This is roughly based upon a presentation given at the First Global Brain Workshop: From Intelligent Networks to the Global Brain – Evolutionary Social Organization through Knowledge Technology. Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium, July 2001.
Many people use the term “global brain” to mean any collaborative system (between people or machines) that can do some computation or task that the individual components can’t do on their own. This is simply the classic dream of Distributed Artificial Intelligence writ large – lots of bits of computation and thought combine to give a better result. In contrast, in this paper I will take the terms brain, global and evolution literally and discuss the outlook for the actual evolution of a something that could be called global as well as a brain. I contrast the “internally-driven” case where there are lots of co-evolving parts within a system to the “externally-driven” case of a population of systems being evolved in some environment. I argue that these are very different in terms of cause, kind of process and effect.