The global brain is like a child’s brain – let’s nurture it


In my book Living Networks I wrote about how the networks in which we live are coming to life, making us all part of what we can quite accurately think of as a global brain.

I wrote an extended introduction to the book that went into this concept in depth. However this was not included in the final published book, so I later shared it as an article, Autopoiesis and how hyper-connectivity is literally bringing the networks to life.

One of the wonderful outcomes of that was that the film-maker Tiffany Shlain, who has long thought on very similar lines, reached out to connect.

Tiffany has just released a marvellous 10 minute movie, Brain Power: From Neurons To Networks, that reflects these ideas. Watch it below, preferably on full screen.

In a recent post on HBR, Tiffany writes:

Both a young child’s brain and our young, global Internet brain are in highly creative, experimental, innovative states of rapid development — just waiting to make connections. So, here’s a question for the 21st century: How do we help shape both of these young, rapidly growing networks to set a course for a better future? These were the questions that led me to make my short film, embedded below. In making the film, I used social media to ask thousands of people how they thought about the Internet and the brain. What I heard back amazed me and reinforced the analogue between the current stage of the Internet’s development and a child’s brain, and the importance of developing both in the right way.

The analogy between the Internet – or more broadly the network of all connected devices – and a child’s brain is powerful. Each is early in its development, and can be shaped in positive and negative ways.

Each of us, in making choices that are best for ourselves, will in fact nurture a richer global brain. We need to connect, yet not over-connect. We need to balance our individuality and our collectivity. Along these paths we are creating something beyond ourselves, the next phase in humanity’s evolution.