How shall we create the best neural networks that have human brains instead of neurons in each node? There is much to be learned from how primitive organisms in the sea began to develop their nervous system. There is also a rich and rapidly growing field of Network Science. And I would also like to give an example from science fiction. I have been an avid science fiction reader in the past. Back when I had the time to read, science fiction involved the mind was my favorite kind. I want to share a snippet from a short story about a militaristic evil empire ruling a large area of the galaxy. Some freedom fighters had a space ship, and they were smuggling something for the resistance when the bad guys spotted them from the Evil Empire. Their ship was old and slow, so, of course, the military had the modern faster ships, and they were closing in on them. So two young red-haired girls, twin sisters, went off into one of the engineering galleries, sat on the floor amidst a maze of wires, and they connected their brains up to some equipment that they had been working on. They then went into a certain mental state, and all of a sudden, their ship disappeared and then appeared many light years ahead of where it had just been. They got an angry call on the subspace communicator from the pursuing military to say that they were supposed to stand down. They were obviously using some illegal new technology, and it was unauthorized, so they were ordered to stop and surrender it to the empire immediately. So the twins giggled and then did it again, and their old space ship took another huge leap forward away from the pursuing military forces of the evil empire. That kind of story has always appealed to me, as you can imagine!
Another science fiction book, Wolfbane, explores the effects of linking up human minds into a shared neural network in much greater detail. Wolfbane is about future earth without enough energy, overpopulated, within the grips of a rigid government crackdown. People were required to walk slowly so as not to burn too many calories, and there was an enormous level of rigid control over people and their lives. The government also expected people to spend long periods of meditation every day because they go into a lower metabolic state and burn as many calories. At about this time, a rogue planet appeared in the solar system, a planet moving through space and had come near our solar system and apparently got captured by our sun. It was located by Jupiter and Mars, where the asteroid belt is, and it had settled into orbit there. There wasn’t any money for rocket fuel or sending spaceships; the age of exploration was overdue to the lack of energy.
This other planet had been populated by a very advanced race that had developed highly efficient and intelligent machines. Still, something had happened, and all the biological beings of that race had been killed. Although the machines were brilliant, they didn’t have brains that were of a living brain’s complexity. These machines needed more complex nervous systems as components of their largest machines to keep their world humming. So they started abducting humans to get the processing power of the human brains. They were teleporting people off the Earth and transporting them to this new planet of intelligent machines. But they had to wait until their human targets were in a meditative state, awake but with the personality mostly absent.
When a human on earth went into an appropriate meditative state where enough of the personality was absent, these intelligent machines would then teleport that person to their planet and then wire the humans together in a neural network of 12 human brains in each network. They were as complex computing machinery to help run the super-technology of this rogue machine-dominated planet. To keep the human bodies alive, the abducted humans were maintained in a nutrient solution that provided food, air, and water. The machines could replicate themselves, but they couldn’t reproduce their human biological master.
So people started disappearing from the earth during their meditations, vanishing without a trace. It wasn’t really a problem because there were too many people on earth anyway, so not much was made of it, but everybody knew this could happen. The hero of the story didn’t buy all this governmental oppression; he went along with it for appearances, but he had his independent streak. When he was doing his daily meditation, he disappeared and was teleported to the other planet. Perhaps because of his streak of independence, he did not stay unconscious there in the tank of nutrient solution with the other 11 humans who had been previously abducted and to whom his brain was wired.
He woke up to self-awareness and was astonished to find that he was connected to all these other human beings; he was in a group of 12. So he figured out how to function in this new and strange environment, and gradually he started waking up the other people in the network. As they awaken, he begins to realize that they are forming this incredible super consciousness. He then initiates a rebellion where the people in each of the tanks all over this planet are contacted and awakened. Then they use their intentions, amplified by the linked minds they now have, thanks to the alien machines, and the people rise and take over from the machines. They win back their freedom, and then they go back to Earth as superhumans at a much higher level of consciousness. They bring the benefits of shared consciousness to all the humans on Earth, and all the resource limitations vanish, and there is a Golden Age of Humanity, now blessed with a larger collective awareness. The theme of the story is dramatic. When you can link people up into a neural network where their brains are literally connected, you will have a super consciousness. That book was published long before Peter Russell’s Global Brain, and now I wonder if it was a precursor to the movie The Matrix.
Peter Russell points out the urgent need to ensure that our global brain is sane rather than insane. Each of us ‘neurons’ can take a few steps toward collective sanity. We can make sure, for example, to conserve physical resources in our personal lives. We can discover new methods for personal renewal. We can elect and support leaders who understand and respect the interdependence of all people and our interdependence with our beautiful planet’s ecosystems. We can be those leaders.
We can also move beyond survival. We can deepen our own sense of meaning by using our imaginations. We can see ourselves as part of a greater whole, a humanity emerging into the springtime of a new understanding. A baby is about to be born. We are all witnessing and being a part of the preparations for the birth of our planetary super consciousness. Let us be contributors to this birth, collaborating with each other wisely and well, with our hearts full of love and our brains awash with alpha.