The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 226, Issue 2, pp 283–312 | Cite as

The offer network protocol: Mathematical foundations and a roadmap for the development of a global brain

  • Francis HeylighenEmail author
Regular Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Information in Physics and Beyond


The world is confronted with a variety of interdependent problems, including scarcity, unsustainability, inequality, pollution and poor governance. Tackling such complex challenges requires coordinated action. The present paper proposes the development of a self-organizing system for coordination, called an “offer network”, that would use the distributed intelligence of the Internet to match the offers and needs of all human, technological and natural agents on the planet. This would maximize synergy and thus minimize waste and scarcity of resources. Implementing such coordination requires a protocol that formally defines agents, offers, needs, and the network of condition-action rules or reactions that interconnect them. Matching algorithms can then determine self-sustaining subnetworks in which each consumed resource (need) is also produced (offer). After sketching the elements of a mathematical foundation for offer networks, the paper proposes a roadmap for their practical implementation. This includes step-by-step integration with technologies such as the Semantic Web, ontologies, the Internet of Things, reputation and recommendation systems, reinforcement learning, governance through legal constraints and nudging, and ecosystem modeling. The resulting intelligent platform should be able to tackle nearly all practical and theoretical problems in a bottom-up, distributed manner, thus functioning like a Global Brain for humanity.


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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences and Springer 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Brain Institute, Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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