Monday, January 25, 2016

Psychopathologies in Alien Civilizations

Trying to think about how aliens in their advanced civilization would think about choosing to travel to other star systems is difficult at best, so it needs to be done in as careful a way as possible. In this blog, many aspects of these alien civilizations have been considered, in an attempt to form a picture of what life might be life with that much technology available, and after the civilization had settled down to a long-term, stable society. Each aspect that is better understood helps to form the frame in which our imagination and speculation can take place. The better the frame, the better the speculation. The more details that are thought through, the better the frame. So, from time to time, it’s necessary to consider details.

Some of the details that have been considered are the stability of the society, the unification of the governance of the home planet, the economy, employment, the mood of the population including happiness and sadness, philosophy, artistic areas such as music, activities, the interior and exterior of their cities, their reverence for life, their daily habits such as recycling activities and more. This post covers psychopathology.

What would aliens in their advanced civilization see as psycho? Note that after the neurological grand transition, the alien brain will be well understood, and they will have solved problems in this area as well. They will have learned how to raise young aliens, and none will develop psychopathologies. Any tendencies in this direction while they are in the rearing and raising phase, and steps will be taken to counterbalance it. But there has to be a complete understanding within the civilization of what constitutes psychopathology. In order to design the training to not generate any, the developers of the training will have to have a list of possibilities and a description of each.

Because alien minds, under the assumption we make in this blog, are associative neural nets as ours are, training is all a matter of laying down good associations in the mind of each juvenile alien. So the developers of what we called the curriculum of training need to have a list of the positive associations as well as the ones to avoid, or to connect with negative feelings. Let’s not assume that anything that we would put on our list of negative and positive traits would be on the same list that the aliens use, unless we have thought them out. We start by figuring out that technological determinism holds, and the advanced technology that the alien civilization has developed strongly affects their whole society, and then add to it that asymptotic technology is exactly what each alien civilization winds up with when they finish learning all about science and engineering. So we have a running start towards figuring out the details of the alien training curriculum and any other details we want to investigate.

It seems clear that aliens are all brilliant, and about equal in their capabilities. This would imply that they each are allocated about the same disposable income, meaning whatever it is that they have discretion to use. All the utilities, and here we include housing, power, water, waste disposal, food, air, environmental control, and probably others, are all simply provided, as it would make little sense to have everybody transferring some allocated currency to each utility every year or other unit of time. With roughly equal allocations, housing size should be roughly the same, so efficiency indicates these charges would be. Perhaps there are different choices for locations to live, and some discretionary income goes to that, or perhaps not. But by and large, this have stabilized at roughly equivalent disposable allocations.

This means that greed is on the list of psychopathologies on every alien planet, and is perhaps the easiest one to find and figure out, although what they define it as may be somewhat different from how we define it. For us, greed is the desire to accumulate more and more wealth, which is the ability to demand and obtain goods and services, in great excess of what other humans have. It comes from training, where a parent or other influential person will teach a youngster that this is laudable and praiseworthy, thereby connecting greed with more basic sources of happiness, such as the attention of the particular parent who is involved.

Greed on Earth has a two-sided relationship with our society. In most credos, meaning the various collection of memes that give us general direction for making decisions in our lives, greed is abhorred because of the ill effects it has on other people. Charity and benevolence are the opposite sides of it, and they are the praised attributes. But in most situations on Earth for the last few thousand years, there has been extreme inequality in the allocation of resources, and those on the high end receive praise for whatever they do by those who wish to receive fallout benefits from their accumulation of resources. So real societies on Earth have this dichotomy; sycophants loudly and obviously praise greed and greedy people, and this tenor permeates all of the society, especially those with pervasive media. Adherents of various credos talk, with much less volume, about the ill effects of greed, but even some of these adherents fall under the spell of the fallout-seekers. So, on Earth, we like greed but we don’t like greed; very often people like getting benefits from the greed of others so individual and generic praise of the greedy is manifest everywhere.

In an alien civilization, where there are no significant differences between individual aliens, that would sound like a joke. It would make no sense to any of them, if some Earthling were transported by magic to their society and allowed to address some group of aliens. The whole situation that they live in is quite different, and what is praised by us would be simply pathology to them. This also means that there are no individuals there who have the resources to orchestrate space travel, and that any star faring would have to be a collective decision. Of course, collective decisions by aliens, who are all as smart as any other, are not done by consensus, because they can all figure out the same thing as their neighbors. If it is a good thing, by their standards, to go into space and travel to another star system, one of them can figure this out and everyone would agree.

What would not happen would be some individual would have collected resources vastly larger than average and would decide to garner more glory for him/her/itself by being the principal sponsor of a star venture. It may be possibly true today that there are some benefits to society from inequality of resource ownership, but it would not be true in an advanced civilization. So, one reason that we would find aliens on our doorstep is not going to happen.

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