The Technosphere and the Noosphere of the Earth

In my 2016 book Shrinking the Technosphere I described the technosphere as a nonhuman global emergent intelligence driven by an abstract teleology of total control, a networked machine with some human moving parts (fewer and fewer every day), utterly devoid of any moral or ethical sense (but skilled in using morality and ethics for manipulative purposes). The technosphere can keep you alive and comfortable if it finds you useful but can just as easily kill you, its killing technologies being some of the most advanced. I made the case that we ought to work diligently on shrinking the technosphere; not eliminating technology altogether, mind you, since that would spell the death of billions, but reigning it in and becoming the master of it rather than it being the master of us.

My book did define half the problem but, concentrating as it did on technology alone, it ignored the other half by placing an important question—What drives the totality of the human endeavor?—out of scope. Yes, the technosphere doesn’t particularly care whether we live or die. If we must shrink the technosphere, then to what purpose? The technosphere is powerful, and to wage battle against it requires some measure of heroism and wild abandon. But what is to motivate us to become heroes—fear of death? Well, fear has never produced a hero. Why try to be a hero if mere cowardice can produce similar results?

What can control and shrink the technosphere is not you or me and our puny and pathetic efforts but cultural and civilizational forces beyond our control. In order to understand them, we first have to admit that nothing is out of scope. We need to start by examining the variety of religious mythologies that serve as the basis for most human motivations. Some of them constrain the technosphere in purposeful ways while others allow it to run rampant. These mythologies, along with everything that is built up on top of them, comprise the noosphere of the Earth, which I will attempt to describe.

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