is determined by the interaction between two distinct models: the user model that the designer uses to structure the network and the browser's mental model that he/she uses to browse the network. The degree of similarity between both models will determine how easy or how difficult browsers can retrieve information from the network. Since browsers' mental models are difficult to control and shape, the present paper proposes a connectionist system that automatically restructures hypertext networks according to the browser's mental models. The system uses a set of three learning rules that change connection strengths in the network based on implicit measures of the browsers' collective mental models. The system has been shown to make hypertext networks reliably and validly mimic the browser's collective mental models in two in situ experiments and  a simulation using a mathematical model of browser navigation.

Bryan Thompson (Global Wisdom, Washington DC)

The Cognitive Web

full presentation

I plan to talk about a "cognitive web" which is focused on facilitating human cognition, communication and collaboration, in contrast with a semantic web, which is focused on machine interchange of digitally signed proofs and a crisp monotonic logic.

Stephan Bugaj (Webmind)

Computer-Human Shared Intelligence

Here is an off-the-cuff, two-minute version of the abstract: I've been thinking about, and will be talking about, the interrelationship between humans and machines in creating the Global Brain.  I believe the next-level of intelligence, and the first phase of the GB, will not go directly to smart machines, but rather to augmented humans.  Through work in this area, and in robotics, people and machines will come closer together and a more robust shared-context will be created which will allow people to build and train AI's more successfully.  I also think that AIs will, for a long time, be inferior to humans in certain endeavors and that cooperation and collaboration will be the order of the day even post-AI.  However, I feel that the first phase of the GB is relatively close, and it involves improvements in user interfaces, networking, collaborative filtering, and current AI algorithms to build a network of "augmented humans" who will be able to utilize the computer network as a means of rapid communications, storage and retrieval of large bodies of knowledge (augmented memory, basically), etc.   Thus, I think that AI is not the only area in which GB folks should be thinking, but also user interfaces and usability, high-speed networking, datamining and efficient data retrieval, etc. (all of which, incidentally, will make life easier for AI as well).

 Ben Houston (Carleton University, Ottawa)

Augmenting Human Intellect

The talk will have a dual focus, first a look at intellect from the field of cognitive neuroscience then secondly various methods of augmentation in the cultural, technological and biological domains.  I will still touch on neural implants but it will no longer be the focus.


Ivan Havel (Charles University, Prague)

The Dawn of Cyber-culture

(the following is not the abstract of a contribution to the workshop, but a short text written for another conference which touches on the global brain theme)

The frequency with which this particular theme is discussed is entirely justified considering its topical relevance, especially now at the turn of the millenium: the arrival of a new culture, an information or internet culture. Of all the achievements of civilization, the development of the worldwide information and communication network is so powerful that its consequences may become apparent in the next few years. Will this new culture, promising a rapid, diverse and extensive communication for anyone with anyone in the world and facilitating access to an unsuspected wealth of information, influence the lives of people, communities, nations, humanity? Reflections on this theme are sometimes full of fears for the loss of natural interaction between people; and sometimes, by contrast, reflections heroically predict the revolutionary and far-reaching refinement of human society. One group regards the fears of the others as exaggerated pessimism; a third group is skeptical of grand predictions. The result: moods alternate.
 The French sociologist and philosopher Pierre Lévy defines cyber-culture as the totality of all technologies (material and intellectual), practices, positions, opinions and values that accompany the new communication and information environment - the so-called cyber-space.
 Imagine an enormous library that includes everything conceivable. What you will read, however, is not an ordinary linear text, but a hypertext: a dense network of texts linked to one another by diverse cross-references that enable you to set out at any time on whatever path you choose - just like the wanderer at the crossroads sets out on whatever path appeals to him at that moment.
 They don_t all have to be texts; they might be pictures, music, spoken text, video or all of these together: multimedia objects. The classical methods of cross-references, indexes and citations - but likewise the principle of the film-vending machine - are thus brought to perfection.
 The reader chooses a path through the hypertext, which draws him/her into the game as a kind of co-author. We can reflect further on the role of the reader. The places for digressions can become concentrated; more references (with a known or unknown goal) can be inserted on the same spot - let us recall the array of alternatives in making decisions in real life. Hypertext novels already exist. This, of course, may mean a revolution in literature: not reading through to the end, but rather returning and reading at random - one day this will not only be permitted, but even a matter of course and necessary. It will be the intention of the writer and the pleasure of the reader. The reader will _paddle_ through the story according to his/her mood and creativity, and will bring to it another - his/her - temporal dimension. Different readers will experience different stories, but the possibilities will never be exhausted, just as all the possible chess games will never be played.
 The comparison of cyber-space with the human brain can be an interesting mental experiment. Recently, some theorists have focused on the remarkable idea that all of human society can be regarded as a kind of many-celled super-organism, the _cells_ of which are not cells but rather us, human beings. The internet (in particular, the web) might be a kind of embryonic phase of the nervous system of this super-organism, its _global brain_, which might facilitate the linking up of all the partial intelligences of the users into a single global intelligence. Perhaps it could then develop further on its own to ideas and a consciousness of a higher order. The idea is attractive and even natural, from a certain perspective.
 One cannot impose limits on the imagination. It is conceivable that in cyber-space, pieces of information are constantly being copied and that the more interesting information (there is greater interest in it, either from the participants or from the other pieces of information), will be copied in greater numbers. Some of these may be altered to a greater or lesser degree, by chance (and, of course, intentionally), and these changes may in turn influence the interest they awaken. This kind of environment would certainly (partly on its own and partly under direction) develop and - let_s not be afraid to say it - perfect itself.
 It would certainly be naive to imagine that all the accounts in cyber-space must be consistent (and not contradict one another). Each of us also cultivates different suppositions, hypotheses, guesses, longings and fears, while happily forgetting those that are discredited and modifying those that are verified. And thus it is not inappropriate for some fragments of knowledge in cyber-space to be, to a certain extent, only tentative and temporary. Here one finds a partial answer to the above-mentioned question concerning the elimination of all that is of poor quality, unverified and false: it is enough to remember that all these phenomena appear regularly in the minds of all of us (I am ashamed to include as well the indecent and dangerous phenomena). If a gray cortex can cope with this, a global brain should be able to cope as well. I think that, like the invention of boots or the printing-press, cyber-culture as such is not some kind of aberration and it does not make sense to fear it. If it weren_t for the invention of good quality boots, lovers of nature would hardly be able to reach many of its beauties, and if it weren_t for the invention of the printing-press, you wouldn_t have this catalogue in your hands right now. And, equipped with only a goose quill, I probably wouldn_t have promised to write this essay.


What is and what isn_t the GB?

  -  What is the global brain?
  -  Do we need to assume a global superorganism?
  -  Is the global brain a higher level of evolution?
  -  What is the role of a global encyclopedia?
  -  How does the GB differ from mere distributed cognition/collective intelligence?
  -  What is the role of _binding events_?
  -  Will a GB encompass biological information?
  -  How does the GB relate to Gaia?
  -  How does the GB relate to the singularity?
  -  Does the GB have a spiritual dimension?
  -  Does the GB entail a World government/governance?

What benefits can we expect from the GB?

  -  Why do we need a GB to tackle information overload?
  -  How does the GB support the new economy?
  -  How can the GB help overcome conflicts?
  -  How can the GB contribute to global education and research?
  -  How can the GB help us solve global problems?

 Evolution of the GB

  -  Can a GB spontaneously evolve?
  -  Can the development of a GB be avoided?
  -  Will everybody want to become part of the GB?
  -  Couldn_t the GB split into rival GBs?
  -  Won_t the poor be excluded? (digital divide)
  -  Will a GB encompass the ecosystem?

 GB technologies

  -  Can there be a GB without computer technology?
  -  What is the role of direct, _cellular_ communications?
  -  What is the role of the Internet?
  -  What is the role of the World-Wide Web?
  -  What is the role of MUDs/virtual worlds?
  -  What is the role of web learning?
  -  How does this relate to collaborative filtering?
  -  What is the role of spreading activation?
  -  peer-to-peer computing?
  -  What is the role of the semantic/cognitive web?
  -  How can we agree on shared ontologies?
  -  What is the role of real-time communication/group interaction/conferences?
  -  What is the role of groupware/CSCW?
  -  What roles can software agents play?
  -  Which other technologies can support the GB?
  -  How can the human-GB interface be improved?
  -  How quickly can these technologies become reality?

GB and the future of humanity

  -  Will the GB have its own goals and values?
  -  Will the GB have feelings?
  -  Will the GB become conscious?
  -  Will we able to understand the GB_s thinking?
  -  In how far will people merge with the GB?
  -  Would the GB allow uploading the human mind in a computer, thus making it immortal?

Avoiding possible dangers

  -  Is the GB necessarily good?
  -  Doesn't a single GB system suppress diversity?
  -  Doesn_t the GB reduce humanity to an insect colony or to the Borg?
  -  Cannot humanity and the GB turn into a _cancer_ that parasitizes the rest of the planet?
  -  Wouldn_t the GB be totalitarian?
  -  Won_t the GB restrict our freedom?
  -  Cannot GB technology be abused for selfish purposes?
  -  How can we protect privacy, and avoid turning the GB into a high-tech version of _Big Brother_?
  -  Could the GB escape from our control?
  -  Isn't there a danger that the GB will eventually overpower and replace humanity?

Management and Design of GB development

  -  Does the GB need bottom-up self-organization, top-down design, or both?
 -  Who or what should/shouldn_t control GB development?
      -  academia, government, UN, commercial, _grass-roots_, W3C ?
  -  How to design the GB so as to minimize individual information overload?
  -  How can we best collect, represent and organize the needed knowledge/values?
  -  What protocols or standards do we need?
  -  How can we agree on such standards?
  -  In how far must the GB be rooted in a universal worldview/system of ethics and values?
  -  How can individual/group selfishness be overcome?

Practical issues

  -  How can we best promote GB ideas to the public?
  -  How can we best avoid scare stories and misinterpretations?
  -  How can we best organize further research/discussion into GB issues?
  -  What role should the GB Group play?
  -  How can we institutionalize the group?
  -  How should a future GB website look?
  -  How should we organize a next conference on the GB?
  -  Who could sponsor such an event?
  -  Where should it take place?
  -  Who would take on the responsibility for various activities?