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View Borganism

Anders Sandberg defines a borganism as “An organization of formerly autonomous beings who have merged their individual wills to create one, collectively conscious being,” or “The social and political theory that advocates the creation of borganisms.” The term “borganism” refers to a collective hive mind, and the term originates from the Borg in Star Trek.

In Star Trek: the Next Generation the Borg were introduced to serve as a metaphor for communism. Enhanced with a variety of robotic augmentations, they sought to assimilate any species they found and add them and any strengths they possessed to their collective.

Anders Sandberg has written a paper called “We, Borg” examining the concept of borganism. Sandberg argues that the Borg are not as implausible as they might seem, pointing out the similarities between a borganism and a multicellular organism or a insect hive. He points out that there are a number of different ways a borganism could be implemented, with varying degrees of individuality preserved in the units that make it up. Although the Borg of Star Trek were telepathic, they could be connected through other means. For instance, radio signals could be used if they had sufficient bandwidth.

Although the Borg of Star Trek had a queen that acted as an overseer, it is possible that a borganism would have several or no units that were higher than the rest.

Although the prospect of borganism is abhorrent to those who see autonomy and individuality as core values, to those who are not concerned with preserving individuality, borganism may be appealing. A borganism could be seen as the ultimate community. However, in keeping with the stereotypical vilification of the Borg, a borganism might not recognize the rights of individuals, who might be viewed as units split off from a collective.

The Borg of Star Trek were portrayed as emotionless to emphasize their dehumanization. The units of a real borganism might have emotion, but it is speculated that they would have no reason to communicate it through means such as body language. Rather, they would be linked to the collective through their minds and would portray information such as emotions that way.

The units of a borganism would be as prone to self-sacrifice as in science fiction. Just as in insect colonies, both the units of the hive and the hive itself would see the good of the whole as superseding the good of a single unit.

In addition to loss of individuality, group think, the infection of dangerous memes, and selfish defectors are all potential weaknesses of a borganism. However, despite the loss of individualism compared with human groups, it is suggested that borganisms could overcome many of the challenges of group think. For instance, in human groups people may be hesitant to voice dissenting criticisms. However, the mind-linked units of a borganism could be designed to fully express the best counterarguments against an idea.

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We, Borg