Creatures of the Semiosphere: A problematic third party in the ‘humans plus technology’ cognitive architecture of the future global super intelligence

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Contrary to the prevailing pessimistic AI takeover scenarios, the theory of the Global Brain (GB) argues that this foreseen collective, distributed superintelligence is bound to include humans as its key beneficiaries. This prediction follows from the contingency of evolution: we, as already present intelligent forms of life, are in a position to exert selective pressures onto the emerging new ones. As a result, it is foreseen that the cognitive architecture of the GB will include human beings and such technologies, which will best prove to advance our collective wellbeing. This paper aims to nuance and problematize this forecast by offering a novel combination of several existing theories: Kauffmann’s theory of adjacent possible, Lotman’s concept of the semiosphere, Luhmann’s theory of social systems, and Heylighen’s theory of intelligence. The resulting framework allows for a reinterpretation of the history of the human species in a way which suggests that it may not be individual humans, but our social systems, who are the most advanced intelligence currently operating on Earth. Our unique social systems, e merging from as early as the Neolithic out of mutual interrelations of the occurrences of symbolic communication of humans, are argued to be capable of individuating into autonomous, intelligent agents. The resulting distributedness of the currently dominating form of intelligence might challenge the predicted cognitive architecture of the Global Brain, as it is likely to introduce additional powerful sources of selective pressures. Since the rapid evolution of interconnecting technologies appears to open up immense emancipatory possibilities not only for humans, but also for the intelligently evolving ‘creatures of the semiosphere’, it is concluded that in the context of the rapidly self-organizing Global Brain, a close watch needs to be kept over the dynamics of the latter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Early online date2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • Distributed intelligence
  • Emancipation
  • Foragers
  • Global brain
  • Luhmann
  • Social systems
  • Superintelligence


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