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The Hivemind Singularity 277

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-am-kurzweil-of-borg dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Alan Jacobs at The Atlantic writes about a book called New Model Army (NMA), which takes the idea of Anonymous — a loose, self-organizing collective with a purpose — and adds twenty-five years of technological advancement. The book's author, Adam Roberts, 'asks us to imagine a near future when electronic communications technologies enable groups of people to communicate with one another instantaneously, and on secure private networks invulnerable, or nearly so, to outside snooping.' With the arrival of advanced communications tech, such groups wouldn't be limited to enacting their will from behind a computer screen, or in a pre-planned flash mob; they could form actual armies. 'Again, each NMA organizes itself and makes decisions collectively: no commander establishes strategy and gives orders, but instead all members of the NMA communicate with what amounts to an advanced audio form of the IRC protocol, debate their next step, and vote. Results of a vote are shared to all immediately and automatically, at which point the soldiers start doing what they voted to do. ... They are proud of their shared identity, and tend to smirk when officers of more traditional armies want to know who their "ringleaders" are. They have no ringleaders; they don't even have specialists: everyone tends the wounded, not just some designated medical corps, and when they need to negotiate, the negotiating team is chosen by army vote. Each soldier does what needs to be done, with need determined by the NMA which each has freely joined.' Let's hope resistance isn't futile."
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The Hivemind Singularity

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  • by saboosh (1863538) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:17AM (#40669995)
    We've seen what happens with democratic decision making, as the population grows so does the splintering and each side grows further apart. Unless human nature can progress like the "25 years of" technology I dont see large hiveminds getting too far past their internal "debates".
    • by oakgrove (845019) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:23AM (#40670013)
      What 'democracy'? I don't know about you but I live in a representative republic. What the summary is describing is an actual democracy so, no, it is not like what we've seen so far as far as national politics goes.
      • by srussia (884021)

        What 'democracy'? I don't know about you but I live in a representative republic. What the summary is describing is an actual democracy so, no, it is not like what we've seen so far as far as national politics goes.

        Switzerland [wikipedia.org] perhaps?

        Except that the country hasn't splintered or been invaded (although the latter may be down to having a SIG SG 550 in every home).

      • by justforgetme (1814588) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @03:07AM (#40670201) Homepage

        Quite insightful. Another quip I have (about the story since I dn RTFA ) is that apparently the story's poster thinks that joining individuals into a live feedback net with each other will somehow erase individuality. The thing is that since we are not exact cell perfect clones of one another individuals will tend to excel in differing tasks and - given a wide enough array of tasks - roles will finally emerge. Now I'm not saying that there actually will be `ring leaders` but surely the individuality of each of the hive mind participants will come to be used in the fields it excels in forming a recognizable structure and disrupting total equality.

        tl;dr version:
        The importance of your thoughts varies depending on the likeness of their field to your publicly recognized specialties.

        • >but surely the individuality of each of the hive mind participants will come to be used in the fields it excels in forming a recognizable structure and disrupting total equality.

          Any socialist libertarian or anarchist will tell you that specialization of roles is not a disruption of equality. It's only authority over roles that disrupts equality, if you take responsibility for a task because it fits your skillset, and you report to the collective rather than to a boss (or the collective reporting to you)

          • by tenco (773732) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:47AM (#40670735)

            Any socialist libertarian or anarchist will tell you that specialization of roles is not a disruption of equality.

            Specialization will produce a position of power if your skillset requires a high investment to acquire it. High investment will make these specialists rare and not easily replacable, which they can in turn use to gain power.

            • >Specialization will produce a position of power if your skillset requires a high investment to acquire it. High investment will make these specialists rare and not easily replacable, which they can in turn use to gain power.

              False. If they have to report TO the collective, then they are in a position of service, not power. Some people may not be easy to replace, but nobody is IMPOSSIBLE to replace. Do you really think a thousand philosophers over 5000 years have all managed to overlook something THAT obv

              • by tbannist (230135)

                Do you really think a thousand philosophers over 5000 years have all managed to overlook something THAT obvious without considering sollutions and YOU managed to spot it ?

                Yes, actually a 1000 philosophers over 5000 years could definitely overlook something that obvious. What the total population of philosophers over that time? I'd estimate at least 1 million, especially if we allow amateur philosophers to count. So the question is could 0.1% of the target population miss the obvious? In that context the answer seems to "definitely". The size of the population that is about the same as that of philosophers who are 3 sigmas below average intelligence (or above average wis

        • by ultranova (717540)

          Another quip I have (about the story since I dn RTFA ) is that apparently the story's poster thinks that joining individuals into a live feedback net with each other will somehow erase individuality.

          Depends. Does the bandwidth of these feedback loops equal or exceed the bandwidth between different parts of your brain? If yes, then they will have a greater effect on your behaviour than your own internal processes, at which point it would be hard to argue that you're an individual anymore. Compare this to ho

          • The only real question here is whether this is the Atlantic's or Mr. Jacob's attempt to cash into a brewing moral panic, or a paid propaganda piece.

            Or some FUDdy way to push oppressive legislation?

      • by tomhath (637240)
        There are many forms of democracy, representative republic being one of them. Your personal definition is another, but calling it the only "actual" is quite an exaggeration.
    • by dadioflex (854298)
      Have you any examples of democratic decision making? Our Western political systems aren't democratic in the historical sense that the people can each vote on important issues, as the ancient Greeks did (though even then it was a limited proportion of the population), as opposed to voting for politicians to represent/ignore them.

      Even at a Government level, voting is rarely a democratic choice and much more likely to follow a party whip.
      • by multiben (1916126) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:35AM (#40670071)
        Try living in Zimbabwe or North Korea for a day and then see if you think you live in a democracy or not. The system you are citing is utterly untenable in the complexity of the modern world. We would do *nothing* else all day long except vote on issues we would barely understand.
        • by MachDelta (704883) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:41AM (#40670109)

          We would do *nothing* else all day long except vote on issues we would barely understand.

          Sounds like what most politicians already do.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I wish people would stop with this kind of argument. The fact that there exists worse countries than country X does not mean that country X is good. This should be obvious, but it doesn't appear to be.

        • by silentcoder (1241496) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @03:50AM (#40670421) Homepage

          >We would do *nothing* else all day long except vote on issues we would barely understand.

          Bull, nobody would force you to vote on every issue, and one of the fundamental principles of direct democracy philosophies (such as socialist libertarianism, anarchism and the like) is complete decentralization. That is - no nation states, you'd vote only on issues in your own small community, and the decisions taken would affect only that community.
          People would vote on the issues they care about, which with modern tech is already a minor burden and will only become easier and smaller in the future - and those who don't care/ are not informed about the issue won't be affected at all (not even by having to vote).

          What anarchist philosophies teach is that everybody has a RIGHT to an equal say on all decisions that affect them, not that they have a DUTY to use that right.

          • by ultranova (717540)

            That is - no nation states, you'd vote only on issues in your own small community, and the decisions taken would affect only that community.

            Right, so if we decide to dump raw sewage into a river it won't affect anyone downstream? And when they decide to force us to stop, it won't affect us?

            Everything affects everyone, the only question is the degree of impact. And this is only getting worse, because running an ever-more technical society requires ever larger amount of skills, which require more people to h

            • >Right, so if we decide to dump raw sewage into a river it won't affect anyone downstream? And when they decide to force us to stop, it won't affect us?

              And that's step 2, representatives of community councils who vote on behalf of that community in larger councils on issues that affect larger regions. But unlike governments those officials have no right to an opinion on their own - they are only there to present that community on the larger council and to ensure they vote as per their community's wishes

        • Try living in Zimbabwe or North Korea for a day and then see if you think you live in a democracy or not.

          Dictatorship in North Korea doesn't make our corrupt political system a democracy.

          The system you are citing is utterly untenable in the complexity of the modern world. We would do *nothing* else all day long except vote on issues we would barely understand.

          We don't need to vote on everything. All you need to make democracy work is to give people the power to overturn any decision made by representatives. IMHO politicians should do the boring paperwork part of running the country. When it comes to important decisions for everybody, the people need to have the final say.

      • by CycleMan (638982)
        Democratic Decision Making -- no, it's not possible for a nation of 300 million. But try attending a town meeting in New Hampshire. They believe in democratic decisions, and much of the town will turn up to discuss and vote. (depending on the town, your math may vary). Their State House of Representatives has 400 elected members -- one for every 3000 residents. That's like having 100,000 people in Congress. (pause, shudder) This is the root of our American political system -- democracy at the lowest
        • by Dr Max (1696200)
          That's why you need 25 years of communication and computer advancements. By that time we will be a lot closer to our computers maybe even brain computer interfaces to automatically file opinions and reactions, and also artificial intelligence capable of filling, sorting, and analysing the massive amount of data generated. It's not like the /. comment system would be capable.
      • I mean, what's the elections? You know, two guys, same background, wealth, political influence, went to the same elite university, joined the same secret society where you're trained to be a ruler - they both can run because they're financed by the same corporate institutions. At the Democratic Convention, Barack Obama said, 'only in this country, only in America, could someone like me appear here.' Well, in some other countries, people much poorer than him would not only talk at the convention - they'd be

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:22AM (#40670011) Homepage

    Let's hope resistance isn't futile.

    Why? As far as I can tell this would be a good thing. If everyone in an army is making decisions then they aren't as likely to engage in risky behavior or unnecessary violence. The analogy is to how many have argued that the US has become more warlike as it has lost its draft, so that people favoring war are no longer in any serious risk of being called up. Nothing in the summary seems that negative, and a brief skim of TFA doesn't seem to indicate much actually negative as far as I can tell.

    • by phayes (202222)

      I fail to see the advantage of mob rule.

      "Democratic" leadership in military units have ever worked beyond very small units.

      • by Dr Max (1696200)
        The advantage would be it's very hard to kill or even analyse (the guy that makes the crucial decision one day might never make another). at the moment there is a kill list of the important people in the Taliban and if you could kill 100 of the right people in a america you could bring the country to its knees. With this system you can't dissect it the way the a modern army likes to operate, not to mention that the members can be anybody from anywhere in the world (you would have to kill a huge percentage
        • by phayes (202222)

          Lol, if you think that the taliban are unorganized you have a world of education to catch up on. Many are confusing guerrilla tactics with mob tactics. Guerrilla warfare has the advantage of melding back into the background but is anything but disorganized. Mobs have no tactics.

          • by Dr Max (1696200)
            I never said that. I think the Taliban is quite well organized, and in a good way to hold out against america. My point is it's not perfect, when america kills a Taliban leader another guy pops up but it's a young guy, they are big shoes to fill, and he hasn't had experience making those decisions. With adequate technology you could spread the load of leadership giving it more minds on the job and have no points of failure or bottle necks. How many good ideas are we missing out on by only having a a select
            • by phayes (202222)

              If decision making is so spread out that there is no consistent leadership then the entity has degenerated into a mob with the consequent problems of indecision and cross-purpose acts. This is precisely the objective of the US in decapitating the Taliban's leadership. Technology will not change this.

              • by Dr Max (1696200)
                I guess crowd sourcing doesn't work then. You just need strong goals and ideals that connects everyone and gives them a direction (maybe a free, peaceful, unified world). Also if you don't think AI and brain computer interfaces will make communication and information retrieval easier (if not automatic) for millions of people at once your just being ignorant.
    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @03:06AM (#40670199)

      If everyone in an army is making decisions then they aren't as likely to engage in risky behavior or unnecessary violence.

      I came to the exact opposite conclusion. Individuals can be smart, but people are dumb. This sort of thing is likely to encourage mob mentality, and I do not see that as being a good thing for the respect of human life and dignity.

    • As far as I can tell this would be a good thing. If everyone in an army is making decisions then they aren't as likely to engage in risky behavior or unnecessary violence.

      A word already exists to describe that kind of army (even if the army doesn't exist yet) - losers.

      The analogy is to how many have argued that the US has become more warlike as it has lost its draft, so that people favoring war are no longer in any serious risk of being called up.

      Which is an abysmally clueless argument because the p

      • But the people making the decisions are accountable to the voters, who would risk being called up in the draft. Could Bush have so easily called for the invasion of Iraq if the voters he depended upon had known they or their family members might be called upon to fight and die for it? It'd certainly have cost him a few votes.
    • Let's hope resistance isn't futile.

      Why? As far as I can tell this would be a good thing. If everyone in an army is making decisions then they aren't as likely to engage in risky behavior or unnecessary violence. The analogy is to how many have argued that the US has become more warlike as it has lost its draft, so that people favoring war are no longer in any serious risk of being called up. Nothing in the summary seems that negative, and a brief skim of TFA doesn't seem to indicate much actually negative as far as I can tell.

      Yes because large groups of people always remain calm and never engage in risky behavior or unnecessary violence....well, except for the riots that happen from time to time, here and there of course.

    • The analogy is to how many have argued that the US has become more warlike as it has lost its draft, so that people favoring war are no longer in any serious risk of being called up.

      For the blockheads who argue this, it should be noted that before WW2, we used a draft for WW1 and the Civil War.

      And we still managed to have wars or ongoing fighting (such as the "Indian Wars") for most of our pre-WW2 history....

  • by cripkd (709136) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:33AM (#40670059) Homepage
    It's somewhat of a sociologically interesting fact that in 99% percent of the cases, where this sort of utopic future communities are described, voting always come up. The fact that there is a network and a mean for people to be "always on" doesn't make people brighter all of a sudden. That sort of democracy can quickly turn into chaos and then anarchy.

    From my experience in being part of some passionate amateurs communities I can say that leadership is very important. Individuals will always have different degrees of involvement, different degrees of the ability to know what is right for the group of a whole, different degrees of objectivity, education, selflessness. And even different agendas. Individuals in a group might sincerely believe that their way is the best.
    What I'm trying to say is that voting is not always the best solution, leadership (formal or informal) and fast decision making abilities are more important. Having a vision and seeing "the path" is more important than wasting time and energy (think of how long it takes in a group of people larger than 3 to decide where to eat out and multiply by ten for "important stuff") to vote all the time.

    I'm not saying that democracy is overrated but not even democracy supposes that people vote on every single aspect. That's where the idea of a parliament (or similar institution) comes from. You're supposed to have your interests represented by people with knowledge, leadership skills, vision and desire to serve the community.
    Then again, we also know how that turns out :)
    • Switzerland (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Roger W Moore (538166) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @03:11AM (#40670217) Journal

      That sort of democracy can quickly turn into chaos and then anarchy.

      You might think that yet Switzerland has a democratic system which is the closest I have seen to the "everyone votes on everything" idea and yet is an incredibly stable country. I think part of the reason for this is that people get to decide things at the local level which makes for strong communities since they have a sense of control. Certainly you don't seem to get the usual sense of powerlessness caused by the politicians listening to rich special interest groups and trampling all over society in their hurry to get that money.

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        That sort of democracy can quickly turn into chaos and then anarchy.

        You might think that yet Switzerland has a democratic system which is the closest I have seen to the "everyone votes on everything" idea and yet is an incredibly stable country. I think part of the reason for this is that people get to decide things at the local level which makes for strong communities since they have a sense of control. Certainly you don't seem to get the usual sense of powerlessness caused by the politicians listening to rich special interest groups and trampling all over society in their hurry to get that money.

        True, the fact that local things get decided locally [llrx.com] is one of the things that make the system work (each of its 26 cantons (states) has its own constitution, its own executive, its own parliament, its own courts and its own law).

        Probably another particularity which makes the things work is something that the americans would probably consider crazy - cooperation [llrx.com] and not competition in politics. Seems to me as a country that evolved on the idea that a stable community will offer better chances for everybody

      • by Corbets (169101)

        That sort of democracy can quickly turn into chaos and then anarchy.

        You might think that yet Switzerland has a democratic system which is the closest I have seen to the "everyone votes on everything" idea and yet is an incredibly stable country. I think part of the reason for this is that people get to decide things at the local level which makes for strong communities since they have a sense of control. Certainly you don't seem to get the usual sense of powerlessness caused by the politicians listening to rich special interest groups and trampling all over society in their hurry to get that money.

        True. However, we also don't vote on everything - our elected politicians make many of the decisions, and we simply hold a referundum if 100'000 people or more sign a petition saying that they think it's necessary.

      • The downside is some Cantons didn't give women the vote until the 1990s.

    • >That sort of democracy can quickly turn into chaos and then anarchy.

      There is no similarity between chaos and anarchy. Please educate yourself on anarchist philosophy before equating it with chaos. The absence of authority does not equal lawlessness.
      Somalia has no legitimate government but it certainly is NOT an anarchism either (though it is chaos).
      Iceland on the other hand was an anarchism for nearly 200 years - and it worked very, very well.

    • by Tom (822)

      That's where the idea of a parliament (or similar institution) comes from. You're supposed to have your interests represented by people with knowledge, leadership skills, vision and desire to serve the community.
      Then again, we also know how that turns out :)

      The idea of parliament is brilliant. Unfortunately, the current implementation just plain sucks.

      My personal belief is that we have two historic examples of parliament working very well. One is the (old, not the current) british constitutional monarchy, with the two very different houses serving different purposes, working on different principles (inherited vs. elected) with different interests (long-term vs. short-term) and keeping each other in check. It worked because for every shortcoming of one house, t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:34AM (#40670065)

    God knows that if I'm suffering hypovolemic shock concomitant to massive war trauma, I want nothing more than the wisdom of the crowd!

    Stupid hierarchical medical profession: all of my comrades can Google "How to start an IV" and hit up the Wikipedia page on exploratory laparotomies. Hell, I bet there's an instructables on how to install a Wittmann patch. Oh wait, I already feel confident/competent enough after seeing the Wittmann Patch [wikipedia.org] Wikipedia page.

    Excuse me, I'm off to check the eHow for "How to scrub in for surgical procedures"...

    • by cripkd (709136)
      This is not funny, although it's been modded as such.
      What you describe is a system that places no value on skills or merits. This is not the case with TFA. No one was talking about skills not being important. We were discussing whether power is something that needs to be exercised by a few (elected or self-imposed) or by everyone.
      Doctors would still have their place and would still be needed, but kings may not, that's all.
      Or is this something related to doctors' god-complex? :)
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:36AM (#40670077)
    I haven't read this book, but I'd be shocked if it were better or more interesting than Daemon and Freedom by Daniel Suarez - which vividly represented the same sort of organizational idea, but set inside a truly impressive narrative. Check out his talk at Long Now [fora.tv] to get a taste.
  • I just read the blurb but I don't see where the 25 years of technical advancement comes in. We have all the communication tools available already.

    • Almost all. We'd need much improved decentralised ad-hoc networking, otherwise the army can be defeated by simply turning off the cellphone masts.
  • What about spies? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pipedwho (1174327) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:37AM (#40670089)

    You can assume that there will be a foreign agent pretending to be part of the 'army' using an equally secure link to send out the planned activities to the adversary.

    And what happens if a large number of equally 'anonymous' agents are influencing the vote and then following through with counter actions to whatever is decided?

    • by oakgrove (845019)
      If it were that easy, Anonymous wouldn't exist and be effective now. They obviously do and are despite the occasional culling of a member here and there. The only difference I can see in what the summary describes is they would work faster. Check your presumptions.
      • by pipedwho (1174327)

        Your assuming Anonymous isn't just a small number of guys that can behave relatively safely within a reasonable degree of trust. That kind of trust does not scale. That's my assumption.

  • I don't think this would help much

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:47AM (#40670131) Homepage

    That's a classic way to run a resistance movement. Mao, Marighella, the IRA, al-Queda, etc. It works fairly well in the early phases. As the revolution advances, tighter coordination is necessary. This leads to centralized leadership. In the end, there's a Stalin or a Castro.

    The US is one of the very few countries to get a stable democracy out of a revolution. That's not what usually happens.

    • The first three attempts at American Democracy were not particularly stable: the colonial Democracies ran into inflation and conflict with England, several having minor armed conflicts, the Articles of Confederation collapsed, the Constitution of 1787 led directly to the Civil War. The post-Civil War order was not particularly democratic, small "d," disenfranchising the majority of the population.

      The technology, economy, and social order, of the 19th century had the ability to produce the idea of a unifie

  • Let's hope resistance isn't futile.

    Why? Why is this a bad thing? Because the organizational units are not based on geographic boundaries? This is just a new kind of nation-state that is forming in cyberspace, and they will establish their sovereignty using the same tools of diplomacy that we use in traditional geopolitics; force, propaganda, influence, and intimidation. These new entities don't all fall along traditional geopolitical boundaries, but that doesn't make them inherently evil. In fact, they may

    • by Dr Max (1696200)
      oh no don't give me freedom, a voice, and a vote on everything i care about not just the stuff that doesn't matter.
    • by DrVomact (726065)

      Multinational corporations and governments are already arming themselves for cyber warfare.

      That doesn't bother me half as much as when they hire actual armed thugs (a.k.a. "mercenaries"). Of course our (USA) government has already done that, because they can't seem to get enough gullible American kids to enlist in the official Army. Thus history repeats itself.

      Which is more dangerous: For citizens to be armed, or for oligarchs to go unchecked? Reading the Declaration of Independence may give you some insight into the conclusion reached by what became the most powerful nation-state in history.

      Er, that question has nothing to do with the novel (New Model Army). The NMAs are radically democratic mercenary armies that make decision based on voting via an allegedly uncrackable network. (In NMA, network security is achieved by some h

  • Who gets punished? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @03:10AM (#40670213)

    Inevitably, we can imagine that if groups like these actually existed, one would eventually engage in a war crime of some sort. When that happens, who would be punished? The ones perpetrating it? The people who voted in support of the crime? Those who were aware of it? The entire group?

    • by jxander (2605655)
      There will definitely be some thorny legal issues if a tech-based telepathy ever becomes reality.
    • It's a fallacy to raise an objection to an idea if the system it's meant to replace has the same problem. "Not an improvement with regard to X" doesn't mean it is not an improvement in other ways.

      And this really is a "not an improvement" thing- right now the most powerful army on earth and it's leaders is immune to prosecution from the international court we set up to prosecute war crimes. They actually claim the right to deliver accused war criminals to that court for judgement but refuse to recognize it

    • by DrVomact (726065)

      Inevitably, we can imagine that if groups like these actually existed, one would eventually engage in a war crime of some sort. When that happens, who would be punished? The ones perpetrating it? The people who voted in support of the crime? Those who were aware of it? The entire group?

      The precedent is quite clear: whoever loses gets punished.

  • by mentil (1748130) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @03:18AM (#40670239)

    Unfortunately one of the first votes the generalists agree on is to delegate power to specialists, including leaders. It's the Iron Law of Oligarchy. [wikipedia.org]

    If your unit gets surprise attacked by the enemy, do you want to spend 5 minutes (at least) calling an online vote on whether to counterattack or retreat, or do you want a commander to give an immediate order?

  • Eh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jxander (2605655) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @03:21AM (#40670255)

    Even though my buddies and I can hive-mind our decisions, it still takes us 15 minutes to decide on pizza toppings.

    Or, to put it more plainly, knowing what we're all thinking won't necessarily help the individuals cast their mental "votes" any quicker.

  • In a creepy [tfcbooks.com] lawful neutral fashion. The current reality is a bit more mercenary. Leaderless armies tending their wounded pan out doesn't seem that near. Might make more insular groups down the road.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @03:24AM (#40670275)

    I was an army medic, and can tell you right off the bat this idea is bullshit it several different directions. First, no army ever could or would fight this way. The notion of the egalitarian army with no leadership is not really different from a mob. An army works because of the top-down nature of command. In order for all the so-called soldiers to 'vote' on decisions, they'd all have to know what's going on. Otherwise they're voting without having any clue as to what effect their votes might have. There is neither the time, nor the capability, even with this so-called "advanced" communications they're supposed to have, to brief EVERYONE, so either you're going to be wasting time informing everyone then debating everything, getting nothing done, or you're going to have people who don't know what's happening making decisions, either with NO intel, or with undigested and probably misinterpreted intel at every step.

    As for the commo, people cannot in my experience, concentrate on more than one conversation at a time. Try it some time if you don't believe.

    As for the cockamamie idea of having everyone tend to the wounded... the modern US military has as its new doctrine that every soldier learn basic medical skills. This has actually been the case for years, maybe decades, but recently the expected level of medical proficiency (of all soldiers) went from "buddy-aid", like applying field-dressings to wounds and cooling someone suffering heat-stroke, to every swinging dick being Combat Lifesaver certified. However, that course is about a week long. When I went through, Combat Medic School (Healthcare Specialist Course, MOSC 68W1O) was about 16 weeks long, which was followed up at my unit (as presumably any of my fellow CMS graduates deploying to war as I was, and maybe even ones who weren't,) also attended something called CMAST, Combat Medic Advanced Skills Training, which included performing procedures on a cadaver, and a doing a few other things I'm not permitted to reveal. Then on top of that months of on the job training doing the actual job.

    A real functional army waging a war doesn't have the TIME to train every soldier to be a Combat Medic, let alone train them in the 200+ other specialties an actual, real army needs to wage any kind of war.

    This... is it a book? This article, or what it references, is sheer mental masturbation, a fantasy that a bunch of soft little fruit-cakes playing games and pretending to be an "army", scoffing at conventional forces demanding to know who their ring-leaders are, is fucking ridiculous. You might as well write a book about people spreading their fingers wide, and flapping their arms and FLYING. It's a fucking joke.

    If you're having trouble understanding what I mean, imagine if you went brain-dead tomorrow, and your various body-parts decided to vote on everything you do. Your penis would (assuming you have one) veto every vote that doesn't involve stroking it. Your back would insist it needs to rest, and lay in bed all day. Your stomach and your mouth would agree you should eat, but your hands would demand to know what's in it for them. Your teeth would refuse to chew anything without a guarantee from your hands that they will be brushed and flossed after eating. Teeth appeased, your epiglottis would complain that the body should make up its mind about what they want it to do, open to lungs, or open to stomach, and would start hiccuping to show its displeasure. In short, you wouldn't have the level of agreement and cooperation to be able to so much as stagger into the bathroom and take a shit. Just like what such an army as described in the story would do, without any central leadership and authority.

    • Except that the costs of a modern army are high in political and economic terms. A decentralized com army can win if it can recruit a large number of essentially replaceable attrition units, and make the traditional army bleed expensive manpower and equipment. The trick is to have something that is cheap enough to put in many people's hands, that requires increasingly expensive response. Voting isn't this technology. Initiative is this technology. The problem is that consensus driven voting systems are easy
    • I was an army medic, and can tell you right off the bat this idea is bullshit it several different directions. First, no army ever could or would fight this way. The notion of the egalitarian army with no leadership is not really different from a mob.

      Maybe it's mis-titled. The title shouldn't have anything to do with armies. A better title might be 'The Directed Mob'. *That* concept intrigues and frightens me more than the ridiculous NMA.

  • by xs650 (741277) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @03:44AM (#40670389)

    A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.

    - - Kay
    ( Men in Black)

  • specialists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:41AM (#40670701) Homepage Journal

    they don't even have specialists: everyone tends the wounded, not just some designated medical corps,

    Do not sign me up then. When my life is on the line, I prefer a trained medic, thank you very much.

    There's a reason specialization has won the culture wars some 10,000 years ago: It works. Everyone who did Economics 101 knows that, it's called "division of labour" there. Basically, you do what you're good at, I do what I'm good at, and we share the spoils, which results in both of us having more than if we had to both do everything ourselves.

    And the more complex things get, the more specializiation is required and useful. In a hunter-gatherer society, in a bind the primary deer hunter can also skin the beast and the primary cook can also catch a rabbit. But that was 50,000 years ago. How many medical doctors have even a basic competence in programming? And how many of us geeks here could make even the simplest operation without killing the patient?

    So, interesting vision from the sound of it, but already from the summary I can tell that someone hasn't thought hard enough about the consequences.

    Oh, also: Even Anonymous has specialists.

    • On the otherhand, technology also has a way of mitigating the need for specialists. Instead of hiring a cook, you can make a fancy italian dinner by heating a frozen packet in the skillet for 10 minutes. Instead of contracting an orchestra, you can select a recording on your mp3 player. In medicine, tasks such as testing for pregnancy have been very successfully relegated to the lay person by certain technological advances. We trust doctors for their significant and extensive training, but who is to say

  • He will be careful to only bring things that came true up by the time this doesn't happen.

  • 'Again, each NMA organizes itself and makes decisions collectively: no commander establishes strategy and gives orders

    Bullshit. Some ambitious psychotic will subvert the system and rig the votes so he is making the decisions. Actually, probably several will, and they will set the parts of the 'army" they control against each other.

    Even if that didn't happen, the idea of crowd sourcing military strategy is bound to fail. Crowds can't agree on a complex strategy, let alone carry out one that requires discipline and surprise.

    This kind of thing can work for guerrilla warfare, small groups harrying an enemy, which is basical

    • Or just make free porn samples available. And just wait until someone joins to create a botnet to spam links to them.

      This article, like most from the Atlantic, is not worth taking seriously, it has a decades long tradition of bad think pieces, which fail to both examine the history, or the structure, of the idea. Science Fiction has been over this ground before, and in greater detail. The history of sites like Wikipedia provides an example of the problems: while the edges react quickly, the whole structu

  • This doesn't sound like a utopian future, this sounds like terrorist cells. Are you sure that you're not talking about Al Qaeda?

  • The Sprint network of 25 years from now will be the same shit at the one today. Except it will cost more.

  • by tomhath (637240) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @08:06AM (#40672107)
    He said Anonymous, but al-Qaeda is a much better example. At least they know what they're fighting for.
  • The network described would not work unless everyone had 'like mind' and 'like skills'. The former is impossible in humans. The latter would involve prohibitive training costs for an army ... that's why they have 'specialists'. Even ants and bees, the standard examples of hive-mind, have specialists. And, of course, the BORG had a pro-active Queen.

  • by buddyglass (925859)
    Small gangs? Sure. Armies? No. You can't communicate effectively with thousands of people simultaneously in the same "real-time" space.

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