[extropy-chat] Collective Intelligence 2.0

Mehran mehranraeli at comcast.net
Sat Jan 28 16:43:11 UTC 2006


January 24, 2006
Collective Intelligence 2.0
Nova Spivack


This article proposes the creation of a new open, nonprofit service 
on the Web that will provide something akin to "collective self-
awareness" back to the Web. This service is like a "Google 
Zeitgeist" on steroids, but with a lot more real-time, interactive, 
participatory data, technology and features in it. The goal is to 
measure and visualize the state of the collective mind of humanity, 
and provide this back to humanity in as close to real-time as is 
possible, from as many data sources as we can handle -- as a web 

By providing this service, we will enable higher levels of 
collective intelligence to emerge and self-organize on the Web. The 
key to collective intelligence (or any intelligence in fact) is self-
awareness. Self-awareness is, in essence, a feedback loop in which a 
system measures its own internal state and the state of its 
environment, then builds a representation of that state, and then 
reasons about and reacts to that representation in order to generate 
future behavior. This feedback loop can be provided to any 
intelligent system -- even the Web, even humanity as-a-whole. If we 
can provide the Web with such a service, then the Web can begin 
to "see itself" and react to its own state for the first time. And 
this is the first step to enabling the Web, and humanity as-a-whole, 
to become more collectively intelligent.

It should be noted that by "self-awareness" I don't mean 
consciousness or sentience - I think that the consciousness comes 
from humans at this point and we are not trying to synthesize it (we 
don't need to; it's already there). Instead, by "self-awareness" I 
mean a specific type of feedback loop -- a specific Web service -- 
that provides a mirror of the state of the whole back to its parts. 
The parts are the conscious elements of the system - whether humans 
and/or machines - and can then look at this meta-mirror to 
understand the whole as well as their place in it. By simply 
providing this meta-level mirror, along with ways that the 
individual parts of the system can report their state to it, and get 
the state of the whole back from it, we can enable a richer feedback 
loop between the parts and the whole. And as soon as this loop 
exists the entire system suddenly can and will become much more 
collectively intelligent.

What I am proposing is something quite common in artificial 
intelligence. For example, in the field of robotics, such as when 
building an autonomous robot. Until a robot is provided with a means 
by which it can sense its own internal state and the state of its 
nearby environment, it cannot behave intelligently or very 
autonomously. But once this self-representation and feedback loop is 
provided, it can then react to it's own state and environment and 
suddenly can behave far more intelligently. All cybernetic systems 
rely on this basic design pattern. I'm simply proposing we implement 
something like this for the entire Web and the mass of humanity that 
is connected to it. It's just a larger application of an existing 
pattern. Currently people get their views of "the whole" from the 
news media and the government - but these views suffer from bias, 
narrowness, lack of granularity, lack of real-time data, and the 
fact that they are one-way, top-down services with no feedback loop 
capabilities. Our global collective self-awareness -- in order to be 
truly useful and legitimate really must be two-way, inclusive, 
comprehensive, real-time and democratic. In the global collective 
awareness, unlike traditional media, the view of the whole is 
created in a bottom-up, emergent fashion from the sum of the reports 
from all the parts (instead of just a small pool of reporters or 
publishers, etc.). 

The system I envision would visualize the state of the global mind 
on a number of key dimensions, in real-time, based on what people 
and software and organizations that comprise its "neurons" 
and "regions" report to it (or what it can figure out by mining 
artifacts they create). For example, this system would discover and 
rank the current most timely and active topics, current events, 
people, places, organizations, events, products, articles, websites, 
in the world right now. From these topics it would link to related 
resources, discussions, opinions, etc. It would also provide a real-
time mass opinion polling system, where people could start polls, 
vote on them, and see the results in real-time. And it would provide 
real-time statistics about the Web, the economy, the environment, 
and other key indicators. The idea is to try to visualize the global 
mind - to make it concrete and real for people, to enable them to 
see what it is thinking, what is going on, and where they fit in it -
 and to enable them to start adapting and guiding their own behavior 
to it. By giving the parts of the system more visibility into the 
state of the whole, they can begin to self-organize collectively 
which in turn makes the whole system function more intelligently 

Essentially I am proposing the creation of the largest and most 
sophisticated mirror ever built - a mirror that can reflect the 
state of the collective mind of humanity back to itself. This will 
enable an evolutionary process which eventually will result in 
humanity becoming more collectively self-aware and intelligent as-a-
whole (instead of what it is today -- just a set of separeate 
interacting intelligent parts). By providing such a service, we can 
catalyze the evolution of higher-order meta-intelligence on this 
planet -- the next step in human evolution. Creating this system is 
a grand cultural project of profound social value to all people on 
earth, now and in the future.

This proposal calls for creating a nonprofit orgnaization to build 
and host this service as a major open-source initiative on the Web, 
like the Wikipedia, but with a very different user-experience and 
focus. It also calls for implementing the system with a hybrid 
central and distributed architecture. Although this vision is big, 
the specific technologies, design patterns, and features that are 
necessary to implement it are quite specific and already exist. They 
just have to be integrated, wrapped and rolled out. This will 
require an extraordinary and multidisciplanary team. If you're 
interested in getting involved and think you can contribute 
resources that this project will need, let me know (see below for 

Further Thoughts

Today I re-read this beautiful, visionary article by Kevin Kelley, 
about the birth of the global mind, in which he states:

The planet-sized "Web" computer is already more complex than a human 
brain and has surpassed the 20-petahertz threshold for potential 
intelligence as calculated by Ray Kurzweil. In 10 years, it will be 
ubiquitous. So will superintelligence emerge on the Web, not a 
Kevin's article got me thinking once again about an idea that has 
been on my mind for over a decade. I have often thought that the Web 
is growing into the collective nervous system of our species. This 
will in turn enable the human species to function increasingly as an 
intelligent superorganism, for example, like a beehive, or an ant 
colony -- but perhaps even more intelligent. But the key to bringing 
this process about is self-awareness. In short, the planetary 
supermind cannot become truly intelligent until it evolves a form of 
collective self-awareness. Self-awareness is the most critical 
component of human intelligence -- the sophistication of human self-
awareness is what makes humans different from dumb machines, and 
from less intelligent species. 

The Big Idea that I have been thinking about for over a decade is 
that if we can build something that functions like a collective self-
awareness, then this could catalyze a huge leap in collective 
intelligence that would essentially "wake up" the global supermind 
and usher in a massive evolution in its intelligence and behavior. 
As the planetary supermind becomes more aware of its environment, 
its own state, and its own actions and plans, it will then naturally 
evolve higher levels of collective intelligence around this core. 
This evolutionary leap is of unimaginable importance to the future 
of our species.

In order for the collective mind to think and act more intelligently 
it must be able to sense itself and its world, and reason about 
them, with more precision -- it must have a form of self-awareness. 
The essence of self-awareness is self-representation -- the ability 
to sense, map,  reason about, and react to, one's own internal state 
and the state of one's nearby environment. In other words, self-
awareness is a feedback loop by which a system measures and reacts 
to its own self-representations. Just as is the case with the 
evolution of individual human intelligence, the evolution of more 
sophisticated collective human intelligence will depend on the 
emergence of better collective feedback loops and self-
representations. By enabling a feedback loop in which information 
can flow in both directions between the self-representations of 
individuals and a meta-level self-representation for the set of all 
individuals, the dynamics of the parts and the whole become more 
closely coupled. And when this happens, the system can truly start 
to adapt to itself intelligently, as a single collective 
intelligence instead of a collection of single intelligences.

In summary, in order to achieve higher levels of collective 
intelligence and behavior, the global mind will first need something 
that functions as its collective self-awareness -- something that 
enables the parts to better sense and react to the state of the 
whole, and the whole to better sense and react to the state of its 
parts. What is needed essentially is something that functions as a 
collective analogue to a self -- a global collective self.

Think of the global self as a vast mirror, reflecting the state of 
the global supermind back to itself. Mirrors are interesting things. 
At first they merely reflect, but soon they begin to guide 
decisionmaking. By simply providing humanity with a giant virtual 
mirror of what is going on across the minds of billions of 
individuals, and millions of groups and organizations, the 
collective mind will crystallize, see itself for the first time, and 
then it will begin to react to its own image. And this is the 
beginning of true collective cognition. When the parts can see 
themselves as a whole and react in real-time, then they begin to 
function as a whole instead of just a collection of separate parts. 
As this shift transpires the state of the whole begins to feedback 
into the behavior of the parts, and the state of the parts in turns 
feeds back to the state of the whole. This cycle of bidirectional 
feedback between the parts and whole is the essence of cognition in 
all intelligent systems, whether individual brains, artificial 
intelligences, or entire worlds.

I believe that the time has come for this collective self to emerge 
on our planet. Like a vast virtual mirror, it will function as the 
planetary analogue to our own individual self-representations -- 
that capacity of our individual minds which represents us back to 
ourselves. It will be comprised of maps that combine real-time 
periodic data updates, and historical data, from perhaps trillions 
of data sources (one for each person, group, organization and 
software agent on the grid). The resulting visualizations will be 
something like a vast fluid flow, or a many particle simulation. It 
will require a massive computing capability to render it -- perhaps 
a distributed supercomputer comprised of the nodes on the Web 
themselves, each hosting a part of the process. It will require new 
thinking about how to visualize trends in such vast amounts of data 
and dimensions. This is a great unexplored frontier in data 
visualization and knowledge discovery.

How It Might Work 

I envision the planetary self functioning as a sort of portal -- a 
Web service that aggregates and distributes all kinds of current 
real-time and historical data about the state of the whole, as well 
as its past states and future projected states. This portal would 
collect opinions, trends, and statistics about the human global 
mind, the environment, the economy, society, geopolitical events, 
and other indicators, and would map them graphically in time, 
geography, demography, and subject space -- enabling everyone to see 
and explore the state of the global mind from different 
perspectives, with various overlays, and at arbitrary levels of 
magnification. It would have open data and API's so that new data 
feeds could easily be added, or remixed and fed back in from 
existing ones, and so that new visualizations could be created by 
others from the data and added back into the system. 

The collective self would provide a sense of collective identity: 
who are we, how do we appear, what are we thinking about, what do we 
think about what we are thinking about, what are we doing, how well 
are we doing it, where are we now, where have we been, where are we 
going next. Perhaps it could be segmented by nation, or by age 
group, or by other dimensions as well to view various perspectives 
on these questions within it. It could gather its data by mining for 
it, as well as through direct push contributions from various data-
sources. Individuals could even report on their own opinions, state, 
and activities to it if they wanted to, and these votes and data 
points would be reflected back in the whole in real time. Think of 
it as a giant emergent conversation comprised of trillions of 
participants, all helping to make sense of the same subject -- our 
global self identity -- together. It could even have real-time views 
that are animated and alive -- like a functional brain image scan -- 
so that people could see the virtual neurons and pathways in the 
global brain firing as they watch.

If this global self-representation existed, I would want to 
subscribe to it as a data feed on my desktop. I would want to run it 
in a dashboard in the upper right corner of my monitor -- that I 
could expand at any time to explore further. It would provide me 
with alerts when events transpired that matched my particular 
interests, causes, or relationships. It would solicit my opinions 
and votes on issues of importance and interest to me. It would 
simultaneously function as my window to the world, and the world's 
window to me. It would be my way of participating in the meta-level 
whole, whenever I wanted to. I could tell it my opinions about key 
issues, current events, problems, people, organizations, or even 
legislative proposals. I could tell it about the quality of life 
from my perspective, where I am living, in my industry and 
demographic niche. I could tell it about my hopes and fears for the 
future. I could tell it what I think is cool, or not cool, 
interesting or not interesting, good or bad, etc. I could tell it 
what news I was reading and what I think is noteworthy or important. 
And it would listen and learn, and take my contributions into 
account democratically along with those of billions of other people 
just like me all around the world. From this would emerge global 
visualizations and reports about what we are all thinking and doing, 
in aggregate, that I could track and respond to. Linked from these 
flows I could then find relevant news, conversations, organizations, 
people, products, services, events, and knowledge. And from all of 
this would emerge something greater than anything I can yet imagine -
- a thought process too big for any one human mind to contain.

I want to build this. I want to build the planetary Self. I am not 
suggesting that we build the entire global mind, I am just 
suggesting that we build the part of the system that functions as 
its collective self-awareness. The rest of the global mind is 
already there, as raw potential at least, and doesn't have to be 
built. The Web, human minds, software agents, and organizations 
already exist. Their collective state just needs to be reflected in 
a single virtual mirror. As soon as this mirror exists they can 
begin to collectively self-organize and behave more intelligently, 
simply because they will have, for the first time, a way of 
measuring their collective state and behavior. Once there is a 
central collective self-awareness loop, the intelligence of the 
global mind will emerge and self-organize naturally over time. This 
collective self-awareness infrastructure is the central enabling 
technology that has to be there first for the next-leap in 
intelligence of the global mind to evolve.

Project Structure

I think this should be created as a non-profit open-source project. 
In fact, that is the only way that it can have legitimacy -- it must 
be independent of any government, cultural or commercial 
perspective. It must be by and for the people, as purely and cleanly 
as possible. My guess is that to build this properly we would need 
to create a distributed grid computing system to collect, compute, 
visualize and distribute the data -- it could be similar to 
SETI at Home; everyone could help host it. At the center of this grid, 
or perhaps in a set of supernodes, would be a vast supercomputing 
array that would manage the grid, do focused computations and data 
fusion operations. There would also need to be some serious money 
behind this project as well -- perhaps from major foundations and 
donors. This system would be a global resource of potential 
incalculable value to the future of human evolution. It would be a 
project worth funding.

Getting Involved 

Let me know if  you are interested in getting involved. If you want 
to help, link to this article with a note saying what skill-sets you 
could bring to the project, and I'll see your link. If enough people 
link, I'll make a list here of bloggers that have signed up. If the 
time is right, the necessary team will grow emergently around this 

Here are blogs that have signed up to endorse this idea and 

1. Lifesized  (Thanks for suggesting a great title for this post!)
2. (your blog goes here -- just link to this post and I'll see your 
trackback and add you)


Message: 3         
   Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006 22:42:24 -0000
Subject: Researchers concoct self-propelled nano motor

The Raelian Movement
for those who are not afraid of the future : http://www.rael.org

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/cnet/CNET_2100-11394_3-6031320.html?

January 25, 2006

Researchers concoct self-propelled nano motor 
Michael Kanellos, for News.com

Researchers at UCLA and the University of Bologna have come up with 
a nano-size vehicle that can inch its way forward on sunlight and 
one day could, conceivably, be used to shuttle medicines or other 
small particles around. 

The motor in chemical terms is a rotaxane, a mechanically 
interlocked molecule consisting of a ring trapped on a rod by bulky 
stoppers at both ends in the same way that rings are kept on an 
abacus. The ring in a sense serves as the foot. It is attracted to 
one end of the rod, called Station A, and moves toward it until it 
hits the stopper. The ring then moves to the second port of call, 
Station B, and moves toward it until halted by the opposite stopper. 
By alternating between Stations A and B, the ring pulls the whole 
contraption forward. 

The attraction and repulsion is accomplished through electron 
harvesting. One of the ends of the barbell harvests an electron from 
sunlight and transfers it to Station A. When Station A contains an 
electron, the ring moves toward Station B. When Station A returns 
the electron to the barbell, the ring moves toward it. 

A full cycle is carried out in less than a thousandth of a second, 
which means that the motor can operate at a frequency of 1,000 
Hertz, according to the researchers. This is equivalent, using the 
car engine analogy, to 60,000 revolutions per minute. 

"The kind of nanotechnology that will emerge from these nano motors 
still requires a lot of fundamental work. The nano motors are 
extremely sophisticated in their design," Fraser Stoddart, UCLA's 
Fred Kavli chair of NanoSystems Sciences and director of the 
institute, said in a statement. 

Last year, researchers at Rice University showed off nanocars. These 
were propelled by external electric fields and did not generate 
their own energy, which the UCLA motor does. However, the Rice 
vehicles had moving molecular wheels. 


Message: 4         
   Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006 17:28:32 +0100
Subject: Role of the nervous system in regulating stem cells discovered

The Raelian Movement
for those who are not afraid of the future : http://www.rael.org

Source: The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Role of the nervous system in regulating stem cells discovered

Study led by Mount Sinai School of Medicine may provide new hope for cancer 
patients and others with compromised immune systems

26-Jan-2006    Contact: Mount Sinai Press 
Office   newsmedia at mssm.edu   212-241-9200

New study by Mount Sinai researchers may lead to improved stem cell 
therapies for patients with compromised immune systems due to intensive 
cancer therapy or autoimmune disease. The study is published in this week's 
issue of Cell.

A group, led by Paul Frenette, Associate Professor of Medicine at Mount 
Sinai School of Medicine, found that the sympathetic--or "fight or flight" 
branch--of the nervous system plays a critical role in coaxing bone marrow 
stem cells into the bloodstream. Bone marrow cells known as hematopoietic 
stem cells are the source for blood and immune cells.

Hematopoietic stem cell transplants are now routinely used to restore the 
immune systems of patients after intensive cancer therapy and for treatment 
of other disorders of the blood and immune system, according to the 
National Institutes of Health. While physicians once retrieved the stem 
cells directly from bone marrow, doctors now prefer to harvest donor cells 
that have been mobilized into circulating blood.

In normal individuals, the continuous trafficking of the stem cells between 
the bone marrow and blood fills empty or damaged niches and contributes to 
the maintenance of normal blood cell formation, according to the 
researchers. Although it has been known for many years that the 
mobilization of hematopoietic stem cells can be enhanced by multiple 
chemicals, the mechanisms that regulate this critical process are largely 
unknown, they said.

One factor in particular, known as hematopoietic cytokine 
granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), is widely used clinically to 
elicit hematopoietic stem cell mobilization for life-saving bone marrow 
transplantation, said Dr. Frenette.

Several years ago, Dr. Frenette's group reported that a second compound, 
fucoidan, which is synthesized by certain seaweeds, could also spur the 
stem cells into action. The group speculated that the seaweed derivative 
might work by imitating a similar compound, called sulfatide, naturally 
present in mammalian tissues.

To test the idea, the researchers examined mice lacking the enzyme 
responsible for making sulfatide.

"Lo and behold, mice lacking the enzyme Cgt did not mobilize hematopoietic 
stem cells at all when treated with the stimulating factor G-CSF or 
fucoidan," Dr. Frenette said. "You don't get such dramatic results that 
often in science. We knew we had stumbled onto something important."

To their surprise, further study failed to connect the stalled stem cell 
movement to sulfatide. Rather, they found, the deficiency stemmed from a 
defect in the transmission of signals sent via the sympathetic nervous 
system. The products of Cgt contribute to the myelin sheath that coats and 
protects nerve cells, they explained.

Mice with other nervous system defects also exhibited a failure to mobilize 
bone marrow stem cells, they found. Moreover, drugs that stimulate the 
sympathetic nervous system restored stem cell movement into the blood 
stream in mice with an impaired ability to respond to norepinephrine, the 
signature chemical messenger of the sympathetic system.

"The nervous system plays an important role in producing signals that 
maintain the stem cell niche and retention in bone marrow," Dr. Frenette

"The new findings add another dimension of complexity to the processes 
involved in stem cell maintenance and mobilization and emphasize the 
interrelationships among the nervous, skeletal and hematopoietic systems," 
he added. "They all have to work together ? to talk to each other ? to 
produce blood and maintain stem cells."

The results suggest that differences in the sympathetic nervous systems of 
stem cell donors may explain "conspicuous variability" in the efficiency 
with which they mobilize hematopoietic cells into the bloodstream, the 
researchers said. Furthermore, drugs that alter the signals transmitted by 
the sympathetic nervous system to the stem cells in bone may offer a novel 
strategy to improve stem cell harvests for stem cell-based therapeutics, 
they added.

The unexpected findings by Frenette and his colleagues further "suggest 
that the pharmacological manipulation of the sympathetic nervous system may 
be a means of therapeutically targeting the stem cells in their niche for 
the purpose of either mobilization or, conversely, attracting stem cells to 
the niche following transplantation," they added.


"Ethics"  is simply a last-gasp attempt by deist conservatives and
orthodox dogmatics to keep humanity in ignorance and obscurantism,
through the well tried fermentation of fear, the fear of science and
new technologies.

There is nothing glorious about what our ancestors call history,  
it is simply a succession of mistakes, intolerances and violations.

On the contrary, let us embrace Science and the new technologies
unfettered, for it is these which will liberate mankind from the 
myth of god, and free us from our age old fears, from disease, 
death and the sweat of labour.


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