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DEBATE FORUM: do we want to be the Borg?

Posted: Mon, January 14, 2013 | By: DEBATE

[’s “DEBATE FORUM” will change topics every 1-3 weeks, depending on how active the discussion is]. This week’s topic - introduced by Peter Wicks - is:

“Currently, communication between individual brains takes place exclusively via the miserably small bandwidth pathway of the five senses. 


However, the time is near when we can have chips in our brains that communicate directly with each other, over a considerably higher-bandwidth channel than the optic nerve. 

What will that do to our sense of individual identity? Will it dissolve entirely?

Is the emergence of a Borg-like collective “hive-mind”—inevitable?

Is it desirable? 

If we don’t want it, how can it be avoided? 

If you get a choice, will you opt in or out?”

(please leave your Comments below)


Apologies if this seems a little unorganized, i always have a hard time describing my feelings of what the future may be like because its so mind boggling to think of just how drastically different it will be. I feel a hive mind collective is inevitable and desirable. Removing ones identity and absorbing them is illogical, due to the purpose of the collective it’s inefficient, I see it more like the social networks of today. It’s sole purpose would be the sharing of collective knowledge with everyone else, ultimate open source. The reason why removing ones identity and turning them into mindless drones is illogical and inefficient is because it would rely on its members to have the freedom to learn and make discoveries to have that knowledge added to the collective to share with everyone else. I feel it would be an opt in or out type deal much like how you don’t need to make a Facebook, but if you do you can log in or out whenever you want. Then you will have those like myself who are always logged on, even when I’m not on I’m still on, people who feel as if they are one with the collective. Still not mindless drones mind you, just people who love information, knowledge and intelligence above all else, as that will be the point of the collective.

By Brandon King on Jan 14, 2013 at 10:18am

I believe that the almost-inevitable emergence of the “hive-mind” will *NOT* have the detrimental effect on individual identity that many/most people expect. 

Higher-bandwidth means more effective communication and coordination—not that the “will” will be overridden (unless that is what we decide to allow—either by choice, involuntarily, or by lack of planning and inertia, all too likely).

As John Smart writes in The Trancension Hypothesis ( “A planet of postbiological life forms, if subject to universal development, may increasingly look like one integrated organism, and if so, its entities will be vastly more responsible, regulated, and self-restrained than human beings”—BUT I believe that, for efficiency and effectiveness reasons, they WILL remain diverse separate entities rather than the monolithic mono-cultural singleton that Nick Bostrom (and many others) are so afraid of.  Diversity and adaptability is best when you are in exploration mode, monoculture and size is best when you are in exploitation mode.  The world will always be in balance between the two . . . .

By Mark Waser on Jan 14, 2013 at 11:24am

My guess is that some of us at least will manage to maintain a continuity of (individual) identity, but just as files are now distributed between different servers in the cloud, our individual minds will become distributed across different (human, post-human or artificial) brains. In fact, I think what we call the cloud today is probably the precursor of the eventual hive, or “Borg”.

Some individuals will merge, however, while others will splinter. Gradually, people will grow comfortable with this and will cease to fear death (i.e. annihilation of self), long before it is possible to actually back up entire human minds.

It will start with a few people experimenting with relatively low-impact versions of brain-to-brain communication. After some teething problems (how much to do you really want your lover/friend/colleague to know about the inner workings of your mind?) people will work out how to use this new technology, and they will enjoy tremendous competitive advantage over the rest of them, not to mention the sense of connection and abolition of loneliness that we all crave. Soon, everyone will want to join the party.

By Peter Wicks on Jan 14, 2013 at 11:25am

Mark Waser’s comments make sense to me as well, BUT I think there will be a fair amount of merging going on, just as companies merge and become giants (but small companies remain,  focusing on sectors where economies of scale are not significant or as niche suppliers to multinationals).

What I miss, though - but perhaps because I’m not looking carefully enough - in many futurist predictions is a recognition that this can happen with what might turn turn to be a relatively banal combination of brain-chip interface technology and further developments in bandwidth. So in my view it is likely to happen well before we are postbiological, uploadable or anything like that.

By Peter Wicks on Jan 14, 2013 at 1:42pm

I welcome our transformation into Borg, in particular for the capacity to heal and regenerate, which I only wish were widely available today. Also, the sharing of thoughts and data would eliminate the daily avalanche of useless emails and twitter feeds we are plagged with that are hampering our ability to concentrate, filter out the noise, provide context, and ultimately engage in reasonsed decision-making and empathic communication. Perhaps we are less human today, than we will be as Borg. Resistance is futile…but are we resisting the wrong things?

By Karen on Jan 15, 2013 at 6:07am

I believe that the development of some form of Networked Intelligence is inevitable, assuming the basic technology is possible, simply because someone, somewhere will want to see if it works.
Whether this would takes the form of a Group-mind or a Hive-mind* remains unclear, as does it’s extent; I can quite easily imagine a Hive coexisting with independents.
I don’t think that the creation of a Hive is particularly desirable, but there’s nothing undesirable about it either, so long as it doesn’t make the Borg’s mistake of joining with individuals without their consent.

That said, I have little interest in joining a Group-mind, and none whatsoever in being absorbed by a Hive.

*The fundamental difference between a hive-mind and a group-mind is the retention of individuality, and I believe this would be a function of the technology; I believe individuality would be retained if the subject retains
(a) the ability to differentiate between memories and sensations received through the network and it’s own, and
(b) executive control over it’s physiology.

By Harry Dishman on Jan 15, 2013 at 8:59am

How I see the future:
Majority of population are hiveminded (a collective, much like today.)
Borg-minded (mind to mind interaction with hivemindedness.)
Sub-borg (Small groups, rather than countries or large entities of borg minded individuals)
Independents (Non hive-minded individuals.)
Drifters (Individuals who periodically interface with the borg categories, but otherwise individual.)

The final category, is uniocratic, where there is one mind made out of the minds of multiple people. This is the “loss of individuality” mind type, and I suspect it will be relatively uncommon, occurring mostly between lovers and friends rather than nations or group entities.

By ZombiezuRFER on Jan 15, 2013 at 12:14pm

“I have little interest in joining a Group-mind.”
I’m curious to know why, though. Care to explain?

“Perhaps we are less human today, than we will be as Borg.”
Indeed! Though perhaps we could do with defining what we mean by “human” in is context. But the choice of words is interesting, and may be important. In common parlance the word “human” tends to refer to (and therefore conflate) two different things: on the one hand, what it means to be human (i.e. unenhanced) now, on the other hand what things like compassionate, good…in short, all those things we value about being human.

Perhaps transhumanism will become more popular if we indeed characterise the goal as being to become “more human”, in this second sense. People can relate to that in a way they can’t when we use words like “enhanced” or “post-human”.

By Peter Wicks on Jan 15, 2013 at 1:35pm

Thanks for this - I’d be interested to see a more elaborated version. Anyway I find your scenario rather attractive - it involves lots of choice and diversity.
Hopefully all these different hives and sub-Borgs will live relatively peacefully together: plenty of rivaly for those who like that kind of thing, but nothing too destructive or deadly,

By Peter Wicks on Jan 15, 2013 at 1:40pm

I can explain, but the reasons are subjective, rather than objective.

I’ll start of with the Group-mind.
The unique draw of Networked Intelligence is ultimately social. Other benefits, such as knowledge and intelligence, can be provided via other means, likely using the same technology a group-mind would use.
In your words, it provides “the sense of connection and abolition of loneliness that we all crave”.
Simply put, I don’t crave these things. At least, not above that which I currently experience.

Absorption into a Hive suffers the same problem, with the added problem that absorption, as you correctly state, is Death.
Even if I eventually lose my fear of death, I -enjoy- being an independent entity, and that joy increases proportionally to my independence.

Off topic, are there any plans to create a “proper” forum? Using the comments system is a bit unwieldy.

By Harry Dishman on Jan 17, 2013 at 4:46am

Many thanks Harry, that’s quite enlightening…and shows that I was indeed exaggerating when I stated that we ALL crave connection and abolition of loneliness. Clearly, some people have need for these things than others, and also some find it easier to satisfy those needs than others.

Thanks also for the feedback regarding the format for these debates. Hank and I like this format because it essentially piggy-backs on the insisting comments system and is very low maintenance, but all suggestions (including the creation of a “proper” forum as you put it) are welcome.

By Peter Wicks on Jan 17, 2013 at 5:59am

I like a naughy guy that can make me happy and help me for some reason if u want to know just add me.
I enjoy my job very much but.
Ask me and i’Ll tell you.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away !.
Been single for a little while which is cool but would be good to meet that special guy - are you ou.
Hi im a 21 yr old fun loving woman who is outgoing and always up for a laugh.
My nail polish is always chipped and my socks never match but i’M a nice girl and fun to be around!.
Hey, I’M a little bit shy, but I’M quite friendly when you get to know me, feel free to ask me stuff.

By Juplecoptouro on Feb 15, 2013 at 4:11pm

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