About eighteen months ago, I had a conversation with a very good friend, Bryan Field-Eliot, about ideas he had for a feedback and surveying system. As we all view the future through the goggles of our past, my contribution to the conversation focused on my recent foray into open source and the influence of accessibility in effecting global ubiquity. While reading the only scarcely available US magazines here in the Caribbean covering the war on terrorism, I couldn’t help but revisit the conversation we had many months ago, as it became apparent to me that the future of geo-political decision making process is undergoing radical change, and input across multiple state, political and cultural boundaries is a necessity in a world where every major decision directly impacts a global society. A particularly sleepless night found me at my keyboard, in an attempt to capture as much of those ideas as possible. This essay is a ‘what-if’ paper, designed to do no more than inspire thought…
Archive for October, 2001
Global Consciousness 1.0 (GC1)
By Andre Durand – October 2001
Preface and Acknowledgements
About eighteen months ago, I had a conversation with a very good friend, Bryan Field-Eliot, about ideas he had for a feedback and surveying system. As we all view the future through the goggles of our past, my contribution to the conversation focused on my recent foray into open source and the influence of accessibility in effecting global ubiquity. While reading the only scarcely available US magazines here in the Caribbean covering the war on terrorism, I couldn’t help but revisit the conversation we had many months ago, as it became apparent to me that the future of geo-political decision making process is undergoing radical change, and input across multiple state, political and cultural boundaries is a necessity in a world where every major decision directly impacts a global society. A particularly sleepless night found me at my keyboard, in an attempt to capture as much of those ideas as possible.
We live on the precipice of globalization, where our belief systems along with the fabric of our social, political and economic status are no longer separate and independent, but interconnected and influenced both directly and indirectly by one another. For the first time in the history of mankind, ubiquity of information has given rise to an unparalleled global awareness, where the interconnectedness of today’s global interactive communications infrastructures promises to create a world-stage for opinion and group decision process. The net result is a ‘Global Consciousness’ consisting of thoughts that are nearly instantaneously transmitted, replicated and absorbed into the consciousness and thought processes of others. The purpose of this essay is to explore the tools, infrastructure and processes required to accelerate this global consciousness, whereby at any moment in time the world’s thoughts, questions, problems and answers are captured and transmitted, discussed and resolved on a global level.
Assumptions and Theories
Humans strive for equality with the same ferocity that chaos confronts order.
Life is neither fair nor balance, equality and harmony a law, but where human passion and desire lie, so lies energy and action.
Information is the tool that exposes inequality and imbalance.
Wherever information uncovers imbalance, real or perceived, there is an equal and opposite human desire to balance it.
If two minds are better than one, then two million minds are better than two. Whether making small personal decisions or world changing ones, the more processing power put to the problem the faster and better informed the resolution. In the computer world, parallel processing provides a mechanism of scaling computational power by allowing multiple processors to simultaneously compute different parts of a larger problem. If connected properly, is not each individual mind a ‘processor’ in the world’s first real human super computer? The interstitial superhighway exists, but higher level protocols designed to coordinate and connect individual thoughts at a level contemplated in this essay have yet to emerge.
If what we think influences how we act, and what we think is increasingly influenced by what others think through a rise in the availability of information, then why not build a system designed to coordinates and channel the independent and inefficient redundancies of human thought into a system which can be used to foster better decision making and consensus building. If for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, then the bigger the action, the more carefully we need to contemplate our decisions, and the more useful this system becomes on a global stage.
The concept of GC1 is to build a system or protocol that leverages existing communications networks to facilitate the construct of a Global Consciousness. To build a communications infrastructure that coordinates the world’s collective processing power to resolve the problems that challenge it, where the gravity of any particular issue draws automatically upon an increasingly larger collection of individuals to process and create resolution.
Done correctly, this system would become the backbone of the world’s consciousness, and directly impact every decision of every individual, group and government in the world.
As with any idea constituting far-reaching potential, this concept can be mishandled by those that wish to manipulate the potential power of such a system. Therefore, I believe it is monumentally important that any implementation must be developed in the open, with a conscious and rigorous adherence to some basic principals and understanding of human rights. This system must be architecturally designed to thwart any potential corruption and manipulation, and capable of ensuring at least two unalienable rights:
1. Everyone has a right to live, free of fear
2. Everyone has a right to think and pronounce their thoughts without consequences, provided they in no way they violate or cause to be violated Human Right #1.
What is a Thought?
For purposes of this paper, a thought is any idea, expression or question that can be communicated in writing in a manner easily understood, distributable, archivable, searchable and or otherwise made available to others via any communications network. A thought may or may not be linked to the demographics of the poster at their choosing.
It is anticipated that this system would automatically determine which thoughts collectively interested the most people and would automatically filter to the top and thereby be made visible to more and more people.
Thoughts endure, even if they have only limited applicable life
How It Might Work
GC1, in its simplest form, might take the form of a protocol which is optimized to describe a thought, its format, its routing and the mechanisms by which it is aggregated and reported on.
Take for example a recent question such as, “Should the US bomb Afghanistan in retaliation for the terrorist attacks on NY?” This is a question that is being both asked and opinions formed by nearly everyone in the world. While different socio-political groups might answer this question differently, collectively, there is a ‘world-opinion’, and whether this opinion is taken into account or not by the groups or individuals responsible for action, these opinions WILL result in action affecting the final outcome. If GC1 existed today, this question, and the opinion of everyone who cared to process this question, would be collectively surveyed, instantly propagated and universally known by all.
Done right, this system would be self-regulating, distributed and architecturally designed to eliminate even the possibility of manipulation or centralized control. The system would be capable of filtering and routing thoughts only to individuals who cared to see them. The system would be able to do this for millions of thoughts simultaneously, and capable of showing which thoughts were consuming the collective ‘processing power’ of the world (a TOP TEN THOUGHTS worldwide for example). Over time, the system would represent an archive of the collective human consciousness, think of it as the ultimate knowledge base.
It is contemplated that the system would take on an overly simplified initial user interface, one in which the concept would be easily and instantly recognized, but which would grow over time in sophistication, providing increasingly more powerful ways to connect thoughts, survey opinion and provide feedback and actionable recommendations.
One of the major hurdles in constructing such a system is identifying ways in which only the issues, questions, concerns and/or thoughts that are of interest to an individual are ever viewed by that individual, knowing that these will change over time on a case by case basis.
The system must be easily and instantly accessible, while not intrusive so as to diminish its value or cause itself to be removed.
The system would likely collect demographic information over time in an unassuming and subtle manner, whereby this information was used to better route and aggregate thoughts into consensus and reporting.
The implications and potential applications of such a system are staggering. Corporations spend billions annually in collecting information from consumers to track preferences, trends and desires. Even more is lost each year in poorly made decisions related to products and services that ultimately fail as a result of poor intelligence.
What if General Motors, contemplating a particularly ‘radical’ new car design, was able to instantly survey 100,000 would be customers and automobile fanatics?
It’s a well known fact that successful politics require a keen and timely understanding of public opinion. Polling, today accomplished through dispirit means, has no centralized repository and no single method of dissemination. Today’s methodologies rely on “sampling”, which is ‘statistically’ valid, but costly, time consuming and in many respects archaic by today’s Internet standards.
The Connection to Jabber
While ultimately, I believe that this system, or protocol should be transport agnostic, there are some obvious connections to Jabber. I think that XML should be used as the protocol foundation, and I think that routing and ‘push’ to the desktop are also key elements of the a system which Jabber is particularly well suited to facilitate.
While the system and many components of it should be accessible through HTTP, the web’s passive approach to content delivery is insufficiently aggressive to incubate such a system into popular use. I think the Jabber client approach is much more likely to contain the usability attributes required to introduce this system into societies daily routines.
Well, that about captures the thinking to date… Hopefully now I can get a good nights sleep!
We seemed to have grown into a routine on the boat lately. I can now do the basics, and am getting to know the various sounds which are so much a part of this life-style… the water-maker, the inverter (for charching things), the fresh water pump etc. etc
We seemed to have grown into a routine on the boat lately. I can now do the basics, and am getting to know the various sounds which are so much a part of this life-style… the water-maker, the inverter (for charching things), the fresh water pump etc. etc.
I need to find an activity. I really wish I could surf. Kite boarding looks difficult and its expensive to get into. Craig is quite good.
We rented a car the other day and visited a few of the tourist attractions. Saw some cool stuff, here are the photos…
Came across this building on the way out of town and thought the staircase to nowhere was quite unusual and very cool. Turns out, after I took the photo, the same photo won second place in a local photography contest.
Stopped at the top of a hill on the way to Sunset Waters, a Casino/Resort at the west of the island. We’ll stop at this bay on the way to Aruba in the next day or so. It’s about 10 miles from where we are currently in Spanish Waters.
We visited a local wildlife preserve yesterday. Kim found a new friend!
A quick self-portrait taken at Westpunte, at the end of the island.
Travel log of a visit to Curacao, a true pirates hang-out.
We left Bonaire at around 9:30am on Wednesday, heading West (downwind) on about 10 knots of wind towards Caracao, 30 miles away. We motored for the first hour and then programmed our heading into the auto-pilot. I gather we had a pretty typical day ‘cruising’. This was our 8th day on the boat, and while I was just starting to unwind, Kim was just entering the ‘I’m over it’ phase. She’s read 4 books in the past week, and I can tell just by looking at her that the girl needs people©¼ I felt the same way she feels after about 3 months in Alaska, so, I recognize the signs.
The Caracao bay, otherwise known as “Spanish Waters” is really beautiful. After passing yet another place called ‘Santa Barbara’ (there was a Santa Barbara on Bonaire also) on the way into the bay, there appeared to be a good number of cruisers anchored in harbor.
Yesterday morning we took our dingy to an abandoned bar and cruiser hang-out called Sarrafundy Bar. Unfortunately, a recent dispute between the owners left the place ‘temporarily’ abandoned. For a fairly good-sized bay with a lot of boats, its amazing that there are absolutely NO cruiser services. If you want ice, supplies, liquor or your laundry done, you need to take a 30 minute bus ride into town. We hitchhiked into town yesterday amidst a rare squalor coming out of the North in an old Suzuki Samari. I put my new travel clothes to the test as I sat in the back seat, drenched by the down pore.
Downtown is beautiful, full of colorful and majestically architected. The place looks like a scene from the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland.
Last night we got invited to ‘happy hour’ on a neighboring boat. Seems pretty much the thing to do. Everyone sits around and talks about boats, politics, terrorism and the difference in local rum’s. We had a good time. Kim especially had a good time. She said that even the word ‘happy hour’ made her happy.
Today we don’t have any plans except for hitchhiking it back into town. I’ll see if I can hit an Internet Caf¨¦, they’re everywhere down here.
On the 30 mile trek to Caracao
Finding immigration was absolutely rediculous…. the place is absolutely hidden, as if they don’t want people to find it. It was under a bridge, around a corner, through a locked gate, behind another building etc. etc. etc.
I finally asked this guy sitting in front of this building where immigration was, he said, through the right door…
Upon coming to the door, I found the following sign… pretty typical.
Boy is it easy to get around down here without being tracked.
While having lunch in front of the Internet cafe, I came across the following tree.
The city is absolutely awesome. This is the view from across the bay.
Another picture of this little pirate city in the south.
Sunsets here are awesome, here is last night.
I’ve discovered this subculture down in the Carribean called Cruising. It largely consists of routines designed to fill a day that would normally have it occupied by nothing. Here are some photo’s of a typical day…
There is an whole subculture I’ve discovered in the past few days called Cruisers. It basically consists of couples in their late 40’s who have for one reason or another, checked out of life as you and I know it by selling their homes, buying a boat and cruising around the world, their timetables completely set by the timing of hurricane season at this port or that port.
They are an interesting group and have each, in their own way, settled into a life-style and routine shared by all other cruisers. In the past few days, as I reconcile my daily activity which concists of a whole lot of nothing, I thought I’d outline what a typical day consists of:
– you wake up whenever your eyes open up and you decide that you can’t hold out from going to the bathroom any longer, or a dog barking or rooster won’t shut-up.
– you wonder to the kitchen, rubbing your belly, wondering what you should eat for breakfast… eggs? cereal? frech toast? Its a big decision, you find that most of the day revolves around your decisions of what to eat.
– after eating, you wonder top-side and take a sit… your vision meanders around to see if anyone else is up yet… if they are, you wave… its the polite thing to do.
– after a few minutes, you grab a nearby magazine or newspaper, wondering if there’s an article that you’ve not yet read 3 times already.
– around this time, duty calls, and you meander back to the bathroom. There’s this whole routine you need to follow…but be careful not to do the dirty when the engine is running and the boat is making water… could end up making some pretty nasty water! Craig says the exit spout is about 10 inches from the entrance spout… I made that mistake yesterday… and subsequently didn’t drink any water… 🙂
– perhaps you decide to go shore-side and run a few erands. This morning it was, check email, go to the pharmacy, get some ice… etc. etc. nothing ever that important.
– you go back to the boat and sit there, perhaps read a book… in my case, take a picture or too of something not too interesting or get out my laptop and write up some business or Jabber ideas.
– around noon, you make a PBJ sandwich and wash it down with some look warm milk.
– you might take a nap, or actually, just lounge with your eyes closed and your arms over your eyes to protect you from the sun.
– around 2 or 3 you might jump in the water, swim around for 5 minutes, then get out and concentrate on drying off.
– around 4 or 5, you lounge some more, or take a nap, this time, you might actually be tired enough to doze off.
– around 6 or 7, you might take a shower to get the salt and day’s grime off.
– about this time you turn on the stereo, and listen to some album you’ve heard 10,000 times, last night it as AC/DC and then Winger.
– then you talk about dinner, what to do, what to eat, what to drink. They are all major decisions…
– you eat, you put in a video you’ve seen several times already, noticing things you never quite saw before…
– play some cards, chat a bit and retire around 8:30pm top-side.
THAT’S IT, THAT’S A TYPICAL DAY! Well, here are some photo’s…
The morning view from my bed…
The view of Craig from my bed topside…
More shots of the famous 3 scooters as they toured Bonaire.
More of the same…
Slave huts used for the salt-workers.
More shots of the slave huts for the salt-workers.
You can see how small they actually are…
The whiteslave huts… located about a 1/2 mile from the red slave huts…
Andre, doing what he does best…
A very cool wind-surfers village on the beach near a bay. will
Kim, kicken it on the boat.
The view of our temporary neighbors.
The view at sunset.
More of the same.
More of the same.
Life-log and images of our travels to Caracas and Bonaire. Its funny, as I sit here in a stark Internet cafe on the second floor of a half abandonded shopping mall, the only people in here are wealthy US “cruisers” checking their finances online and asking me questions about how to upload images to their websites… 🙂
We left NY out of Newark on Monday at around 3pm. It was a weird feeling being in the airport with guards armed everywhere. Kim was on the lookout for terrorists the second we sat down at our terminal, and I formulated 101 ways to retake a hijacked plane… I figured I’d start by throwing my laptop at the guy and then I’d storm-troop behind Kim as she screamed her way to the front…
Caracas was un-eventful. The prices were definitely not cheap, we stayed at a Hilton in town and did a bit of sight-seeing, but nothing too spectacular. Our flight to Bonaire was late (no surprise), we arrived at 11pm Wednesday night (the 10th), we were supposed to get in at 11am. Craig was there waiting for us at the airport and we headed to his boat with 500lbs of luggage! 🙂
Craig’s boat is awesome. Thus far, we’ve spent the past 5 days doing just about nothing. I read my first Newsweek magazine cover to cover. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before… ever. (Kim spent the afternoon drinking with the locals… and then fell off the boat into the drink upon her return…) no surprise there…
Here are some photo’s that we took in the first few days. More to come…
This shot taken from a restaurant in Caracas overlooking the bay.
He likes to be called “Captain Craig” nowadays..
Where we spend most of our time on shore… at the local bar…
We rented scooters and hopped around the island. This was one of the shots from a cave with indian paintings on it. I subsequently bumped my noggen pretty hard on one of those stalagtites.
Another shot of our scooters, in front of a closed tourist trap.
One of the highlights. The only export on the island…. salt.
More photo’s of the salt piles, this time with Kim in the picture.
A shot heading back into town after about 60 miles.
Craig’s new sport. Kite sailing…
Found a place here called “Santa Barbara”, figured, since Craig and I were both from there, we’d take a picture.