Design Criteria for a Global Brain

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Shann Turnbull's "Design Criteria for a Global Brain"



The objective of this paper is to establish design criteria for developing a global brain that is integrated with humanity to govern life on the planet in a satisfactory environment. Three sources of design criteria are identified. (i) The limited ability of humans to: receive, manipulate, store, and transmit information, or form trusting relations with others. (ii) The laws of information and control identified by the science of governance described as cybernetics. (iii) The design strategies found in nature for creating and managing complexity with unreliable components. Transaction Byte Analysis is used as a framework to ground elements of the social sciences in the natural sciences and integrate the limited capacity of humans to transact bytes with that of technology. Strategies to promote organisational learning and reduce information overload and bounded rationality are identified and illustrated by the stakeholder firms located around the town of Mondragon in Northern Spain.

Shann Turnbull "identifies key lessons to learn from Mondragon, "a network of stakeholder-controlled enterprises located around the town of Mondragon in Northern Spain. A World Bank study found that these firms were more efficient than investor owned firms. Like mutual enterprises the stakeholder firms do not require equity investors to bring them into existence or to make them efficient.

Over 80% of investor owned firms typically fail in their first five years compared with less than 1% of the Mondragon firms."


Turnbull, Shann,Design Criteria for a Global Brain(July 5, 2001). Presented to The First Global Brain Workshop (Gbrain O) Vrije Universiteit Brussei, Brussels, Belguim, Thursday, July 5, 2001

Available at SSRN: or DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.283715