Learning – A lifelong requirement

from “Constructing the World Mind”

H. G. Wells says the World Brain’s purpose would be to “make it easier for individuals to learn by and for themselves,” while systematically providing “almost infinitely adaptable” lifelong learning requirements aimed at all sectors of society.



Instrument of evolution

from “Global Learning – Constructing the World Mind”

For H. G. Wells, the purpose of the World Brain was primarily instrumental. It was a way to organise human thinking and knowledge by using information management techniques to make it easier for humans to learn. The matter-of-fact practicality of his vision contrasts with the more spiritual aspects expressed in notions, such as Sri Aurobindo’s “Supermind” and Teillard de Chardin’s noosphere in which the unfolding of complexity is conceived as a process of God meeting his creation at the Omega point.
The 1990s sources tended to conceive evolution as a process — now seen to be more of unfolding complexity, than of genetic competition — which is an end in itself. In the words of Hans Swegen, “we are in the forefront of evolution and evolution will use our abilities to shape its continued development” as an open process with “no defined goals.” The view is that a learning organ must be a means to its own end which is learning, the same as evolution. This linking of human intelligences into global — even galactic and universal — metaminds as part of the inevitable pattern of evolution, contrasts with James Lovelock’s much more practical and alarming view which sees a world knowledge compendium as “a guide book for our survivors to help them rebuild civilisation without repeating too many of our mistakes.”


Technical means found, intellectual means lost?

from “Global Learning – Constructing the World Mind”

The 1990s versions of the World Brain concept — being less practical perhaps — put their faith in evolution as the principle means by which the world brain phenomenon will come to pass. H. G. Wells put his faith in promoting ways of enhancing human learning as the best means of “socially constructing” the global mind. For both H. G. Wells and James Lovelock, the World Brain is a project needing human attention, major policy decisions and some form of money to realise.
The irony is that now that the technological means to create a world knowledge resource are here in the form of worldwide computer networking and multimedia databases, the intellectual means pointed to by H. G. Wells in the 1930s seem to have been forgotten.


Fast Growing Awareness

from “Global Learning – Constructing the World Mind”

The human tendency to ignore or resist the need to change until events impose it may yet prove fatal to our species. We should remember that every civilisation in history has been destroyed, even without the potential for destruction we possess through our technology. The prospect that new civilisations may evolve from the remnants of our own, or that new lifeforms may evolve in a new, post-human ecosystem is barely a consolation.


We live in a world in which the Ice-caps caps are literally cracking up as a result of global warming. Ocean currents, which are the life blood of the global ecosystem, are already being disrupted. The consequences will be as inescapable, as they are incalculable. Nevertheless, people still insist on flying the polar routes in ever increasing numbers of ozone destroying planes. Every day they use cars which pollute the air they breath, and add massive quantities of carbon dioxide to the mix of green house gases. People watch their local communities and economies wither and die, while simultaneously importing and exporting luxury goods and foodstuffs from the other side of the world, wasting massive amounts oil, one of the world’s most precious resources.


People believe in ideologies propagated by self-interested elites and narrowly focused professionals because the knowledge is not available for them to think about the issues themselves. Probably by far the most dangerous of these ideologies is the free trade doctrine, now enshrined in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which is threatening the world’s most valuable assets, its cultural and environmental diversity. Backed by the might of international capital, the power of this ideology appears more absolute than any power in human history. The treaties on which it is based have been decided more on the basis of dogma and global commercial interests than understanding of its effects on cultural and bio-diversity or climate change and without any consultation with the people it will affect most.


Recognize Urgency – Do or Die

from “Global Learning – Constructing the World Mind”

In H. G. Wells’ view, the world is in a race between education and catastrophe and “catastrophe is winning.” He laments that the “urgency of adaptation has still to be grasped” now that humankind has become what he called “a new animal”, so much more “incredibly swift and strong — except in the head”. For Wells it was a case of either “the evolution of a new more powerful type of man” or “the extinction of our species.”

Social Construction – “Lively and continuous invention”

from “Global Learning – Constructing the World Mind”

Against the “menace” of “a general ignorance,” the inability of scientists to communicate, and what he believed to be the “urgent failings of the teaching profession,” H. G. Wells holds up a vision which he considered “no utopian dream” but a forecast of a world community “to which I believe we are driving now,” enlightened by science and brought about by “lively and continuous invention.”

Wells regarded the formation of such a community as our “primary need in this age of imperative construction,” an age in which the theoretical and the practical would be “of equal importance.”


A culture of the book

from “Global Learning – Constructing the World Mind”

Much as H. G. Wells argued for a “world encyclopedia” which would be created by means of social construction and knowledge invention, James Lovelock envisages a society organised around a book, much as European society used to be organised around the Bible; but the book would have “to acknowledge science”.
It is germane that the more advanced thinking in the field of information “science” conceives of knowledge management as primarily as a social, rather than a solitary mental activity, while corporate group knowledge working is increasingly construed as being a part of community and team building using techniques of constructive cooperation. Moral transformation is beginning to happen as people begin to value things, such as knowledge systems and ecological systems in more consciously qualitative ways. This revaluation, in which harmonious sustainability as highest value and mere survival as very much second best, will reorient the value of money towards being a means, rather than as an end, as it is in financial profit driven economies.