Excerpts from Chapter 10
“It can truly be said, no doubt, that the human group succeeded long ago in covering the face of the earth, and that over a long period its state of zoological ubiquity has tended to be transformed into an organized aggregate; but it must be clear that the transformation is only now reaching its point of full maturity. Let us glance over the main stages of this long history of aggregation. First, in the depths of the past, we find a thin scattering of hunting groups spread here and there throughout the Ancient World. At a later stage, some fifteen thousand years ago, we see a second scattering, very much more dense and clearly defined: that of agricultural groups installed in fertile valleys—centers of social life where man, arrived at a state of stability, achieved the expansive powers which were to enable him to invade the New World. Then, only seven or eight thousand years ago, there came the first civilizations, each covering a large part of a continent. These were succeeded by the real empires. And so on … patches of humanity growing steadily larger, overlapping, often absorbing one another, thereafter to break apart and again reform in still larger patches. As we view this process, the spreading, thickening and irresistible coalescence, can we fail to perceive its eventual outcome? The last blank spaces have vanished from the map of mankind. There is contact everywhere, and how close it has become! Today, embedded in the economic and psychic network which I have described, two great human blocks alone remain confronting one another. Is it not inevitable that in one way or another these two will eventually coalesce? Preceded by a tremor, a wave of “shared impulse” extending to the very depths of the social and ethnic masses in their need and claim to participate, without distinction of class or color, in the onward march of human affairs, the final act is already visibly preparing. Although the form is not yet discernible, mankind tomorrow will awaken to a “panorganized” world.”
“To me two things, at least, now seem certain. The first is that, following the state of collective organization we have already achieved, the process of planetization can only advance ever further in the direction of growing unanimity. And the second is that this growth of unanimity, being of its nature convergent, cannot continue indefinitely without reaching the natural limit of its course.”
Excerpts from Science of the Noosphere Conversations
Francis Heylighen and David Sloan Wilson discuss the need for an effective Third Story to provide meaning and a sense of direction in modern life.
In this extended conversation – the longest of our report – economist Daron Acemoglu and historian Peter Turchin discuss the factors affecting the growth of the Noosphere from its origin in small hunter-gatherer groups to the emergence of large-scale civilizations.
Josiah Ober discusses the formation of classical Greek city-states as cohesive quasi-organisms in an ecology of similar quasi-organisms with which they both cooperate and compete. David Sloan Wilson compares them to Noospheres at a small scale.
Stuart Russell and Terry Deacon discuss the role of artificial intelligence in the formation of the Noosphere today and into the future.
Gregory Stock, author of Metaman, contemplates the opportunities that a noospheric superorganism offers to humanity, as well as some of the risks. He emphasizes the need to maintain our quality of life amid the challenges of the evolutionary transition that’s occurring.
John Arquilla, an expert in geopolitics who is the co-inventor of the term “Noopolitik”, discusses a hopeful vision for the Noosphere’s future, commenting that we need a Noopolitik approach designed to identify the common interests of humanity.
John Arquilla, who appeared in the segment above, discusses the purpose of existence as manifested in the rise of humans creating a thinking circuit around the world, the Noosphere, which is also the essence of the Third Story.
In this short segment, Clément Vidal and David Sloan Wilson discuss the Noosphere as a positive vision that can inspire humanity to come together to face global challenges.
Peter Richerson and Lesley Newson, authors of “A Story of Us” about cultural evolution and human origins, discuss what our knowledge of cultural evolution across time has to say for the challenges facing the formation of a truly global Noosphere today.
High level Wikipedia editor Anne Clin, who’s user name is Risker, discusses why Wikipedia works as an effective and self-correcting method of providing accurate information to the world.
Science fiction writers PJ Manney and David Brin discuss what the concept of the Noosphere means to them, and how it has influenced their work.
This segment is also from the conversation with PJ Manney and David Brin, in which they are responding to a question from David Sloan Wilson about the role of storytelling in enhancing global cooperation and the global good, in the form of the Noosphere.