Thursday, July 9, 2015

Would an Alien Planet be Unified?

As we look at Earth, we see over a hundred separate nations, each with their own piece of terrain, their own laws, their own population, and multiple other aspects which are specialized to one particular country. The list could continue with taxes, money, form of government, type of public and private transportation, and so on. This division both interferes with large space exploration projects, by splitting up the funding sources, but it also adds some competition to the field, which may spur it to happen a bit faster. Likewise, if there was an alien planet which had already achieved the ability of traveling to other stars, the division or unity of the planet might have an effect on stellar voyaging. That makes it worth thinking about in our hunt for why ET doesn’t show up here. But first, what exactly does unity of an advanced technology civilization mean and is it possible to get any clues as to what the effect might be?

Recall that the residents on the planet, no matter whether they live in a single unified country or in multiple ones, have already mastered science and technology, have already moved into highly refined recycling cities, achieved stability of population, established energy supplies, organized their resource usage, and in general, optimized the way they organize their lives. Also recall that they have availed themselves of excellent health care, all the way from pre-conception to the final moments of life. They are intelligent, fairly identical, and have their basic needs satisfied and their secondary needs administered to as well. Recall that such a planet would not be voting on substantial issues, as anything substantial would be done in a way that has been figured out long ago to be the best choice.

Earth people who watch films may already recognize this as the set piece for an adventure. The surrounding society (a town, a city, a neighborhood) thinks it knows everything and the hero or heroine or both are blocked from doing something grand, or noble, or touching, or meaningful, or whatever, and things progress to where one of them sees a hole in the thinking of the society and uses that knowledge to break through the obstacle and actually accomplish whatever it was they were trying to do. Everybody leaves the theater having rooted for the hero or heroine for the movie, and has a gush of emotion when the breakthrough happens, especially since there is opposition and unexpected moves by the society blocking them from whatever. This does not happen on an alien planet past the transition to Asymptotic Technology. They really do know everything. There really is no flaw in their thinking that an individual can find and use it to overthrow established tradition. The tradition worked in the past and works in the present and will work in the future. The last bright idea to be added to it might have occurred five thousand years ago. They actually figured everything out, and have it recorded on some master computer’s records somewhere. ‘Computer’ isn’t the right word for what they have, surely, but who knows what is? Maybe they all go to some future version of films, but the plot isn’t about a hero or heroine upsetting tradition by a brilliant insight. They all know it’s all over for heros and heroines, but they don’t care because they have such excellent life situations.

So if the planet is divided into N different entities, the master computer of each of them has shared the information that they have about technology and everything else, and so runs the individual entity just as if it had been a part of a unified entity. There isn’t likely to be any border checking, as if it is a smart thing for member 48376403286 to travel to entity N-4, then he should do it without a delay which would accomplish nothing. They likely don’t use money, as long ago the allocation of consumption goods was figured out in some optimal fashion, and they follow it. So there would be little reason to have the separate master computers each running one separate part of the terrain, for political reasons. There may be many technical reasons for having multiple master computers, such as redundancy, work load division, back up of huge data resources, or others. But for a political division? There would have to be a reason.

Do a thought experiment. Think of the alien planet under one unified administration, and sort of visualize the motion of goods, of citizens, of precursor supplies, of recycling flows, of information, of media outputs, and everything else. Assume it is all optimized, because they know the best way to do things. Actually, citizens might not be too involved in administration of the planet, although if they wanted to be, perhaps there would be a way to make this happen, and allow them to contribute to its proper functioning. Now that’s the A side. For the B side, imagine some divisions were laid down along any boundaries you care to think might be there. What happens to the optimization? It de-optimizes. So there is no reason why administration and flows of all kinds would be divided after a civilization has lived a very long time and has pursued science and technology to the terminal state, where everything has been figured out.

Are there other reasons why some other type of division might be imposed on the planet? As noted before, space exploration on Earth may be accelerated a bit by a feeling of competition. The same good feelings could be both desired and caused on the planet we are imagining. Divisions could be formed so that different groups could experience the thrill of competition in a group format, rather than individually. Competition is a thing which can bring excitement and pleasure to the lives of intelligent creatures, and on an advanced planet, it could be installed there just for the purpose of making lives more interesting. Maybe the divisions last for a day or for a lifetime. Whatever is optimal is what they would do.

So, the answer to the question posed above is that, for administrative reasons, for making decisions on how to proceed, what to do, and anything else that would affect the operations of the civilization’s various functions, there is unity or administrative divisions for efficiency. For human life, there may be divisions for competitive reasons, for psychological reasons, for any reasons that do not disturb how the planet conducts its life-supporting operations.

The same argument holds for an advanced civilization that holds sway on more than one body in its solar system. The idea that one planet would revolt against the tyranny of its colonial masters is not something that belongs to an advanced civilization. The difference in conditions on different planets of moons might cause large differences in how daily operations were conducted, but the operations would be calculated based on the same, shared body of knowledge. Having one planet seek to exploit another does not sit well with the situation that there is a ‘best’ way to do things and departing from it would only degrade the total result. The concept of exploiting a planet is actually a misuse of terminology, as it is the citizens living on the planet that might have been exploited in a Earth movie. The planet just sits there and gives up its resources.

Interstellar civilizations, with more than one solar system in their control, would have to control each solar system separately, for communications reasons, but they would all be operating from the same playbook, the knowledge that had been accumulated back when the members were restricted to one planet and were busy learning how to live.

What about division not based on administrative reasons but on baser emotions? Could a planet which has accomplished the ultimate in scientific advances succumb to greed of individuals? Exactly how could individuals escape from being trained to not have these desires, or better, how could they arise where they have not existed for eons? Why would someone become greedy in a world where needs were met, and where that particular individual was wise enough to know the futility of it? If someone did, and created some disturbance, there would be an analysis of the situation and adaptations taken, likely very minor, to see it did not recur. The members of the society are not transplanted human beings who are struggling mightily to be altruistic or hiding their lust for power beneath a facade of altruism. The members are the product of many, many generations of aliens who adapted their customs, their societal habits, their training, their memes, and perhaps even their genes to avoid such disturbances. If they were transplanted humans, we might have the playout of a scene from a contemporary Earth movie, where the bad guy does something to amass power and wealth, and then at the end, is overturned by the hero. This does not happen on an advanced alien planet.

The implication is that we will not see a string of ships from a planet in a developed solar system leaving for another star system because of the tyranny of the solar system’s government. Revolution is not a likely motive for star travel, no matter how many Earth movies feature it.

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