The Internet as a Superorganism

If the cloud is a vast array of personal computer processors, then why not add your own laptop or desktop computer to it? It in a certain way it already is. Whenever you are online, whenever you click on a link, or create a link, your processor is participating in the yet larger cloud, the cloud of all computer chips online. I call this cloud the One Machine because in many ways it acts as one supermegacomputer.

The majority of the content of the web is created within this one virtual computer. Links are programmed, clicks are chosen, files are moved and code is installed from the dispersed, extended cloud created by consumers and enterprise - the tons of smart phones, Macbooks, Blackberries, and workstations we work in front of. While the business of moving bits and storing their history all happens deep in the tombs of server farms, the cloud's interaction with the real world takes place in the extremely distributed field of laptop, hand-held and desktop devices. Unlike servers these outer devices have output screens, and eyes, skin, ears in the form of cameras, touch pads, and microphones. We might say the cloud is embodied primarily by these computer chips in parts only loosely joined to grid.

This megasupercomputer is the Cloud of all clouds, the largest possible inclusion of communicating chips. It is a vast machine of extraordinary dimensions. It is comprised of quadrillion chips, and consumes 5% of the planet's electricity. It is not owned by any one corporation or nation (yet), nor is it really governed by humans at all. Several corporations run the larger sub clouds, and one of them, Google, dominates the user interface to the One Machine at the moment.

None of this is controversial. Seen from an abstract level there surely must be a very large collective virtual machine. But that is not what most people think of when they hear the term a "global superorganism." That phrase suggests the sustained integrity of a living organism, or a defensible and defended boundary, or maybe a sense of self, or even conscious intelligence.


Built from a gazillion chips coordinating to distribute content, memes, calculations.

Folksonomies: intelligence emergence

/technology and computing (0.638085)
/technology and computing/hardware/computer (0.373786)
/business and industrial/energy/electricity (0.333973)

cloud (0.939319 (negative:-0.064979)), extremely distributed field (0.854486 (positive:0.338248)), larger cloud (0.851929 (neutral:0.000000)), larger sub clouds (0.842470 (negative:-0.222046)), largest possible inclusion (0.839125 (neutral:0.000000)), collective virtual machine (0.796607 (neutral:0.000000)), Superorganism Built (0.753910 (negative:-0.359699)), chips online (0.738057 (negative:-0.344784)), global superorganism (0.693358 (neutral:0.000000)), vast array (0.689521 (positive:0.362407)), personal computer processors (0.675349 (positive:0.362407)), certain way (0.675217 (neutral:0.000000)), server farms (0.647856 (neutral:0.000000)), real world (0.647251 (positive:0.338248)), vast machine (0.646670 (positive:0.920300)), smart phones (0.642351 (positive:0.520603)), extraordinary dimensions (0.641521 (positive:0.920300)), outer devices (0.639340 (neutral:0.000000)), output screens (0.637440 (neutral:0.000000)), touch pads (0.637171 (neutral:0.000000)), desktop devices (0.633024 (neutral:0.000000)), user interface (0.628224 (positive:0.422583)), abstract level (0.624417 (neutral:0.000000)), laptop (0.507278 (negative:-0.070863)), content (0.495108 (negative:-0.333146)), link (0.479719 (neutral:0.000000)), Macbooks (0.473573 (neutral:0.000000)), memes (0.466064 (neutral:0.000000)), Blackberries (0.460110 (positive:0.208434)), clicks (0.451667 (neutral:0.000000))

One Machine:Organization (0.740668 (positive:0.422583)), desktop computer:FieldTerminology (0.658387 (negative:-0.409111)), personal computer:FieldTerminology (0.634106 (positive:0.362407)), virtual machine:FieldTerminology (0.510271 (neutral:0.000000)), Google:Company (0.399416 (neutral:0.000000)), user interface:FieldTerminology (0.353115 (positive:0.422583)), 5%:Quantity (0.353115 (neutral:0.000000))

Personal computer (0.963190): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Central processing unit (0.681892): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Computer (0.650376): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Desktop computer (0.634296): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Laptop (0.624687): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Computer program (0.593175): dbpedia | freebase
Microprocessor (0.504664): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Organism (0.480265): dbpedia | freebase

 Evidence of a Global SuperOrganism
Electronic/World Wide Web>Blog:  Kelly, Kevin , Evidence of a Global SuperOrganism, The Technium Blog, Retrieved on 2013-11-15
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: 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.