Third Phase Transition
solving the anthropocene crisis
Preface & Introduction
‘Artificial intelligence’ or collective intelligence?
The common sense on human intelligence, still prevailing, is mechanistic. Intelligence is perceived as an individual mechanic of pattern recognition, interpretation, inference, and computation. Such understanding is a reduction, that does only partially and restrictively reflect the mental power of the cooperative species. What is measured by traditional IQ tests is not human intelligence, but at best an individually isolated, schematized and culturally biased commensuration of its formal preconditions.
Progression of human knowledge could not have been possible, in the absence of reduction to rules and systems of thinking. Mathematics is the most exact, and also the most abstract, way of conceptualizing cognizable patterns. It has led science to insights way beyond what could have been approached by pure sense perception and common sense. Formal logics is the most general way of assorting and organizing the results of accumulated empirical experience. That does not mean, however, that the process of human intelligence would be reducible to these extremely successful and indispensable conventions.
What about us humans? It is not by chance that the spot in universe where science, so far, has been failing most conspicuously, is precisely in understanding the species dominating Planet Earth. How come? Maybe a problem with a too narrow methodology? Might the research question be fundamentally flawed? Could study of this species simply be grounded by treating it, with a certain portion of ethical discretion, like a more sophisticated variety of Drosophila melanogaster – the fruit fly – King and Queen of biological experimentalists’ laboratory tradition? Denying both the first and second order of approximation, to the object of study, is maybe not such a brilliant starting point, after all?
Intuition as the active interface of human intelligence
Approaching human intelligence from another angle, opposite of such schematic rules of human mental cooperation as touched upon above, opens a more comprehensive understanding of it. The prejudice of viewing it as possibly being purely mechanistic gets displaced. Hypothesizing intuition, as a core quality of human intelligence as individually manifested, at the critical interface of emotions and formal cognition, might prove more fruitful than simply restricting the research horizon to the fruit fly approach.
Intuitive impulses not immediately confronted with choice of action or reaction, but engaged in producing fantasy, correspond to the critical survival fitness of innovation. Unpredictably altering the complexities of the human mind, in concordance with the ability of discovering new patterns – ‘thinking outside the box’ – might produce results that challenge and at best expand and enrich already established rules of pattern recognition. The same goes for ability to create original artefacts. Human intuition, the creative moment integrating human feelings and human rationality, might reveal itself as a core concept of human intelligence.
It does not necessarily represent an advance by itself. Intuition, taking the fast track to judgement, disregarding the complexities of empirically accumulated knowledge, mainly reproduces prejudice. But we should not be prejudiced, in assessing the role of prejudice. Intuition, as immediate emotional reaction, plays an important part in maintaining already established conventions, forming the common sense, and institutionalizing forms of cooperation expressing the historically achieved level in right of association. Only when activated through reactionary organizing discipline, mobilizing against threatening emergence of historically new and more advanced ways of associating, prejudice might become really nasty.
Intuition inspired, however, by longing to break suffocating conventions or unbearable conditions in human relations, might produce useful and successful innovation. As can be seen, intuition plays a central part in both upholding the conservative quality of imitating and repeating, perpetuating cooperativity, and in breaking new paths by innovation, developing cooperativity. The common denominator is the emotional loading, initiating intuition. This emotional loading is the accumulated result within the individual of cooperative experiences.
Human emotions are bred out of love for cooperation. Human memories are re-formed, and held selectively latent, by their relative affective loading in the brain, and in the rest of the body. Memories give echo, from the experiences in which they were once based, jumbled up with other experiences. Creative thinking is heavily dependent on the emotional life being formed within the social senses of human relations, and thereafter accumulated within the individual.
Modern brain research includes findings that support the importance of emotional energy in human intelligence. For example, the increased synapse firing in definite patterns characteristic of ‘aha reactions,’ starting out pre-consciously up to two seconds before cognitively conscious completion. This signifies an extraordinary latency of conscious arrival, when compared to physical neurological speed, and even compared to routine cognition, being processed at a fraction of a second. This might be interpreted as cognitive innovations originating in emotionally induced and regulated outbursts. These seem to break through former cooperativity routines, which may have materialized all the way from one’s own prejudices and habits to society’s norms and institutions.
Another example: A significant correlation has been observed between capacity for lucid dreaming (a semi-conscious state, providing for conscious self-direction of dreams) and for divergent thinking (‘thinking outside the box’) as well as for convergent thinking (associating separate things). These things taken together seem to imply creative ability of forming unconventional pattern recognition. Such findings might be interpreted as emotionally creative guidance of thoughts.
Further: A mental state of actively resting the mind, by for example light cognitional loading from semi-autonomously concentrating on a well-known task, has been found strongly correlated to the brain’s activation of its ‘default mode network.’ This pattern of brain activity has been observed in reactions like opioid-dopamine interaction, et cetera. These seem to be conductive to states of meditation, of ‘wandering thoughts’ and affectionate reflexions, or of intensely engaged creative flow of thoughts on complex subjects. In the case of specialised athletics, sensuous focus, physical strain, and highly finetuned motor activity coincide in such ‘flow.’ And as massive evidence has shown that physical activity is interlinked to mental activity, the human state referred to by the term ‘flow’ should not be seen as two different kinds. They should rather be regarded as two interrelated aspects or expressions of human intelligence. In sum, the brain states which have been described as ‘flow’ testify to the importance of emotions in enhancing both intellectual and practical skills.
Observations of this kind seem to support the conclusion that human emotions are just as essential to intelligence, as the social systematization of formal thinking is. In fact, emotions seem to work à priori, as the pro-active moment in display of individual intelligence, while logical analysis seems to play the part of individual, and potentially collective, reconstruction after the event. The formal side of intelligence, so to speak, ‘harvests’ emotional ‘yield’ from what had been ‘sown’ within human cooperative experiences. Emotions also seem to work á posteriori, in selecting what memories to keep, how to associate them, modify them, and to what degree of latency to hold them. The emancipated territory of emotions – dreaming – probably plays a leading part in such arrangement.
The fact that individual emotional life originates in human cooperation hardly needs restating here. And humans have been genetically adapted and socially predisposed to a rising degree, for feeding into its dynamic. Empathic behaviour activates the reward system in the brain of its agent, releasing a sense of pleasure. Creating and expanding human association is intelligent, whether in direct interaction or individually and indirectly, creating promoting artefacts. This is the very process of intelligence, and it feels nice in the body. And this insight works within the individual with the power of combined neurological reflex patterns – intuitively.
Summing up: Human intelligence is collective by nature. It is a process, individually perpetuating cooperative results, through thinking and emotions in interaction, in a dialectic corresponding to the level of historically achieved right of association. That must be considered the first and second order of approximation in understanding it, in concordance with what was initially stated as to human nature.
Now, how does this relate to the conventional wisdom of cutting-edge science? To put it succinctly: Humanity is presently presented with a real and collective intelligence test – maturely pondering the challenges of the Anthropocene crisis and how to meet them. And that test is, not least, applicable to the engineers and ‘futurologist’ prophets of ‘artificial intelligence.’ How do they feel about that?
The myth of ‘artificial intelligence’
The way of understanding human intelligence sketched above, is inseparable from the organic human body and its place within society. It cannot be separated from human capacity of cooperating. It is the very process of collectively cultivating, associating, and reproducing experiences from cooperation intelligibly, and of individually accumulating these results emotionally.
Such understanding is incompatible with the hyped-up mechanistic thesis of ‘artificial intelligence.’ As will be demonstrated, ‘artificial intelligence’ is a not only conceptually corrupted – a contradiction in terms by ontologically senseless reduction – but even expresses a social corruption.
The ‘AI’ thesis speaks of an approaching ‘singularity.’ It projects an evolutionary ‘Big Bang,’ in which associated supercomputers are claimed to overtake, overrule, and overrun human intelligence. It suggests that human intelligence would be incapacitated from understanding the meaning and implications of autonomous computerized automation. We are told that networked computers will self-organize their own datamining, machine-learning, reprogramming, design of hardware, and automated mass production of their own kind. The result – ‘singularity’ – the story goes, would be humanity suffering the automated production processes decided upon, designed, and dominantly implemented by such ‘autonomous’ computerization. It would either end up in computer tyranny extinguishing humanity, or in computer power rather choosing to create ‘trans-humans,’ a techno-biological hybrid species, such prognoses pretend. Computerized Holocaust befalling entire humanity, or a computerized paradise of eternal life. So, the quarrelling stories go. In the fan vision, computers would gradually phase out inferior human components. ‘Trans-humanists’ paint a scenario, where computers replace ageing limbs and organs with mechanical or laboratory cultured spare parts. Eventually, even the ageing brain would be replaced by a computer. Its hard disk would download the life memory of the individual, together with prefabricated additional skills of ‘super-intelligence.’ The result would be individual immortality, and universally self-evolving intelligence, as computer-manufactured ‘trans-humans.’
Such technocratic fantasies are invariably distinguished by totally abstracting from, or at least primitively neglecting, the social relations and interests involved in designing the hard- and software, its infrastructure and implementation. A critical analysis of the role ‘AI’ plays in everyday life today, remains conspicuous by its absence among those enthusiasts. Oddly enough, the same goes for those who ring the alarm bell. Instead they attack a strawman of future computers. Both sides believe in the saga of living computers.
These ‘sci-fi’ versions of artificial eternal life are a denial of life itself. In short, in all their sophisticated skills at interpreting, formalizing, manipulating, and mechanizing information, they prove to be weirdly uninformed – rather displaying human idiocy than artificial intelligence.
Can there be such a thing as ‘artificial intelligence’ or not? Given the exacting and complicated challenges within the young and rapidly developing field of modern brain research, on the one hand, and the exponential growth within the technology that has been labelled ‘AI’ on the other, maybe this conflict line should be regarded an open question? Not at all! The clash of the organic understanding of human intelligence, as a profoundly cooperative quality, and the mechanistic myth of ‘artificial intelligence,’ is a virtual war front of the Anthropocene crisis. An insight is emerging, of a completed human collective intelligence as necessary for solving the Anthropocene crisis. This, in turn, must be heavily dependent on adequately designed and implemented information technology. And that points to the vital need of abundantly free development and transparency of these material and immaterial means of cooperation.
Covert, automated, and centralized behavioural surveillance. Cognitive remote control and manipulation. That is how ‘artificial intelligence’ is used today. Interactive means of cooperation are persistently forced into serving such destructive ends. This aggravates incapacitation of mass users, instead of breaking it up. Consequently, the possible evolution of collective intelligence is sabotaged.
Some large-scale active social interests, forming and exploiting so-called artificial intelligence, might be listed: Intelligence agencies, repressive organs, remote-controlled and automated war machines, globally organized commercial interests, financial markets, political factories of disinformation, internationally organized crime, and terrorism. There is today no such thing as a clear dichotomy between an ‘open Internet’ and a ‘dark web.’ It has all been jumbled up into fifty shades of grey.
The synthesis of clandestinely monopolized Big Data storage (‘intellectual property,’ and ‘state security,’), data mining and machine learning – incorrectly labelled artificial intelligence – are skewed towards serving a disparate plethora of social interests with a destructive character as common denominator. It is tightening cognitive control, stealing, aggregating, and manipulating individual identities. The combined effect, of these high-handed kinds of systematic data breaches, produces a paralysing mass invasion of these powerful and abundant cooperative means.
State surveillance, state disinformation and repression of free thought, detailed political censorship, and push-feeding of doctored information, is one of its forms. Another form is the IT giants’ collection of data and mapping of every connected individual, instantly used to design what information should reach whom, to guide exactly that person’s senses towards strengthening and precision targeting already ingrained consumption patterns. China is the most advanced example so far, of how these destructive forces have allied in a suffocating manner. The interest of whipping up even more unsustainable levels of standardized mass consumption, in the thoughtless, emotionless, and mindless interest of rent seeking abstract capital, gets married to the totalitarian state’s control requirements. Internationally organized crime’s data mining, for large-scale fraud, management of global smuggling, and money-laundering, is an extremely profitable form of rent seeking, seamlessly melting into the financial markets of abstract capital. National influence operations and IT sabotage in targeted countries, utilise the same virtual underground. High-tech warfare tends towards drone terrorism, hunting IT harnessed terrorists sects. In cyber warfare, terrorisms clash. All this taken together acts as a compound destructive force.
The world is on the verge of rolling out the 5G net, where our entire environment, at home, at work, at school, and in public places, is designed for centrally surveying all and everything. China is spearheading. The Communist leadership develops ‘Internet security’ for global export. The Russian state follows a more defensive track, by entrenching and enclosing ‘Putin’s Internet’ (temporarily pushing the pause button due to the Corona crisis). A host of authoritarian regimes are tampering with this weapon against their citizens, and Peking is throwing these states surveillance technique version 1.0 free of charge as a bonus, as they import other commodities. The US of Trump makes an assault upon China and Huawei, since the crisis ridden American state apparatus is losing ground within surveillance industry.
The frustrated mass users, desperately longing for meaningful contact which each other, keep overreacting by individualistic exhibitionism, increasingly treating their own bodies as products to modify, their own lives as commodities to market, and their own feelings as space signals. All this is transformed into aimlessly contributing to the monstrous amassing and locking in of Big Brother Big Data. To paraphrase the old IT saying – ‘garbage in, garbage out’ – by inverting it, the present centralized misuse of computerization might read ‘monstrosities out, monstrosities in.’
Mass reactions, against these virtual occupation forces in means of cooperation, include spreading conspiracy theories, boundlessly exploding local legends, epidemics of science denial, and of xenophobic chain reactions, the lure of instant wealth by acting as useful idiot (‘Internet influencer’) munching crumbs from globalized rent seeking, et cetera. Such erratic reactions are helplessly contributing to the perversion of these potential means of developing collective intelligence.
Just like in overall moralist propaganda, the mass consumers are blamed. They are charged with creating ‘filter bubbles,’ by embracing prejudice. This is utterly false. The destructive forces operating social media signify a permanent, ’soft,’ and large-scale industry of identity theft. These virtual occupation forces are the fabricators of filter bubbles. The detailed mapping, profiling, and algorithmic cognitive control of the individual, forms the axis in this abuse of possibly developing collective human intelligence, needed for solving the Anthropocene crisis.
The real problem, hardly ever discussed consistently, as it comes to so-called AI, is not that of a future ‘singularity,’ where computers are claimed to form a new mechanical super-species of boundlessly progressing intelligence. The real issue is how the interactivity of global computerization is being increasingly monopolized, standardized, and centrally manipulated, for mesmerising the mass users in line with socially and naturally destructive and unsustainable interests. Such short-sighted narrowing down, one-sidedness and mass destruction, of the networks’ potentially boundless interactivity around vital issues, should be disclosed for what it is. Designing, programming, and abusing information technology to such ends, as well as complying with these practices, should be the true definition of ‘AM’ – ‘Artificial Madness.’ When put in relation to what the Anthropocene crisis demands, it is pure perversion. Solving the crisis demands transparency and equal informational rights.
The response of the United Nations, Amnesty International and others has been insufficient and misleading. They sound the alarm that personal privacy is under attack. That is implying that human rights could be restricted to an individual matter. In consequence, they call on states to censor the Internet, in allegedly protecting the privacy of their citizens. Thereby they contribute to legitimising the global tendency of authoritarian clampdown on freedom of expression.
Crying for state intervention of the Internet is just as counterproductive as appealing to Google, Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent, et cetera, to phase out the mass surveillance constituting their very business model, which has made them globally wealthiest. States demanding that these corporations develop staffs of political censorship, contributes to the totalitarian tendency. Such requirements are already put into practice globally. Libertarian dopes, idolizing the freedom of destructive forces at the ‘dark web,’ points in the same direction.
The UN and Amnesty do not dare to speak out. They dare not appeal to the only force capable of doing anything against the totalitarian tendency: The self-organized revolt of the associated mass users.
Liberating the means of collective intelligence
Conquering means of equally interactive power, is nothing that can be approached as an isolated issue, apart from social mutiny against the very socially destructive forces now abusing them. The populations of Hong Kong and Taiwan are guiding the way. The more Xi Jinping manages to spread the tentacles of Chinese dictatorship abroad, the more numerous we become as interested parties in the coming Chinese social mutiny, the given starting point of global social mutiny.
The surging Chinese debt burden will collapse, and with it the permanent growth of mass consumption. That is when the real needs and attitudes of the Chinese population will come forward. As the young and rapidly growing Chinese working class, with its tightknit family ties to the Chinese countryside, and its overwhelming specific gravity within world labour, finally straightens its back, the real world One Belt, One Road will reach out to the world.
This does not mean, however, that those working within IT, either as developers or advanced users, can afford to waste one single day, in preparing the phase transition. That applied science, which earnestly struggles for sustainable ends, should unite in purposeful discussions of the problem as a whole.
Since a decade, the US government and infrastructural tech giants have been working on an entirely new Internet architecture (Named Data Network – NDN). It is not intended to base itself on users, but on the centrally programmed messages among devices. It is designed for ‘Internet of Things.’ The automated tech gadgets we are supposed to surround ourself with, communicate through, travel in, et cetera, will be able to contact each other seamlessly. IT corporations, automatically charging aggregate fees, will be able to send as well as collect all data on how we should live, through messaging the dense network of things surveying and guiding our lives. We are supposed to desire living embedded in their ‘artificial intelligence.’
The Chinese state and IT giants have rather put forward a new Internet protocol (New IP). They are now trying to force this through as an international standard, through the UN agency International Telecommunication Union. By mandatorily connecting IP addresses to face recognition, the default mode of the system will be able to put individuals into disconnected ‘digital house arrest,’ as soon as they express themselves critically enough. New IP is planned for start already in 2021. Of course, the Russian state leadership is sympathetically inclined. Other state leaderships, being especially scared of human self-organization, while lacking technical competence and economic muscle, will be attracted.
Such plans are of course incompatible with equitable interactivity. In addition, they are at work upon splitting humanity into gigantic and separate ‘filter bubbles.’ The so-called Tech Cold War is a battle among destructive forces. The true response should adopt humanity’s self-organized transparency as point of departure. What does this mean with respect to technology? Technological development might definitely be used and modified, if only opening and decentralizing it. Will it be enough with a new Internet protocol? Or will a new Internet architecture be needed? Let us call the fundamental principle common collective communication (ccc).
A list of minimum requirements in functionality should include: Open source code, free access, and block chain technology with public ledger, not based in encryption of abstract information, but rather founded in sustainable resource use and resource contribution of real people. That should mean that smart contract- and DAO-technology (decentralized autonomous organization) would be useful. Transparency would be particularly important to build into the architecture: Publicly accountable search engines, blocks to covert data mining, and mandatory transparent entry as to all public utilities and concerns – that is to say, everything concerning use and contribution of resources.
Quantitative recording and accounting of the equitable share of resource utilisation, permitted by the planetary life system and human streamlining of resource use, should suffice. Self-organized and globally equitable surveillance and management of resources can only take place through a globally virtual currency, applicable to all levels, from the individual person or association to humanity in its entirety. Let us call it ‘Humus,’ alluding to both the human being and the soil. It should be de-propriated – not for owning, but for using. It should be noncash – not for buying and selling, but for recording sustainable balances. It should be non-convertible – not for exploitation and enrichment, but for balanced rebuilding of society, restoring the integrity of the earth system. In short, it cannot be constructed and grow as exchangeable within existing currency system, as crypto currencies have done, without getting corrupted and become part of destructivity. As a sovereign vehicle of the third phase transition, and its social mutiny, it would be non-fungible. No encryption would be needed to define a ‘Humus,’ if it would be allowed to reflect the dynamic life spanning balance of resource consumption and contribution from a human being, adjusted for variable ability and need. By crediting resource contribution and resource consumption compatible with circular metabolism, and debiting those incompatible, incentives might be created to accelerate metabolic transition at all levels of society.
No centralized surveillance and data collection on people’s lives needs to be included in such a system. The survey and’s function of Internet should be redirected towards the very earth system. The resilience, from specific ecologies to the overall life system of Planet Earth, is what needs to be surveyed, in order to guide humanity’s metabolic phase transition. Preserved and reinforced biodiversity becomes the given measure. There is a potentiality inherent to the virtual means of cooperation, of serving the human right of association in solving the Anthropocene crisis – planetary natural right. That would signify realizing the third order approximation to human nature.
As of computing capacity, from individual variables to complex systems, computer power has long since surpassed what humans might accomplish, individually or in teams. Now, even human capacity of discovering new patterns has been outdone. It has already become unknowable to us humans, through exactly what mathematical sets, computer power in adaptive machine learning can produce data quantities, which in aggregate indicate unconventional results.
Especially ’deep learning of multi-layered neural networks,’ designed to mimic measured patterns of the human brain, are starting to surpass the former limits. It will no longer be necessary to successively approach computed results, through repetitively iterating all possible calculations, and exclude all those inferior in meeting stipulated conditions. At the same time, more precise techniques of scanning become better at simulating pattern recognition of human senses. Such advances are moving into a technological territory, where it is a not only the speed, succession, and quantity of calculations that are becoming inconceivable, even to the creators of hard and software, as well as to human mathematical cutting-edge. Even the complexity of computation, and its associative paths, tend to move beyond the comprehensible.
Quantum computers, getting incomparably faster and more versatile in their programming logics, are on the verge of breakthrough. And computers will be possible to construct in biological tissue, instead of dead matter. All this, however, does not mean that computer power will become ‘artificial intelligence.’ That notion is and remains a contradiction in terms. Present development, however, lives up to the name super computerization.
Super computers beating world champions in chess, Jeopardy, and alpha go, or passing the Turing test, have already spread this insight to popular culture. These facts make it even more imperative not to design and program such technological power for purposes of mass destruction. Neither physical mass destruction (automated war machines under automated command chains), nor mental mass destruction (centralized cognitive mass surveillance and manipulation for unsustainable social interests).
Only their consequent design, programming, and implementation in solving the Anthropocene crisis can avoid the global ‘Frankenstein moment,’ intuitively approached as a coming ‘singularity.’ If destructivity should be allowed to go on unabated, that would not signify living computers, but a destructive point of no return within living human society. It would ultimately destroy its existence, together with the evolutionary result of the Cenozoic era. Disciplining global information technology to preservation of the evolutionary result in Planet Earth’s life system in general, and to the generalized association of humanity as its independent variable in particular, can be the only meaningful definition of contemporary human intelligence. It would express the anthropic principle as collective intelligence in the earth system.
Perspectives and prospects
Of course, such a principle would not exclude further exploration at a larger scale than the planetary one. On the contrary. To name only a few of the most obvious reasons for space exploration, they include cleaning up the space scrap from earlier launchings orbiting our planet. It is threatening the infrastructure of global interconnectivity, if not dealt with. Space travel, social media, and monitoring of the earth system would be jeopardised.
Another example would be preparing for defending the planet against the next catastrophic meteor impact, whether of such globally natural historic repercussions as the one that is accounted for wiping out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, or of a lesser scale more regularly occurring. Harvesting stratospheric sunlight, magnetospheric sun wind, or meteoritic minerals, et cetera, might become future technologies.
Of course, exploration of space for testing the accuracy of cosmological theorizing should be included, as well as the accelerating quest for habitable planets and other possible life forms in the universe. If successful, the motivation for the latter should not be finding places to escape to, after humanity destroying Planet Earth, like the defeatists of the destructive forces preach. But it might fundamentally enhance and enrich our understanding and adoration of the real world.
The primitivity of the ‘AI’ myth might be suggested by an historical allegory. Just marvel at some intriguing post-Enlightenment discoveries, to understand why the mechanistic worldview of that time seems ludicrous today. Ponder nineteenth century introduction of iterative stochastics, in the statistical interpretation of thermodynamics, or the uncertainty principle, quantum entanglement, and other conundrums of quantum mechanics. Consider the collapse of the early twentieth century program of creating a positively closed system of mathematics and human logics – disintegration of the ‘Vienna Circle’ – or Gödel’s further refutation of mathematics possibly becoming a coherent, complete, and closed system. Contemplate successive approximation, by permanent and parallel remodelling in interpreting the behaviour of complex systems. We might then laugh at Enlightenment’s mechanistic understanding of the world’s natural history, as a ‘clockwork universe.’
But what about the present mechanistic foolishness, in interpreting the human mind and intelligence as a kind of isolated biological quantum computer. Paradoxically enough, in such a view, it seems to become ever more anachronistically slow by comparison. That is by completely disregarding the cooperative nature of our species. IT ‘futurologists,’ preaching AI, are the alchemists of our time. Future generations will discuss which one was the most adequate expression of such Artificial Madness – its naïve conceptualization of intelligence, or its practical application by destructively unsustainable utilisation, in the early stages of globally interconnected information technology.
What primarily distinguishes human intelligence from that of animals is its increasingly collective nature. This had been manifesting itself to a rising degree, both in physical evolution of the human body and throughout the evolution of social history. By humans, intelligence is not largely restricted to genetically predisposed and ecologically framed behaviour. It is a socio-cultural process. Only today, however, with the advent of the Anthropocene crisis, the collective nature of human intelligence becomes completely obvious. Entire humanity gets interconnected, simultaneously with humanity discovering its own natural historical impact. Thereby, the question is raised, whether humanity can change the nature of this impact. Human intelligence now reveals itself as collective self-reflection.
Intelligence and power
As it comes to development of human knowledge, its collective nature had been accelerating during the present phase transition. The means of cooperation, necessary for this, had been piloted a century ago. The need for associated intelligence had been pressing increasingly. Let us first take a brief look at how this pressure had worked upon the rulers.
On the one hand, human cooperation had started to outgrow the nation state, as development form of association. This had been provoking the states to develop intelligence agencies and alliance diplomacy, as their backbones in controlling their own chronic crisis. As the world wars broke out, tossing nations into opposite belligerent blocks, coordinating intelligence in global logistics would prove crucial. Actual combat force was to represent the tip, the relative power of which depended on sub-surface icebergs of global material coordination.
On the other hand, similar features had been no less prominent in the civil society of peacetime economics. The pressure towards collective intelligence had resulted from the complex challenges of integrated production blocks and their infrastructure. More decisive, in an immediate sense, had been the comparative rewards of more likely commercial success to monopolized corporations, from collectivizing innovative efforts. One of the more striking signs, that society had started requiring a qualitatively higher level of association than private capitalism, already by the beginning of the twentieth century, was the individual entrepreneurial inventors being replaced by extensive research labs.
During the Cold War, under the temporary global restoration of disintegrating class society, this tendency would become even sharper. State power and industry would lay their heads together. How and why did Pentagon manage to gain the upper hand? Simply put, exactly through not encapsulating the arms race in enclosed secret cities, like the Soviets had done, but instead forcing competing technology contractors to synergize their innovative efforts. Pentagon had conditioned them to collectivizing self-organization: open computer source code, mandatory information-sharing, contract-sharing, slackening of patents rights, et cetera. Precisely this opening would spur the freedom-yearning post-war generation of students, pouring into the tech corporations, to the aggregate development that was to result in Silicon Valley, the Internet and global social media.
Intelligence and common sense
If we fix our eyes more broadly and basically, the picture of self-collectivizing intelligence gets even more massive. Whether we focus the social mutinies changing the course of twentieth century history, or how everyday life has been developing within working populations, we see the great mass of interactivity that has set the limits, the direction, and the standard of what orientation cooperation has been able to develop during the third phase transition.
Breakthrough of trade unions had given wage labour opportunity to speak with a common voice of united interest. The labour movement of Europe had pioneered political mass parties. Peasant populism and black civil rights movement of the US had headed a corresponding associationist tendency. The political mass movements of the colonies had raised the demand for national independence. Everywhere, struggle to conquer and define citizens’ rights had searched for a common horizon.
It had not been diplomats, heads of government, or general staffs, that had ended the First World War. It had been military mutiny of millions of peasants and workers in uniform, that had laid their heads together. The collective intelligence of the labouring population had not had civil war in mind, as millions of armed men returned from the fronts, but rather social mutiny. In 1917, Russian peasants had left the trenches, returned home to the villages and self-organized the world’s largest agricultural reform. The Russian workers had prepared taking over industry, through forming factory committees. The war had been halted, as Germany followed suit. The German works councils had formed an even more persistent movement, to associate ‘the manual and intellectual workers.’
After these social mutinies had self-organized universal and equal suffrage within their political councils, the resistance of conservative politics to parliamentary universal and equal suffrage had collapsed like a house of cards. After factory committees and works councils had implemented the eight-hour day, resistance to this social reform had collapsed. Twentieth century general standard for the industrialized countries was being set: ‘Recognize our Civil Rights, or we will self-organize them! Reform social conditions, or we will do so ourselves!’
Paradoxically enough, the general democratic breakthrough had thus come, in the industrialized part of the world, precisely at the moment when the fundamental condition of democracy – the sovereign nation state – had become historically outmoded. This would be even more true in the post-war period, as the colonial people conquered national independence, without ever being able to effectively exercise it.
In other words, the limits to common sense had so far proven to run along those of citizenship. To complete the phase transition, save the planetary life system, and further development of society, something more than common sense is required. Humanity’s collective self-reflection is needed. The means are there. The goal is given. Collective consciousness has not yet reached a critical mass.
Intelligence and research
Now, let us focus science. Today global networks of scientists work so interlacing that each field of enquiry tends to unite into a common global entity. In a few decades, nominations for individual scientific Nobel laureates would probably become virtually impossible. The only obvious social impediments to development of collective intelligence, internal to the research community, seem to be political corruption of social sciences, and the locking in of new scientific knowledge, according to commercial interest, state security, or academic rivalry. However, such barriers cannot be fully broken through, unless science and everyday life unites in self-organized social mutiny for constructive ends.
Earth system science is becoming the organizing principle, of the tendency towards completing collective intelligence. In the integrated research programme, occasioned by the Anthropocene crisis, there is no longer room for the natural scientist as technocrat. Clinging to stereotypes of cynically ‘objectivist’ detachment, no longer creates consensus. This does not only mean that applied science is compelled to consider its own place, within society and natural history. It even makes the dualist worldview of Enlightenment shatter, as no longer useful in approaching nature.
Although careers paths are still dominated by the destructive forces holding the largest funds, scientific endeavour is no longer gaining professional prestige by serving such interests. Confronted with the vested interests’ science denial, cutting of funds, breaking of deals, and well-funded disinformation, the scientific community is being forced to step up as passionate activists of transparent intelligence collected. Human emotions take their rightful place, in this burgeoning formation of collective intelligence.
Still, however, its progress is severely crippled by the low standard, high fragmentation, and tendency to scientific corruptions of those disciplines concerned with the independent variable of the Anthropocene crisis – the sciences on humanity. This lagging is causing the very nexus of intelligence integration to remain a virtual void.
Sign of times
To the lay man, the striking results from experiments in the ‘wisdom of crowds,’ may serve as a suggestive example of collective intelligence. To stop at that spectacular level, however, does not tell very much of the degree of necessity, or the already prepared potentiality, inherent to the Anthropocene crisis. The apparent magics of such experiments merely illustrates that spontaneously decentralized synchronization may occur at all ontological levels, including the complex human one.
A little more is demonstrated by the exponential growth of self-organized and unevenly qualified Wikipedia. Its transparent real time updating rapidly dwarfs all other encyclopaedias. Its proper fringe roots in libertarian ideology, still affect its uneven turnout. Likewise, its existence within the general data corruption of the Internet. As a social experiment, however, under the presently untenable Internet architecture, it will go to history as pioneering.
To sum it up, human intelligence is organic by nature. It harnesses and augments the advanced biology of the human brain, as a centre of bodily senses. These have been transformed by cooperation, extending into relational common sense. Thus, the self-unifying artefact of human mind has been created. Human consciousness is raising its degree of collectivism, in tandem with the historically achieved social rate of cooperation. It consolidates itself at the level of association, that this cooperativity has managed to self-organize. This tendency, of collectivizing human intelligence, intensifies particularly in relation to the socio-natural challenges, now discovered by it and confronting it. And the necessary means, of realizing this tendency, are already developing at an accelerating speed.
An alleged mechanical species of computers cannot become intelligent. Allowing for the invention of bio-quantum computers, cracking, encoding, decoding, and processing mathematical operations, inaccessible to the human mind, such machines will never equal human intelligence, its collective nature, and its intuitive core. Human intelligence has evolved as combined result of natural selection and the collective quality of cooperation. It should be respected and revered as such, just as much as Cenozoic biodiversity should.
The more autonomous an advanced computerization might be designed to operate, the more it would produce the exact opposite of organic intelligence – mechanic madness.
On the contrary, subjecting it to measuring, reporting, and fine-tuning advanced circular metabolism of global ecology, ranging from wildlife to human urbanism, might transform it to a tool of powerfully enhancing collective intelligence in managing the earth system.
High-tech compensating for damaged senses and functionalities of the human body, or enhancing those naturally given, is a reality already underway. Disciplining it to Earth’s life system itself, should be a proof of humanity successfully achieving collective intelligence – Anthropy.
Today, the hype around ‘AI’ mostly serves as a techno-fetish cover up for the destructive and minoritarian social interests presently controlling, surveying, and manipulating information technology. Their narrowly throttled abuses of it, to unsustainably destructive ends, are not intelligent. They are mad, by effectively sabotaging the means of cooperation, necessary for collectivising intelligence in solving the Anthropocene crisis.