Welcome to the Noosphere

Life is a strange phenomenon. We are born in this Universe, we exist in this Universe, we perceive this Universe, we die in this Universe. Many accept this as a certainty and give it no more thought. Some question the nature of our reality as they learn more about the world around us. A few understand that our current path is leading us to the eventual destruction of our society. In my mind that is not even a questionable fact, the evidence of global and social catastrophe loom in the horizon like a fork in a river. The choice has to be made or the current will lead us to a waterfall and our eventual doom. Many have given up, seeing the prophesized Armageddon and the ensuing ‘Rapture’ as an easy out from the problems of the world – “Why worry about the destruction of Mother Earth if I’m not going to be here?” The problem is that it’s not that easy. In the end we’re all human and we all have to deal with our choices; I just wish that more people would realize that their choices have profound ramifications on future generations.

In many ways it’s hard to disassociate oneself from the static value patterns that have been ingrained into us since our youth. The ideas and values that we grow up with are easily imprinted because our young brains are basically undeveloped neural networks. The first ideas that are introduced become the ones that are most strongly associated and the hardest to dislodge. The power to modify our mindset is the absolute power of our consciousness – we can ‘will-to-power’ our current perception to align with a new set of ideals, however it takes a certain type of individual to evoke that kind of drastic change to our ‘core’ being. Nonetheless, the resilience of the brain is our greatest asset as it continues to adapt with our every changing environmental situation.
Ultimately I have faith in humanity because no matter what happens to this world, I believe in our skills of adaptation. This is a fundamental trait that has allowed us to evolve in many ways. From turning a stone and a stick into a weapon all the way to turning logical math into functional computers, we’re a pretty impressive species.
We’ve done a lot since our brief journey into consciousness began. We’ve established societies that (somewhat) represent the needs of the majority. We’ve developed medicine and surgery that allow us a greater chance of surviving the hardships of living. We’ve discovered some of the fundamentals of the Universe around us; how vast and near infinite it is in both space and time. We’ve discovered things about our brains and bodies that would have astounded Victorian physicians. We have made a lot of progress yet we are still doing many things the wrong way. We have endless potential but we are endlessly making the wrong choices on some fundamental questions in our collective lives. Most of the time we forget that there are so many other people with their own perception of the world. Much has been done to bring these perceptions into alignment, but much work is still ahead of us. We’ve got a long way to go as a species.
Too few of us are concerned with the fate of our grandchildren’s children. We know that there is little chance that we’ll ever see them so how can one truly care about this abstract future generation of your DNA? If we did care, we might do a little more to make sure that our grandchildren’s children had a world to grow up in, a world that wasn’t drained and spoiled, abused and used and then thrown away. You may think I’m an extremist but in reality our current course of action is only leading us to more consumption, less conservation and an always-greater division between the haves and the have-nots. That’s not the way it should be. We should be able to see the connection between over consumption, lack of balance, and backlash. Our current lifestyle will eventually destroy us because it’s not in check with anything, and will eventually be rejected by the ecosystem that is Earth. Humanity is a tumour that’s spreading over this world exponentially with time.
All is not lost however. Humanity is an interesting species because we’ve evolved with the notion that we’ve been guided by a greater being, a presence that is more powerful than us and will lead us on the proper path. This belief has been held true by people of all different religions for millennia; it is a BLUE meme that infects us at an early age and in the majority of cases it is never questioned. “Why bother questioning when all of my ‘big questions’ are answered?” It is the Truth, a bastion of stability in a turbulent existence, a trusty paddle when you’re cruising down shit creek. I guess all of us really just need to find the right paddle.
I found my paddle, and it is complexity. It is global consciousness.
Right around the time I started my blog Wally posted an interesting link to a Wired article entitled A Globe, Clothing Itself with a Brain. A Jesuit priest named Pierre Teillhard De Chardin was the main contributor of this idea; the basics revolving around the concept of increasing complexity leading to increasing awareness. From this assumption he realized that we ourselves, as humans, can view our interactions with each other as creating another order of complexity. What emerges from this new connectivity is in fact the Noosphere, or ‘God’.
What I believe is that we have been doing this since we started interacting with each other more explicitly than other animals. This interaction was rooted in communication, the passing of ideas back and forth while learning from the experiences others have endured to enrich our own lives. This interaction leads to the formation of our societies, to our struggles with our existence and to our invention of Gods to explain the unexplainable. Perhaps these Gods were reflections of the temperament of society. An angry wrathful God emerges when our society was cruel and harsh; a more benevolent God when possibilities for peace emerge through avenues like philosophy and science. I’d say these were echoes of a mass sentiment, and that the touch of that mindset still lives with us today.
Here in the 21st century, however, we have new technologies to affect our lives in profound ways. Communication with anyone who has the means has never been so easy. This root, this founding idea of the communication of Memes, is where the start of societal evolution took off from. Now, once again, we have ‘upped the ante’ with technology. The Internet allows us a sharper blade against the struggles of survival as well as giving us a bigger hammer in which to build and learn as much about our Universe as we can. As a result of this inflation of self-enrichment and the increase in person-to-person interaction we have increased the complexity of the Noosphere. The Noosphere is thus becoming more self-aware.

“Pushed one against the other by the growth of their number and by the proliferation of their connections, approached one to the other by the reawakening of a common force and by the feeling of a common anxiety, the future human kind will form nothing but an unified consciousness”.
-Teillhard De Chardin

We are creating a new God and its Morals will be the Morals that we hold. If our morals and value judgements are questionable, then what kind of higher entity are we creating? A monster, conquering all it sees, or a saint, learning and experiencing to its fullest potential?
The concept of the Noosphere is also rooted in some observable science. There are scientific experiements being conducted that show some interesting results, mostly surrounding the statistics of randomly generated numbers. Consider a computer that uses a device to create many successive ‘true’ random numbers, which are then processed to find the average of the data. Given a generator that creates numbers between 0 and 1, the average over time should be 0.5. The experimenters found that if a person were to concentrate on the computer performing this operation (or more specifically the random number generator) the subjects could skew the results to produces averages like 0.6. This is a small deviation, but a statistically verifiable one as well. The good people at Princeton then decided to extend this concept further by placing computers all around the world, generating and analysing these figures. Statistically significant deviations have occurred since they started, from sports events in the vicinity generating off random results, to global crises (of the past) like Y2K, and then of course the aftermath of 9/11.
Why are we able to affect random number generators? That is a very metaphysical question because it presumes an underlying connection and an individual focus that allows us to alter the nature of randomness. When we all focus on the same Meme then I believe this ability is magnified and the result is the creation of a global consciousness that perceives on a global scale the events around us. How does it affect us? Think of mob mentality. Why is it that a mob can go from peaceful to violent in a matter of minutes? Perhaps when a certain threshold is broken the mini-Noosphere envelopes all of those who are receptive to such subtle influences and the violent Meme is propagated throughout the group. Maybe some people are ‘sheep’ and some are ‘shephards’. At this point, I don’t know. What I do know is that we have all felt this influence at certain times in our lives. Think back to the last sports game or concert you attended – was that feeling of vitality purely because of the event taking place, or was it because everyone in the vicinity was concentrating on the same event and thus raising the group awareness to that of a singular consciousness?
At the end of the day most people will have trouble swallowing this concept. It’s too foreign, too outside the framework of our theistical upbringings. Rare is the individual who is willing to question the fundamental questions, that of our existence, our life, and our death. When an answer to these tough questions is provided, it seems as if the brain locks it in and throws away the key. Changing this answer requires such a will-to-power and confidence in the new concept that few will bother. It’s too much effort and can lead to personal instability. The mere act of questioning those answers is unthinkable in most. To question is to doubt, and to doubt the various religions’ answers is to throw their own ‘eternal afterlife’ into damnation. Why risk it? Safe and secure, we await our death and the ensuing afterlife.
Most will go about their day to day existence while the cyclically infecting religious Meme remains a part of their fundamental core. Every action is guided by the Morals laid out in their respective religion. This would be fine in most cases if people actually upheld some of the principals that their religions preached. What happened to love thy neighbour? How is it that the whole of Christianity is still standing while this fundamental tenet is ignored by most of its followers? But I digress.
The most interesting thing about this concept of global consciousness is that no matter what faith you hold, no matter what you do with your life, you are still influencing and being influenced by the Noosphere. If we view our society as a vast interconnected web of people, then every action we take ripples through this network in ways that we may never fully understand. Choices we make may be reflected back to us in the form of new opportunities arising or favoured paths disappearing. Is it too much of a stretch to see that if we make Good choices that affect us (and the others around us) positively, then Good things will come back to us, likewise for Bad decisions. If you believe (like me) that our collective actions affect the shape of the Global Consciousness, then it’s logical to say that if the majority of people are making Good decisions, the core Morals of the ‘higher entity’ we are creating will be Good as well.
Like I said, it really doesn’t matter if you personally believe in this entity or not, because it is still being generated in part by your interactions with others around you. At the same time, I believe the manifestation of its awareness will be more obvious if we all thought as one in this regard. Almost like the molecules aligning in a magnet, if our thoughts are aligned on the same path we can make a force-of-will that is ephemeral, yet able to alter the world around us. Until that time this will lies dormant, its capabilities never reaching its potential and the confusion and anxiety in our own individual lives growing. When the world believes together we will have reached a new level, but until that time the problems in the world continue to become more apparent, more traumatic. Like it or not, we’re all in this together. Welcome to the Noosphere.

20 thoughts on “Welcome to the Noosphere”

  1. I remember as a child, being educated in Catholicism
    (religion & grammar school) thinking about ‘god’–I invisioned that all of this world was a massive dream of this ‘god’–his dream thoughts ‘managed’ everything…….and now this ‘noosphere’ concept–never heard of the term
    until your post–and then google gives me 30K different
    sites to explore more………….thanks……

  2. It shouldn’t be a problem for someone to question their morals and discuss their religions, and if it is then we may be far away from attaining this “Noosphere.” It is one thing to explore other possibilties but it is another to change your take on the issue. As you said peoples’ upbringings are sometimes forged and set in stone, but surely that doesn’t mean that they have to be ignorant or ignoring of other information. Maybe in time to come when we may be a part of the Noosphere evidence will surface that is undeniable, alarming, or at least thought-provoking. Until then we should strive to be more open with our consciousness and opinions. That’s what I got from all of that. Interesting..

  3. I read the wired article with teillhard’s philosophy too. its interesting to relate hes theory with the internet…Hmm…an unified consciousness…It still leaves me with a lot of questions, but it does make me think… 🙂

  4. With these beliefs, which I share, there comes this seemingly insurmountable frustration with people who won’t open their minds. I’ve met so many people that just have no interest in listening to what I have to say because their preset, solidified worldview deems it “wrong.” That’s an incredible impediment to noospherical progress. (You like that? Noospherical?)

  5. Heh.. I was also thinking of ‘Noospherology’. 😉
    It is true though that most will disregard any new idea outright without any critical thought. The key is to present the meme in a fashion that makes sense to them. For me, that is always the analogy between a brain and our intelligence versus the wired world and the Noosphere.

  6. We are all noorons. The following is a synaptic firing.
    An annotated collection of links regarding the Noosphere, the emergence of collective intelligence and the role of the internet in building this global consciousness:
    Noosphere/Collective Intelligence:
    Noosphere Evolution and Value Metabolism [pdf] – An examination of the nature and behavior of the structures of consciousness and culture.
    How to Build A Global Brain – An early blueprint for the Nooron project. (See the Tools section below for more info.)
    Out of Control an Online Book by Kevin Kelly – Chapter 2 deals with the Hive Mind.
    The Collective Unconsciousness Project – A worldwide database of dreams. Navigate the sea of connected ideas and themes.
    From Cyberspace to Noosphere [ppt] – A Powerpoint presentation from the Canada Research Chair on Collective Intelligence.
    Sept 11 2001 and the Global Mind – An exploration of the effects of 9/11 on the Noosphere project (discussed in this post) at Princeton.
    The Soul of the White Ant – Termites, collective intelligence in action.
    The Integration Website – Co-Developing the Noosphere. The self-professed “corner stone for the evolving Noosphere.”
    The nature of meaning in the age of Google
    An Interview with John Seely Brown – “… blogs can suddenly reach a critical mass that then forces something out into the open, into public consciousness. You might think of it as an analogy to the subconscious vs. the conscious. The formal or conscious part is what today’s journalism is about, New York Times and so on. But the informal layer, comprising things like blogs, is like our unconscious mind. It’s not publicly visible. But all kinds of things are happening there. Things get linked together and suddenly there can be enough links (creating a dense mesh of intertextual links) that the underlying ‘idea’ breaks through to public consciousness.”
    Blogs of Note:
    The Blog of Collective Intelligence – Entry of note: The emergence of CI, an online experiment
    Minding The Planet – Entry of note: The Metaweb: The Global Mind Just Got Smarter
    The Voice of Humanity – Entry of note: A New Heaven
    Internet Time Blog – Entry of note: Collective Intelligence
    Nooron – Free software which aims to provide a platform for collaboration on a global scale.

  7. Thanks for all the great links Wally, as always in these matters we see eye to eye. The Noosphere is obviously a concept that has been discussed in great length by people of varied background. The only problem is that we need to get this idea of the Noosphere into the global consciousness. It’s almost like when a human becomes self aware – once this meme bubbles to the surface and everyone becomes aware of it’s implications, then you might say the Noosphere will become self-aware.

  8. Thanks for the readings, Chef! I’ll start poring through them today!
    So which is it going to be? “Noospherical,” or “Noospherological?”

  9. Hi Chef
    I had read a little about the Noosphere before, not a whole lot, but enough to understand what the concept is about.
    My thoughts:
    There are no answers. There are only Choices.
    The more minds that ‘buy into’ the concept, the more true it will become.
    We do not find the answers, we create them.

  10. The difference is: Are we becoming ‘aware’ of its existence, or are we creating its existence?
    We are already linked in The Singularity in which our perception of the whole Universe exists. A Noosphere centered on this Earth seems to again try to place our planet at the center of the Universe, at least within our minds.
    Not that it cannot be, it just seems to me to be such a small piece of the larger whole. A noosphere centered around Earth would only be a local group.
    Are the minds on this planet the only minds in the Universe? Is our consciousness the only consciousness in The Singularity?
    Perhaps the ‘local’ group needs to evolve to the noosphere before it can become one with the other minds in The Singularity?

  11. Again we have the problem of scope. We can endlessly debate the possibilites of other lifeforms in the Universe (I believe there are), but as they have never been documented to the point where all doubt is erased then we shouldn’t waste precious thought wondering if there is or not. I say we should work on what we know and what we have – one fragile Earth – before worrying about our place in the Universe.
    “Perhaps the ‘local’ group needs to evolve to the noosphere before it can become one with the other minds in The Singularity?”
    That’s what I’m hoping, but again it’s irrelvant to the needs of the now.

  12. The Collective Intelligence issue of What Is Enlightenment? was just released.
    Their web-site provides the following audio companion:
    Come Together: The Mystery of Collective Intelligence

  13. Interesting magazine… That ‘Blue Meme’ idea was published in What is Enlightenment. That’s a pretty bold title for a magazine but it’s doing ok by me so far..

  14. i favor this “Noosphere” concept. Especially your view on it here: [If you believe (like me) that our collective actions affect the shape of the Global Consciousness, then it’s logical to say that if the majority of people are making Good decisions, the core Morals of the ‘higher entity’ we are creating will be Good as well.] Your statements on humans evolving into the explicit species that we are is on the money. What we say, what we do withour lives, how we react other people, how we use the resources around us all shape up for the future.
    Now with the way things are going, im confused. are you saying you think humans will be the demise of this planet and when Earth is destructed life will end? What then? and the religious concept of “after life” i like how you left it simply that, people favor it to live their life in peace. why worry about it? what will come, will come.
    Very pensive article chef. i loved it man. your best work yet since Lucid Dreaming haha.

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