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First post here so hopefully I'm asking this right. I checked to make sure there wasn't an answer out there already and didn't see anything, Either way...

I've got a species that can't communicate with others but does communicate among itself quickly and clearly. So, an imperfect Hive-mind. they are going to be a galactic grade threat and thus they're going to be going against other species that wish to end them in many ways.

But I want there to be an actual method to how the hive-mind communicates. However, I can't think of a method that couldn't be spoofed by other species

So my question is: what possible methods can they communicate to each other with that couldn't be spoofed by technology as soon as someone realizes how they talk?

It doesn't have to be completely foolproof, just not something that could be turned against them within days or weeks.

What I mean by Jammed and Spoofed is that the communication is rendered useless, either there's too much garbage being sent to pick out real messages or there's too many fake messages to pick out real ones. Regardless, the end result is they can no longer communicate because of the efforts of another species.

The hive-mind has no queen. There is a limit to their natural range, but there's equipment on their ships for communication at much longer distances. This equipment only amplifies, it wouldn't allow anyone to tap into the hive-mind.

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  • $\begingroup$ Question: The title says jammed, the question says spoofed. Those are two different things. You can jam encrypted radio communications with a big antenna broadcasting static, but you can’t spoof them unless you have the encryption keys. Which are you actually interested in stopping? $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 18 '17 at 8:36
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs To my knowledge, in this context, spoof means to "interfere with [signals] so as to make them useless", which is the same as jamming $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir24601 Nov 18 '17 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithrandir24601: in the context of radar Spoofing would be adding extra radar contacts such that the radar becomes useless, in communications I’ve always understood it to mean tricking someone into thinking you’re someone else (Ie address spoofing) $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 18 '17 at 9:13
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    $\begingroup$ From what I understand, in both radar and communications, the difference is that jamming seeks to prevent the receiver from being able to receive licit meaningful information (such as overpowering a radar module so that it can't pick up the subtle cues it needs to provide detections), while spoofing seeks to create new illicit forged content which appears to be legitimate. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Nov 19 '17 at 5:43
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon That’s a far more eloquent form of what I was trying to say. :-) $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 19 '17 at 20:39
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This is a tough one, because any method which depends on natural phenomena will be vulnerable to other species' science. That is to say, if they communicate by radio, someone will pick up their communication when scanning for radio waves. And so on.

(Hey, how are they supposed to communicate across interstellar distances anyway?)

So we need to get clever. Some thoughts...

  • Go quantum. Quantum works for everything! ;D Specifically, the Hive Mother back on Planet X implants a particle in each offspring; the H.M. has in her body another particle which is quantum-paired with it. Vibrating the particle in one body creates a matching vibration in the other, hence hard-to-intercept communication.

  • Similar, but go crypto. H.M. implants public key A and private key B in each spawn. H.M. knows private key A and public key B. Spawn sends messages encrypted with A, and HM can decrypt them with private key A. And vice-versa. Eventually, a detailed biopsy may be able to retrieve the keys and start messing with the messages, but it may be ... difficult.

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    $\begingroup$ wow, that's a lot of handwaving ;) $\endgroup$ – Olga Nov 18 '17 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Olga Especially the quantum part. "Quantum-paired", what? $\endgroup$ – AngelPray Nov 18 '17 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ Or combine the two. Use quantum mechanics to pass key information for cryptography. That's what we do today with quantum encryption. Quantum encryption is theoretically unbreakable. All successful breaks to date have been targeting our less-than-perfect real life machines used to do the quantum key exchange. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Nov 19 '17 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ Quantum teleportation is useless if you don't have conventional data link - it just gives sender and receiver common source of random numbers, that cannot be intercepted. Cryptography is useless is you transmitter is jammed. $\endgroup$ – Vashu Nov 19 '17 at 23:13
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    $\begingroup$ This "quantum pairing" sounds a lot like "philotic twinings" of Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" series - in a sense, it's the concept of splicing a particle in a way that both parts of it resonate - if one of them vibrates, so does the other - instantly and over any distance. I don't think there's any actual science backing up this idea though... $\endgroup$ – G0BLiN Nov 22 '17 at 7:58
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This is pretty trippy. Strap in.

5 spatial dimensions.

Imagine 1 dimensional creatures. They lives along a line. They move along it left and right: the only two directions possible. From a Flatlander two dimensional perspective outside the line we can see them moving left and right along their line. Flatlanders also move back and forth in their 2 dimensions.

From a three dimensional perspective we can look at the line like a Flatlander. But we have up and down and we can rotate to see all the 1 dimensional creatures in the same space, overlapping. By coming up and looking down onto their line the line becomes a point, and all of the 1 dimensional creatures are in the same dimensional space.

Now the trip. From a 4 dimensional perspective we can see 3 dimensional creatures like ourselves moving around in our 3 dimensions. But from a 5th dimensional (5th spatial dimension) perspective we can see that all 3 dimensional creatures are in the same 4d space - overlapping each other from this perspective, just as the 1d creatures overlap from a 3d perspective.

Your hive mind uses this. They all overlap with each other from a 5th dimensional perspective, and also overlap with everything else in our 3d universe. It is noisy, all crammed in there together with all that there is. But even in a noisy party I can hear you if you come up close and shout into my ear. If you were actually in my head, you would not need to shout. You would think thoughts right into my head and it would be easy to hear. That is how their hive mind works. Their minds are in different 3d spaces but not different 5d spaces.


3 spatial dimensions and 1 temporal dimension... and 1 more dimension.

The prior considered a 5th dimensional perspective in the context of a 4th spatial dimension. But if the 4th dimension is time, then what is the 5th? From that perspective, everything has happened at the same time. If you can communicate from a 5th dimensional perspective all of our discussions have happened at the same time. I hear everything you have said and everything you will say, now, always.

How to use that against them? For all spatial dimensions, the prospect of creating technology to duplicate 5th dimensional awareness is daunting. The prospect of coopting, or tricking, or hypnotizing one of these creatures and using the creature itself as the entry point... somewhat less daunting.

If the 4th dimension is time, the prospect of defeating a creature for which all times are now is even more daunting.

Hopefully Team Earth is any the top of their game...


Dluz glared sullenly at his handful of pretzels before shoving them all in his mouth. Once his hands were free he began to wave them about. "5th dimension? Everything in the same place?" Pretzel fragments sprayed freely. "I feel a seizure coming on just trying to think about it. How can the Hive do it?"

Peg phlegmatically picked pretzel pieces off his arm and set them in a small pile. "They're big," he offered. "Big brain."

Yesno looked over her shoulder, her hair wreathed with smoke from the grandmother board. "It's not how big it is. It's what you do with it." She winked at Peg. "You of all people should know that, Peg."

Peg nodded as he was showered by a laugh of wet pretzel fragments. "Yes. Yes I do."

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For the jamming variant you may rely on effects that are theoretically possible, but are out of reach for the opponent race's engineering level. For example, we (as humans) know today how neutrinos can be generated, what energy spectrum they will have in different processes, we can even modulate neutrino beams thus embedding information, but we do not possess efficient techniques for neutrino capturing. If your race has developed such techniques, then they have upper hand. Same can be applied to gravitational waves, being quite recent discovery means there aren't many devices that can detect them, let alone use them.

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Here are some options:

Pheromones, chemical language, viral/bacterial/prion based communication. Member of your hive mind only communicate by direct contact, or by direct contact with something that another member of the hive mind touched (like psychometry, but with chemicals). While others might recognize how the beings communicate, spoofing the messages would require understanding what is being said and how. If you go for bacterial communication, or something like tardigrades, it might be very difficult to suppress a message, as it spreads across the environment (maybe harmlessly), picked up by carriers and/or is difficult to destroy.

Alternatively, they could just send flashes of lights and use Morse code. Your beings are a hive mind, so rather than words and letters, they may use logograms and relational concepts (think of the Star Trek: Next Generation episode Darmak and Jalad at Tanagra). Sharing complete understanding with one another, your hive mind might also always be talking in terms of the big picture, instead of specific details (see the Arrival, I think - recent movie with squid like aliens). These different linguistic frameworks, which presume deep understanding of the hive mind (which the hive mind has) can effectively encrypt communication happening in plain sight.

Or, since your being is a galactic hive mind they may use multi modal communication, just like we do. We use written words, spoken words, visual signs, clothing, and performance. Your hive mind may use sounds, chemicals, colors (passively) or lights.

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Quantum entanglement of unobtanium particles

At conception alien embryos receive a number of entangled particles of unobtanium from their parents.
The parent either keep other half of the entangled pair themselves or give the paired particles to the embryo's siblings at their respective future or past conception. This allows aliens to instantly communicate with their parents and siblings over any distance.
Some of the entangled particles may come from the embryo's grandparents, thus enable communication between grandparents and grandchildren and among cousins. We can reuse this over the generations allowing aliens to communicate with their extended clan instantly over any distance.
Probably not all aliens can telepathically communicate directly with each other. But by using a common cousin/distant relative as relay aliens might be able to reach almost every other member of their species. The aliens have a mesh network ingrained in their biology (a mesh network might be more interesting than a star topology that results from a single brood mother).

Contrary to normal quatum entanglement --which doesn't behave as I naively assumed-- an unobtanium particle can be forced into a quantum state and the paired particle immediatly changes into the corresponding state.
The OP can decide whether a particle can be forced into a state once and then untangle or can be use many times.
When particle can be set a limited number of times, communication is limited allowing more communication between closer relatives. If you allow reusing unobtanium particles, communication is not limited. It would still allow for richer communication between closer relatives, since the share more particles.

As world builder you have a choice: The aliens might 'know' intuitively which particles to affect to communicate with whom. Just like we 'know' which neurons to fire to move our limbs. Or, communication might happen between random relative and propagate at random though the alien society.

I imagine that just like in our biology thousands or millions of neurons are involved in thinking of a single concept, thousands or millions of particles
are involved in the aliens telepathic communication. It is a messy biological process and not a clean binary one.

How safe is this from jamming and spoofing?

The particles are exchanged via trusted channels. Other races cannot easily introduce fake particles into the alien communication network.
Two possible attack vectors to introduce fake particles among the aliens are:

  • Alien prostitutes that have defected, but this is limited to the prostitute's offspring and takes generations. So it might be impractical.
  • Capturing aliens; having very detailed knowledge about the communication lobes in their brains; adding fake particles that are entangled with particles controlled by the adversary; releasing the alien without the alien knowing its telepathic capacity has been tampered with.

The third attack vector can be used for both spoofing and eavesdropping:

  • Capture or kill an alien without the alien (auto reflexively) communicating a distress call or destroying all its entangled particles; dissect it again without triggering any defensive reactions from its immune system; take its entangled particles without accidentally untangling them. As long as other aliens believe the dissected alien alive and safe you can access the aliens biological communication network. Do aliens periodically send "I'm alive" ping messages to prevent this attack? Do the adversaries know enough of the alien bionetwork to send these messages at the correct time?
    This attack might be difficult to execute.

These attacks are all limited in scope and practicality. There are probably more kinds of attack. The aliens can have biological or social countermeasures against hacking their quantum bio network.

  • Do not attack the network channels but attack the endpoint.
    If you can induce some sort of epileptic seizure into the alien's brain it might jam the unobtanium network and perhaps even cause a cascade.
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    $\begingroup$ «forced into a quantum state and observed by the other alien» that’s not how it works. You cannot force a state; both parties observe a correlated state (e.g. always opposite). You must have conventional communication (so it does not address the jamming issue) but will provide for privacy and prevent spoofing. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Nov 19 '17 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ The unobtanium edit makes this much better. $\endgroup$ – G0BLiN Nov 28 '17 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ It seems that a jamming device is still possible, if an enemy uses (ehm,) "harvested" entangled particles to generate a constant stream of "white noise" - this may be distracting or even incapacitating. However, since this is a biological system, it's reasonable that the aliens already evolved a way to "switch off" problematic particles (a stream of unwanted noise may be the result of a member becoming ill, poisoned, intoxicated, seriously wounded etc.). Similarly, there may be a "re-calibration" act, to disentangle particles of dead members and reintroduce new members into the network. $\endgroup$ – G0BLiN Nov 28 '17 at 14:23
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It will depend on the scientific principle underpinning the method of communication. In theory this is available to anyone with enough developed science, but as with anything information based it can be cryptographically hidden and rendered reliably secure with enough layers of complexity. If the speed of communication is to be as quick as possible then it will have to be based in particles that approach the speed of light. This is really an information security problem, though. So the answer will lie in codes and code breaking. By jamming a signal I assume you mean stopping the dissemination of information. One would have to have a system where signal interactions with masses/forces would not be possible to avoid jamming. You'd have to imagine a method of high energy particle detection that exploits information only you have. I do not know if such a thing exists.

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It isn't just communication, it's a complete language. Complete with idioms, accents, intonations, cadences, sayings, metaphors and the like. Even if someone could detect the means of communication, understanding it would be very difficult, and reproducing it properly even more so.

Aliens, after being addressed by humans/other species, speaking to one-another in a very different dialect to the one used by said humans/other species:

"Who's that talking? I understand them, sort of, but they sound all wrong. I've never heard an accent like that, the intonation is all wrong, it's too regular in speed, and why the juvblix would they say all that when they could just have said 'ghallsox vvvved'? Even a new talkling knows that."

"Oh, it's those sudggedv aliens trying to confuse us. Just listen to what they say, make the appropriate responses, and remember that they're trying to get us to do the wrong thing, which will backfire on them if we show them what they expect to see, but consider how they might take advantage of our doing what they say."

Jamming is by its nature limited in range - even human speech can be jammed, but humans can move away from the jamming. Spoofing a previously unknown language can take years to achieve even for humans with a human language, if it can ever be done at all.

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You prevent others from intercepting, faking and jamming your communications by not having anything anyone else recognises as communication.

There are no individuals in a Hive Mind, and it's rare that a single entity of the whole does anything on it's own. Each and every individual knows the location of all the others at any given moment, this info can be passed by radio waves or some other 'normal' communication method.

Actual messages are communicated by the locations of individual entities relative to each other. So basically a group of these aliens would change formations, perhaps appear to be dancing, and this would be immediately understood by the Hive. It's hard to spoof because if the motions are subtle enough it won't even be obvious what it is and the radio waves passing between them will be the first thing to be analysed as a possible form of communication.

Even if they do decipher the 'language' humans (or other aliens) can't just replicate the radio signals because the Hive would notice if a new entity just appeared somewhere with no prior connection. The only possible way to successfully fake communications would be to start broadcasting a signal while simultaneously killing one of the aliens (replacing it as such). This would need to be done to a whole group to be successful, which would be exceedingly difficult.

As for intercepting communications, you'd have to have the full picture of the entirety of the Hive to know what any specific movement means, which again would be very difficult to collect all the signals and process them in any meaningful way.

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