The Power of the Network

Wether we like it or not, everyone is part of a network. Be it travelling to work, talking to friends online and even our own brains, are networked. Road networks are used by millions of people everyday to get from A to B, social media is constantly helping people link to new people through old friends, and the very stucture of our as a network is vital for making instant decisions and controlling various elements of our bodies. THere’s no escaping them. in a recent lecture we were shown this video which talks about how a group of scientists and engineers are planning to create an artificial human brain:

The video talks about why this is important. One of those reasons is that it would be an incredibly useful tool to help us understand how the brain works, and that can help in medicine and other similar areas. A topic discussed in the video is people’s perception of the world around them. The video claims that when entering a room, “99% of what you see isn’t what enters your eyes, it’s what’s perceived by your brain.” “I can say with some certainty, I think therefore I am. but I can’t say You think therefore, you are, because you’re all in my perceptual bubble”. These theories help us to understand how most networks work and function, especially the human brain. by having many millions of connections, networks can help to show how one thing is linked to another, or how one thing is perceived by another. What one person sees in a room would be different to what another person see, or how the room is described, because people perceive things in different ways.

Our brains, the universe and the internet are constructed very similarly, and this may be more than a coinsidence. The study of Chaos Theory and The Six Degrees of Seperation are all intended to prove how everything in the world is linked.

Chaos theory is the study of nonlinear dynamics, in which seemingly random events are actually predictable from simple deterministic equations. – http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/chaos-theory

Put more simply, it’s the study of how seemingly random events can have a predictable impact due to a universal system of calculations and equations. Some people dedicate their lives to its study, with a solid answer yet to be discovered. Six Degrees of Separation is slightly similar, as it’s the concept that everyone in the world is linked by no more than 6 different connections. For example I would know someone in Coventry who would know someone in the UK, who know’s someone in the US, that know’s someone else who knows someone else who knows President Obama. This is the theory, and while it most probably is true, it’ll be impossible to determine for certain. This is the power of networks.

I find this kind of network theory very interesting, but also very unnerving. To think that everyone is connected in some way, shape or form is slightly terrifying, and with the rate that technology is advancing, how much longer will people be able to live in what they believe to be anonymity? Will our entire lives be open for everyone to view, and how will that effect us as the human race? Undoubtedly we will adapt and change to meet this advance of technology, but will it be a change for the better or worse?

Networks control our lives for good and for bad (mostly good). They help us to organise our infrastructure, connect a collection of computers, talk to our friends, live on a day to day basis and construct the universe. So like it or not, networks and their seemingly infinite power, are here to stay.

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