The author predicts that this change of the internet into a 'Global Brain' will happen within five years. Essentially it means the Internet will be a knowledge source that restructures itself based on what people need.
An example given in the article of an already existing web system created by researchers at Los Alamos called the Distributed Knowledge System (DKS). Basically it's a website that keeps track of where people are visitng and where they're not visitng and rearranges previously static hyperlinks as required. The article says that in essence it finds shortcuts, ie. if a user starts at A, clicks on B, then from B goes to C the system will infer that there is a relationship that's potentially useful between A and C and creates an appropriate link.
The head of the research team (Cliff Joslyn) maintains a page of DKS related links.
The article goes on to say that in the coming years this kind of technology is likely to be adapted to the WWW as a whole. To quote the article, the researchers themselves are unsure as to what would happen if this was implemented on the WWW, "All these innovations combined on a global scale would create a network with complex behaviours that we can't yet conceive of. Would it create Utopia, dystopia or something altogether new?"
I think that something like this would be very useful. In a way I think Google is already trying to do this, ranking pages by how many links they have to them, but this means it can be hard for 'new' sites to get themselves hit via searches because in order to get links they need to be found first. Kinda a circular argument. With this system the Global Brain would see people visitng a new site about X and automatically add its link to other sites about X.. kind of like an automatic webring I guess?
What would also be cool is that a weblog, instead of working the way it does now, could work something like this: We all (we being the K5 readers) register and K5 knows the sites we visit (Yay! Invasion of privacy!) and generates itself based on what people are reading. This would mean you'd get all the most useful information the community is getting, assuming the community shares your interests.
The article addresses the whole privacy thing towards the end, ending with this quote which I think is very amusing:
"If, as it seems, the global brain is our inevitable future, and we can't turn it off, our only option might be to blend into the crowd. After all, if you're not exceptionally rich, powerful or clever, the global brain shouldn't need to disturb you. Back up your files, act dumb and keep your head down. There is a growing intelligence out there, and it knows your e-mail address."
I'm interested to see what everyone else thinks about this.