The Internet as a Brain

The brain is one of the most complex networks in the world, with more neurons than there are stars in the galaxy. Its hardware is a complex network of neurons; its software a complex network of memories. And so too is the Internet a network. Its hardware is a complex network of computers; its software a complex network of websites. There is a lot we can learn from the brain and it can tell us where the Internet is headed next.


In practice, the Internet is clunkier, slower, and smaller than the average brain but the fundamental structure is roughly the same. When I look at Google and the other search engines, I see more similarity to how memories are stored and retrieved in the mind than I do to the underlying computer architecture. When I look at websites, I think memes and memories, not hypertext. When I look at, MySpace, and Facebook, I see social networks that are developing the way neural networks develop, a way that is different than Metcalfe’s Law of networks.

When I look at Internet computing clouds, I see the beginnings of a parallel processing machine that has the ability to go beyond brute calculations, toward the loopy random prediction power of the brain. But as I look out further into the future– as the electronic neurons multiply–I see in cyberspace a replication of biological growth itself, like the evolutionary growth of the brain of an insect, or an animal or even a human being.


The question for me is: How do you detect the intelligence? If we are only interacting with neurons, how to we see the big picture?

Folksonomies: internet intelligence emergence

/technology and computing/software (0.522103)
/health and fitness/disease (0.462135)
/technology and computing/internet technology/social network (0.460721)

complex network (0.921474 (positive:0.464377)), loopy random prediction (0.818616 (positive:0.432463)), Internet computing clouds (0.804017 (negative:-0.282452)), parallel processing machine (0.801824 (neutral:0.000000)), neurons (0.771813 (neutral:0.000000)), electronic neurons (0.744244 (neutral:0.000000)), brain (0.705844 (positive:0.185277)), big picture (0.700985 (positive:0.310282)), Brain The question (0.692079 (neutral:0.000000)), brute calculations (0.682460 (neutral:0.000000)), underlying computer architecture (0.670063 (neutral:0.000000)), fundamental structure (0.668978 (negative:-0.312303)), complex networks (0.668660 (positive:0.587121)), average brain (0.667242 (negative:-0.302833)), search engines (0.666653 (neutral:0.000000)), biological growth (0.655574 (neutral:0.000000)), evolutionary growth (0.655242 (neutral:0.000000)), neural networks (0.654483 (positive:0.301920)), social networks (0.654037 (positive:0.301920)), memories (0.615829 (positive:0.444224)), hardware (0.563450 (neutral:0.000000)), software (0.563251 (positive:0.464377)), websites (0.560594 (positive:0.355620)), (0.552578 (neutral:0.000000)), way (0.550049 (positive:0.296170)), memes (0.543171 (neutral:0.000000)), Metcalfe (0.539611 (positive:0.290420)), similarity (0.539413 (neutral:0.000000)), Facebook (0.538718 (positive:0.268021)), intelligence (0.534706 (negative:-0.223802))

social networks:FieldTerminology (0.802742 (positive:0.306479)), Internet:Technology (0.502940 (negative:-0.282452)), MySpace:Company (0.387993 (positive:0.309037)), Metcalfe:Person (0.386839 (positive:0.290420)), Google:Company (0.384923 (neutral:0.000000)), parallel processing:FieldTerminology (0.380985 (neutral:0.000000)), Facebook:Company (0.371094 (positive:0.268021)), search engines:FieldTerminology (0.355977 (neutral:0.000000))

MySpace (0.988780): dbpedia | yago | crunchbase
World Wide Web (0.982611): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Social network service (0.973086): dbpedia
Internet (0.867133): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Psychology (0.860467): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Mind (0.850213): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Brain (0.828294): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Network theory (0.823155): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 The Internet Is a Brain
Periodicals>Magazine Article:  Stibel, Jeff (June 23, 2008), The Internet Is a Brain, Harvard Business Review, Retrieved on 2013-11-15
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: internet emergence consciousness


    15 NOV 2013

     Emergent Intelligence on the World Wide Web

    Notes on the possibility that the Internet could produce intelligence, and the question of how we could detect it.