Enter the Hivemind

We might be on the precipitous of a new human language.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Will humans be sus­cept­ible to hive­mind technology?

Some sci­ence fic­tion con­cepts per­sist. One such concept is the idea of con­nect­ing humans via digit­al interfaces.

From men­tal walk­ie-talk­ies to upload­ing and down­load­ing human minds.

I can­’t help but won­der: How far are we from cre­at­ing brain-inter­fa­cing tech­no­lo­gies? And would we be susceptible?

Let’s explore:

A Hivemind of Rat Brains

In 2013, the sci­ent­ist Miguel Nicolelis used elec­trodes to con­nect brains. Well, rat brains. The rats in the exper­i­ment began to syn­chron­ise their elec­tric­al brain pat­terns as if shar­ing their brains.

In tests to dis­tin­guish between brain pat­terns, the net­worked rats out­per­formed indi­vidu­al non-net­worked rats.

The tasks were simple enough, but the remark­able thing was that these rats wer­en’t even close to each oth­er. They com­mu­nic­ated via the inter­net. In one of these exper­i­ments, the rats were sep­ar­ated by thou­sands of miles.

It’s the first organ­ic com­puter,” sci­ent­ists explained to The Guardian.

So, sci­ent­ists have demon­strated an “inter­net of brains” — in rats.

What’s next?

I Know Kung Fu”

There’s no short­age of sci­ence-fic­tion cre­ativ­ity regard­ing digit­al inter­faces for the human brain, like how Neo learns kung fu in The Matrix.

The Matrix - Neo - I Know Kung Fu - Hivemind - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
Neo now knows Kung Fu.

It’s reas­on­able to spec­u­late about poten­tial use cases for elec­tron­ic brain enhance­ments. Learning an ancient mar­tial arts sys­tem in the blink of an eye would be cool.

But brain con­nectiv­ity does­n’t just have to be about adding fea­tures to brains. It could also be about adding new states of existence.

Co-exist­ence, even.

Nexus - Ramez Naam - Hivemind
Time to upgrade?

The Synchronicity Drug in Nexus

In Nexus, sci­ence-fic­tion writer Ramez Naam sug­gests a drug allow­ing you to feel what oth­ers are feeling:

Chuan bought a round of drinks. A bleach blonde Thai girl in a low-cut blouse and unnat­ur­ally large breasts came up and snuggled into his arm. He star­ted telling a story about a drug called Synchronicity. Sam’s ears perked up.

‘Synchronicity?’ she inno­cently inquired. ‘What’s that?

‘It’s N and M togeth­er. The cham­pagne of trips.’ He kissed his fin­gers for emphas­is.

‘N as in Nexus?’ She wanted him to spell it out for her.

‘Yeah. And M as in Empathek. The M makes you want to con­nect, want to under­stand, want to love. And the N actu­ally lets you feel what oth­er people are feel­ing. It’s beau­ti­ful. Magical.’ ”

Since these syn­chron­isa­tions are trans­ferred elec­tron­ic­ally, the inter­net could be a car­ri­er for such connections. 

Will we see a new spir­itu­al web? A new porn web? A unique, prob­lem-solv­ing web? A new artist­ic and cre­at­ive web? A new type of social media?

Will we see new group sizes?

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Typical Social Group Sizes

How many social con­nec­tions you you com­fort­ably sus­tain? According to the social brain hypo­thes­is, lim­its exist. 1Zhou WX, Sornette D, Hill RA, Dunbar RI. Discrete hier­arch­ic­al organ­iz­a­tion of social group sizes. Proc Biol Sci. 2005 Feb 22;272(1561):439 – 44.

The ‘social brain hypo­thes­is’ for the evol­u­tion of large brains in prim­ates has led to evid­ence for the coe­volu­tion of neo­cor­tic­al size and social group sizes, sug­gest­ing that there is a cog­nit­ive con­straint on group size that depends, in some way, on the volume of neur­al mater­i­al avail­able for pro­cessing and syn­thes­iz­ing inform­a­tion on social rela­tion­ships.”
Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 2Zhou, X., Sornette, D., Hill, R. A., & M. Dunbar, R. I. (2005). Discrete hier­arch­ic­al organ­iz­a­tion of social group sizes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 272(1561), … Continue read­ing

Scientific evid­ence sug­gests that people tend to organ­ise them­selves not in an even dis­tri­bu­tion of group sizes but in dis­crete hier­arch­ic­al social groups of more par­tic­u­lar sizes:

Alas, there seems to be a dis­crete stat­ist­ic­al order in the com­plex chaos of human relationships:

  • Support clique (3 – 5 people)
  • Sympathy group (12 – 20 people)
  • Band (30 – 50 people)
  • Clan (150 people)
  • Megaband (500 people)
  • Tribe (1,000 – 2,000 people)

Such dis­crete scale invari­ance could be related to that iden­ti­fied in sig­na­tures of herd­ing beha­viour in fin­an­cial mar­kets and might reflect a hier­arch­ic­al pro­cessing of social near­ness by human brains.“
Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 3Zhou, X., Sornette, D., Hill, R. A., & M. Dunbar, R. I. (2005). Discrete hier­arch­ic­al organ­iz­a­tion of social group sizes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 272(1561), … Continue read­ing

Read also: Group Sizes (The Social Brain Hypothesis)

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In 2017, Elon Musk and Paul Merolla pub­licly launched Neuralink. Since then, neur­os­cient­ists have come and gone. Not much is known about how it’s going, but Musk was allegedly inspired by sci­ence-fic­tion writer Iain Bank’s neur­al lace.

Neuralink - Hivemind - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
A Fitbit for your brain, perhaps?

Although, some pro­gress has been showcased:

In April 2021, Neuralink demon­strated a mon­key play­ing the game ‘Pong’ using the Neuralink implant. While sim­il­ar tech­no­logy has exis­ted since 2002, when a research group first demon­strated a mon­key mov­ing a com­puter curs­or with neur­al sig­nals, sci­ent­ists acknow­ledged the engin­eer­ing pro­gress in mak­ing the implant wire­less and increas­ing the num­ber of implanted elec­trodes.“
Source: Wikipedia

Critics have argued that Neuralink has been unable to demon­strate any sig­ni­fic­ant break­throughs. And there has­n’t been expo­nen­tial devel­op­ment since Nicolelis’ rat brain exper­i­ments in 2013.

Technological advance­ments aside, it’s reas­on­able to assume that there are two main fields of progress:

  • Electronic impulse stim­uli (“Learning kung fu”). Using elec­trodes, implants can use tar­geted elec­tric­al pulses to stim­u­late prim­it­ive func­tions. This could have near-future med­ic­al uses to assist people with los­ing spe­cif­ic func­tions. A blind per­son could get cues on how to nav­ig­ate, for instance.
  • Brain state syn­chron­isa­tion (“The Synchronicity drug”). By indu­cing vari­ous pat­terns of brain waves, two or more brains could poten­tially syn­chron­ise and put them­selves in sim­il­ar states. This could open up bet­ter col­lab­or­a­tion and deep­er states of shar­ing experiences.

Which of these poten­tial dir­ec­tions of pro­gress holds the most prom­ise for near-future application?

Transhumanism and Human Cyborgs

In 2017, CyborgNest launched NorthSense, a small cir­cuit board with pier­cings to con­nect it to the wear­er­’s body. The gad­get lets its wear­er sense the Earth’s mag­net­ic field and always knows the North direction.

Others have had an RFID chip implanted to use instead of extern­al chips.

Technological aug­ment­a­tions like these are inter­est­ing, but the advance­ments seem prim­it­ive. In 2022, CyborgNest is work­ing on launch­ing Sentero, a device that allows you to share exper­i­ences with oth­er Sentero users. But they’re strug­gling, and going out of busi­ness seems to be a pos­sible end­ing for the startup.

As a move­ment, transhuman­ism seems to be more of a philo­soph­ic­al and intel­lec­tu­al move­ment thus far.

On the prac­tic­al side of human aug­ment­a­tion, we mostly see grand ideas and what appear to be false starts.

The Hard Problem in Neuroscience

Here’s an impossible ques­tion:
What’s a thought?

The com­fort­able answer is that thoughts are aggreg­ates of clean elec­tric­al pulses trav­el­ling across syn­apses in a com­plex net­work of neurons.

The more uncom­fort­able answer is that we don’t know.

Thoughts seem to be the build­ing blocks of con­scious­ness — and we know noth­ing about con­scious­ness. We don’t even know wheth­er it exists or not.

Transferring thoughts in the form of lan­guage will likely stay a sci­ence-fic­tion idea for a long time. Brain pro­cessing and human memory stor­age might be very dif­fer­ent beasts com­pared to how our com­puters are being built today.

Consciousness is the hard prob­lem of neur­os­cience, it’s the hard prob­lem of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, and it’s the hard prob­lem of human tech­no­lo­gic­al inter­faces, too.

The work­around for neur­os­cience is to con­tin­ue to learn more. The work­around for AI is to assume that con­scious­ness is an illu­sion and keep improv­ing vari­ous sys­tems’ capabilities.

And the work­around for neur­al con­nectiv­ity seems to be tri­al and error:

Connect brains over the inter­net and invest­ig­ate how neuro­plastic our brains can adapt to each other.

Read also: The Human API: Enter the Cybernetic Resistance

Sharing (Brainwaves) is Caring

As a fan and long-time user of brain​.fm, I’d be par­tic­u­larly inter­ested in new types of brain­wave-shar­ing applications.

It’s con­ceiv­able to expect spe­cif­ic effects from neuro­plas­ti­city — it might be pos­sible for human brains to find new forms of “intu­it­ive com­mu­nic­a­tion.”

If we can learn to detect and dis­tin­guish between a wide array of sig­nals, two brains could poten­tially find a type of “Morse code” to send detailed and spe­cif­ic mes­sages to each other.

We could use com­puter-gen­er­ated brain­wave pat­terns to enhance learn­ing speed or put people in an optim­al men­tal state for a spe­cif­ic task. 

The tech­no­logy implies a severe leap in the import­ance of brain­wave data. Is this a poten­tial new fron­ti­er of data min­ing to fin­ance the evol­u­tion of Metaverse head­set technology? 

Knowing which men­tal states make people sus­cept­ible to sug­ges­tion and social net­work­ing sites with brain­wave-shar­ing com­munit­ies could offer advert­isers a new fron­ti­er of pro­gram­mat­ic advertising.

Affiliate: I use brain​.fm to get into mind states of pro­ductiv­ity, cre­ativ­ity, and relaxation.

Enter the Hivemind

If I were a bet­ting man, I’d place my money on tech­no­logy that allows humans to inter­face with each oth­er. The med­ic­al uses for elec­tron­ic impulse stim­uli are great, but the busi­ness case seems weak.

What would hive­mind tech­no­logy entail?

We could use hive­mind tech­no­logy to enhance the enjoy­ment of artist­ic per­form­ances where you can syn­chron­ise some of your exper­i­ence with the artist and the audi­ence.

It could open the door to an enhanced form of human lan­guage, a hive­mind, where you can syn­chron­ise your brain pat­terns using technology. 

Hivemind tech­no­lo­gies will likely also be met by a tech­lash — severe chal­lenges regard­ing leg­al­ity and ethics.

On a more philo­soph­ic­al level, we might also be forced to ask ourselves: 

  • What hap­pens if our intu­itions and brain­wave pat­terns sud­denly become tar­geted by silent miners look­ing to mon­et­ise them?
  • What hap­pens if our emo­tion­al states become more access­ible for gov­ern­ments and private interests?
  • What hap­pens when we use brain­wave data as train­ing sets for AI applications?
Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please con­sider shar­ing my pub­lic rela­tions blog with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. If you have ques­tions (or want to retain my PR ser­vices), please con­tact me at jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: How AI Will Impact PR

Artificial Intelligence and Public Relations - The Future Office - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
Every path is going to lead you some­where. (Photo: @jerrysilfwer)

The AI Revolution: Transforming Public Relations

There are sev­er­al ways in which arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) is likely to impact the pub­lic rela­tions (PR) industry. Some poten­tial examples include:

  • More high-level tasks, less low-level. The use of AI-powered tools to auto­mate tasks such as media mon­it­or­ing, con­tent cre­ation, and social media man­age­ment. This could free up PR pro­fes­sion­als to focus on their work’s more stra­tegic and cre­at­ive aspects.
  • Improved ana­lys­is and bet­ter strategies. The devel­op­ment of AI-powered sys­tems that can ana­lyse large amounts of data to identi­fy trends and insights that can inform PR strategy and decision-making.
  • Using PR pro­fes­sion­als as AI train­ers. Using AI-powered chat­bots and vir­tu­al assist­ants to handle cus­tom­er inquir­ies and provide inform­a­tion to the pub­lic allows PR pro­fes­sion­als to scale PR training.
  • Better pub­li­city through inter­con­nectiv­ity. The cre­ation of AI-powered plat­forms and net­works that can facil­it­ate con­nec­tions and col­lab­or­a­tions between PR pro­fes­sion­als, journ­al­ists, pub­lics, influ­en­cers, and oth­er crit­ic­al stake­hold­ers in the industry.
  • Earlier detec­tions of poten­tial PR issues. AI-powered tools can help PR pro­fes­sion­als identi­fy and mit­ig­ate poten­tial crisis situ­ations by ana­lys­ing data and provid­ing early warn­ing sig­nals of poten­tial problems.
  • Increased edit­or­i­al out­put. In organ­isa­tions where the com­mu­nic­a­tions depart­ment is driv­ing the con­tent strategy, PR pro­fes­sion­als will have plenty of tools for increas­ing both the qual­ity and the quant­ity of the out­put. 4Silfwer, J. (2023, March 20). AI & PR: Beware the Artificial Content Explosion. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​a​r​t​i​f​i​c​i​a​l​-​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​-​e​x​p​l​o​s​i​on/

Overall, the impact of AI on the PR industry is likely to be sig­ni­fic­ant, with the poten­tial to revolu­tion­ise many aspects of how PR pro­fes­sion­als work and inter­act with their audi­ences.

Read also: PR Beyond AI: A New Profession Emerging From the Rubble

💡 Subscribe and get a free ebook on how to get bet­ter PR ideas.

1 Zhou WX, Sornette D, Hill RA, Dunbar RI. Discrete hier­arch­ic­al organ­iz­a­tion of social group sizes. Proc Biol Sci. 2005 Feb 22;272(1561):439 – 44.
2, 3 Zhou, X., Sornette, D., Hill, R. A., & M. Dunbar, R. I. (2005). Discrete hier­arch­ic­al organ­iz­a­tion of social group sizes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 272(1561), 439 – 444. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​9​8​/​r​s​p​b​.​2​0​0​4​.​2​970
4 Silfwer, J. (2023, March 20). AI & PR: Beware the Artificial Content Explosion. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​a​r​t​i​f​i​c​i​a​l​-​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​-​e​x​p​l​o​s​i​on/
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has


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