From Cloud Computing to the One Machine

Kevin Kelly has been very productive lately.

Here are three articles that we recommend for your reading and thinking pleasure.

The first asks: Is There Evidence of a Global SuperOrganism?

His hypothesis is as follows: “The rapidly increasing sum of all computational devices in the world connected online, including wirelessly, forms a superorganism of computation with its own emergent behaviors. ”

Is it a metaphor, or is it real? Kelly posits up to the emergence of consciousness, but to entangle this issue, he differentiates its emergence as a four-level affair. Each level can be defined, and checked with reality, so it is a good roadmap to examine the issue.

Here is a copy of the four level explanation.

In the second article we recommend, he goes on to examine the cultural effects of Clould Computing. Is it just a machine, or will it change us, through the cultural habits that its induces.

He offers a number of characteristics of such a Cloudy Culture:

Both articles are well worth reading and pondering.

But the third one is perhaps the most important and is entitled “The Ninth Transition” It is partly a reaction to an earlier essay by Nova Spivack, which I also recommend strongly.

In this article, Kevin Kelly reminds us that the world and humanity went through eight major evolutionary breakthroughs or ‘phase transitions’.

Here they are:

In the landmark book “The Major Transitions in Evolution” the authors Smith and Szathmary lay out the eight major phases of development in biological evolution so far, and perhaps not remarkably, these eight stages resemble the path from random population to meta-individuals at each level. In other words, Smith and Szathmary say that evolution is the continued, graduated progression in which smaller units form larger, higher level units, and then those new meta-individuals start to form a new group, where each meta-individual is a mere individual. Thus life has formed a super-organism structure eight times so far. These eight levels or seven stages of super-organization are:

*From replicating molecules to bounded population of molecules
*From populations of replicators to chromosomes
*From RNA chromosomes to DNA genes and proteins
*From Prokaryotes to Eukaryotes
*From Asexual clones to sexual populations
*From single cell protists to multicelluar organisms
*From solitary individuals to colonies
*From animal societies to language-based human societies

What then, would be the ninth transition:

*From human society to a global super-organism containing both humans and their machines.

Do read that full article to understand how he justifies this hypothesis.

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