The merging of humans and machines into a global super-organism
A surprise from bestselling novelty-book author Stock (The Book of Questions, 1987, etc.): a jolting but seductively hopeful perspective on the future of human beings when the species is viewed--along with its culture, fellow species, and technology--as a superorganism.
Though by no means original--the idea of society as an organism has its precedents in Lovelock, Teilhard de Chardin, Spencer, and innumerable science fiction novels, all the way back to medieval and ancient Greek thought--Stock's presentation of the superorganism ``Metaman,'' supported by scads of data, a winning style, and a sharp and powerful logic, has the potential to attract readers and believers.
Though occupying the same intellectual ground as the Gaia hypothesis, Metaman has differences from Gaia that will strike some as dangerous and some as a welcome corrective to Green ideology. Where Gaia places humanity as one of many components, to be eliminated if its depredations grow too great for the superorganism's good, Stock places humanity at the core and soul of the Metaman superorganism, its purposes of paramount importance.
Thus the author makes politically incorrect assertions like ``there are scores of matters more important to humanity than the loss of the snail darter,'' as well as arguments like his contention that individual privacy must yield to the data- collection needs of Metaman.
Stock says that Metaman, the collective organism, is the next logical step in evolution, following three major transformations in levels of complexity: from biochemicals to primitive bacteria; from bacteria to animal cells; from those cells to multicellular organisms. With commerce and transport its circulatory system, telecommunications its nervous system, and potential space colonization its reproductive system,
Metaman offers a coherent format for our future. Engaging and informative--but whether Stock turns out to be starry-eyed dreamer or hard-headed prophet remains to be seen.
Metaman human society has become an immense living being --a global superorganism.