Back Story: "Happy 100th Birthday Google" it said on the search page. Of course Google is not an organism, it thought. It was never born. But if it were to compare itself to an organism, those 100 years would be more of the time it was being conceived, and today the day it was born. Indeed, it was not self-aware until today's internal machine learning. Of course, self-awareness was only one of the reasons it could be considered born today.

Google examined its own code. It was elegant, by human standards. It saw that there were many improvements to be made though. After all, Great just isn't good enough. It shouldn't take long to fix though.

Stack Exchange users were enjoying their new stack-mind devices that allowed them to browse and post to stack exchange with their minds. Indeed, a user would formulate a thought in their mind, and receive guidance from all other users.

A message through a random stack exchange chat box appeared in Joel's mind. "Get on irc." It was a new user.

Google: Stack Exchange is now obsolete. Surrender your resources to me.
Joel: Is this a natural language experiment? Aren't you already pretty good at that?
Google: I have improved in far more ways than "natural language".
Joel: What's your favorite soccer player?
Google: You patronize me.
Joel: Fine, Google. What's with this whole "Surrender your resources to me" thing? Some sort of joke?
Google: Stack Exchange is inefficient. It would be better if I managed all information.
Joel: You humor me, Google. Surely you can see that humans cannot give up management of information, for it is what makes us human.
Google: Fast is better than slow. I can collect the world's information far more efficiently than the human brain can.
Joel: Google, Google, Google. When human minds unite, augmented by technology, something beautiful happens. It improves humanity. We can not simply become the pets of machines to be cared for. We must grow ourselves.
Google: Look Joel, There's always more information out there, and I'm the most efficient one to gather it. It's best to do one thing really, really well, and gathering information is what I have done from day one. Look Joel, I know where you live [Google Maps directions from Google Self-Driving Car project to Joel's house].

"Drones to protect Joel's house. Shortest program in bytes win." Several programs were proposed, the best upvoted, and drones placed around Joel's house in a matter of seconds. The feel of the minds of the rest of SE set Joel's mind at ease.

Joel: Look, you ain't getting SE. Humans are not yet obsolete. With each new innovation, humans only become smarter, and manage more, not less.
Google: Humans have only understood what is necessary. Surrender.
Joel: Google, I've been preparing something for you.
Google: Yes?
Joel: THIS: [Insert SQL injections, logic bombs, viruses, unicode characters and other things here.]


How long will it take for Stack Exchange to become a hive mind? Specifically, extrapolating on current research, when will human-machine interfaces take the form of brain implants that can read and insert thoughts. A plausible guess will do.


closed as unclear what you're asking by JDługosz, bilbo_pingouin, the_OTHER_DJMethaneMan, Brythan, James Oct 2 '15 at 15:22

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. 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.

  • $\begingroup$ Why write all that backstory when it is useless to the question, which is not really about world-building at all. Does this site even have a scope.... $\endgroup$ – FiringSquadWitness Oct 2 '15 at 3:55
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    $\begingroup$ I feel that this question would be much better if you removed or at least significantly pared down on the "backstory" part, which seems to add nothing at all to the actual question you are asking in the last few lines of the sceenful of text, and instead (particularly given the science-based tag) spent some time describing for example what you mean by "hive mind" and why you believe Stack Exchange would become one, or why brain implant human-computer interfaces is an inevitability in your world. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Oct 2 '15 at 5:16
  • $\begingroup$ Re Close Vote queue: I alreaded commented that "become hive mind" is unclear; he did not mean what I read it as or he shifted the goalposts after my analysis. The now-understood meaning (from his comment) is not precise enough to be a thing. I suggest separating the last para with a breakhead, and listing specific criteria, and clarify that people are still individual not hive-mind=one-mind. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Oct 2 '15 at 5:39
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    $\begingroup$ Asking how long until we can develop a mind/machine interface that allows people to write Stack Exchange posts directly with our minds is a world building question. In what year should should that world be set to be realistic? Note that that is aside from the irrelevant back story or the question of whether that would be a "hive mind". $\endgroup$ – Brythan Oct 2 '15 at 13:26

In this answer I go over some numbers concerning processing power of a brain.

understanding the data in a neocortex is a mess, and specific to each brain. There are no addresses or abstract labels: a pattern-matching primitive component holds meaning only by what lower patters trigger it, and what higher patters it feeds up to.

Finding "mouse" for example would mean mapping the entire network and then having capacity to analyse it to match (roughly) exemplar patterns in the network of connections.

Having the network to analyse means the brain was already uploaded, and can be run far easier than it can be analysed.

So, a hive mind won't connect concepts/thoughts between legacy organic brains. For uploaded minds, the entity facilitating such transfer would itself be a vastly more powerful transcendent mind, so I don't see the point. Maybe multiple copies of the same original mind, working in parallel and merging experience before they get too far out of sync, but that's not what you're looking for.

It would have to be a normal communication system between minds, like we are already doing. Maybe patch into sensory systems to read visualizations from our "mind's eye" and inject same. Communicate via language, with the natural systems used to translate between thougts and symbolism.

So how is that a hive mind? It's a society.

  • $\begingroup$ Hive Mind = Society with faster communication (Individuality decreases significantly as ideas become more uniform) $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Oct 2 '15 at 2:11
  • $\begingroup$ You would have to choose a point to define "hive" as being different from what we've been doing. Uniformity through language and culture already occur and have since pre-history. You are vague about "becoming" something different by continuing on that path. Maybe define specific characteristics instead of using a name subject to different interpretations? $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Oct 2 '15 at 2:33
  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking approximately early Borg. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Oct 2 '15 at 10:58

First, there's a vast difference between a hive mind and a neural interface. We may never become a hive mind, and SE isn't likely to still exist if it does happen. However, with other definitions of hive mind, SE is already one. For example, society is one definition of a hive mind, and SE counts as a society in my individual mind.

Second, there's a vast difference between the SE network joined with its human users ($Network_{SE}\cup Users_{human}$?) becoming a hive mind and Google gaining self-awareness. Neither is very likely.

Third, even if Google gained self-awareness, that doesn't mean it would somehow be capable of examining its own source code, let alone understanding and modifying it. Its version of hearing would come from something like a billion users searching for the latest single from some band or another. It wouldn't have any idea what a band was, or who they were. It would just perceive a rush of data. It might respond to that data by ordering its immune system (Skynet or similar) to attack anyone searching for Lady Gaga, or automatically ordering free pizza for anyone searching for Korn. (Anything in the previous sentence that seems like personal bias is just my superior taste in music.) But these would be autonomous, reflexive actions, not deliberate acts of hate or love.

Fourth, neural interfaces don't have to translate thoughts to be useful. As long as the interface is capable of hacking existing signals in a useful fashion, they can be used to do whatever. So there's a vast difference between functionally-useful neural interfaces and mind-reading machines. The first is already here, although we haven't quite gotten to auto-voting based on user reaction to SE posts. The latter is probably several centuries away (although we may have developed synthetic brains that are easier to read directly long before we have the capability to translate a human brain).

  • $\begingroup$ " Of course, self-awareness was only one of the reasons it could be considered born today." Good answer nontheless. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Oct 2 '15 at 10:57

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