Doctor SpinTrendsTechnology TrendsThe Internet of Brains — Time to Join the Hivemind

The Internet of Brains — Time to Join the Hivemind

Not even George Orwell would write something this scary.

We’re seeing the internet of brains unfold.

The scientist Miguel Nicolelis used electrodes to connect brains. Well, rat brains. Through trial-and-error, the rats in the experiment began to synchronise their electrical brain patterns as if they shared one brain.

In tests to distinguish between various patterns, the networked rats could outperform non-networked, individual rats.

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

Will we be next?

Table of Contents

    An Internet of Brains—For Humans, Too?

    In experiments, this has shown to be performance-enhancing in simultaneous yes-or-no situations, and it’s possible to think of human applications for this type of swarm intelligence.

    These results suggest that science is relatively close to allowing biological brains to synchronise their electrical patterns.

    It could potentially open the door to an enhanced form of human communication, a human API, where you’re able to temporary synchronise your brain patterns with whom you’re communicating.

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

    Maybe the Covid-19 pandemic might even accelerate the need for these types of hivemind technologies?

    Synchronizing Human Experiences

    Okay, so maybe my mind’s dirty, but I could quickly think of various religious or spiritual applications for a technology of this kind.

    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 used as 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?

    We already know that the web is no longer flat, so that the mixed reality might hold many precious (and scary) new human experiences still.

    Joining the Hivemind

    The idea of literally “plugging in” to a chosen community to co-create and solve problems is simply staggering—and a theme recurrently investigated by numerous science fiction writers throughout history.

    The technology doesn’t allow for any language, symbol, meaning, or visual transfer to another brain.

    Not yet, anyway.

    But it does allow for sharing mental states as induced by various brainwave patterns. As a fan and long-time user of, I’m likely to be amongst the first to try new types of brainwave applications.

    This new technology potentially allows us to connect directly with computer systems.

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

    There could also be medical brain-to-computer applications to treat anxiety and depression.

    Is this perhaps a venue explored by Elon Musk’s rumoured Neuralink?

    Brain Connections & Neuroplasticity

    It’s also conceivable to expect specific effects related to neuroplasticity—it might be possible for a human brain to develop neural circuitry to make better use of this form of 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 between each other.

    The technology implies a severe leap in the importance of brainwave data for target audiences for marketing.

    If you know more about which mental states make people susceptible to suggestion, social networking sites with brainwave-sharing communities could offer advertisers a whole new frontier of programmatic advertising.

    The development will likely also be met by a Techlash—severe challenges both in terms of legality and ethics.

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

    What happens if our inner dialogues suddenly become public domains?
    What happens if our emotional states become more accessible for governments and private interests?

    (Hint: 1984.)

    Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Prints/Instagram)


    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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