Monday, December 7, 2015

Alien Terminators

Some people on Earth think all alien civilizations will be benevolent and caring, looking for primitive aliens (to them) to come and help. This is likely because that is what they were taught about people when they were very little and only able to learn by accepting and memorizing. And material taught at very young ages sinks deeply into the brain, lodging in parts which may never be subjected to tests of logic or reason, but which give off very strong feelings of certainty.

Other people on Earth think all alien civilizations will be rapacious and looking for things to steal, other aliens (to them) to kill, opportunities for plunder, and the general disposition to eliminate any other living sentient creatures and plunder their planet. In short, the incarnation of evil. That is what they are. They were either taught, again at a very young age, that evil exists and this is what it looks like, or they experienced evil first-hand. Again, this sinks deeply into the very young brain, and gives off such feelings of certainty that they spend their time trying to prove to the world that this is an actual representation of the way things are.

These two subsets of individuals here on Earth, each with their own very deeply felt certainties, are simply reflecting what they learned as young children, from their own experiences or from others who were trusted as providers of both goods and teaching. They are both very beneficial to others as they seek to find arguments for their certainty that come from logic and reason, by cherry-picking. Comparing the two groups of arguments allows us to do some sort of Hegelian synthesis and come up with a view of the universe that is more complete and has more of a chance of being accurate.

Instead of citing other people’s reasons, which this blog does not do as a matter of policy and interest, let’s instead ask how to figure out this aspect of alien civilization from the bottom up. Figuring out things means collecting what we think we know, making sure it forms a consistent bundle of suppositions, and then deducing what we can from that bundle. If we don’t know too much, choosing different possibilities and reasons from each of the hopefully small set provides us with a spectrum of possibilities. Sometimes this spectrum is a useful result in and of itself, without narrowing it down to the one true answer, if there are many occurrences of the situation and we can rely randomness in various inputs to generate a distribution of answers across the spectrum. In other words, if aliens could be one way or another way, and it depends on something variable, like the stellar class or the occurrence of ice ages or whatever, then there should be somewhere some aliens of one type and elsewhere some aliens of another type. This obviously depends on the second assumption that there are lots of worlds with aliens of the smart type in them.

Because this post is intended to be about terminators, let’s concentrate on that possibility and give short shrift to the others. Suppose there is a planet somewhere which develops alien life which evolves intelligence and it branches into several species in different geographic areas. They migrate, and since both are competing for the same food sources, they fight for them. The species that evolves the most cunning for fighting the other species, and perhaps develops weapons first, wins the fitness battle and grows their population while all the other alien intelligent species get terminated. The population of aliens that wins this competition may simply love the feelings that come when they raid a village of another species and put everyone there to death. Could be this is solely genetic, if that is possible, or it is partially carried in their memes. Either way, they become terminators.

The same instinct may cause them to eliminate all other animals, starting with the largest ones, except for those they install into their animal husbandry schemes. In the extreme, they may even feel happiness when they eliminate plant species that don’t fall under their control for agricultural use. In a short period of time, this species has cleansed their planet of all larger multi-cellular life that they don’t have a use for. Maybe their scientists are highly motivated to get rid of as many microbial species as they can. On and on they go, until their planet is nothing more than a highly simplified ecology of things that interact positively in one way or another with the intelligent species, which has been for a long time the only one that survived.

Their literature is about famous terminators, that battled the ABC species and got rid of them, and about the hunter-terminators who, using only hand or paw-carried weapons, got rid of the giant XYZ animals, and about the leader who organized the teams to cut down all the tall plants in the UVW region, and on and on. Alien kids grow up with these role models. They have little figures of the heroes of their species and the various things that they have terminated, and then they play at doing the same thing. They have videos or something more advanced about the lives of these heroes, or some invented heroes who just barely manage to survive when on the quest to eliminate the DEF species of intelligent competitors or the vicious MNO animals who would have liked to tear the heroes apart, and probably did some of them.

Very early on in their climb to asymptotic technology, they are going to come upon the task of setting a star traveling meme. Alternately, they have to decide on a goal for their civilization, after it passes the era where only short term goals are present and where the whole civilization is not talking to one another and living in enough affluence so they can figure out long term goals. What do they pick? Each one of the aliens grew up with terminators as heroes. What do they instinctively want to do with the galaxy? As soon as some observer there finds there are exo-planets, maybe a good while before the robotic or genetic grand transition, they all rise up from their couches and decide they want to go there and kill everything that is on it. And they divert their scientific research away from other fields, including those which might have served to moderate their impulses, and pour it into starship technology.
These guys might be our neighbors.

The first thing to do is to ask, is such a scenario possible? On even one planet in the galaxy, could a civilization like this one arise and evolve and develop traditions such as were depicted here? Are there any chance happenings which could put an alien species on this track?

To answer this question, and it seems to be an important one, we need to do two things. One is to see if a self-consistent scenario for the development of a terminator species can be created. The task would be to see if it contradicts itself, meaning we have to make one assumption for one period of their existence, but a contrary one for another period, as an example. The second thing is to see if there is anything we have in our woefully incomplete understanding of sociology, neurology, anthropology or any other –ology which shows it cannot be possible. This does not include strong feelings held by those who have strong feelings about the inherent goodness of any intelligent creatures, but some understanding, even tentative, that we have from our own scientific knowledge that indicates there is a flaw in the scenario.

If there are none, then we need to do some more checking on the possibility of space flight, looking for Great Filters there, and if it is as possible as current indications show, then we should possibly figure out what to do if there is one of these terminator species in our galaxy. One sign would be the non-existence of other aliens as they have all been killed off by the one or more terminator civilizations. But wait – isn’t that what we found so far?

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