Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace

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9780306456350: Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace

The number of travelers along the information superhighway is increasing at a rate of ten percent a month. How will this communications revolution affect our culture and society? Pierre Levy believes that rather than creating a society where machines rule man, the technology of cyberspace will have a humanizing influence on us, and foster the emergence of a "collective intelligence"—a meeting of minds on the Internet—that will validate the contributions of the individual.With a depth of scholarship and imaginative insight rare among media critics, Levy demonstrates how the unfettered exchange of ideas in cyberspace has the potential to liberate us from the social and political hierarchies that have stood in the way of mankind's advancement. At once a profound historical analysis of the development of human culture and a blueprint for the future, Collective Intelligence is a visionary work that will make a substantial contribution to our views on society through to the next millennium.

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Review:

Pierre Levy sees us as moving past an information economy into an economy based on human interactions; a social economy. While the idea may seem startling, given our current emphasis on all things monetary, his reasoning makes you stop and give careful thought to ideas you may not have considered before. As technology advances, Levy points out, it's capable of taking on more and more advanced tasks--first simple labor and now the processing of information. As these capabilities become easier and well within everyone's reach, their value declines.

But the one thing that is beyond the reach of pure technology is the construction and maintenance of social interactions. What technology can do, however, is make it easier for humans to interact over greater distances and around obstacles. "Our humanity," Levy writes, "is the most precious thing we have." Levy, who is a professor in the department of hypermedia at the University of Paris, then predicts that we will take greater control of that value and everything related to it as we use technology to organize ourselves into what he calls Living Cities. Here, physical location is less important than the interactions of its members, and not surprisingly, the lack of territorialities will challenge present methods of governance.

Levy insists we are in the early moments of an historical paradigm shift of the magnitude of the Renaissance. And yet he avoids wild utopianism, keeping a clear eye on the realities and challenges inherent in any great transformation, complete with ample opportunities for things to go wrong. What emerges, however, is a different way of viewing the possible future, and plenty of reasons for asking why this utopian vision isn't attainable.

About the Author:

Pierre Lévy is a professor in the Department of Hypermedia at the University of Paris-VIII, scientific advisor to the TriVium company, and member of the advisory board of the Pompidou Center's Virtual Review. He holds advanced degrees in sociology, the history of science, and the sciences of information and communication, and has published numerous works in French on new technologies.

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Pierre Levy
Editore: Plenum Trade (1997)
ISBN 10: 0306456354 ISBN 13: 9780306456350
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