Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hey, Alien, Are You Guys Predators?

The problem of scary aliens really bugs you.  You are concerned that every alien civilization you stumble over might be planning to take over your home world.  You lie awake at night thinking about whether they are coming tomorrow or not.  So you decide to do something about it.

You go out drinking.  At a local bar in one of your favorite alien worlds, Murt, you sit at the counter and ask the alien next to you, “What do you Murt guys think about being predators?”  The alien turns and looks at you with a smile and says, “That question needs lubrication for a good answer.”  So you grudgingly buy a round of his favorite, and say, “Well?” 

“I think I can answer that, as I’m an average Murt citizen, with the same intelligence and education as all the rest.  We all think the same about that question.  But I have to start with a story.”  First sip break and you wish the stool had a back, because this looked like a long night.  “Right after we figured out technology, about 300,000 years ago, we asked that question.  A bunch of Murt guys got together and volunteered to figure out the answer.  One idea that one of the guys had, and I don’t remember his 12 digit birth order number, was that it would be a lot less boring to be a predator civilization, seeing as how technology had all been figured out and everything was just about as perfect as it could be.  Another one said that it would be a challenge for us Murties, and there weren’t any other ones around.  A third one said that he didn’t have any feelings about eradicating other civilizations as long as it didn’t require a draft.  The fourth one started with an expletive, which I can’t translate because you don’t have the right organ, but then he reminded everyone of Lesson 764, which they had all learned while young.  ‘Lesson 764’, he noted in a stern tone, ‘was about the purpose of a species.’  And he went on about it.”

“’Back before the whole ecosystem was run by the Master Computer, there were species of all different types, all trying to do one thing: Populate.  Lesson 764 noted somebody in the primitive era figured out that there was a big difference between the purpose of an individual of a species and the species itself.’  The others in the group may or may not have remembered that, but they nodded in agreement.  Since we are the only species left, other than ones we made for one reason or another, that probably applies to us.  The Master Computer heard all that of course, and took it from there.  Four guys was enough to get it started, since we all think alike.  Anyway, that’s how Murt started being a predator.”

You have to interrupt and tell him you hadn’t known Murt was a predator, because you never saw anything that looked like something they would use to be a predator, like a spaceship or something like that. 

“I can explain that too, but it will cost you.  By the way, there is a monument to some predatory thing about six blocks from here.  You must have missed it.”  One more round, and he started again.  “Once you have been a predator around locally, and have gotten rid of all the other civilizations in your neighborhood, you take over their worlds.  After that it’s more efficient to let those worlds do the predatory stuff, as they are closer than we are to the next round of places to take over.  Predation is pretty transitory, after all.  Maybe 50,000 years and we had done it all.  Nothing left for us still here on the home world to take over.  It was less boring for a while, but now we are back to living here in a perfect world with everything we need or want.  What a thrill.”

Even you could detect sarcasm in his voice.  Maybe it was time to go home.  If you turned in the other direction and asked the Murtie on the other side the same question, you’d get the same answer.  They do all think alike.  But you wanted to keep talking, and you need another question.

After buying another round, the second Murtie resolved your curiosity.  “Yes, we did run into other predators, but there were more of us.  We eradicated them.  Lost a lot of Murties, but we grew more of them.  That was quick, actually.  All the worlds we have are full of exactly the right number of Murties.”   

Of course, any civilization that had been eradicated wouldn’t have bars and you wouldn’t have visited them.  That probably doesn’t mean anything, though, being just some remembrance of a class you took.  Psychology?

Back home, you aren’t going to sleep any better after these revelations.  You now knew aliens are either predators or prey, and it wasn’t the prey who would be coming around.  

1 comment:

  1. Just discovered this blog site an am enjoying it! Interesting rational: A species may use it's inherent predatory instincts, eliminate all competition and then no longer require the instinct (it withers away). So "the old ones" should be peaceful when we do encounter them, but with a planet con-questing ancient history. I am assuming that they will not be biological either.