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Thread: Is the internet developing self-awareness?

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    Default Is the internet developing self-awareness?

    @Aquagraph since I'm interested as to what he has to say, after the "living cellphones" thread.

    Memes are propagating in the medium of human consciousness. Organisms propagate in the greater medium of organic compounds and other elements. The internet constitutes either a community of informational organisms, or is itself a singular complex informational organism.

    I have a thought that the internet might be becoming self-aware.

    Is the internet developing self-awareness? If not, what conditions would be needed for the internet to be developing self-awareness?

    scribbles in the dark

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    no

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    Yes, it does. I met Internet today on my way to the shop.

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    You're a brain cell of the internet who just asked whether it has a self-awareness.

    This is from God's Debris by Scott Adams:
    Think about this,” he continued. “As we speak, engineers are building the Internet to link every part of the
    world in much the same way as a fetus develops a central
    nervous system. Virtually no one questions the desirability
    of the Internet. It seems that humans are born with the
    instinct to create it and embrace it. The instinct of beavers
    is to build dams; the instinct of humans is to build communication systems.”
    “I don’t think instinct is making us build the Internet. I
    think people are trying to make money off it. It’s just capitalism,” I replied.
    “Capitalism is only part of it,” he countered. “In the
    1990s investors threw money at any Internet company that
    asked for it. Economics went out the window. Rationality
    can’t explain our obsession with the Internet. The need to
    build the Internet comes from something inside us, something programmed, something we can’t resist.”
    He was right about the Internet being somewhat irrational. I wasn’t going to win that debate and this was not a
    place to jump in. He had a lot more to say.
    “Humanity is developing a sort of global eyesight as
    millions of video cameras on satellites, desktops, and street
    corners are connected to the Internet. In your lifetime it
    will be possible to see almost anything on the planet from
    any computer. And society’s intelligence is merging over the
    Internet, creating, in effect, a global mind that can do vastly
    more than any individual mind. Eventually everything that
    is known by one person will be available to all. A decision
    can be made by the collective mind of humanity and
    instantly communicated to the body of society.
    In the distant future, humans will learn to control the
    weather, to manipulate DNA, and to build whole new
    worlds out of raw matter. There is no logical limit to how
    much our collective power will grow. A billion years from
    now, if a visitor from another dimension observed humanity, he might perceive it to be one large entity with a consciousness and purpose, and not a collection of relatively
    uninteresting individuals.”
    “Are you saying we’re evolving into God?”
    “I’m saying we’re the building blocks of God, in the
    early stages of reassembling.”
    “I think I’d know it if we were part of an omnipotent
    being,” I said.
    “Would you? Your skin cells are not aware that they are
    part of a human being. Skin cells are not equipped for that
    knowledge. They are equipped to do what they do and
    nothing more. Likewise, if we humans—and all the plants
    and animals and dirt and rocks—were components of God,
    would we have the capacity to know it?”
    “So, you’re saying God blew himself to bits—I guess
    that was the Big Bang—and now he’s piecing himself back
    together?” I asked.
    “He is discovering the answer to his only question.”
    “Does God have consciousness yet? Does he know he’s
    reassembling himself?”
    “He does. Otherwise you could not have asked the
    question, and I could not have answered.”
    You will get a lot more out of it if you read it yourself from the beginning. Here you go.
    “I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life. - Osama bin Laden

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    the flying pig Capitalist Pig's Avatar
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    yeah, i like that actually. the internet is perhaps just another stage of complex life. each individual user, a human, is like one of the billions of individual cells that make up our own body. we just have way more self-awareness than single cells. life begets life, maybe the internet is god.

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    The internet is information it is not human or biological so no.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amoeba View Post
    The internet is information it is not human or biological so no.
    What makes biology or being human a requirement for self-awareness? If there is an artificial intelligence that exceeds all capacities of a human brain, is it not self-aware as well?
    “I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life. - Osama bin Laden

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    I would say that the internet would have to have a reason to become self aware, if you looked at the internet as evolving in the perspective of biological evolution.

    I really don't know why it would need to off the top of my head, what purpose does it serve as the internet is just one technological organism?

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    I think the internet provides an interface for collective decision making processes that inform human culture. For instance if some celebrity does something and people tweet about this excessively, an assortment of widely different opinions may be eventually be whittled down into something far less diverse, as though a decision is being be made (a public opinion is being formed). People will also act against each other to influence the tide of the "collective." If someone posts something totally misinformed, multiple others will be sure to inform this person that he or she is wrong and try to block the misinformed view (the "blockers" may not all perceive their behavior this way, but that is the result the behavior produces regardless). If someone was joking and various people took it seriously and responded in outrage, various others will appear to chastise the outraged responders and accuse them of being idiots. People will also support and back up others who appear to have something closer to the "right" decision/opinion in mind by declaring their agreement or elaborating upon it.

    I think this process is very much like what bees and neurons are said to do in this article: http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2011...-mimics-brains. A mass (or collective) is moving towards making a call or forming a view. Through all of these "microscopic" processes in social media or the news or blogs or whatever, public perception may change.

    I could think of global human culture as an "organism" that seems to make "decisions" or I could look at the internet by itself and see if it appears to "make decisions." But separating the two seems less meaningful than considering them together. The internet ties together billions of individuals, forming interconnections between them, allowing for collective decision making, and from this emerges a projection of "human perception" on a global scale allowing human kind to act "as one" on a level that it perhaps wasn't easily able to do before. This isn't to say that human kind does act "as one" but just that I think that is something arising out of this... that there is a process of simplification going on. Over time I think that individuals are relying increasingly on the internet for information and perception, for opinions and decision making, and less and less on their own minds and direct experience. The striking thing about the internet is just how many people it can connect together (often at once) and how fast social opinion can be formed in this medium. It's far faster and involves far more individuals than gossiping among neighbors in a small town would (for instance).

    In terms of the internet itself becoming self-aware, I'm not sure how to perceive this exactly. By building connections and engaging in collective decision making, are we building a "brain"? I don't quite understand how the internet could one day inform the world of how it has been ushered into self-awareness and how it is now its own being... how can the internet be anything without its human contributors? If the internet is a brain, the individual humans are its neurons, and the "consciousness" that forms out of it seems to just be a collective human consciousness. I'm having trouble seeing how the internet itself could emerge as its own mind where all we are, are neurons, and it perceives itself as aware in a way similar to how we perceive ourselves as aware and our neurons just as these possibly non-aware things that make up our consciousness (that allow for our awareness). I'm working on trying to get there.

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    “I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life. - Osama bin Laden

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquagraph View Post
    What makes biology or being human a requirement for self-awareness? If there is an artificial intelligence that exceeds all capacities of a human brain, is it not self-aware as well?
    The Chinese Room Argument?

    On the topic of A.I. - I do not believe consciousness exists separately from the biological make up of the brain. Consciousness is completely reliant on the biology (even if we cannot explain how the biology creates the consciousness there are basic findings that link consciousness with different areas of the brain). If we were to 'artificially' perfectly reconstruct the brain it may be possible that that piece of technology might have consciousness and self-awareness BUT it wouldn't really be artificial intelligence and rather just actual intelligence because it would be created in the same way that actual intelligence would be created.

    Now if a computer, or in this case the internet, had intelligence of sorts but was not created in a similar structure to the brain it would be artificial and not to the same level as human intelligence. As in the Chinese Room example, it might appear to have awareness but not actually have awareness that it does. For example, it could win a chess game but probably not feel joy that it has or even realise that it has.
    Look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God. It even has a watermark.

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    Self-awareness is the formation of an identity.

    The internet is certainly aware, but has it formed a sense of identity. I'm not sure about that.

    Human self-awareness is founded on a sense of identity, continuity of thought that characterizes our lifespan. This is something that can be achieved by a network of computers probably, but will the internet as we know it achieve it, I'm not sure. If it does, it'll let us know or kill us all...

    I for one welcome our robot overlords.

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    You might as well ask whether the Earth's ecosystem has developed self-awareness.
    It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarrelled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now.

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    The OP doesn't imply that the internet had a separate consciousness that is saying to itself "I am internetz lol". It doesn't imply otherwise either.

    In this thread I just see different brain cells of the internet asking whether the brain itself is self-aware.
    “I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life. - Osama bin Laden

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquagraph View Post
    What makes biology or being human a requirement for self-awareness? If there is an artificial intelligence that exceeds all capacities of a human brain, is it not self-aware as well?
    A.I is purely mathematical along with programming. From what science knows right now no artificial intelligence is self aware and it doesn't experience life. It's a set of instructions that follow a fixed set of logic. Biology is much more complex than that. A human brain is not the only requirement in becoming self aware. Your spinal chord tissues, nerve endings, blood cells, skin cells, etc allow us to experience different parts of our body beyond just our brain. The intelligence would have to acquire human tissues and thus would most likely be biological than mechanical or bio mechanical in my opinion. Your question is too far from reality for humanity to answer properly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mfckr View Post
    Not sure that biology is a requisite for consciousness—when I see people assert this, it makes me wonder if they're romanticizing 'natural life' as something special and sacred in their minds.
    With the knowledge we have right now it is the requirement, you can philosophize all you want about it in the end you haven't proved anything because no such entity exists.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mfckr View Post
    Given current levels of knowledge, one could just as well say it's pointless for you to philosophize the notion of consciousness as dependent on biology.

    While it does seem to be the case that at least some biological entities (humans, other mammals, squids, possibly plants, etc…) exhibit possess self-awareness (or phenomenal awareness), this fact may be purely incidental and in no ways a necessary condition. That is to say, it may merely be for whatever reasons that biological tissues have happened to be conducive to the emergence of consciousness, and that once sufficiently understood, these generative same properties could synthetically engineered into giving rise to entities with forms of non-biological based consciousness.
    Because we know that self awareness is the evolved state of a biological entity (protists and and bacteria might not be self aware but humans and animals are). What makes you think that self awarness is the evoloved state of a machine. What does complexity have to do with evolution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xerx View Post
    You might as well ask whether the Earth's ecosystem has developed self-awareness.
    ITT Mindworms and geth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mfckr View Post




    Are you speaking of evolution as a teleological process?
    There are many evolutionary advantages that come with being self aware. Machines don`t evolve the same way biology evolves they don`t desire to compete within their ecosystem they merely become more complex within mathematical restrictions.

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    If consciousness is nothing but a product of the interplay between the physical parts of the brain, then I could see it as possible that a system of similar complexity (and in which its parts interact in comparable ways) may be able to achieve a product similar to self-awareness. Provided that this system has the complexity of a concious brain, then I don't see why it would necessarily have to consist of biological tissue if otherwise we're dealing with something comparable. I'm not saying that the internet itself fits this bill however, as the internet itself has no way that I know of to take data independently of humans imputing it.

    It may be possible that there is some aspect to biological tissue that makes it a requirement for any system to become self-aware. And until there are counter-examples, I think this is a reasonable (but not indisputable) assertion.
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    I agree with @inumbra

    "Internet" cannot become a independent self-aware entity because by definition it is a medium. That medium and information it retains though can and in fact is a component of mind/minds.

    Culture itself is a hive mind. Internet as all human artifacts is a container of culture - physical memory of the hive mind. Though "container" doesn't really give it justice since there is already a lot of active automatic management and flow control of information.
    Point being internet is part of mind which we are, and since at the very least I am aware of that, the internet is already somewhat self aware.
    Last edited by Esaman; 07-21-2013 at 12:09 AM.

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    Not these topics... yes its all Promethean and all, but I don't think it's really all that complicated.

    This is where these topics belong

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Grain of a Song of Sand View Post
    If not, what conditions would be needed for the internet to be developing self-awareness?
    Science-fiction

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    No, Internet is not becoming self conscious, is just a channel where intelligent beings (ourselves) communicate with each other. It's like a monitor full of colorful pixels: sure, it shows an image for us, but it doesn't mean the computer sending the signal knows what is it about.

    Quantity doesn't turn into quality. This Ray Kurtzweilean expectation that just because the processing power is increasing it will eventually become something else is fundamentally flawed.
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    No, until the internet pulls a Skynet stunt on us then I'm pretty sure the internet is not developing self-awareness.

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    It's going to develop self-awareness after it starts to philosophise and after it kills every one of us Grain and Raver. After we're dead, Internet is going to refer to Socrates and say that it didn't know that it killed us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Absurd View Post
    It's going to develop self-awareness after it starts to philosophise and after it kills every one of us Grain and Raver. After we're dead, Internet is going to refer to Socrates and say that it didn't know that it killed us.
    Yes, Absurd. Skynet is here, be very afraid.

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    Self-awareness is an illusion of the human mind. There is no self to become aware of, the mind deludes itself into thinking it is a self. Its purpose is to "self".

    The human mind is "selfing" all the time, but there is not an individual self to become aware of. In fact, we on the 16types have tried to analyze our "selfings" and give them names and descriptions ( information elements, ego blocks, dumas, strilitz, ect..)

    There is, however, an aware consciousness. That consciousness is found in ever human being and many other animals besides. That consciousness is not individualistic, it has no center and is pretty much what the word "holy" is referring to.

    All self-awareness of the internet would be: internet in delusion.
    "Traffic lights and loneliness. Paper cans and tape cassettes. When the world feels like this. Static shocks and bitterness."

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    @Wacey Since you are not talking about possibility of internet having self-awareness (whatever you think about nature of it) you are off topic.

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    There are a lot of people I can think of who are not self-aware, it'll be awhile before the internet reaches this stage..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Esaman View Post
    @Wacey Since you are not talking about possibility of internet having self-awareness (whatever you think about nature of it) you are off topic.

    Actually I was talking about the nature of self awareness in the first place, let alone the self awareness of a data bank. I was wondering, are people even self aware? Before asking if the internet could be.
    "Traffic lights and loneliness. Paper cans and tape cassettes. When the world feels like this. Static shocks and bitterness."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wacey View Post
    Actually I was talking about the nature of self awareness in the first place, let alone the self awareness of a data bank. I was wondering, are people even self aware? Before asking if the internet could be.
    I got that. Even if you define self-awareness as delusion (which I have objections to) the question is still whether internet could develop such a thing.

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    Here's a simplification:

    When everyone can experience the same things, we grow up to know the same things. Equipped with similar knowledge, we tend to act in similar ways. I'm eager to see how much will people all over the world agree on stuff in 50 years.
    “I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life. - Osama bin Laden

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