COLLECTIVE (man-machine) INTELLIGENCE and SUSTAINABILITY. An investigation

(June 21, 2023 – June 22, 2023)

–!! Not yet finished !!–


The steady progress of science has defeated many familiar ideas from the past and this change of concepts continues. This belongs to concepts like ‘intelligence’, ‘collective intelligence’ , ‘man, ‘machine’, ‘artificial intelligence’, ‘life’, ‘matter’ and many more.

Such changes with concepts are always difficult to describe. Ideally one would be an ‘external observer’ with a ‘full view’ of everything which is going on, and additionally one possesses a ‘full knowledge’ about all the features and dynamics of the field of the phenomena.

But we aren’t. We are part of the process ourselves . Our understanding is interspersed with familiar images and at the same time with new questions and new partial views. Under these conditions to find a ‘consistent new view’ of the whole process can only be worked out step wise, associated with experiments to check the viability of a new aspect of the new view.

And, one should not forget, the ‘reader’ of a text from lives under the same conditions: a mixture of everything is possible; therefore an understanding can crash not because a certain text is ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ or whatever, but because at that moment of reading the ‘models in the heads’ of reader and writer are not ‘overlapping enough’. Then there is no chance of understanding because we depend completely from the ‘models in our heads’.

Accepting this the following text is an undertaken to describe a special view of life in this universe be laying out some possible principles how this new view could be constructed following these principles.


Because at the beginning of this writing the final outcome is open and the ‘way to reach the result’ is as such difficult, the author decided to make the research process directly the content of a process article.

The following parts of the process article seem to be important:

  1. Describe a ‘working hypotheses’ at the start.
  2. Look for ‘arguments pro or contra’.
  3. Look for ‘other texts’ related to these arguments (always pro & contra).
  4. Make decisions after every step, whether an argument (and possibly different texts) supports or criticizes or modifies the working hypothesis.
  5. Give a new version of the working hypothesis, if necessary.

Moreover it has to be ‘monitored’ (Meta-Level), whether this procedure works satisfyingly.


To begin, a first version of the working hypothesis has to be formulated. What is ‘given’ as an ‘assumption’ are the concepts ‘COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE’ with the special focus on the role of the intelligence of ‘man’ and ‘machines’ as part of a — possibly larger — concept of ‘INTELLIGENCE’. Furthermore it is assumed, that these concepts shall be investigated in the context of the question of a possible ‘SUSTAINABILITY’ of the hybrid ‘man-machine’ cooperation as part of the ‘whole life (the ‘biosphere’)’ on this planet, even extended to the whole known universe.

To elaborate these concepts in more concreteness and as a ‘hypothesis’ which can be ‘tested’ in the future, whether it ‘works’ or not, one needs a ‘minimal vision’ of what shall be assumed as ‘wishful future’ for a biosphere with a man-machine pair as part of it.

A ‘wishful future’ which can be ‘tested’ has to be (i) a ‘description of a state’, located some time ahead, and (ii) the ‘way into this future’ must be describable such, that we have a clear ‘starting point’ — e.g. the year 2023 — and (iii) that we have a sufficient knowledge about all possible changes, which can ‘transform/ change’ the actual situation step wise, that it is highly probable that we will reach finally the ‘envisioned future state’. Here highly import are especially those changes, which can be triggered by our own actions as humankind. And it has to be mentioned (iv), that we would need clear instructions how to apply the changes in order to be successful.

To (i): Wishful State

What would a citizen somewhere on this planet answer, if he would be asked “What do you think is a ‘wishful state’ in the future?”

It needs not too much fantasy that we would get nearly as many different answer as there are citizens living on this planet.

To (ii): The ‘way into this future’

To (iii): ‘Knowledge about all possible changes’

To (iv): ‘Clear instructions how to apply’


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[2023] Raymond NobleUniversity College LondonDenis NobleUniversity of Oxford, Understanding Living Systems, Cambridge University Press. (Expected Online Publication June 23). Words by the publisher: “Life is definitively purposive and creative. Organisms use genes in controlling their destiny. This book presents a paradigm shift in understanding living systems. The genome is not a code, blueprint or set of instructions. It is a tool orchestrated by the system. This book shows that gene-centrism misrepresents what genes are and how they are used by living systems. It demonstrates how organisms make choices, influencing their behaviour, their development and evolution, and act as agents of natural selection. It presents a novel approach to fundamental philosophical and cultural issues, such as free-will. Reading this book will make you see life in a new light, as a marvellous phenomenon, and in some sense a triumph of evolution. We are not in our genes, our genes are in us.”

[2023]  Benedict RattiganDenis NobleAfiq Hatta, (Eds), The Language of Symmetry, CRC Press

[2022] RAYMOND NOBLE and DENIS NOBLE, Physiology restores purpose to evolutionary biology, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2022, XX, 1–13. With 3 figures. Abstract: “Life is purposefully creative in a continuous process of maintaining integrity; it adapts to counteract change. This is an ongoing, iterative process. Its actions are essentially directed to this purpose. Life exists to exist. Physiology is the study of purposeful living function. Function necessarily implies purpose. This was accepted all the way from William Harvey in the 17th century, who identified the purpose of the heart to pump blood and so feed the organs and tissues of the body, through many 19th and early 20th century examples. But late 20th century physiology was obliged to hide these ideas in shame. Teleology became the ‘lady who no physiologist could do without, but who could not be acknowledged in public.’ This emasculation of the discipline accelerated once the Central Dogma of molecular biology was formulated, and once physiology had become sidelined as concerned only with the disposable vehicle of evolution. This development has to be reversed. Even on the practical criterion of relevance to health care, gene-centrism has been a disaster, since prediction from elements to the whole system only rarely succeeds, whereas identifying whole system functions invariably makes testable predictions at an elemental level.”

[2017] Manuel Vogel, Review: From matter to life: information and causality, edited by S. I. Walker, P. C. W. Davies and G. F. R. Ellis: Scope: edited book. Level: general readership, review in Contemporary Physics · June 2017

[2017] S. I. Walker, P. C. W.Davies and G. F. R. Ellis (Eds), From MATTER to LIFE. Information and Causality, Cambridge University Press

[2017] Denis Noble, Dance to the Tune of Life. Biological Relativity, Cambridge University Press

[2007] Denis Noble, Video Lecture, 2007, “Principle of Systems Biology illustrated using the Virtual Heart”, URL:

[2006] Denis Noble, The Music of Life. Biology beyond the genome, Oxford University Press Inc., New York

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