Please see this article -- my comments on the Evri/Twine deal, as CEO of Twine. This provides more details about the history of Twine and what led to the acquisition.
Please see this article -- my comments on the Evri/Twine deal, as CEO of Twine. This provides more details about the history of Twine and what led to the acquisition.
Posted on March 23, 2010 at 05:12 PM in Artificial Intelligence, Business, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Groupware, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Knowledge Networking, Memes & Memetics, Microcontent, My Best Articles, Productivity, Radar Networks, Science, Search, Semantic Blogs and Wikis, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Software, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, The Semantic Graph, Twine, Venture Capital, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech | Permalink
In typical Web-industry style we're all focused minutely on the leading trend-of-the-year, the real-time Web. But in this obsession we have become a bit myopic. The real-time Web, or what some of us call "The Stream," is not an end in itself, it's a means to an end. So what will it enable, where is it headed, and what's it going to look like when we look back at this trend in 10 or 20 years?
In the next 10 years, The Stream is going to go through two big phases, focused on two problems, as it evolves:
The Stream is not the only big trend taking place right now. In fact, it's just a strand that is being braided together with several other trends, as part of a larger pattern. Here are some of the other strands I'm tracking:
If these are all strands in a larger pattern, then what is the megatrend they are all contributing to? I think ultimately it's collective intelligence -- not just of humans, but also our computing systems, working in concert.
I think that these trends are all combining, and going real-time. Effectively what we're seeing is the evolution of a global collective mind, a theme I keep coming back to again and again. This collective mind is not just comprised of humans, but also of software and computers and information, all interlinked into one unimaginably complex system: A system that senses the universe and itself, that thinks, feels, and does things, on a planetary scale. And as humanity spreads out around the solar system and eventually the galaxy, this system will spread as well, and at times splinter and reproduce.
But that's in the very distant future still. In the nearer term -- the next 100 years or so -- we're going to go through some enormous changes. As the world becomes increasingly networked and social the way collective thinking and decision making take place is going to be radically restructured.
Existing and established social, political and economic structures are going to either evolve or be overturned and replaced. Everything from the way news and entertainment are created and consumed, to how companies, cities and governments are managed will change radically. Top-down beaurocratic control systems are simply not going to be able to keep up or function effectively in this new world of distributed, omnidirectional collective intelligence.
As humanity and our Web of information and computatoins begins to function as a single organism, we will evolve literally, into a new species: Whatever is after the homo sapien. The environment we will live in will be a constantly changing sea of collective thought in which nothing and nobody will be isolated. We will be more interdependent than ever before. Interdependence leads to symbiosis, and eventually to the loss of generality and increasing specialization. As each of us is able to draw on the collective mind, the global brain, there may be less pressure on us to do things on our own that used to be solitary. What changes to our bodies, minds and organizations may result from these selective evolutionary pressures? I think we'll see several, over multi-thousand year timescales, or perhaps faster if we start to genetically engineer ourselves:
Posted on October 27, 2009 at 08:08 PM in Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Government, Group Minds, Memes & Memetics, Mobile Computing, My Best Articles, Politics, Science, Search, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Software, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, The Semantic Graph, Transhumans, Web 3.0, Web/Tech, Wild Speculation | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
If you are interested in collective intelligence, consciousness, the global brain and the evolution of artificial intelligence and superhuman intelligence, you may want to see my talk at the 2008 Singularity Summit. The videos from the Summit have just come online.
(Many thanks to Hrafn Thorisson who worked with me as my research assistant for this talk).
Posted on February 13, 2009 at 11:32 PM in Biology, Cognitive Science, Collective Intelligence, Conferences and Events, Consciousness, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Groupware, My Proposals, Philosophy, Physics, Science, Software, Systems Theory, The Future, The Metaweb, Transhumans, Virtual Reality, Web 3.0, Web/Tech, Wild Speculation | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
In this interview with Fast Company, I discuss my concept of "connective intelligence." Intelligence is really in the connections between things, not the things themselves. Twine facilitates smarter connections between content, and between people. This facilitates the emergence of higher levels of collective intelligence.
Posted on December 08, 2008 at 12:50 PM in Business, Cognitive Science, Collective Intelligence, Group Minds, Groupware, Knowledge Management, Knowledge Networking, Productivity, Radar Networks, Search, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, The Semantic Graph, Twine | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
I've posted a link to a video of my best talk -- given at the GRID '08 Conference in Stockholm this summer. It's about the growth of collective intelligence and the Semantic Web, and the future and role the media. Read more and get the video here. Enjoy!
Posted on October 02, 2008 at 11:56 AM in Artificial Intelligence, Biology, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Knowledge Networking, Philosophy, Productivity, Science, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Software, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, The Semantic Graph, Transhumans, Virtual Reality, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Now that I have been asked by several dozen people for the slides from my talk on "Making Sense of the Semantic Web," I guess it's time to put them online. So here they are, under the Creative Commons Attribution License (you can share it with attribution this site).
You can download the Powerpoint file at the link below:
Or you can view it right here:
Enjoy! And I look forward to your thoughts and comments.
Posted on November 21, 2007 at 12:13 AM in Business, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Groupware, Knowledge Management, Knowledge Networking, Productivity, Radar Networks, Search, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Software, Technology, The Metaweb, The Semantic Graph, Twine, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Last night I saw that the video of my presentation of Twine at the Web 2.0 Summit is online. My session, "The Semantic Edge," featured Danny Hillis of Metaweb demoing Freebase, Barney Pell demoing Powerset, and myself Demoing Twine, followed by a brief panel discussion with Tim O'Reilly (in that order). It's a good panel and I recommend the video, however, the folks at Web 2.0 only filmed the presenters; they didn't capture what we were showing on our screens, so you have to use your imagination as we describe our demos.
An audio cast of one of my presentations about Twine to a reporter was also put online recently, for a more in-depth description.
Posted on October 25, 2007 at 08:13 AM in Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Cool Products, Group Minds, Groupware, Knowledge Management, Knowledge Networking, Productivity, Radar Networks, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Technology, The Metaweb, The Semantic Graph, Twine, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
My company, Radar Networks, has just come out of stealth. We've announced what we've been working on all these years: It's called Twine.com. We're going to be showing Twine publicly for the first time at the Web 2.0 Summit tomorrow. There's lot's of press coming out where you can read about what we're doing in more detail. The team is extremely psyched and we're all working really hard right now so I'll be brief for now. I'll write a lot more about this later.
Posted on October 18, 2007 at 09:41 PM in Cognitive Science, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Conferences and Events, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Groupware, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Productivity, Radar Networks, Search, Semantic Blogs and Wikis, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Software, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Venture Capital, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
I've been thinking for several years about Knowledge Networking. It's not a term I invented, it's been floating around as a meme for at least a decade or two. But recently it has started to resurface in my own work.
So what is a knowledge network? I define a knowledge network as a form of collective intelligence in which a network of people (two or more people connected by social-communication relationships) creates, organizes, and uses a collective body of knowledge. The key here is that a knowledge network is not merely a site where a group of people work on a body of information together (such as the wikipedia), it's also a social network -- there is an explicit representation of a social relationship within it. So it's more like a social network than for example a discussion forum or a wiki.
I would go so far as to say that knowledge networks are the third-generation of social software. (Note this is based in-part on ideas that emerged in conversations I have had with Peter Rip, so this also his idea):
Just some thoughts on a Saturday morning...
Posted on August 18, 2007 at 11:49 AM in Business, Cognitive Science, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Group Minds, Groupware, Knowledge Management, Productivity, Radar Networks, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Software, Technology, The Future, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The Business 2.0 Article on Radar Networks and the Semantic Web just came online. It's a huge article. In many ways it's one of the best popular articles written about the Semantic Web in the mainstream press. It also goes into a lot of detail about what Radar Networks is working on.
One point of clarification, just in case anyone is wondering...
Web 3.0 is not just about machines -- it's actually all about humans -- it leverages social networks, folksonomies, communities and social filtering AS WELL AS the Semantic Web, data mining, and artificial intelligence. The combination of the two is more powerful than either one on it's own. Web 3.0 is Web 2.0 + 1. It's NOT Web 2.0 - people. The "+ 1" is the addition of software and metadata that help people and other applications organize and make better sense of the Web. That new layer of semantics -- often called "The Semantic Web" -- will add to and build on the existing value provided by social networks, folksonomies, and collaborative filtering that are already on the Web.
So at least here at Radar Networks, we are focusing much of our effort on facilitating people to help them help themselves, and to help each other, make sense of the Web. We leverage the amazing intelligence of the human brain, and we augment that using the Semantic Web, data mining, and artificial intelligence. We really believe that the next generation of collective intelligence is about creating systems of experts not expert systems.
Posted on July 03, 2007 at 07:28 AM in Artificial Intelligence, Business, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Philosophy, Productivity, Radar Networks, Science, Search, Semantic Blogs and Wikis, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Software, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Venture Capital, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
It's been an interesting month for news about Radar Networks. Two significant articles came out recently:
Business 2.0 Magazine published a feature article about Radar Networks in their July 2007 issue. This article is perhaps the most comprehensive article to-date about what we are working on at Radar Networks, it's also one of the better articulations of the value proposition of the Semantic Web in general. It's a fun read, with gorgeous illustrations, and I highly recommend reading it.
BusinessWeek posted an article about Radar Networks on the Web. The article covers some of the background that led to my interests in collective intelligence and the creation of the company. It's a good article and covers some of the bigger issues related to the Semantic Web as a paradigm shift. I would add one or two points of clarification in addition to what was stated in the article: Radar Networks is not relying solely on software to organize the Internet -- in fact, the service we will be launching combines human intelligence and machine intelligence to start making sense of information, and helping people search and collaborate around interests more productively. One other minor point related to the article -- it mentions the story of EarthWeb, the Internet company that I co-founded in the early 1990's: EarthWeb's content business actually was sold after the bubble burst, and the remaining lines of business were taken private under the name Dice.com. Dice is the leading job board for techies and was one of our properties. Dice has been highly profitable all along and recently filed for a $100M IPO.
Posted on June 29, 2007 at 05:12 PM in Artificial Intelligence, Business, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Group Minds, Groupware, Knowledge Management, Radar Networks, Search, Social Networks, Software, Technology, The Metaweb, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
If you are interested in the future of the Web, you might enjoy listening to this interview with me, moderated by Dr. Paul Miller of Talis. We discuss, in-depth: the Semantic Web, Web 3.0, SPARQL, collective intelligence, knowledge management, the future of search, triplestores, and Radar Networks.
Posted on March 24, 2007 at 10:10 AM in Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Group Minds, Knowledge Management, Productivity, Radar Networks, Search, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Software, Technology, Venture Capital, Web 3.0, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
This is just a brief post because I am actually slammed with VC meetings right now. But I wanted to congratulate our friends at Metaweb for their pre-launch announcement. My company, Radar Networks, is the only other major venture-funded play working on the Semantic Web for consumers so we are thrilled to see more action in this sector.
Metaweb and Radar Networks are working on two very different applications (fortunately!). Metaweb is essentially making the Wikipedia of the Semantic Web. Here at Radar Networks we are making something else -- but equally big -- and in a different category. Just as Metaweb is making a semantic analogue to something that exists and is big, so are we: but we're more focused on the social web -- we're building something that everyone will use. But we are still in stealth so that's all I can say for now.
This is now an exciting two-horse space. We look forward to others joining the excitement too. Web 3.0 is really taking off this year.
An interesting side note: Danny Hillis (founder of Metaweb), myself (founder of Radar Networks) and Lew Tucker (CTO of Radar Networks) all worked together at Thinking Machines (an early AI massively parallel computer company). It's fascinating that we've all somehow come to think that the only practical way to move machine intelligence forward is by having us humans and applications start to employ real semantics in what we record in the digital world.
Posted on March 09, 2007 at 08:40 AM in Artificial Intelligence, Business, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Knowledge Management, Radar Networks, Semantic Blogs and Wikis, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Software, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Virtual Reality, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Is it only Wednesday? It feels like a whole week already! I've been in back-to-back VC meetings, board discussions and strategy meetings since last week. I think this must be related to the heating-up of the "Web 3.0" meme and the semantic sector in general. Perhaps it is also due to the coverage we got in the Guidewire Report and newsletter which went out to everyone who went to DEMO, and also perhaps because of some influential people in the biz have been talking about us. We've been very careful not to show our app to anyone because it does some things that are really new. We don't want to spread that around (yet). Anyway it's been pretty busy -- not just for me, but for the whole team. Everyone is on full afterburners right now.
By the way -- I'm really proud or product team (hope you guys are reading this)-- the team has made an alpha that is not only a breakthrough on the technical level, but it also looks incredibly good too. Some of the select few who have seen our app so far have said, "the app looks beautiful" and "wow, that's amazing" etc. We've done some cool things with NLP, graph analysis, and statistics under the hood. And the GUI is also very slick. Probably the best team I've worked with.
If you are interested in helping to beta-test the consumer Semantic Web, We're planning on doing invite-only beta trials this summer -- sign up at our website to be on our beta invite list.
I've been thinking since 1994 about how to get past a fundamental barrier to human social progress, which I call "The Collective IQ Barrier." Most recently I have been approaching this challenge in the products we are developing at my stealth venture, Radar Networks.
In a nutshell, here is how I define this barrier:
The Collective IQ Barrier: The potential collective intelligence of a human group is exponentially proportional to group size, however in practice the actual collective intelligence that is achieved by a group is inversely proportional to group size. There is a huge delta between potential collective intelligence and actual collective intelligence in practice. In other words, when it comes to collective intelligence, the whole has the potential to be smarter than the sum of its parts, but in practice it is usually dumber.
Why does this barrier exist? Why are groups generally so bad at tapping the full potential of their collective intelligence? Why is it that smaller groups are so much better than large groups at innovation, decision-making, learning, problem solving, implementing solutions, and harnessing collective knowledge and intelligence?
I think the problem is technological, not social, at its core. In this article I will discuss the problem in more depth and then I will discuss why I think the Semantic Web may be the critical enabling technology for breaking through the Collective IQ Barrier.
Posted on March 03, 2007 at 03:46 PM in Artificial Intelligence, Business, Cognitive Science, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Groupware, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, My Best Articles, Philosophy, Productivity, Radar Networks, Science, Search, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Software, Technology, The Future, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
I've been reading some of the further posts on various blogs in reaction to the Markoff article in the New York Times last Sunday. There is a tremendous amount of misconception about the Semantic Web-- as evidenced for example by Ross Mayfield's post recently. Ross implied that the Semantic Web is about automating the Web, rather than facilitating people. This is a misconception that others have taken to even further extremes -- some people have characterized it as an effort to replace humans, replace social networks and social software, etc. etc. That is simply NOT at all correct! Quite the opposite in fact.
The Semantic Web is just a way to augment and improve the EXISTING Web and all the existing relationships, groups, communities, social networks, user-experiences, apps, content, and online services on it. It doesn't replace the Web we have, it just makes it smarter. It doesn't replace human intelligence and decision-making, it just augments human thinking, so that individuals and groups can overcome the growing complexity of information overload on the Web.
Many years ago, in the late 1980s, while I was still a college student, I visited my late grandfather, Peter F. Drucker, at his home in Claremont, California. He lived near the campus of Claremont College where he was a professor emeritus. On that particular day, I handed him a manuscript of a book I was trying to write, entitled, "Minding the Planet" about how the Internet would enable the evolution of higher forms of collective intelligence.
My grandfather read my manuscript and later that afternoon we sat together on the outside back porch and he said to me, "One thing is certain: Someday, you will write this book." We both knew that the manuscript I had handed him was not that book, a fact that was later verified when I tried to get it published. I gave up for a while and focused on college, where I was studying philosophy with a focus on artificial intelligence. And soon I started working in the fields of artificial intelligence and supercomputing at companies like Kurzweil, Thinking Machines, and Individual.
A few years later, I co-founded one of the early Web companies, EarthWeb, where among other things we built many of the first large commercial Websites and later helped to pioneer Java by creating several large knowledge-sharing communities for software developers. Along the way I continued to think about collective intelligence. EarthWeb and the first wave of the Web came and went. But this interest and vision continued to grow. In 2000 I started researching the necessary technologies to begin building a more intelligent Web. And eventually that led me to start my present company, Radar Networks, where we are now focused on enabling the next-generation of collective intelligence on the Web, using the new technologies of the Semantic Web.
But ever since that day on the porch with my grandfather, I remembered what he said: "Someday, you will write this book." I've tried many times since then to write it. But it never came out the way I had hoped. So I tried again. Eventually I let go of the book form and created this weblog instead. And as many of my readers know, I've continued to write here about my observations and evolving understanding of this idea over the years. This article is my latest installment, and I think it's the first one that meets my own standards for what I really wanted to communicate. And so I dedicate this article to my grandfather, who inspired me to keep writing this, and who gave me his prediction that I would one day complete it.
This is an article about a new generation of technology that is sometimes called the Semantic Web, and which could also be called the Intelligent Web, or the global mind. But what is the Semantic Web, and why does it matter, and how does it enable collective intelligence? And where is this all headed? And what is the long-term far future going to be like? Is the global mind just science-fiction? Will a world that has a global mind be good place to live in, or will it be some kind of technological nightmare?
Posted on November 06, 2006 at 03:34 AM in Artificial Intelligence, Biology, Buddhism, Business, Cognitive Science, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Consciousness, Democracy 2.0, Environment, Fringe, Genetic Engineering, Global Brain and Global Mind, Government, Group Minds, Groupware, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, My Best Articles, My Proposals, Philosophy, Radar Networks, Religion, Science, Search, Semantic Blogs and Wikis, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Software, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Transhumans, Venture Capital, Virtual Reality, Web 2.0, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
I was reading this article in Wired magazine about wikis, where the article itself is a wiki that the readers can contribute to -- and an idea occurred to me. What if you could make an entire magazine that was in a fact a wiki? This magazine would be published online via a Website running a wiki engine. Every issue would be by and for the community of readers. There would be an editorial group among the readers that would decide what to write articles about for the next issue of the magazine, and then the community would work to write the articles. To get into the editorial group, remain there, and have a vote as an editor, a community member would have to make a certain number of (non-spurrious) contributions to articles on an ongoing basis (and/or maintain a certain reputation in the community as measured in some other manner).
I can imagine this idea taking off and a lot of these "wikazines" forming around various subject areas. It makes sense that communities of people who are interested in subjects could help to research and write about them. Of course in such communities there would be some people who put more effort in than others, and some who were more like readers or lurkers. But it would still be much more involving than old "one-way media."
In some ways communities like Digg simulate this -- people essentially vote on what is interesting and this filters up to become the featured content on the site. But that is still one step removed from the creative process itself -- only the readers participate, not the content authors. What's interesting about this proposal is that it blurs the distinction between an author and a reader, and provides a way for a magazine to be truly emergent and community-driven. OK, I'm too busy to start this, but I hope someone out there on the lazyweb takes this idea and runs with it. Please let me know if you find examples of this.
Shel Israel and I just finished up working together for 10 days. I needed Shel's perspective on what we are working on at Radar Networks. Shel lived up to his reviews as a brilliant thinker on strategic messaging, branding and positioning. So what are the 15 people at Radar Networks working on? It's still a secret, but yes, it's related to the Semantic Web, and yes, Shel has hinted on his blog at some of it. But it's probably not what you think. And, no, it's not semantic video blogging either. More hints later on. For now, if you are a blogger and you have a wish-list for what wikis or blogs could do next, feel free to submit your list in the comments on this post: I'm doing some informal market research...
[Corrected due to typo.]
Posted on August 05, 2006 at 05:07 PM in Artificial Intelligence, Business, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Groupware, Knowledge Management, Radar Networks, Science, Semantic Blogs and Wikis, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Technology, The Metaweb, Web 2.0, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Check out this video demo of Microsoft Photosynth -- an experimental technology that combines multiple photos of the same thing into a 3-D model that can then be navigated and explored -- it's beautiful, visionary and well... just awesome.
Grupthink is a service where anyone can create and participate in polls on various subjects. It's similar to an idea I once had about polling the global mind in real-time (although their system does not show votes happening in real-time, presently). It reminds me of several other Web 2.0 sites, but it's nicely done. Worth a look.
Check out The Broth -- it's a "global mosaic" in which you can move tiles around in real time with other people to create emergent artworks. It's really cool to watch images grow and morph from the combined imagination of people around the Net. Beautiful.
My father, Mayer Spivack, has written an interesting piece on managing thinking styles in organizations. He points out the difference between the thinking styles in early and later stage companies, and the challenge of managing and integrating these two aspects of the organization's cognitive process. I think that the syncretic-associative mode (curious, inventive, exploratory, enthusiastic, adventurous) tends to be more externally focused, whereas the linear-logical mode tends to be more internally focused (careful, reductivist, analyticial, skeptical, habitual). You could say this is the difference between an organization being extraverted or introverted, and the challenge is for organizations to evolve balanced personalities. This could be an interesting way to approach management consulting -- and I wouldn't be surprised if there are others thinking about organizations in these terms.
The Syncretic Management Process
Understanding The Value Of Associative Thinking In A World Of Linear Decision-Making
Decisions and communications among individuals in organizations are frequently initiated, managed and concluded almost entirely from within a framework of linear-logical thinking. Paradoxically, the products and services comprising the intellectual property and capital creative upon which most business are founded owe their existence to a non-linear, but nonetheless logical, syncretic process of associative thinking. Syncretic thinking is a mental process that makes non-linear, and therefore often unexpected, connections among seemingly divergent phenomena or data on the basis of common qualities.
By understanding this paradox between the creative syncretic process characterizing the founding stage of an organization, and the conservative linear processes that characterize later stages we can generate a new mix of creative thinking that effectively includes both elements. These two modes of thought highlight several differences between the mind-sets that typify the young innovative start-up phase of a business compared with that same business at a later more mature phase, settled into it’s niche. The associative and inventive thinking that generated a novel product or service and founded an organization or industry may, at maturity, have yielded to a more rigorous calculus of risk, competition and strategic analysis. In this later phase of organization, linear frameworks of thinking that tend to conserve capital and to advance the organizations goals incrementally within an established niche are strongly reinforced and rewarded. Thus linearity, alone, is widely believed to be essential for survival. However, neither framework in isolation is likely to encourage the growth of new ideas that may form the future of the organization. Nor could an organization develop far beyond the initial concept stage without the benefit of both modalities operating together.
Today I read an interesting article in the New York Times about a company called Rite-Solutions which is using a home-grown stock market for ideas to catalyze bottom-up innovation across all levels of personnel in their organization. This is a way to very effectively harness and focus the collective creativity and energy in an organization around the best ideas that the organization generates.
Using virtual stock market systems to measure community sentiment is not a new concept but it is a new frontier. I don't think we've even scratched the surface of what this paradigm can accomplish. For lots of detailed links to resources on this topic see the wikipedia entry on prediction markets. This prediction markets portal also has collected interesting links on the topic. Here is an informative blog post about recent prediction market attempts. Here is a scathing critique of some prediction markets.
There are many interesting examples of prediction markets on the Web:
Here are some interesting, more detailed discussions of prediction market ideas and potential features.
Another area that is related, but highly underleveraged today, are ways to enable communities to help establish whether various ideas are correct using argumentation. By enabling masses of people to provide reasons to agree or disagree with ideas, and with those reasons as well, we can automatically rate what ideas are most agreed with or disagreed with. One very interesting example of this is TruthMapping.com. Some further concepts related to this approach are discussed in this thread.
Posted on March 26, 2006 at 06:09 PM in Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Groupware, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Memes & Memetics, Social Networks, Software, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, Web/Tech, Wild Speculation | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
This article proposes the creation of a new open, nonprofit service on the Web that will provide something akin to “collective self-awareness” back to the Web. This service is like a "Google Zeitgeist" on steroids, but with a lot more real-time, interactive, participatory data, technology and features in it. The goal is to measure and visualize the state of the collective mind of humanity, and provide this back to humanity in as close to real-time as is possible, from as many data sources as we can handle -- as a web service.
By providing this service, we will enable higher levels of collective intelligence to emerge and self-organize on the Web. The key to collective intelligence (or any intelligence in fact) is self-awareness. Self-awareness is, in essence, a feedback loop in which a system measures its own internal state and the state of its environment, then builds a representation of that state, and then reasons about and reacts to that representation in order to generate future behavior. This feedback loop can be provided to any intelligent system -- even the Web, even humanity as-a-whole. If we can provide the Web with such a service, then the Web can begin to “see itself” and react to its own state for the first time. And this is the first step to enabling the Web, and humanity as-a-whole, to become more collectively intelligent.
It should be noted that by "self-awareness" I don’t mean consciousness or sentience – I think that the consciousness comes from humans at this point and we are not trying to synthesize it (we don't need to; it's already there). Instead, by "self-awareness" I mean a specific type of feedback loop -- a specific Web service -- that provides a mirror of the state of the whole back to its parts. The parts are the conscious elements of the system – whether humans and/or machines – and can then look at this meta-mirror to understand the whole as well as their place in it. By simply providing this meta-level mirror, along with ways that the individual parts of the system can report their state to it, and get the state of the whole back from it, we can enable a richer feedback loop between the parts and the whole. And as soon as this loop exists the entire system suddenly can and will become much more collectively intelligent.
What I am proposing is something quite common in artificial intelligence. For example, in the field of robotics, such as when building an autonomous robot. Until a robot is provided with a means by which it can sense its own internal state and the state of its nearby environment, it cannot behave intelligently or very autonomously. But once this self-representation and feedback loop is provided, it can then react to it’s own state and environment and suddenly can behave far more intelligently. All cybernetic systems rely on this basic design pattern. I’m simply proposing we implement something like this for the entire Web and the mass of humanity that is connected to it. It's just a larger application of an existing pattern. Currently people get their views of “the whole” from the news media and the government – but these views suffer from bias, narrowness, lack of granularity, lack of real-time data, and the fact that they are one-way, top-down services with no feedback loop capabilities. Our global collective self-awareness -- in order to be truly useful and legitimate really must be two-way, inclusive, comprehensive, real-time and democratic. In the global collective awareness, unlike traditional media, the view of the whole is created in a bottom-up, emergent fashion from the sum of the reports from all the parts (instead of just a small pool of reporters or publishers, etc.).
The system I envision would visualize the state of the global mind on a number of key dimensions, in real-time, based on what people and software and organizations that comprise its “neurons” and “regions” report to it (or what it can figure out by mining artifacts they create). For example, this system would discover and rank the current most timely and active topics, current events, people, places, organizations, events, products, articles, websites, in the world right now. From these topics it would link to related resources, discussions, opinions, etc. It would also provide a real-time mass opinion polling system, where people could start polls, vote on them, and see the results in real-time. And it would provide real-time statistics about the Web, the economy, the environment, and other key indicators.
The idea is to try to visualize the global mind – to make it concrete and real for people, to enable them to see what it is thinking, what is going on, and where they fit in it – and to enable them to start adapting and guiding their own behavior to it. By giving the parts of the system more visibility into the state of the whole, they can begin to self-organize collectively which in turn makes the whole system function more intelligently
Essentially I am proposing the creation of the largest and most sophisticated mirror ever built – a mirror that can reflect the state of the collective mind of humanity back to itself. This will enable an evolutionary process which eventually will result in humanity becoming more collectively self-aware and intelligent as-a-whole (instead of what it is today -- just a set of separeate interacting intelligent parts). By providing such a service, we can catalyze the evolution of higher-order meta-intelligence on this planet -- the next step in human evolution. Creating this system is a grand cultural project of profound social value to all people on earth, now and in the future.
This proposal calls for creating a nonprofit orgnaization to build and host this service as a major open-source initiative on the Web, like the Wikipedia, but with a very different user-experience and focus. It also calls for implementing the system with a hybrid central and distributed architecture. Although this vision is big, the specific technologies, design patterns, and features that are necessary to implement it are quite specific and already exist. They just have to be integrated, wrapped and rolled out. This will require an extraordinary and multidisciplanary team. If you're interested in getting involved and think you can contribute resources that this project will need, let me know (see below for details).
Today I re-read this beautiful, visionary article by Kevin Kelley, about the birth of the global mind, in which he states:
Kevin's article got me thinking once again about an idea that has been on my mind for over a decade. I have often thought that the Web is growing into the collective nervous system of our species. This will in turn enable the human species to function increasingly as an intelligent superorganism, for example, like a beehive, or an ant colony -- but perhaps even more intelligent. But the key to bringing this process about is self-awareness. In short, the planetary supermind cannot become truly intelligent until it evolves a form of collective self-awareness. Self-awareness is the most critical component of human intelligence -- the sophistication of human self-awareness is what makes humans different from dumb machines, and from less intelligent species.
The Big Idea that I have been thinking about for over a decade is that if we can build something that functions like a collective self-awareness, then this could catalyze a huge leap in collective intelligence that would essentially "wake up" the global supermind and usher in a massive evolution in its intelligence and behavior. As the planetary supermind becomes more aware of its environment, its own state, and its own actions and plans, it will then naturally evolve higher levels of collective intelligence around this core. This evolutionary leap is of unimaginable importance to the future of our species.
In order for the collective mind to think and act more intelligently it must be able to sense itself and its world, and reason about them, with more precision -- it must have a form of self-awareness. The essence of self-awareness is self-representation -- the ability to sense, map, reason about, and react to, one's own internal state and the state of one's nearby environment. In other words, self-awareness is a feedback loop by which a system measures and reacts to its own self-representations. Just as is the case with the evolution of individual human intelligence, the evolution of more sophisticated collective human intelligence will depend on the emergence of better collective feedback loops and self-representations. By enabling a feedback loop in which information can flow in both directions between the self-representations of individuals and a meta-level self-representation for the set of all individuals, the dynamics of the parts and the whole become more closely coupled. And when this happens, the system can truly start to adapt to itself intelligently, as a single collective intelligence instead of a collection of single intelligences.
In summary, in order to achieve higher levels of collective intelligence and behavior, the global mind will first need something that functions as its collective self-awareness -- something that enables the parts to better sense and react to the state of the whole, and the whole to better sense and react to the state of its parts. What is needed essentially is something that functions as a collective analogue to a self -- a global collective self.
Think of the global self as a vast mirror, reflecting the state of the global supermind back to itself. Mirrors are interesting things. At first they merely reflect, but soon they begin to guide decisionmaking. By simply providing humanity with a giant virtual mirror of what is going on across the minds of billions of individuals, and millions of groups and organizations, the collective mind will crystallize, see itself for the first time, and then it will begin to react to its own image. And this is the beginning of true collective cognition. When the parts can see themselves as a whole and react in real-time, then they begin to function as a whole instead of just a collection of separate parts. As this shift transpires the state of the whole begins to feedback into the behavior of the parts, and the state of the parts in turns feeds back to the state of the whole. This cycle of bidirectional feedback between the parts and whole is the essence of cognition in all intelligent systems, whether individual brains, artificial intelligences, or entire worlds.
I believe that the time has come for this collective self to emerge on our planet. Like a vast virtual mirror, it will function as the planetary analogue to our own individual self-representations -- that capacity of our individual minds which represents us back to ourselves. It will be comprised of maps that combine real-time periodic data updates, and historical data, from perhaps trillions of data sources (one for each person, group, organization and software agent on the grid). The resulting visualizations will be something like a vast fluid flow, or a many particle simulation. It will require a massive computing capability to render it -- perhaps a distributed supercomputer comprised of the nodes on the Web themselves, each hosting a part of the process. It will require new thinking about how to visualize trends in such vast amounts of data and dimensions. This is a great unexplored frontier in data visualization and knowledge discovery.
How It Might Work
I envision the planetary self functioning as a sort of portal -- a Web service that aggregates and distributes all kinds of current real-time and historical data about the state of the whole, as well as its past states and future projected states. This portal would collect opinions, trends, and statistics about the human global mind, the environment, the economy, society, geopolitical events, and other indicators, and would map them graphically in time, geography, demography, and subject space -- enabling everyone to see and explore the state of the global mind from different perspectives, with various overlays, and at arbitrary levels of magnification.
I think this system should provide an open data model, and open API for adding and growing data sets, querying, remixing, visualizing, and subscribing to the data. All services that provide data sets, analysis or visualizations (or other interpretations) of potential value to understanding the state of the whole would be able to post data into our service for anyone to find and use. Search engines could post in the top search query terms. Sites that create tag clouds could post in tags and tag statistics. Sites that analyze the blogosphere could post in statistics about blogs, bloggers, and blog posts. Organizations that do public opinion polling, market and industry research, trend analysis, social research, or economic research could post in statistics they are generating. Academic researchers could post in statistics generated by projects they are doing to analyze trends on the Web, or within our data-set itself.
As data is pushed to us, or pulled by us, we would grow the largest central data repository about the state of the whole. Others could then write programs to analyze and remix our data, and then post their results back into the system for others to use as well. We would make use of our data for our own analysis, but anyone else could also do research and share their analysis through our system. End users and others could also subscribe to particular data, reports, or visualizations from our service, and could post in their own individual opinions, attention data feeds, or other inputs. We would serve as a central hub for search, analysis, and distribution of collective self-awareness.
The collective self would provide a sense of collective identity: who are we, how do we appear, what are we thinking about, what do we think about what we are thinking about, what are we doing, how well are we doing it, where are we now, where have we been, where are we going next. Perhaps it could be segmented by nation, or by age group, or by other dimensions as well to view various perspectives on these questions within it. It could gather its data by mining for it, as well as through direct push contributions from various data-sources. Individuals could even report on their own opinions, state, and activities to it if they wanted to, and these votes and data points would be reflected back in the whole in real time. Think of it as a giant emergent conversation comprised of trillions of participants, all helping to make sense of the same subject -- our global self identity -- together. It could even have real-time views that are animated and alive -- like a functional brain image scan -- so that people could see the virtual neurons and pathways in the global brain firing as they watch.
If this global self-representation existed, I would want to subscribe to it as a data feed on my desktop. I would want to run it in a dashboard in the upper right corner of my monitor -- that I could expand at any time to explore further. It would provide me with alerts when events transpired that matched my particular interests, causes, or relationships. It would solicit my opinions and votes on issues of importance and interest to me. It would simultaneously function as my window to the world, and the world's window to me. It would be my way of participating in the meta-level whole, whenever I wanted to. I could tell it my opinions about key issues, current events, problems, people, organizations, or even legislative proposals. I could tell it about the quality of life from my perspective, where I am living, in my industry and demographic niche. I could tell it about my hopes and fears for the future. I could tell it what I think is cool, or not cool, interesting or not interesting, good or bad, etc. I could tell it what news I was reading and what I think is noteworthy or important. And it would listen and learn, and take my contributions into account democratically along with those of billions of other people just like me all around the world. From this would emerge global visualizations and reports about what we are all thinking and doing, in aggregate, that I could track and respond to. Linked from these flows I could then find relevant news, conversations, organizations, people, products, services, events, and knowledge. And from all of this would emerge something greater than anything I can yet imagine -- a thought process too big for any one human mind to contain.
I want to build this. I want to build the planetary Self. I am not suggesting that we build the entire global mind, I am just suggesting that we build the part of the system that functions as its collective self-awareness. The rest of the global mind is already there, as raw potential at least, and doesn't have to be built. The Web, human minds, software agents, and organizations already exist. Their collective state just needs to be reflected in a single virtual mirror. As soon as this mirror exists they can begin to collectively self-organize and behave more intelligently, simply because they will have, for the first time, a way of measuring their collective state and behavior. Once there is a central collective self-awareness loop, the intelligence of the global mind will emerge and self-organize naturally over time. This collective self-awareness infrastructure is the central enabling technology that has to be there first for the next-leap in intelligence of the global mind to evolve.
I think this should be created as a non-profit open-source project. In fact, that is the only way that it can have legitimacy -- it must be independent of any government, cultural or commercial perspective. It must be by and for the people, as purely and cleanly as possible. My guess is that to build this properly we would need to create a distributed grid computing system to collect, compute, visualize and distribute the data -- it could be similar to SETI@Home; everyone could help host it. At the center of this grid, or perhaps in a set of supernodes, would be a vast supercomputing array that would manage the grid, do focused computations and data fusion operations. There would also need to be some serious money behind this project as well -- perhaps from major foundations and donors. This system would be a global resource of potential incalculable value to the future of human evolution. It would be a project worth funding.
My Past Writing On This Topic
A Physics of Ideas: Measuring the Physical Properties of Memes
Towards a Worldwide Database
The Metaweb: A Graph of the Future
From Semantic Web to Global Mind
The Birth of the Metaweb
Are Organizations Organisms?
From Application-Centric to Data-Centric Computing
The Human Menome Project
Other Noteworthy Projects
Posted on January 24, 2006 at 11:10 AM in Alternative Science, Artificial Intelligence, Biology, Cognitive Science, Collective Intelligence, Consciousness, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Knowledge Management, Philosophy, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Web/Tech, Wild Speculation | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday January 10, 2006
Scientific research is being added to at an alarming rate: the Human Genome Project alone is generating enough documentation to "sink battleships". So it's not surprising that academics seeking data to support a new hypothesis are getting swamped with information overload. As data banks build up worldwide, and access gets easier through technology, it has become easier to overlook vital facts and figures that could bring about groundbreaking discoveries.
The government's response has been to set up the National Centre for Text Mining, the world's first centre devoted to developing tools that can systematically analyse multiple research papers, abstracts and other documents, and then swiftly determine what they contain.
The article above also cites some recent discoveries that have been enabled by text-mining approaches:
The more breathtaking results have included the discovery of new therapeutic uses for the drug Thalidomide to treat conditions such as chronic hepatitis C and acute pancreatitis and that chlorpromazine may reduce cardiac hypertrophy - enlargement of the heart leading to heart failure.
Amazon has launched a new service that seeks to create a marketplace for human intelligence on the Net. The idea is to utilize humans like one might utilize intelligent agents, to help complete tasks that humans do better than computers -- for example like image adjustments, formatting, tagging and marking up content, adding metatdata to documents, filing and filtering, etc. The idea is that people can sign up to do these tasks and make money. People who need tasks can farm them out to the marketplace. It's like a big army of "human agents" who can use "human intelligence" to do stuff for you.
The name of the service is "Amazon Mechanical Turk" -- quite bizarre. But OK. It's a cool idea. I think the combination of human and machine intelligence is ultimately going to be smarter than either form of intelligence on its own. This system is at least a start -- it harnesses groups of human intelligence to help do things.
But think about where this could go: For example, the system could actually be built right into applications -- for example, imagine if in Photoshop there was a new menu command for "fix this image" that charged you a dollar and farmed the image out to 2 or 3 humans who each attempted to improve the image. It would function just like a filter, but instead of software doing the work it would be humans. For you, the end-user, it would be functionally equivalent. You would get 3 versions of your adjusted image back in a few minutes and could choose the best one or use them all.
The idea of building in menu options into software and services that actually trigger behaviors among networks of humans is very interesting.
But to do this well you really need and API that all applications can use to harness "human intelligence" and "human functions" in their apps. One the best proposals for how to do this more is here. And an update about that is here.
I just read this really cool idea about how to design a programming language for the global brain -- think of it as grid computing, but where some of the agents in the grid are humans and others are computers, working together to solve problems. I've had similar ideas to this over the years, for example the use of collaborative networks to mark up and tag content on the Semantic Web, as well as various forms of expertise referral networks. What I like about this new proposal is that it suggests an actual language for writing global mind programs. That's a new angle. Brilliant.
Posted on March 25, 2005 at 12:59 PM in Artificial Intelligence, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Groupware, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (8)
I've been thinking about different types of communities recently. Two forms of community that are often discussed are "communities of interest" where the members share a common set of interests (e.g. a community of people interested in Japanese culture), and "communities of practice" where the members share a common set of skills (e.g. a community of marketing professionals). To these I would add a third type called a "community of purpose," where the focus is on a shared goal (e.g. a political activist community or a community collaborating on a common project). Most existing community tools today are either focused on building communities of interest or communities of practice. But I am more interested in creating tools that help people create more productive communities of purpose. To do this we need to merge the functionality of groupware and knowledge management with emerging community tools for social networking, blogging, and wikis.
(Note: Jason wrote in on April 12, 2005 to inform me of his previous blog posts about this concept, which he also called "communities of purpose" -- that not only makes him the originator of the term, but it also officially makes it a meme.)
This article provides an overview of the Global Consciousness Project at Princeton, which has found that the behavior of a network of specially shielded random number generators deviates from stasticial randomness prior to major world events. I have been following this project for several years and have made various suggestions for further experiments to test the system. It is very intriguing.
First of all I know Clay Shirky, and he's a good fellow. But he's simply wrong about his claim that "tagging" (of the flavor that is appearing on del.icio.us -- what I call "social tagging") is inherently better than the use of formal ontologies. Clay favors the tagging approach because it is bottom-up and emergent in nature, and he argues against ontologies because pre-specification cannot anticipate the future. But this is a simplistic view of both approaches. One could just as easily argue against tagging systems because they don't anticipate the future -- they are shortsighted, now-oriented systems that fail to capture the "big picture" or to optimally organize resources for the long-term. Their saving grace is that over time they do (hopefully) self-organize and prune out the chaff, but that depends both on the level of participation and the quality of that participation.
Posted on January 26, 2005 at 10:28 AM in Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Group Minds, Groupware, Knowledge Management, Memes & Memetics, Microcontent, Search, Semantic Blogs and Wikis, Semantic Web, Technology, The Metaweb, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
A new study demonstrates the power that other people's beliefs have over a person's behavior. Specifically it found that parents may unwittingly cause self-fulfilling prophecies in their children's behavior...
Time and again, research has demonstrated the power of an individual's self-fulfilling prophecies - if you envision yourself tripping as you walk across a stage, you will be more likely to stumble and fall. New evidence suggests that previous studies have underestimated not only the effect of our own negative prophecies, but also the power of others' false beliefs in promoting negative outcomes.
The study involved 115 parents and their seventh grade children. Parents filled out questionnaires that measured their beliefs about their children's alcohol use and the children also filled out a questionnaires at the start of the experiment, including items assessing their past alcohol use. Twelve months later, the children answered a questionnaire that ascertained their recent alcohol use. The results showed that parents' beliefs predicted their children's alcohol use beyond the risk factors - the self-fulfilling prophecy effect. This self-fulfilling effect was strongest when both parents overestimated their child's alcohol use - the synergistic accumulative effect.
However, when one or both parents underestimated their child's alcohol use, their child's predicted increase in alcohol use was similar, showing there was not a synergistic accumulation effect for positive beliefs. This pattern of showing synergistic accumulation for negative beliefs but not positive ones might reflect the manner in which people process negative and positive information. For example, research shows that negative information is more salient than positive information, perceived as more useful, and influences evaluations more. In addition, people also weigh costs more than rewards when making important decisions. Thus, the greater power of unfavorable versus favorable beliefs may reside in how people process negative versus positive information.
These results could be significant when applied to the context of stereotyped groups that frequently bear the brunt of negative, false beliefs. In their everyday lives, individuals from stereotyped groups more often confront unfavorable than favorable beliefs from multiple perceivers due to consensually held stereotypes. A favorable belief may not be able to counteract the harmful effect of an unfavorable belief when there is a preponderance of unfavorable beliefs competing with it. Over time, the negative self-fulfilling prophecy effects could become more powerful as the number of people with negative perceptions increases.
Read the rest of the article here
The New York Times has published a wonderful and fascinating set of mini-essays by leading scientists about their beliefs in the unknkown and unexplained -- from consciousness, to God, to life on other worlds, and the existence of true love. There are some terrific thoughts in it -- one of thoses rare articles that breaks through stereotypes and opens the door to new paradigms. We rarely hear scientific voices venturing this far. It's a great read for anyone interested in science and the Big Mysteries of life, the universe and everything... (you have to register with NYT to read it if you haven't already; do it -- it's worth it to read just this article alone!). (Thanks to Joe Rockmore for finding this article!)
Posted on January 04, 2005 at 01:55 PM in Alternative Science, Biology, Cognitive Science, Collective Intelligence, Consciousness, Fringe, Group Minds, Interesting People, Philosophy, Physics, Religion, Science, Space, The Future, Unexplained, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Change This, a project that helps to promote interesting new ideas so that they get noticed above the noise level of our culture has published my article on "A Physics of Ideas" as one of their featured Manifestos. They use an innovative PDF layout for easier reading, and they also provide a means for readers to provide feedback and even measure the popularity of various Manifestos. I'm happy this paper is getting noticed finally -- I do think the ideas within it have potential. Take a look.
Posted on November 01, 2004 at 11:15 AM in Biology, Cognitive Science, Collective Intelligence, Email, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Groupware, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Memes & Memetics, Microcontent, My Best Articles, My Proposals, Philosophy, Physics, Productivity, Science, Search, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Web/Tech, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Great find from Rob Usey at Psydex Corporation: This article is a survey of the emerging field of "sociophysics" which attempts to apply statistical mechanics to predict human social behavior. It's very cool stuff if you're interested in social networks, memes, sociology and prediction science. The article discusses recent progress towards Isaac Asimov's vision for a science of Psychohistory as proposed in his Foundation stories. This relates in many ways to my previous article on "A Physics of Ideas" in which I proposed some elementary ways to measure the trajectories of memes as if they were moving particles in a Newtonian system.
Posted on October 20, 2004 at 06:59 PM in Alternative Science, Cognitive Science, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Intelligence Technology, Memes & Memetics, Philosophy, Physics, Science, Social Networks, Society, Systems Theory, The Future, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (2)
This is an idea for a new way to navigate interactively through large audio sets, such as collections of thousands of music tracks, and to automatically or interactively learn and evolve interesting trajectories through such spaces.
Note: This experiment is now finished.
GoMeme 2.0 -- Copy This GoMeme From This Line to The End of this article, and paste into your blog. Then follow the instructions below to fill it out for your site.
Steal This Post!!!! This is a GoMeme-- a new way to spread an idea along social networks. This is the second generation meme in our experiment in spreading ideas. To find out what a GoMeme is, and how this experiment works, or just to see how this GoMeme is growing and discuss it with others, visit the Root Posting and FAQ for this GoMeme at www.mindingtheplanet.net .
Posted on August 04, 2004 at 06:11 AM in Biology, Collaboration Tools, Fringe, Games, Group Minds, Knowledge Management, Memes & Memetics, Microcontent, My Best Articles, RSS and Atom, Social Networks, Society, Systems Theory, Technology, The Metaweb, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (20)
This posting is the FAQ and introduction for a new, improved, second-generation meme experiment that is designed to spread faster and more broadly than the first meme experiment. We call this kind of meme a "GoMeme" (pronounced Go-Meem), because it is a meme that is designed to Go. The actual GoMeme, which you can add to your Website is located, here. Before you do this, please read this FAQ so you know how it works.
Posted on August 03, 2004 at 10:59 PM in Cognitive Science, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Fringe, Games, Group Minds, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Memes & Memetics, Microcontent, RSS and Atom, Social Networks, Systems Theory, Technology, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (27)
Here's an idea I've had recently that is related to the Meme Propagation experiment (see posts below on this blog for more about that ongoing experiment). The concept is for a new, meme-based, way to syndicate content across blogs. Here's how it might work:
1. You join a "meme syndication network" by joining at a central site. You get an account where you can profile your blog. You also set your blog's syndication inputs -- a set of other blogs that are also in the network that you are willing to automatically syndicate content from.
2. When you complete this, you are given an automatically generated HTML element containing a script to put in your blog sidebar, or anywhere else in your layout. This script is auto-generated for you from a central site that manages the network. The script automatically displays short excerpts for blog postings (pieces of microcontent) that have been "picked up" by your site from your registered "inputs" in the network. You place this script in your layout.
3. In the area created by the script in your site, you see a listing of blog postings that have been syndicated to your site from your inputs. You can post to your network by going to your account at the central network site and posting (or copying in the URL for anything you want to post) there. Any network-member sites that treat your node in the network as an "input" will then *automatically* pickup your posting and display it on their page.
This animated visualizer lets you enter a word (in the little search box on the bottom left) and then shows the word situated next to other words that are used with similar frequency in English. It's cool -- you can discover some interesting things. Read the about page for more on that. This system would be really good if it used the concepts from my paper on A Physics of Ideas. What they should do is show the words next to other words with similar present momentum. That would be much more informative and useful than simply visualizing words as if all mentions happened at once. The fact that mentions occur over time (and space) is what is really important. It is much more interesting than the mere total number of mentions since time began. I would love to see a visualization of meme momentums as I have proposed in my article above. If you feel like making one, please let me know!
Draft 1.1 for Review (integrates some fixes from readers)
Nova Spivack (www.mindingtheplanet.net)
This article presents some thoughts about the future of intelligence on Earth. In particular, I discuss the similarities between the Internet and the brain, and how I believe the emerging Semantic Web will make this similarity even greater.
The Semantic Web enables the formal communication of a higher level of language -- metalanguage. Metalanguage is language about language -- language that encodes knowledge about how to interpret and use information. Metalanguages – particularly semantic metalanguages for encoding relationships between information and systems of concepts – enable a new layer of communication and processing. The combination of computing networks with semantic metalanguages represents a major leap in the history of communication and intelligence.
The invention of written language long ago changed the economics of communication by making it possible for information to be represented and shared independently of human minds. This made it less costly to develop and spread ideas widely across populations in space and time. Similarly, the emergence of software based on semantic metalanguages will dramatically change the economics not only of information distribution, but of intelligence -- the act of processing and using information.
Semantic metalanguages provide a way to formally express, distribute and share the knowledge necessary to interpret and use information, independently of the human mind. In other words, they make it possible not just to write down and share information, but also to encode and share the background necessary for intelligently making use of that information. Prior to the invention of such a means to share this background knowledge about information, although information could be written and shared, the recipients of such information had to be intelligent and appropriately knowledgeable in advance in order to understand it. Semantic metalanguages remove this restriction by making it possible to distill the knowledge necessary to understand information into a form that can be shared just as easily as the information itself.
The recipients of information – whether humans or software – no longer have to know in advance (or attempt to deduce) how to interpret and use the information; this knowledge is explicitly coded in the metalanguage about the information. This is important for artificial intelligence because it means that expertise for specific domains does not have to be hard-coded into programs anymore -- instead programs simply need to know how to interpret the metalanguage. By adding semantic metalanguage statements to information data becomes “smarter,” and programs can therefore become “thinner.” Once programs can speak this metalanguage they can easily import and use knowledge about any particular domain, if and when needed, so long as that knowledge is expressed in the metalanguage.
In other words, whereas basic written languages simply make raw information portable, semantic metalanguages make knowledge (conceptual systems) and even intelligence (procedures for processing knowledge) about information portable. They make it possible for knowledge and intelligence to be formally expressed, stored digitally, and shared independently of any particular minds or programs. This radically changes the economics of communicating knowledge and of accessing and training intelligence. It makes it possible for intelligence to be more quickly, easily and broadly distributed across time, space and populations of not only humans but also of software programs.
The emergence of standards for sharing semantic metalanguage statements that encode the meaning of information will catalyze a new era of distributed knowledge and intelligence on the Internet. This will effectively “make the Internet smarter.” Not just monolithic expert systems and complex neural networks, but even simple desktop programs and online software agents will begin to have access to a vast decentralized reserve of knowledge and intelligence.
The externalization, standardization and sharing of knowledge and intelligence in this manner, will make it possible for communities of humans and software agents to collaborate on cognition, not just on information. As this happens and becomes increasingly linked into our daily lives and tools, the "network effect" will deliver increasing returns. While today most of the intelligence on Earth still resides within human brains, In the near future, perhaps even within our lifetimes, the vast majority of intelligence will exist outside of human brains on the Semantic Web.
THE INTERNET IS A BRAIN AND THE WEB IS ITS MIND
Anyone familiar with the architecture and dynamics of the human nervous system cannot help but notice the striking similarity between the brain and the Internet. But is this similarity more than a coincidence - is the Internet really a brain in its own right - the brain of our planet? And is its collective behavior intelligent - does it constitute a global mind? How might this collective form of intelligence compare to that of an individual human mind, or a group of human minds?
I believe that the Internet (the hardware) is already evolving into a distributed global brain, and its ongoing activity (the software, humans and data) represents the cognitive process of an increasingly intelligent global mind. This global mind is not centrally organized or controlled, rather it is a bottom-up, emergent, self-organizing phenomenon formed from flows of trillions of information-processing events comprised of billions of independent information processors.
As with other types of emergent computing systems, for example John Conway’s familiar cellular automaton “The Game of Life,” on the Internet large scale homeostatic systems and seemingly intentional or guided information processes naturally emerge and interact within it. The emergence of sophisticated information systems does not require top-down design or control, it can happen in an evolutionary bottom-up manner as well.
Like a human brain, the Internet is a vast distributed computing network comprised of billions of interacting parallel processors. These processors include individual human beings as well as software programs, and systems of them such as organizations, which can all be referred to as "agents" in this system. Just as the computational power of the human brain as a whole is vastly greater than that of any of the individual neurons or systems within it, the computational power of the Internet is vastly beyond any of the individual agents it contains. Just as the human brain is not merely the sum of its parts, the Internet is more than the sum of its parts - like other types of distributed emergent computing systems, it benefits from the network effect. The power of the system grows exponentially as agents and connections between them are added.
The human brain is enabled by an infrastructure comprised of networks of organic neurons, dendrites, synapses and protocols for processing chemical and electrical messages. The Internet is enabled by an infrastructure of synthetic computers, communications networks, interfaces, and protocols for processing digital information structures. The Internet also interfaces with organic components however – the human beings who are connected to it. In that sense the Internet is not merely an inorganic system – it could not function without help from humans, for the moment at least. The Internet may not be organized in exactly the same form as the human brain, but it is at least safe to say it is an extension of it.
The brain provides a memory system for storing, locating and recalling information. The Internet also provides shared address spaces and protocols for using them. This enables agents to participate in collaborative cognition in a completely decentralized manner. It also provides a standardized shared environment in which information may be stored, addressed and retrieved by any agent of the system. This shared information space functions as the collective memory of the global mind.
Just as no individual neuron in the human brain could be said to have the same form or degree of intelligence as the brain as-a-whole - we individual humans cannot possibly comprehend the distributed intelligence that is evolving on the Internet. But we are part of it nonetheless, whether we know it or not. The global mind is emerging all around us, and via us, is our creation but it is already becoming independent of us - truly it represents the evolution of a new form of meta-level intelligence that has never before existed on our planet.
Although we created it, the Internet is already far beyond our control or comprehension - it surrounds us and penetrates our world - it is inside our buildings, our tools, our vehicles, and it connects us together and modulates our interactions. As this process continues and the human body and biology begins to be networked into this system we will literally become part of this network - it will become an extension of our nervous systems and eventually, via brain-computer interfaces, it will be an extension of our senses and our minds. Eventually the distinction between humans and machines, and the individual and the collective, will gradually start to dissolve, along with the distinction between human and artificial forms of intelligence.
Posted on June 26, 2004 at 11:02 PM in Artificial Intelligence, Biology, Cognitive Science, Collective Intelligence, Consciousness, Fringe, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Memes & Memetics, My Best Articles, Philosophy, Physics, Productivity, Radar Networks, Science, Search, Semantic Blogs and Wikis, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Software, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Transhumans, Venture Capital, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (9)
Many people have requested this graph and so I am posting my latest version of it. The Metaweb is the coming "intelligent Web" that is evolving from the convergence of the Web, Social Software and the Semantic Web. The Metaweb is starting to emerge as we shift from a Web focused on information to a Web focused on relationships between things --- what I call "The Relationship Web" or the "Relationship Revolution."
We see early signs of this shift to a Web of relationships in the sudden growth of social networking systems. As the semantics of these relationships continue to evolve the richness of the "arcs" will begin to rival that of the "nodes" that make up the network.
This is similar to the human brain -- individual neurons are not particularly important or effective on their own, rather it is the vast networks of relationships that connect them that encode knowledge and ultimately enable intelligence. And like the human brain, in the future Metaweb, technologies will emerge to enable the equivalent of "spreading activation" to propagate across the network of nodes and arcs. This will provide a means of automatically growing links, weighting links, making recommendations, and learning across distributed graphs of nodes and links. This may resemble a sort of "Hebbian learning" across the link structure of the network -- enhancing the strength of frequently used connections and dampening less used links, and even growing new transitive links when appropriate.
As the intelligence with which such processes unfolds, in a totally decentralized and grassroots manner, we will begin to see signs of emergent "transhuman" intelligences on the network. Web services are the beginning of this -- but imagine if they were connected to autonomous intelligent agents, roaming the network and able to interact with one another, Web sites, and even people. These next-layer intelligences will begin to function as brokers, associators, editors, publishers, recommenders, advertisers, researchers, defenders, buyers, sellers, monitors, aggregators, distributors, integrators, translators, and also as knowledge-stewards responsible for constantly improving the structure and quality of subsets of the Web that they oversee. And while many of these agents will be able to interact intelligently with humans, not all of them will -- most will probably just have interfaces for interacting with other agents.
Vast systems of "hybrid intelligence" (humans + intelligent software) will form -- for example, next-generation communities that intelligently self-organize around emerging topics and trends, smart marketplaces that self-optimize to reduce the cost of transactions for their participants, 'group minds' and 'enterprise minds' that embody and manage the collective cognitiion of teams and organizations, and knowledge networks that function to enable distributed collective intelligence among networks of indivdiuals, across communities and business-relationships.
As the network becomes increasingly autonomous and self-organizing we may say that the network-as-a-whole is becoming "intelligent." But it will be several steps beyond that before it finally "wakes up" -- when the various processes of the network reach that point at which the entire system truly functions as a coordinated, self-aware intelligence. This will require the formation of many higher layers of intelligence -- leading to something that functions like the cerebral cortex in humans. It will also require something that functions as its virtual "self-awareness" -- an internal process of meta-level self-representation, self-projection, self-feedback, self-analysis and self-improvement within the network. For a map of how this may actually unfold over time we might look at the evolutionary history of nervous systems on Earth.
As structures that provide virtual higher-order cognition and self-awareness to the network emerge, connect to one another, and gain sophistication, the Global Brain will self-organize into a Global Mind -- the intelligence of the whole will begin to outpace the intelligence of any of its parts and thus it will cross the threshold from being just a "bunch of interacting parts" to "a new higher-order whole" in its own right -- a global intelligent Metaweb for our planet.
Posted on April 21, 2004 at 08:07 PM in Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Consciousness, Group Minds, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Memes & Memetics, Microcontent, My Best Articles, Philosophy, RSS and Atom, Science, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (15)
One of the big changes that will be enabled by the coming Metaweb is the shift from application-centric computing to data-centric computing. As the Metaweb evolves, information will be imbued with increasingly sophisticated metadata. HTML provides metadata about formatting and links. XML provides metadata about structure and behavior. RDF, RDFS and OWL provide metadata about relationships and meaning.
As higher levels of metadata are adopted and added to content, the content becomes "smarter" -- more information about how to display, use and interpret the content is added to the content itself. The key here is that this metadata is added in an application-independent manner. In other words, the "intelligence" for interpreting the data is moved out of applications and into the data itself. Thus we move from "smart applications, dumb data" to "smart applications, smart data."
A data-centric world will be very different from the application-centric world of today -- for one thing, application providers will lose much of their competitive advantages (from platform lock-in and closed formats) as data becomes increasingly portable across various tools. Another big change will be in how we think about content -- rather than content being thought of as static documents, every piece of content will be more like an object with its own unique identity and behaviors on the network.
Instead of moving data around we will access these semantic data objects using Web services protocols and interact with them from anywhere like mini-online services. To edit a document we might send commands to an object that represents the document on the network, rather than actually downloading and modifying a local file.
Ultimately this will bring about a shift from desktop computing to network computing -- software will truly become a service and the business model of software will shift to be more like online service business models -- based on subscriptions, a la carte pay-per-use features, and perhaps even advertising. Data objects will be accessible from everywhere and will be responsible for maintaining their own state, relationships and contents, as well as managing their own access, rights and usage policies. These are some of the changes that will come about as the Metaweb evolves.
Posted on March 04, 2004 at 06:41 PM in Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Group Minds, Knowledge Management, Memes & Memetics, Microcontent, Philosophy, Science, Semantic Web, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
This diagram (click to see larger version) illustrates why I believe technology evolution is moving towards what I call the Metaweb. The Metaweb is emerging from the convergence of the Web, Social Software and the Semantic Web.
Posted on March 04, 2004 at 09:36 AM in Artificial Intelligence, Business, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Group Minds, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Memes & Memetics, Microcontent, My Best Articles, Philosophy, RSS and Atom, Semantic Web, Society, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (4)
Here is a really cool gallery of images of networks that you must see. Great stuff!
Ran across this paper on some ideas for distributed, peer-to-peer social software. It's a very nice overview of some of the main ideas and benefits of a decentralized model for social networking, and also touches on Semantic Web topics. Interestingly the author has hit upon many of the major themes in Radar Networks' platform -- which implements the functionality that he proposes and more.
At Sandia National Laboratories researchers are working on a new technology that helps managers read the minds of their employees. This is supposed to help the managers assign tasks more effectively, gain insight into their employees' states of mind, and achieve higher human performance. Technologies of this nature are useful for creating what I call "group minds." But I think this technology should go both ways -- there should be something that enables employees to read the minds of their managers too (or actually something that helps employees determine whether their managers even have minds!). Generally poor human performance on teams has more to do with bad management than bad employees.
Josh Kirschenbaum has some interesting ideas about a different way to constructing a social network.
Instead of a LinkedIn (or any other system) style of listing everyone I know, and everyone who knows who I know- it shows a list of other nodes that I am strongly connected to. This strength is based on the quality and quantity of "connection" to that node. The node could be another person, or it could be a website/weblog/asset. This way, my "network" is a constantly evolving dynamic representation of my digital presence. Now if you expand this out- my "network" can determine other "likely" nodes to connect to based on how well connected THOSE nodes are connected to nodes I am connected to.
Click here to read more.
In this article I discuss some insights about optimization of social networks. Basically I suggest that "trust is not preserved" along relationship paths of more than 3 hops. In other words, social networks should never forward messages beyond 3 hops. Doing so makes the communication of that message effectively arbitrary, adding noise to the system and degrading utility for users.