Welcome back.

I wish I could give thanks to the person who sent me this article, but I don’t remember who it was. Unto us the Machine is born, was originally published in Wired but appears now in an Australian newspaper. The essence of it is that the network (not the individual computer) is the computer and that this global network in it’s cumulative form is much like a brain. This “brain” learns and grows. Information travels throughout this global thinker from personal pc and laptop like signals travel through the synapses of the human brain. As almost all of us would attest, the net is an extension of our 21st century lives. What would signal the shift from the net being an extension of human life to humankind being an extension of the net?

Here’s a quote from the article:

“This planet-sized computer is comparable in complexity to a human brain. Both the brain and the web have hundreds of billions of neurons, or webpages. Each biological neuron sprouts synaptic links to thousands of other neurons, and each webpage branches into dozens of hyperlinks. That adds up to a trillion “synapses” between the static pages on the web. The human brain has about 100 times that number – but brains are not doubling in size every few years. The Machine is.”

What’s next?

  • Will the “thinker” become conscious?
  • If this were remotely possible, what would signal the shift from “global thinker” to “global mind”?
  • The following question has never been more relevant: What do you think?

into the mystic…

Alex McManus


17 responses to “Unto us the Machine is born”

  1. James Petticrew Avatar
    James Petticrew

    Alex, I think it means that we can no longer think in isolation our thinking is linked to the thoughts of so many others. I don’t see this is a “borg” like sucking of the indvidual into some impersonal collective but as the development of new levels of consciousness that I am connected to, allowing me to have an awareness in certain areas of life I would never previously have had.

  2. Brian Russell Avatar

    I wonder also how “intelligence” will be defined in this new reality. We already have information overload, but the overload grows exponentially. The Interpreters will be the ones who create the future. Will the Mystic be among them?

  3. Allen Arnn Avatar

    It’s interesting to think of this planet-sized brain along side the verse from Romans 12 that says we should “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Since the energy behind the world wide brain is the audience, it seems that this brain’s “thinking” will inherently be in the pattern of this world. However, it seems that the biggest podcast segment so far is in the religious realm. Maybe that is true of blogs and websites too. The more the Christ-following community utilizes the web, maybe the more Spirit-filled and transformable the “machine” will be.

  4. Mel Avatar

    So, does anyone have any ideas of ways to renew this coming “mind”? I think Voxtropolis could be a big step…

  5. The Bishop Avatar

    In the year 2029, a computer called Skynet will be fighting against a human resistance, after having nearly destroyed the rest of humanity in 1997. Skynet will find a way to send some of it’s warriors, called Terminators, back in time…

  6. Bobby Jones Avatar
    Bobby Jones

    That’s an interesting concept. Sure, a global, world-wide brain. That’s all well and good, but what happens if the world is ever thrust into another world war of sorts where electricty is interrupted? What of those in states hit by natural disasters and they lose power? Has the mind suddenly gone into a coma? Honestly, I think the whole concept of a “planet-sized computer” being compared to a world-wide “brain” is completely over-the-top.

    Does one suddenly VANISH from reality if they vacation for a week or more away from the internet? Seriously…

  7. Alex Avatar


    Thanks for your thoughts. You write: “Does one suddenly VANISH from reality if they vacation for a week or more away from the internet? Seriously…”

    No. They vanish from view just like when they vaction away from where they live and work.

    You write: “but what happens if the world is ever thrust into another world war of sorts where electricty is interrupted? What of those in states hit by natural disasters and they lose power? Has the mind suddenly gone into a coma?”

    Yes. Just like when a person suffers a stroke or an aneurism. Sometimes it results in a coma or sometimes the loss of certain parts of one’s brain.

    Lastly you write: Honestly, I think the whole concept of a “planet-sized computer” being compared to a world-wide “brain” is completely over-the-top.”

    Of course it is. The point here is to stretch the imagination and to deal with some of the outer limits of a reality that may be closer than we realize. For example, can you imagine how “over the top” it must have seemed fifty years ago that we would be having this conversation via this medium? Absurd. Can you imagine how “over the top” it must have seemed 50 years ago, that all of us would be documenting history with our digital cameras? Or a thousand years ago that writing and reading something we would expect every child to practice?

    There are some who do not believe we’ve been to the moon. Over the top.

    Bobby, by the way, what/where is this top that you speak of?

  8. Alex Avatar

    Allen and Mel,

    Exactly. That’s why I’m on a mission to convince as many Christ following leaders to begin to blog [hopefully on voxtropolis].

  9. Alex Avatar


    That’s a great question even for the present. We are better at defining retardation than intelligence, disease better than health, etc. What’s is intelligence? Knowledge? Wisdom?

    Where and how will the mystic emerge from within that world?

    How will we make it human?

  10. Mel Avatar


    How will we make it human? The same way I make the homeless people who live in my neighborhood “human” to me: by looking them in the eye, taking them by the hand, calling them by name. Sure, we can’t physically take people by the hand over the internet; that’s not what I mean. What I mean is communicating care and concern for individuals and the state of their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being; communicating respect and dignity for each individual human soul. Seeking not merely to interact, not merely to communicate; but to understand and to feel compassion for people. And seeking always through these interactions to understand a little bit better the great, overarching plight of mankind– as well as the great overarching flight of mankind. Our shared destiny in God’s plan, both the sad and painful, and the beautiful and inspiring.

    Just as we represent the love of God in the physical realm, so we will represent it in the digital realm. Light and hope in the darkness.

  11. Allen Arnn Avatar

    Right Mel. Blogging isn’t just opinions and arguments as many people think. The internet becomes human when 70 bloggers pour out prayers via comments on the blog of a friend who has a possibly serious illness. The internet becomes human when blogging couples in two different states feel close enough that the small children of one couple draw pictures to send for the birthday of the child of the other couple. The internet becomes human when, through blogging, new fibers are spun into “threads” which are in turn woven by God into the universal fabric of the Kingdom.

  12. Alex Avatar

    Mel and Allen,

    Beautifully said. Everyone who hasn’t should read Homo Electronicus Migratus in light of this conversation. The comments there are excellent and very much worth reading as well.

  13. Lori Avatar

    I agree with Mel. Isn’t the brain just the control center for the hands that serve? It’s the brain that dreams, that tells us to love, that provides the motivation for the hands to move.

  14. Eric Avatar

    A year ago I would of thought this conversation “over the top.” What i’m realizing now is that this collective intellignece that is the Internet is growing and will continue to grow and develop and “birth” new ways to think and communicate and gather and share information.

    I feel like an explorer in lands where few have traveled, and am finding that many who I thought were progressive have no concept of what kind of “community precipice” we are standing on (in an exciting way…). Many don’t understand how revolutionary we are just by posting on a blog like this…

    So my questions is how do we lead others here…to this community..to this forum of communication…especially the resistant ones?

  15. Alex Avatar


    maybe we should leave the resistant in peace. think of the difference if – instead of focusing on the resistant – your question had gone like this: “how do we lead others here…to this community..to this forum of communication…especially the enthusiastic ones.”

    this has application for your church plant as well.

  16. Eric Avatar

    Good point, I’m supposed to be the one with “positivity”…you’re exactly right, so MY goal is to find them. And then…?

  17. Nicolas Nelson Avatar

    …and then we love them! enjoy them! Props to Mel and Allen, great stuff. Wish we could cut and paste it into the Electronicus Migratus threads. Alex did the next best thing and linked them, at least.

    One thought about this global internet/mind: apocalyptic scenarios are completely mistaken. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the internet does at some point “awaken” or gain consciousness or whatever. Imagine its shock when it realizes how dependent it is upon the goodwill, diligence and industry of human society! Sure, we like to imagine (darkly) that it would have power of sorts, look at all the electrical pathways we have built, all connected, etc. etc. But IF, like a human brain, the Web is its synaptic network, then one of the most difficult things to manage is to control the network of one’s own brain. And if human civilization is the “body” that feeds and powers that brain, and gives it whatever means it might find to express itself and sense/affect its environment, then like any living organism, its first priority will be to pamper us! “No one every hated their own body, but feeds and cares for it…”

    back to controlling the network of one’s own brain, tho: isn’t that what each one of us is trying to do? Re-wire our minds to be more like Christ’s? Hmmm…

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