Overnight, all higher life, multicellular life forms from trees and grass to dogs and elephants reached a level of intelligence similar to that of humans. For example, they can communicate effectively, using their own languages. How would events unfold on Earth? (just for the first few days, although longer timespans are welcome but optional)

Specifically, if animals were suddenly sentient and able to communicate, how might this effect an overthrow of the humans' socio-economic hegemony?

I'll add some clarifying details:

  • Different groups of animals have developed to communicate in their own language families (dogs might have related languages and local dialects; cats would have their own languages and dialects).
  • Also, they have been granted the level where they have translators & interpreters so that different groups of animals and plant life can communicate with each other.
  • Animal interpreters can also communicate with humans.

(Although I'm excluding microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi for the purposes of this question, if possible, it'd be nice if answers also included what happened if they weren't excluded as well.)


closed as too broad by Dubukay, Vincent, Frostfyre, user535733, EveryBitHelps Aug 26 '18 at 17:35

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Adi, while this is a fascinating question it’s currently much too broad for the site. We call these kinds of questions “high concept” questions because it’d easily be possible to write an entire book on the topic without even scratching the surface. I’ve voted to put your question on hold so you can edit it without getting swamped by weak answers. $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Aug 26 '18 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Dubukay Ohhh right then. I'll edit it now to be more specific (hopefully specific enough :) ) $\endgroup$ – Adi219 Aug 26 '18 at 16:02
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    $\begingroup$ Is there something more specific we can help you answer? For instance, how the economy might be affected if trees had the same rights as humans? Or what a society of sentient fungi might look like? You might also enjoy using the Sandbox to get some feedback on what kinds of things will narrow it down. $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Aug 26 '18 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ This conversation might be easier to have in Worldbuilding Chat - meet me there? $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Aug 26 '18 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ In the long term, everyone either starves or becomes a cannibal. In the short term, we don't even like to give humans rights, there's simply no chance of giving plants any $\endgroup$ – nzaman Aug 26 '18 at 16:35

Nothing much would happen for the first few days. Intelligence by itself isn’t very useful. You also need the experience and culture to leverage your intelligence and make it do something useful. Your newly intelligent creatures can’t communicate with each other (more then they already did) — no language. They can’t make sense of the world around them, because they don’t have the mental constructs to do so. The short-lived ones will never get any benefit — an ant that lives for a month doesn’t have enough time, any more than a month-old baby does. The longer-lived ones will eventually develop cultures and language, but it will take centuries at best.

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I forgot to add that they can communicate with each other as they've developed forms of communication. Thanks, though! $\endgroup$ – Adi219 Aug 26 '18 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Adi219 How have they “developed forms of communication”? Language isn’t something you can just drop in to a brain as a plug-in; it depends on context and experience. The word for ”table” means nothing without a concept of what a table is; where does that concept come from in a newly-intelligent ant? $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Aug 26 '18 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ I'm so sorry! I've edited it (again) to reflect what I'm asking. Essentially, the animals have learnt how to communicate over a few months (they're clever, go with it). $\endgroup$ – Adi219 Aug 26 '18 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Adi219 This is Worldbuilding; we can’t just “go with it”. You’re building a logically incoherent world. A newly intelligent animal has as much understanding of the world as a new-born baby, and you need to work with that. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Aug 26 '18 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ It's a magical world, and magic is being used to turn the animals sentient in the first place, so I'd have thought that some parts are allowed to be logically incoherent. $\endgroup$ – Adi219 Aug 26 '18 at 16:24

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