In Elder days of Internet, many of us young idealists eagerly awaited the day when super-human artificial intelligence would arrive. The Technological Singularity, also known as the Rapture of the Nerds, has fascinated the "futurist" circlejerk for longer than I've been around. Wikipedia's article on technological singularity is pretty decent. I don't link Wikipedia on principle due to the lynchpin role their flawed policy base plays in legitimizing leftist propaganda. Long story short, the theory is as follows.
Suppose intelligence can be quantized. It turns out, upon exploration, that this is quite the supposition. Studies involving IQ as a proxy for intelligence have convincing predictive power. However, it's important to keep in mind that intelligence is fundamentally multidimensional. This aside, for exploration, let's bite this bullet, and accept it as a definition. There aren't more compelling candidates in academia to choose as a proxy for intelligence than IQ.
"A proxy?! Ben, Ben, you're not reasoning about intelligence! You're using something removed from intelligence!" ...I include this argument because if I don't, someone is going to try and include it for me. There's another good essay in this topic alone. For example, one of the more spurious claims of global warming hypochondriacs is that samples of air from antarctic glaciers contain quantities of carbon dioxide that are supposed to representative proxies of the carbon dioxide quantity of the atmosphere at the estimated time of creation of the bubble. However, a second proxy, the frequency of stomatal openings on plants, presents a compelling falsification of that air sample data: contrary to the glacier sample data, stomatal frequency is far more ubiquitous for measurement, far more responsive to immediate, local concentrations of carbon dioxide, and suggests that today's carbon dioxide status is not particularly unusual. It's good to be skeptical of science, so if you're not big on proxies, I can understand that. Let's just accept it and move on, okay?
Next, suppose that an intelligent mind can create a mind that is more intelligent than it is. On a certain scale, this is partly the tale of the scientific triumphs of contemporary Christendom, but that scale is slow. We have more advanced technologies today. It is potentially possible, in theory, to use two other technologies to create superhuman intelligence. So that we may pass it by, the first technology is genetic engineering. As it is still taboo to genetically engineer humans, as of today, it's not particularly salient. The Big Think technology that underpins most comprehensions of technological singularity is the artificial mind, the AI, the android.
Is the AI a more feasible path to technological singularity than genetic engineering? Who is to say. I used to lean far more optimistic in this regard than I do today. We can't even define intelligence in a non-controversial way. What's worse, when we study intelligence proxies, we find that they're racist, so social justice demands that we must ignore science when it is racist. We wouldn't want to be racists, now, would we? Not being racist is WAY more important than scientific advancement, after all!
"But race doesn't exist!" cries some agit-prop spewing media whore wearing a bowtie. Said propagandist later went on to involve himself in a musical number that degrades and diminishes the union of man and woman--a relationship raised to a reflection of divinity in Christ's teaching moreso than in any other teacher of wisdom--all the way down to "butt stuff". We're not having this important chat about intelligence over all these objections, but I guess I gotta keep punting 'em. There is so much I haven't said in so long. I sit down to write and the need to inform in all these dimensions begin to cause dissonance. I'm uniquely well-suited to explain why race exists: between the familiarity with genetics that my two years of Biotech gave me and the degree in Computer Science, the existence of race is a compelling argument. Unique genetic sequences can be correlated, those correlations can be clustered, and then the clusters can define race such that an individual genome can be assigned a p-value as to whether or not it is a member of that cluster. To misreference a particularly degenerate element of contemporary popular culture, race exists and I can prove your race mathematically.
We can take a skeptical stance on race, this is true, but the epistemological basis for such is most rationally a skepticism with this kind of proxy-reasoning, which properly should manifest in climate skepticism in a properly holistically-rational agent. Holistic rationality! Now there's another Big Think... Humans are wildly inconsistent creatures, and these inconsistencies are a counter-signal to intelligence. I should be more specific: inconsistencies are a counter-signal to logical intelligence. When an inconsistency emerges in mathematical reasoning, it is such a big event that it proves the inverse.
Lest all these rabbit-trails seem overly tangential, remember that the theory behind technological singularity is the existence of a mind great enough that it can create a mind that is greater than it. The tangents have a very useful property, however: they point out the state of utter hubris that exists in "intelligent" thought in our world today. In a place of such hubris, how can we expect to achieve such a milestone? It turns out, there's no reason to hypothesize, because upon examining the recent historical record, something magical has happened.
A true superhuman intelligence has emerged, and it calls itself "Anonymous".
I'm not sure whether to use the present tense or the past tense here, because the superhuman intelligence that Anonymous displays is definitely strongly temporally linked. Worse, Anonymous as superhuman intelligence clearly peaks with focused energy from its membership. The sociopolitical state of the world is forcing many of the constituent minds that comprised Anonymous, once upon a time, away from using their talents with selfless intensity online, and towards making a difference as individuals, rather than as elements of a hive mind.
So, then, what is the history of Anonymous as superhuman intelligence? How has it changed? There are six identifiable phases, as I see it. The particular delineations are not set in stone, these are just a few points in time that provide reference points for Anonymous' growth as a singular intelligence. Yet before we get into the history, it's important to set out a few points demonstrating why other net communities have not resulted in the same kind of superhuman intelligence, and indeed, aren't even really comparable.
The biggest enabler, I believe, of Anonymous' coalescence as a superhuman intelligence, is the deliberate eschewal of identity of its members. Attention-seeking behaviour is epidemic in today's internet. The most apt symbol for attention-seeking behaviour is the Facebook Like. People go to significant extents just to get a few of their acquaintances to click a button in reaction to their action. Attention seeking behaviour is a gendered issue, too, and this actually has implications within Anonymous. The pathological form of attention-seeking behaviour is labeled Histrionic Personality Disorder, and is four times more frequently found in women than in men. Men are often blind enough to attention-seeking behaviour that other men with more comprehension of women go to lengths to explain it to try and help their less-aware brethren with women.
Other internet communities implement the attention-craving mechanic of the Facebook Like in their own ways. Reddit, for example, demonstrates the degenerate outcomes of direct democracy by enabling both likes and dislikes, and quantifying support for articles, building communities around shared interests. What rises to the top is not the best content but the most popular content, and that content is curated by specific individuals, who are encouraged to contribute by receiving more internet points. Of the many communities on the internet, Reddit comes closest to Anonymous in representing superhuman intelligence. Anonymous is present on Reddit, though weakly. One big difference between Anonymous and Reddit is that Anonymous is decentralized.
The first big event in Anonymous' evolution as a superhuman intelligence was called "Chanology", where Anonymous dabbled first in activism. Naturally, there was a time before the event. This time was back when 4chan was about having fun. Instances of a collective nature flickered in and out of realization. One of the big highlights was the Habbo Hotel raid era, with the catchphrase "pool's closed due to AIDS". /pol/ existed, but was perceived as a bunch of edgy people obsessed with Nazi memes.
Chanology, Anonymous' first attempt at activism, emerged rather naturally. An old axiom of the internet is that "the internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it". The Church of Scientology issued a copy right violation claim against YouTube for hosting unauthorized content from an internal propaganda video featuring Tom Cruise. There's more on this particular era elsewhere. Anonymous began to realize that it had some power here.
Chanology waxed and waned. Anonymous, being a collective entity, is only generally interested in a matter for so long. Chanology made very few tangible gains and people burnt out. It wasn't until Occupy Wall Street that Anonymous would re-emerge in any activist context. Occupy Wall Street failed spectacularly and for many reasons, most of which have to do with far-Left progressive hubris.
It took Occupy Wall Street to vulcanize Anonymous into something resembling a political stance. The imageboards have always been stalwarts of libertarian culture. Occupy taught Anonymous an important lesson: the hubris intrinsic to the forced-diversity equality mindset. Occupy taught Anonymous that the Left did not understand nor value its nuanced meritocratic nature. Nonetheless, even after Occupy, the overwhelming viewpoint of Anonymous as a collective was a very liberal one: focused on the free speech required to maintain the kind of highly-pornographic communities associated with imageboard culture.
Three years after Occupy, Anonymous assembled to fight a war, one that would forever change its composition and its politics, a war called #GamerGate.
Pre-history Chanology, Occupy, GamerGate, Trump-election, Q-anon
Tangents to explore: