Stream of Consciousness science fiction brainstorming

During this trip I became obsessed with a science fiction scenario involving minds within a large organism. This is basically a stream of consciousness brainstorming session about how it would work from later in the trip. I have no idea if this will make any sense to anybody else:

I’ve been thinking a lot about people as just little cells in the larger super-organism.

I’ve been liking the metaphor of the social organism, and the equivalent between groups of people and thought processes

Like a research group is the equivalent to your curiosity about some subject.

An individual would be like a neuron, just a relay that is a part of one or really more than one of these larger structures



an organization wants to think about something, so it transfers some people to a new department, designed to think about that thing
another department starts having very beneficial relationships with that department, only semi-related to whatever the 1st department’s job is
the thing the department was created to study turns out to not be that common, no need to spend more resources on it, funding is cut, department starts to die
the other department takes action! It’s people have friends in the first department who like it there, and as an organization, they like having the department around
they decide to do something to make there be more of whatever the object of study is, or trick people into thinking that’s the case
funding comes back, department is revitalized and better than ever
conspiracy of lies continues
eventually people in the study department start to suspect
realize that their department only exists because of manipulations by the other department
auditors enter the scene and intervene

an over-mind wants to think about something, so it creates a mind and gives it mental capacity to think about it
another mind in the same collective starts to fall in love with that mind
the thing the mind was created to study turns out to not be very common, no need to think more about it, mental space is used elsewhere instead, mind starts to die
the other mind takes action! It’s in love!
they decide to do something to make there be more of whatever the object of study is, or trick people into thinking that’s the case
thought restored, mind is revitalized and better than ever
conspiracy of lies continues
eventually the studier mind starts to suspect
realizes it only exists because of it’s lovers manipulations
the overmind intervenes

So let’s see here:
2 could be used as a sci-fi story with a crazy alien species. One sort of like the Tines in Vernor Vinge now that I think about it, but more like the choir
there are all these little mind-nodes. Sort of like neurons, some base unit of thought
then you can combine them together, and if you combine enough of them, or combine them in certain ways, you achieve consciosness
so I guess there is some kind of over-mind, but it’s not consciouss
It’s like if instead of you being consciouss, each of your thought processes was
though of course the big difference is parallel processing
but I guess your brain does that too… it’s just your consciousness only thinks about one thing at once
So maybe there is a larger consciousness?
I think it would be more like there’s a leader
mental capacity is used to plan and make decisions
the planning / decision making thought process is the leader
OH – great idea: the way minds grow is by attracting neurons or whatever
so some minds just keep having more neurons added to them, getting smarter and smarter
while others that have a nice steady job stay the same size
and there’s a constant churn of growth and death as different thoughts are considered
So like some reptile brain functions are practically immortal / basic low level work, janitors, etc
This is probably most of society really
A bunch of functions being steadily completed, the business of day to day existence
then there are ones that are more like research groups / abstract thought
they form for a while, thinking about an idea, and then disperse
instead of thinking about it for a moment though, it can last decades or centuries
they could grow huge and then shrink back down to almost nothing
or even grow so huge they throw off their own subprocesses?
Like one mind has a big job, so it creates another mind to help?
I guess the question is how do they start
Does it just happen?
Does the overmind ‘decide’?
Does another regular mind create them?
Maybe they give birth by having a clump of their neurons leave and become its own mind
Like whenever a mind has an interesting thought, which is worth further study, it could spin off that part of itself to be a new mind of its own
so there’s a sort of mental ecology
what attracts new neurons to a mind?
that’s the key question
I guess it must be oriented towards producing some good outcome for the collective
what if each mind lives on its own island? or world? or asteroid?
and so I guess the over-mind is just formed by whatever neurons happen to be in its area
but that still doesn’t say what determines how neurons are distributed
I guess maybe they’re just born?
Like neurons can divide and multiply?
so then I guess the idea is that minds can choose what is done with their neurons
they can gather some and give birth to a new mind
they can exchange them with other minds
they could even kill them if they wanted to!
the exchange thing would obviously be somewhat equivalent to sex, could be the basis for the relationship in the story
what would getting neurons from another mind be like? I guess like getting neurons or batches of them from another person
you’d get bits of memory, experience, etc
Can they access the memory anyway? No definitely not
so yeah, you get memory, attitudes, everything. And I guess it doesn’t diminish the original at all either
so you can basically churn out more neurons if you can afford to
hmmm so this is seeming less like one big mind
But, that’s after society has evolved!
You have this setting, and eventually the minds get organized
Basically form a society
Ack, actually the idea of the mental ecology sort of messes with the part about each mind having a purpose
if they’re self-interested and just out to multiply, why would they be equivalent to thought processes?
There must be some way they are selecting towards what’s good for the overmind
What about if the overmind is really a giant organism floating through space
like a living asteroid or some such
and it has its own life cycle
its own relationships with other giant minds
that it can communicate with, but only at a great distance
perhaps because of light speed delays and very fast thinking
and so not all the minds necessarily understand what the deal is with their world? No I think they must, at least to the extent that people do
It can’t just be some conspiracy to hide it
I guess the idea would be that selection pressures took off at some point within the overmind?
Another metaphor is cancer, uncontrolled growth within a limited environment
or madness, fighting among different parts of the mind, or other social breakdown
I guess the idea would be that the minds are just naturally organized in a certain way
like a human mind is naturally organized in a certain way
and no part of the mind necessarily understand how they’re organized, because that was designed in by evolution or a creator
so they’re just hanging out performing their functions
Trying to expand?
I guess each neuron absorbs stuff from minds it’s part of
and of course retains that when it divides
and I guess it also matters what that neuron is used for within that mind
idk how distinctive different neurons should be
or how many there should be per mind
so what is the limit on neuron growth?
I guess there would be a constant total number
so how is it apportioned?
I guess there could be some sort of ‘government’
auditors and such
minds mostly do the job they naturally do, steadily reproducing themselves, getting new neurons occasionally to prevent inbreeding
the only ones that have all this crazy growth and death stuff would be ones assigned to think about more ephemeral things I guess?
The problem is if minds think they’re in charge, why be blase about essentially dying when they’re done?
I guess the idea would be that the minds don’t really have much of an ego
Maybe some, but not nearly like people. And also they identify with the neurons as well
knowing if they are broken up their neurons will be reused elsewhere
maybe some neurons from thinker minds get send to reptile minds
liven up their day

I guess the idea would be that a mind’s motivation would not be as self-centered as a humans
It would sort of care about itself, but would also care about the larger whole, and its individual neurons
memories would stretch way back, but become dimmer over time
I guess new ‘creatures’ are born when minds leave the old one and go colonize a new asteroid?
So there are memories going way back through many iterations of this
a lot like genes really
so that’s another thing, this is situation where genetics and memetics are all mixed up
each neuron is sort of like a cell
So rather than having the brain be separate, the whole creature is its brain
basically each cell is a neuron
non-neuron cells are barely considered part of the body at all, might be grown for a purpose then removed. treated like fingernails or something
I guess the larger mind is capable of interacting with the outside world, building stuff if necessary
it has molecular assemblers or something
so normally it’s just floating along, soaking up sunlight, thinking
enjoying itself / learning
it can control its movements, but only over very long time spans, slowly adjusting orbits
for the most part its very isolated, can maybe talk via radio to its peers, but they’re far away
I guess what I’ve been thinking yet avoiding is this: society determines neuron allocation
like there’s the planning authority mind, and it divvies up how many neurons everyone can have
neurons occasionally die from random accidents and have to be replaced, but mostly are just moved around
yeah that makes sense

So they basically just think about and talk over these decisions
There can even be politicking and such involved
and I guess it sort of works like a bureaucracy with minds as bureaucratic empires
so technically you’re always supposed to be thinking about the good of the whole, not expanding your own empire
but really there’s a lot of empire building

Is there a limit to how big a mind can be? Otherwise why not have the whole thing be one giant mind?
I guess the idea would be that each mind can only think about one thing at once
no better parallel processing than people, or perhaps even worse
so it makes sense to split up into a bunch of different units to accomplish different tasks
rather than one giant mind that’s really smart, but can only be smart about one thing
also maybe there are inefficiencies as you get bigger
no hard limit, it’s just harder to keep a mind organized the bigger it gets
maybe when you’re super-big sub-processes start trying to break away

So what are the minds for? What do they do? I guess a lot of science / research / learning
some maintenance of the body
communication with other minds, trading information and ideas
monitoring things in the external universe
keeping other minds in order, antibodies / police
so what would crime be? a mind seeking its own benefit rather than to benefit the group? a mind gone bad!
Like it’s a mind that’s supposed to study Mars, but then it realizes it can fake up interesting stuff on mars, and thus get assigned more neurons
or it can sabotage Venus researchers or something…
and then the auditors have to come down on it, maybe kill some neurons? Maybe even all of them, cut out the cancer

One response to “Stream of Consciousness science fiction brainstorming

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