A human-like race develops into a modern society similar to ours in technological progress, with one weird difference: in their minds, they can see and hear everything that anyone else has seen or heard, ever.

They have their own private thoughts, but experiences are shared across a mental link. People aren't aware of the contents of this information inherently - while naturally able to access it, they have to spend some time navigating and thinking about a particular experience to learn any information portrayed. Not only experiences that are happening now, but all experiences they've ever been aware of are shared. In this way, even memories of the dead are passed down, so everyone is able to remember every sight and sound experienced up to tens of thousands of years to the age when their race first developed this ability.

At first the mental link was blurry and weak, but as best as they can tell, this started happening to their primitive ancestors after a large meteor wiped out an entire continent.

Ages ago their ancestors developed primitive religions based on this ability, and some modern religions still attribute the ability to being created by the gods. And while modern scientists have demonstrated that a certain part of the brain is responsible for processing the information, they can't yet explain where all the information is stored. Regardless, no one doubts this mental ability's accuracy.

I'm curious to know in this world, does political corruption happen, and if so, how does it happen?

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    $\begingroup$ @JarredAllen yes, a politician doing a political favor of any kind and making a personal gain of any kind due to that favor. The reason I thought up this scenario is because I was interested in the way this answer explained that a concept I brought up in a question of a political structure with literally absolute physical transparency. The answer demonstrated how transparency wouldn't actually get rid of political corruption. So I was curious to ask about this more extreme example of transparency. $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Aug 2 '16 at 1:48
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    $\begingroup$ So none can "edit" memories. Is it like a movie? Do you see through their eyes? If so, passing things along without looking would be my go-to. It's a lot of info to have to access. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Aug 2 '16 at 2:46
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    $\begingroup$ You have just created a hive-mind. And no, they cannot be individuals in that setting. When everyone shares the memories and experiences of everyone else, then they will essentially be everyone else. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Aug 2 '16 at 9:43
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    $\begingroup$ Not really a direct answer, but have you considered the possibility that such a race would simply not view aliens as intelligent beings at all? Simply because they'd be unable to "recall" anything about those beings. Careless slaughter would occur without any notion of it being slaughter. (Also see: Ender's Game.) $\endgroup$ – Wildcard Aug 2 '16 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ See The Demolished Man, about trying to commit a crime in a society of telepaths. $\endgroup$ – pjc50 Aug 3 '16 at 9:51

18 Answers 18


After some thought I think there might be four possible vectors for "corruption", mostly assuming the definition of corruption supported is bribery (I know there are other kinds but most of them, to the best of my knowledge, have more to do with keeping secrets):

  1. Distraction
  2. It's part of life
  3. Similar to 2 but it's intentionally done and clearly recorded as a means of protest
  4. The exact same way it does now (this one would likely include all standard forms of corruption, not just bribery)


  1. Distraction might be used in the form of wide-spread boisterous activity occurring around the time of an illegal transaction. If enough distraction is provided then no one will notice the little 30 second exchange, or be interested enough to search through the shared memory to find any details leading up to it.
  2. If everyone did it, (or if it were required to work with people in positions of authority), and bribery was just a part of life, then who would care?
  3. If a government is taking advantage of its people, and, regardless of the fact that the people know that it is taking advantage of them, they don't have the power to do anything about it, (see modern day America) then people could resort to a huge horde of little pittance bribes sent to those in power as a form of protest.
  4. Maybe the shared memory is really just too large and time consuming to search through. If this is the case then corruption would happen a lot like it does now...
    This adds an interesting possibility of people paid by those who are corrupt to search the shared memory for people who have identified the corruption, so they can kill them before they tell anyone else what to look for... (sounds like a pretty interesting basis for a world really :D )

Good luck!

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    $\begingroup$ #4 is quite the rabbit hole there. Now those who have found and killed those who identified the corruption have added the hit to the "hive" experience, as well as the transaction to place the hit, and now anyone who discovers THAT experience will need to be ferreted out and killed... ad nauseum. $\endgroup$ – Doktor J Aug 2 '16 at 20:21
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    $\begingroup$ As kind of an addendum to #4, I would point out that everyone has shameful experiences they would prefer to keep quiet, and (at least in our world) everyone has criminal experiences that could land them in jail. That kind of dynamic is known as "mutually assured destruction" and would provide another motivation to keep quiet and accept corruption, even if it's illegal in this world - if you point out someone's crimes to ruin them, they'll point out yours to ruin you. $\endgroup$ – HopelessN00b Aug 3 '16 at 2:00

You have underestimated the meaning of everything

Someone is always being born, someone is always dying, someone is probably always taking a bribe, someone is always getting laid.

There are always more interesting things going on than monitoring some minor official for corruption, there's your own life going on to start with.

However the simplest way of having corruption is for it to be acceptable to the ordinary populace. They think it's an acceptable normal way of doing business, just as they consider a certain level of petty criminality to be perfectly acceptable day to day.


This is a (another) question of the sort "Like us, but...".

Well they would not at all be like us. Privacy, secrets and Freedom of Thought are some rather fundamental parts of our psychology. Now you have a society where these things do not exist. This will have very strong consequences that go far beyond just corruption:

  • No privacy in the bedroom
  • No privacy in the bathroom
  • No privacy when being intimate in any kind of way, be it emotionally, religiously... when voting... when talking to your lawyer... when talking to your doctor.
  • No privacy when negotiating sensitive matters, even if doing it legitimately

In short: no secrets, ever... on all levels, from individual up to state and international secrets.

Also you have set the foundation for the world of Orwell's "1984". You have enabled thought-monitoring, and — with that — thought-crime.

This means you can never make it "Like us, but...". Privacy, secrets and Freedom of Thought are essential to who we are. You would have a radically different world. And before we start talking about how this affects "corruption" in such a world, you would have to figure out if "corruption" is even in anyone's interrest.

Blackmail on the other hand... that would probably be rife. "Well you wouldn't want me to tell anyone to recall that particular thing you did, now would you 'dear friend'?".

In summary: you would have to need to explore this world a lot deeper than just say "It is like us, but...", because it will not be that at all.

  • $\begingroup$ He explicitely excluded thought from the openness - i.e., no thought-monitoring and no thought-crime. $\endgroup$ – AnoE Aug 2 '16 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ @AnoE Well now things are just becoming insanely contrived. To say that people have access to all other people's senses retroactively, but not the memory of seeing, hearing, feeling... that is just very contrived. And even if it was such that the thoughts associated with the experience are not readily available, others would still be able to live through everything that happened up to a certain moment. That was a condition set by OP... that these "remote memories" would be perfect. So others can reconstruct thoughts afterwards anyway. And my main point stands: there is no privacy. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Aug 2 '16 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ So my main answer stands as well: this is not a "Like us, but..." scenario. This would mean a drastically different world. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Aug 2 '16 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKarnerfors, re "others can reconstruct thoughts afterwards anyway," evidently you subscribe to the belief that all thought is a product of experience and there is no possibility of original thought not based on external factors, i.e. "All thought is stimulus-response." This is an unjustified assumption; it should not be an unstated one as well. $\endgroup$ – Wildcard Aug 2 '16 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ I agree that such a culture would be radically different from our own, however. $\endgroup$ – Wildcard Aug 2 '16 at 20:07

For centuries, what the West calls corruption has been an important part of how Chinese society works. It is called guanxi. Chinese who have had no contact with the West probably don't even know what corruption means. Or, a Chinese might be able to recognize corruption, but they'd think of it as a good thing.

I'm a westerner and of course mean no disrespect to Chinese culture at all. I find such cultural differences interesting.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't think equating guanxi with corruption makes sense. Networks based on influence and exchange of favors through personal relationships are not inherently corrupt. It depends on whether this influence is used inappropriately, crossing ethical boundaries. Note that the Chinese government currently has a high-profile anti-corruption campaign, which doesn't make sense if they consider corruption "good". $\endgroup$ – user16107 Aug 3 '16 at 12:37
  • $\begingroup$ @dan1111 "Corruption" is when the steward of a publicly owned resource uses that stewardship for personal gain. In democracies we elect the stewards, and they sometimes appoint other stewards (such as Hillary to be SoS). Anyway, regardless of how one becomes a steward of public resources, it is corrupt to use them for personal gain (from a Western point of view). $\endgroup$ – Just Someone Aug 3 '16 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ Unless, of course, when it isn't corruption. Like all of those hotel bills that are totally being donated to charity. Nothing to see here, folks, move along. $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Jul 5 '17 at 13:58

Corruption would happen in this world the same way corruption happens in the real world, when there might be unfriendly witnesses or other reasons for 'plausible deniability' - by implication and insinuation.

So perhaps it wouldn't do to have outright negotiations, since those will be seen, and heard, and could be found in the collective memory. But a slightly over-generous gift, or being a little more helpful as a favor, to someone who has previously done a good turn (or is in a position to do the same in the future) - will probably be really difficult to pick out of all the similar gift-giving, or genuine gratitude.

And there are limits to visual interpretation of the scene - maybe that extra significant glance means I will be grateful, or generous if you do a favor, maybe it just means I like your haircut, who can say - especially if both parties are willing to declare it is so. Being able to access what someone sees or hears is useful, but it is not at all the same thing as getting access to what they're thinking, planning, assuming

Someone might be asking for a favor, and 'leaving' a gift behind. Or asking for that favor at the same time some other transaction is taking place, which ends up favoring the person being asked. It might be a little suspicious, but if a verbal explanation is offered it gives plausible deniability, even if both parties are treating it like a little bribe. Hey, I have this extra treat to give around... also I'm so grateful you assigned me this job instead of that, or else I might not have had the extra to give away, right?

The shared memory might encourage a culture where favors and generosity are the norm, since it's easier to figure out what people might need - and generosity is an encouraged trait. But it is also a culture in which it's a short step from doing a little more for those who are kind and generous, and doing a little less for those who don't have something extra to offer.

Bribes in this kind of setup are not likely to be purely monetary (at most, there might be some overpaying for something), but will happen in the forms of gifts, favors, or perhaps contributing to a pet cause. But it will still happen, that people will favor those who are nicer to them, which works out the same as corruption, just a bit more subtle and deniable than our versions.


Stay away from sight and sound

Corruption only works if the baddies are secret about it. Nothing seen or heard can be hidden. So...

The closest thing to communication without sight or sound is braile. It would be hard to convince someone to learn it without sounding suspicious unless they were blind and already knew how to read it.

So you have this secret society of blind people that leave messages for each other in dark caves.

...it doesn't really work

So you have communication, in a very limited form, with a very limited number of people. But usually communication leads to particular actions, such as putting money into someone's account, or killing/kidnapping/etc. All of these things can be heard and seen, so although a corrupt thought can now travel, it's still hard to carry out corrupt actions.

The only solution here is a secret army of blind/deaf ninjas, known as "ghosts", that no one can track. They are untraceable... but fairly useless.

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    $\begingroup$ lol blind deaf ninjas, what an oxymoron $\endgroup$ – shieldgenerator7 Aug 2 '16 at 20:07

Depends on the actual mechanism of the information transfer.

I could imagine corruption if the information is accessed directly instead of heuristically.

What I'm talking about here, is "ok, you can access everything seen or heard by anyone in the past", but if you must do it by specifying the person and the timeframe (like: John Pappagiorgio 31th of March 2008 16:30), then there is an obvious solution: Just bribe the officials in an unrelated/unexpected timeframe of situation. Nobody has the time to browse through one's entire life, so simply bribe them months earlier in the middle of the night. Then nobody will think of remembering that particular timeframe and the fact of corruption will remain hidden.

  • $\begingroup$ I think depending on your importance, and thus the impact of your taking a bribe, the less and less time that you wouldn't have a hired political opponent's task force of employees watching your life as it happens. The top officials would likely be monitored 24/7 starting early in their careers, with all of their political actions documented to the minute. They would have to take the bribes many many years ahead of time, but how would they know they'd one day be in the political situation to do the favor? It'd be awfully hard to negotiate a significant deal a decade ahead of time. $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Aug 3 '16 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) There'd probably also be freelancers who look for the opportunity to ascertain and sell knowledge of experiences during time prior to someone important being watched. That one time George Bush let the N word slip in a late night conversation 20 years before being president, you never know who might be ready to sell that info for a few million dollars to a political opponent "look back on June 23, 1AM, 1973" . $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Aug 3 '16 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Viziionary So you couldn't bribe i.e. the president of the United States. Big deal. You could still bribe 3 out of 5 members of the local building committee, or some local council members - which I think is the real level of corruption nowadays. $\endgroup$ – mg30rg Aug 3 '16 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ And when the upper government clamps down on that because voters demand it? When a government task force of contractors stands by, paid in advance, to watch local politicians once per year at a date randomly generated and secretly communicated once per year? The FBI hires 10,000 private contractors, auditors if you will, pays them and gives them an internet device, trains them to interpret a message from the device without seeing or hearing it. The device generates a random schedule of 50,000 random local government officials. Bob is told on October 12 to begin watching (cont) $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Aug 3 '16 at 12:37
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) these 5 local politicians during PM hours, while Blake is told to watch those officials during AM hours, each contractor watches multiple officials for a month, then all the corruption gets wiped out, a repeat secret audit will occur each year but after that local politicians are too afraid to be corrupt anyway for fear of being watched. And besides, locals who opposed a certain local politician will find plenty of time at work and at home to sit there and take a glimpse at the guy, sooner or later the politicians would get caught by voters too. $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Aug 3 '16 at 12:40

Smell, touch and taste

You have written in a comment that only sight and sound can be retrieved. That is an extremely important part of the premise. Mirror318 has already pointed out something similar.

Other kinds of communication that apply the remaining three senses would almost certainly become widespread. After all, humans value secrecy and privacy immensely. And over the centuries, this would develop into much more dynamic and complex patterns than we can possibly imagine. I don't think using such forms of communication would be seen as wrong. It would probably be seen as just as natural as using envelopes around letters is in our world.

I lay down on the bed. The palace was pitch dark! I knew my envoy would come to visit, returning from the Vazian chieftain's residence. He always comes in the night. He had stayed there for many days (and nights, which was the important part), pretending to negotiate something with the Vazians. Oh, his superior acting skills. I knew the public would buy the charade. They always did. They thought they saw everything.

I felt a touch against my hand. Oh, how silently my envoy can pass through the pitch dark room! His footsteps had been silenced by the thundering waves of the Atlantic Ocean roaring outside the palace. Not that he would have needed it, anyway. The man knew how to move like a cat, without a single sound. As always, there was a tiny piece of food approaching my mouth. I knew better than to even think of opening my eyes. I could sense the strong smell of ginger even before it touched my tounge, only to be taken back by my envoy. I proceeded to taste a raisin, a piece of dried apple, nutmeg and turmeric. Five minutes later, I had memorized a whole message.

Grant trading rights to Vazians. Usual payment.

I tapped my envoy's wrist three times to signal that I had memorized the message. I felt the diamond, cold against my fingertips. The size was astonishing! It must be worth millions of Droas! I let my fingers slide around it in the pitch darkness. The envoy was gone now. He'd done his duty.

In the pitch darkness, I put it into the pouch. It was almost full by now. Not a sound! Each stone was encapsulated by a soft fabric. Oh, the value! My assistants would know what to do. It was not the first time, after all. I have a mine in the Rinesian Valley. My assistant would carry the pouch under his jacket this very night, to my "diamond extraction plant." Oh, how good a business that plant is. It has been in our family for centuries. And so has our strong position in the political world of the Democracy of Griduria. We are truly loved by the people. Indeed, victory in politics goes to those who can form strong alliances.

Even the food is maybe too complicated. The envoy could just tap Morse code to his finger. Or maybe even the envoy is unnecessary. The Gridurian politician could just go the Vazian chieftain personally. While they are having lunch, morse code could be transmitted between the two of them by tapping their toes towards the other's feet under the table. After centuries, such methods would be as natural to humans as spoken communication is to us.

  • $\begingroup$ I would provide the argument that while I said "human-like", as others pointed out, they wouldn't really be human-like with this ability would they? They might have grown accustomed to having no privacy, in fact that's likely. Yes, using these methods to secretly exchange information might be a college course they take as a tradecraft, but its hard to say how effective / popular the skill would be. If it weren't a culturally common thing, it would look bad if later in life a politician starts learning how to communicate secretly in the dark. $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Aug 3 '16 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ Unless a culture develops around government entities having departments (think CIA, FBI, military) who operate mostly in this dark secret way, I doubt it would be socially acceptable for politicians to learn it. Then again I'm not even sure it would work for government agencies to begin with - The operatives have to do something at some point, and they'd have to see to act like military or secret agents or police or whatever they do. Like another guys joked, blind deaf ninjas aren't going to be very effective. So the actions wouldn't ever be secret. $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Aug 3 '16 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Viziionary Government officials may use the excuse of "national security" for why they need to speak in private. The case that I'm making is that given centuries of this condition, such communication would likeky be as widespread as envelopes and encryption is to us. But your point of view is also valid. Which one you prefer is largely opinion based. This answer is just one out of many options. $\endgroup$ – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Aug 3 '16 at 12:17
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah well these questions on this site are for fun anyway. $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Aug 3 '16 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Viziionary Yeah, this site is probably one of the most entertaining ones on SE. But it's also for people who write stories, scripts, etc. $\endgroup$ – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Aug 3 '16 at 14:27

Some people may choose to sever their psychic connection, or reject the concept.

This occurs in the Starcraft universe with the Nerazim and Tal'darim who are not part of their psychic shared-conciousness known as the Khala.

It may be impossible know the exact moment the corrupt act occurred in order to view/relive it.

In that in order to know there was corruption, you would have to see the moment it started. If it requires watching hours/days/months of a person's life in order to see the corruption, or if the vision you get is partial (sight and no sound, etc.) then it may be possible to obfuscate it. If a politician went on a skiing trip and in a random 5 minute window at 3am did an evil deed quickly over the phone, and went back to sleep, would it be noticed?

Culturally inappropriate

Culturally it may be an grave offence to view certain aspects of people's lives. If you can watch someone relive a moment of someone's private life, presumably other people can see that person has done it. Much like in Vampire the Masquerade the act of Diablerie is punishable by death, and anyone that does it is clouded in a dark aura that is very easily detected.

It is possible to hide things

Hiding parts of your life from the shared consciousness may be perfectly permissible, such as secret (but legal) details for example, a patent for a new machine or scientific breakthrough. You could then hide your shady goings-on in a similar way.


Corruption would just work the same.

We, in our real world, can easily and in some cases routinely talk to each other in a way that an outsider who listens in (even in the same room) gets a completely different meaning.

This happens regularly between parents when talking about something sensitive while kids are present (like, Christmas presents...); it happens in oppressive regimes when people are aware that they are in the sights of the Geheimpolizei, etc.

There is no particular need to exchange a "code" beforehand; corruption in the sense of bribery is not that complicated. It could be minuscule body language effects etc. together with some provisions of flooding the "communication channel" with said effects, so a routine listener had no way to spot the exact moment something was decided. Especially since you point out that getting into the memories is not automatic, but a conscious process involving effort on the snooper.


Open, shameless corruption

The ruler of a territory could be openly corrupt. Sort of like a mafia boss. He wants people to fear him. His whole society is built on corruption, bribery and dirty dealings. He's doing business with all kinds of criminals. And if anyone so much as tries to go against him? They'll be killed and/or tortured pretty quickly. It's not exactly like the people can start forming a political underground resistance with ease. The ruler himself and his special forces, having all the same psychic powers as the general public, would know about it pretty quickly.

Having weapons is illegal for anyone not working for the government. Saying or printing anything negative about the corrupt ruler is banned. All political activity (except for that supportive of the corrupt ruler) is banned.

One time one of the ruler's ministers slipped up and said he wished society was different. He was fed to the pigs the next day.

All the little heroes would be killed pretty fast. The same goes for any military generals wanting to plot a coup against him. It's the ultimate terror regime. The ruler has absolute power. If anyone does or says anything against his will, they're toast. Quite a servile society. Oh, and the ruler taking or paying bribes? That's the last thing anyone cares about.

  • $\begingroup$ That's an interesting concept, but with one flaw; consider this scenario: We can't build up a rebellion without being found out, but we have numbers to overwhelm the bad leader with ease if thousands of us were able to work together. Well, lets say a celebrity knows 15 million people are watching him at the moment, he's doing something entertaining and entertainment is especially popular in this grim nation of tyranny. He writes on a piece of paper, "Enough is enough, if you're ready to fight arm yourself, get in your car and attack the nearest military base, we're taking over." $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Aug 3 '16 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) Quickly as word spread in the following moments, 100 million people tune in, see the message, with more details about how exactly to take over the bases, then 30 million people actually walk out of their homes, swarm every military base and airfield in the nation, and the war is over. No military can withstand an instant coordinated swarm rebellion like that. Most of the soldiers wont even fight to stop it if victory is clear. $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Aug 3 '16 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Viziionary That could happen, yes. Or the special forces could just see the first people who start plotting, and immediately arrest, torture and kill them. They take their spouses and kids first, though. This memory of torture and death will be viewable to any other people with similar ideas, as a warning. Brutal torture. Would you want to be next hero to continue the rebellion? Or would you just go on with your normal, peaceful life? (People who don't oppose the ruler live relatively undisturbed lives.) $\endgroup$ – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Aug 3 '16 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ Not to detest your answer anything, +1, I argue only for fun: If the masses are living laregly peaceful and undisturbed lives to the point where they feel they can tolerate their government, then they have it better than some we can read about in our own history books. Seems like when people are really oppressed they do something about it. Might take a few centuries of oppression, maybe even a millennia, but slowly people seem to get fed up and break free. Seems to me that this would hold true in this storyline as well, just by different means. $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Aug 3 '16 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Viziionary Yes, it's fun to discuss the answers. What you are taking about could indeed happen. It could actually be the plot of a story. A group of rebels, communicating through the means I described in my other answer, planning to assassinate the ruler. If it was just the terror regime it would be a pretty boring/depressing story. $\endgroup$ – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Aug 3 '16 at 15:01

There are two paths this can take. One is that we argue your society is actually one giant organism, and the concept of corruption is actually moot because there is only one identity. Obviously this is not the path you want, so the second path must be the one we use: the individuals "private thoughts" are the unique identity of each individual.

In such a case, we can still have corruption, thanks to language. Language is a flexible concept. One of the interesting aspects of language is that its syntax is distinct from its semantics: the actual event experienced is separate from its meaning.

Those who engage in corruption would quickly develop a way to communicate from private identity to private identity with plausible deniability. Everyone would be able to look back at the communication later, and see it happen, but would not be able to prove that this communication was a sign of corruption.

This pattern is actually very evident today in religion. Just look at any major religious book and the vast array of interpretations we see of the same text.


I had a roommate from Ukraine. He said if you want something done, you pay. If you want it done correctly, quickly, and suited to your needs, you pay more. Not so much different from "premium" packages in the West. Since the culture generally accepts it (with a bit of grumbling here and there), even ubiquitous information alone wouldn't stop such corruption from happening.

It's not much different from the issue of putting body cameras on American police officers to prevent civilian shootings: as long as the prosecutors are always on the cops' side, complete video evidence is often insufficient to land an indictment, let alone a conviction.


In Orwell's 1984, if you didn't want Big Brother to know something, it had to be performed outside the vision and hearing of his cameras. So Winston shielded his activities from the camera (and the eyes/ears of others).

In the world that you describe, people who desired any privacy would develop means of communicating without visual or audio interaction. Two people can maintain eye contact and speak to each other while one passes something to the other. That can be information, money, signs of affection, etc. Intimate encounters (that one desired to keep intimate) might only involve touch, the individuals would remain silent and look away from each other to prevent the act being broadcast to the entire population.

I can imagine entire categories of activities that would be performed without looking or listening.

Another idea from 1984 is doublethink , the ability to hold two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting them both. I can imagine that in your world, people might develop an ability to intentionally not look. Some actions might be taboo and courtesy demands that you not look at those actions within the hive consciousness. Or people are so overloaded with information, they decide not to look at everything, so they choose to compartmentalize and overlook some activities or even people. (Similar to how families might never acknowledge dysfunctional family members, even though everyone knows about the particular dysfunction.)

  • $\begingroup$ I like this... to avoid the detection of all seeing, your corruption must be done literally under the table... assuming that touch is not recorded in this system... you can't see under the table cloth and cannot hear anything about it. $\endgroup$ – hszmv Jul 5 '17 at 11:33

In a very similar manner to if there was a CCTV everywhere. The difference is that it would be extremely easy to get evidence, but that may not stop corruption if it is deemed acceptable.


Much like magic tricks, everything can happen in front of the eye. But what magicians, hackers, and other shady types do is that they have something that attracts attention while doing something else.

Someone attempting to bribe an official might be yelling and arguing with the official, while trying to slip some money into his pocket.

People can't focus on everything

Certain events might cause people to simply not bother with viewing something else. A disaster like 9/11 would mean people are too glued to events, or trying to investigate something bigger to notice the smaller things.

I'd imagine a world with no privacy, sexual acts would happen much more often and not as illegal. Such actions may be distracting and a good smoke screen for corrupt actions.


Even in modern times, it is normal to give gifts and support. A corporation might financially support a political party's campaign. Someone trying to win a project contract might give the CEO's daughter a car as a wedding gift.

Someone could also "lose" an expensive tool like a laptop or phone as a way to hint that they'd like a specific bribe.


So I'm seeing a system like this: The more first hand experience a memory has, the more likely it is to find it. A sold out concert by the latest pop idol will be much quicker on the public recall than an action that is witnessed by only two people. It's not that Bob hand John an envelop of corrupt cash won't be uploaded and found by others, but unless they are specifically looking for that event, it's going to be lost in the din of my recognizable public events in both of their lives.

Alternitively, perhaps the ability to manipulate the system is some kind of special skill... like a form of martial arts... that can be trained. One can develop skills and disciplin to focus away from the link or just keep stuff fuzzy deliberately... perhaps truly grand masters of this skill can even be so powerful as to delete memories from the network... If such a person catches the memory early enough, he can keep it between the people who witnessed it.

Another thought is what about ficticious memories? People who create stories. Could a novelist reasonably convince someone that the events in question were a realistic memory of a fictional event... its for a new book we're co-authoring? What about memories of dreams? I had a pretty vivid dream where I was a Sith or Jedi of some kind, had two pink lightsabers, and was fighting Darth Sideous for some reason... would that have been shared with everyone

Another thought is some kind of deliberate impairment like being drunk or high, which will prevent memories from reliably uploading...


Just because people can see and hear everything doesn't mean folks WANT to.

Insert political polarisation into the mix and corruption can easily exist. X is doing some bad thing? Well, X's supporters would just go, "who cares, it's normal" or "that's way lesser than Y would do in the same situation". To go to the effort of confirming if a fact is true or not, they would have to hear about it in the first place, and people can be easily convinced that the news sources that oppose X are FAKE NEWS and so should be rejected without any consideration.

Indeed, people can deliberately seed the media with fake reports, so the majority of people just get tired of hearing rumours and can no longer bother trying to distinguish between what is real and what is fake, even if they easily can.


In a similar vein to Asimov's "Second Foundation", the corrupt parties could be genuinely convinced that they're performing a legal act. If an agent is (for example) hypnotized to believe that the bag of cash he's handing over is his boss' laundry, it wouldn't raise up the "mental flags" associated with a criminal act.

The truly corrupt activity would then be the hypnotizing - this would have to managed carefully. Perhaps you could fool the agent with simple deceit and slight-of-hand, in a way that was too subtle to be detected by a "mental glance" from an outside party.

  • $\begingroup$ Two problems: first, you can't hypnotize someone who doesn't want to be hypnotized, so it's not great for committing crimes (particularly against suspicious people surrounded at all times by other people, like politicians). Second, the hypnotist's memory would be open for viewing as well, and you have to know that enough people are going to be examining the politician and everyone they come in contact with. $\endgroup$ – Azuaron Aug 2 '16 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ They're aliens. The author can make such mesmerism possible if it proves to be a good idea. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 2 '16 at 10:24

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