Do We Need a Global Brain?

  • Jan Sliwa University of Applied Sciences Bern
Keywords: Pervasive Computing, Social Impact of Technology, Experts' Rule


The new trend of Pervasive Computing, based on massively deployed wireless sensor and actor networks, will enable gathering data about the world with an unprecedented accuracy and influencing it. Among many application fields, health support system will permit to measure and transmit the vital health parameters and to exert externally controlled actions on the human body. Such systems provide evident benefits, but also pose great new risks of misuse by totalitarian governments or criminals. Also “good” governments, in their effort to improve the lives of the citizens, may be tempted to rectify their conduct beyond their will and to enforce it with new means of total surveillance. This Global Brain, controlled by authorities advised by experts, too complex to be overseen by the general public, may lead to a revival of the Plato’s Rule of the Philosophers, a Brave New World where democracy is just an empty shell.

Author Biography

Jan Sliwa, University of Applied Sciences Bern

Jan Sliwa has received his MSc degree in Automation in 1977 from the Silesian Institute of Technology in Gliwice, Poland. After 4 years at an Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences he moved to Switzerland where he developed software in languages ranging from Assembler to Java. He worked many years in the area of industrial control and then switched to Web-Database applications. In recent years his activity field was related to medicine (drug approval, medical registries). He is currently affiliated to the Department of Engineering end Information Technology of the University of Applied Sciences of Berne (BFH-TI) in Biel, Switzerland. His non-IT specialty is languages and cultures: Germanic, Romanic, Slavic and East Asian.

Special Issue: The Difference that Makes a Difference 2011