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THE EVOLUTION OF THE GROUP MIND, or, When the Internet Awakes by Joel Sattler
Theory: consciousness itself is moving towards unity.
The individual begins consciousness in the womb. And, as such, has no perception of anything other than the singularity of self. In other words, it’s consciousness embodies the whole of the universe.
Then, after a person is born, they interact with the world as the separation of itself and the other [in this case, the mother]. Awareness is not immediate: it takes time for the baby to realize that it is a “self”, and is not the mother or the rest of its environment. Eventually, when awareness comes, it becomes obvious that it is an individual. And, as the person matures, that those outside of itself are individuals, too. And, much later, that there are concepts such as family, community, tribe, city, state, nation, world, etc.
In the mind, the individual holds all the different stages of awareness, including the memory of the womb. The initial state is seen to be the supreme state in most religions, call it “Heaven” or “Nirvana” or “Valhalla”: the place where all needs are met with no responsibility or effort, and there is a constant state of “bliss”.
The ending of awareness, death, is seen as something undesirable, even horrible: such as “Hell” or “Purgatory” or “Hades”. But some religions teach reincarnation: the transference of the soul to another body - a new life.
There are many variations of these ideas, but the above is merely a foundation for what goes below.
Humans are continually forming groups to function as units of protection, and, as such, to do their thinking for them. Or, at least, some of their thinking.
In a sense, these units can be called “primitive group minds”.
The first such is, of course, the family. Traditionally, in the familial structure, the father does the thinking and the heavy lifting. That is to say, the father gives guidance within the unit and direction outside of the unit and provides sustenance and shelter and physical protection to the members of the unit.
Historically, the next step is to the tribe. This is where a group of families operate under the instruction of a chief leader.
From there, they build larger and larger coalitions of tribes until they become nations. These, at first, are coalitions of tribal leaders who operate by council or create a King.
Nations have tried, many times, to create allied leagues to work together, but such have always disintegrated acrimoniously and usually in violence.
There is much deserved resistance to a “One World Rule”, because of the ultimate and inherent incompetence of rulers and representative governments.
The most efficient means of government is a dictatorship, but it is also the most fallible.
Meanwhile, humans have been trying for millennia to form guilds of workers to act for the mutual benefit of such unions, but they have the same problems governments do.
Also, people have been using religions for much the same reasons. [However, the creation of religions seems to be a much different thing.]
Success breeds contempt from the insiders for the outsiders, and from the outsiders for the insiders, and from the leaders for the followers and from the followers for the leaders.
There is no stability, only the constant dance of circumstance.
The above is much too simple an explanation, and there are many variations of these ideas, but the above is merely a foundation for what goes below.
In the past, knowledge was, at first, handed down from mouth to mouth.
Eventually, these histories were combined for ever longer narratives. Members of the societies involved had to pick specialized individuals to memorize these texts. Such text was limited to the group. Usually it was kept secret.
Then came the book. But these books were hidden. Or, at least, limited to members who could actually read.
Then came the printed book, which was available to anyone who could read it.
In the West, this created an explosion of understanding and art which we have come to call The Renaissance; an event which was much different in each society and in each sub-group within the society. This change began in the middle of the 15th century.
A book can be thought of as an external mind: an adjunct to the consciousness of the individual. If they want to understand something, they don’t have to go to the father, or the tribal leader, or the guild master, or the priest, or the King, but can learn it on their own.
[This was especially liberating with the translations of the Christian Bible into the vernaculars: now worshippers were no longer dependent on the Pope for salvation or a link to God. No wonder the Church did everything they could to burn non-approved texts and their readers.]
The above is merely an historical context, and there are many variations of these ideas, but the above is merely a foundation for what goes below.
When the idea of the Encyclopedia came along, both churches and leaders saw it as a threat and tried to stop it. The idea that knowledge of all subjects should be freely available to anyone who can absorb it is threatening to both Church and State.
The greatest Encyclopedia the world has ever known is now accessible to anyone with a computer and access to the Internet.
In fact, this represents such a quantum leap in human experience that this era could easily be called The New Renaissance.
This will break nations.
People have already started aligning themselves in groups that are so unlike anything that has gone before, that there ought to be new words and a new language to describe them. And, indeed, there are such being developed.
And, there are new structures being created that are transforming modes of learning, such as schools and universities, into something rich and strange.
And these transformations are not being directed by any individual leader or groups of leaders: it is happening “from the ground up”. That is, there is an EVOLUTION of consciousness itself that is going on.
Take, for instance, a computer site called “Wikipedia”. This is an encyclopedia, initially created by a small group, which is now used and added to by millions of people. The users themselves add and edit the encyclopedia. And the content is enormous: much much much greater and extensive than the former ultimate known as the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
In essence, this is an example of a “group mind” at work.
But this is only a few steps up from the idea of “nation” or “religion”.
And there is much room for improvement.
As the interface between user and computer becomes more intimate, as the Internet becomes more comprehensive, as the linking between users becomes more efficient, the very nature of human consciousness itself will change.
Eventually, the computer will no longer be outside the mind.
Humans will put the interface directly into their brains.
Their minds will be directly connected with the Internet.
The Internet will become non-dependent on machinery and electronic connections.
This is the group mind: