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When did big-picture optimism become cool again? While not blind to potential problems and glitches, Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From the Big Bang to the 21st Century confidently asserts that our networked culture is not only inevitable but essential for our species' survival and eventual migration into space. Author Howard Bloom, believed by many to be R. Buckminster Fuller's intellectual heir, takes the reader on a dizzying tour of the universe, from its original subatomic particle network to the unimaginable data-processing power of intergalactic communication. His writing is smart and snappy, moving with equal poise through the depiction of frenzied bacteria passing along information packets in the form of DNA and that of nomadic African tribespeople putting their heads together to find water for the next year. The reader is swept up in Bloom's vision of the power of mass minds and before long can't help seeing the similarities between ecosystems, street gangs and the Internet. Were Bloom not so learned and well. respected--over a third of his book is devoted to notes and references and luminaries from Lynn Margulis to Richard Metzger have lined up behind him--it would be tempting to dismiss him as a crank. His enthusiasm, the grand scale of his thinking and his transcendence of traditional academic disciplines can be daunting but the new outlook yielded to the persistent is simultaneously exciting and humbling. Bloom takes the old-school sci-fi dystopian vision of group thinking and turns it around--Global Brain predicts that our future's going to be less like the Borg and more like a great party. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Bloom's debut, The Lucifer Principle (1997), sought the biological basis for human evil. Now Bloom is after even bigger game. While cyber-thinkers claim the Internet is bringing us toward some sort of worldwide mind, Bloom believes we've had one all along. Drawing on information theory, debates within evolutionary biology, and research psychology (among other disciplines), Bloom understands the development of life on Earth as a series of achievements in collective information processing. He stands up for "group selection" (a minority view among evolutionists) and traces cooperation among organismsAand competition between groupsAthroughout the history of evolution. "Creative webs" of early microorganisms teamed up to go after food sources: modern colonies of E. coli bacteria seem to program themselves for useful, nonrandom mutations. Octopi "teach" one another to avoid aversive stimuli. Ancient Sparta killed its weakest infants; Athens educated them. Each of these is a social learning system. And each such system relies on several functions. "Conformity enforcers" keep most group members doing the same things; "diversity generators" seek out new things; "resource shifters" help the system alter itself to favor new things that work. In Bloom's model, bowling leagues, bacteria, bees, Belgium and brains all behave in similar ways. Lots of real science and some historyAmuch of it fascinating, some of it quite obscureAgo into Bloom's ambitious, amply footnoted, often plausible arguments. He writes a sometimes bombastic prose ("A neutron is a particle filled with need"); worse yet, he can fail to distinguish among accepted facts, scientifically testable hypotheses and literary metaphors. His style may guarantee him an amateur readership, but he's not a crank. Subtract the hype, and Bloom's concept of collective information processing may startle skeptical readers with its explanatory power. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Obviously a lot of research went into this book. This book places the meaning of our existence in its correct perspective. Read morePublished on July 4 2004
Howard Blooms "thesis" has been irresponsibly derived from a causal- functional theory of meaning first propounded by Milllikan, Ruth 1984,1986. Read morePublished on Jan. 21 2004 by S. Webb
This is one of those books that you read a few paragraphs and then put it down and walk around and think about what you just read. Read morePublished on July 5 2003 by Harvalene M. Bowen
"What keeps mobs of bacteria, insects, birds, and Jurassic kings and queens from lapsing into anarchy? What so consistently turns groups into social learning machines? Read morePublished on Aug. 8 2002 by Stephanie Silva
Bloom has previously turned Darwinism on it's ear with his first book, The Lucifer Principle.
With Global Brain, he continues to "reform" Darwinism, and Wow both the... Read more
In literature there is narrative, prose and poetry. The Global Brain is all three. Aside from the content, the discourse is absolutely the best of the best. Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2001 by Robert Hauck
Really interesting arguments for group selection, including a detailed discussion of biological "self-destruct" mechanisms that occur in organisms that are isolated or... Read morePublished on May 5 2001 by JD Moyer
Howard Bloom has shattered neo-Darwinist by proving once again that survival of the fittest is usually not survival of the individual, rather survival of the GROUP! Read morePublished on March 6 2001
Many of us, obscure or famous, have grand dreams but few of us will have the same one. "Global Brain" is Howard's and will appeal to one third of a scientifically... Read morePublished on March 6 2001 by James Brody