Friday, February 27, 2009

Web 3.0 - The Hive Mind

Web 3.0

The learning network. Now that each node feeds knowledge into the network, the probability exists for emergent network properties to appear. Moving knowledge where it is needed becomes inexpensive as the collective intelligence of the network can identify sources of expertise and pathways to where it can be most useful.

We feed our networks and in turn our networks feed us. Each useful or positive message we put into the system builds affinity between ourselves and our peers. Neural networks function in similar ways, as the activation of a pathway engenders the strengthening of the dendritic connections at its destinations.

The networks ontogeny recapitulates a baby’s phylogeny. Babble before you talk, walk before you run.

Web 2.0 has parallels to a baby learning to talk. If web 1.0 with static web pages was the equivalent to a baby babbling - repeating sounds it has heard, trying new ones, sometimes vaguely aware that its actions are eliciting reactions from others around it, web 2.0 is the stage in the networks evolution when the nodes have become aware of each other and engage in conversations. Each node can offer up information to the network, where individual recipients decide if and how they will react to the information.

Where web 3.0 emerges from the semantic exchange of social networking into novelty is that its behaviours tap the contextual properties of the network. Different groups possess different abilities, such that connecting needs with resources becomes a function of forging non-obvious links. A question about protein folding is connected to a knitting group who recognize first hand the problem of super-coiling, a labour dispute over finite benefits has parallels with toy sharing in a day care.

From words to converstations, from conversations to actions, web 3.0 is the electronic embodiment of the interconnectedness of all things. Challenges that were impossible for an individual, and difficult for a group or even a nation, become resolvable when humanity’s collective abilities can be first queried and then activated.
The network is learning what it is capable of. It will solve problems we currently cannot even formalize. Like a solitary atom has no temperature, and a cell has no psychology, so to does the web 2.0 human lack the knowledge of the abilities of the new network.

Novelty emerges from complexity, and while our collective challenges are great, the power of collective action has barely begun to be tapped, and who knows where it will allow us to go.


Martin Lessard said...

This reminds me of Kelly's 2005 masterpiece We Are the Web in Wired.

We are feeding a Global Brain, one link at a time.

Some gived aftertoughts about it and they argued that this Global Brain is inane as saying roads grids give birth to a global nerves complex.

Sign posts, routes and green lights are merely data and the only place that it gets interpreted is in the head of the very atom Global Brain tends to minimized as merely dumb (on a its scale level).

I like the Global Brain theory, but I guess (real) complexity only emerge at a very higher level: that is, if quantic atoms give birth to our physical world, it is by a huge order of magnitude.

Same thing with us: to reprocude such magitude, the Global Brain (or what ever there is) has to fit at a cosmos scale (and beyond) level.

My 2 cents.

Not Without My Slippers said...

Thanks for your comments Martin.

Part of what I find interesting in the notion of 'emergent properties' is how systems demonstrate novel properties that their constituents don't possess.

So while I'm not really a believer in a Gaia-like super-entity, what all this connectivity I believe is leading to, is novel forms of social and cultural organization (the connecting of people and knowledge that previously would have been very difficult) that will make certain tasks easier (like matching the right human resources with the right questions or challenges), and other tasks very difficult (like controlling information in the blogging age).

In any event, I think viral videos fall into that category. As the cost of reacting to a video is so small, (its easy to send a link, or make a comment,) then we see the cultural dissemination of the video occur at speeds orders of magnitude greater than what was true even 5 years ago.

Martin Lessard said...

You're right. And your post wasn't exactly about Kelly hypothesis.

I keep coming back to the analogy of the highway/routes grid : it is as dumb as my cable co-ax but allow fluidity of content.

By lowering the cost of moving around information, we are sure allowing more connection than before. Web 3.0 will fully speeds orders of magnitude for that.

I'm not sure, thought, if we can address it with the concept of "emergent properties" per se. Is it "novel properties" or just fullfilling pre-existent capacities?

The connecting of people and knowledge already exist, but, as a matter of fact, at very slow pace. Speed seems to be the novelty.

That said, I've kind of having a huntch too that this would lead us to a novel form of social and cultural organization.

But this would also be reenacting the fact that accessing new knowledge, connecting new people always lead to new social organizations. Our civilization in the last two thousands years showed it.

Is than "speed" alone bringing a whole different set of properties?

Not Without My Slippers said...

I think there are at least three things going on.

Speed of communication

Unprecedented connectivity - which changes and sometimes eliminates the challenge of distance

And ease of signal amplification - you don't have to physically share a book or video anymore

That combination I suspect allows novel properties to emerge - the marriage of the possibilities of distributed computing (SETI, proteins etc) and distributed human problem solving.

Which I'm not quite sure how to formalize, but I think has something to do with these problems being attemptable at lower energy levels than previously.

I think of the analogy with nerve cells, that need to pass their activation potential before relaying a signal. By amplifying signals the network allows people to become 'activated' more easily than before...