Social Diseases

cognitive osmosis: The process, according to rumor, by which farspeech or other telepathic or techlepathic contact, especially the forms based in the exchange of neural gestalts, with the stupid causes one, oneself, to become less intelligent.

(Curiously, none of these stories ever suggests that this process makes the stupid themselves more intelligent.)

While having no basis whatsoever in sophontology, noetics, cerebroergetics, neuroscience, or indeed anything else but the unpleasant psychic odor of ill-formed thoughtforms, it remains an occasional phobia, a common urban legend, and a popular insult among everyone who has ever felt the urge to demand to know why they are surrounded by these incompetent fools.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Trope-a-Day: Telepathy

Telepathy: Telepathy (or rather, techlepathy) is a somewhat limited faculty, as described under Psychic Powers.  Being essentially a way to transmit neural gestalt information over WiFi, it is an excellent messaging system, complete with the ability to transmit images, emotions, information constructs, and other non-verbal information, and communicate broadcast/narrowcast, local/distant, private/conference, etc., etc., and even to synch up well enough to form a conflux (see: Mental Fusion).

It doesn’t, however, let you overhear people’s thoughts (unless they’re sloppy and accidentally broadcasting, which does sometimes happen), go in and pull thoughts out of their heads (you want a SQUID for that, or a mind-state reader of one sort or another), control minds (although you can inject the same memes as you can over any communication channel), or enable the rest of the assorted magical aids and attachments (dream travel, astral projection, and so on and so forth).  It’s also, being EM based, limited to the speed of light.

Since it’s harder to fake all the sidebands, a telepath can sometimes be something of a Living Lie Detector, but reliability in this role still isn’t great, and you are almost certainly better off with a regular mechanical alethiometer (which uses a SQUID).

Trope-a-Day: Sex By Proxy

Sex By Proxy: The slinky (i.e., recorded full-sensory and emotional data) erotica market.  Also, possible by techlepathy (see: Psychic Powers) if you have the consent of the people you’d be eavesdropping on.

Also, in a more friendship/romance-oriented way than strictly sexual, a consequence of the metamind feedback system mentioned in Touched By Vorlons, and, relevantly, Angel Unaware.  If a lot of people like you (or one person’s liking, or indeed love, is particularly intense), this feeds back into the metamind’s opinion of you, which in turn feeds back into individual’s opinions of you… which then leads to people liking, or at the very least being predisposed to like, you even if they’ve never actually met you personally. As A Miracle of Science puts it, “Brazil has decided you’re cute.

Trope-a-Day: Pstandard Psychic Pstance

Pstandard Psychic Pstance: The psychokinetic kind exists, as does the one-handed gesture version when using techlepathy.  In neither case does it have any actual power-related function whatsoever, and you can use either without doing the gesturing.  The former (see: Magical Gesture), is done purely for the sake of flamboyance, or possibly because if you’re – for example – summoning your drink from the other side of the room, you need to hold out your hand to summon it to.  The latter is slightly more practical – people do it as a way of indicating the techlepathic equivalent of “hang on a minute, I’m on the ‘phone”.

(So, as we said before – use all the rope and wrestling grips and paralytic drugs you like, your trachea is still gonna be crushed.)

Trope-a-Day: Mindlink Mates

Mindlink Mates: Played straight as an available option for couples, using much the same cybernetic techlepathy that everyone else uses.  Such links also generally are filtered – no-one really wants to be fed the entirety of someone else’s sense/physical-status data and narrative thread of consciousness, however close they are. And even given that, a lot of people have them removed in a relatively short time, too.  Continuous mental intimacy’s not for everyone.

Another spin on this is the custom among some couples likely to be separated for long periods over distances involving considerable communications lag to keep partial forks of each other around, with or without sync or remerge.

Trope-a-Day: Technopath

Technopath: A ubiquitous talent in the more civilized Worlds (largely because Everything Is Online, including people’s brains – usually with both regular old WiFi and a high-bandwidth laser-port in the back of the neck that interfaces with any of a large number of comfortable chairs.) This is also how the majority of people do much of their jobs – be it the botboss conducting a mechanical symphony of drones from amidst them, or a group of high-level engineers collectively managing the affairs of a vast industrial complex from the comfort of their virtuality couches, the I-think-it-and-it-happens interface is where it’s at.

Heck, in lesser matters, you don’t even have to think it. One of the advantages of having your muse – the AI in your head – read your mind and pass selected relevant data on to, say, your house brain is that it can arrange to light the fire, turn the lights down low, put on some soft music, fetch that new book you hadn’t got around to reading yet, and pour you a glass of wine before your conscious mind quite realizes that you want a quiet evening at home, much less worked through all the tedious details of how to get one.

Gestalt Abstract

IMPERIAL PATENT #S/1AA882B4 / issued 3092-11-10

Creator: Essene Steamweaver, <Adagio in Gray>, & Conflux Development Initiative
(sub. Exogenesis, ICC)
Holder: Cognitech, ICC
Expiry: 3104-11-09


Previous patents: #S/1AA8247A, #S/1AA85223, #S/1AA86386
Exogenesis internal documents: [redacted]

Primary examiner: Lorith Oricalcios-ith-Oricalcios


The conflux state is one in which many mind-states each incorporating the conflux extensions described herewithin operate temporarily as a single multithreaded mind-state distributed across multiple cogence cores, utilizing the extensions to the gnostic link protocol described in patent #S/1AA86386.

Such extensions permit full sharing of talent functionality, sensory awareness, and narrative thread of consciousness (this latter operating in a similar manner to the “Noetic Whisper” techlepathic system described in patent #S/11A8247A), while not permitting conflux constitutional mind-states unmediated access to each others’ personal memory strings. Additional in this design is sharing of agency via a distributed arbitration protocol based on the open-source cyberdemocratic voting system described in [redacted], suppressing individual ‘shell control (except for the choice to withdraw from the conflux) and operating all ‘shells under the control of constitutional mind-states in accordance with the coherent extrapolated common volition of the conflux entire. In combination, these permit a gestalt intelligence to form.

The pooled cognitive bandwidth of such a gestalt, when stable and functioning optimally, can exceed that of the baseline members by a factor trending towards n^2/n, and its mutual coordination capacity by a factor trending towards n^2. The applications in many fields requiring high cognitive bandwidth and/or coordination should be obvious.

Trope-a-Day: Conveniently Coherent Thoughts

Conveniently Coherent Thoughts: Subverted; the reason you can get some coherent thoughts and images through the techlepathy part of the Psychic Powers is because they require you to produce specifically focused thoughts and images in order to engage the transmitter, in a similar way to a voice-activated microphone.

If they just transmitted your regular thoughts as they happened, the telepathic bands would be filled with not merely a rambling narrative thread of consciousness, but pure neural hash from the thousands of different threads in your mind all talking at once.

Trope-a-Day: Power Perversion Potential

Power Perversion Potential: Well, we’ve already mentioned the potential of forking, haven’t we?  (Rhymes with gleesome, but requires fewer people.)  And the applications of techlepathy and psychokinesis are also fairly obvious and well-explored territory.  And then there’s microgravity and body-swapping (and its subset, gender-swapping) and desire control and virtuality and I’ll be in my bunk…