We are experiencing a shift in global intelligence from a Gaia-like, purely biological phenomenon to a newly emergent synthetic intelligence from the realm of knowledge.
Our earlier planetary intelligence is the intelligence of genetics and neural communications, layered with behavioral intelligence. What we experience as individual humans are, in a sense, local nodes, or instances, of this ancient expression of planetary intelligence. This intelligence is distributed as small pieces, loosely joined through biological and social signaling. In recent years, biologists have learned to focus on the networks of interconnections between these individual nodes, or what we think of as Earth’s biological ecosystems.
The average human still lacks the imagination to see life in terms of an integrated, biological intelligence operating at the scale of an entire planet. It simply doesn’t map to the way most of us think about intelligence. Our instincts fail us when it comes to seeing the underlying reality — and beauty — of the teeming, swarming networks of planetary intelligence.
It is little wonder then that we have trouble coming to terms with what lies ahead.
As intelligence moves up the Tree of Life and passes into the Tree of Knowledge, a new variety of intelligence emerges. This intelligence starts mimicking techniques pioneered by plant and animal life. It uses sensors to convert analog signals to digital signals and uses networks to classify and then respond intelligently to that environmental feedback. This stage of synthetic intelligence might best be described as “machine perception.” Machine perception is where machine learning is gaining its greatest traction in the market. It is the machine vision that powers self-driving vehicles and the speech recognition with which you talk to your phone.
It is not hard to imagine a global machine intelligence based on networks of machine perception. It would be analogous to the learning and coordination we see between species interacting in the planet’s existing biological ecosystems. This machine-to-machine coordination is the ultimate destination of the Internet of Things, and its cacophony of signals will very quickly dwarf human-to-human as well as human-to-machine communications.
Get ready for the planet’s new teeming, swarming networks of intelligence.