GENEVA, Switzerland /eNewsChannels/ — The Future Research Group of the World Mind Network, a think tank composed of scholars from the Silicon Valley, Oxford, Harvard, Rutgers, the Universities of Tokyo and Lausanne, and Kansas State University, says that popular Internet and Smart Phone phenomena which have emerged in the last five years represent a quantum leap in the evolution of Homo Sapiens, comparable to far earlier transformations in hominid history.
According to the network’s co-director Yannick Wittgenstein, this has enormous implications for business, culture, government, education, the Environment, and sustainability– and yet almost no one realizes this, because we’re too close to the situation to view it comprehensively.
Those who do realize it will be able to change society in days or weeks rather than years, because the power of today’s Web to connect brains instantly ensures that ideas can be refined, shared, experimented with, improved, and perfected at warp speed, by hundreds of people in dozens of countries.
A similar transformation occurred two million years ago when our ancestors experienced a major increase in brain size, associated with the appearance of the first tool-making humanoid, Homo Habilis.
The wedding of a powerful brain with infinitely capable hands proved to be a genetic advantage that would eventually lead our ancestors to out-compete all other primates.
But we, according to the researchers, have been given tools in the last five years which are far more potentially revolutionary:
Through social networking sites like Facebook we can spread knowledge and wisdom around the world instantly at no cost.
Through Skype we can talk and even video conference with most people around the world for almost nothing.
Through blogs we can float our opinions and determine their relative value against a myriad of other viewpoints.
Through YouTube we can access complex video and audio content about any subject immediately and at no cost. And we can easily create videos which will be used the same way by others.
Through Wikipedia we can shape the way knowledge is presented, co-editing with thousands of other interested parties.
Through Google and other search engines we can answer millions of questions with access to the world’s best experts on anything.
Through Twitter we can know the most intimate thoughts of millions, almost as soon as they utter them.
Through Smart Phones and their 200,000 apps we can– well, we can do 200,000 things, most of which have never been possible in human history.
We are a species which has been gifted with the powers of comic book super heroes. But for the most part we don’t act like it.
Why do most human beings not sense the enormous power of their new tools?
For one thing, according to Wittgenstein, most web technologies are marketed as toys.
Also, the early adopters of Web 2.0 have largely been young people, who tend to be more interested in entertainment than in changing the world. And the trivial and in some cases harmful uses they make of the new technologies do not inspire their elders to explore further.
Additionally, very few people of any age consistently ask what the new tools can do IN COMBINATION.
Right now, World Mind Network students are using a Google map which plots emergency-related text messages from the flood-ravaged areas of Pakistan to speed relief supplies to where they’re needed. Others are turning unused cell phone minutes into legal tender for a Kenyan ICT center. Still others are creating new research paradigms for universities, based on a social networking model rather than the old publish or perish model.
Says the World Mind Network’s research director Sarah Mendel, “We live in exciting times. And we have the power to make them far more exciting, if we only demand the most from the powerful technologies around us.”
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