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Humans With Universal Consciousness | Unveiled

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Will Barrett
What if humans had a shared brain?? Join us... and find out!

The hive mind is often used in science fiction stories, to showcase how an ultra-advanced civilization could work. In this video, Unveiled takes a closer look at how HUMANS are now working toward the technology... in the pursuit of a perfectly efficient society.

But, what do you think? Is shared consciousness a good idea, or not?
Transcript

What If Humans Had Universal Consciousness?


Consciousness is an incredibly mysterious concept that, try as we might, we humans still don’t fully understand. When it comes to the nature of living organisms, science has much more to say about the physical, objective features of life, than it does about what it’s really like to BE any given creature. To experience the world from any one point of view. The one thing that most people take for granted about consciousness, however, is that each organism has its own unique one… and that we cannot possibly access the consciousnesses of others. But what would happen if science moved so that we could?

This is Unveiled, and today we’re answering the extraordinary question; What if humans had universal consciousness?

The concept of universal consciousness has been explored in science fiction a number of times… with one notable example coming in the second season of the animated series “Rick and Morty”, when the title characters encounter Unity, a collection of species and organisms that shares one mind - a single consciousness. Significantly, in the show, Unity is on a quest to spread throughout the universe, to merge with countless more species and organisms en route to becoming a God-like power. But, while sci-fi examples like this are often fairly liberal in terms of their scientific application, they do at least open a window through which we can imagine whether universal consciousness could ever be a real possibility? Whether it could ever be something that humans will be able to do?

Perhaps one of the most fascinating discoveries over modern history about individual human consciousness is that even it isn’t as unified as we might think it to be… or at least it doesn’t have to be. We know that every human brain is divided into two distinct halves, called the left and the right hemispheres. These two parts are connected by the corpus callosum, a collection of nerve tracts that passes information between both regions of the brain total. In the mid-twentieth century, though, the Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Roger Wolcott Sperry conducted various experiments to shed further light on the true relationship between the two hemispheres of our brain… and how that relationship shapes our conscious experience.

Sperry focussed on patients who had had their corpus callosum cut as part of a procedure to treat epilepsy. And, by putting some of those same patients through a series of small tests, he and his team found that the two different hemispheres of the brain are uniquely responsible for different tasks. Of course, we now commonly associate the right and left sides of our brains with different skills and behaviours… but, back then, this was less understood. And, what’s more, Sperry’s early experiments also tentatively revealed that the two hemispheres seemingly contained two distinct realms of consciousness, too. Two separate filters through which we generate conscious experience. Sperry himself is quoted explaining that each hemisphere is a “conscious system in its own right…” and that, “both the left and right hemisphere may be conscious simultaneously in different, even mutually conflicting, mental experiences”. The importance of the corpus callosum in linking the two hemispheres, then, becomes clear.

Moving back to our title question, however, and if it’s possible to imagine one individual brain to be split, and therefore to understand both hemispheres as generally being linked by the corpus callosum so that all parts of consciousness combine… then could it ever be possible to combine (or unify) other centres of consciousness as well? If there were some way to connect the brains of two different human beings, for example, rather than just the two hemispheres of one human brain, then would the experiences of those two people unify into one cohesive consciousness? Maybe, but in reality… how would we even do that? It’s not as though we could ever just stitch two human brains together and expect the unfortunate subjects of such an experiment to survive the operation.

There are potential workarounds, though. What if, for example, it was possible to use technology to digitally scan two brains or minds, instead, and to upload them to a computer? In this currently hypothetical scenario (although there are technologies planned to do this in the future) there might yet be a way to connect two human consciousnesses. Only, virtually rather than physically. It’s certainly an intriguing and theoretically possible option, albeit with at least two main roadblocks standing between us and achieving it - we don’t yet have a sufficiently powerful scanning technique to do the job, nor a computer with enough storage space for the information contained across the billions of neurons and trillions of synapses within each and every human brain. Which is, after all, commonly cited as the most complex object in the entire universe. Add into the equation that there’s also ongoing debate over whether everything in our minds even has a direct physical counterpart in our brains, anyway…. that is, whether truly everything we think, feel, or know can be traced back to a physical part or process of the brain… and the prospect of ever digitising two of them, and then merging them together to form an even greater one, becomes even more difficult to imagine.

Finally, though, and regardless of if universal consciousness actually will be in humanity’s future, the implications that such a momentous advancement would have are potentially pretty amazing. And extreme. With a single consciousness for all of humankind, what for instance would happen to traditional morality and value systems? Until this point, for as long as modern humans have been around on Earth, we’ve created various systems of morality to help guide our behaviour and ensure that we can live in peace and prosperity. With the achievement of universal consciousness, however, these moral systems would become completely obsolete. Individuals would no longer need to follow moral rules in order to get along well with others… because now, getting along with others would effectively mean getting along with just a different part of yourself. Were all humans to share precisely the same feelings of happiness, sadness, excitement, pain, and grief (as well as the same needs, wants and fears) then it may well be impossible for any specific, individual human to ever act in an unconventional way, ever again. On the one hand, one human could never hurt, or offend, or confuse another… but equally, they may never make another person happy, either. With universal consciousness, could one human ever make another human laugh again? Or love?

In such a world, in general, then, it would always be directly advantageous to everyone to try to do what was best for all other humans. But ultimately, that could dilute down into being simply what’s most efficient. Bland cooperation between members of our species would certainly become dramatically easier as a number of significant interpersonal barriers would be completely obliterated by universal consciousness. One example is communication distance. While the invention of cell phones and the internet has already significantly diminished the effect this barrier plays in our lives, universal consciousness would totally eliminate the need for communication whatsoever. Instead of long email chains, expensive cell phone plans, and inconvenient meeting times, all humans would always know what all other humans are thinking… about any given topic, at any given time. And we’d all have access to all our combined, currently individual knowledge. No conflicts, no mistakes, just effortless cohesion. It doesn’t really get more efficient than that, does it!

But clearly, there would be downsides, as well… because many of the more positive, individual brain processes that humans play host to… aren’t all that efficient, either. Including love and happiness and hope. But, also, a digital universal consciousness would come with its own unique danger. If we really were to transfer all of humanity’s collective knowledge, experience and thought into the digital realm, then what happens if (or when) the computer that’s storing it all breaks, malfunctions, or is switched off? In this way, and despite all the improvements that it could theoretically inspire, it might be argued that a universal consciousness (if digital) could also lead to instantaneous and complete human extinction. And also that it could turn the human species into something that’s inescapably vulnerable… especially were some other, even higher power to learn all about it.

One thing’s for sure, if we were ever to try out this experiment for real… if we were ever to advance far enough for it to become a genuine possibility… then we would need to proceed with great care and caution. Because, if it all goes wrong, there might not be a second chance. And that’s what would happen if humans had universal consciousness.
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