Monday, October 12, 2015

Deliberate Speciation - Part II

In Part I, the issues facing an alien civilization that was passing through the genetic grand transition regarding deliberate speciation were discussed. There is another way to look at the decision facing the civilization of whether to eliminate their own species so it could be replaced with an improved one. That is to ask what it is that they are proud of. Aliens might well experience the emotion of pride, but it could be an intellectual feeling, something they speak of as being excellent, commendable, outstanding, and so on, or it could be an emotional feeling, something they feel deeply about as being important to their own history, their own lives, and their own culture. Is the point of pride their species or their technical accomplishments? Do they think of themselves as having achieved the culmination of science and technology and created a civilization which provides so well for all its members because of their species having evolved the way it did, or because of some intellectual curiosity which drove them to the top of their accomplishments?

This is not a question of some rational thinking. It is a question of how the young aliens are taught, pre-rationality. It is a question of the meme they have chosen related to their own history. Memes are chosen early on in the development of a civilization, after they have climbed part-way up the technology ladder, when they are in the process of understanding psychology and neurology, and they come to the conclusion, collectively, that rationality has to be supplemented with something else, as there is no direction for a species that is provided by the universe. There is no hidden scientific law which finally tells an alien civilization what is the point of their existence. Instead, after they become sufficiently aware and probably more intelligent than their natural evolution provides, they realize that they have to make a decision as to what will be their direction and their credo for continuing to exist. They do so, and then they embed it in the early teaching of their young. Alien civilizations which do this might reach the stars, if such travel is possible. Ones which do not reach a peak and expire. But exactly which formulation of a meme is not deducible by us at this point. They could go the route of the A1 category and raise the flag of their species everywhere they could. Or they could promote their intellectual accomplishments and seek to spread the culture, not the species, that found everything out, correctly to boot. This is the A2 category.

Like many categories, there is some possibility of spillage between the two. The categories are devices that we on Earth are using for our own investigation into the types of alien civilizations that are possible. Parameterization, as has been pointed out before, it an intellectual tool that enables an inquirer to proceed further in investigations of the unknown than otherwise would be possible. They are not perfect divisions that something in science dictates will separate out alien civilizations.

The leakage between the two comes when the alien civilization has mastered interplanetary travel. In the situation where there are other planets in their solar system, and some of them are penumbra planets, the alien civilization is faced with a re-think of their earlier decision on speciation.

Recall that a penumbra planet is one which is not a sweet spot world, a world where the civilization can simply settle down and build a clone of the home world, but one which has some difficulties. Perhaps the gravity is too great or too little, or the atmosphere too thin or has some different mixture. Maybe it is a bit hot or cold, compared to the home world. It is somewhat different, but not a great deal. Alternatively, it could be in the third category of worlds, where life in hermetic chambers is the only way for the alien civilization to exist. Again, we are laying down a parameter to help clarify some understandings.

Faced with a world they can reach using the interplanetary travel technology their civilization has developed at this particular point in time, they will immediately realize that making genetic modifications to their own species’ genome will enable the new species to live more comfortably on this second planet in their solar system. Perhaps if gravity is greater there, they can make the structural members of their bodies harder, or reinforce them with other members. But in so doing, they are creating another species, similar to their own, but unable to be cross-bred. In short, a competitive species for life on another planet. Do they do it?

If they are already deep into category A1, they do not. They simply grin and bear the conditions on the other planet. If they have already adopted category A2, and perhaps have already done speciation on their own planet, they have not a moment’s hesitation toward designing the best species possible, using their own modified species as a template, for this planet. But if they are not deeply committed to category A1, they might have a re-think.

It could be that the decision of speciation was not forced on them on their own planet. Perhaps their own genome was sufficiently flexible so that they could make changes to maximize all the good qualities they wanted to without having to resort to speciation. If they were genetically lucky in having such a flexible genome, the decision on speciation would have been put off. It comes back strongly if they are in a solar system with another planet, habitable, but not easily. Then they are finally faced with making the speciation decision.

It is a bit different to think of creating a new species for a different planet than for your home world. You are creating competitors who are in some ways, different and distinct from your own citizens. One question would be: how would a new species sharing a solar system react to the old species? How would they establish relations? In a new world where there is no need for speciation, it is possible to send emissaries or even ordinary people back and forth. There is a communality that automatically arises. But if the new world has a new species, it might not feel the same about the old world. Governance questions arise. Which world is going to go star traveling, the old world with the original species, or the new world with the one specially created from the needs of existing on a different planet? Will the attitudes of the new species on their own planet towards star travel be different, or even towards many things? Will they adopt memes different from those of the old planet?

Perhaps when we are looking with our advanced telescopes, we should single out solar systems with two habitable planets, and see if we can detect some signs of what an alien civilization had done there. It would be most curious if the star travel meme is only adopted by new species on second planets of a solar system, and the paucity of this type of solar system has led to the rarity of star travel in our galaxy.

No comments:

Post a Comment