Building the Nervous System
In February, I presented an informational wiki: Web2Teaching Resources at the Online Lifeline Conference. At the start, I drew an analogy of slime mold engulfing of food particles to the web coalescing around social connection hubs that provide its energy. It is the human energy that we invest in the web that powers and changes the web.
I find it funny that when we talk about alternative energy sources that we never mention the energy source that is building its own nervous system as it slowly and then rapidly makes connections between individual nerves cells. This energy source is human consciousness. Just as we have explored, colonized, and created our communities in the physical world (where like finds like or agrees to co-habitate peacefully or not), we are building communities in cyberspace. Of course despite it being a new thing, a imagined world, it will still have to follow human laws, which means it will no longer be a pure thing. It must be commercialized as that is the engine that transfers the energy to nerve hub to nerve hub.
Apparently, enough of the smaller connections have been made because “Mother Ships” shows how the central nervous system is forming. Ooh! It’s almost like watching an infant being born—which creates the important question. What will it grow into? I hear people afraid that this means artificial intelligence. That it will grow beyond us and make us obsolete. That it will be inhuman and not care for us, push us aside. Of course, we worry about this as we do that very thing to whatever gets in our way. We are animals after all. How else can anything act but like we do. Therefore, it seems that the fear is not that it will be different than us, but that it will be too like us.
It will be us. Each one of us that connects to the internet, in any way, is a nerve cell, an individual host of information uniquely combined. Oh, I hear the rumblings! No, we will not dissolve into a unimind. We can’t even if we wanted. There will still be differences that push against each other. We will all have a stake in establishing our own individuality. Just as we are individuals in the real world that are protected or subsumed into greater and greater communities, we will create the same in the cyber world even down to our ghettos and palaces. A new thing will become an old thing after all.