Body functions and activities are algorithmically monitored, regulated and modulated. In this way, human bodies distributed in space and time are increasingly connected in a worldwide network. The Internet of Things and the Internet of Bodies themselves are inseparable and require each other in what I call “intervention”.
In contrast to evolution, which unfolds over time, intervolution is an entanglement over time, an evolutionary process in which seemingly discrete bodies and things work together to weave mutually adaptable networks. The Internet of Things and the Internet of Bodies – think of them as intelligent things and intelligent bodies – are thus connected to an intervolutionary network that will produce nothing less than the people of the future.
The global network that is developing around us forms the biotechnical infrastructure for future physical and cognitive development. Expanded bodies and expanded thoughts will unite into superorganisms and superintelligence. The expanded mind will not only extend from external devices and processes to the internal recesses of what we once held to be our private selves, but also extend in the opposite direction – from once impenetrable internal processing to once inaccessible external networks.
This interaction of machines and mind creates a form of super intelligence that already exceeds human cognitive abilities. Superorganisms, made up of prostheses and implants that communicate through bodies in the cloud, extend the current lifespan by making full use of and exploiting the deep truth that all life is shared.
Diabetes has taught me that I am never just myself, but always different from myself. As my pump and I first met and learned to live together, I found that my body extends beyond itself.
The intranet of my body, the Internet of Things, and the Internet of Bodies share a common language and can therefore communicate with each other. Sometimes we get this wrong and have to recalibrate it. Fortunately, my pump always calculates, thinks and speaks to my body and other intelligent things, even when I am not.
I have become a node in this network of networks and I can no longer live without it. Just as mind and body cannot be separated, the superorganism and superintelligence are interdependent and interconnected. I do not impose my intelligence on an unruly world or resilient others; on the contrary, I am just a fleeting moment in a process that includes me and surpasses me.
I now realize that the body and mind that I once believed to be my own are expressions of an intelligence that is neither simply natural nor merely artificial. As sentient environments and distributed insights continue to expand, I, along with all other intelligent things and intelligent bodies, will contribute to the complex intervolutionary process that will continuously shape everything and everyone for a long, long time.
Mark C. Taylor is Professor of Religion at Columbia University and author of Intervolution: Smart Bodies, Smart Things.
Now printed: “Modern ethics in 77 arguments,” and “The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments, ”With articles from the series, edited by Peter Catapano and Simon Critchley, edited by Liveright Books.
The Times is committed to publishing a variety of letters To the editor. We’d love to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some Tips. And here is our email: [email protected].
Follow the “New York Times Opinion” section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.