Future of the Global InfoSphere (FGIS)

Future of the Global InfoSphere (FGIS)

Organizer: Robert Logan 

Sponsor: The Human Energy Project

It’s a mistake to assume that the global information technologies that enable billions of people each day to communicate with each other and mediate innumerable small tasks are merely providing a passive conduit through which human interactions pass unmodified. And it would be naïve to assume that the explosive increase in interconnectedness between people and machines leaves human cognition and social interaction unmodified. Already various access providers, corporations, analytic services, and governmental agencies have begun using powerful machine learning systems to analyze and manipulate our habits of thinking, behaving, and communicating. And by subtly modifying the flow of information that is provided to users, they have discovered what is probably the most powerful behavior modification technique in history. But this vast ecosystem of information traffic is also subject to ubiquitous self-organizing tendencies that are often difficult to predict and control. And it is well within the realm of technical possibility that the entire world wide information system could become autonomously regulated by machine learning algorithms whose purpose is to manage the vast flows of information traffic in ways that protect and reinforce its own integrity. This could be the result of the dominance of a single IT service provider, the synergy among many, or simply a collective regulatory effort necessitated by the vast size and complexity of this system, which only an equally complex artificially intelligent system could manage. However this might come about, it would be the first step toward a sort of global AI or collective higher-order intelligence. Many scholars have predicted the emergence of such an autonomously adaptive global intelligence, whether by design or just incidental to our rush to adopt information technologies of ever-greater power and autonomy. They take seriously the possibility that our technological advances could produce a sort of worldwide IT superorganism or global mind, as this network of intelligent systems becomes increasingly interlinked and autonomous. Variations on this theme have been echoed in discussions of a possible computational “singularity” and in speculations about the growth of a global pan human “noosphere.”

These all-too-near possibilities raise many interesting and pressing questions that we hope to explore in this mini conference within IS4SI 2019. We encourage the submission of presentations that address the possible emergence of an information-based super organism/global brain and how this challenges us to rethink the concepts of both information and cognition.

Possible Topics: 

  • What are the effects on human cognition and social interaction caused by the explosive increase in information flow and interconnectedness between people and machines? 
  • Some scholars postulate a collective higher intelligence forming with our brains connected via networks of machines and AI. Could the integration of human brains interconnected via technology form a single higher order intelligent agent; i.e. a global mind?
  • Could an emerging IT-based global infosphere that linked human cognition with AI create a global pan human “noosphere”? How might a noosphere be different from a superorganism or global mind?
  • To what extent is the concept of a worldwide IT superorganism or global mind an artificial construct (in the sense that it is strictly technology)?
  • Does the possibility of the emergence of an IT-based super organism/global mind require rethinking the concepts of information and cognition?
  • How might the organization and function of a higher order IT-based global intelligent system be similar or different from a biological brain?
  • Could a higher order IT-based global intelligent system have human attributes such as compassion, ethics, etc.? If not, what would be missing? If so, what would be necessary?

For questions about submission please contact: Robert Logan <logan@physics.utoronto.ca>