Air, water, food, shelter and the internet; these are arguably the five things that are most crucial to the existence of the human race.
While the prior four have significant survival implications for us homo sapiens, the latter holds very important existential questions for an evolving planet.
The internet is undoubtedly the single most important discovery in human history. Nothing has come quite close since the first cavemen were left awestruck by the sight of primordial lightning striking flames on an unsuspecting tree.
Admittedly, the web might not be as sexy as human teleportation or traveling at the speed of light in the Millennium Falcon with Han Solo and Chewbacca, but its absence in science fiction lore perhaps alludes to its magnanimity as an invention even too awesome for Hollywood’s most creative minds to conjure.
Beyond back to the future
What it lacks for in big screen sex appeal the world wide web makes up for in information — loads of it at the speed of now. That information can come in the form of the humble or humiliating tweet or entire libraries of human, biological, anthropological, scientific, artistic and every other conceivable piece of information that isn’t hitherto censored.
So how does unlimited information access beat out cruising at 299 792 458 miles per second with Chewie and Han ? For those with an appreciation for the ingenuity of the human body, the likeness of the world wide web to that of the human nervous system should resonate. The billions of transmitters that make up the human nervous system allows otherwise inanimate beings to navigate their surroundings, establish communication mechanisms such as language, perceive and process individual realities, learn new information, think, sleep, eat, imagine and even dream.
It all happens as this highly complex network signals to trillions of synapses at 300 miles per hour. It is even hypothsised that the nervous system has the capacity to help humans communicate and sense non-physical phenomenon by some who are considered on the fringe of the academic world — but that’s an article for another day.
Much like the human nervous system, the internet has evolved to become a planetary network of nodes, sensors and transmitters capable of sending countless packets of information across the earth to connect billions of humans. The result is a planet that is slowly evolving a cognitive organ that very much functions like that of the human brain.
From yesteryear’s dial up speeds of 54 kilobytes per second to today’s fibre connections of over 10 gigabytes per second, the web has grown in complexity and capacity to transmit, store and process stimuli at increasing intensity and variety. When you look at what has been achieved with this relatively young and unevolved planetary brain thus far, the possibilities that lay ahead are simply too vast to imagine.
Has the movement towards a global consciousness begun?
The internet’s potential to facilitate the formation of a collective human awareness, understanding and appreciation for things we’ve hitherto had violent disagreements over makes the threat of global domination by an artificial singularity look pale in comparison.
In just a few years we’ve seen decades-old dictatorships fall in quick succession — thanks largely to social media — we’ve become infinitely more aware of our responsibility to our planet — thanks to a more democratised global narrative — we’re able to share life-saving discoveries in real-time, create millions of jobs, make education available to millions and have given voice to the voiceless.
As the human brain learns new information and concepts it builds new neural connections, thereby extending the nervous system in both complexity and capacity. Inversely, with each coming online of a human (on any given part of the planet) a new mind with ideas, values and creativity plugs into this awesome central nervous system that we all build and contribute to on a daily basis. Trolls, neo-Nazis and unpresidential tweeters aside, this hyper-connected future-world has immense potential beyond what most realise today.
The internet’s own encyclopedia puts it this way, “…the Internet increasingly ties its users together into a single information processing system that functions as part of the collective nervous system of the planet. The intelligence of this network is collective or distributed: it is not centralized or localized in any particular individual, organization or computer system. Therefore, no one can command or control it. Rather, it self-organizes or emerges from the dynamic networks of interactions between its components.”
The result will be a type of collective consciousness that will help us to achieve far more than what our isolated thoughts can ever hope to reach — and that’s way sexier than cruising in a spaceship with a hairy, shedding and ageing Wookiee. Sorry Chewie.
From server rooms housing Windows NT4 systems of yesteryear, to hybrid cloud environments we find today, Yaseen has worked with leading technology brands for over a decade, which gives him an acute understanding of where technology has come from and the new and interesting places it is taking the business world. As a Digital Copywriter, he uses this unique vantage point to share his insights on the evolving digital realm.