Collective Consciousness Supported by the Web: healthy or toxic?

Shima Beigi, Francis Heylighen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperResearch

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We define the noosphere as the conscious level of the web, where global conversations are being held about collective challenges. To understand its dynamics, we review three neuroscientific theories of consciousness: in-formation integration, adaptive resonance, and global workspace. These suggest that conscious thoughts are characterized by a “resonant”, self-maintaining pattern of circulating information. This pattern should be suffi-ciently stable to be examined and dependably stored, yet sufficiently plas-tic to adapt to new input. The self-organizing dynamics of ideas circulating on the web, however, may settle in an attractor that is too resistant to ac-commodate new information. This results in a closed, toxic form of collec-tive consciousness exemplified by conspiracy theories. We review the global discussion of the COVID-19 pandemic to illustrate healthy and un-healthy forms of noospheric consciousness. We then argue for the need to promote the healthy form via the modelling of the dynamics of idea propa-gation and the dissemination of narratives promoting open conversation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputational Collective Intelligence
Subtitle of host publicationICCCI 2021
EditorsNgoc Thanh Nguyen, Ngoc Thanh Nguyen, Lazaros Iliadis, Ilias Maglogiannis, Bogdan Trawiński
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-88080-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event13th International Conference on Computational Collective Intelligence - Rhodes, Greece
Duration: 29 Sep 20211 Oct 2021

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence


Conference13th International Conference on Computational Collective Intelligence
Abbreviated titleICCCI 2021
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Collective Consciousness Supported by the Web: Healthy or Toxic?

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments. This research was supported by the Kacyra Family Foundation as part of its Human Energy Project and by the John Templeton Foundation through its grant ID61733 “The Origins of Goal-Directedness”.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • noosphere
  • conspiracy theories
  • COVID-19
  • brain
  • neuroscience
  • consciousness
  • collective intelligence


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