We are only beginning to understand the historic and transformative importance of the internet as a platform to flow information to anyone and everything.
In the years right before the birth of the Web, we had devised many ways to flow information, but speed and scale were massively limiting factors. A result of digital transformation is our ability now to create, store, access, and share information with astounding ease. The net effect of this is the dramatic swiftness of humanity’s ability to communicate, collaborate and learn from one another.
We have already created the first stage of what is known as a “hive mind”, where millions of our individual brains are harnessed together to collectively solve problems, create innovations, and share valuable information. Today we are taking a second step. This is integrating software systems into our hive mind so that cognition and decisionmaking can be done by algorithms instead of, or in conjunction with, human minds.
Many people believe we are racing toward a point in time when computers will be able to “think” and process information as fast as the human brain. Before this, we will have deeply integrated decision support systems and artificial intelligence into our collective hive mind, and this stage alone will radically change our world.
There is no way to really measure the vast impact the hive mind is already having on the world. It is undeniable that as a species, humankind is advancing at a quickening pace.
The hive mind provides answers to questions instantly, at all times, and virtually everywhere. It archives an amount of information that we could not even imagine having stored twenty years ago. It speeds up innovation by allowing all members of the hive to instantly see any creative concept developed by other members.
Right now, as you read this, the internet is helping you to wrap your mind around the concepts I am presenting, and it provides simple tools to pass these concepts on to millions of others with a touch of a button. Combine our ability to share opinions, problems, and ideas on a real-time platform, then add in millions of computers with intelligent software, and we have built ourselves one monster of an information processing machine.
So, what will we do with our hive mind as it develops? As it gets faster, smarter, and cleverer, each individual participant will also benefit. We see these benefits already today in the rapid progress young people make learning about the world at large. Many argue that the hive mind is filled with untrue information and that it perpetuates falsehoods at the same rapid rate as the truth.
Although it is a fact that some members of the hive knowingly, or unknowingly, input that which is untrue, we have built filtering systems to encourage the truth to float to the top. These filtering systems, while not perfect, are continuing to develop. This is important. We are influenced heavily by what we see in our search results or social feeds, so as long as what is true is always more available than what is false, we are moving forward in the right direction.
We will most definitely become smarter, but does that mean we will be more enlightened?
There is a world of difference between being knowledgeable and wise. I love the old yarn which says that knowledge tells us that a tomato is a fruit, and wisdom tells us not to put it in a fruit salad. I am an optimist, so I believe that enlightenment and wisdom will flourish from the hive mind.
One expansive thinker I know named Doug McGuirk calls this Translightenment, the process of becoming enlightened because of the digital transformation. My belief is based on the simple fact that we all have an innate desire to seek the truth. We want to understand how we got here, what our purpose is, and how we can be happier and more peaceful. We seek to make progress, and this can only come by better understanding the truth of things.
As machines take over more of the basic repetitive thinking we have been forced to do to survive and progress, we will be freed to let our minds expand. The hive mind will consider more complex questions and share our answers more widely. How can this lead to anything other than translightenment!
How will we know we have reached this point?
Much like the concept of becoming transhuman, the difficult part will be knowing that we have progressed from simply being humans, to becoming an altogether different species, one that is highly augmented by technology. To be in a state of translightenment, we will need to have a deep understanding about our existence and our very human desire to be peaceful, progressive, and prosperous.
In the future, we allow machines to do repetitive, dangerous, and overly complicated tasks, while we will focus on creative thinking and finding ever increasing ways to help every member of society to achieve their best state of being.
It sounds somewhat like nirvana, or heaven on Earth, yet I truly believe this future is possible.