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Thread: An alien being with a true hive mind - is such a thing possible?

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    Question An alien being with a true hive mind - is such a thing possible?

    In his 1937 book, Star Maker, Olaf Stapledon came up with an alien race he called the "bird-clouds", possibly the first example in all science fiction of a hive mind or collective consciousness built from many individual bodies (as he called it, a composite being).

    Here is a link to the original section in the novel, thanks to Google Books:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=S2...beings&f=false (click the top box, "2. Composite Beings".)

    Is such a being possible? In what kind of environment would such a creature evolve? Do such a being's drawbacks make it completely unlikely to exist?

    My first thought is, the scientific replacement for telepathy must exist: biological radio or the like.
    Last edited by Roger E. Moore; 2018-Sep-20 at 06:58 PM.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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    from a materialist point of view, maybe it could be a really slow hive mind generated by each individual exchanging huge amounts of information when they actually meet, eg by somehow joining minds.
    ................................

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    Quote Originally Posted by WaxRubiks View Post
    from a materialist point of view, maybe it could be a really slow hive mind generated by each individual exchanging huge amounts of information when they actually meet, eg by somehow joining minds.
    There are physically plausible means, like direct electrochemical neural links or complex biochemical exchange.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    In his 1937 book, Star Maker, Olaf Stapledon came up with an alien race he called the "bird-clouds", possibly the first example in all science fiction of a hive mind or collective consciousness built from many individual bodies (as he called it, a composite being).
    Vernor Vinge did a similar thing in A Fire Upon the Deep: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Fire...the_Deep#Tines

    A canid race, each "person" comprising a group mind of 4–8 members, connected by ultrasonic waves. Each "soul" can survive and evolve by adding members to replace those who die, potentially for hundreds of years

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    We might be parts of a hive mind and not know it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    We might be parts of a hive mind and not know it.
    yes, I think that units of a hive mind might not be aware that they are.
    ................................

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    We might be parts of a hive mind and not know it.
    We are social, and exchange information, but we also have individual sentience and agency. By definition, a hive mind lacks individuals.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    We are social, and exchange information, but we also have individual sentience and agency. By definition, a hive mind lacks individuals.
    I think that the hive mind would exist at a level above the individual, but the individual can have their own personality.
    ................................

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    Quote Originally Posted by WaxRubiks View Post
    I think that the hive mind would exist at a level above the individual, but the individual can have their own personality.
    Well, that is not the kind of mind the OP asks about.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Here's the part I have trouble with. I am conscious, yet I am made up one millions of tiny cells, each alive in its own way. All work together to form my awareness of self.

    If I am a collective consciousness, and if instead of certain cells creating my sensory organs, each cell had its own sensory abilities...

    ...like each telepathic ant contributing its own sensory abilities to the collective whole of the hive mind...

    ...then my consciousness would have multiple awarenesses, maybe, operating at once... no, that doesn't work. I keep coming back to needing one "operations center" collecting all the consciousness. So confusing. There must be a way to conceptualize this.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    ó Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Here's the part I have trouble with. I am conscious, yet I am made up one millions of tiny cells, each alive in its own way. All work together to form my awareness of self.

    If I am a collective consciousness, and if instead of certain cells creating my sensory organs, each cell had its own sensory abilities...

    ...like each telepathic ant contributing its own sensory abilities to the collective whole of the hive mind...

    ...then my consciousness would have multiple awarenesses, maybe, operating at once... no, that doesn't work. I keep coming back to needing one "operations center" collecting all the consciousness. So confusing. There must be a way to conceptualize this.
    The operations are distributed.

    Why does that not work?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Itís interesting that actually the human brain is like a hive mind. Itís made up of clone organisms that work by communicating through chemical signals, and they are not individually aware that they are part of a mind.


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    This is a fascinating subject. Random thoughts follow...


    Split brain experiments show that the human mind does have a least two sections that are integrated by the corpus callosum. The verbal left hemisphere just makes up stuff to justify what the right is seeing/feeling.

    The octopus has a distributed brain with each limb being semiautonomous.

    Do you consider the bee organism or the bee-hive? It is a matter of perspective. See hofstaedters “aunt hillary” essay from GEB.

    The individual neuron? The human? Or its aggregate culture?
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

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    http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/cou.../mindsi11.html


    Ants vs Ant Hills vs Aunt Hillary
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    See hofstaedters “aunt hillary” essay from GEB.
    Can you summarize? I'm not familiar with it. What is GEB?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    I've always considered a hive mind to consist of units that are individually non-sentient, just as a single ant would not be capable of the complex processing that an ant's nest can perform. Olaf Stapledon described several imaginary alien species (flocks of birds, nests of insects, even bacterial plagues) which are only sentient when fully linked together. I'd guess that it is possible that some intelligent alien species consist of populations of entities linked together by various channels, which are capable of some kind of collective processing when linked together.

    It is possible that hive minds, or rather group minds, made up of of linked individuals which are each quite competent, would be capable of very sophisticated processing indeed. In fact, I think that it is entirely reasonable to think of human society and culture as representing a true group mind, or a collection of competing and interacting group minds. We have been forming 'group minds' ever since we started using language, and even more so when we developed writing and language.

    It is also possible to extrapolate into the future, and anticipate that the 'group mind' aspect will become even more competent and capable in the future, as we improve our interactions with computers and telecommunication networks. This very forum is a kind of group mind itself, one that would not have been possible a few decades ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    It is also possible to extrapolate into the future, and anticipate that the 'group mind' aspect will become even more competent and capable in the future, as we improve our interactions with computers and telecommunication networks. This very forum is a kind of group mind itself, one that would not have been possible a few decades ago.
    We Are Borg * You Will Be Assimilated * Resistance Is Futile
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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