Design Criteria for a Global Brain

Presented to The First Global Brain Workshop (Gbrain O) Vrije Universiteit Brussei, Brussels, Belguim, Thursday, July 5, 2001

32 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2001

See all articles by Shann Turnbull

Shann Turnbull

International Institute for Self-Governance; Sustainable Money Working Group; New Garden City Alliance

Date Written: July 5, 2001


The objective of this paper is to establish design criteria for developing a global brain that is integrated with humanity to govern life on the planet in a satisfactory environment. Three sources of design criteria are identified. (i) The limited ability of humans to: receive, manipulate, store, and transmit information, or form trusting relations with others. (ii) The laws of information and control identified by the science of governance described as cybernetics. (iii) The design strategies found in nature for creating and managing complexity with unreliable components. Transaction Byte Analysis is used as a framework to ground elements of the social sciences in the natural sciences and integrate the limited capacity of humans to transact bytes with that of technology. Strategies to promote organisational learning and reduce information overload and bounded rationality are identified and illustrated by the stakeholder firms located around the town of Mondragon in Northern Spain.

Keywords: Bounded rationality, Bytes, Cybernetics, Governance, Information science, Holarchies, Holons, Organisational architecture, Requisite variety, Mondragon

JEL Classification: B59, D81, E61, G38, L16, O33, O38

Suggested Citation

Turnbull, Shann, Design Criteria for a Global Brain (July 5, 2001). Presented to The First Global Brain Workshop (Gbrain O) Vrije Universiteit Brussei, Brussels, Belguim, Thursday, July 5, 2001, Available at SSRN: or

Shann Turnbull (Contact Author)

International Institute for Self-Governance ( email )

PO Box 266 Woollahra
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SKYPE: shann.turnbull

Sustainable Money Working Group ( email )

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New Garden City Alliance ( email )

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London, UK, SE1 3TA
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