Tag Archives: hive mind

The perception collective…

Some of the best sci-fi creations of recent years are The Borg, those cold and emotionless, humourless, part man, part machine assimilation addicts from Star Trek : The Next Generation.


“A man walks into a bar..AND IS ASSIMILATED!!     Damn, I did it again”

And despite their deplorable lack of compassion, inability to tell a good joke and unimaginative fashion sense, they do have one thing in common with their human counterparts, albeit rather overdeveloped.

The hive mind.

Now, you may not think that you’re part of a gestalt collective with a communal consciousness, but there have been some very interesting studies conducted which seem to suggest otherwise.
In 1991 in California, a computer scientist carried out an experiment involving a movie theatre audience, a vintage video game called Pong, and some coloured paddles.

The audience were not given instructions or told what was going to happen, or what the small paddles they found on their seats were for.
The paddles were red on one side and green on the other, and with the use of hidden cameras and computers, could be used to control the moving bats on the movie screen.
One colour being shown by more than half of a given section of the audience would cause a bat to move upwards and the other would make it go down.

The audience were given a few minutes to see if they could work out what effect the paddles had on a cloud of coloured dots projected on the screen before the Pong screen appeared.


Before Call of Duty there was…. Pong.

To get the bats on the screen to successfully keep up a rally, the audience would have to collectively (and instantaneously) decide what proportion of paddles on their side of the auditorium showed each colour, to ensure the bat would rise or fall the correct distance in order to intercept the moving ball.

Sounds impossible doesn’t it?

A load of strangers with no clue what they’re doing there, no way to communicate with each other in time to pass multiple instructions, and no practice.

Well just watch the amazing short clip, via the link below, to see just how wrong that assumption is.

             WATCH VIDEO

Isn’t that incredible?
Who’d have thought all those naked people would have turned up…

(… right, that should take care of those people who can’t be bothered to click on a three minute link)

How does that work then?
Collective consciousness does seem like a tempting explanation doesn’t it?

And that isn’t the only example of how a large group of people in collaboration can get better results than individuals working alone.

How about the study, made by Francis Galton, of the spectators at a county fair in the 19th century.
Galton established that when nearly 800 people attempted to guess the weight of a 1900lb prize ox at the show, even though the individual guesses ranged from vastly overweight to ridiculously light, the average of all the recorded guesses was only 1lb out.
This principal also works with crowd estimates of numbers, time and distance, and although it doesn’t have quite the same dramatic impact as the Loren Carpenter Pong experiment, with a little forward planning, crowds could possibly use their collective perception to predict all sorts of outcomes, from lottery results to poker hands.

It makes me wonder whether the great hive mind might not be the pool of inspiration that we all dip into from time to time, fishing for ideas.
And as I mentioned in my last post, it may explain why some of us come up with the same ideas simultaneously.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it…


Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Blogging, Computers, Science


Tags: , , , , , , ,

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