Saturday, October 3, 2015

Is Advanced Intelligence a False Panacea?

The grand transition discussed for alien civilizations relating to advanced intelligence has been regarded as a kind of watershed. The basic idea is that bringing the intelligence of all citizens up to its genetic potential maximum and providing all of them with optimized education will eliminate all sociological problems.

The reasoning behind the basic idea is that people with this much intelligence would not tolerate any behavior by an individual that was designed to injure others, to exploit others, to deprive others, or to take any action that was pathological. It should be clear that any attempt at fraud would be met with questioning. There would be no possibility of some citizen not understanding the implications of any agreement they were asked to make. They would each have the inherent ability to understand their own budgets and to be able to manage their expenditures and income. Thus, financial deception would be virtually impossible.

Neither would it be possible for crimes to go undetected if every citizen was as good a detective as our Sherlock Holmes. The other side of this coin is that any citizen would understand the implications of any act they were thinking of doing, so that criminal behavior would be avoided as well as being detectable.

With every citizen of high intelligence, there would be no premium positions for anyone that could not be filled by anyone. If anyone could qualify to perform any vocation, there would be no need for any differences in remuneration, if indeed the alien civilization remunerated its citizens for taking on a vocation for some period. Thus the achievement of advanced intelligence does seem to eliminate almost any opportunity or motivation for any individual citizen or any group of citizens to amass wealth, and therefore power within the civilization, that was markedly different from the average. Having no vantage point of wealth and power from which to force others to take actions they might not otherwise choose to means one major difference exists between the pre-transition times and the post-transition times.

Wealth and power provide a positive feedback effect for its own increase, and would in practically any alien civilization, no matter how structured. The feedback operation is fairly obvious. Having more wealth and power allows an individual to have this wealth and power to use to gain even more wealth and power for himself. Funding necessary expenses does not rise proportionally with wealth, and this means that funds available to induce more wealth and power grow even faster than proportionally with wealth. Thus the feedback loop gets ever stronger as the differences in wealth grow larger.

This feedback loop explains why, on any alien civilization, before the central grand transitions take place, there is likely to be a diversity of social status and economic advantage, and after those transitions take place, it will diminish and gradually disappear.

The has two implications. One is that for the reasons cited above, the advanced intelligence grand transition, above others, will serve as a panacea for sociological ills which might inhibit the civilization’s advance to asymptotic technology. In other words, once an alien civilization figures out how to encode intelligence in the genome of their own species, and uses that knowledge to upgrade everyone’s intelligence, the other problems of the civilization will be easier to deal with and will disappear in time.

It also means that any individuals or groups who for some pathological reason, wish to freeze the civilization at the early stage it is in, perhaps to fix their own position and their own descendants’ positions at a level much higher than the average, may seek to delay or obstruct the provision of advanced intelligence to everyone. This grand transition is the make-or-break one for hierarchical structures within the civilization. It is the advantage that must be denied to the generic citizen if the hierarchical structure is to be preserved for more generations.

There are many means by which an existent hierarchy could attempt to halt genetic understanding of intelligence or to ensure it was never made available to the average citizen. To the extent that the hierarchy controls the means of education and communication, these could be used to spread fears of the changes that would happen when intelligence improved across the whole body of citizenry. Since prior to the grand transition happening, the average citizen may not have the intelligence to realize the advantages that future generations were being denied for the sole purpose of freezing in place some type of hierarchical structure.

Recall also that the timing of this transition is fairly synchronous with the timing of the gestation grand transition, which allows population to be adjusted to match some resource consumption rate. This grand transition has a secondary effect on hierarchies in the alien civilization as well. If inheritance disappears as new aliens are created industrially rather than biologically, one of the two motivations for maintaining a hierarchy disappears. The first and most prominent reason, that of achieving some psychological state within an individual citizen, does not go away, but the second one, of passing on what one has amassed in power and wealth to one’s genetic descendants, does.

These goals are simply the translation into a societal framework of the motivations that evolution has to provide individuals of all species. One is the furtherance of their own ability to survive, and the other is the ability to produce larger numbers of gene copies. Although both can be distorted into almost non-existence by some types of environments, they do lie deeply within the nervous system of all creatures that have a complex nervous system, and we would assume any alien civilization would have citizens that are so equipped.

Another means that an existing hierarchy could use to abort genetic understanding of intelligence would be via the control of funding for scientific research in these areas. Most likely, the hierarchy is not going to proclaim that, in order to maintain their own psychological state of mind as achieved by being a member of the higher ranks of the hierarchy, they are going to deprive the entire future civilization of the benefits of more genetic research. Instead, they are going to make statements indicating that there would be some dangers to such research or that it would lead to problems the society is not equipped to deal with. Some explanations will be provided, and then funding would be denied.

Whether or not a society that is victimized by such hierarchies, and there is no reason to think that all alien civilizations will not have them, can overcome such obstacles and fly forward into the genetic future depends on how much intelligence the average citizen possesses prior to the question being raised of going forward with the requisite genetic research. On less fortunate worlds, that level of intelligence will not be able to overcome the obstacles set up by an existing hierarchy, at least until there is some social catastrophe that returns the civilization to an earlier level, with some advanced knowledge, when it can manage to get to the genetic transition that it needs to in order to become star traveling.

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