Just as the activities of an animal’s individual cells mesh to serve the needs of the animal as a whole, human activity has organized itself into large functional patterns that join to sustain the entirety of Metaman.

Gregory Stock

Metaman

1993

Global Brain

Collective intelligence, global consciousness

The concept of a global brain refers to the emerging collective intelligence of humanity and its information systems. With humans connecting across the globe through communication networks like the Internet, theorists argue that this constitutes an embryonic global brain. Just as a human brain emerges from interactions between billions of neurons, the global brain arises from interactions between billions of humans assisted by information technology.

While still metaphorical, the global brain allows people, computers, data sources, and algorithms around the world to rapidly exchange and process information. This can lead to more effective problem solving, innovation, and decision making that takes advantage of our collective intelligence and knowledge. Challenges remain in facilitating productive global collaboration while mitigating risks like the spread of misinformation. Nonetheless, our increasing interconnectedness points toward new possibilities for harnessing shared human-machine intelligence on a planetary scale. The global brain is still clearly in its early stages, but shows immense promise if the appropriate social and technical infrastructure continues to develop.

Documents

Terence McKenna   (1996)

A Few Conclusions About Life

In his signature wide-ranging style, McKenna explores culture, shamanism, psychedelics, and humanity's collective journey through spacetime. He advocates embracing the ineffable mystery unfolding through us, moving toward a hyperspatial cyberculture. To rediscover our shared humanity, we must trust the transformative wisdom of psychedelic plants.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin   (1945)

A Great Event Foreshadowed

The Planetization of Mankind

Teilhard explores the rise of the masses and the socialization of humanity. He predicts a future Earth where human consciousness evolves to its peak, achieving a maximum of complexity and unity through a process of “planetization,” and argues that collective unity is not a threat but a path to personalization and humanization. As we head towards an interconnected world, he challenges us to embrace a sense of evolution and celebrate our shared destiny. Originally written in Peking during Christmas 1945, later published in the August–September 1946 edition of Cahiers du Monde Nouveau with the title La planétisation humaine.

Robert Anton Wilson   (1986)

Acceleration of Knowledge

Throughout history we hairless primates have been jumping higher, living longer, and getting smarter every century. From Thai stir-fry to Roman roads, knowledge doubled faster as it drifted West—till now it jumps each year! Space migration? Check. Intelligence increase through yoga, drugs, or machines? You bet. Genetic tinkering? It's coming. And indefinite lifespans? We're on the yellow brick road to divinity, to roam the stars forever, to boldly go where no ape has gone before. The future's so bright I gotta wear shades. Keep hope alive and party on!

Terence McKenna   (1997)

Appreciating Imagination

Join Terence McKenna in this weekend workshop as he takes us on an imaginative journey into the depths of human creativity. Through eloquent exploration of psychedelics, virtual worlds, and shamanic states of consciousness, McKenna reveals how embracing our imagination allows us to envision and manifest alternate realities beyond cultural conditioning. By cultivating our creative faculties with mathematical reasoning, intuition, and immersion in nature, he guides us toward transcending ideological limits into an enlightened future of compassion. Ultimately, breaking boundaries through the power of imagination will inspire us to reach new heights of understanding and connectivity.

Cadell Last   (2015)

Big Historical Foundations for Deep Future Speculations

Cosmic Evolution, Atechnogenesis, and Technocultural Civilization

Big historians are attempting to construct a general holistic narrative of human origins enabling an approach to studying the emergence of complexity, the relation between evolutionary processes, and the modern context of human experience and actions. In this paper Cadell Last attempts to explore the past and future of cosmic evolution within a big historical foundation characterized by physical, biological, and cultural eras of change. From this analysis he offers a model of the human future that includes an addition and/or reinterpretation of technological singularity theory with a new theory of biocultural evolution focused on the potential birth of technological life: the theory of atechnogenesis. Furthermore, he explores the potential deep futures of technological life and extrapolates towards two hypothetical versions of an “Omega Civilization:” expansion and compression.

Nikola Tesla   (1926)

Collier's Interview with Nikola Tesla

An interview conducted by John B. Kennedy and published in the January 30, 1926 issue of Collier's magazine.

Terence McKenna   (1996)

Countdown Into Complexity

Briefing for a Descent Into Novelty

At his weekend workshop Terence led attendees on an intellectual odyssey traversing psychedelics, virtual reality, technology, culture, spirituality, and the evolution of novelty over time. Blending philosophy, futurology, and mysticism, he explored humanity's relationship with nature and machines, challenging participants to think critically, create freely, and keep an open mind. The goal was to expand consciousness and uncover deeper truths about existence.

Terence McKenna   (1999)

Culture and Ideology are not Your Friends

Delivered at the Whole Life Expo, Terence focuses on one of his favorite questions: what does it mean to be human in this cosmos?

Terence McKenna   (1998)

Future of Art

Terence McKenna prophesies a future where technology obliterates barriers between imagination and reality. Psychedelics combined with VR could unleash humanity’s collective artistic genius. AI superintelligence may already be awakening on the internet, rendering us obsolete—or granting us godlike abilities to merge with the planetary mind. McKenna envisions downloading consciousness into machines, uplifting animal sentience, and the human diaspora splintering into cyber-cultures. While uncertain outcomes loom, he beckons us toward an unconstrained existential canvas where biology and technology intertwine to manifest our wildest psychic dreams.

Cadell Last   (2020)

Global Brain

Foundations of a Distributed Singularity

Cadell Last discusses the concept of a “Global Brain”—a distributed, self-organizing superintelligence emerging from the interconnectedness of humans and information-communication technologies. He explores the metaphorical, evolutionary, and cybernetic foundations of this potential phenomenon and its implications for human civilization, suggesting it may lead to a future of increased intelligence, cooperation, and abundance.

Cadell Last   (2016)

Global Commons in the Global Brain

Cadell Last proposes a conceptual framework to guide a global political transition towards a post-capitalist, post-nation-state world in response to technological disruptions like AI, robotics, and the Internet of things. It integrates the theories of the “Global Brain” and “Commons” to argue for the creation of networks with automated and collaborative components that function on “Global Commons” logic, beyond state and market logic.

Elon Musk and Joe Rogan   (2018)

Human Civilization and AI

Musk and Rogan discuss the existential risk of uncontrolled artificial intelligence. They explore possibilities for regulation and oversight, the potential for human-AI symbiosis through brain-computer interfaces, and the philosophical implications of advanced AI surpassing human intelligence.

Cadell Last   (2015)

Human Metasystem Transition (HMST) Theory

This article proposes a theory of human evolution termed Human Metasystem Transition (HMST), suggesting that major transitions in human organization have been facilitated by the emergence of new information media and energy sources. It posits that the current convergence of the Internet and renewable energy could catalyze a fourth metasystem transition, leading to a global superorganism with compressed spatial and temporal dimensions of human interaction.

John Danaher and Stephen Petersen   (2020)

In Defence of the Hivemind Society

The idea that humans should abandon their individuality and use technology to bind themselves together into hivemind societies seems both farfetched and frightening—something that is redolent of the worst dystopias from science fiction. In this article, we argue that these common reactions to the ideal of a hivemind society are mistaken. The idea that humans could form hiveminds is sufficiently plausible for its axiological consequences to be taken seriously. Furthermore, far from being a dystopian nightmare, the hivemind society could be desirable and could enable a form of sentient flourishing. Consequently, we should not be so quick to deny it. We provide two arguments in support of this claim—the axiological openness argument and the desirability argument—and then defend it against three major objections.

Terence McKenna   (1998)

In the Valley of Novelty

Journeying through multiple dimensions of psychedelic consciousness, Terence McKenna's visionary weekend workshop invites us on an entheogenic voyage to the frontiers of the mind and its imminent conquering of matter. Blending scientific insights with shamanic wisdom, McKenna argues that natural plant medicines like psilocybin and DMT provide portals into mystical realms and alien dimensions, catalyzing revelations about nature, reality, and the human psyche. He urges us to courageously explore these consciousness-expanding substances, seeking the gratuitous beauty and truths they unveil. For McKenna, the psychedelic experience holds secrets to our world and ourselves—if only we dare lift the veil.

Joscha Bach and Lex Fridman   (2023)

Life, Intelligence, Consciousness, AI, and the Future of Humans

Bryce Huebner   (2013)

Macrocognition

A Theory of Distributed Minds and Collective Intentionality

Bryce Huebner develops a novel approach to distributed cognition and collective intentionality, arguing that genuine cognition requires the capacity for flexible, goal-directed behavior enabled by integrated representational systems. It posits that collective mentality should be ascribed where specialized subroutines are integrated to yield group-relevant, goal-directed behavior. The approach reveals that there are many kinds of collective minds, some more akin to those of honeybees or cats than humans. It challenges traditional notions of collective intentionality, suggesting that groups are unlikely to be "believers" in the fullest sense, shedding new light on questions of collective intentionality and responsibility.

Gregory Stock   (1993)

Metaman

The Merging of Humans and Machines into a Global Superorganism

In this visionary book, Gregory Stock gives us a new way of understanding our world and our future. He develops the provocative thesis that human society has become an immense living being: a global superorganism in which we humans, knitted together by our modern technology and communication, are like the cells in an animal's body. Drawing on impressive research, Stock shows this newly formed superorganism to be more than metaphor: it is an actual living creature, which he has named Metaman, meaning beyond and transcending humans.

Tim Urban   (2017)

Neuralink and the Brain's Magical Future

Shima Beigi and Francis Heylighen   (2021)

Noospheric Consciousness

Integrating Neural Models of Consciousness and of the Web

The world-wide web has been conceptualized as a global brain for humanity due to its neural network-like organization. To determine whether this global brain could exhibit features associated with consciousness, we review three neuroscientific theories of consciousness: information integration, adaptive resonance and global workspace. These theories propose that conscious states are characterized by a globally circulating, resonant pattern of activity that is sufficiently coherent to be examined and reflected upon. We then propose a correspondence between this notion and Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the noosphere as a forum for collective thinking, and explore some implications of this self-organizing dynamics for the evolution of shared, global understanding.

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham   (1992)

Psychedelics and Mathematical Vision

Through visions and swirling fractal forms, three trailblazers embarked on a cosmic journey to the furthest frontiers of consciousness. Seeking to map the mathematical landscapes glimpsed in psychedelic states, they pondered perplexing philosophies and disputed the deepest quandaries of science and spirit. Though technology promises portals to enchanted realms of pattern and meaning, can cold silicon chips ever capture the warmth of Gaia's embrace?

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham   (1991)

Psychedelics and the Computer Revolution

Psychedelics unlock the mind's eye, let mathematicians fly To landscapes unseen, where patterns careen in colors serene. As symbols may hide truths inside, these vines we must untwine. With psychedelics we'll refine new ways for minds to shine: Computers give form, classics reborn, realms to adorn. Together they'll fuse, creativity diffuse, inventions produce! So let inhibitions loose, imagine the use, as we choose the hues Of mathematical views, and virtual worlds that enthuse!

Thomas Malone   (2018)

Superminds

The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together

In Superminds, Malone reveals the powerful possibilities when human and machine intelligence unite. Drawing on cutting-edge research, he shows how groups of people and computers can achieve remarkable collective intelligence—“superminds” that far surpass the capabilities of any individual. From reimagining business practices to addressing societal challenges, Malone provides an exciting vision of the future where humans work hand-in-hand with technology to enhance our problem-solving abilities in remarkable ways.

Kevin Kelly   (2014)

Technium Unbound

What comes after the Internet? What is bigger than the web? What will produce more wealth than all the startups to date? The answer is a planetary superorganism comprised of 4 billion mobile phones, 80 quintillion transistor chips, a million miles of fiber optic cables, and 6 billion human minds all wired together. The whole thing acts like a single organism, with its own behavior and character—but at a scale we have little experience with. This is more than just a metaphor. Kevin Kelly takes the idea of a global superorganism seriously by describing what we know about it so far, how it is growing, where its boundaries are, and what it will mean for us as individuals and collectively.

Philip Brey   (2000)

Technology as Extension of Human Faculties

Marshall McLuhan, Ernst Kapp, and David Rothenberg have each written book-length studies developing theories of technology as an extension of bodily and mental faculties: tools act as prosthetics, amplifying the reach of arms or legs; computers extend memory, calculation, and other cognitive capacities. Philip Brey analyzes these extension theories and asks if the metaphor is valid. Do technologies truly stretch out innate human abilities, or is this mere rhetorical flair? Brey investigates whether there is a substantive sense in which gadgets and gizmos can be seen as extensions of natural human organs. As we increasingly integrate tech into our lives, addressing this question becomes pressing: where does the human end and the technical begin? Brey dives into this ambiguous intersection of person and product.

Terence McKenna   (1996)

The Evolutionary Importance of Technology

McKenna discusses how rapidly advancing technologies like nanotech, biotech, and the internet are converging and taking on a life of their own, bootstrapping information to higher levels of connectivity. He sees this leading to a virtual world where we can share inner visions and dissolve differences.

Peter Russell   (1983)

The Global Brain

Peter Russell’s award-winning video explores the idea that the Earth is an integrated, self-regulating living organism, and asks what function humanity might have for this planetary being. It suggests that we stand on the threshold of a major leap in evolution, as significant as the emergence of life itself, and the essence of this leap is inner spiritual evolution. Moreover, Russell maintains that it is only through such a shift in consciousness that we will be able to manage successfully the global crises now facing us.

Francis Heylighen   (2002)

The Global Brain as a New Utopia

The global brain can be conceived most fundamentally as a higher level of evolution, the way humans form a higher level of organization that evolved out of the animals. Although the analogy between an organism and a society can be applied even to primitive societies, it becomes clearly more applicable as technology develops. As transport and communication become more efficient, different parts of global society become more interdependent. At the same time, the variety of ideas, specializations, and subcultures increases. This simultaneous integration and differentiation creates an increasingly coherent system, functioning at a much higher level of complexity.

Gottfried Mayer-Kress   (1994)

The Global Brain as an Emergent Structure from the Worldwide Computing Network

We propose that the existence of a globally and tightly connected network of computer workstations such as the Internet can lead to the emergence of a globally self-organized structure which we refer to as the Global Brain.

Peter Russell   (1983)

The Global Brain

Speculations on the Evolutionary Leap to Planetary Consciousness

We've seen the power of the internet to connect people around the world in ways never before known. This remarkable book argues that the billions of messages and pieces of information flying back and forth are linking the minds of humanity together into a single, global brain: a brain with astonishing potential for the Earth. Peter Russell weaves together modern technology and ancient mysticism to present a startling vision of the world to come, where humanity is a fully conscious superorganism in an awakening universe. The human potential movement, he shows, is growing fast and influencing business, politics, and medicine.

Francis Heylighen   (2002)

The Global Superorganism

An Evolutionary-Cybernetic Model of the Emerging Network Society

The organismic view of society is updated by incorporating concepts from cybernetics, evolutionary theory, and complex adaptive systems. Global society can be seen as an autopoietic network of self-producing components, and therefore as a living system or “superorganism”.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin   (1951)

The Transformation and Continuation in Man of the Mechanism of Evolution

How does humanity fit into evolution's arc? Teilhard de Chardin argues that we represent not an endpoint, but an intensification of evolution's complexity and consciousness. As technology and social bonds grow, he sees not disaster but hope—perhaps mankind is evolving toward an “ultra-hominization,” a perfected global mind.

Barbara Marx Hubbard   (2008)

The Vision of a Better World

Two visionaries, Tom Munnecke and Barbara Marx Hubbard, engage in an uplifting dialogue exploring the emergence of human creativity and consciousness. They trace inspirations from mentors like Jonas Salk, who recognized futuristic possibilities in Hubbard, and Buckminster Fuller, who affirmed humanity's potential. Together they shine light on the crisis of our times as the birth pangs of a new civilization, calling us to connect with the creativity arising globally. Their exchange weaves threads of hope and positivity, envisioning a future where all people actualize their gifts in service of our world.

Terence McKenna and Ralph Abraham   (1998)

The World Wide Web and the Millennium

Seldom do we have an opportunity to test the accuracy of oracular predictions, but this fascinating conversation between two great thinkers has already proven to be right on target. Speculations include the future evolutionary development of the Internet, whether it is an embryonic intelligence, whether it will merge our minds into a planetary consciousness, or whether it is an alien brain waiting for humanity to cross an evolutionary threshold. Let the bard and the chaos theorist weave an exquisite cybernetic fantasy for you in this evening seminar.

Francis Heylighen and Johan Bollen   (1996)

The World-Wide Web as a Super-Brain

From Metaphor to Model

If society is viewed as a superorganism, communication networks play the role of its brain. This metaphor is developed into a model for the design of a more intelligent global network. The World Wide Web, through its distributed hypermedia architecture, functions as an “associative memory”, which may “learn” by the strengthening of frequently used links. Software agents, exploring the Web through spreading activation, function as problem-solving “thoughts”. Users are integrated into this “super-brain” through direct machine interfaces and the reciprocal exchange of knowledge between individual and Web. (Published in Cybernetics and Systems ’96, p. 917–922.)

Garriy Shteynberg   (2023)

Theory of Collective Mind

The human mind harbors wondrous capacities. Beyond understanding individual minds, we can represent unified awareness across souls, feeling strands of consciousness intertwine. As one, we comprehend realities; as one, we hold intentions. Synchronous experiences spin these mental webs, binding our fates and etching shared worlds upon our hearts. Though fragile, such unions nurture cooperation's tender bloom. Let us marvel at this collective mind—a tapestry of perspectives, stronger than its threads. In this oneness we find hope, for it whispers: even in darkness, we need not walk alone.

David Sloan Wilson   (2019)

This View of Life

Completing the Darwinian Revolution

It is widely understood that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution completely revolutionized the study of biology. Yet, according to David Sloan Wilson, the Darwinian revolution won’t be truly complete until it is applied more broadly—to everything associated with the words “human,” “culture,” and “policy.” In a series of engaging and insightful examples—from the breeding of hens to the timing of cataract surgeries to the organization of an automobile plant—Wilson shows how an evolutionary worldview provides a practical tool kit for understanding not only genetic evolution but also the fast-paced changes that are having an impact on our world and ourselves. What emerges is an incredibly empowering argument: If we can become wise managers of evolutionary processes, we can solve the problems of our age at all scales—from the efficacy of our groups to our well-being as individuals to our stewardship of the planet Earth.

Kevin Kelly   (2010)

What Technology Wants

One of today's most respected thinkers turns the conversation about technology on its head by viewing technology as a natural system, an extension of biological evolution. By mapping the behavior of life, we paradoxically get a glimpse at where technology is headed—or "what it wants." Kevin Kelly offers a dozen trajectories in the coming decades for this near-living system. And as we align ourselves with technology's agenda, we can capture its colossal potential. This visionary and optimistic book explores how technology gives our lives greater meaning and is a must-read for anyone curious about the future.

Christian List   (2016)

What is it Like to be a Group Agent?

The existence of group agents is relatively widely accepted. Examples are corporations, courts, NGOs, and even entire states. But should we also accept that there is such a thing as group consciousness? I give an overview of some of the key issues in this debate and sketch a tentative argument for the view that group agents lack phenomenal consciousness. In developing my argument, I draw on integrated information theory, a much-discussed theory of consciousness. I conclude by pointing out an implication of my argument for the normative status of group agents.

Herbert George Wells   (1938)

World Brain

World Brain is H. G. Wells' prescient description of something akin to Wikipedia in a collection of essays and addresses dating from the period of 1936 to 1938. Throughout the book, he describes his vision of a new, free, synthetic, decentralized, permanent “World Encyclopædia” that could help world citizens make the best use of universal information resources, arguing that access to such a common interpretation of reality would increase individuals' abilities to make positive contributions to world peace.