The Noosphere and the Global Brain


The Human Energy Project is in the middle of two research projects exploring the possibility that the Noosphere’s
global brain has been emerging, accelerated by information technology:

Global Brain or Superorganism? (Michael Jacob, Parham Pourdavood) Teilhard invoked both metaphors in his writing, although the most appropriate approach to scientific investigation remains unknown. The goal of our project is to develop and apply biological and neuroscientific tools to understand the formation and development of the noosphere. This includes parallel analysis of brain-derived and societal data to identify analogous dynamics and patterns of connectivity. We employ complexity and information theory, utilizing nonlinear dynamical modeling to explore communication dynamics in human and neural networks. These approaches enable us to enhance the mapping of the noosphere – to identify critical relationships, trends and influences. However, an exclusive focus on signal patterns runs the risk of missing the actual message and its significance. We are also concerned with the problem of inferring the content or meaning of signals reverberating in the brain and society. Humans, like neurons, aren’t merely passive transducers of information: patterns of activity signify worlds of meaning that are felt and experienced. By considering meaning and significance, we gain further insight into how brain and societal networks develop and evolve. This interdisciplinary project draws upon psychological, narrative and qualitative data to complement quantitative and computational methods. Our long term goal is to develop open source tools to enable users to visualize and investigate how individual human consciousness combines to yield collective consciousness in the noosphere.

Our most recent model, Toward a Bio-Organon: A model of interdependence between energy, information and knowledge in living systems ( utilizes evolutionary and biological principles to explore multiscale organisms, with application to the noosphere.

     Based on the Bio-Organon concept Our current work has developed the concept of “noospheric geography” to examine the possibility that human populations, technology, economics, and flows of culture and information reflect components of a unified, living system.To accomplish this, we have simultaneously mapped the growth of human populations, roads, telecommunications technology, access to the internet, global trade and internet search content. By combining these maps according to organizational principles of biological function and examining development over time, we are able to identify evidence that the noosphere may be operating like a type of nervous system. That is, a highly interconnected system that expedites communication to support the survival of the organism. From maps of infrastructural and technological growth we find evidence that like a nervous system, an initial period of growth in ‘structural’ connectivity is necessary. Second, maps of dramatically expanding access to global information flow and communication technology supports what is typically termed ‘functional’ connectivity in the field of neuroscience. These first two phenomena are reminiscent of a ‘critical period’ for nervous system development. Lastly, we find recent evidence for interdependence between economic trade and communicative search content on the internet. We refer to this type of connectivity as ‘meaningful’ because it connects information flows with the survival of humanity on the whole. Therefore, noospheric geography provides new tools to examine collective humanity as a singular, coherent, meaning-making organism. 


Modeling Brains: From Biology to the Noosphere: This project aims to study two successful recent brain models, the predictive processing theory, and the global neuronal workspace theory, and to look for their equivalent in the noosphere. The latter theory proposes that consciousness arises when particular messages in the brain are amplified, globally broadcasted and “reverberated”, thus creating synchronization between processes in different brain regions. Similar processes may be observed at the planetary level in (social) media. The former theory says that sense-making or understanding happens when bottom-up processing of incoming observations and top-down prediction of what can be expected match, creating coherent insight in the situation. “Higher” levels of consciousness/understanding are attained when this bottom-up/top-down matching extends to higher levels of abstraction, where observations are fit into increasingly global, long-term orders. A similar extension of consciousness should happen in the noosphere in order to deal with broad, global problems, such as climate change. This research is led by Professor Francis Heylighen and his team.