The Rise of the Cognitive Ecosystem – Issues in Science and Technology

World Wide Weird: Rise of the Cognitive Ecosystem

The Rise of the Cognitive Ecosystem – Issues in Science and Technology

SPRING 2021

BY BRADEN R. ALLENBY

Social media, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and the data economy are coming together in a way that transcends how humans understand and control our world.

In the beginning of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, an ape, after hugging a strange monolith, picks up a bone and randomly begins playing with it … and then, as Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra rings in the background, the ape realizes that the bone it is holding is, in fact, a weapon. The ape, the bone, and the landscape remain exactly the same, yet something fundamental has changed: an ape casually holding a bone is a very different system than an ape consciously wielding a weapon. The warrior ape is an emergent cognitive phenomenon, neither required nor deterministically produced by the constituent parts: a bone, and an ape, in a savannah environment.

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