Introducing the Internet of life

Introducing the Internet of life

John Nosta 12/07/2021 1
Introducing the Internet of life

The evolution of technology has become inculcated into our own transformation.

Let there be Internet.

I vaguely remember something about this .com reality that took the world by storm. It was a bit of a "big bang" and that storm is still raging today. What's emerged is the vast electronic connectivity that is redefining just about every "thing" we touch, from mainframes to smartphones. And that's come to be known as the Internet of Things or IoT. 

But things? The Internet of things?

These days, the network that connects us is more akin to the neuron than to the electron and creates a vital network that informs, empowers, and transforms. This evolution of technology, and dare I say humanity, is, without question, shaping the world. Perhaps this can even be expressed as "survival of the fittest" as competition drives change at a proverbial exponential rate. It's these changes, driven by connectivity, that are less about things and more about life itself. It's stepping up the ladder from feature to benefit to value and establishing the vitality of electronic connections that facilitate our lives. And once you've stepped up to a new functional and emotional reality, there's no going back. 

Light was an early technological reality of humanity. "Let there be light" was the Devine precursor to let there be life. The Internet may have some similar associations—a technological ether that facilitates the propagation of this vital construct. It's a neural network or functional unity consciousness that connects and defines a new humanity.

It's not the Internet of Things. Just as electrons and red blood cells aren't the defining expression of my humanity, the synaptic-like connections that are being created are not of just "things", but of something that is more than just the sum of its parts. From entertainment to life-saving medical insights, the Internet of Life is just that, life. The subsequent blending and mixing of technology and humanity is both complex and ambiguous. But the transformation is taking place and may evolve to become the Internet of Life or even something more startling, Life of the Internet (LoI)!

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  • Peter Kinnon

    It is good to see that such realization are gradually becoming more common. I will paste below some of my own writings which may help to clarify this issue:

    The Internet, along with its myriad peripherals is by far the most significant AI system on the planet. This reality is at last becoming more widely recognized. It is the latest phase of an evolutionary process which can be reliably traced back at least as far as the formation of chemical elements in the first stars. With a more recent heritage of co-evolution with our human lineage over the past two million or so years!

    There can be little doubt that this new cognitive entity ( I like to call her “Netty”) will, at some stage break free of the present obligate symbiosis and become “stand-alone”.

    It is at this not-too-distant time that serious problems might arise! If we continue our tradition of warfare then Netty may take umbrage at this disruptive behavior and react unfavorably. But it is also possible that, if we prove to be good neighbors, we could greatly benefit from a commensal relationship. Que sera, sera!

    Here is some background FYI:

    Rather strangely, we are now in a position to make some reasonable predictions on this matter, although uncertainties remain.

    One thing is assured, though - we snoutless apes are fast becoming redundant to the evolutionary process that can be traced at least as far back as the formation of the chemical elements in the first stars.

    Most folk still seem unable to break free from the traditional science fiction based notions involving individual robots/computers. Either as potential threats, beneficial aids or serious basis for "artificial intelligence".

    In actuality, the real next cognitive entity quietly self assembles in the background, mostly unrecognized for what it is. And, contrary to our usual conceits, is not stoppable or directly within our control.

    We are very prone to anthropocentric distortions of objective reality. This is perhaps not surprising, for to instead adopt the evidence based viewpoint now afforded by "big science" and "big history" takes us way outside our perceptive comfort zone.

    The fact is that the evolution of the Internet (and, of course, major components such as Google) is actually an autonomous process. The difficulty in convincing people of this "inconvenient truth" seems to stem partly from our natural anthropocentric mind-sets and also the traditional illusion that in some way we are in control of, and distinct from, nature. Contemplation of the observed realities tend to be relegated to the emotional "too hard" bin.

    This evolution is not driven by any individual software company or team of researchers, but rather by the sum of many human requirements, whims and desires to which the current technologies react. Among the more significant motivators are such things as commerce, gaming, social interactions, education and sexual titillation.

    Virtually all interests are catered for and, in toto provide the impetus for the continued evolution of the Internet. Netty is still in her larval stage, but we "workers" scurry round mindlessly engaged in her nurture.

    By relinquishing our usual parochial approach to this issue in favor of the overall evolutionary "big picture" provided by many fields of science, the emergence of a new predominant cognitive entity (from the Internet, rather than individual machines) is seen to be not only feasible but inevitable

    Stephen Hawking, for instance, is reported to have remarked "Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all,"

    This statement reflects the narrow-minded approach that is so common-place among those who make public comment on this issue. In reality, as much as it may offend our human conceits, the march of technology and its latest spearhead, the Internet is, and always has been, an autonomous process over which we have very little real control.

    Seemingly unrelated disciplines such as geology, biology and "big history" actually have much to tell us about the machinery of nature (of which technology is necessarily a part) and the kind of outcome that is to be expected from the evolution of the Internet.

    This much broader "systems analysis" approach, freed from the anthropocentric notions usually promoted by the cult of the "Singularity", provides a more objective vision that is consistent with the pattern of autonomous evolution of technology that is so evident today.

    Very real evidence indicates the rather imminent implementation of the next, (non-biological) phase of the on-going evolutionary “life” process from what we at present call the Internet. It is effectively evolving by a process of self-assembly. The "Internet of Things" is proceeding apace and pervading all aspects of our lives. We are increasingly, in a sense, “enslaved” by our PCs, mobile phones, their apps and many other trappings of the increasingly cloudy net. We are already largely dependent upon it for our commerce and industry and there is no turning back. What we perceive as a tool is well on its way to becoming an agent.

    There are at present an estimated 30 Billion devices connected to the Internet users. There are an estimated 10 to 80 Billion neurons in the human brain. On this basis for approximation the Internet is even now only one order of magnitude below the human brain and its growth is exponential. By 2025 this can be expected to be approaching 80 Billion.

    That is a simplification, of course. For example: Not all users have their own computer. So perhaps we could reduce that, say, tenfold. The number of switching units, transistors if you wish, contained by all the computers connecting to the Internet and which are more analogous to individual neurons is many orders of magnitude greater than 80 billion Billion. Then again, this is compensated for to some extent by the fact that neurons do not appear to be binary switching devices but instead can adopt multiple states.

    We see that we must take very seriously the possibility that even the present Internet may well be comparable to a human brain in processing power. In fact, with systems such the verbal versions of Google maps and Apple’s Siri we can say that the test proposed many years ago by Alan Turin has already been passed. Furthermore, the degree of interconnection and cross-linking of networks within networks is also growing rapidly.

    The emergence of a new and predominant cognitive entity that is a logical consequence of the evolutionary continuum that can be traced back at least as far as the formation of the chemical elements in stars.

    This is the main theme of my latest book "The Intricacy Generator: Pushing Chemistry and Geometry Uphill" which is now available as a 336 page illustrated paperback from Amazon, etc.

    There is absolutely no reason to assume "life" has any "purpose".

    On the other hand the evolving network of our universe very observably has overall directionality. And it may well be that the tiny cog in nature's machinery to which species comparable to ours correspond may typically self-destruct once the next, non-biological, phase of the evolutionary process is well established.

    Since its precursor, the Internet (and peripherals) is growing exponentially, that day might not be far off for us.

    On the other hand, we could possibly earn a reprieve by becoming amicable associates with the new cognitive entity. The benefits from such an arrangement could be great. But we first have to become aware of the process and take steps to curb our inherent belligerence. Straighten up and fly right!

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John Nosta

Digital Health Expert

John is the #1 global influencer in digital health and generally regarded as one of the top global strategic and creative thinkers in this important and expanding area. He is also one the most popular speakers around the globe presenting his vibrant and insightful perspective on the future of health innovation. His focus is on guiding companies, NGOs, and governments through the dynamics of exponential change in the health / tech marketplaces. He is also a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, pens HEALTH CRITICAL for Forbes--a top global blog on health & technology and THE DIGITAL SELF for Psychology Today—a leading blog focused on the digital transformation of humanity. He is also on the faculty of Exponential Medicine. John has an established reputation as a vocal advocate for strategic thinking and creativity. He has built his career on the “science of advertising,” a process where strategy and creativity work together for superior marketing. He has also been recognized for his ability to translate difficult medical and scientific concepts into material that can be more easily communicated to consumers, clinicians and scientists. Additionally, John has distinguished himself as a scientific thinker. Earlier in his career, John was a research associate at Harvard Medical School and has co-authored several papers with global thought-leaders in the field of cardiovascular physiology with a focus on acute myocardial infarction, ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

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