General Question

Strauss's avatar

Is there a relationship between the Noösphere, The Singularity and cyberspace?

Asked by Strauss (20293points) May 19th, 2014

According to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Noösphere emerges through and is constituted by the interaction of human minds. The Noösphere has grown in step with the organization of the human mass in relation to itself as it populates the Earth. According to Teilhard, the universe can only move in the direction of more complexity and consciousness, until it reaches the Omega Point.

Now, to my untrained “eye”, this looks a lot like Kurzweil’s Singularity.

Cyberspace is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “the notional environment in which communication over computer networks occurs.” Common usage defines cyberspace more by the social interactions involved rather than its technical implementation.

These two concepts have some commonalities. Could they refer to one and the same phenomenon/a?

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2 Answers

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I think there is a connection, but they are not exactly one and the same.

It seems that the Noosphere is the next step from the Biosphere. (“In the theory of Vernadsky, the noosphere is the third in a succession of phases of development of the Earth, after the geosphere (inanimate matter) and the biosphere (biological life”)

It seems the next logical step in this evolution is cyberspace (which you have already defined).

It then follows that perhaps The Singularity will come next (if artificial intelligence ever does actually succeed in becoming greater than human intelligence).

But keep in mind that the word Noosphere is polysemantic. (That is to say it is “ambiguous – having more than one possible meaning”).

So perhaps it could be said that they are one in the same phenomena in that they are progressions of the preceding theory, i.e. they evolve from the previous condition of mankind.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

Your link on the Omega Point explicitly states that Kurzweil developed the idea toward his idea of the Singularity. So yes, according to Wikipedia there’s a link.

I doubt, however, that the two terms really refer to one and the same phenomenon. Even the word “Singularity” by itself doesn’t mean the same thing to all people. Of course, to mathematicians, a singularity is a set of values for which the equation(s) that predict and interaction stop giving useful predictions. The canonical example in physics is the gravitational singularity beyond the event horizon of black holes. I heard the term in the late 1980s applied to another concept called the “novelty curve” (probably taken from Terrence McKenna), the curve of “new stuff happening over time”, which the author of this long-forgotten article understood to be asymptotic. The Singularity was the point at which the world was changing so fast that people could no longer understand it at all.
Kurzweil and his followers have apparently defined the Singularity as the moment when humanity produces an intelligence greater than itself. Personally, I think this has happened several times already. At the very least, humanity has produced:

Humanity + language > humanity
Humanity + writing > humanity
Humanity + telecommunication > humanity

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