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Internet or Network Consciousness

 
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Pinlight_DukeOffline
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PostPosted: 08-11-2013 03:05    Post subject: Internet or Network Consciousness Reply with quote

I'm looking for information about internet consciousness, that is to say, consciousness or intelligence that results from the computer network. Sort of a "genius loci" but for computers instead of a place. It might have something to do with the hive mind or collective consciousness or it might not. I think those ideas are slightly different than what I'm getting at, as those necessitate the human mind, and I don't know that a network consciousness necessarily needs humans at the terminals.

Does anyone know of any threads or search terms that might get me what I'm after? I am at a loss. I'd deeply appreciate any help as I'm even having trouble finding info via web search. If you type in "internet spirits" you get ads for wine delivery. Razz
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Pietro_Mercurios
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PostPosted: 08-11-2013 08:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's quick list of some old threads to start checking. I'll probably merge the various threads into the four new categories.


Haunted Computers:

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1140298#1140298

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=795401#795401

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12164

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=252082#252082


Fortean computers:

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=793661#793661

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=773225#773225

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=663386#663386

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=345363#345363

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=65230#65230

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=73256#73256


Haunted internet:

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=27350&highlight=internet

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12842&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0


Fortean internet:

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=616094#616094

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=387445#387445

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=283633#283633


I may even have started a similar thread in the past, but what's interesting is the apparent lack of any real stories about a possibly sentient internet. Perhaps it is purposely keeping a low profile?
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 08-11-2013 08:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are a few threads on here that may touch on the topic:

What is consciousness?
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=223195#223195

Artificial Intelligence ( A.I )
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=5443#5443

The Global Consciousness Project
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=10552#10552

There are also shorter and older threads on similar themes.

Multi-dimensional space & the Net
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=584246#584246
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Pietro_Mercurios
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PostPosted: 08-11-2013 11:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

Four merger threads, so far.

Ghosts and Computers?
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4601

Computer Forteana?
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=345363#345363

Fortean Internet
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=283633#283633

Ghosts Online: The Haunted Internet
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=319562#319562

P_M
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Pinlight_DukeOffline
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PostPosted: 08-11-2013 13:37    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, that's a lot to dig into. Very much appreciated, Rynner and Pietro Mercurios. I was having trouble with search terms being too broad or not broad enough, turning up all kinds of stuff I wasn't really interested in. I'm going to start rooting through those threads, now, lots to read.

Yes, a sentient internet, that's exactly the idea I'm getting at. It sprang from a late-night well-sodden conversation with a like-minded friend (isn't that where many of the weird and wonderful ideas originate?) but I've not been able to get at anything worthwhile. Perhaps because, as you point out, Pietro, that's basically asking the intelligence itself to reveal its own secrets!
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dreenessOffline
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PostPosted: 20-12-2013 12:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was probably Samuel Butler (in his book "Erewhon") who first speculated about machines or mechanical systems evolving into a state of self-awareness or intelligence or something like that:

Quote:
“There is no security” — to quote his own words — ”against the ultimate development of mechanical consciousness, in the fact of machines possessing little consciousness now. A mollusc has not much consciousness. Reflect upon the extraordinary advance which machines have made during the last few hundred years, and note how slowly the animal and vegetable kingdoms are advancing. The more highly organised machines are creatures not so much of yesterday, as of the last five minutes, so to speak, in comparison with past time. Assume for the sake of argument that conscious beings have existed for some twenty million years: see what strides machines have made in the last thousand! May not the world last twenty million years longer? If so, what will they not in the end become? Is it not safer to nip the mischief in the bud and to forbid them further progress?

“But who can say that the vapour engine has not a kind of consciousness? Where does consciousness begin, and where end? Who can draw the line? Who can draw any line? Is not everything interwoven with everything? Is not machinery linked with animal life in an infinite variety of ways? The shell of a hen’s egg is made of a delicate white ware and is a machine as much as an egg-cup is: the shell is a device for holding the egg, as much as the egg-cup for holding the shell: both are phases of the same function; the hen makes the shell in her inside, but it is pure pottery. She makes her nest outside of herself for convenience’ sake, but the nest is not more of a machine than the egg-shell is. A ‘machine’ is only a ‘device.’”

Then returning to consciousness, and endeavouring to detect its earliest manifestations, the writer continued:

“There is a kind of plant that eats organic food with its flowers: when a fly settles upon the blossom, the petals close upon it and hold it fast till the plant has absorbed the insect into its system; but they will close on nothing but what is good to eat; of a drop of rain or a piece of stick they will take no notice. Curious! that so unconscious a thing should have such a keen eye to its own interest. If this is unconsciousness, where is the use of consciousness?

“Shall we say that the plant does not know what it is doing merely because it has no eyes, or ears, or brains? If we say that it acts mechanically, and mechanically only, shall we not be forced to admit that sundry other and apparently very deliberate actions are also mechanical? If it seems to us that the plant kills and eats a fly mechanically, may it not seem to the plant that a man must kill and eat a sheep mechanically?

“But it may be said that the plant is void of reason, because the growth of a plant is an involuntary growth. Given earth, air, and due temperature, the plant must grow: it is like a clock, which being once wound up will go till it is stopped or run down: it is like the wind blowing on the sails of a ship — the ship must go when the wind blows it. But can a healthy boy help growing if he have good meat and drink and clothing? can anything help going as long as it is wound up, or go on after it is run down? Is there not a winding up process everywhere?

“Even a potato in a dark cellar has a certain low cunning about him which serves him in excellent stead. He knows perfectly well what he wants and how to get it. He sees the light coming from the cellar window and sends his shoots crawling straight thereto: they will crawl along the floor and up the wall and out at the cellar window; if there be a little earth anywhere on the journey he will find it and use it for his own ends. What deliberation he may exercise in the matter of his roots when he is planted in the earth is a thing unknown to us, but we can imagine him saying, ‘I will have a tuber here and a tuber there, and I will suck whatsoever advantage I can from all my surroundings. This neighbour I will overshadow, and that I will undermine; and what I can do shall be the limit of what I will do. He that is stronger and better placed then I shall overcome me, and him that is weaker I will overcome.’

“The potato says these things by doing them, which is the best of languages. What is consciousness if this is not consciousness? We find it difficult to sympathise with the emotions of a potato; so we do with those of an oyster. Neither of these things makes a noise on being boiled or opened, and noise appeals to us more strongly than anything else, because we make so much about our own sufferings. Since, then, they do not annoy us by any expression of pain we call them emotionless; and so qua mankind they are; but mankind is not everybody.

“If it be urged that the action of the potato is chemical and mechanical only, and that it is due to the chemical and mechanical effects of light and heat, the answer would seem to lie in an inquiry whether every sensation is not chemical and mechanical in its operation? whether those things which we deem most purely spiritual are anything but disturbances of equilibrium in an infinite series of levers, beginning with those that are too small for microscopic detection, and going up to the human arm and the appliances which it makes use of? whether there be not a molecular action of thought, whence a dynamical theory of the passions shall be deducible? Whether strictly speaking we should not ask what kind of levers a man is made of rather than what is his temperament? How are they balanced? How much of such and such will it take to weigh them down so as to make him do so and so?”
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 20-12-2013 17:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some technology or machinery might have developed a repetitive sense of humour.
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Human_84Offline
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PostPosted: 20-02-2014 15:51    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pinlight, in your own concept, would the consciousness (at its most basic level) be an actual physical manifestation of some type; like written bits on a disk, packets of network data, or cached memory (perhaps spanning dozens or thousands of nodes)? Or would it only be as physical as a ghost or poltergeist (in which case some people assume it might be made of something physical, though we've not yet been able to quantify it by repeatable scientific means)? Or none of the above?
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Pinlight_DukeOffline
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PostPosted: 21-02-2014 04:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

Human_84 wrote:
Pinlight, in your own concept, would the consciousness (at its most basic level) be an actual physical manifestation of some type; like written bits on a disk, packets of network data, or cached memory (perhaps spanning dozens or thousands of nodes)? Or would it only be as physical as a ghost or poltergeist (in which case some people assume it might be made of something physical, though we've not yet been able to quantify it by repeatable scientific means)? Or none of the above?


You know, I'm not really sure. The idea of what consciousness consists of is a big one for me. I can't really say what it would be, or explain how exactly it would arise, as those are questions which we can't even answer about our own human consciousness. We don't really know what it is, right? Is it in our brains, or is it something more than our brains or even separate from our brains? When does it begin? When does it end? How does it arise? Is everything conscious, and if not, then why are we? Is consciousness eternal (or timeless)? Collective? Individual? What does awareness have to do with consciousness?

In no small part have I been influenced by the works of Hofstadter in looking into what it means to be conscious and aware and how that might happen in systems other than human minds.

These questions and more intrigue me and keep me up at nights pondering the essence of mind. I thought that if I could hear some stories of spontaneous network conscious behavior I might find more clues as to what consciousness is... or maybe just find more unanswered questions. At any rate, the whole topic is fascinating. Do you have any of your own ideas you'd like to share?
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Human_84Offline
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PostPosted: 21-02-2014 08:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those are all good questions and I don't presume to know the answers to any of them, though I'm equally as curious.

However I just want to add one more thing which I hope could shed a little more light for you. I've worked in high level IT positions for over a decade and corrected somewhere in the ballpark of 20,000 issues by my own hand (Easy to quantify because the majority are documented in one issue database or another). Anyway, there was only one occasion where I was not able to fix the problem by replacing/fixing/updating/re-configuring either software or hardware. In other words, I was able to find the root cause on every single occasion, save for one where I ended up junking the entire system after an entire relentless week - but that didn't mean someone more clever couldn't have fixed it. Therefor this isn't good evidence of a true exception.

So at least in my experience, there's never been a time when a computer appeared to have thought for itself, malfunctioned for "no reason," done something "on its own" or manifested anything that hadn't been put into it. This is my experience ONLY.

My overall opinion is that the general definition of consciousness (the state of being awake and aware of one's surroundings) is WAY too general, and yes, could apply to the internet or man-made system. However, if we're talking about being truly aware of their own existence in the way that humans are, my own opinion is that it's not going to happen for a long long time.
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Pinlight_DukeOffline
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PostPosted: 23-02-2014 09:46    Post subject: Reply with quote

Human_84 wrote:
Those are all good questions and I don't presume to know the answers to any of them, though I'm equally as curious.

However I just want to add one more thing which I hope could shed a little more light for you. I've worked in high level IT positions for over a decade and corrected somewhere in the ballpark of 20,000 issues by my own hand (Easy to quantify because the majority are documented in one issue database or another). Anyway, there was only one occasion where I was not able to fix the problem by replacing/fixing/updating/re-configuring either software or hardware. In other words, I was able to find the root cause on every single occasion, save for one where I ended up junking the entire system after an entire relentless week - but that didn't mean someone more clever couldn't have fixed it. Therefor this isn't good evidence of a true exception.

So at least in my experience, there's never been a time when a computer appeared to have thought for itself, malfunctioned for "no reason," done something "on its own" or manifested anything that hadn't been put into it. This is my experience ONLY.

My overall opinion is that the general definition of consciousness (the state of being awake and aware of one's surroundings) is WAY too general, and yes, could apply to the internet or man-made system. However, if we're talking about being truly aware of their own existence in the way that humans are, my own opinion is that it's not going to happen for a long long time.


Oh sure, computers themselves may not achieve sentience anytime soon, especially not spontaneously. Especially since there seems to be some disconnect between our understanding of the information that we use the computer to manipulate, and how the computer views that information, which is as data, not necessarily meaningful to itself. I don't expect anyone to share stories about Siri going HAL or anything!

What I'm more interested in is the whole network, the flow of information over the network, and how/if that could be said to have any sort of pattern indicative of consciousness. Not necessarily a single computer or small local network but on the vast scale of the internet itself. Could the whole thing be aware of itself, or aware of something? Does it respond on some level to the information it's a vessel for? Does this necessitate human interaction?

I mean I don't know, and the question is broad, and I don't know how to narrow it down, though I'm interested in how other people might look for such a pattern or behavior. Though if it were me, I think I'd look for what seemed to be a meaningful response to the information being dealt with (sorry, I don't know the technical terms), or actions of the human user. Like the way Google seems to shut itself off for me when I look for certain search terms. (That's just an illusion however - I live in China where the flow of information on the internet is monitored and controlled to a certain degree.) But again, what constitutes a conscious response? How can we be sure that's what it is and not a random coincidence, responsive software program, or some human pulling the strings upstream somewhere? (I suspect all three are the case with Google!)

At this point though, I think we're still in sci-fi territory. I was just hoping I'd find some small mention somewhere of something odd that I could use as a jump-off point, a clue to point me in the right direction, or at least give me more specific questions to ask. Looking over all the links above, though... well, still nowhere closer.
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 23-02-2014 20:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was a very strange film out last year called Computer Chess which dealt with computers achieving consciousness. One of the last jokes in the movie is... (spoiler space)




Where the now-intelligent computers are being packed away in the pouring rain, surely ruining them, and pointing out that their new sentience basically counts for nothing until they can learn to either use an umbrella or learn to walk to shelter.
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Human_84Offline
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PostPosted: 28-02-2014 07:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pinlight,

David Icke speaks on this subject, roughly but not explicitly, at 7:50 on this Youtube video. Posted just a few days after you raised the question. Confused

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLxxvh2puU0
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Pinlight_DukeOffline
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PostPosted: 03-03-2014 02:05    Post subject: Reply with quote

Human_84 wrote:
Pinlight,

David Icke speaks on this subject, roughly but not explicitly, at 7:50 on this Youtube video. Posted just a few days after you raised the question. Confused

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLxxvh2puU0


Er, well, not exactly. What I had in mind is not necessarily that people will be connected by the internet as a form of meta-consciousness or hive mind, but that the internet itself could have a consciousness independent of us or perhaps inclusive of us but not arising directly from us. I was also thinking more that such a consciousness would arise "organically" (for want of a better word!) and not because our overlords were directing it Matrix-style or that we have become the Borg. I know I mentioned the "hive-mind" idea at the outset, but I really think that's the wrong road to go down. Not that it's not interesting to think about. It's just not really what I'm trying to get at in my fumbling way.

I also find I can't agree with about 99% of the other things this Icke character has to say in this video. Though of course this thread would be the wrong place to argue the point.
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