Friday, November 13, 2015

Bifurcation in Alien Civilizations

By bifurcation is meant a division in society forms and stays permanently. There is one particular one which is governed by a positive feedback loop. Recall that when there is such a loop, things grow up to some saturation point, and then stay there.

One other positive feedback loop that likely occurs in any alien civilization based on individuals is that those citizens who amass some advantage can use it to gain more advantage. Wealth, power, influence, access, communications control, and status in a hierarchy are some of the advantages with this feedback loop that we are familiar with. In an alien society, theirs may be different, but the general idea of differentiation between citizens increasing in an increasing way, because of the effects of a feedback loop, is something that might be expected, unless their society was organized in a different way. It certainly could be, for example, if they had an evolutionary background similar to what we see in ants, rather than primates.

Assuming they have a civilization in which individuals play a role and have a range of options before them, such loops would exist. When the genetic grand transformation starts to transpire, and the first steps of it, selection of genes for the next generation but still using citizens as sources of them, might be accessible first to those who have some advantages. But genetic improvement is an advantage, and insofar as it provides more intelligence and other desirable attributes which can be used to gain more advantage, it is also a component of the composite positive feedback loop which is serving to divide and separate the population.

If genetic advantage initially costs a considerable amount to obtain, availability would be limited, and those with other advantages would be able to access it, while the remainder of the population would not. If the speed of the genetic grand transformation is high enough, other steps could be taken before the first step was promulgated widely. Thus the comparative speed of discovery and implementation relative to cost reduction and widespread dissemination plays a key role in whether continued division and separation would occur, or whether a leveling of the civilization would occur. Both of these speeds, research and discovery and cost-reduction and dissemination are a result of the effort provided, which translates into the support that the civilization gives to each of them. How is the amount of support allocated? Perhaps it is controlled by those who have advantages.

If this genetic grand transition happens before the neurological grand transition, the alien civilization would still have individuals with pathological tendencies. These tendencies will be ameliorated by the neurological grand transition, but if the genetic one happens first, and can be corrupted by those with advantage, something called a bifurcation in this blog could happen first. It might be permanent and irremovable.

One of the later steps of the genetic grand transition is the availability of deliberate speciation. This is where a chromosomal realignment is done, rendering cross-mixing of chromosomes between those created with the realigned chromosomes and those with the older, evolutionary version imfrertile or even impossible. A new species is born. If those of the old species with advantage are still involved with parenting, and have some connection, real or imagined, with those young citizens created with new chromosomal alignments, they could use their advantage to restrict the dissemination of this and other genetic improvement methods.

Once that single generation has passed, so that there is on the planet a mixture of those with new chromosomes and those with old ones, and the new ones have great advantages over the old ones, the division could become cemented in place. The alien civilization will have divided itself into two species, but one species is not replacing the old, simply living among it and enjoying a higher standard of living, perhaps much, much higher. There could be some geographic separation that follows, or not. The essence of the situation is that there are left-behinds, who do not get to participate in the genetic grand transition, but are still living with the old, unimproved genes that they evolved with. The new species, with more intelligence, longevity, and likely other attributes such as ambition, will in some sense be the rulers of the other one, in an obvious way or a covert way. Interactions between the two species, the old and the new, could happen in many different ways, too many to list. But the interactions would be done under the control of the new species, and so would not be usable by the left-behinds to equalize their positions.

After the bifurcation happens, the genetic grand transition can go to its conclusion, with industrial gestation, various creatures being created, and so on, but the bifurcation stands. There is an alien civilization with a mass of self-reproducing, less fit individuals and a mass of those of a new species, enjoying all the advantages of the genetic grand transition, and likely all the other grand transitions as well. The bifurcated society might be stable.

This type of happenstance is related to, but not identical with, the situation where there is no bifurcation and intellos are invented and created to perform some functions in society. Intellos are not evolved creatures, but synthetic creates grown to match a design some aliens have made. They do not reproduce among themselves, but are created in a fabrication facility as robots are. Their position in society might, however, be similar to that of the old species in the bifurcated society, which is, doing tasks for which robotics is more expensive, or less desirable by the new species.

Living arrangements might be different for the two species. The new species might live in semi-closed cities such as has been discussed elsewhere in this blog, while the old species might be relegated to living on the land, much as they did before the industrial grand transition, or even after it, at least until resource scarcity strikes. Alternatively, access to resources could be restricted by the new species so that the old species is forced to live pre-industrially. There are many arrangements that could be made, but the concept that a bifurcation occurs early in the sequence of grand transitions, and they are ordered such that it can become finalized, is one that might be common on alien planets. It is not clear that this would affect the desires or the capability of the new species to perform star travel, but the question should be explored more fully.

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