Friday, September 11, 2015

Recategorizing Alien Memes

In previous blogs[a, b, c, d], several categories of alien memes were established, for the purpose of parameterizing alien civilization. Parameterization is one of the tools used in the blog for exploring the unknown. These categories covered two aspects of alien life and credos. One covered the value system of the alien civilization and translated the value system to the area of space travel, under the assumption that alien civilizations would try to preserve and expand that which they valued the most. The previous categories unfortunately conflated this variable, the value variable, with the propensity of the civilization to engage in space travel. Let’s try again to categorize alien civilizations: Parameter 1 covers the value system of the civilization, and has four entries. These are the following: 1) the genetic structure of the aliens themselves, albeit improved and modified, by not to the point where they engage in self-speciation – the invention of a new and improved species to replace their own; 2) the genetic structure of some taxonomic level of their own life, ranging all the way from DNA life itself in any form, their form of DNA life (or forms if they are a mixed DNA world, like ours) up to new species developed for either life on their home world or on colonies; 3) the developments of the alien civilization rather than their genetic identity, meaning the technology and other achievements that the civilization has amassed; 4) the life style they have developed, comfortable and interesting; 5) nothing at all.

It is possible that there are one or more entries for this parameter which have been overlooked in the past, because of the interweaving of it and other aspects of star travel. A modification of the value variable will be done later if necessary.

As a propensity variable, there are three levels at the outset of this variables definition. The first part inquires as to whether the alien civilization will do star travel without being forced to. The levels are the following 1) They will do star travel as part of their memes, and as soon as they can, they start; 2) They will do star travel only when some peril is facing their planet; 3) They do not do star travel at all. As part of this parameter, there is a degree associated with the first type of this propensity variable. Let’s consider how much of their civilization’s income and wealth an alien civilization would devote to all activities connected to space travel. Note that a likely currency in use in advanced alien civilizations is energy. This variable translates into how much energy would be expended in colonization by a particular civilization of type 1. Perhaps this would be 0.1% of their energy consumption rate, or perhaps even 1%. Of course this continuum value could go further on either side of the listed amounts, but perhaps these should be taken as a reasonable range, in which most civilizations of this type reside.

For the purpose of future discussion, let’s also call the values variable A and the propensity variable B. Thus there are categories A1, A2, A3, A4 and A5, and any of these can also be a B1, B2, or B3. Note there is a subtle difference between A5 and B3, which are both alien civilizations which do not do star traveling. Category A5 does not value their own civilization. They do not value themselves, neither their genetics as resulting from evolution and as modified by themselves. They do not admire the accomplishments of their scientists in completing the advancement of the civilization to asymptotic technology. They do not even admire the living standards that they have reached, and are not willing to propagate it to another world in order to prevent themselves from extinction. On the other hand, a civilization of say A1, A2, A3 or A4 will take actions to preserve their civilization on their home planet or somewhere else within their home solar system, but if it is also of type B3, the outer edges of the solar system they arose in are the limits they go to.

This initially seems like an artificial limit that would not ever arise in the galaxy or in any galaxy. It is not. This meme could arise if it turns out that most solar systems have solo worlds. If an alien civilization found that there was nowhere to go to in the galaxy that would not have developed its own life, they could have developed a sense of futility. Why preserve their own civilization from the peril of stellar death or basalt floods or whatever on another solar system if life would develop there anyway. Going to a solar system which has no chance of life every appearing might be a subcategory of B3. Alternatively, there could be another source of the B3 meme.

Alien civilizations of type A5 might not last very long. They might not even reach asymptotic technology. They simply do not have any long-term values which drive them to preserve something in their society. There might be short-term values, such as having enough resources to take care of the existing population, but if that population slowly declines to zero, they do not see a problem. There is nothing in their society worth preserving. There is an analogy between some individual alien living in that society who does not see any reason to continue living, and the entire society not seeing any reason to go on existing. Our own society acts as if there is a tremendous difference between a person who suddenly and abruptly ends their own life, and a person who has little interest in living, but does not take any actions to end it. The psychological point of view of these two people are actually quite similar, and can be described in terms of values, or more specifically, the value of their individual selves. There are intermediate states as well. A person can be a risk taker, with his own life, by doing things which have some probability of sudden death, such as certain extreme sports; alternatively they can do things which fail to promote health and long life, such as drug addiction. All of these people have the meme that there is no value to their own life and if it ends, it is not much of a loss. For an entire society to have the same regard about itself as a society requires some teaching or training or propagation of this negative meme out to all the individuals, or at least a majority of the dominant subset of the society.

Values are not something that asymptotic technology derives, but instead values drive the increase in technological knowledge. No matter how advanced the alien civilization becomes, if it has no memes to preserve it, it will wind up as an A5 and cease to exist, either slowly, like a human who is despondent and does not care for his own health, or quickly, like a suicide prone human. For a society, slowly means over many generations, and quickly means over one or a few.

Memes are incredibly important in determining whether an alien civilization will venture out into the stars, and only be researching their possibilities will we have any hope of determining why no aliens have come to visit Earth in recent times, at least in a visible way.

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