On the Difficulties of a Hive MInd

I’m sitting here grading final exams. It’s always a spectacularly unpleasant task as students inevitably miss what are to me obvious questions and make mistakes that would, in real life, kill their patients. Of course, this is tempered by the knowledge that: 1) these same students will have this stuff mastered within a few years and the only reason they’re having trouble now is they haven’t gotten past the terminology and drug names yet, so trying to get them to master concepts like, “Don’t give poison to patients that are already poisoned,” might be a little much to ask, 2) sometimes people don’t study for finals and just want to get finished with it all and don’t even really read the exam carefully, 3) test anxiety and exhaustion makes some otherwise good students write things like “I don’t know, but here’s a drawing of batman.” and 4) it isn’t my fault.

So I was thinking, wouldn’t it be easier if we were all a hive mind? Then we wouldn’t have to have teachers because we would be born knowing everything everyone else knows. It would be like, “Hey, I just got born! That was really painful. Oh, and hey, I know kung fu!”

So… wait, how would a hive mind evolve? Would that sort of species evolve starting out as a hive mind? Would telepathy be an innate property of a neural network from the getgo? If not, and the telepathy trait was a mutation, then even with 100% penetrance you’d expect there’d be a slow progression for everyone to become telepathic… I expect eventually there’d have to be some sort of civil war where non-telepaths were either exiled or destroyed through systematic genocide over hundreds of generations… it takes forever to get rid of recessive genes…

…ANYWAY… what was I talking about…? Oh right…

So say we are visited by aliens and whammo, we have a hive mind! First there would be a few years of riots and murder, I expect, as everyone realized that everyone else had been lying a lot about stuff… but after all that calmed down, how would our giant hive brain sift through all the information? It would be like having our brains be like the internet.

Would we be intrinsically aware of what information was true and what wasn’t? There is so much cognitive dissonance that goes on within normal single minds… maybe the mass consciousness wouldn’t be able to sort through it all. How would humanity reconcile all the religions (which are mostly based on blind faith and a conscious decision to just suspend disbelief, which is totally okay in my opinion)? What about all the really slow brains? Would they automatically become smarter? Would the smart, quick brains become slower? Would the collective IQ become 100?

It seems like it would be really confusing.

Anyway, I guess we’re stuck with learning things the hard way for now. Let’s hope the robot overlords take over soon before there’s so many new drugs the nursing students never get to the point where they are ready to master the concept, “If you give a drug that changes your blood pressure your heart rate will try to compensate.”

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Insert Sad Trombone Sound Here

Norwegian Word of the Day: Blodtrykk (translation: blood pressure)

Use in a sentence: Hypertensjon, eller høyt blodtrykk, betyr at trykket i pulsårer er høyere enn det som defineres som normalt.

Translation: Hypertension, or high blood pressure, means that the pressure in the arteries is higher than what is defined as normal.