Research Agreement "Global Brain Institute"

Project Details


The research institute 'VUB' and the 'Yuri Milner Foundation' have entered into a service-agreement concerning the project' Grant Agreement "Global Brain Institute"'. The research results can be transferred to the company, there can be a reasonable return in case of commercialisation or there is another kind of agreement on intellectual property, as outlined in the concluded agreement.

The Global Brain can be defined as the collective or distributed intelligence emerging from all people and machines together, connected and coordinated by the global communication network. The Global Brain Institute (GBI), located at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), is intended to become an internationally recognized centre of excellence in research about the global brain. The GBI will be guided by the following objectives (of these, the first five objectives will form the priority for the first year of work, with the fundamental concepts being formulated in the first 6 months, and an initial mathematical model and computer simulation investigated in the next 6 months):
*Survey the most important contemporary developments in society and ICT that are likely to impact on the evolution--both spontaneous and guided--of a global brain (Priority #1);
*Formulate foundations for an integrated theory of the Global Brain that may offer us a long-term vision of where the future Internet is heading. This theory will start from the paradigm of the propagation of challenges: a problem or opportunity that is not fully dealt with by an individual agent (person, machine, web page, or computer program) is passed on via the network to one or more other agents so as to allow them to apply their additional "wisdom" to the task; in this way, the collective intelligence of a variety of autonomous agents can be aggregated into a global solution.
*Define the fundamental concepts (e.g. agent, challenge, propagation, network, intelligence) and principles (e.g. aggregation, self-organization) of this theory as much as possible in an explicit, formal manner.
*Build a mathematical model of (part of) the structure and dynamics of the Global Brain. This model will formalize the propagation of challenges by means of a generalization of the neural mechanism of spreading activation: nodes (agents) in the network are "activated" with challenges in proportion to the strength and the number of their incoming links, and pass this activation on via their outgoing links.
*Explore different variations (e.g. parameter values, network topologies, propagation and link strengthening dynamics, challenge dimensions) and implications (e.g. (in)stability, attractors and basins of the resulting dynamical system) of this mathematical model by means of computer simulations. The simulation may represent propagating challenges as simple software agents ("particle swarms") that spread from node to node in a network by following links until they reach a node that completes their challenge.
*Survey the most important contemporary developments in society and ICT (e.g. social software, open source communities, ambient intelligence, Internet of things, e-government, smartphones) that are likely to impact on the evolution--both spontaneous and guided--of a global brain.
*Compare where possible these real-world observations with the implications of the theory and results of the simulations, so as to test and if necessary extend the theory, while using the theory as a guide to interpret and suggest observations.
*Investigate in what way both observed and theorized developments may contribute to the most important indicators of intelligent organization at the global level: democracy, freedom, education, energy efficiency, sustainability, economic development, well-being, conflict resolution, etc.
Effective start/end date1/01/1231/12/16


  • information society
  • collective intelligence
  • global brain
  • internet

Flemish discipline codes

  • Media studies
  • Biomechanics
  • Communication sciences
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Other philosophy, ethics and religious studies not elsewhere classified
  • Applied mathematics in specific fields