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Simulating a Global Brain: using networks of international organizations, world problems, strategies, and values (Part #5)


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Cultural assumptions: There is an extensive literature indicating the particularity of western cultural styles of thought (Posey, 1999). Because of its apparent dominance in science and the media, it is easy to neglect the existence of other styles of thought -- which may also in fact be operational as sub-cultures within western societies. This literature touches on assumptions about the nature of intelligence and the possibily of quite different kinds of intelligence (see summary of some contrasting systems).

For example, Magoroh Maruyama (1980) distinguishes 4 contrasting mindscapes each of which might suggest a different kind of global brain:

  • H-mindscape (homogenistic, hierarchical, classificational): Parts are subordinated to the whole, with subcategories neatly grouped into supercategories. The strongest, or the majority, dominate at the expense of the weak values, policies, problems, priorities, etc). Logic is deductive and axiomatic demanding sequential reasoning. Cause-effect relations may be deterministic or probabilistic.
  • I-mindscape (heterogenistic, individualistic, random): Only individuals are real, even when aggregated into society. Emphasis on self-sufficiency, independence and individual values. Design favours the random, the capricious and the unexpected. Scheduling and planning are to be avoided. Non-random events are improbable. Each question has its own answer; there are no universal principles.
  • S-mindscape (heterogenistic, interactive, homeostatic): Society consists of heterogeneous individuals who interact non-hierarchically to mutual advantages. Mutual dependency. Differences are desirable and contribute to the harmony of the whole. Maintenance of the natural equilibrium. Values are interrelated and cannot be rank-ordered. Avoidance of repetition. Causal loops. Categories not mutually exclusive. Objectivity is less useful than "cross-subjectivity" or multiple viewpoints. Meaning is context dependent.
  • G-mindscape (heterogenistic, interactive, morphogenetic): Heterogeneous individuals interact non-hierarchically fur mutual benefit, generating new patterns and harmony. Nature in continually changing requiring allowance for change. Values interact to generate new values and meanings. Values of deliberate (anticipatory) incompleteness. Causal loops. Multiple evolving meanings.

To what extent are such dimensions ignored in considering the nature of a global brain? Is the debate effectively skewed in favour of design criteria for a western-style global brain (H-mindscape)? How might a global brain be understood through other cultural and epistemological lenses? How are such divergent perspectives to be integrated within a genuinely global brain? How might the nature of such integration be articulated without falling into the traps of particular understandings of integration? (see more on the epistemological challenges of East-West integration).

A particular example in the UIA initiative is the reconciliation of the Western and Eastern systems of health -- and the hyperlinks to which they give rise in a knowledgebase.

Intriguingly one author has indicated how some of the fundamental epistemological issues in relationship to cross-cultural music may clarify new ways of thinking about the nature of emergent order (Rosenbloom, 2000).

Styles of global brain: It is useful to clarify the qualities sought in a global brain by different constituencies and to compare such goals with existing operating initiatives, or their fictional analogues, that reflect these in part. A point of departure is the work of Gareth Morgan (1998) on Images of Organization, who identifies 7 metaphors describing contrasting styles of organization which might be adapted to understandings of a global brain (GB):

  • GB as machine: "Mechanistic approaches to organization work well under conditions when machines work well." A machine can be 'built' -- and engenders a need for maintenance.
  • GB as organism: "The image of an organism seeking to adapt and survive in a changing environment offers a powerful perspective for managers who want to help their organizations flow with change." An organism needs to be 'grown' or 'cultivated' -- and engenders a need for care.
  • GB as brain: "What if we think about organizations as brains?" A brain needs to be 'educated' -- and engenders a need for testing, new challenges and distraction.
  • GB as culture: "When we view organizations as cultures, we see them as minisocieties with their own distinctive values, rituals, ideologies, and beliefs." A culture needs to be 'enriched', 'enhanced' or even 'sung' -- and engenders a need for recreation.
  • GB as political systems: "When we see organizations through the lens of politics, patterns of competing interests, conflicts, and power plays dominate the scene." A political system requires some form of 'indoctrination' -- and engenders a need for 'commisars.'
  • GB as psychic prisons: "What if we view organizations as systems that get trapped in their own thoughts and actions?" A prison requires imposition of rules, regulations and correctional measures -- and engenders a need for security measures.
  • GB as instruments of domination: "The negative impact that organizations often have on their employees or their environment or that multinationals have on patterns of inequality and world economic development is not necessarily an intended one." This is the Big Brother archetype.

Each style effectively implies a different design, construction and maintenance challenge. Each also implies a very different style of relationship of an individual to it through any interface. It might be argued that it could be all these -- preferably to be understood as complementary images -- which might each be undertood positively or negatively. Clearly other metaphors might also be explored. Especially interesting are those implicitly suggested by the above list. For example, why the focus on a 'brain' when other organs of the body might carry other valuable insights for some. A 'global heart' would appeal to a quite different range of people as evidenced by the number of websites for 'global heart' initiatives. What does a 'brain' lack that is carried by the 'heart' metaphor? What might be the vital systemic relationship between a global brain and a global heart -- and other organs (such as a 'global stomach') implicitly omitted for reasons that could be usefully explored? Is this a useful warning indicator?

How might such archetypal forms be compared to some operating examples:

  • information systems / web search engine / intelligent agents
  • corporate 'situation room' or military 'war room' (with academic applications)
  • expert system
  • belief system
  • traditional knowledge system (Jataka tales of the Hindu culture, etc)
  • think tank / brains trust / councils of the wise
  • interlocking patterns of dialogue
  • knowledge ecosystem

An interesting line of investigation into styles of brain design is the range of centro-symmetric geometric structures. These are helpful in focusing attention on whether the brain 'centre' is occupied or whether the design is based on an 'empty centre' -- namely where there are a range of peripheral centres configured around it. Parallels may be seen in clustering computers and in the design of supercomputers based on a hypercube. The cybernetician Stafford Beer, known for his early work on the Brain of the Firm (1981), subsequently (1994) focused on the use of icosahedral structures in seeking 'syntegration' of perspectives and issues. An interesting question is whether some structures are inherently more comprehensible or resonant with an individual interacting with them -- as suggested by meditational mandala geometry.

Another line of investigation is suggested by Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences (1983).He has suggested eight types of intelligence and learning style that merit consideration in relation to a global brain and how it might learn (or fail to learn): musical, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, linguistic, spatial, interpersonal, and intrapersonal (see also David Lazear, 1999). Also of interest is the relevance of emotional intelligence, as popularized by Daniel Goleman (1995) and the consequences of any lack of attention to this dimension in envisaging a global brain. There is now a research consortium on this matter (http://www.eiconsortium.org/).

Discourse about any 'global brain' can usefully be mapped onto dimensions such as the following to avoid fruitless disagreement from narrow perspectives. Other dimensions, such as those reflected by the gaian and noosphere discourse communities, could also be included -- as well as those preoccupied with issues of social control (or freedom from control). It is indeed possible that (as with the complementary wave/particle theories of light), a set of complementary perspectives on any global brain may be vital to prevent premature closure on any definition from an overly simplistic perspective that fails to recognize the necessary higher orders of knowledge organization vital to the operation of a 'brain' that can perform genuinely global integrative knowledge functions.

Dimesnions of global brain

 

Volatility and coherence within a global brain: A prime characteristic of the international community and world opinion is the manner in which issues are briefly taken up and rapidly set aside in favour of others -- although contrasting issues may compete for public attention. Recent fashions include: development, sustainability, civil society. Political debate bounces around amongst a range of such fashionable themes. Series of meetings touch on particular topics and have other fashionable topics projected onto them. Schools of meditation have disparaging remarks to make about equivalent incoherent processes in their practioners awareness. In historical terms, many collective issues effectively have a lifecycle duration equivalent to that of a butterfly -- fluttering into and out of collective attention.

At issue is whether this really is an issue and a matter of concern. For some the fragmentation and incoherence of world society knowledge processes is a deep concern. For others it is merely a reflection of the rich dynamics of human society. Nevertheless it is useful to ask what level of coherence should be sought from a global brain -- and whether it is precisely such coherence that would distinguish it from the degree of organization currently characteristic of the web or the networks of organizations and disciplines. Just as religions remain in continuing dispute about the nature of 'God', it is important to recognize the variety of understandings of any form of coherence or integration that might be considered basic to the mergence of any global brain. Of relevance also are the dynamics associated with any effort towards such synthesis (see Judge, 2000).

If greater coherence is a matter of concern, how are higher degrees of order to be introduced -- or better how is their emergence to be facilitated? This raises other issues, successfully explored by Ron Atkin (1977, 1981), concerning how people favouring different degrees of order perceive and understand those favouring other degrees and qualities of order. A special challenge derives from assumptions about the universality of relatively simplistic principles of order -- especially across cultures. Some of there problems are evident in the history of classification systems.

Perhaps the most interesting question is to what kinds of coherence might a global brain aspire and how would that be comprehensible from various forms of coherence of lower order? Alternatively, if such a hierarchical understanding of order is itself simplistic, how might alternative forms of high order coherence be mutually comprehensible or held within a larger framework with characteristics as yet to be understood -- especially where 'definition' is itself part of the problem of oversimplification?

Expanding knowledge universe: Much has been made of the explosion of information and knowledge. There is increasing recognition that individuals or groups able to afford it will each have their own websites (as will their pets). It has been claimed that there are 16,000 health sites on the web. It has long been accepted that few have time to read or absorb more than a fraction of the information generated -- even in relatively narrows areas of specialization. This emerging situation can usefully be described by several metaphors -- for example:

  • Wild flowers: in which the number of such websites will be competing for attention like flowers in the countryside.
  • Galaxies: in which the number of knowledge clusters might usefully be compared to galaxies in a rapidly expanding universe
  • Graveyards: in which the rapid accumulation of obsolete sites (whether focused on deceased groups or authors, or on historic concerns) will effectively fill cyberspace with tombstones requiring graveyards (and dutiful maintenance of their links, possibly with spiritual responsibilities)

In this context interesting questions are raised concerning the meaning and value of knowledge:

  • In the case of the flower metaphor, is it a matter of perserving ecosystems within which competition is necessarily savage; how might such ecosystems evolve to exemplify higher qualities of 'global' knowledge? How are the myriad re-discoveries and re-articulations of knowledge through learning processes to be positioned within a global brain?
  • In the case of the expanding universe metaphor, how might the relativity effects of communication lags in knowledge space be usefully framed? Might the speed of light be usefully recognized as a clue to the constraints on speed of understanding or learning in such a knowledge universe?
  • In the case of the graveyard metaphor, what will become the status of the disproportionate amounts of knowledge from the past, and to what extent will web preservation of past cultural initiatives and their initiators become an overriding preoccupation in global brain operations (recalling that of the pharaohs)?

Is there a case for combining the processes implicit in these metaphors into what amounts to an understanding of conceptual evolution in knowledge space? This might be mapped by some equivalent to the astrophysicists Hertzsprung-Russell diagram -- which indicates the evolutionary pathway of stars in terms of changing mass and luminosity. What is required is a sense of the evolution of conceptual attractors in knowledge space in terms of the attraction they exert and their visibility. It is this process that a global brain would presumably encompass.

Of special concern are the implications for creativity and learning in such a space in which the relativity effects of learning and communication delays may isolate, or overexpose, people and groups within knowledge space. This raises the question of the advantages and disadvantages of such isolation to any fulfillment -- that may be undermined by the transparency and speed implicit in assumptions about a global brain. In this respect the work of Orrin Klapp (1978, 1986), on the need for both opening and closing in response to information, is most insightful. James Glanz has written a description of the preoccupations of the annual Seven Pines Symposium with the heading Turn down that Web, these scientists plead, so we can think (IHT, 20 June 2001) -- concerned that promising lines of research are abandoned in favour of conceptual bandwagons. How much closure is required in relating creatively to a global brain?

Globality of the person and possible 'resonance' with a global brain: As noted earlier, there is a fundamental challenge in understanding the relationship between a global brain and the qualities of a person capable of understanding the nature of its globality. Briefly, to what extent does the kind of tunnel vision associated with the high-order specialization required to survive in modern society enable any comprehension of what might be hypothesized about the characteristics of a global brain -- or the challenge of designing one? Such a brain would supposedly be characterized by forms of transdisciplinarity at least requiring higher degrees of ordering that are anyway a struggle to comprehend -- even if such comprehension is possible.

Metaphorically is it necessarily the case that any individual is effectively obliged to function with a 'flatland' epistemology in a situation in which an emergent global brain must necessarily ensure 'curvature' of many such conceptual territories to form them into a sphere with global functions? Under what conditions will an individual be able to experience this curvature or the globality that results? Ron Atkin (1977, 1981) has perhaps come closest to articulating in mathematical terms the cognitive challenge of exposure to multidimensional geometry whose curvature can only be implicitly sensed (see more).

It is also of interest that through multi-media representations the mirroring function may allow the user to enter into some kind of cognitive resonance with the map -- as do meditators with a mandala. How can such representations be organized to enhance comprehension and what effect do such maps have on the observer -- and especially on a hyperlink editor endeavouring to introduce linkages to enhance the quality of the global brain? This raises the question of the nature of the existence of a global brain in the absence of a human observer. More problematically there is the question of what degree of order the observer is able to comprehend to identify the quality of existence -- and globality -- of such a collective brain. Is a global brain necessarily unknowable (cf Kurt Gödel, etc)? How might experienced meditators choose to define, design or explain a global brain?

More concretely these questions focus attention on the design of any set of interfaces through which to interact with a global brain.

'Bicameral' and 'hemispheric' organization of the global brain: Following the work of Julian Jaynes (1976), the bicameral mind (two-chamber mind) of the individual is one that functions as an unconscious, two-step process. Automatic reactions and thoughts originate in the right hemisphere of the brain and are transmitted to the left hemisphere as instructions to be acted upon. The bicameral functioning is nature's automatic, learned mode of response without regard to conscious thinking. By contrast, following the 'breakdown of the bicameral mind' on which Jaynes has focused, man-made consciousness functions through a deliberate, volitional thought process that is independent of nature's bicameral thought process. A parallel to this might be sought in relation to the awakening of the global brain.

As noted earlier, is there any sense in which the 'globality' or integration of such a global brain may be characterized by equivalents to the functionality widely associated with the right and left-hemisphere? How are they to be integrated? There will clearly be approaches to global brain design that will focus on 'left-brain' understandings of logical order, whereas others will choose to focus on 'right-brain' patterns of association (cf Gregory Bateson's 'pattern that connects'). The larger challenge faced by the individual is how to integrate these two contrasting epistemological frameworks within a larger framework that is defined by neither of them in isolation. Magoroh Maruyama refers to this epistemological challenge as poly-ocular vision (see more).

Higher order brain functions and self-awareness of a global brain: Animals have brains. Very few animal species are considered to be even remotely self-aware. Is it to be expected that a global brain will however undergo a process of ontogenesis or phylogenesis reminiscent of that of the human brain? Might the globality of the brain of the international community at this point be compared to the brain of one of the mammalian species?

In contrast to the view of Peter Russell (1995), has the global brain awakened yet? Or, if awake, to what degree of brain evolution or growth does this awakening currently correspond? Cynically it might be easily argued that, if indeed awakened, it might well be compared to a 'reptilian' (flight-or-fight) brain, or perhaps a 'bird' brain! But what indicators would suggest that it was indeed self-aware -- given the investment of many in clearly distinguishing the quality of human awareness from that of even the most 'intelligent' animals.

There is a curious irony to the fact that one of the principal academic indicators of self-awareness and introspection is the ability of individuals to recognize themselves in a mirror -- usually achieved in humans between 18 and 24 months. A major breakthrough in 2001 has been the demonstration that dolphins also have mirror recognition ability. It might be wondered whether extraterrestrials have analogous indicators of self-awareness for any global planetary brain -- based on ability of a species to recognize itself as mirrored in its environment. Modern civilization's failure of this test may have resulted in humanity's classification as a pre-intelligent species, just as humans have classified animals as lacking in the kind of self-awareness by which humanity characterizes itself.

In distinguishing functions of a global brain, there is a challenge in articulating a range of levels from the more data oriented to the more wisdom oriented. It is the latter which are most problematic because they raise major issues of comprehension ( see). It is not clear on what basis such higher levels might be identified -- let alone given some operational form or recognized as a potential emergent form of order.

The challenge is exemplified in the case of individuals who purportedly are familiar with such higher order functions and articulate a range of levels relating them to those which are more readily comprehended. Most spiritual and psychotherapeutic disciplines describe the emergence of such higher order functions. The UIA has endeavoured to document and interrelate this variety in one of its knowledgebases (see http://www.un-intelligible.org/projects/homehum.php) which covers some 3,000 understandings of human development. Clearly their proponents would have quite particular views about the potential and operation of a global brain. What is the value of the less comprehensible higher order functions -- and what does this suggest for possible analogues in the case of a global brain? Why are meditators cultivating such functions very attentive to the systemic relationship of the functions of the brain with those of other organs?

Classes of knowledge: In any discussion of augmented intelligence emerging from artificial intelligent systems (AI), enhanced human communities, or enhanced individuals, a useful focus can be placed on distinct classes of knowledge and their characteristics -- for which a table such as the following might provide an initial framework:

Classes Knowledge AI only

Enhanced human commun-
ities
Enhanced
individ.
Enhanced
animals
Example applications
New
(making accessible)
Integrative
(patterning)
Cluster Single With
AI
No
AI
With
AI
No
AI
With
AI
No
AI
Climate Traffic Diseases
Cures
Govern.
Disputes
Finance Law and Order
(Milit.)
Alpha ? Paradigm
shifting
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Jerusalem
N. Ireland
? ?
Beta ? New patterns ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Gamma ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Cure design ? Stock forecast. ?
Delta ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Diagnos. ? ? ?
Epsilion Data
capture
Data represent. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Zeta ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Eta ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Theta ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
etc??? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

The value of such a framework is to distinguish relatively trivial forms of novelty in knowledge generation from those forms which serve to reframe and integrate whole disciplines and systems of disciplines. Some forms of knowledge may be valued simply for the degree of social control and predictability they offer ('global' in the world-wide sense) as opposed to those which offer new patterns of understanding ('global' in the sense of integrative paradigms) that need to be distinguished because of their significance for future social evolution.

There is some initial value in distinguishing classes of knowledge by the Greek letter sequence because of the cautionary implications (see http://www.huxley.net/) from Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932) that used such a sequence to distinguish human social classes -- that might be engendered by some advocated forms of global brain. Whilst qualities of knowledge need initially to be distinguished by some such classification, these need to be set within a much more complex cross-cultural ontological framework to counteract the simplistic hierarchical implications with their well-known undesirable consequences. Such a periodic table has been advocated by Susantha Goonatilake (Toward a Global Science, 1999). Clearly some forms of knowledge can usefully be distinguished as associated with an equivalent to society's autonomic nervous system.

Knowledge 'corruption' and possible 'diseases' of the global brain: An alternative to the self-awareness approach is to view the global brain as indeed already constituted -- but suffering from one or more forms of 'disease' that result in varying degrees of dysfunctionality. Given the various behaviours of the international community -- the fragmentation of disciplines, cultures and faiths -- it is worth debating whether the global brain has come into being with 'congenital malformations'. Such discussions might be guided by a systematic review of the range of diseases as they might apply to networks (see, for example, Judge, 1978).

Another approach could review the range of individual memory disorders as they might affect collective memory (see Judge, 1982) and specifically a global brain. This would certainly be helpful in looking at the manifold challenges of coordination within the international ciommunity which readily lends itself to diagnosis as seriously spastic -- in contrast to views promoted by the Club of Rome (see Judge, 1982).

Individuals are faced with the challenge of striking a balance between remembering and forgetting. Is it to be assumed that a global bain will remain functional if it never forgets? How is a global brain to handle the amount of information that will have been accumulated by the year 3000 given the kinds of problems faced by individuals with eidetic memory? Clearly there is the question of emergent higher orderings of such a brain that would leave what is now considered to be information to be handled by the equivalent of some kind of autonomic system.

How might the knowledge system held by a global brain be 'corrupted'? One threat is most obviously given by the extent of virus attacks on computer systems in recent years. What safeguards against such attacks could be guaranteed -- and by whom? How would a global brain be cleared of viruses? But of greater interest is the potential for what might be termed memetic infection of a global brain -- possibly through new kinds of memetic viruses. It is science fiction that has extensively explored problematic use of artificial intelligence.

However at a more mundane level, there are other forms of corruption of the knowledge process. These are best exemplified by the more vicious patterns of interaction amongst academic institutions and schools of thought vying for resources and status. Their extent and implications are often heavily disguised beneath self-serving rationalizations. It is interesting that global models seldom endeavour to take account of the forms of corruption that are characteristic of non-laboratory reality -- for example the contrast between formal descriptions of governance and the implications of scandals at the highest level (even internationally in governments representated on the UN Security Council). How will it be possible to avoid replication of features or consequences of such patterns within a global brain?

Funding development of a global brain: This issue is very interesting because of its relationship to the challenges of intellectual property and copyright, sponsorship, and commercialization of knowledge in a knowledge economy.

Limits to collaboration in global brain development: The history of global modelling is very suggestive of the future challenges of inter-institutional collaborative work on any global knowledgebase. Briefly it may be argued that collaborative exercises may work well when teams are working together on the basis of imposed tasks carefully defined (as in multinational aerospace projects). However the challenges of collective work by networks that are unconstrained in this way, as is increasingly typical of many coalitions of knowledge generators in society, is another matter -- especially when the topics are not as unambiguously material as aerospace part design. Challenges become especially acute as inter- and transdisciplinarity increases -- and when multi-cultural epistemologies are involved and basic assumptions must be viewed as relative. Operationally such issues have been made painfully real in some multinational corporations, notably when efforts are made to merge contrasting corporate cuoltures. The issues are also apparent to some degree in the erosion in the quality of listserver dialogue over time. One approach to the articulation of possibilities of cooperation is through metaphor (see).

It is fruitful to look at the challenges of distributed 'knowledge-working networks' in the light of such issues as: inter-institutional competition, personal career ambitions, and case studies of issues engendering sub-optimally collaborating global coalitions (peace, environment, governance, inter-faith, etc) or coordinating forums of various kinds (and notably in relation to intergovernmental organizations). The history of competing approaches to knowledge classification is perhaps even more relevant. Many of these initiatives purportedly aim to articulate global frameworks or perform coordinating functions -- analogous in some ways to some envisaged operations of a global brain. Curiously the dynamics engendered by such intiatives, and which undermine them, are seldom considered as relevant to the design process. However it is possible that, counter-intuitively, some degree of 'inefficiency' may, as in nature, be more efficient than more highly ordered designs would suggest. In which case it would be useful to review the relationship between loose networks, implicit in a 'knowledge ecology' metaphor, and the more integrated design suggested by a 'global brain'.

Global brain: what for? It is worth asking why any initiative should be undertaken to construct a global brain. Motivations for doing so might include any of the following:

'Because it is possible': The justification being that humans can conceive of it, therefore it is a challenge worth responding to. Unfortunately this justification is of the same kind as highly controversial initiatives such as human cloning, genetically modified foods, nuclear power stations, etc -- on which it is absolutely unclear to many whether those responsible are acting responsibly in the light of unforeseen consequences. It is quite unclear whether the design of a 'brain' needs to be accompanied by equyivalent progress on the design of other 'organs' to sustain not only the brain but also the system as a whole.

'Because it is needed': Management of the global system being so problematic, and faced with so many foreseeable challenges, that resources should be devoted to any initiative that could improve decision-making. This ignores the track record of global modelling and its effective irrelevance to the major intiatives faced by the international community and by local populations. It is unclear whether such systems could handle all the non-rational dilemmas -- especially when they are at the edge of our cultural learning and no acceptable methodologies have been developed (cf the case of territorial disputes). It also ignores the perception of the role of major systems created by segments of the intelligence community (eg Echelon) and the interests which such systems are perceived to serve. The Big Brother issue has been endlessly cited

'Because it is a powerful symbol': Humanity needs a strong symbol of integrated intelligence, or even wisdom, to give focus to thinking about the future of society. This ignores the socio-political dynamics which are typically associated with such initiatives and that tend to favour the few rather than benefit the many -- at least in the eyes of the many. There is also the unasked question of whether this would amount to a transdfer of responsibility to a figure of authority (a Mummy, a Daddy, or some equivalent) -- a perspective that psychoanlysts could explore at length.

'Because it would engernder new learnings': As a major intellectual challenge, it would stimulate new thinking that might be of great benefit to humanity. This argument needs to be seen in the light of the resources devoted to big science projects (particle acceler, space telescopes and planetary missions, etc) and the value of the spin-offs to the non-academic comunity.

'Because it is effectively emerging': The explosion of information systems and the associated development of intelligent agents can be perceived as the emergence of a global brain. In which case it is important to consider ways in which to augment its brain-like functions. This raises issues of how much integration is appropriate given humanity's ability to corrupt such systems the more integrated that they become.

If metaphors other than 'construction' are used to envisage facilitating the emergence of a global brain, other justifications might becpome apparent. How, for example, might a global brain contribute to the arts and to music? Would such an entity then undermine much creative activity? What if it became the prime source of all the best humour?

Global brain discourse: Insight capture? As with the global modelling discourse, it is probable that the global brain discourse -- under whatevr disguise -- will be challenged by how to integrate the variety of perspectives and concerns that are articulated. This situation effectively models that of international meetings in general -- of which some 7,000 are envisaged into the years ahead. As 'binding moments' in Gottfried Mayer-Kress excellent terms, the question is how effectively can they function. The multi-media techniques presented in association with this paper suggest means of real-time concept-mapping of such discourses (and papers prepared to feed them) -- to counter the wastage of intellectual effort they normally represent. However the time scale issues approprioately stressed by Mayer-Kress need to be complemented by the configurative possibilities that are potentially associated with integrative concept mapping. The key issue beyond eliciting patterns (through maps, morphs and melodies) is that of facilitating cognitive resonance with those patterns to sustain new action -- an exercise in time binding to counter the temptations of the ever-rolling present prilmarily characteristic of electronic discourse.


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