No, it’s not just a fancy metaphore. We are building a global brain, connecting the neurons by our collective efforts to put knowledge online, connecting sensors to the net, tagging, aggregating, commenting, linking, concluding...
We’ve been at it for a long time. Maybe it started with the passing of knowledge and stories between generations, it gained speed with the ability to draw and write to store and transmit information, - and you the rest: Things are accellerating, with more connections, better tools.
And it’s real. Real knowledge, real inventions, valuable insights emerge as people connect the dots and exchange information.
It’s almost banal, but we are collectively enhancing our cognitive abilties through our increasing participation in this emerging global organism.
Much has been said about using genetics and nanotech to enhance humans, but in fact we’re doing it all the time. Our cognitive and sensory abilities are very directly related to the degree to which we use information technology. And we’ve long since passed the point where we could do without it.