Thursday, November 24, 2005

Two Wingmates, Google Talk and Collective Consciousness

Jeet, my wingmate (and a bit of friend, philosopher and guide) at IITB is re-reading the Foundation series nowadays. I saw him proclaiming "I like the Gaia concept" on his yahoo messenger status message and promptly saw an opportunity to engage in some geeky chatter. Needless to say, given a chance to chat with Google Talk I prefer not using anything else, so we started a little chat about the whole Gaia concept.

For those who haven't heard what Gaia is, It refers to a planet that is conscious as a whole. The consciousness of everything that is a part of that planet (people, plants, animals, even the presumed non-living things) forms a part of this whole superconscious. Everyone shares this "Gaia consciousness". This idea of collective consciousness is what Jeet liked a lot. And I was pretty excited about it when I read it too.

I know that a chat transcript is probably not the best format to post on a blog. Then again, probably a lot of people won't be interested in this post anyway. And those who are will probably not mind ignoring that little irritant/inconvenience.

So, here goes... Feel free to wonder how geeky (and how lukkha) can people be!! :)

Rahul: by the way Gaia concept (except for the shared feelings/consciousness thingy) is not very much off the mark.... its what I call the "scale invariance".... when you look at it, there is nothing fundamentally different between me as an organism and one of the cells in my body as an independent living entity.... similarly there's no reason for me to assume that my relation to earth (or terrestrial biosphere) is very different to that cell's relation to me..
to take it another step forward, its not very different from the relation of e.g. a ribozome to that cell..
and the relation of an atom to that ribozome.
scale invariance..

Jitendra: hmm.

Jitendra: main to shared memory aur distributed computing ke baare main sochta hoon :D

Rahul: that's why it is more "cool"/"interesting" than true for you...

Jitendra: Vaise scale invariance ke hisaab se bhi its difficult to say that 'gaia' exist at this scale..

Rahul: haan... it can't really be "proved" as such.. that'd depend on your precise definition of a "gaia" state so you can ask specific testable questions about that state... I just meant I feel it amazing to think that if a cell in my body can "think" then it will really have no reason to think that its playing a part in my life.. all it does it lives a separate independent life according to its own instincts and rules pretty much like I do..

Jitendra: Its like Gaia as a planet is a single organism that does not share its consciousness with other planets (organisms) in galaxy.. (there might be several Gaia organism in the vicinity)

Jitendra: In our case.. (humans and earth).. the similarity with Gaia ends as soon as we reach the scale of a human body...

Rahul: no... why do you think so? that'd be true if I actually shared consciousness with each and every cell (and why only cell? each and every particle) of my body... that's a claim that'd probably be very difficult to prove.... thats why I said that I'd probably stay away from speculating about the shared consciousness thing, but I can see the parallels in the relation between me and earth on one hand and a cell and me on the other..

Rahul: the fundamental difference between my idea of gaia (that I am talking about here) and the book's idea of gaia is that in the book the components of gaia's consciousness are actually aware of the fact that they are part of this superconsciousness... if that is not necessarily true, then the parallels do not really end anywhere... if I can be part of gaia without being aware of it, then for all i know, that might actually be true... the earth might be conscious and might depend on me for its consciousness... similarly gaia as a planet might not be aware of the fact that it is a part of another superconsciousness which is shared by other planets for example... again... scale invariance..

Jitendra: I mean to say that.. Relation of cells with humans is ' more' Gaia in nature than relation of humans with earth.. contrast is.. in one case its difficult to imagine each cell having 'consciousness' and in other case that we share it with others and earth..

Jitendra: but it can be argued that microorganisms (even single cell) have 'consciousness'

Rahul: oh, that we'll just have to agree to disagree about... i find it just as difficult to imagine that a cell has a share in my overall consciousness as me having a share in earth's consciousness... to me its just as plausible/implausible that the earth as a whole is conscious as a cell being a conscious entity...

Jitendra: Haan woh bhi hai.. book main to sabko pata hai.. !! (we don't know about planet because there is no direct IO for that)..

Rahul: this discussion can actually go on a blog, :P

Jitendra: Lekin aisa ho to kitna godgiri hoga. can you imagine the superbrain working !! but there might be a lot of chaos. (there already is)..

Rahul: :) nice things to think (and wonder) about..

Jitendra: Can you say that earth is a Gaia.. but its a bit sick right now :-)

Rahul: why do you think so... it might be like my skin cells (and red blood cells) dying every few cycles but me as an organism not being sick... maybe the environment not being conducive to humans as a species (or mammals as a collection of species.. or whatever) is just one part of a healthy gaia... we might not be doing too well, but that might still be contributing to a healthy (wealthy and wise) gaia

as I said, feel free to wonder why someone would talk about this thing and then post it on the blog.... :) I don't know.....

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