Michael Chorost‘s new book World Wide Mind:  The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines, and the Internet is in bookstores as of today.   The 5 minute video below describes his thesis:

The worldwide mind is the combination of humans & the internet acting together in concert.  The combination of the two yields a being which is more powerful than either in isolation.  That, I argue gives you the seed of an intelligence that neither has by its own.

Together with his last book (Rebuilt:  How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human), World Wide Mind shares Michael’s own personal story of living with a cochlear impant and how this positive augmentation adds a computational element to his life that in some ways changes who he is.

For more on Michael, see this IFTF Futurecast we did with him in November 2010, or this New York Times review of his work from yesterday.

Additional key points from Michael’s video:

  • worldwide mind is a coming global intelligence (with intentionality and consciousness of its own)
  • the internet by itself is not going to become intelligent
  • using technology with the body, you can make the connection part of your own internal bodily experience.
  • there is a new way to think about how technology & human relationships can be brought together.  Right now people think of these domains as mutually exclusive.  Chorost thinks there is a way to put these togehter with physical integration of humans and machines (as exemplified by his own personal experience of having a cochlear implant)
  • technology can be used to create more humane connections between people


Note:  Also posted on the IFTF blog, FutureNow


Performance of Religion

In the past couple of years, some of my classmates and friends from divinity school have begun dealing with some interesting quandries surrounding the question “Where does one DO church?”

For some time now, many have believed that you don’t have to be IN the church, synagogue, temple etc. to perform a religious practice.

From outdoor services or meditation to social justice work, the acts of the faithful have long been performed in locations outside of the conventional four walls.

The latest frontier of this question takes religious leaders to the online frontier–where can one perform the communal acts, the rituals, and the meditations that constitute religious experience?

Upcoming Conference

From July 30-August 9, 2010 scholars will gather at Bremen University to talk about online religion, seemingly from 2 perspectives:

  • how to research online peformance of religion in an ethical manner
  • how the online forum changes the experience of religion from the religious practitioner’s perspective.

Some of the most promising sessions to me are on these areas of religion in virtual worlds:

The mission of this conference is to fill a gap in research around the performance of religion in virtual worlds:

The Web is changing the face of religions worldwide. With the emergence of so-called Virtual Worlds a further step towards a completely new field of research was done, since these environments offer new possiblities to meet, communicate and to perform religion.

The results of conversations like this one will help my divinity school classmates–and others to make sense of this new frontier that has now begun to reach mainstream religious folks across all the world religions.

By 2020, where will we be performing our religious rites?  How will philosophies & theologies respond to this new realm of experience?