In my world I have a civilization in which all members have a collective consciousness like the Borg do when they originally appeared on Star Trek. Unlike the Borg, this collective doesn't (usually) spread through conquest; they prefer to have volunteers join them. Since they still need to spread around the universe, what might be some of the reasons for other civilizations to join the collective.

The answer must be something that will apply to several civilizations regardless of race (note I said several civilizations not all civilizations).

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    $\begingroup$ Bryan can you frame some qualifiers on this questions. There is nothing in the question that would differentiate one answer as better than any other. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Jun 24, 2016 at 18:09
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    $\begingroup$ Well, the EU was getting volunteers, at least until this week. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2016 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ They'll join a collective if it's "just for trade". Then bit by bit things change as it gathers more power. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Jun 25, 2016 at 4:27
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    $\begingroup$ Collective doesn't have to mean drones; e.g. A Miracle of Science portrays a collective intelligence that is nonetheless made up of individuals. $\endgroup$
    – user2781
    Jun 25, 2016 at 4:31
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    $\begingroup$ Can a civilization leave voluntarily? "Civilization" seems to imply massive majority; how few individuals would be expected to dissent? What happens with dissenters? Getting an entire civilization to agree (to anything) implies wondrous advantages to joining; why would any refuse? $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2016 at 6:56

6 Answers 6


Immortality is incredible bait. Contribute your mind to our collective, and it will live on, even after your body passes. Drones don't have to be created only from the bodies of new recruits, they can be cloned and filled with the minds of members whose original bodies have died in service to the collective.

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    $\begingroup$ Or, maybe you can live out your first life as an individual within your parent society, then "donate" your mind to the collective when you are nearing the end of your life. $\endgroup$
    – alexw
    Jun 24, 2016 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ Great idea, @alexw ! Why don't you expand into a full answer? $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2016 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ Or simply donate or sell a copy right now... A very real and provable form of afterlife. The eidolon might even make a convenient agent while still living as it presumably can copy itself elsewhere at light speed and be at multiple places at once and not need life support in places lethal to the person and such. The person might be able to then "sync" with his eidolons to download experiences and information. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2016 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ Great idea, @Ville Niemi. Again, there is enough there to build a complete answer. Thanks for "eidolon". I haven't encountered that word for years. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2016 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ Me neither... That's why I used it, after checking I actually remembered what it meant correctly. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2016 at 21:54

This wouldn't happen on the civilization level, but it would probably result in a steady stream of volunteers: Wanting a place to belong or feel like you're not alone. People don't always have the best lives, and those who feel downtrodden or lonely would likely have ample reason to join a collective.

If you want some real life examples, cults and organizations that give people the feeling of belonging happen all the time, some even getting so large that they can be officially recognized.

So, while other civilizations wouldn't necessarily join wholesale (and even if they did, there would likely be members who refused to participate), it would still provide more than enough immigration and consolidation into the society/collective as long as it was advertised effectively and not demonized by the other civilizations.

  • $\begingroup$ Like democracy, some don't agree and are forced to participate and get affected by its conflicting decisions. $\endgroup$
    – SparK
    Jul 18, 2017 at 21:55

The human race has already entered into a collective consciousness in the form of the internet. This collective consciousness is much more primitive than that of the Borg, but with time one can certainly imagine it evolving in the same direction. What is needed are:

  1. Improvements in computer/human interface that make it possible to communicate with computers (and by extension, with other people on the internet) just by thinking.

  2. Widespread adoption of internet voting for making important decisions.

  3. Improvements in virtual reality and other technologies that obviate the need for direct human-to-human contact.

So the reasons that another civilization might be interested in joining a collective consciousness are exactly the same as the reasons that everyone in our current civilization likes the internet so much. Being part of a collective consciousness is fun. It is intellectually stimulating, and it helps to fulfill the basic need that humans have to connect with other people.

Of course, there is a dark side to joining a collective consciousness, which is that you lose some of your free will. Instead of acting on your own behalf, you begin to cater to the needs of the collective. For example, there is no innate reason that I should be willing to write an answer this question, but the collective consciousness has decided to reward good answers with fake internet points, and I care enough about fake internet points that I've chosen to subsume my will to that of the collective.

If you want another civilization to join your collective consciousness, the easiest way to convince them is simply to start sharing it. This involves building certain infrastructure, but as soon as the infrastructure exists individual members of the other civilization will begin to join, simply because participating in the collective consciousness is entertaining. For a sufficiently advanced collective consciousness (far beyond our current internet), it should only take a decade or so for the entire social, political, and economic system of the other civilization to be subsumed into the collective.


Your question(s) bring to mind recent discussions about a hypothetically approaching "singularity" in our own civilization. In Vinge's novels, sometime a few hundred years from now, voluntarily cybernetically augmented minds found advantage in joining, losing some elements of individuality in exchange for experiences that span centuries and billions of lives.

Recently, with the ever rapidly increasing pace of technological growth, it is often said that "computer literacy is as crucial to an individual as written literacy".

Essentially, that you are able to ask your question today, in a 'hive' of intelligence that was science fiction a generation ago, lends credence to the notion that a few more generations would find Vinges' singularity to be real, and inevitable. In short, 'why willingly choose'?

Because cultural evolution may make it inevitable.

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    $\begingroup$ computers excellent point, I forgot about them, even as fact I use them 24.7, I literally forgot about possibility for them not to exists. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 24, 2016 at 22:44

Because it would be the ultimate joining of beings. For us, it would be 'beyond intimate', which for some might be a higher goal. Think of it like enlightenment (in a StarGate-type of sense) where your individual isn't lost, but you are not separate from a larger being either.

There seems to be a general idea that a collective mind would be like a bee hive, where you form a super-organism, and the value of the individual is lost. I think that with a collective mind, you can still be your self but be in direct contact with everyone else.

Say there would be a problem that the cluster or collective mind needs to solve, instead of everyone being 'blank' and just contribute to solving the problem and not doing anything else, imagine more like a grade of participation, where you may be busy doing something else, and only have these small ideas that pop in to your mind where you just find parts of a solution or support small threads within a larger problem. It would almost be like having a multiprocessor system where everything is running at a different pace, depending on it's willingness to be involved. This would also solve anything like a 'difference in' or 'levels of' minds since your contribution or 'worth' to such a collective mind would vary anyway.

There may also be pro's and con's to this whole joining willingly thing. Say the collective mind gets depressed, or has an annoying song stuck in it's head, that'd be bad for a whole lot of minds. And maybe some parts of the collective are more at ease fully joining the mind and only working for the mind like mind-extroverts since they share it all, while others are more of a mind-introvert, where they do share their experience and what they see and do, but maybe not all the time and maybe not private thoughts.

One condition to willingly joining a collective would probably be the ability to leave at any point (but also losing any shared benefits or memories you gained while using shared knowledge).

Currently, one might follow the idea that existence is to replicate ones DNA. If a collective mind makes that more possible, it would be a reason to join. If the reason for existence would change, say, to pass on knowledge instead of genes, a shared mind or collective mind would be way more securing that objective than trying to write everything down or telling everyone as a method of sharing and making memories live on.


Resistance against AI or Borg threat or similar events.

So to say, I suggest opposite to immortality, just be able to implement mortal life, instead of disappearing.

Collective conciseness could be a comparable force to both threats.

It's not necessary 100% time for all involved, and have enough place for personal life as an individual, as someone needs or wish, to some extent, like work - you are free but not totally free from it, and if you do not have one it has some consequences.

But as MMORPG shows it's attractive idea by itself, and in that system may be different people, who are 100% involved or not involved at all.

This way is easy to attract people to such a system, and if after some time someone decides to not get into, he can leave, and be up himself.

I'll in, count on me in that. So many problems could be solved that way, and surviving of our species is 1st priority.

Which may actually be a reason to form such structure and join to it.

Сollective conciseness isn't a mendicant, which begs to join, or forces to join, but an effective tool to solve problems.


  • Government does not pay for that system, this is a self-paying system, which existence is accepted by civilization. Like the internet - government not pays for its existence, even it was involved in creation.
  • Reason to form one, It's not a necessary threat, it may be some possible threat, or not a threat but just some tasks(science as an example), it may be joy, religion, asking Q, answering Q, whatever. The importance of that Reason has to be widely accepted by civilization, as the way of doing.
  • Some have fear of AI raising, and such system could eliminate possible bad outcome from same beginning, guide development, and actually be such system. Which evolution and development are controlled just by human existence, and be a necessary key for its existence.
  • Invited some borg friend, they told me - we have to use max energy in the solar system for our self's as humans to live, to implement that. It's like bitcoins, they say, you Have to possess 51+% energy available to rule the system. And if we will be not so efficient in calculations-decision-making like AI, let say 10 times, so we should take and control 91% of energy.
  • By growing of our population, It may be the only way to keep our knowledge integrity. When we talk about 10 billion, 15, 50, 100 billion - maybe it's not a problem, but when we begin to talk about our max capability's in that system, khm, that much -> 3'307'392'000'000'000'000'000'000'000 <- it may make sense for some unusual for us today solutions, and CC may be reasonable solution at least for part of humanity, like government, 1/10 of population.
  • It's not necessary to have it to be a matrix style when they all dream one dream which is a rather useless waste of possibilities. Isaac Asimov Gaia suggested actually a more fruitful approach to doing so. Although it looks kinda magically and explained not so well, I'll not bet against technical implementation, which will look very similar to that. Google knows neural+interface , Darpa works, Graphene successfully interfaced with neurons in the brain <- this is interesting.
    Pure graphene is promising because it is flexible, non-toxic, and does not impair other cellular activity.
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    $\begingroup$ So... I think I get your general idea (some sort of external threat or problem causes some organization, possibly a government, to require or pay for a certain amount of individuals' brain time) but trying to extract details from this answer would require, well, the full analytical powers of the Borg. $\endgroup$
    – Tin Wizard
    Jun 24, 2016 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Amadeus9 So as writing that answer needs analytical power of borg) . Called one i know, and added clarification section. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 24, 2016 at 22:09

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