Thursday, January 7, 2016

What Would Be Lauded By Aliens?

If aliens are travelling around out galaxy and visiting each other and generally hanging out together, why haven’t they let us join the group? Maybe they don’t think were worth it.

To put it in another way, what would aliens appreciate? There are two levels of this question. One is what would they appreciate in another civilization, and what would they appreciate in individuals. They might want to visit us if they think there’s something special about us, something praiseworthy and commendable. They might want to visit us if there are individuals here they think are worth meeting.

Now, this is all sort of ridiculous, because it takes so long for a starship to travel from one solar system to another. So, even if they found out about us and decided, ‘Hey, that’s a great group of life-forms over there on Earth. Let’s go say “Hi”,’ it would take them a thousand years to get here. We might have changed from great guys to real dorks. A lot can happen in a thousand years. We might even have gone extinct on them, and what a lousy vacation that would be to go visit some planet with interesting life-forms and they are all dead by the time you get there. Maybe the agency organizing the trip gives a no-extinction guarantee, but still that’s a lot of time to waste.

It’s the same with individuals. They hear about somebody worth meeting by tapping in on our radio transmissions or video or something else, and think about going over to meet the guy, but they notice that the date on the radio transmission is AD 2030 and it’s now AD 2230 on their planet. Hopefully they have figured out that humans don’t live that long before they pack and take off. Even if they were going on the chance that super medicine would be invented and the guy would live to be 500 years old, it would take them till AD 3230. That’s really super medicine, if it can keep an old fogey of 1200 years age there waiting for the aliens to arrive. Probably not in the cards
So they wouldn’t come.

That means the title of this post is a waste of time. Or perhaps not.

It would give some further insight into how an alien civilization might work to figure out what they laud there on their own planet. In other words, what do they think their civilization has gotten right, and what are they proud of. Furthermore, what would an individual alien citizen be praised for? What might one of them achieve that would get him/her/it recognition and some sort of notoriety? How do you make it big on the alien home planet?

The first of these questions is a dead end, at least among advanced alien civilizations. Remember that it doesn’t take long to go from an intelligent bunch of tool-using organisms to a top-level civilization complete with all the knowledge that it is possible to gather, which we have called practical omniscience. So they likely would be an advanced alien civilization. Those still in the transition phase, lasting a few millennia, might have different ideas about what is so great about their particular civilization, but some more knowledge would soon disabuse them of it. They would figure out that all civilizations learn the same things, as the laws of physics, chemistry, biology and the rest of them, along with all the subfields and the soft stuff too are the same everywhere in the universe. That means the technology would be the same after a while, and since society is determined by technology to a great degree, their societies would be very similar. So, in short, there isn’t anything they would laud about their civilization in comparison with any others. It wouldn’t matter if they know about any others. They would still know about asymptotic technology and technological determinism.

They would of course be happy that they didn’t go extinct and they had mastered technology and could raise the standard of living to whatever level they wanted. But being happy about something doesn’t mean the same as thinking it is special in any way. Individuals here on Earth who reach the age of 60 are happy they didn’t die off earlier, but it doesn’t mean they are particularly proud of it. It just happens unless something goes wrong. So, nothing to laud themselves about relative to the society as a whole.

This leave individuals, and here is where all the thinking is required. What would the alien civilization reward, praise, or otherwise appreciate about the status, activities, characteristics, or whatever of individual members of society?

Step back and recall the various grand transitions that the alien civilization must march through to get to asymptotic technology. One of them is the genetic grand transition, and after that, everybody in the later generations gets great genes. Then the educational transition makes sure they are trained well. So, individual characteristics are all built on a base that is largely identical, and largely excellent. To understand this, just imagine the most splendid person you ever heard of or met, and figure out what the alien civilization would be like with everyone as good or better than that. This is what having these two blocks of technology makes possible. They’ve all got good health, good habits, good minds, good educations, good athletic abilities, good personal interaction capabilities and so on. They are all just great individuals. So the only thing that they might be lauded for is for what they do.

Whatever form of art exists, there would be those who spend the time to excel in it. Whatever form of public positions there are, there would be those who specialize in it and become great at it. Whatever form of athletic competition there is, there would be those who extensively train for it and excel. And so on. All the potential activities of their society can involve individuals who specialize and in so doing, become excellent at it. These would be the individuals who are lauded in an advance alien civilization.

Recognition could not be based on the gifts of birth, such as we experience here on Earth. It can only be based on activities and specializations and excellence therein. Quite a difference.

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