Watch: How Do Hive Minds in Science Fiction Work in Real Life?

Friday, 02 October 2015 - 5:00PM
Friday, 02 October 2015 - 5:00PM
Watch: How Do Hive Minds in Science Fiction Work in Real Life?
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Hive minds are omnipresent in science fiction, even in cases you wouldn't expect. Group minds, or a collective intelligence occupying multiple entities, appears in the precogs in Minority Report, the Xenomorphs in the Alien series, the machines in the Matrix trilogy, the Kaiju of Pacific Rim, the aliens from Enders Game, the Omega in Edge of Tomorrow, the Bringers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the Cybermen on Doctor Who, to name a few.

A version of the sci-fi hive mind occurs in nature, as certain species of animals are able to move in tandem and work together in such a way that resembles collective intelligence. But how does this work exactly? Nerdist's Kyle Hill is here to answer that for us, in the latest episode of Because Science:

Opening quote
"The thought of losing our individual thoughts is uniquely scary to us. But, nature is a scary place."
Closing quote

In real life, the hive mind is not the result of telepathy or interconnected neural networks, as it is in science fiction, but simple rules that every member of the hive follows (or is forced to follow). Starlings move in tandem by copying the movements of the nearest six birds without bumping into each other, while honey bees use dancing contests to decide which scout to follow (no, seriously).

The most interesting (and terrifying) mechanism, though, belongs to locusts, who use intimidation methods that could be attributed to a dystopian fascist government. They literally encourage absolute conformity by physically punishing any locust that gets out of line, through biting or even cannibalism. So basically, the hive mind in nature works through a social contract to punish anyone who is different, just like group think among humans. Interesting.
Science of Sci-Fi