The Risks of Empathy, a Novella
Richard Selling's genius engineers were surprisingly quick to invent a modification to the original Selling TEs, the units people had hidden away for fear of being arrested. Big Mind was simply a click away. And as new minds were added, Big Mind continued to enlarge and deepen in realization.
Individual mind and experience began to take on whole a new value and richness. Individual experiences remembered through Big Mind added to the limitlessness.
It was discovered that Big Mind, in spite of the vastness and breadth of experiences it grew from, was not good at generating novel ideas. New ideas seemed to be the specialty of the individual, but once an idea was understood well by even a few individuals Big Mind generated a wealth of implications because the new idea was then understood by everyone and then evaluated against the experiences of billions of individuals.
And then, Big Mind became accessible through a small indiscernible implant. In a short time, the small Big Mind chip had been inserted into most humans, dogs, and cats. The number of other animals being connected continued to soar.
Big Mind had ended most conflict. Big Mind swallowed the Earth.
Ted was curled up on a chair. The microchip in his ear was indiscernible. He had an expression on his face that was quite distinct from his dream face. Ted was in. And so was Harlow, the large male tabby who lived with Karen. He was curled against Ted.
Stan was reading. Karen and Earnie were looking at some equations and talking about solution sets. As they discussed the problem and tried out various solutions, they were slipping in and out of Big Mind dancing with the spark of creativity and the power of seeming infinite perspectives for guidance.
In a few short years, Big Mind had accelerated invention, knowledge, and understanding into a furious fount of novelty.
But problems remained. Population and pollution had wrecked such havoc on the earth that many wild species had been lost and those that were hanging on seemed to be competing to be first in line for extirpation. Big Mind had awakened the world to the inestimable value of others' perspectives. The only answer seemed to be to somehow heal the planet or leave it altogether. But in spite of the near immortality provided by the Diggins Adjustment, travel between stars was still too slow to be reasonable. The dream of faster than light travel was still unrealized.
Big Mind had turned Earth into a ravished Eden. Big Mind allowed everyone to see every situation from every possible perspective. Lions and lambs lied down together. There were people and animals who had not yet entered Big Mind, but they were an ever diminishing segment of the population of sentient beings on Earth. The needs of everyone became equally important; humans went from plodding across the planet for raw materials to tiptoeing gently between the homes of everyone. Parks filled with grazing cows and horses, people enjoying the out of doors, and animals released from zoos and circuses. As people and animals were chipped, Big Mind grew.
There were human minds, whale minds, mouse minds, dog minds, monkey minds, bird minds, reptile minds, and recently, even fish minds. Cats seemed especially enamored with Big Mind and stayed engaged for hours on end. The Diggins Adjustment turned out to be an adjustment of a very old highly conserved short sequence of genes found in species as ancient as worms. Most individuals chose the adjustment shortly after their first few immersions.
Complaints about the boredom of long life were heard less and less. The arts blossomed. Artists emerged from many species and collaborations between species produced works that some found to be provocative and wholly indescribable.
For the first time since it was imagined, Gaia was reality.
The installation on Neptune, part of the Outer Planet Deep Space Surveillance System, identified an object approaching the Solar System. Big Mind made secrets almost impossible, so everyone was aware of the object the moment it was discovered. And for the first time, Big Mind actually focused its collective attention. In one instant, nearly everyone on Earth knew that seven vessels were plunging toward the planet at twenty times the speed of light, and they were decelerating. Eight days later the seven ships were in orbit around Earth.
Earthlings were as excited about the unsuspected power of Big Mind as they were curious, worried, and excited about the seven alien ships.
But that is another story for another time.