Srasameind Republic of Communes, or SRC, was founded by the Srasameind people after the establishment of their first offworld colony, approximately 523 Before First Contact (BFC). Centered on a cradle world near the edge of what human astronomers historically called the Djorgovski 1 globular cluster. Being in a metal-poor region of the galaxy had held back the Srasameind’s technological development when compared to other interstellar civilizations, achieving both metallurgy and space flight relatively late in their species’ history.
When they finally did manage interstellar flight, their metal-poor cradle and colony systems continued to undermine them. Though it had ceased to constrain the pace of technological development and research, it limited their capacity to trade with other Galactic economies.
As a consequence of their lack of rare metals needed for the mass manufacture of microchips, the Srasameind had late in their information-age developed technology allowing direct brain to computer communication.
For hundreds of years, their society networked their brains into “hive minds” for complex computational tasks. Workers would plug themselves into hive-minds of varying size and composition during the work day and return to their individual lives when their tasks were complete. The hive-mind networks made their way into every major industry and even academic and artistic collectives.
Prior to their first off-world colony and first contact, the SRC had a thriving information economy powered by hive-minds of engineers, programmers, and data-parsing experts. Individual industries were organized by syndicates and run democratically by workers. Syndicates would negotiate with other syndicates and regional communes over exchanges of resources, services, and other mutual considerations.
Even in the interstellar era, there were still some ways that networks of organic brains outperformed purely synthetic computers. Ever more efficient networking technologies and the advent of sub-sophont AI tools and assistants more than made up for the few shortcomings organic brains had.
After first contact, these syndicates ceased to be only a means of organizing the necessary work of society and became one of the principal ways the SRC would trade resources and services with alien economies. The Data Services Syndicate of the SRC made a name for itself as a provider of information services for most of the Djorgovski 1 cluster and its surrounding regions.
The SRC welcomed its first non-Srasameind immigrants in 156 After First Contact (AFC). The Data Services Syndicate saw its first extraterrestrial member in 173 AFC and was astounded by the results. Networking alien minds into a hive-mind greatly improved the performance of the hive-mind relative to a purely-Srasameind group. Even more excitingly, as the distinctive perspective, backgrounds, and life experiences of an alien participant mingled with the group consciousness, the novelty of means that hive-minds used in the pursuit of their work increased dramatically. This led to amazing new innovations and insights that radically changed many industries.
As the SRC extended contact to a greater portion of the galaxy, it was constantly on the lookout for compatible species to welcome into its Republic. Resources were invested in building artificial orbiters containing O’Neal Cylinder habitats suitable for housing a diverse array of alien sophonts, with the hope that some would choose to spend their work days as part of academic, engineering, and data service hive-minds.
In 314 AFC, the SRC caught wind of a new species of sophonts from the far side of the Galaxy that had just joined the Galactic community. Hailing from a water-rich planet orbiting a G2V star named ‘Sol’, these newcomers – called humans – had been making quite a name for themselves in every major field since their first contact.
The needs of humans and several other species were determined, and a new orbiter was planned and constructed with these peoples in mind. In 359 AFC, the first human immigrants made their way to the SRC and soon humans were joining industrial syndicates alongside other immigrant sophonts and Srasameinds.
The Data Services Syndicate had at this point been long aware of the benefits of networking unique minds in the pursuit of novel ideas and higher performance. Most hive-minds with human participation had the usual results. While pleasing, it took a back seat to what they learned next.
The Data Services Syndicate quickly noted a small contingent of high-performing humans, who were uniquely focused and more capable than the average sophont at finding patterns in and parsing large sets of data. Some of these “high-performance humans” specialized in visual data parsing and graphic problem solving. Other such outliers could focus on single tasks for extended periods of time without laxing in their attention. Others specialized in audio-data reconstruction. Still others had a unique talent for interpretation and summarizing data for ease of analysis.
Hive minds with “high-performance humans” saw staggeringly high levels of creativity in their problem solving and many began to speculate that their participation may be the beginning of a new wave of innovation, not unlike the first immigrant sophonts in 173 AFC.
The Data Services Syndicate was discussing collaboration with various academic collectives on shared research into these “high-performance humans,” when a number of incidents drew the Syndicate’s attention.
<<Data Services Syndicate>>
<<Hive-Mind: Server 1437>>
<<360 AFC: Workday 46>>
<<Coordinator 8347 Report: Incident 783>>
Coordinator 8347 Log: *1/10th Standard Day Elapsed. Significant dip in the performance of hive-mind participant Kodi Jefferson, human (they/them pronouns). Signs of emotional distress. Kodi Jefferson has been noted for extremely high performance with a specialty in pattern recognition. There is no precedence on file for this performance dip.”
Server 1437 Log: Partial De-synchronization of Kodi Jefferson from hive-mind to facilitate direct communication with Coordinator 8347
Coordinator 8347: Comm Log begins
Coordinator: “Hello, Kodi. You seem to be struggling with data parsing and mind to mind coordination today. Please explain.”
Kodi Jefferson: Frustration/Stress Logged “Unnnnnnnnnhhhhhh!!! Can’t get your voices outta my head! I need to de-synchronize early today.”
Coordinator 8347: Confusion Logged “Kodi, your stress is affecting the rest of the server. Please explain.”
Kodi Jefferson: Frustration/Stress Logged “I am Out of Spoons.”
Coordinator 8347: Confusion logged “Can you not refill your domestic supplies after the scheduled work day? Also, I am not sure what relevance this has to your struggles today. . . Please explain.”
Kodi Jefferson: Frustration/Stress Logged “I need to recharge my batteries! All this mental activity is more than I can handle at the moment!”
Coordinator 8347: Confusion Logged “I am not sure what batteries have to do with this. Is recharging batteries not a domestic chore? Today’s a light work day. The data queue is only 7/10ths of yesterday’s, and 1/4th of your projected max capacity. Are you physically ill?”
Kodi Jefferson: INCREASED Frustration/Stress Logged “This isn’t physical! It is mental! I can’t function endlessly in the same capacity from one day to the next! Things are harder for me on some days and easier on others.”
Coordinator 8347: Confusion Logged “We do not understand. Requesting information support from xeno-psychology team.”
Server 1437 Log: Xeno-Psychologist Alpra has logged in.
Server 1437 Log: Xeno-Psychologist Vendra Yaw has logged in.
Server 1437 Log: Xeno-Psychologist Krea has logged in.
Server 1437 Log: Xeno-Psychologist Pata Vel has logged in.
Server 1437 Log: Begin synchronizing new participants with hive-mind. . .
Kodi Jefferson: “All of you SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GET OUT OF MY HEAD RIGHT NOW!!!“
Forced De-synchronization of Server 1437 occurs
Coordinator 8347 Note: Recommendation of disciplinary action for Kodi Jefferson.
<<Post Incident Review>>
<<360 AFC: Workday 47>>
<<Coordinator Oversight Hive-Mind: Server 6379>>
Incident Summary: “On Workday 46 of year 360 AFC, at approximately 2/20ths Standard Day Elapsed, Server 1437 was forcibly de-synchronized due to intense emotional outburst from hive-mind participant Kodi Jefferson, human (they/them pronouns).
“In the aftermath of what Kodi called a “meltdown,” all 200 of Server 1437’s participants were forcibly de-synchronized from the hive-mind and experienced significant emotional distress not unlike Kodi themself.”
“Symptoms of participants included seeking quiet, dark places wrapping manipulation appendages around locomotion appendages and rocking themselves back and forth, elevated anxiety, elevated frustration, difficulty communicating verbally, vocally complaining of discordant noises or visually complex stimulus, unusual breathing rituals being used as a form of self-soothing, and physical self-stimulating behaviors such as self-petting, fidgeting, humming, and gesticulation of manipulation appendages. Symptoms persisted longer in human hive-mind participants than non-human hive-mind participants, who returned to normal within 6 hours of de-synchronization. “
Review Conclusion: “While incidents of this kind have occurred in the history of the Syndicate, prior to the past year, they have been incredibly rare and never have had such a dramatic impact on hive mind participants as this. It requires extremely strong emotions to force a complete server de-synchronization, and most sophonts are only capable of such things under extreme circumstances. A distressingly large number of similar incidents have occurred in the last year, and nearly all have included so-called ‘high-performance humans.’ Consultation with Xeno-Psychologists is required.”
“The decision of whether to discipline Kodi Jefferson is being tabled pending the results of the aforementioned consultation. Kodi Jefferson placed on light duty pending this decision.”
<<Post Incident Review-2>>
<<360 AFC: Workday 49>>
<<Coordinator Oversight Hive-Mind: Server 6379>>
Summary of Xeno-Psychologist Consultation: “The so-called ‘high-performance humans,’ are now hypothesized to belong to a subset of the human population known as ‘Neurodiverse,’ or ‘Neuro-divergent.’ Particularly, they are humans whose neurotypes are identified with what in previous centuries has been called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
“Humans of these neurotypes have a number of advantages when compared humans with more typical neurotypes. These advantages correlate highly with the elevated performance metrics previously noted by ‘high-performance humans’ connected in hive-mind servers. However, they also have a number of disadvantages when compared to humans of more typical neurotypes. These disadvantages include difficulty with emotional regulation, stronger than average emotional responses, attention regulation, difficulties socializing, proneness to increased stress from sensory, social, or mental stimulation.”
“Neurodiverse humans who experience elevated stress for extended periods of time are more prone to symptoms of ‘work-related burnout’ and occasionally prone to emotional ‘meltdowns,’ such as the one that caused Incident 783.”
Review Conclusions: “Upon further review, evidence is emerging that Coordinators of hive-minds that have been assigned ‘high-performance humans’ have been pushing the hive-minds under their supervision to exceed 1/2 of their maximum projected capacity on a regular basis and underreporting it as 1/4th in comms and logs. Syndicate Guidelines explicitly state that exceeding 1/2 of their maximum projected capacity of hive-mind participants is to be reserved for emergency situations only and to be followed by periods of light duty or increased rest. Furthermore, exceeding 1/4th projected maximum capacity is only to be done on the voluntary basis of hive-minds involved. Violation of these standards are known to cause chronic stress and work related burnout.”
“These Coordinators seem to be operating in a loose network, and seeking prestige from exceeding expected performance metrics. Coordinator 8347 is one of the coordinators implicated in this conspiracy.
“Further, Kodi Jefferson requested to de-synchronize from the group consciousness prior to Incident 783. Coordinator 8347 failed to acknowledge their request. Syndicate Guidelines clearly state that participants may voluntarily de-synchronize at any time, for any reason. However, programming modifications in violation of Syndicate standards were found on Server 1437 that locked participants into synchronization for the duration of scheduled workdays, which could only be released by Coordinator 8347’s credentials. Participants have also claimed that they were told by Coordinator 8347 that ‘de-synchronization required his approval despite what they may have been told during orientation.'”
“It is the finding of this Review that Incident 783 was caused by abuse of Syndicate members by Coordinator 8347. They are to be stripped of Syndicate membership immediately and blacklisted from all future recruitment. Their name will be expunged from the records and replaced with their employee number in order to protect their privacy.”
“An ad hoc ethics committee will be assembled to determine whether Coordinator 8347’s actions warrant forwarding a ‘recommendation of sanction’ to Coordinator 8347’s local commune council.”
“The request to discipline Kodi Jefferson has been denied. They are requested to remain on light duty until they feel fit to resume their normal working pace and are to be commended, as their actions – while disruptive – helped us to expose the network of abusive Coordinators for the betterment of the Syndicate and the protection of its members.”
“A review of server auditing procedures is requested, so as to make this sort of conspiracy easier to expose in the future.”
The featured image on this story is a NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of Djorgovski 1 Globular Cluster, where our story takes place. Modified using OpenOffice Draw and Public Domain image titled “No Chains Woman.” Hubble Image
uses Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) license.