Wild Computing -- copyright Ben Goertzel, 1999

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Chapter 6:
The Emerging Global Brain

1. Introduction

Over the next decade or two, we will see the evolution of the Net into a full-fledged, largely autonomous, globally distributed intelligent system. And as this occurs, we will see this Internet AI network wend itself further and further into human affairs, yielding a synergetic, symbiotic global intelligent system, incorporating machine and human intelligence into a single continuum of thought, a human-digital global brain.

This sounds like science fiction, and indeed, it is closely related to several science-fictional visions of the digital future. In this chapter I will unapologetically pursue this angle, and indulge in some speculations on the future of Internet intelligence, which will seem more or less farfetched to the reader depending on their inclination and taste. The more conservative reader may skip ahead to the following chapter which begins the more technical section of the book. However, I believe that both speculation and concrete technical work are valid and important; indeed, the two are inseparable. Without speculations as to the future, we would have no way of deciding what to do in the present.

When, at the end of the book, we visit the question of emergent natural language processing, we will see that the philosophical ideas of this chapter become strikingly relevant. The collective construction of meanings, as it turns out, is a notion that strikes right at the heart of modern philosophy, and brings to the fore all sorts of difficult ideas such as the nature of reality and the collective unconscious.

2. Possible Futures

Many futurists have envisioned a future Net populated by artificially intelligent entities, interacting in virtual worlds. This vision was portrayed most memorably by William Gibson in his entertaining and influential novel Neuromancer (1994). While this is a reasonable idea, and it does not contradict my own thinking in any way, it is different from what I am projecting here, which is that the Net itself will become a global intelligent system -- a World Wide Brain.

Contra Gibson, a number of others thinkers -- most famously, roboticist Hans Moravec (1990) -- have envisioned that humans will eventually "download" themselves into computers, and lead bodiless digital lives. This is also related to, but different from the idea of a global Web mind. The two ideas synergize in a fascinating way.

Initially, I suggest, the global Web mind will exist as an entity physically separate from human beings: we will interact with it via our computer terminals, and perhaps more creative interface devices such as VR headsets. This first phase is in store maybe five to twenty years down the line; and it is the main focus of my thinking at present. The increasing integration of human activity with World Wide Brain operations may ultimately occur via body-modifying or body-obsoleting technologies a la Moravec, or it may occur without them, through the advent of more sophisticated noninvasive interfaces. One way or another, though, I conjecture, it will fuse with the global Web.

The change which is about to come upon us as a consequence of the emergence of the global Web mind will be a very large one -- comparable in scope, I believe, to the emergence of tools, or language, or civilization. What will distinguish this change from these past ones, however, is its speed. In this sense, those of us who are alive and young today are very fortunate. We will be the first human generation ever to witness a major change in collective humanity with a time span the order of magnitude of a single human lifetime. We are not merely creating artificial intelligence, we are creating an artificially intelligent crystallization of the common, collective patterns of the global human mind. This is a new adventure, something that does not merely bring us back to the spiritual unity of past modes of culture, but brings on us to new frontiers that we can barely even imagine. The universe is ever-expanding, not only physically but informationally. What we are seeing is yet another manifestation of the endless quest of the universe to bring new patterns out of itself. Though this is an angle that will not be pursued here with any seriousness, I do believe this is an aspect of emergent Internet intelligence which can validly be explored from the perspective of transpersonal psychology.

3. Psychology and Ethics of the Global Brain

So, let us imagine the Internet, a few years from now, the home of an advanced, self- organizing AI system, spanning tens of thousands of intranets worldwide. Such a system would be an independent, intelligent entity on its own, interacting with humans, and incorporating human workflow and question-asking and answering behavior into its own intelligent dynamics. It would weave the process of collective social inquiry and individual human mental inquiry into a digital fabric of a texture guided by its own processes of intelligent self-organization.

This view of the future of the Net is reminiscent of the archetypal idea of the "global brain," which first started appearing in the 1970's. In Russell's book on the Global Brain, for example, computer and communications technology are assigned only a minor role, and it is argued that human society is reaching a critical threshold of size and complexity, beyond which it will enter the realm of true intelligence, and human consciousness will give rise to a higher level of collective consciousness. Russell's hypothesized supra-human intelligence might be called a "global societal mind," as distinct from the global Web mind that is my central topic of interest here. Both the global societal mind and the global Web mind, however, are specific manifestations of the general concept of a "global brain" -- an emergent, distributed worldwide intelligence.

Russell ties the global brain in with new-age, consciousness-raising practices. By meditating and otherwise increasing our level of individual consciousness, he suggests, we bring the awakening of the global brain closer and closer. When there is enough total awareness in the overall system of humanity, humanity itself will lock into a new system of organization, and will become an autonomous, self-steering, brainlike system.

Speaking generally, one can envision the global Web mind as leading to a global societal mind a la Russell in two different ways. First, we might actually become part of the Web in a physical sense. This could be accomplished either by downloading ourselves into computers, by the fabled "cranial jack," or by some kind of true VR interface. Or it could be done by incorporating our existing bodies into the Web, via newfangled sensory and motor devices. Imagine brains as Websites, and modem/cell-phones inserted directly into the sensory cortex! Or, secondly, we might become part of the Web via our actions, without any extra physical connections. This is already coming about, at least among certain sectors of the population. As more and more of our leisure and work activities are carried out via the Internet, more and more of our patterns of behavior become part of the potential memory of the global Web mind. IntelliGenesis's Webmind or similar software, implemented widely and used intensively across intranets, could lead to this effect quite easily.

The global Web mind and the global societal mind, then, are not really such different things at all. If a global Web mind comes about, it will clearly link humans together in a new way, leading to some kind of different and more intelligently structured social order. This is one flavor of global brain. On the other hand, if a global societal mind comes about, communications technology such as the Internet will doubtless play a huge role in its formation. This is another flavor of global brain. The question is, will there be an intelligent Web interacting with humans in a subtle way, or will there be an intelligent societal system incorporating the Web, human beings, and all their interactions. What kind of global brain will we actually see?

In fact, Russell's book is only the best known of a host of independent discoveries of the concept of a global superorganism over the past few decades. Joel de Rosnay, for one, has published several books in French on the notion of a "cybionte" or cybernetic superorganism. His earliest, Le Macroscope, was published in 1975; L'Homme Symbionte, which appeared in 1996, updates the concept with discussions of chaos theory, multimedia technology and other new developments. And Valentin Turchin, in his 1977 book The Phenomenon of Science, laid out an abstract, cybernetic theory of evolution, and used it to discuss the concept of an emerging, meta-human "superbeing." His crucial concept is the metasystem transition, a word for the phenomenon in which was previously was a whole, suddenly becomes a part. For example, the cell, which has its own systemic unity, its own wholeness, becomes a part when it becomes part of the human organism. There is a metasystem transition between cells and organisms. There is also a metasystem transition between computers and networks: one's PC at home is a natural whole, but the networked PC of the year 2000 will be something quite different, in that most of its software will require interaction with outside computers, and most of its behaviors will be incomprehensible without taking into account the network outside it.

Currently humans are whole systems, with their own autonomy and intelligence, and human societies display a far lesser degree of organization and self-steering behavior. But, according to Turchin, a transition is coming, and in the future there will be more and more intelligent memory, perception and action taking place on the level of society as a whole. Turchin's vision is one of progressive evolution: as time goes on, one metasystem transition after another occurs, passing control on to higher and higher levels. One of Turchin's most active contemporary followers is Francis Heylighen, of the Free University of Brussels. Heylighen believes that the Web will be the instrument that brings about the meta-system transition, leading from humanity to the meta-human superorganism. The Principia Cybernetica Website, which he administers, contains an extensive network of pages devoted to super-organisms, meta-system transitions, global brains, and related ideas. Together with his colleague John Bollen, he has also experimented with ways of making the Web more intelligent, by making its link structure adaptive, in the manner of a neural network.

Heylighen has done a comprehensive world-wide search for literature on the global brain, and posted the results at Principia Cybernetica. Recently, Heylighen has also assembled an e-mail "Global Brain Study Group" mailing list (see http://pespmcl.vub.ac.be/GBRAIN-L.html. for details). Membership on the mailing list is restricted to those individuals who have published something (on paper or on-line) on the notion of emerging Web intelligence. A complete record of the dialogue may be found at http://www.fmb.mmu.ac.uk:80/majordom/gbrain/. So far, rather than debating the merits of different approaches to making the Web intelligent, the discussion group seems inevitably to veer toward the philosophical -- toward the questions of what the global Web brain will be like, and how it will relate to human beings, individually and collectively.

The most striking thing about the discussion on the Global Brain Study Group list is not a presence but an absence -- the absence of serious disagreement on most issues regarding emerging Web intelligence. Everyone who has thought seriously about the global Web brain, it seems, has come to largely the same conclusions. The Web will become more self-organizing, more complex, and eventually the greater intelligence of its parts will lead to a greater intelligence of the whole. Human beings will be drawn into the Web intelligence one way or another, either by mind-downloading or virtual reality, or simply by continual interaction with Web-brain-savvy technology. In this way, human society will begin to act in a more structured way -- in a way directed by the global Web mind, which recognizes subtle emergent patterns in human knowledge, and creates new information on the basis of these patterns.

A brief stir on the Global Brain Discussion Gruop was made by the appearance of a brief satirical piece in Wired in mid-1996, called The Human Macro-Organism as Fungus (online at http://www.hotwired.com/wired/4.04/features/viermenhouk.html). This article is an interview with a fictitious scientist named Dr. Viermenhouk, who parodies Heyligen by taking the absurdist line that the global superorganism is already here. Here is the final part of the interview:

The Internet provides a big leap forward. As an organism grows more complex, it requires a sophisticated means of transferring data between its constituent entities. The Internet is little more than the nervous system of our human macro- organism.

Isn't your work derivative of other cybertheoreticians? Francis Heylighen, for example, has postulated the technology- driven transformation of humanity into a "super- being" or a "metabeing." Heylighen ...

... walks around all day with a printer port up his ass. I've seen the pictures. He's obsessed with a direct neural interface. His concept of a metabeing, a single unitary organism, hinges on us physically plugging into a "super- brain." He's missing the point. We already have.

Cells don't communicate through direct physical connections; they use electrical interfaces. The neural cells in our skulls communicate through an intricate chemical dance. To expect a macro- organism to develop differently from a multicellular organism is foolish.

Now that we monkeys are part of a greater being, the connection we share is through symbol. Human language, with all of its limitations, is sufficiently complex to support the information- transfer needs of an organ- ism never seen before on Earth. You don't need wires up your butt. Just look at the symbols on your screen. Click on that hypertext link. Send that email. Be a good little cell.

And Heylighen's bizarre notion that this metabeing is an improvement; delusion! Individual humans are intriguing, sensual, spiritual creatures. The human macro- organism is more of a fungus. A big, appallingly stupid fungus. It only knows how to eat and grow, and when all of the food is gone, it will die. It has all the charm and wit of something growing in a dark corner of your basement. Adds a whole new dimension to the concept of human culture.

But what of individuality?

Humans are already too specialized to survive outside of their host organism. Pull a nerve cell from the brain and put it on the ground; within minutes it's a tiny gray blob of snot. Pull Bill Gates out of his office and put him in the veldt; in four days he's a bloated corpse in the sun. With the exception of a few madmen and anarchists, most of us can't even feed ourselves anymore; or communicate outside of our specialized fields. Put an anthropologist, a supply- side economist, and a mechanic in the same room. What the hell will they talk about? O. J. Simpson?

David Williams' notion of the superorganism as a fungus is humorous, but it also conceals a serious point. Yes, the fictitious Dr. Viermenhouk is wrong; the superorganism is not here yet, at least not in full force. But when it is here, will it necessarily be a boon to humanity? Or will it, indeed, be a fungus, a parasite on man, sucking the life-blood from human-created technology for its own purposes?

Heylighen himself appears to have taken the parody in good cheer But not all global brain advocates have been so charitable. Valentin Turchin, for one, was deeply annoyed. In a message posted to the Global Brain Study Group, he made the following remarks:

Wired's interview with "Dr.Viermenhouk" which Francis calls a parody and fun, is rather a lampoon, in my view.

...

The only "fun" in the interview is the vulgar language, which allows the author to convey his negative emotion. I think that he is genuinely outraged by the very idea of direct (not through language) brain links. And he is speaking, I believe, for the majority.

The fact that we take this idea seriously, and explore its significance and various aspects, will upset most people. We must be prepared for this. I have already had some experiences of this kind....

Turchin believes that the global brain will have deep, positive, profound human meaning. That it will provide a way of bridging the gaps between human beings and fusing us into a collective awareness -- something that spiritual traditions have been working on for a long time. From this point of view, direct brain-computer links should not be viewed as tools for escape from human reality, but rather as gateways to deeper connection with other human beings. And, from this point of view, Williams' remarks are destructive, pointing the readers of Wired away from something genuinely valuable -- they are about as funny as someone going into schools and teaching children that vegetables are bad for your teeth.

It is not only the fictitious Dr. Viermenhouk, however, who has a negative attitude toward the global brain. Related fears have been voiced by Peter Russell himself, who started a thread in the Global Brain Study Group on the striking topic: Superorganism: Sane or Insane. Russell says,

I first explored the notion of superorganisms in my book "The Global Brain" - - written back in the late seventies before the Internet really existed. There I showed that, from the perspective of general living systems theory, human society already displays 18 of the 19 characteristics of living organsims (the missing one is reproduction - we haven't yet colonised another planet, although we have the potential to).

...

The interesting question for me is not whether a global brain is developing. It clearly is. But will this growing global brain turn out to be sane or insane? If civilization continues with its current self- centred, materialistic worldview it will almost certainly bring its own destruction.

I have long been fascinated by the striking parallels between human society and cancer. Cancers have lost their relationship to the whole, and function at the expense of the organism - which is insane, since a successful cancer destroys its own host. This is what we appear to be doing, and very rapidly. Our embryonic global brain would seem to have turned malignant before it is even fully born.

I believe the reason for our collective malignancy comes back to individual consciousness. We are stuck in an out- dated mode of consciousness, one more appropriate to the survival needs of pre- industrial society. Thus the real challenge is for human consciousness to catch up with our technology. We need to evolve inwardly before any of our dreams of healthily-functioning global brains can manifest.

This is more intelligently and respectfully stated than Williams' parody, but in the end it is somewhat similar. Instead of fungus, we have cancer -- a far better metaphor, because cancer cells come from within, whereas fungus comes from outside. Russell believes that we are on a path toward the emergence of the global brain, and that the Web is just one particular manifestation of this path. But, observing that we humans ourselves are riddled with neurosis and interpersonal conflict, he wonders whether the collective intelligence that we give rise to is going to be any better off.

On the one hand, Russell believes that the global brain will go beyond individual human consciousness, with all its limitations. In response to a post of mine, questioning whether the Internet might eventually develop a sense of "self" similar to that of human beings, he responded as follows:

The question is whether this superorganism will develop its own consciousness - and sense of self - as human beings have done.

Back then [in The Global Brain] I argued that there were close parallels between the structure and development of the human brain, and the structure and development of the global telecommunication/information network, which suggested that when the global nervous system reached the same degree of complexity as the human nervous system, a new level of evolution might emerge. But it would be wrong to characterize this new level as consciousness. It would be as far beyond consciousness, as we know it, as our consciousness is beyond life, as a simple organism knows it. So I don't think discussions as to whether the global social superorganism will develop a self akin to ours are that relevant.

Despite this conviction that the global brain will be far above and beyond human consciousness and human mental dynamics, however, he is worried that the flaws of individual human consciousness may somehow "poison" this greater emergent entity, and make it fatally flawed itself.

Responses to Russell's pessimistic post were mixed. Gregory Stock, for instance, took issue with Russell's generally negative judgement ofthe psychology of the average modern human. A biologist, Stock views human selfishness and shortsightedness as biologically natural, and believes that modern society and psychology, for all their problems, are ultimately wonderful things. His book MetaMan treats contemporary technological society as a kind of superorganism, and views this superorganism in a very positive light.

Turchin, on the other hand, agrees substantially with Russell's pessimistic view of human nature and its implications for the mental health of the superorganism. He believes, however, that it may be possible to cure human nature, at the same time as developing new technologies that extend human nature, overcoming its limitations:

>We need to evolve inwardly before any of our dreams of healthily functioning global

> brains can manifest

Yes. This is why the Principia Cybernetica project came into being. Our goal is to develop - - on the basis of the current state of affairs in science and technology - - a complete philosophy to serve as the verbal, conceptual part of a new consciousness.

My optimistic scenario is that a major calamity will happen to humanity as a result of the militant individualism; terrible enough to make drastic changes necessary, but, hopefully, still mild enough not to result in a total destruction. Then what we are trying to do will have a chance to become prevalent. But possible solutions must be carefully prepared.

More positive than Turchin or Russell, though less so than Stock, the physicist Gottfried Mayer-Kress expressed the view that, perhaps, the global brain itself might represent the solution to the problems of individual human consciousness, rather than merely transplanting these problems onto a different level:

Peter Russell writes:

>The interesting question for me is not whether a global brain is developing. It

>clearly is. But will this growing global brain turn out to be sane or insane? If >civilization continues with its current self- centred, materialistic worldview it will >almost certainly bring its own destruction.

...

I thought a coherent world civilization was what we expect to emerge from a GlobalBrain.

In the context of complex adaptive systems we always would expect a "self- centred, materialistic worldview" of all subsystems (e.g. cells in the body, nation based civilizations etc.). Through the emergence of order parameters the subsystems begin to act in a coherent fashion and thereby increase the payoff for the subsystem.

A self-organized structure (order- parameter etc) will be stabilized if in the competition between the interests of the sub- system and those of the super- system if the subsystem recognizes that it is better off if it supports the larger structure (e.g. pay taxes etc). A neccessary condition for that to happen is that the coupling (communication) between the subsystems is strong enough that local modes cannot grow at the expense of the order parameter. In a social context that could mean that violations of the global rules/laws could be detected and suppressed.

For example, on a global scale it is still cheaper for most nations to choose to pollute the environment and waste energy. In a GlobalBrain world China would recognize that it is better not to introduce large scale individual transportation (cars) and Brazil would find it better for its own economy not to destroy the rainforest.

Regarding the "cancer" metaphor, Meyer-Kress observes that

even an "embryonic global brain" would be a coherent global structure and thereby directly contradict the basic definition of cancer. I would see the cancer analogy more the global spread of a drug culture.

Essentially, Mayer-Kress's point is as follows: saying that humans are "individualistic" is the same as saying that humans represent the "top level" of a hierarchy of systems. An individualistic system is just one that has more freedom than the systems within it, or the systems that it is contained in. Cells within individual organisms are individualistic only to a limited extent; they are behaving within the constraints of the organism. Cells that make up single-celled organisms, on the other hand, are far more individualistic: they have more freedom than the systems of which they are parts.

The global brain, according to Mayer-Kress, is almost synonymous with the decrease of human individualism. We will still have individual freedom, but more and more it will be in the context of the constraints imposed by a greater organism. And so, in this view, Russell's idea that the global brain might inherit the problems caused by human "self-centredness" is self-contradictory. The global brain, once it emerges, will be the top-level system, and will be individualistic -- but, as Russell himself notes, the nature of its individualism will be quite "inhuman" in nature.

Mayer-Kress, in this post, did not address the question of whether the global brain would be sane or insane in itself; rather, he defused the question by breaking the chain of reasoning leading from human neurosis to global brain neurosis. In my own reply to Russell's message, on the other hand, an attempt was made to take the bull by the horns and answer the question: What would it even mean for a global Web brain to be insane?

About sanity or insanity. Surely, these are sociocultural rather than psychological concepts. However, they can be projected into the individual mind due to the multiplicity of the self. An insane person in a society is someone who does not "fit in" to the societal mindset, because their self- model and their reality- model differ too far from the consensus. In the same vein, if one accepts the multiplicity of the individual self (as in Rowan's book SUBPERSONALITIES), one finds that in many "insane" people, the different parts of the personality do not "fit in" right with each other. So the jarring of world- models that characterizes the insane person in a culture is also present within the mind of the insane person. Because, of course, the self and mind are formed by mirroring the outside!

What does this mean for the global brain? View the global brain as a distributed system with many "subpersonalities." Then the question is not whether it is sane with respect to some outside culture, but whether it is sane WITH RESPECT TO ITSELF (a trickier thing to judge, no doubt). Do the different components of the global brain network all deal with each other in a mutually understanding way, or are they "talking past" each other...

A key point to remember here is that the global brain can be, to a large extent, real- time engineered by humans and AI agents. So that, if any kind of "insanity" is detected, attempts can be made to repair it on the fly. We are not yet able to do this sort of thing with human brains, except in the very crudest way (drugs, removing tumors, etc.).

The belief which I expressed in this post is that the sanity of the global Web brain is an engineering problem. By designing Web software intelligently, we can encourage the various parts of the global Web brain to interact with each other in an harmonious way -- the hallmark of true sanity. The various neuroses of human mind and culture will be in there -- but they will be subordinate to an higher level of sanely and smoothly self-organizing structure.

The biggest potential hang-up, in this view, is the possibility that forces in human society may intervene to prevent the software engineering of the Web mind from be done in an intelligent way. Perhaps it may come about that a maximally profitable Web mind and a maximally sane Web mind are two different things. In this case we will be caught in a complex feedback system. The saner the Web mind, the saner the global brain of humanity, and the less likely the forces of greed will be to take over the Web mind itself.

One thing is noteworthy about this particular thread on the Global Brain Study Group: in spite of our disagreements on details, everyone in the Study Group seems to concur that a healthy, sane global brain would be a good thing. An alternative view was given by Paulo Garrido, in a message on the Principia Cybernetica mailing list, forwarded by Heylighen to the Global Brain Study Group. Garrido made the following remarks:

IF human society is an organism (in the autopoietic sense) and has a (the super) brain THEN most probably we should KILL such a being.

Because, societies, or better, the social interaction should be a TOOL to enlarge individual power and freedom or, if one prefers, individual survival and development. There is no point in maintaining a society if it is not that. If a society becomes an organism, chances are that individual power and freedom are diminished: to exist as such an organism must limit the degrees of freedom of its components. And in the case of human societies - the components are us! Only one type of autopoietic system should be allowed to emerge as a result of social interactions: the one that enlarges individual power and freedom - for all the individuals. Maybe such a system is possible if it is built in the emotional domain of love, corresponding to the goal of development. If it is not the case, it should be destroyed. Otherwise, we may see ourselves with no survival or comfort problems ... and with no reason to live.

Garrido's remarks, though somewhat paranoid in tone, are well-thought-out and represent a natural human fear. Are we all going to be absorbed into some cosmic organism, to lose our human individuality, our freedom, our sense of individual feeling and accomplishment? After all, does computer technology not represent the ultimate in de-humanizing technology?

The difficulty, of course, is that freedom is difficult to assess. Every major change in the social order brings new freedoms and eliminates old ones. And the relative "goodness" of one thing or another is not an objective judgement anyway -- standards of morality vary drastically from culture to culture.

4. The Internet as Collective Unconscious

A different but related perspective may be found by introducing the ideas of the psychologist Carl Jung. The Web provides a whole new way of thinking about Jung's concept of the collective unconscious -- a realm of abstract mental forms, living outside space and time, accessible to all human beings, and guiding our thoughts and feelings. And it gives new, concrete meaning to his concept of archetypes -- particular mental forms living in the collective unconscious, with particular power to guide the formation of individual minds (Jung, 1955).

The concept of the collective unconscious has never achieved a highly respected status within scientific psychology. Science, perhaps rightly, perhaps (as Card, 1996, argues) wrongly, has no place for an incorporeal realm of abstract forms, interacting with individual minds but standing beyond them. The global Web mind, however, will actually be an incorporeal -- or at least digital -- realm of abstract forms, interacting with individual minds but standing beyond them!

Some of the "archetypal forms" that Jung believed we absorb from the collective unconscious are basic psychological structures: the Self, the Anima/Animus (the female and male within), the Shadow. Others are more culture in nature, e.g. the First Man. Some are visual: e.g. the right-going spiral, signifying being "sucked in"; the left-going spiral, signifying being "spewed out." But the most basic archetypes of all, in Jung's view, are the numbers. Small integers like 1, 2, and 3, Jung interpreted as the psychological manifestation of order. In fact, Jung suggested that all other archetypes could be built up out of the particular archetypal forms corresponding to small integers. This is a strikingly computer-esque idea: it is a "digital" view of the world, in the strictest sense. And so we see that Jung's thought, for all its obscurity and spirituality, was at bottom very mathematical: he viewed the abstract structures of the mind as emanating from various combinations of numbers. He viewed the collective unconscious as a digital system.

The global Web mind will, I suggest, fulfill Jung's philosophy in a striking and unexpected way: it will be a digital collective unconscious for the human race. For after all, the memory of the global Web mind is the vast body of humanly-created Web pages, which is a fair representation of the overall field of human thought, knowledge and feeling. So, as the global Web mind surveys this information and recognizes subtle patterns in it, it will be determining the abstract structure of human knowledge -- i.e., determining the structure of the human cultural/psychological universe. This is true even for the global Web mind as an independent entity; and it will be far more true far more true if, as human beings integrate more and more with the Web, the global Web brain synergizes with humanity to form a global digital/societal mind.

Specifically, the most abstract levels of the global Web mind will bear the closest resemblance to the collective unconscious as Jung conceived it. These levels will be a pool of subtle, broad-based patterns, abstracte from a huge variety of different human ideas, feelings, and experiences, as presented on the Web. And this body of abstract information will be active. Initially, it will be involved in creating new links on the Web, in creating new Web content, in regulating various real-world and virtual activities based on this content. And more and more, as it grows more pervasive, it will become involved in an interactive way with human thoughts and feelings themselves. In other words, precisely as Jung envisioned, the digital collective unconscious will be involved in forming the thoughts, feelings and activities of human beings' individual consciousnesses.