Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Solar Systems with Two Alien Civilizations Part III

In two previous posts, there was some speculation about what might be the appropriate top level factors that would dictate the type of behavior that two alien civilizations that found themselves inhabiting the same solar system would adopt. Two of these factors are the mutual habitability of the two planets, in other words, can aliens from one planet go and live comfortably on the other, and the dominance or lack of it among factions on the first planet, the one which discovers the other. Lack of mutual habitability reduces or slows certain options, such as colonization by the older civilization, and the existence of a high degree of competition among factions dividing up the control of the first world would pressure the top factions to compete in finding ways to take advantage of the second world in any way possible.

The second class of situations is when the two alien civilizations inhabit the same planet, but it is conveniently divided into two small continents, on the opposite sides of the planet, with some barriers to too early trans-ocean passage. We are assuming divergent evolution has happened on the two continents so that the two alien species are not simply branches of the same earlier-evolved intelligent species, but two separate species. The two species can be quite distinct, perhaps more distinct that the variety of human species that Earth archeologists have dug up. They could be different in size, appendages, head shape, eye and other sensor sensitivities, food selections both mandatory and by choice, habitat, resistance to disease and vulnerabilities to the same, weather preferences, and about anything else one can get from a taxonomy chart. As with the two planet case, it would be expected that the level of technology is different on the two continents.

Since sailing an ocean is easier, technology speaking, than building telescopes or interplanetary probes, it would be natural to assume that the initial contact would be made when the more advanced species was at an even earlier and more primitive level of development, socially and technologically, than the inhabitants of the first planet in the other example. On this planet, on the first continent, there may have been a long history of different groups living in different parts of the continent, and then later as there was more migration and more population growth, they came into contact. The history of this contact is the only basis that the first continent’s aliens have for judging how to interact with a radically different species of aliens. The options are bivariate: either there is slaughter and conquest, or there is peaceful interaction. Since the aliens probably evolved in an environment where there was inter-group competition, the first is not strange to them. Peaceful interaction is a more recent development, when demarcated areas are established and there is no impetus for one group to take over another’s territory. Most likely the history of the first species of aliens has both of these options in their history, and they would need to make a choice.

Does the first continent’s alien faction that discovered the other continent’s different aliens classify the second continent’s alien inhabitants as aminals or aliens like themselves? In other words, what makes the difference in how one alien civilization treats a newly discovered one: species or intelligence.

Perhaps there is one way to characterize the debate that would go on in the ruling circles about how to interact with the second continent’s aliens: does fear dominate their view of the new aliens, perhaps translated from the threat they may feel relative to other factions on the same continent, or is it a lack of fear and instead a feeling of hospitality. Here we have a species that may attack us and take over our territory or here we have a species we can invite to visit us and show them the greatness of our accomplishments. These are the two top-level choices that a species has for other species that are accorded some feeling of equality or equivalence. The other top-level choice, treat the other species as animals, leads to nothing but a set of options for exploiting them.

Perhaps the most important factor would be the level of technology that the second continent’s aliens had developed. If they were in the stage of only using simple tools, living in hunting groups, and performing principally as animals, despite using tools and communicating in a language, they could be classed as animals and given no quarter. If instead they were in the stage of living in cities of some magnitude, conducting trade between different parts of a single city and between different cities, possessing more than simple hunting and cooking tools but also some tools for agriculture, the use of easily obtained natural resources, recording history or other information, and so on, they might be classified by the first continent’s aliens as their own equivalents and not just some more clever-than-usual animals.

Some other factors that would play a significant role in the choices made by the first continent’s aliens in their behavior toward the second continent’s aliens include the events of the first contact. If the second continent’s aliens acted in a hostile way, this would push the decision toward either ranking them as animals or regarding them with fear. If they had instead acted as they would have to visit by aliens of their own species, others living on their continent, in a hospitable way, the first continent’s visitors may take back the impression that they were just equivalent aliens, who had very dissimilar appearances. The size of the population of aliens on the second continent would also figure into this decision. If the second continent were larger and densely populated, this would be more likely to have them classified as equivalent aliens, but regarded with fear. Numbers have a way of translating into quantitative capability to pose a threat, and it would likely be obvious that there is a possibility that with some passage of time, the ability to navigate the seas would pass to the second continent’s aliens and they could visit the first continent. Would it be seen as an insuperable problem to deal with a large number of these alternate aliens? Numbers may also have a protective role.

Aliens from the first continent may be of an analytic bent, and want to know more of the second continent’s aliens before establishing any policy for dealing with them. This would be setting up further voyages, perhaps a mission, perhaps exploration of other areas of the continent’s coastline, perhaps inviting others with different perspectives to meet the new species of aliens, and perhaps something else.

Note one thing. Precedent can play an important role in deciding the memes for inter-alien contact. A civilization which has had no such contact, and is not lucky enough to have had a second intelligent species within their own solar system will have to reach back into their history, very far indeed, to think through options for inter-alien contact protocols. And it is a meme which will be developed, rather than something based on reason or rationality, as the universe does not provide any alien species with a reason for doing things. They have to choose it.

One last point. If there were two planets, each orbiting a different star in a binary or multiple system, and both of them evolved intelligent life-forms, there could be an intermediate stage between interplanetary inter-alien contact and interstellar inter-alien contact. The distances involved would be more than interplanetary transits, but nothing like average interstellar separations. In the best case situation, the two alien species would regard their contact as mutually beneficial, and seek more. This might influence the star travel memes that each of them develops.

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