Saturday, 22 April 2017

Our Web Is Not Their Web

The word "knowledge" is ambiguous. Books and computers contain knowledge or more accurately information but this is not conscious knowledge. I read a book or computer screen, then consciously know a small fraction of the information.

My brain contains both conscious and unconscious memories whereas a computer "memory" is entirely unconscious. I spoke to a friend who thought that a computer "knew" and "understood" how to answer my computer searches. He therefore thought that the computer was on its way to becoming conscious as we are. Of course, the computer does not know or understand anything and is not on its way to becoming conscious.

I say all this in order to contrast two kinds of fiction:

in contemporary novels, like Stieg Larsson's Trilogy, the characters regularly browse and hack a global web of unconscious computers;

in some futuristic sf, there is a global or even interplanetary web of conscious artificial intelligences.

But our web is not becoming that web - which might exist in future.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Exactly! The information or data in a book or computer program or data base is not ITSELF conscious or self aware. The book I'm currently reading, Robert Hugh Benson's LORD OF THE WORLD is not itself self aware, etc.


    1. Sean,
      Seems obvious, doesn't it?

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Too true! But some, like the friend you mentioned, keep missing that.