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La guerre mondiale du cerveau. Riposte américaine
Human Brain Project, un grand projet européen sur le cerveau humain
Relancer la coopération scientifique entre la France et l'Afrique

31 Janvier 2002
By Jean-Paul Baquiast et Christophe Jacquemin

The Global Brain, a major political issue

Abstract (english)

This issue of Automates Intelligents is partly dedicated to systemic thought (see Joël de Rosnay's interview and review of his book L'homme symbiotique 2001* : and to Global Brain (see our Chronics Principia cybernetica project  and Global Brain Research Group). Why do we say that this so-called global brain prospect is definitively important today, if not a major political issue?

Let us look back. In an evolutionary approach, we may consider that an ability persists in a species not because it is good per se, which means nothing, but because it helps this species to survive. In short, symbolic language, which produces the big human brain, science and technology, was undoubtedly responsible for the enormous success of the human species.

Within the human species however, Darwinian evolution allowed scientific and technological societies to develop to the detriment of traditional societies.

In future, confronted with a majority of people who reject science, will the superiority of homo scientificus persist? Two sorts of risks have to be seriously considered:

  • Badly managed science and technology may cause a major disaster (atomic mega-explosion or eco-systemic collapse)
  • Suicidal hubris within under-developed societies may, with or without using modern technology, encourage terrorism to destroy dominant societies.

To prevent this, we must accept the idea that sciences and technology are not by themselves a sufficient guarantee for survival. Developed societies absolutely must adopt new processes for managing both their own and world development. One of these is generally called the Global Brain.

What it the meaning of this concept? Let us call the Global Brain the conjunction of:
- A network architecture, which is as reticular and decentralized as possible.,
- A thought as systemic and cross-compiling as possible.

Networking and thinking are not separable. They develop in symbiosis. Semantic web could be considered as a first step in this direction, but the process should be extended to every mental activities and knowledge.

A Global Brain, conveniently operated, will help to unite databases, simulation models, opportunities for innovation and, finally, political decision-making. In fact, it could be some sort of scientific process and ethic extended all over the world. But we cannot expect this today. The Global Brain will probably be restricted to governments and companies already in dominant positions.

It is therefore urgent, from a democratic point of view, to try to make the Global Brain even more universal. With this perspective in view, everybody should ideally be considered as a neuron of this future brain. Each individual should be connected to the global network as quickly as possible and information should be commonly accessible etc. Further, artificial intelligence tools should be made available allowing access and use by everybody, from the illiterate to the decision makers.

The major difficulties are not technical but practical. How to convince scientists and experts to collaborate extensively? How to convince citizens and governments, especially non-dominant ones, to refer to knowledge they would normally suspect of being alienating for them in the long term?

© Automates Intelligents 2002


Collection Automates Intelligents

Sciences de la complextié et vie politique -Tome I , Editions Automates Intelligents
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