Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Web Metasystem

A recent TEDtalk given by Kevin Kelly came to my attention recently, which has a lot to do with the Web. In it, he gives a very interesting view of the Web, making the analogy that the number of transistors supporting it is about the same number of neurons in the human brain. Kevin Kelly says:

There is only One machine.
The web is its OS.
All screens look into the One.
No bits will live outside the web.
To share is to gain.
Let the One read it.
The One is us.

The most interesting part is when he talks about the complexity of the Web over time. If transistors are akin to neurons, then that means in 10 years the Web will be 2 brains, and in 20 years, the Web will be 4 brains, and so on. The human brain contains about 100 billion neurons, which are much more complex than a transistor in nature. I think that it would take on the order of 10 transistors to approximate a single neuron, making his estimates inaccurate.

In the long run, such an analogy could be viewed in the context of metasystem transition theory, in which evolution is not continuous as it is in Darwinian evolution, but happens in discrete steps marked by a metasystem transition. In this model, regardless of how many transistors there are in the Web at any one point in time, the evolutionary step in which the Web becomes a brain is when a control system emerges. Since the Web was designed by us, and continues to be re-structured by us. There is an obvious answer to what the control system behind the Web is. Everyone. The Web is us.

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