He believed that just as life had covered
the Earth to form the biosphere, so mankind — thinking life — would
eventually encompass life to form a higher layer, a cogitative layer
he called the noosphere.
-- Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, The Light of Other Days (2000)
Communication in plants mainly takes place in
elaborate chemical ways and, in some cases, via light and vibration.
Animals can communicate via chemicals (e.g., pheromones) and other
means that they can produce and perceive. They make sense of various
electromagnetic signals via their magnetic sense (e.g., migratory
birds), electrical sense (e.g., electric fish) and vision (visible
spectrum, thermal spectrum, IR and UV spectrum in some animals such as
honeybees, snakes and raptors, single photon detection, generation of
camouflaged polarized patterns for communication on squid skins). The
auditory sense in some animals amazes with its huge bandwidth (some
bats easily hear frequencies higher than 100 000 Hz, and use tiniest
modulations for echolocation, with subnanometer mechanical
thresholds). The sense of smell is so accurate that we can detect
single molecules. And with our sense of touch we can e.g., perceive
textures messages written in Braille. And these are just some of the
senses of people and animals!
Since the development of electrical devices for communication, our sensory field and our potential to talk has enlarged tremendously. We can now communicate across space, across languages and across species. Online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia provide knowledge at our fingertips, and – what might be one of the most revolutionary aspects of our new ways of communication – via the convergence of minds we all shift from consumers to collaborators, with emergent results beyond our wildest imagination. We are currently creating worlds as we want them – online. But such online paradises are just the beginning – together we can bring them to reality – with the help of elaborate control, instrumentation, communication and computational technologies.
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