Gheorghe Curelet-Balan Blog

Thursday, May 28, 2009


What a nice book title for quite an intriguing subject, the birth of self-awareness (consciousness) of the World Wide Web (WWW).

It was pleasure learning about this mind-boggling subject from Robert J. Sawyers himself, the author of the Wake book.

Besides its subject the book was a surprise to me when I learned that its action gravitates in Waterloo and Perimeter Institute (PI). When I found out that the local Words Worth Books store was organizing a book launch hearing with the author I said to myself that I couldn't miss such an opportunity.

Thus I learned, at the Waterloo Entertainment Centre in Uptown Waterloo on May 21st, about the origin of the book's main idea: the WWW awakening. Robert confessed how he was inspired by:
- Julian Jaynes intriguing theory about human consciousness.
- Arthur C. Clarke idea of telecommunications networks becoming self-aware once they reached a certain level of complexity.

If intelligence is an intrinsic property of highly connected systems that reach a certain level of complexity then Robert envisioned that as World Wide Web is becoming more connected it can reach the Wake state having its own intelligence.

Intriguing idea indeed in the sea of ideas and debates specific to artificial intelligence (AI), a field that equally captivates the scientists, science-fiction writers, philosophers, etc.

Robert also said that he placed the book's action in Waterloo since he was impressed by PI's prestige and Mike Lazaridis' bold initiative to create PI. The audience spontaneously applauded once it learned that the man "with the most amazing hair" (as Mike is described (pages 261-2) by Caitlin, Wake's main character) is in the room.

Since I was wondering if there was any tipping point in Robert's decision to place the book action in Waterloo I've asked him during the book signing. See below his answer...

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