Futures of a Distributed Memory. A Global Brain Wave Measurement (1800-2000)

Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 118 No. May, pp. 307-323

31 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2017

See all articles by Steffen Roth

Steffen Roth

La Rochelle Business School; University of Turku

Carlton Clark

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Nikolay Trofimov

Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS)

Artur Mkrtchyan

Yerevan State University

Markus Heidingsfelder

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU)

Laura Appignanesi

Università degli Studi di Macerata

Miguel Perez Valls

University of Almeria

Jan Berkel

Independent

Jari Kaivo-Oja

Turku School of Economics & Business Administration

Date Written: March 26, 2017

Abstract

If the global brain is a suitable model of the future information society, then one future of research in this global brain will be in its past, which is its distributed memory. In this paper, we draw on Francis Heylighen, Marta Lenartowicz, and Niklas Luhmann to show that future research in this global brain will have to reclaim classical theories of social differentiation in general and theories of functional differentiation in particular to develop higher resolution images of this brain’s function and sub-functions. This claim is corroborated by a brain wave measurement of a considerable section of the global brain. We used the Google Ngram Viewer, an online graphing tool which charts annual counts of words or sentences as found in the largest available corpus of digitalized books, to analyse word frequency time-series plots of key concepts of social differentiation in the English as well as in the Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Italian sub-corpora between 1800 and 2000. The results of this socioencephalography suggest that the global brain’s memory recalls distinct and not yet fully conscious biases to particular sub-functions, which are furthermore not in line with popular trend statement and self-descriptions of modern societies. We speculate that an increasingly intelligent global brain will start to critically reflect upon these biases and learn how to anticipate or even design its own desired futures.

Keywords: Global brain, Google Ngram Viewer, culturomics, secularization, capitalism, functional differentiation

JEL Classification: A14, Z10, Z13

Suggested Citation

Roth, Steffen and Clark, Carlton and Trofimov, Nikolay and Mkrtchyan, Artur and Heidingsfelder, Markus and Appignanesi, Laura and Perez Valls, Miguel and Berkel, Jan and Kaivo-Oja, Jari, Futures of a Distributed Memory. A Global Brain Wave Measurement (1800-2000) (March 26, 2017). Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 118 No. May, pp. 307-323. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2958905

Steffen Roth (Contact Author)

La Rochelle Business School ( email )

102 rue de Coureilles
Les Minimes
La Rochelle, 17024
France

University of Turku ( email )

Assistentinkatu 7
Turku, 20014
Finland

Carlton Clark

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse ( email )

1725 State Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
United States

Nikolay Trofimov

Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) ( email )

Leninsky Ave, 14
Moscow, 119991
Russia

Artur Mkrtchyan

Yerevan State University ( email )

Yerevan, 375025
Armenia

Markus Heidingsfelder

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) ( email )

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
Munich, DE Bavaria 80539
Germany

Laura Appignanesi

Università degli Studi di Macerata ( email )

V.le del Vignola 73
Macerata 62100, MC
United States

Miguel Perez Valls

University of Almeria ( email )

La Cañada de San Urbano s/n
Almería, Almería 040120
Spain

Jan Berkel

Independent ( email )

No Address Available
United States

Jari Kaivo-Oja

Turku School of Economics & Business Administration ( email )

Rehtorinpellonkat 3
FIN-20500 Turku
Finland

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