Proposal: a world where people have a form of telepathy that enables them to see what is seen by anyone else.

In this world, people would have difficulty hiding any complex task from other persons. For example, Person A can see what Person B uses for the combination of a lock unless Person B closes their eyes while opening the lock. Person A could see when Person B hides a key under the doormat, etc.

Basically this telepathy allows spying on someone through their own eyes.

In this world...

  1. ... what would people not bother hiding?
  2. ... what would people still try to hide?
  3. ... and what actions could they take when they wanted to hide something?
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So basically everyone in this world is capable of mind reading, but they can only tap into vision? Well all you would have to do to hide something is not be suspicious. If nobody thinks you're trying to hide something, nobody will "vision read" you, and you'd be able to hide anything you like. Not sure what exactly you'd want to hide in this society however. Can you give additional information on the nature of this society and how "vision reading" works? $\endgroup$
    – AngelPray
    Jan 6, 2017 at 3:15
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    $\begingroup$ Hi, Mark, this seems like your first question. It needs editing because the way it's worded isn't easy to read. An interesting concept none the less. This form of telepathy could be called either telesensory perception, but since it's confined to sight plain "television" might be appropriate. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Jan 6, 2017 at 3:21
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    $\begingroup$ Have you ever played 4 player Goldeneye on the N64? It's hillarious to watch a game where everyone's facing the walls because they want to make it hard to tell where they are. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Jan 6, 2017 at 4:41
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    $\begingroup$ Mark: I edited your question fairly extensively. This is your first question, so I figured I'd help show you how it can be better formatted and phrased so more people can engage with it. You can revert all of my edits if you want. This is your question, so if I've injected a problem, feel free to fix it. Welcome to Worldbuilding! $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Jan 6, 2017 at 4:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @SRM I really like your edit. It's a huge improvement over mine. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Jan 6, 2017 at 23:59

4 Answers 4


In this world you propose, privacy of any sort more or less goes out of the window. But people would grow up with it and so it wouldn't really be noticeable to them. Tinted windows would never get invented, nobody bothered developing encryption for personal use, James Bond is out of a job, etc. So, with that in mind:

1. What would people not hide:

Most things, really. As stated above, growing up without any real privacy would make people pretty open about everything.

2. What would people hide:

Anything illegal, obviously. State secrets and sensitive weapons. All the things with an obviously massive negative impact if revealed to the wrong people.

3. But, how would they do it?

For criminals, simply not looking at stuff is really their only choice. Serious career criminals may take the time to learn to read braille. Taking someone somewhere? A blindfold won't do it, you'll have to use chloroform so they can't see through your eyes either. Making drugs? You'll have to have all your equipment assembled separately by separate, unrelated people in "black box" style units so you can't see what's in them. Counting money? Hire blind money counters, or blindfold the seeing ones.

For states, it's much more complicated. How can professor N assemble super top secret weapon X without anyone seeing? How did he develop it in the first place? They would probably spend a lot of money on trying to build a telepath immune workspace. Would a Faraday cage work? What about heavy water? Can we signal jam this stuff? Failing all of that, they'd probably spend all their time developing highly functional automated robots to do everything, then have Prof. N pass on instructions via a braille computer, with no visual feedback. Make every visible user interface visually confusing to someone who doesn't understand it, random numbers with seemingly no place unless you know where they go.

And everyone everywhere would presumably have a strong culture of doing anything by speech instead of visually.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 "a strong culture of doing anything by speech instead of visually" $\endgroup$ Jan 8, 2017 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ These suggestions are very useful to me; "build a telepath immune workspace", "Faraday cage", "heavy water", "signal jam". Thanks! $\endgroup$ Jan 8, 2017 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkMaruska Happy to help! $\endgroup$
    – E404
    Jan 9, 2017 at 23:13

Who would hide things

Everyone who already tries to hide things.

How would they do it

By not looking at what they are doing and relying on their other senses. If you are going to try to hide your key under your doormat, then pick up your key without looking at it, close your eyes and go place it under your mat, then go back inside and open your yes again--no one will know where you put it.

Human echolocation and other non-sight-savants might become more common amongst those who make their living via hiding.

Augmented reality encoding

Lets say you want to grab a key and hide it somewhere. You put on your augmented reality glasses and without ever looking at a key, you assign any key to look like something that is not a key--let's say you assign it the shape of a small lump of clay. You could assign this shape via voice commands, so you never see a key. Then, whenever a key comes into your field of vision, the augmented reality glasses change the apparance of the key into a small lump of clay. You can then pick up the key, feel it in your hands, but as far as anyone who happens to be watching through your eyes is concerned, they only see a lump of clay. Naturally they think nothing of the clay and you are free to do whatever you want with it.

Blind people become sought after

Blind people might become highly sought after by clandestine services like the CIA, KGB, mafia, etc, to perform handling of sensitive objects or performing secretive tasks when other methods of not looking at the object or area are not possible.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The martial art of practicing doing without looking would probably become a thing. Practiced on innocuous objects until you got really good at it, you could then use it whenever you really wanted to hide things. $\endgroup$ Jan 6, 2017 at 7:12

Q3: Don't Give People A Reason To Look Through Your Eyes During Most Hours

To avoid being seen, one of the biggest defenses is to avoid suspicion. If I can look through the eyes of anyone I want, I'm going to want to look through the eyes of those that are worth looking through. That's almost self-evident, but worth explicitly stating. If I am boring, if most of the time people look through my eyes they see the driest texts and most humdrum surroundings, people are going to stop looking through my eyes.

When I want to do something private, I'm going to wait until most people are asleep, to minimize the chance of random surveillance. I will encourage other more interesting things to be happening at the same time. I will chose locations that people don't have a reason to look for a random set of eyes to borrow.

Lots of audio conversation -- vocal commands to computers, telephone conversations with people. Braille also becomes useful. Foreign languages in written communications. Imagine a custom language for some corporations, like government spy agencies.

Q1: What would we not hide?

Most of our home life, just because it is inconvenient to do so.

Q2: What would we still hide?

We probably still want to hide our home finances, just to prevent thieves from targeting us. We probably hide R&D work in businesses.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 "people are going to stop looking through my eyes" ..."if I am boring" $\endgroup$ Jan 8, 2017 at 21:05

Invisibility Cloak

Recent research suggests we may be getting close to making a real invisibility cloak. By coving up what one is doing with one's body, you could provide yourself with a certain amount of secrecy.

  • $\begingroup$ Um, you'd have to cover your whole body but your hands, and people would still see how you interact with your environment. $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2017 at 5:13
  • $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon You could use the cloak to cover your hands as well and go by sense of touch. You could also obscure from your vision any sensitive items in the environment with your cloak and body positioning. $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2017 at 5:57

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