Group mind (science fiction)

A group mind, hive mind, group ego, mind coalescence, or gestalt intelligence in science fiction is a plot device in which multiple minds, or consciousnesses, are linked into a single, collective consciousness or intelligence. Its use in literature goes back at least as far as Olaf Stapledon's science fiction novel Last and First Men (1930).[1][2] A group mind might be formed by any fictional plot device that facilitates brain to brain communication, such as telepathy.

This term may be used interchangeably with hive mind. A hive mind describes a group mind in which the linked individuals have no identity or free will and are possessed / mind controlled as extensions of the hive mind. It is frequently associated with the concept of an entity that spreads among individuals and suppresses or subsumes their consciousness in the process of integrating them into its own collective consciousness. The concept of the group or hive mind is an intelligent version of real-life superorganisms such as an ant colony or beehive.

List of hive minds

As conceived in speculative fiction, hive minds often imply (almost) complete loss (or lack) of individuality, identity, and personhood. The individuals forming the hive may specialize in different functions, similarly to social insects.




  • The Inheritors (self-styled) were a society descended from (presumably) human mutations seen in the Marvel Comics version of the Planet of the Apes comic in the 1970's. They were led by the cybernetic entity known as the Supreme Gestalt Commander (or Gestalt Mind), a network of five giant brains suspended in glass chambers, named Be-One, Be-Two, Be-Three, Be-Four and Be-Five. Each telepathically controlled a division of Mutant Drones, who quickly died if their contolling mind was killed. During a battle in the Inheritor's cave home, Jason and Alex and their allies destroyed two of the giant brains by shattering their glass casings (Be-Two and either Be-Four or Be-Five), and these were later replaced by the "newly-thawed" Be-Six and Be-Seven.[1]
  • The Brood (comics), a species of alien within the Marvel Universe.
  • Gah Lak Tus, the Ultimate Marvel version of Galactus, is depicted as a massive swarm of city-size robots forming a collective mind.
  • The Partnership Collective in Howard Tayler's Schlock Mercenary.
  • The Phalanx in Marvel universe.
  • The Supreme Intelligence of the Kree in Marvel universe.
  • The Stepford Cuckoos in Marvel Comics' X-Men series.
  • The Uni-Mind formed by the Eternals in the Marvel Universe.
  • The Thousand in Spider-Man.
  • The Xandarian Worldmind in the Marvel Universe.


  • The Akatsuki leader Nagato in the Naruto series via using special rods to transmit his consciousness into six corpses that he controls while his real body is hidden at a safe distance.
  • In the Pocket Monsters Special Diamond and Pearl Saga, the members of Team Galaxia share a hive mind that controls their moves and actions.





Television series


Role-playing games

Video games

  • The Aparoids in Star Fox: Assault.
  • The Beast in Homeworld: Cataclysm.
  • The C-Consciousness (О-Сознание in Russian) in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl.
  • The CABAL's cyborg army in the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun's Firestorm expansion pack.
  • The Dark People in The Longest Journey and Dreamfall.
  • The Omar in Deus Ex: Invisible War.
  • The Destroyers in Guild Wars: Eye of the North.
  • The Flood parasite in Halo series kill and revive victims, stripping needed information from the brain. The Flood's collective consciousness manifests as a Gravemind, or "compound mind".
  • The Necromorph Hive Mind in Dead Space.
  • The Kharaa in Natural Selection.
  • The Klackon in the Master of Orion series.
  • The Lambent in the Gears of War series.
  • The BlackLight infected in the video game Prototype.
  • The Many in System Shock 2.
  • The Orz in Star Control 2.
  • The Overmind in the first-person shooter Tremulous.
  • Planet in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri.
  • Multiple races in the Mass Effect universe, most prominently the rachni. The Reapers are sapient starships each composed of billions of organic minds;[3] Sovereign, the vanguard of the Reaper fleet, addresses this by stating "We [the Reapers] are each a nation." The Collectors appear to have little or no consciousness of their own, being thralls to the Reaper known as Harbinger.
  • The Shibito in the Siren series.
  • The Skritt in Guild Wars 2. An individual Skritt is able to think for itself, however, is extremely unintelligent and vulnerable prey. However, the more Skritt you get together in a group, the more intelligent each member of the group becomes. In theory, an entire city of Skritt could be the most intelligent species in the game.
  • Superhot in Superhot
  • The Tuurngait in the Penumbra game series.
  • The Uhlek race in Starflight.
  • The Vex in Destiny.
  • The X-Parasite organisms in Metroid Fusion kill and revive their living victims to turn them into zombies-like beings. The War Wasps in Metroid Prime culminate in a gigantic hive mind called the Hive Mecha in an attempt to prevent Samus Aran from receiving the missile launcher upgrade.
  • The Zerg swarm in the Starcraft series is controlled by the Overmind and, later, Sarah Kerrigan.
  • The Zoni in Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time.
  • Ceph of the Crysis series.
  • Corvus and humans with a Direct Neural Interface in "Call of Duty: Black Ops III", Causing the dead to coexist in the Frozen Forest as long as they have an active Direct Neural Interface.
  • In Stellaris, you are able to play as a "Gestalt Consciousness"-civilization.
  • The BETA from the Muv-Luv franchise.
  • The Infested in Warframe.
  • The Gestalt Consciousness in Stellaris.


  • The Bohrok in the LEGO Bionicle saga are controlled by Krana, which link up in a hive mind.
  • The Harrower in the game Gloomhaven is made up of 1000s of insects, which together have intelligence via a hive mind.
  • The Pokémon Exeggcute is made up of multiple eggs that have a hive mind, controlled by the largest egg.
  • The Primes in Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga.
  • The Rat King in The Ballad of Halo Jones and in Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents.
  • The slivers in Magic: The Gathering storyline. They appear first on Rath but are seen again under the battle of Otaria, and once more during the temporal chaos of Time Spiral
    • Slivers take the hive mind idea a step further: instead of sharing just a consciousness, they also share physical attributes, such as breathing fire, regenerating, growing wings, or an extra claw. They gain these attributes by being in close proximity to another.
  • The Tachyons in Godzilla: The Series.
  • The Xar-Ggothua in Xombie not only share thoughts with each other, but each one can be reborn into a new Xar or even a group of three by the Xin-Jithoth. It is assumed this can also be done to their "cousins", the Xi-Thyndri and the Xth Nthogg.
  • Quatermass and the Pit.
  • Star Maker

List of non-hive group minds

A group mind that is not a hive mind: the individuals retain their identities and free will, and can join or sever from the group mind of their own volition. Some examples can have characteristics of both a hive mind and group mind. There is not always a clear cut dividing line: some Star Trek Borg drones such as Seven of Nine have been forcibly split from the collective.

  • The Monicans, a mysterious group of assassins in the movie Aeon Flux, are able to secretly communicate with each telepathically, enabled by a pill. As it is not explained, it might also be possible that the message is carried via the pill in a way that the recipient might be able to interact, allowing the simple two-way dialogue that occurred in the second message.
  • The Advent in Sins of a Solar Empire A subspecies of humans that is in constant mental contact with one another.
  • The hyper-evolved Arisians of "Doc" Smith's Lensman series can form multi-mind fusions, as can highly trained Lensmen.
  • The Founders (Changelings) in Star Trek are individuals, but form a group mind while connected in the Great Link.
  • The Mind Whisper project in Dollhouse
  • A group of telepathic child prodigies in Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human.
  • A group of telepathic child prodigies in Howard Fast's The First Men.[4]
  • The Conjoiners in Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space, Chasm City, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap, and short stories. They retain their identities, but communicate via implants and act as a group.
  • The Edenists in Peter F. Hamilton's The Night's Dawn Trilogy remain individuals, but rely on telepathic empathy for emotional support, personal stability, and colony-wide referendums on major decisions.
  • The "Fold", a wireless network of nanites infecting humans and superhumans in "Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2", altering the mind of the infected, leaving personality intact while changing all goals and desires to match those of the fold, with the infected not realizing it.
  • The Geth in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 although individual platforms not near other geth will be feral rather than sentient.
  • Gaia and Galaxia in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series
  • Kithkin from Wizards of the coasts card game Magic the Gathering. They have their identities intact but are linked by Thoughtweft, which binds their feelings.
  • The Little People of Robert A. Heinlein's Methuselah's Children; the individual memories of the original bodies are retained.
  • The Martians of A Miracle of Science use brain-to-brain FTL communication; they do not lose their individuality despite being members of the group mind.
  • The Strangers in the film Dark City, a group of aliens who experiment on humans in search for their soul. Although each Stranger seems to be an individual, they can combine their psychokinetic powers to work the citywide Machine, have a hive memory set and have a library of human memories which their doctor can combine to create a new memory. The goal of the Strangers is to obtain human individuality.
  • The Pods in Singularity's Ring by Paul Melko consist of up to five people each contributing their individual capabilities and strengths.
  • Humanity is approaching Unity with the existing galactic group mind in Julian May's Galactic Milieu series. 'Operant' humans are also able to form smaller, temporary group minds, called metaconcerts with other operants.
  • All of humanity at the end of Neon Genesis Evangelion, after being reduced to LCL.
  • All of humanity in the last episode of Serial Experiments Lain, after everyone is subconsciously connected to each other through an advanced, global, wireless version of the internet.
  • The Pokémon Doduo, Dodrio, and Exeggutor.
  • Evroniani from the Disney comic series PKNA.
  • The Franklin Collective from Accelerando by Charles Stross.
  • Las Plagas, and, by extension, the Ganados, from Resident Evil 4.
  • The Unity in Hosts by F. Paul Wilson; newly infected members can occasionally break free of the group mind and think for themselves, but are eventually overpowered completely.
  • The inhabitants of Camazotz, from Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time
  • [to some extent] The Human Beings, according to Nature's Semi-consciousness/on going auto-learning process in Nature is seeing a shrink by Lucas Monaco Toledo
  • The underground (Also referred to as "The Joined") in The Light of Other Days uses Brain-computer interfaces and wormhole communication.
  • The telepathic people of Lys in The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke.
  • The leader of the Individual Eleven, Kuze, in the anime Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG communicates with war refugees through their cybernetic implants. By constantly transmitting all his thoughts and feelings to the refugees through "the Network", Kuze becomes their friend, comrade and leader in their fight to establish a new state. The only difference from a mastermind is that he lets everyone decide, whether to follow his lead or not.
  • The Cyberbrains of every cyborg in Ghost in the Shell, revealed even more so in Solid State Society, when Koshiki revealed that every cyborg shared the same consciousness.
  • The Transcendence in Transcendent by Stephen Baxter
  • The Keymasters in Spectrum by Sergey Lukyanenko
  • The Fleetmind, or Petey, in Schlock Mercenary
  • The Strogg from Quake 2 and Quake 4.
  • The Protoss in the StarCraft series share a loose collective consciousness through a mental practice called the Khala. However, they still maintain their individuality.
  • The Virindi, a race/species in the PC game Asheron's Call, are floating, invisible entities that wear physical hooded shrouds (mostly tattered shrouds, but some forms of Virindi wear what looks like armor), white masks (think Vega from Street Fighter II) that have glowing purple eye holes (some have red pupils) and sometimes have twisted smiles on masks. They fight using magic crop sickles. They are of a singular mind which calls itself "The Singularity". The Virindi speak only in the plural (i.e.: us, we, our, etc...) when talking about themselves. Some "individuals" have broken free of The Singularity, and are of their own individual consciousness.
  • The Zilart in Final Fantasy XI, an ancient race connected by a kind of mental link they call the Whisper of Souls. Some are born without this link and are fearfully enslaved and forced to wear an amulet that artificially connects them to the Whisper.
  • The Vortigaunts in the Half-Life series share a telepathic communal link.
  • The Stepford Cuckoos from the X-Men comics share a group mind that can split up into its parts.
  • The Agents from The Matrix series.
  • The Asurans from Stargate Atlantis: Although their leadership can use the collective to reprogram deviant thoughts, they possess individual personalities beyond this, and can use it to transfer their consciousness to new bodies after their old ones are destroyed.
  • The Babies from A Cage of Butterflies.
  • The Cylons from Battlestar Galactica.
  • The Vex machine race in the video game Destiny possess specialized commanders referred to as Axis Minds. These units are used to coordinate planetary troop deployment and terraforming while freeing minor units from complex strategy.
  • The replica soldiers from F.E.A.R. universe are controlled by Telepathic commander.
  • The Hypotheticals in Robert Charles Wilson's novel Spin, a highly advanced, billions-years-old galaxy spanning benevolent collective of Von Neumann machines.
  • The Taelons of the TV series Earth: Final Conflict are connected to each other through the Commonality.
  • The residents of the town of Santaroga in Frank Herbert's The Santaroga Barrier.
  • The Sylvari race in Guild Wars 2 share a common Dream of Dreams, through which they learn basic understanding of the world.
  • The werewolves in the Twilight Series are able to share thoughts among their own pack. Alpha wolves can also share thoughts with each other, but must think directly at each other.
  • In David Alexander Smith's trilogy of science fiction books, starting with Marathon,[5] the Cygnan species is revealed in the second book Rendezvous as capable of entering a trance-like state of consciousness with other members of their social unit called a djan. During this time the djan mind becomes aware and is capable of thought, caused by pheromones exchanged amongst the djan. The individual Cygnans come away with increased bonding and unconscious affections, but have no cognitive recollection of the experience.
  • In David Alexander Smith's book "In the Cube", the Pheneri species are capable of seeing, re-enacting, and actually feeling each individual death of past members of its species.
  • The telepathic Hydrans of Joan Vinge's Psion and Dreamfall. These vary; the ones in Psion seem more like a continuous fluid consciousness, but described as unusual due to hard circumstances, while the ones in Dreamfall are more recognizably human individuals typically in at least light mental contact with each other.
  • The Patternists in Octavia Butler's novel Patternmaster.
  • The scub coral from Eureka Seven
  • The Nexus children in Ramez Naam's series Nexus. The children are able to telepathically communicate with one another and teach each other new information via a nano-tech known as "Nexus".
  • The main characters in the Netflix series Sense8.
  • Key decisions within an individual fleet in Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire series, may be undertaken by temporary hive-mind of Generals.

See also


  1. ^ "Group Ego"
  2. ^ "Coalescing minds: brain uploading-related group mind scenarios" by Kaj Sotala, Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki
  3. ^ Mass Effect 2 - Legion on the Nature of Reapers
  4. ^ Fast, Howard (1960). The First Men. Letter dated June 2, 1964. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  5. ^ Smith, D. Alexander (1982). Marathon. Ace. p. 250. ISBN 0-441-51943-1.

External links

Collective intelligence

Collective intelligence (CI) is shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration, collective efforts, and competition of many individuals and appears in consensus decision making. The term appears in sociobiology, political science and in context of mass peer review and crowdsourcing applications. It may involve consensus, social capital and formalisms such as voting systems, social media and other means of quantifying mass activity. Collective IQ is a measure of collective intelligence, although it is often used interchangeably with the term collective intelligence. Collective intelligence has also been attributed to bacteria and animals.It can be understood as an emergent property from the synergies among: 1) data-information-knowledge; 2) software-hardware; and 3) experts (those with new insights as well as recognized authorities) that continually learns from feedback to produce just-in-time knowledge for better decisions than these three elements acting alone. Or more narrowly as an emergent property between people and ways of processing information. This notion of collective intelligence is referred to as "symbiotic intelligence" by Norman Lee Johnson. The concept is used in sociology, business, computer science and mass communications: it also appears in science fiction. Pierre Lévy defines collective intelligence as, "It is a form of universally distributed intelligence, constantly enhanced, coordinated in real time, and resulting in the effective mobilization of skills. I'll add the following indispensable characteristic to this definition: The basis and goal of collective intelligence is mutual recognition and enrichment of individuals rather than the cult of fetishized or hypostatized communities." According to researchers Pierre Lévy and Derrick de Kerckhove, it refers to capacity of networked ICTs (Information communication technologies) to enhance the collective pool of social knowledge by simultaneously expanding the extent of human interactions.Collective intelligence strongly contributes to the shift of knowledge and power from the individual to the collective. According to Eric S. Raymond (1998) and JC Herz (2005), open source intelligence will eventually generate superior outcomes to knowledge generated by proprietary software developed within corporations (Flew 2008). Media theorist Henry Jenkins sees collective intelligence as an 'alternative source of media power', related to convergence culture. He draws attention to education and the way people are learning to participate in knowledge cultures outside formal learning settings. Henry Jenkins criticizes schools which promote 'autonomous problem solvers and self-contained learners' while remaining hostile to learning through the means of collective intelligence. Both Pierre Lévy (2007) and Henry Jenkins (2008) support the claim that collective intelligence is important for democratization, as it is interlinked with knowledge-based culture and sustained by collective idea sharing, and thus contributes to a better understanding of diverse society.

Similar to the g factor (g) for general individual intelligence, a new scientific understanding of collective intelligence aims to extract a general collective intelligence factor c factor for groups indicating a group's ability to perform a wide range of tasks. Definition, operationalization and statistical methods are derived from g. Similarly as g is highly interrelated with the concept of IQ, this measurement of collective intelligence can be interpreted as intelligence quotient for groups (Group-IQ) even though the score is not a quotient per se. Causes for c and predictive validity are investigated as well.

Writers who have influenced the idea of collective intelligence include Francis Galton, Douglas Hofstadter (1979), Peter Russell (1983), Tom Atlee (1993), Pierre Lévy (1994), Howard Bloom (1995), Francis Heylighen (1995), Douglas Engelbart, Louis Rosenberg, Cliff Joslyn, Ron Dembo, Gottfried Mayer-Kress (2003).


Communalness, as suggested by Robert A. Freitas Jr., is a level of an emergent phenomenon which originates from electronic sentience, and represents a broader mode of thinking than just normal consciousness. While consciousness is limited to the individual, communalness describes a complex organization of numerous individuals which on a higher level is tightly connected to each other. Such an organization would maybe have the same intimate awareness of its own existence as a whole as people have consciousness of their own bodies.

Distributed intelligence

Distributed intelligence may refer to:

Group mind (science fiction)

Collective intelligence, superorganism

Distributed artificial intelligence, innovation system

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is a 4X video game, considered a spiritual sequel to the Civilization series. Set in a science fiction depiction of the 22nd century, the game begins as seven competing ideological factions land on the planet Chiron ("Planet") in the Alpha Centauri star system. As the game progresses, Planet's growing sentience becomes a formidable obstacle to the human colonists.

Sid Meier, designer of Civilization, and Brian Reynolds, designer of Civilization II, developed Alpha Centauri after they left MicroProse to join the newly created developer Firaxis Games. Electronic Arts released both Alpha Centauri and its expansion, Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire, in 1999. The following year, Aspyr Media ported both titles to Classic Mac OS while Loki Software ported them to Linux.

Alpha Centauri features improvements on Civilization II's game engine, including simultaneous multiplay, social engineering, climate, customizable units, alien native life, additional diplomatic and spy options, additional ways to win, and greater mod-ability. Alien Crossfire introduces five new human and two non-human factions, as well as additional technologies, facilities, secret projects, native life, unit abilities, and a victory condition.

The game received wide critical acclaim, being compared favorably to Civilization II. Critics praised its science fiction storyline (comparing the plot to works by Stanley Kubrick, Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov), the in-game writing, the voice acting, the user-created custom units, and the depth of the technology tree. Alpha Centauri also won several awards for best game of the year and best strategy game of the year.


A superorganism or supraorganism (the latter is less frequently used but more etymologically correct) or extended organism is a group of synergistically interacting organisms of the same species. A community of synergistically interacting organisms of different species is called a holobiont.

Swarm intelligence

Swarm intelligence (SI) is the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial. The concept is employed in work on artificial intelligence. The expression was introduced by Gerardo Beni and Jing Wang in 1989, in the context of cellular robotic systems.SI systems consist typically of a population of simple agents or boids interacting locally with one another and with their environment. The inspiration often comes from nature, especially biological systems. The agents follow very simple rules, and although there is no centralized control structure dictating how individual agents should behave, local, and to a certain degree random, interactions between such agents lead to the emergence of "intelligent" global behavior, unknown to the individual agents. Examples of swarm intelligence in natural systems include ant colonies, bird flocking, animal herding, bacterial growth, fish schooling and microbial intelligence.

The application of swarm principles to robots is called swarm robotics, while 'swarm intelligence' refers to the more general set of algorithms. 'Swarm prediction' has been used in the context of forecasting problems.

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