The Cloud and Collaboration


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In this presentation I describe the concept of the internet as a form of global consciousness. I look at the idea of human nature as it has traditionally been represented but suggest that a more appropriate model is that of a collection of neurons. With this model I analyse what a global consciousness would look like - not collaboration, as in the organization of a company or a nation, but cooperation, as in the actions of autonomous but interdependent and connected individuals. All photos were taken by the author at Ars Electronica 2009 in Linz, Austria. Audio and text at

Published in: Education, Technology

The Cloud and Collaboration

  1. 1. The Cloud and Collaboration Stephen Downes Ars Electronica Linz, September 5, 2009
  2. 2. Truth -> Fiction Fiction -> Truth Artist
  3. 3. As inherently though social we have inherently an spiritual understanding that we are inherently dishonest Human Nature
  4. 4. Leviathan The Body Politic
  5. 5. Churchland Matter and Consciousness Stich - From Folk Psychology to Cognitive Science Folk Psychology
  6. 6. Varela: The Embodied Mind LeDoux: Synaptic Self Nature as Network
  7. 7. Peter Russell The Global Brain Billions of neurons forming connections interacting with each other achieving consciousness Social Brain
  8. 8. We think together but remain independent in our identity. If we could foster co-thinking to reach consensus about new solutions, we may be able to find a new direction for the future. Hope can emerge from new collaborative models based on a new paradigm; science and art will act gracefully to match human nature, and to shape the future of humanity. (80+1, 2008) Global Consciousness
  9. 9. Dimitar Tchurovsky "worldwide social network of self- selected people resembling human brain and mind, who will collaborate in attempt to solve social problems." Collaboration
  10. 10. Schrage: "an act of shared creation and/or shared discovery" Senge: creation of a shared vision. Shared Vision
  11. 11. Sameness of Purpose
  12. 12. Learning is social in nature ? Common Understanding
  13. 13. Brown & Duguid …reciprocity is strong. People are able to affect one another and the group as a whole directly. Changes can propagate easily. Coordination is tight. Group Behaviour
  14. 14. Neurons
  15. 15. Management
  16. 16. Client Focus
  17. 17. … meaning is created out of sameness, like a block of stone, an ingot or iron… a mass of elements, all the same, united as one Sameness
  18. 18. Semantic Consistency
  19. 19. The idea is that truth, meaning, communication… are based in a sameness in the entity But this is the opposite of what happens, isn’t it? Sameness of Entity Thesis
  20. 20. Diversity
  21. 21. Quine: Word and Object Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Incommensurability
  22. 22. P h y s i c a l i t y Syntactic Consistency
  23. 23. Language Games
  24. 24. the sharing by entities of a common system of communication or infrastructure. Community, then, would be defined by the interactions or connections among those entities, and the process of the global brain described in terms of those interactions. Interaction Thesis
  25. 25. Rather than becoming the same, we retain our individuality, and cooperate Cooperation
  26. 26. Neural Cooperation
  27. 27. …is not collaboration but rather cooperation… Community
  28. 28. Mechanisms of cooperation = mechanisms of association = mechanisms of neural connectivity Association
  29. 29. Donald O. Hebb Similarity
  30. 30. H u m e Proximity
  31. 31. Rumelhart and McClelland Feedback
  32. 32. B o l t z m a n n Harmony
  33. 33. Minsky Society of Mind
  34. 34. Collectivism Content Collections Collaboration Wikipedia Economics Ownership Kevin Kelly The content-based 'new socialism' is the same as the authority-based power-law driven old capitalism. New Socialism
  35. 35. forms of socialism as a form of personal empowerment, equality of opportunity, sociality and interdependence. These four principles together constitute the ‘semantic condition’ Cooperative Socialism
  36. 36. Autonomy Empowerment
  37. 37. O p e n n e s s Equality of Opportunity
  38. 38. Diversity Sociality
  39. 39. Connectedness Interaction Emergence Interdependence
  40. 40. Illich: appropriate and congenial alternatives to tools of domination Conviviality
  41. 41. Words
  42. 42. Artist