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Once upon a time, the grandson of mad scientist found a notebook and a couple of ampoules with gray goo in his basement. Promises of a perfect society where no lies, crime or corruption exists were on every page of heavily scientific notebook.

Years have passed and young lad became a scientific prodigy and in his private lab he tested the goo on Petri dishes and humans that won't be looked for (beggars, for instance).

Based on Plague Inc's Neurax

Results:

  • Goo is a Tiny and Light micro-organism
  • Can be made to choose it's host or harmlessly reject (ignore) it
  • Can survive a day without food or week with food/host.
  • All test subjects developed telepathy towards other subjects
  • Within measurable distances a communication occurs even without line of sight
  • All test subjects can identify another infected with 100% success
  • First stage can be fast and painful (under 20 hours) or slow and smooth (at least a week to soften the impact and doesn't cause panic)
  • Test subjects know anything that any other test subject knows and passively develop any mental skill that any other knows, be it chess, algebra or foreign language.
  • All test subjects agree that it's a good idea to have a hive mind and all of them are willing to help spreading "the cure".
  • The goo is not airborne by itself but can survive most harsh environments where humans live.
  • No single point of failure since everyone is equal.
  • Weirdos might exist but they won't be misunderstood since everyone can get the right picture of things of what's happening in a weirdo's mind and feel what it's like to be in its shoes
  • Free will is not gone, but peer pressure is now a real deal.

With this success, the lad went to the pub to celebrate and met a couple of friends and drunk too much. This is his last chance to either change the world or leave it all as is because the hive mind will doom everyone. What can go wrong? What are thoughts AGAINST this change?

Feel free to assume that during the infectious phase, a couple of the "volunteers" will sneeze in airports, mix it up a bit in the water towers and spice up the food and promote travel to spread it even more, so nothing can go wrong, at least in the first month.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by sphennings, Andon, Vincent, L.Dutch, JBH Jan 11 '18 at 4:21

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding.SE. Please take our tour to learn more about the site. You may also consider looking at other questions about hive minds, which contain some of the information you're looking for. It's worth noting that simply making humanity "telepathic" wouldn't instantly (or even slowly) change human behavior. We'd simply find new ways to hide our thoughts, emotions, intent, and secrets. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 11 '18 at 4:30
  • $\begingroup$ Your propose seem to be similar to Protoss Khala => telepath communication, everyone know what other is thinking (like peer-to-peer mind reading). (starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Protoss) $\endgroup$ – Haha TTpro Jan 11 '18 at 11:34
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The simplest answer to this question is 'a lot', but before we even get to that, some of the assumptions you make cannot be right.

If free will is gone, that implies that the mind works as a collective, which seems to be the intent of your question. If that is the case however, then telepathy must be global. Distance and line of sight can have no meaning, otherwise there must still be some sense of independence remaining to the individual that allows 'it' to function when isolated or alone.

I'm going to assume global telepathy for the rest of this answer as it's closest to the spirit of the OP.

From a psychological perspective, the egocentric nature of our minds would be shattered almost immediately. The fact that a single mind can now see a situation from 2 or more perspectives, sharing the emotional and physiological symptoms that help drive that perspective, means that the ability to differentiate between 'my' thoughts and 'our' thoughts hasn't had time to form before the experience begins. That effectively wipes out the sense of self as an organism, and instantly reasserts it as a collective.

That said, if the emotions and physiological sensations (burning, pain, cold, hunger, fear, etc.) are part of the telepathy, a single mind could be overwhelmed by the maelstrom of different sensations coming from other minds. This in turn could cause confusion. How do you know to take your finger from the flame when (if there's 5 of you in the collective) there's only a 20% chance it's your finger burning? How do you think through the constant distractions?

Sure, everyone would now be equally good at chess, engineering, poetry, etc. The human mind stores a lot more than that however. What about someone with poor body image or low self-esteem? That person's sense of body image and scenes of itself in the mirror are now transmitted throughout the collective, along with the sense of revulsion that these images engender. The opposite is also true of those with acute narcissism. How do we reconcile such personal thoughts into a collective?

Not to mention that one of the collective once stole from another member, who never found out about it before. Oops, how do we manage that little piece of information? Knowing everything another person knows is sometimes less than helpful; even dangerous.

This assumes normal mental health. How do we integrate schizophrenics? Their very sense of reality is distorted and even though it can be argued that the broader collective should be able to filter out the hallucinations and other distortions of their reality, what if they just get integrated into the prevailing world view (meaning that the entire collective is just a little unwell)?

Then, you have blind or deaf people. They're (all of a sudden) bombarded with a massive amount of sensory data that they don't know how to process and that probably doesn't make immediate sense to them. That confusion is then transmitted to the rest of the collective. Our pool is needing a dose of chlorine by now, but wait! There's more...

Children. Other adults with learning difficulties. They are now bombarded with images, only some of which are PG or lower rated. That time you watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that wedding night you had 20 years ago; the 6 year old that just joined the collective has unrestricted access to it. Again, one can argue that the wealth of information assaulting a child's mind would put all those experiences into context instantly, but it's assuming that the neurochemistry of a young mind can handle that kind of connection and that kind of instant learning and rationalisation experience.

I'm assuming that this 'network' is effectively a peer to peer experience, and that therefore every mind contains a slightly differently nuanced set of complete experiences and memories of the collective. As the collective expands, this means that whatever process the telepathy takes place with eventually gets saturated in terms of bandwidth. Just how much information can be bombarded into a mind new to the collective and how do you manage the order in which it appears to allow for things to be integrated in a normal manner?

We haven't even touched on the new alignment of interest within the collective, and whether or not it would be willing to sacrifice a person (node) within it for its own survival or advancement. Does that person realise that he or she is being sacrificed? Does that have an impact on the collective? How is food allocated during shortages and the like? Self interest is a very confusing issue in such a hive mind. It can cause all sorts of paradoxes and conflicting answers before it gets resolved.

Perhaps the biggest danger of all is homogeneity. If we're all the same, and we all have access to the same information, where is the need to learn something new? Where's the competition in life that makes us stronger? Where's our need to grow? A hive mind is just as likely to stagnate and be unable to adapt to new conditions quickly as it is provide any advancement to our way of thinking.

Personally, I'm against it and I think it would cause more issues than it would solve. But then, I'm a private person and keep a lot of things to myself (when I'm not answering questions here). All that said, the idea that we would understand each other in such a configuration I suspect is surface thinking and hasn't been explored down to the levels beyond the knowledge that we could gain on an academic front. Not only that, but I deeply suspect that the chorus of perspectives would make that knowledge unusable because of the poor signal to noise ratio.

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  • $\begingroup$ Regarding memories and kids, there were many societies where this kind of "event" was normal and happened with kids as well. Even today you can find a nudist community where kids hang out with adults where the only "clothing" are flip flops. Gore'ish memories from both survivors and doctors will make people overall less sensitive to the subject and, for instance, after a train wreck, a person who saw bodies countless times, won't cringe out and help with cleaning and saving like he's doing gardening. $\endgroup$ – Filipa Jan 11 '18 at 13:51
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What can go wrong ...

  1. Hyperconformism leads to s stagnation

  2. People are sincere about conflicting value systems. Just because a person is honest doesn't mean he shares your value system. To the jihadi, ii am a legitimate target for execution, to me the jihadi is a legitimate target for religious conversion. Understanding our world views does not change the world view.

  3. The political class gets lynched. While this might be a good thing in the long run, there will be short term chaos as society readjusts.

  4. Understanding the"weirdo" does not mean he will be accepted more. It just opens up a new avenue for cruelty because there is no question about the intent of the victimized

  5. Some forms of "wierdo" may turn out to be contagious.

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  • $\begingroup$ 2,3,4: yes, it will lead to the power of majority and many will ether adapt to majority or die ether "alone" or by force. if everyone will be aware of problems(as they are, without sugar coating) on the other side of the world, they can ether isolate a region or intervene hard enough to stop the problem. $\endgroup$ – Filipa Jan 11 '18 at 13:36
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I'm going to assume that once someone joins the hive mind they instantly have access to all the knowledge of everyone else. (If they don't it will end up being multiple separate hive minds who will fight over who is right).

The biggest problem is to decide/figure out how the knowledge is accepted in different people. Someone might firmly believe in God and believed they witnessed miracles while another person doesn't believe in God and can explain the miracles. Would the believer be able to accept this conflicting knowledge as part of the Hive mind? What if they formed 90% of the Hive mind? What happens if there are multiple conflicting views and which one wins. Assuming the current hive mind is friendly, people who have conflicting views with the hive mind might purposely avoid or sabotage it due to conflicting views. Sometimes these views aren't just because of misunderstanding, but a deeply ingrained belief.

Next, would you still retain your individuality. What happens to your conscience when you merge it with the memories of every other person in the hive mind? Will you still retain your beliefs, or will you eventually adapt the beliefs of the Hive mind. People will be reluctant to join, especially if everyone in the hive mind losses their personality. They would lose their personality, because I have assumed they would have access to the knowledge of everyone else. They suddenly aren't their original selves and all these new memories will become part of them. (Otherwise sub groups will form and split off due to similar believes and become separate hive minds).

What happens if your brain can't comprehend the knowledge you gain? Some people just don't have the same learning and development capacity of other people. If a physicists joins does everyone suddenly have a deep understanding of physics? or will the physicist loss his knowledge because he becomes part of a greater whole.

Summary

  • Loss of individuality
  • How to decide what is correct or incorrect? (Biggest example, is God Real? Some people really believe he is)
  • Loss of knowledge due to too much information, or inability to comprehend it.
  • Decision making becomes flawed, no conflicting views, since everyone will know the same thing. It might not be the best solution in the end.
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  • $\begingroup$ I'd say that the individuality loss won't happen since if you have a habit of, like, pouring milk in the tea and not the other way around, many people will ask you "what's wrong with you?" and a poet/writer/painter might be constantly be pecked to do something useful until it responds with all the people who became more happy because of what he made. $\endgroup$ – Filipa Jan 11 '18 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Filipa The issue is how the memory sharing works and is perceived. Is it like a huge library where I can browse through other peoples memories? Do I suddenly get all the memories, like its my own? Do I only see/get what they remember, or do I see/get everything? Depending on how you do it, loss of individuality is inevitable, but it would also be a concern for anyone who isn't part of the hive mind. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Jan 11 '18 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ Idea was to make it like a library where you as a question and get the answer, like you remembered it. If you ask yourself "How do I make muffin?" you'll get flooded with recipes as much as a cook will be, but it's the recipes from everyone that know something about making muffins. If you ask on more abstract things like how to write a poem, you'll know the practices and tricks but the poem might be awful, too abstract or just "meh" because blindly following instructions doesn't work there. $\endgroup$ – Filipa Jan 12 '18 at 0:42

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