Assume that humans emit a field that suppresses the intelligence of other living things.

What would be the biggest economic, cultural, or political effect of the invention of a device which could alter these fields? 'Biggest' means the most lasting impact on the most people (some wiggle room, but it's about how this change could affect the entire human race, not how it could change one person's life completely.)


  • Fields have harmonics. Sync'd harmonics can bolster relationships and improve mood, health, and intelligence, while unsync'd harmonics can do the opposite. Harmonics are very poorly understood, and follow no pattern (the only real known property is that it's symmetric - if you harmonize with them, then they harmonize with you.)
  • Fields and sensitivity to fields can differ significantly from person to person, although humans are the only species which has any significant resistance to fields
  • Fields can change over time, due to environment and actions (nature + nurture)
  • Fields only interact with sentience. They have no effect on matter or the regular laws of physics. No telekinesis or teleporting or magical abilities.
  • The intelligence/ability of an individual human is dependent on how strongly they can resist the field of others, how effectively their behavior drives them to avoid or eliminate those with conflicting fields, and how good they are at finding like-fielded individuals.
  • Technology, culture, etc. are the same as current Earth prior to this invention.
  • The device can alter fields, generate fields, nullify fields, etc. There is no theoretical limit on the size of such a machine or its power, just whatever limits exist on providing energy (the energy cost to make the field larger has geometric growth.)
  • For a baseline on cost, a field shelter (prevents outside fields from coming in) capable of covering a normal house would only cost ~$10 a month in electricity to run. A shelter for a football stadium would cost several thousand dollars to run for a few hours.

NOTE: I'm leaving up the community wiki answer because I think that it will help show the effects the fields have prior to the invention of this device.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Hi Jeutnarg. Sorry, but this question is far too broad for our format, and there isn't really any criteria for how to judge answers, so it also qualifies as opinion-based. I recommend that you take the quick site tour, then review How to write the perfect question?, What topics can I ask about here? and Worldbuilding Scope - Risk Factors for some guidance. Feel free to ask in Worldbuilding Chat or on Worldbuilding Meta if you want to discuss this. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jun 10 '16 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ This is too broad for me to give an answer, but there is an interesting angle to be had here: we do have a sort of sentience-suppressing field. We like to develop commanding relationships with other sentient creatures, subverting their will to our own. The field is made up of violent actions which destroy sentients who do not comply. You could probably run with that line of reasoning and come up with a remarkable number of answers to your questions. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Jun 10 '16 at 16:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Cf en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_Wave $\endgroup$ Jun 11 '16 at 0:16

I'll start the ball rolling.

Ancient cultures developed a particular reverence for mountains, forests, and secluded places because the distance from other humans actually made them more intelligent and aware.

Ancient warriors became obsessed with killing their enemies and the idea that they grew more powerful by capturing their opponent's head or soul because there was a noticeable increase in your intelligence when you killed somebody who wasn't synced with you. In more modern times, the general high population density of humans means that one more or less doesn't really mean much to most people.

Serial killers have very sensitive short-range field awareness. They get a rush from killing because they notice the increase in ability that comes with removing an opposing field. This also explains why most serial killers have a type - they focus on the type of field most opposite their own.

The extreme us-them mentality of most tribes/groups is because the presence of un-synced humans is damaging.

Mobs behave irrationally because the large number of conflicting fields actually make everybody dumber.

The dramatic improvement in human technology is because even a small difference in field resistance can have dramatic effects on intelligence and the fact that technology builds on itself.

Bigfoot, Sasquatch, dragons, unicorns, centaurs, and other mythical/fantastic beasts are just altered stories of the hyper-intelligent ancestors of modern-day animals - talking horse becomes half-horse, talking bear became Bigfoot. When people don't believe that animals can talk, they just changed the stories to be half-human, half-animal to explain the situation. Such creatures can't be found anymore because humans have become too populous for any other creature to have a chance at sentience. Our combined field strength is overwhelming.

Domestication is the process of selecting animals which resonate best with human fields, although this doesn't negate the sentience dampening; it just makes them friendlier. The reason that domesticated animals can go feral is that the positive field sensation can become conditioned to pain and suffering or if they never recognize humans as the field source.

Soul mates actually exist. It's a person who has a perfect resonance with your own field.

Some of the world's greatest genii were loners because they subconsciously recognized that they performed better when only the most similarly-fielded humans were close.

Long-term couples start to look alike because human perception of fields is related to the vision center of our brains. They don't actually look alike; we just see that their fields are very similar and this makes us think they look alike.


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