I think I've done my research about multi tasking on humans, but this is a whole new level

I have a conqueror, where he creates nanobot creatures instantaneously (handwaving the transformation process).

He can create 5 types of Creatures.

 1. Lesser Demons (3 feet Nepylims)
 2. Hunters (5 feet beast with features of a humanoid lion)
 3. Greater Demon (8 Feet Ogre with clubs as hands)
 4. Piranhas (for undersea attacks)
 5. Deimos (A 250 Feet Tall Dragon)

I think controlling one creature s perfectly simple, but an army?

I would like to ask, can a average brain control an army this size?

Numbers would be:

3000 Lesser Demons
1500 Hunters 
2000 Greater Demons
5000 Piranhas
500 Deimos

The basic commands would be:

1. Move forward
2. Search for living Humans(using heat sensors from the nanobots)
3. Destroy

The advance commands would be:

1. Move forward
2. Search for machines
3. If machine is dealing damage to nanobots, destroy
4. If Machine is not dealing any damage, move forward
5. If Machine is moving toward master, destroy
6. If Machine has explosive contents, destroy

The characteristic of the human controlling these nanobots:

1) Has some kind of controlling device implanted in his brain
2) Not a mutant, just your average intelligent human being (Like Tony Stark perhaps)
3) Average Body build, everything is average
4) Perfectly Healthy Individual

Please don't ask anything about the nanobots or how realistically the nanobots are created or controlled. I just want to know, if a human bran can realistically handle the stress of controlling a vast army using only his mind.

Additional information may contain, If the conqueror's brain cannot handle such stress, aside from using computers, what can help the conqueror control an army? (you may or may not answer this)

 1. Reduce army size can be an answer?
 2. Reduce size of the units?
 3. Any alterations on the brain can be done, as long as it does not make him a mutant.


I do know there are a lot of ways to kill the conqueror, but please, I would just like to ask if this feat (controlling many beasts) can be done.


closed as unclear what you're asking by L.Dutch, StephenG, AngelPray, John, elemtilas May 20 '18 at 4:13

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    $\begingroup$ @Why do you have to mind-control every bit of your army? Such simple algorithms you described could be easily computerized. Not to mention that this would give them some autonomy, allowing them to function if the Humans jam communications to the master's implant, or even if the master is somhow killed (maybe nuked with ICBM, i don't think even nanobot dragons can intercept hypersonic reentry vehicles) $\endgroup$ – b.Lorenz May 19 '18 at 7:20
  • $\begingroup$ @b.Lorenz Just thinking, and In my story, there's no nukes. I'm just thinking if it cant be done, controlling something in vast numbers $\endgroup$ – Mr.J May 19 '18 at 7:27
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    $\begingroup$ How are these nanobots if they are multiple feet tall? $\endgroup$ – Erik May 19 '18 at 7:54
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, but we won't be able to answer the question if we don't understand the components. A nanobot is a tiny robot, so the idea of a "6ft nanobot" is a paradox unless you explain how you want that to work in your story. (Or you could just drop the "nano" and call them bots, but at least we'd need a clear picture.) $\endgroup$ – Erik May 19 '18 at 8:15
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    $\begingroup$ As Erik said, if you call nanobot a 250 feet tall dragon I really don't get your question $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch May 19 '18 at 10:41

The issue is not controlling the army, but the limitations of your instructions. If you permit more powerful instructions, the job gets much easier.

The issue is not the act of barking orders like "If Machine is not dealing any damage, move forward." That could be done. The difficult issue is whether or not following that order is a good idea. Presumably each creature has access to sensory information about the world around it. That sensor information is crucial in combat for deciding what to do. Otherwise you could get into situations where the machine is not dealing damage, but moving forward is moving into a trap.

Collecting this kind of sensor information is well beyond what the human mind can do. I did the calculations a while back, and you can estimate the data processing capabilities of the brain at about 1Gb/s (based on the diameter of the spinal column and a whole lot of handwaving). That's a lot of data!

If we use this with your army size of 12,000, we can reasonably expect that datalinks on the order of about 83Kb/s would completely saturate the human mind. The human retina outputs about 10,000Kb/s!

The solution can be seen in the human mind. The conscious mind can handle about 120 bits/s (give or take... its a very rough heuristic). It relies on the subconscious parts of the brain to handle the remaining 999,999,880 bit/s. That information is processed locally, in smaller groups of neurons. Some of the information is relayed up to the conscious mind but the vast majority is handled locally. When you touch a hot stove, your hand begins pulling back before your brain even registers that it's hot. That actually gets initiated in the spinal column to save time!

Likewise, your nanobot creatures should take over some of the processing as well. They should have decently advanced AIs. Consider what ATLAS can do in terms of problem solving. This should be an absolute utter bare bones capability for your nanobots. They should be able to accept complex instructions at least as advanced as those given to ATLAS to initiate path-finding. In practice, they should be much more complex.

How complex? Well, my recommendation would be to take a lesson from the military. Your army size is in the range of a division, which is 6-20 thousand soldiers. A division is lead by a 2-star general. So don't think about what sorts commands you might issue to a battle-bots toy. Think about what sorts of commands a 2-star general may issue in war. Also, note that the 2-star doesn't relay commands directly to the PFCs on the front lines. There's an enormous hierarchy of officers and NCOs in between. This is not an accident. Each layer of this hierarchy is an opportunity for one individual to process information from their subordinates and issue new orders without involving the general at the top. You should leverage this as well.

You may find there is indeed a more efficient structure, given the nature of your nanobots, but starting from the prior art of the military is an excellent way to go. They have literally spent thousands of years honing the art of commanding large numbers of individuals to act as one cohesive army. Leverage that!

  • $\begingroup$ This is the answer I'm looking for! So this means, lesser army count, lesser pressure on the brain? I just have to divide the 1GB/S data that the brain can process to some, reasonable count. $\endgroup$ – Mr.J May 20 '18 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Mr.J And remember to leave a little bandwidth for keeping the body running. You know, monitoring blood pressures and glucose levels and O2 concentrations. It's thankless work, but it's really worth the bandwidth! $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon May 21 '18 at 3:48

One human cannot alone control so many individual soldiers. You will need intermediate command levels.

Consider the Roman army. The army was comprised of a number of legions. Each legion was comprised of a number of cohorts. Each cohort was comprised of a number of centuries. With the century were groups of 8-10 men each commanded by a decanus.

roman legion organization https://www.strategypage.com/articles/default.asp?target=marius/marius.htm

This allows more granular control by establishing a hierarchy of control. Ideally at each command level there are seconds and thirds ready to step up if the prime is lost or incapacitated. This also offers a ready way to consolidate or break up groups of soldiers as events warrant.


I don't think Stark is an average intelligent person. His command of science is marche pheraps by only two other heroes in his world.

That said, how do you rate yourself as an RTS (real time strategy) player? There are some games where you can control a considerably large army. I have not played such games in years - not my favorite type, really. But I did play some that I am reminded of, when reading your question:

  • The Age of Empires series;
  • Starcraft 2;
  • Arcworld 3;
  • The Total War series.

All of these will allow you to control hundreds of units at a time. A hundred units might be a large battle in Starcraft, but it would be the smallest thing in Total War. In the latter you can have battles where you control dozens of thousands if soldiers - this is made easier because you give commands to units of up to a hundred men as if they were one. I imagine it as giving orders to the unit commanders.

So... I think the mental effort would be the same, possibly made slightly easier by a more efficient user interface since you are hooking the character to the units directly by brain link. There is only so much that a regular human can focus at a time. But go watch some ranked matches from professional Starcraft players in Korea to see some superhuman feats of army micromanagement.


Dulaku was reborn, it seemed, ever so slowly, even as the wave of nanogoo consumed him before pain signals even had time to process alongside his extremities. Or did he die? Reinstantiation in the computronium substrate was rather confusing, at first. The perceptual frame switched from bifocal perspective into various stages: first, an isometric disembodied construct view, then gradually, as new layers of perceptual machinery were added to his consciousness it crystalized into a million-perspective four-dimensional approximation.

Movement was also different, and rewiring took a seemingly impossibly long time. It felt weird to have disconnected parts, at first, but they were all soon embraced into a perceptual unity as the previous homunculus bio-representation was replaced by the Swarm.

Miliseconds passed.

He willed the Swarm into the nearby buildings, with those waterbag sculptures in the shape of, -- uh, what was it, people? -- littering the hallways, as if frozen.

Is this pain? His larger unit-constructs seemed to be suffering attrition from automated fire.

There were so many things to look at, and he had trouble focusing for a while, but as new parallel primary attention processors were cloned, then copied across the network, he felt a momentary sense of loss and desyncronization, then finally the ultimate perception layer build emerged, a metacognition framework that again unified the parallel streams, and He was now in many places at once.

He directed His medium-sized units to overwhelm and silence the machine resistance, and it was done.

Time to grow ---


Smithsonian Magazine says there are 372 trillion cells in average human body. Our brains control them to varying degrees. Muscle cells we often have control down to the individual cell level for fine-grain motor control. Others like lungs we kind of guide along. I think the metaphor holds. We could control fleets of robots: some would have specific instructions. Some would have more general instructions. We could probably intervene on a specific as needed (like consciously choosing to hold one's breath taking over from the usually automatic breathing).


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