The Evolution of the Global Mind

Is the Cosmos here for us, or are we here for the Cosmos?  Then again, it could be neither, or both, or we are just innocent bystanders, and a by-product – if not a casualty – of a cosmic cataclysm of unknown proportions; it origins unknown and its final outcome yet to be determined. Not knowing the greater scenario that is being played out here, it remains a challenge to assign ourselves some particular role in it and see if we are able to follow it along with some consistency, hoping all the while it isn’t – in Shakespeare’s Macbeth’s words – some a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, and signifying absolutely nothing …

In this role we are driven along an evolutionary path of unknown dimensions, taking us who knows where – and that leaves us to figure out for ourselves where or what we are heading to, or how far we are along that path of evolutionary development. One thing that is for certain is that – in light of the human and environmental wreckage we continue to leave in our wake – it would be difficult to accept that homo sapiens is at or near the pinnacle of evolution. We clearly still have some way to go if the roughly two thousand years of our recorded history are anything to go by; and not until such time we are no longer our own worst enemy in trying to move ourselves ahead from our troubled past. You have to believe in something like this if you think we can much better than that, even if all we have to show for to date is little more than a blood-stained past.

But setting aside our self-disgust for a moment, let us look at this again with a less jaundiced eye. The arrival of homo sapiens introduced a volatility and a riskiness to the world which could be indicative reaching a critical stage in the evolution of the world. That such risk-taking would be justified can be seen in the context of fending off entropy – at least here on earth, and for the time being  – should that be the ultimate fate of the universe. And thus there will be an urgency to the evolutionary thrust to get done what needs to get done before time runs out, and to take some risks along the way. A risk management process by any other name.

You see, something very unique and significant happened with the introduction of homo sapiens to the planet: homo faber – man, the toolmaker – arrived on the scene. And while hitherto the spectacular creativity demonstrated by evolution manifested itself only from the inside out – through the incredible diversity of life-forms encountered here on earth, from the simplest plants and smallest single cell organisms to the largest or most complex ones – through a human being the creative forces of evolution are for the very first time being applied externally. With our hands – and with the tools made by our hands – we are able to reshape matter directly, and through us the creativity pressure of evolution goes to work in a greatly accelerated fashion – if not at breakneck speed – to whatever end it needs to get to …

Initially with primitive stone axes, then forged iron implements, followed by mechanized devices, and eventually through the ability to derive electricity from material processes and the huge array of material resources extracted from the earth we have been creating things of unimaginable potential if their development continues at the current pace. This is the only area in which mankind has made substantive and measurable progress since we first opened our eyes as a creature capable of  reflective thought – knowing that one knows – and we have done so in a hurry. (And perhaps in too much of a hurry,  as our ethical and moral development appears to have seriously fallen behind by not providing us with a commensurate sense of responsibility that would have prevented us from continually teetering on the edge of self-destruction!)

Most importantly, we have made significant advances in the area of information technology, such as the internet, to the point that all knowledge we have accumulated of the world can be shared instantly at any time and potentially from anywhere. (No, not in that hell-hole of human miseryknown as North-Korea.) As such we have gone beyond the layer of our planet’s biosphere to create a dynamic layer of knowledge which is about the world, and which belongs to the world. In a sense, this layer of knowledge functions as the conscious mind  of the world. There is a parallel here with the way in which our own minds function, namely in the way in which our consciousness is a function of the connectivity of millions of individual cells via the neural network in our physical brain.