Tononi posits that any network, organic or not, of which the states of the components change in a sufficiently integrated way exhibits consciousness. Since the definition of Phi merely depends on probability distributions for the states of the different components, it can in principle be computed for the web.

from Noospheric consciousness (2021)

Portrait of Shima Beigi

Shima Beigi

Smart City Consultant, Yoga Teacher, and Academy Founder

Dr. Shima Beigi is smart city consultant, yoga teacher, and the founder of the Mindful Smart City Academy. Originally a resilience scientist, Shima has an impressive international academic track record (Islamic Azad University North Tehran Branch, University of Bristol, University of Oxford, Vrije Universiteit Brussel). In order to address the challenges of digitalization for urban systems, she developed Mindfulness Engineering, which connects STEM science and smart cities to neuroscience, Sufism, and mindfulness.

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Collective Consciousness and the Web

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Francis Heylighen collaborated with Shima Beigi on a research paper about the noosphere’s response to the global crisis, titled Collective Consciousness Supported by the Web: Healthy or Toxic?

Mind Outside Brain

A Radically Non-Dualist Foundation for Distributed Cognition

We approach the problem of the extended mind from a radically non-dualist perspective. The separation between mind and matter is an artefact of the outdated mechanistic worldview, which leaves no room for mental phenomena such as agency, intentionality, or feeling. We propose to replace it by an action ontology, which conceives mind and matter as aspects of the same network of processes. By adopting the intentional stance, we interpret the catalysts of elementary reactions as agents exhibiting desires, intentions, and sensations. Autopoietic networks of reactions constitute more complex super-agents, which moreover exhibit memory, deliberation and sense-making. In the specific case of social networks, individual agents coordinate their actions via the propagation of challenges. The distributed cognition that emerges from this interaction cannot be situated in any individual brain. This non-dualist, holistic view extends and operationalises process metaphysics and Eastern philosophies. It is supported by both mindfulness experiences and mathematical models of action, self-organisation, and cognition.

Noospheric consciousness

Integrating Neural Models of Consciousness and of the Web

The world-wide web has been conceptualized as a global brain for humanity due to its neural network-like organization. To determine whether this global brain could exhibit features associated with consciousness, we review three neuroscientific theories of consciousness: information integration, adaptive resonance and global workspace. These theories propose that conscious states are characterized by a globally circulating, resonant pattern of activity that is sufficiently coherent to be examined and reflected upon. We then propose a correspondence between this notion and Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the noosphere as a forum for collective thinking, and explore some implications of this self-organizing dynamics for the evolution of shared, global understanding.

Smart Cities Interview

This conversation between Shima Beigi and David Sloan Wilson focuses on Shima’s book, Mindful Smart Cities: Rethinking Smart Cities with Mindfulness Engineering.