There’s a pretty interesting interview with a German thinker called Frank Schirrmacher, and comments on that interview, at edge.org. (I like this format – it’s a bit like those new online scientific journals where you can read the reviewers’ comments to the authors.) Schirrmacher talks about the concept of informavores,
…the human being as somebody eating information. So you can, in a way, see that the Internet and that the information overload we are faced with at this very moment has a lot to do with food chains, has a lot to do with food you take or not to take, with food which has many calories and doesn’t do you any good, and with food that is very healthy and is good for you.
He has some interesting thought on “dislocated” thought and the concept of free will …
…thinking itself somehow leaves the brain and uses a platform outside of the human body. And that, of course, is the Internet and it’s the cloud. Very soon we will have the brain in the cloud. And the raises the question about the importance of thoughts. For centuries, what was important for me was decided in my brain. But now, apparently, it will be decided somewhere else.
… and prediction:
What will this mean for the question of free will? Because, in the bottom line, there are, of course, algorithms, who analyze or who calculate certain predictabilities. And I’m wondering if the comfort of free will or not free will would be a very, very tough issue of the future.
The way we predict our own life, the way we are predicted by others, through the cloud, through the way we are linked to the Internet, will be matters that impact every aspect of our lives.
The interview is worth reading in full, as are the comments. I actually agree with many of the commenters who criticize Schirrmacher’s views, but the debate is interesting and he definitely has some novel ideas.