The Collective Brain

Jan 8 2013 @ 3:00pm

In examining Stephen Hawking's network of assistants, technicians and machines, Hélène Mialet notices the collective nature of his genius:

Traditionally, assistants execute what the head directs or has thought of beforehand. But Hawking’s assistants – human and machine – complete his thoughts through their work; they classify, attribute meaning, translate, perform. Hawking’s example thus helps us rethink the dichotomy between humans and machines.

It also helps us rethink the dichotomy between those who are in charge, and those who execute. While far less embodied, just think about Obama’s brain trust on the night of the election: Were they not part of Obama’s brain? They helped make his success happen; they were as, if not more, invested in the outcomes; and they looked just as exhausted as Obama’s mind probably felt.

Someone who is powerful is a collective, and the more collective s/he becomes, the more singular they seem.

Thanks for being out there, Dishheads.