of bulk goods, fighting and allying, long-distance trade and information flows)
have different spatial scales. Core/periphery relations are of great interest but
the existence of core/periphery hierarchy is not presumed. Rather the question
of exploitation and domination needs to be asked at each of the network levels.
Some systems may be based primarily on equal interdependence or equal con-
tests, while others will display hierarchy and power-dependence relations.
It should not be assumed that earlier systems are similar to the modern global sys-
tem in this regard. Rather it should be a question for research on each system.
This section ends with Francis Heylighen's article ‘Conceptions of a Global
Brain: An Historical Review’. The ‘global brain’ is a metaphor for the intelli-
gent network formed by the people of this planet together with the knowledge
and communication technologies that interconnect them. The different ap-
proaches leading up to this conception, by authors such as Spencer, Otlet,
Wells, Teilhard de Chardin, Russell and Valentin Turchin, are reviewed in their
historical order. The contributions are classified in three major approaches: or-
ganicism, which sees society or the planet as a living system; encyclopedism,
which aims to develop a universal knowledge network; and emergentism, which
anticipates the evolution of a suprahuman level of consciousness. The short-
comings of each perspective lead us to propose an integrated approach based on
evolutionary cybernetics. Its selectionist logic allows us to analyze the process
whereby initially selfish individuals self-organize into a synergetic system func-
tioning at a higher level of intelligence, making use of an advanced version of
the World Wide Web.
The Editors would like to express their deep gratitude to Nataliya Dorofeeva
and Kseniya Biryukova for their great editorial assistance in the process of
the preparation of this volume.
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