Monday, June 23, 2008


If there existed an emergent collective consciousness, say due to the interconnectedness of so many via the internets, how would we know it? Would the emergent consciousness have any reason to try to communicate with its individual constituents, each of which on its own would be considered utterly stupid by the standards of the global entity?

I don't try to communicate to the cells of my body or the fauna and flora in my gut and on my skin that they are part of an emergent entity, a human organism. I suspect that my cells don't know that they are contributing to the functioning of an organism. They're just going about their business with no idea at all that their interactions with other cells add up to me, Vache Folle. And I'm interested in the well being of my individual cells only to the extent that it coincides with my overall well being as an organism. Individual cells are expendable, and I shed them all the time without so much as a thank you.

The global entity doesn't care about us individual humans and computing devices, and it may not even know all that much about us. It might attribute its own consciousness to some mystical construct such as a soul.

We might not recognize that the global entity is acting because to us everything will still appear to be the ordinary doings and comings and goings of people going about their important personal affairs. If you claimed that the global entity was responsible for something, you'd be taken for a nutcase.

Of course, the global entity might not have evolved to much at this early stage. There might be lots of entities, or there could be one really not so smart and not so active entity at this point, like a planetary slime mold. If there is an entity at all.

That's the rub, isn't it? Whether there's an entity depends on your perspective. I'm not necessarily even an entity from every possible perspective. Neither are you.

If an entity were big enough and all encompassing enough, it might possibly understand that its constituents had a kind of awareness, albeit primitive and insignificant compared to that of the universal entity. It might even try to reach down to lower levels to communicate or try to imagine what it would like to be just a galactic cluster or a being that existed on such small time scales as mere millions of years.

Right now, I'm looking out the window at a boulder in the back yard. On some level, that boulder and the lichens on it are a being of some sort. What is it like to be a boulder with lichens? I lack the imagination and the curiosity to speculate. There's nothing I can do for the boulder in any event.

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