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#30684 - 05/17/09 06:14 AM Collective consciousness
Kevat Shah Offline
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Is it possible the collective consciousness of a group of individual beings to become a singular self-aware consciousness? For example, is it possible for America as a nation to become a conscious self-aware entity separate from each individual mind that makes it up? Could it one day start making decisions which are good for itself as a multi-human organism, even against the will of many individual humans? (or is that already happening?)
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#31163 - 07/16/09 10:29 PM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: Kevat Shah]
awalshe09 Offline
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Registered: 02/03/09
Posts: 3
Well it already makes decisions that it "thinks" are good for itself. Those may not always be correct in the grand scheme of things.

But - suppose peoples minds were given a means to connect (and lets leave the science out of that for now). Lets theorize for simplicity that they all hash out their opinions, some opinions bully their way into the lead, and a collective consciousness actually forms without driving everyone crazy since they can't get away from each other and have a little privacy in their minds.

Now double back to anything you know about how the human brain works, how neural pathways grow, combine that with anything you know about AI and artificial learning neural networks. On top of that - (I've witnessed this personally) note that after a serious brain injury someone's personality can change quite drastically. The neural pathways that formed in their lifetime have been severed due to brain damage. New pathways are formed after the person emerges from their coma and goes back to their normal life. But the person is strangely different than they were before.

So... if you can have that much change within the neural pathways of one human brain it's insane to theorize what the behavior would be if all those brains were able to communicate in one large network.

However a mass American brain is trained for self indulgence and commercialism. It's doubtful a sudden cohesion of intellectualism would change that.

On the other hand - if you step back from life and try to zoom out your lens a bit you could already picture each country as their own organism with cells (humans) running around keeping things running. To someone with a big enough view each country probably already looks like a single consciousness. Most people just aren't generally aware of it as such - perhaps the leaders are.
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#31164 - 07/17/09 12:25 AM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: Kevat Shah]
Zephir Offline
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Registered: 07/01/08
Posts: 498
Originally Posted By: Kevat Shah
Is it possible the collective consciousness of a group of individual beings to become a singular self-aware consciousness?Is it possible the collective consciousness of a group of individual beings to become a singular self-aware consciousness
From AWT follows, such singularity isn't just possible, but it's even undeniable, whenever the size of group increases over critical level..

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#31196 - 07/18/09 08:51 PM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: Zephir]
Andist Offline
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I once read a book by Eric Fromm called "Syncronicity. an acasual connecting principle" which implied that telepathy was possible to a degree. Eg, crowes circling a house in which somebody is about to die.
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#32254 - 10/08/09 07:14 AM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: Zephir]
Kevat Shah Offline
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Hey Zephir, could you explain again what AWT is?
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#32255 - 10/08/09 07:15 AM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: awalshe09]
Kevat Shah Offline
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"If you step back from life and try to zoom out your lens a bit you could already picture each country as their own organism with cells (humans) running around keeping things running. To someone with a big enough view each country probably already looks like a single consciousness."

THAT's it. That's exactly the point I am trying to get across. It seems like people haven't noticed this paradigm cause they haven't thought about it. Once you visualize it, it becomes really hard to not think of nations in terms of multi-human organisms.
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#32340 - 10/17/09 09:28 AM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: Kevat Shah]
Eduardo Offline
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Nations are not 'hive minds'... corporations are...
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#32350 - 10/18/09 01:06 AM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: Kevat Shah]
Zephir Offline
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Registered: 07/01/08
Posts: 498
Originally Posted By: Kevat Shah
Hey Zephir, could you explain again what AWT is?
Imagine density fluctuations inside of gas. Imagine, the mass/energy density of that gas goes to infinity. Imagine, you're one of fluctuations of that gas.

In AWT, what you'll see is the universe around us.

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#34454 - 05/21/10 12:19 PM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: Zephir]
josephajain
Unregistered


It can be just an imagination and nothing else i think...Differs from person to person mentality:):)

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#34537 - 05/26/10 09:05 AM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: ]
Momos Offline
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Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 48
Loc: Germany
"Is it possible the collective consciousness of a group of individual beings to become a singular self-aware consciousness?"

Hard to say.
I guess we are even unable to define "consciousness".
As an atheist with naturalistic world-view I would say our whole mind, self-awareness and all, is the product of billions of neurons changing states and transmitting signals.

So I guess If we could scan every state of every neuron in a brain and every connection between, and then build a simulation of this in a super computer: we would have a self-aware human consciousness along with every thought and memory "living" in a main frame.

Expanding this thought further, if all that matters are "states", "state changes", "connections" and "rules" it dosn't matter if the states are hold by neurons, silicium chips or trained monkeys.

So I guess If you have billions of people (each one representing a neuron), with mobile phones (possible connections) and a defined set of rules (like: "If you are called by 20 people in 1 houre call this 10 people") for every one, then this giant heap of connected humans will work as a self-aware consciousness.

(I guess this also known as the chinese room or something).

But it all depends on the rules, you can also have millions of connected neurons, each one working perfectly fine, and all you get is a brain damaged handicapped.

Nations and societies have far less complex connectivity then a brain. And no need for self awareness (which is the result millions of years of evolution in a social environment).

So the connections in a nations are rather more like the metabolic ways in a bacteria.

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#34540 - 05/26/10 12:20 PM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: Momos]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
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KS

Maybe there are various levels of collective consciousness of which we, as individual units, are unaware. And maybe, if such exist, they have a broad influence upon collections of us 'units', perhaps even focusing upon specific individuals from time to time. And then again, maybe not. But I find it an exciting idea. It brings to mind Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker and Last and First Men.
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#34544 - 05/26/10 02:48 PM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: redewenur]
ImagingGeek Offline
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Registered: 05/19/10
Posts: 410
Loc: Canada
Its an interesting question, and one I think is fundamentally impossible to answer; especially without a good definition of what you mean by "singular self-aware consciousness".

In some ways our brains work like this already - our brains are divided up into thousands of paralleled processors which work somewhat independently, but come together to form out minds. I had a link to a video that was a great demo of this - I'll try to dig it up. The text version is: if you give someone a difficult moral question (i.e. putting yourself into danger to save five others), different regions of the brain "fight" to determine what action you take - for example, in the above case the cost-benefit part "argues" with the self-preservation areas of the brain and the social-decision areas of the brain. the outcome of that "fight" determines what action you take.

What that means is when you're stuck with a difficult decision, and experience that feeling of being torn, that feeling is a very real reflection of what is going on between different parts of your brain.

To some extent, a fully singular consciousness (i.e. where individuality is lost in its entirety) is probably impossible, for the simple reason that the "units" making up the group mind need to be aware of themselves to the point where they can care for themselves. Otherwise, a distraction of the singular mind could lead to units starving, or getting hit by cars (or whatever dangers lurk in your world).

In the case of us humans I think this would only be achievable through some sort of mind-machine technology. Our current forms of communication are simply too slow and imprecise to really allow our brains to act together with the degree of coordination to have a functioning "group mind", nor is there a plausible biological mechanism by which our brains can connect in a way which would allow for that to occur naturally. But one could conceive of a mind-machine interface that allows you to connect your brains with the brains of others over the net, allowing you to function much like our own brains do - as a group of separate "processors" linked together into a greater network.

I believe Asimov had a novel based on that later idea...

Bryan

EDIT: as promised, the video I referred to. Its long, but worth watching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnXmDaI8IEo&feature=channel


Edited by ImagingGeek (05/26/10 04:28 PM)
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#34574 - 05/27/10 08:56 AM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: ImagingGeek]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Thanks for the video link. Well worth watching.

Originally Posted By: ImagingGeek
To some extent, a fully singular consciousness (i.e. where individuality is lost in its entirety) is probably impossible, for the simple reason that the "units" making up the group mind need to be aware of themselves to the point where they can care for themselves. Otherwise, a distraction of the singular mind could lead to units starving, or getting hit by cars (or whatever dangers lurk in your world).

I envisage the experience of the hypothetical collective consciousness to be as a singular entity, aware only of the 'bottom line' of the multiple decisions and experiences of its component physical brains (parallel to the explanation in the video). Those component brains would be incapable of detecting the collective, but would serve to support both themselves and the collective in the same way that our body components serve both themselves and the whole body. Presently, it appears that, even if such an entity existed, it would be impossible to detect. That could change. Science is full of surprises.

Originally Posted By: ImagingGeek
In the case of us humans I think this would only be achievable through some sort of mind-machine technology.

Yes, whether or not there exists the aforementioned spontaneous collective consciousness, I think you're right, technologists may provide a form of group mind that we can actually experience.
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#34580 - 05/27/10 02:46 PM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: redewenur]
ImagingGeek Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/19/10
Posts: 410
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: redewenur

I envisage the experience of the hypothetical collective consciousness to be as a singular entity, aware only of the 'bottom line' of the multiple decisions and experiences of its component physical brains (parallel to the explanation in the video).


I believe the scientific term for what you describe is an emergent property - i.e. where a complex objects forms as the result of multiple simpler systems interacting together.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence

Its kind of humbling, to consider ones mind could be part a "simple" part of such an emergent system. Bring on the mind-machine interface!

Bryan
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#34584 - 05/27/10 04:46 PM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: ImagingGeek]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Originally Posted By: ImagingGeek
I believe the scientific term for what you describe is an emergent property - i.e. where a complex object forms as the result of multiple simpler systems interacting together
I guess I omitted the term to avoid triggering a reductionism v ontological emergence dispute grin
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#34591 - 05/27/10 07:33 PM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: redewenur]
ImagingGeek Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/19/10
Posts: 410
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: redewenur
I guess I omitted the term to avoid triggering a reductionism v ontological emergence dispute grin


What, you don't like the idea of wasting pages of space discussing the weight which should be given to knowledge gained a priori verses a posteriori?

Bryan
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#34592 - 05/27/10 07:59 PM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: ImagingGeek]
redewenur Offline
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Posts: 1840
Yeah, that too, Bryan. Must be old age creeping up.
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#34707 - 06/03/10 07:35 AM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: redewenur]
kallog Offline
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Registered: 03/17/10
Posts: 1100
That's something I've often considered myself.

How do we know anything except ourself is conscious? Perhaps because we notice the complex ways that other people behave and assume they're not automatic enough to be a machine. Sometimes we're not sure, like is an insect conscious?

So if it was a machine, or a country, how would we notice? Nobody except that entity can actually experience any consciousness, and that entity has no mouth to talk through and tell us that it feels conscious.

I don't think there's any need for fancy technology or magic. We already communicate enough, even if it's slow or we're not forwarding messages to each other, we still communicate when we want something, and that want is often driven by others wanting something off us, so the economy's clunky mechanisms of invoices, advertising, writing cheques, doing work, etc are communication channels between "neurons" which make simple individual decisions.

Haha well this is my own uneducated idea so it's probably miles behind what philosophers have been thinking for ages.

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#34710 - 06/03/10 10:30 AM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: kallog]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Originally Posted By: kallog
I don't think there's any need for fancy technology or magic ***. We already communicate enough, even if it's slow or we're not forwarding messages to each other, we still communicate when we want something, and that want is often driven by others wanting something off us, so the economy's clunky mechanisms of invoices, advertising, writing cheques, doing work, etc are communication channels between "neurons" which make simple individual decisions.

*** I disagree with that. But then, so might anyone who's been hounded and threatened for many months to pay a gas bill of someone with their name, but an address they've never heard of. In cases like that, all the evidence in the world is as much use as King Canute. The 'clunky mechanisms' just march blindly on. Unless, of course, one pays a literally extortionate sum for the services of an expert 'clunky mechanisms' analyst, i.e. lawyer. No, bring on the Vulcan mind-melding. Or something.
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#34728 - 06/04/10 01:51 AM Re: Collective consciousness [Re: kallog]
ImagingGeek Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/19/10
Posts: 410
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: kallog
That's something I've often considered myself.

How do we know anything except ourself is conscious? Perhaps because we notice the complex ways that other people behave and assume they're not automatic enough to be a machine. Sometimes we're not sure, like is an insect conscious?


There are actually some standardized tests that work for animals, at least. Self-recognition is one - be it in a mirror, in playbacks of calls, etc.

There is a whole area of biology surrounding these kinds of questions. I'd tell you more, by my knowledge of this area is very, very weak.

Bryan
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