When an individual human brain thinks, the entire planet world thinks. With that, our planet is slowly becoming a global brain. Planetary intelligence is the most critical development in the history of our planet, an evolution that goes back up to four and a half billion years. And, what we humans do in the next decade or so could be the determining factor between the extinction of humankind in the worst case, or a brilliant new age of prosperity for all humans, if we do things right.
Evolution of Planetary Intelligence: Interconnectedness of Life-forms and Planets
Looking at the scientific theory of creation, in the beginning, individual atoms came together to form molecules and ultimately developed cellular intelligence. In this intelligent interconnectivity, molecules clumped into multi-cellular intelligence, collective intelligence for cells. Then, they evolved multiple times until the Homo sapiens came into being.
Next, the human beings began working together using collective human intelligence at the tribal level, then at the city level. Ultimately, the growth of the internet makes it possible for collective human intelligence to work at a planetary level; hence, planetary intelligence.
Human beings are only a section of the biosphere. The other creatures making up the biosphere include plants and microbes. Eventually, the biosphere discovered how to host life. It created self-sustaining systems that helped the Earth exist for billions of years. As a result, the interconnectedness of life and planets continues to deepen throughout the billions of years.
Scientific Studies of Planetary Intelligence
Adam Frank, an astrophysicist from the University of Rochester, carried out a “thought experiment” that used scientific theory and philosophical questions on how life on Earth can alter a planet. In his presentations, Adam claims that cognitive activities of living things like plants, animals, and microbes operate on a planetary level to transform the earth.
He gives examples of how plants ‘invented’ a way of making their food for survival. Hence, through photosynthesis, plants release oxygen and alter how the entire planet functions.
Another notable study on planetary intelligence is by British scientist James Lovelock and American evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis, who built upon the principle of the Gaia hypothesis. Gaia’s theory claims that as life on Earth changes, it also affects how the planetary system evolves. Hence, the evolution of the biosphere alters the nature of the atmosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere, and hydrosphere.
The back-and-forth effect has been in motion since the beginning of time. And the recent human activities that have led to deforestation, pollution, and climate change might be considered proof that the Gaia hypothesis is at work.
Relevance of Computers & Artificial Intelligence in Advancing Planetary Intelligence
We now have new forms of information processing that include computers and the field of artificial intelligence. Today, billions of human brains are simultaneously working on the internet. Through computing, humanity applies technology to influence the environment. We use such technologies as geo-engineering, terraforming, and seeding.
Next, there is a simultaneous rapid development of trillions of artificial intelligence that supplement and augment those human brains. Examples of how we use artificial intelligence in transportation, media, manufacturing, healthcare, education, and customer service are as follows:
- Development of autonomous vehicles with minimal carbon footprint;
- AI-powered robots working on assembly lines to automate manufacturing processes;
- Using AI to speed up pharmaceutical research, improve disease diagnosis, and facilitate virtual nursing services for a personalized patient experience;
- Digitalization of education systems, use of virtual classes and tutors, and facial recognition systems that analyze student participation in the virtual learning sessions;
- Use of AI in analyzing complex financial reports, extrapolating data, and making accurate projections;
- Implementing AI assistance in customer service.
Hence, the advancement of computers and artificial intelligence networks form the basis for which the architecture of global cognition evolves. We are moving from individual human brains augmented by technology to a global brain that is trillions of times smarter and more powerful than the human brain.
Domains of Planetary Intelligence
Scientists believe that there are four main domains of planetary intelligence as follows:
- Immature biosphere – Early life on the planet
- Mature biosphere – Life forms evolving to form sufficient feedback loops between them and geophysical processes
- Immature technosphere –Technological activities like computers and AI are developing on the planet but are not yet sufficient to sustain interconnectedness with the physical environment or other systems.
- Mature technosphere – The ultimate goal of planetary intelligence
Today, technology, computers, and artificial intelligence revolve around degrading the planet’s ecosystems. Hence, the Earth is still in an immature technosphere state. Unless we shift to the mature technosphere phase, the planet could suffer severe catastrophes.
By steering planetary intelligence towards the mature technosphere, scientists believe it can be the key to addressing global challenges like climate change, population growth, environmental degradation, the dominance of ultra-processed foods, and biodiversity losses.
Planetary Intelligence and Value Systems
Amidst all these advancements in computers and artificial intelligence, there is still a need for human input in setting the correct value systems that guarantee the survival of planet Earth for another billion years.
Moreover, a typical intelligence can run logical calculations faster than the human brain. Yet, it cannot come up with a right or wrong answer better than human beings can. Yet, the most important thing is not the technology that enables this global brain. Instead, it is how planetary intelligence amplifies value systems.
So, how does the human brain derive its value systems?
The basis of world thinking is love. And, it needs to be the core value going into the global brain. Indeed, no intelligence can create rational value systems like the human brain. Hence, whenever the human brain feeds value systems into this global brain, our planet evolves for the better. For this, love needs to be the fundamental basis for planetary intelligence.
The Earth’s intelligence is in the interconnectedness of life forms and the planet itself. We are now in an eruption of this power, referred to as planetary intelligence, on a technological level. It amounts to a transformation of the evolutionary process itself. And, just like the biosphere figured out how to exist on its own, the planetary mind should develop self-maintaining characteristics that address global challenges in this technosphere.