Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Malthusian Idiocracy – Effects of Inhomogeneity

In previous posts on Malthusian idiocracy, it was pointed out that this ailment strikes alien civilizations in the interval between the industrial grand transition and the genetics grand transition. This is the interval in which newly discovered technology makes resources available far beyond previous levels, and such affluence just invites the social dystrophy of Malthusian idiocracy. It was also discussed how an alien civilization could avoid this fate, but they would have to follow a certain narrow path through this interval, and any of several departures from it would lead to collapse. Yes, one can assume they would be smart enough to avoid it, but perhaps not.

The previous discussions focused on the situation where the population was rather homogeneous. If they were not, perhaps there is less or more chance that Malthusian idiocracy could be the final resting place of the civilization. There were two varieties of inhomogeneity mentioned. Once relates to individual differences, and a good example of that would be an alien civilization that preserved a caste system. The other is locational, where one region is more advanced than another.

Caste systems can be hereditary, where a young alien born to two (or more) parents of high caste is destined to be and to stay high caste. Questionable circumstances exist in a union involving both high caste and low caste partners, and then there would have to be some social rules explaining what caste the young aliens would be. There does not have to be an ironclad policy relating to belonging to a caste, and some alien civilizations could have one in which there was some slight flow of individuals either upwards or downwards in caste, depending on what they had accomplished in their lives. High caste would be associated with a high availability of resources, and low caste, low availability. This resource availability could extend to whatever functions in the civilization that were allowed to be differentiated between caste. There could be locations frequented by only one caste, there could be professions allowed to only one caste, there could be wealth associated with caste, there could be associations restricted to one caste. Education could be linked to caste. Access to even the basics of life could be linked to caste, including access to nutrition, healthcare, communication and transportation.

The magic door out of the possibility of Malthusian idiocracy is the dispersal of intelligence genes through the population once they are discovered. The argument ran that parents of young aliens would not want their young offspring to have lower intelligence than necessary, and would opt for the use of these genes as soon as they were available. This makes sense, and works if there is no barrier that the civilization has erected to prevent some parents, specifically some in the lower caste, from taking advantage of these technology breakthroughs. If the civilization was fully accustomed to restricting access to various features of the civilization, such as the infrastructure with different functions, it would only seem natural to them to restrict access to these genetic advancements to those of high caste. The low caste parents might want them, but this would be just like wanting full access to nutritional advantages, superior healthcare, and other features. The low caste would have grown up with a recognition of their place in the alien civilization, and might not even expect or ask for such an advantage as genetic advancement for their young. The high caste would be used to causing such denials, and it would seem wholly natural for them to do it. The civilization that was built around a caste structure would utilize it rather than switch, for some new technology, to some universal accessibility. It just wouldn't make sense to them.

Is the lower caste the recipient of some fraction of the affluence that technology bestows upon the civilization during the interval between the industrial and the genetic grand transitions? The majority may be diverted to the high caste, but likely some would flow to the low caste. This is just the recipe for Malthusian idiocracy, not for the whole population, but for the low caste portion of it. Their population would surge, and their intellectual, and likely other, capabilities would decline. When this happens, the caste system itself is put in jeopardy.

The high caste can see what is happening, and decide to allow universal access to the intelligence gene technology, both for their own members but also for the members of the low caste. Once intelligence is equalized, then there is less justification for maintaining a caste system, and this will become obvious to all the recipients of the intelligent kick upwards. The high caste would also have its intelligence enhanced, and they too would begin to understand the neurology that underlies the preservation of caste.

If the high caste does not act, sooner or later there will be some scarcity developing for the lower caste, and if it comes on rapidly, this is a trigger for some sort of revolution. Whether it could succeed or not is all dependent on the details of how the civilization is set up. But succeed or not, this may be one factor that pushes the caste system to be dismantled, rapidly or gradually.

Does the revolution cause the alien civilization to be cut off from the pathway to asymptotic technology? No, it may make the pathway available where it was not before.

The other situation of inhomogeneity is one in which there are two parts to the alien world where aliens inhabit, and they are somewhat decoupled, at least so that one can advance at a faster rate than the other. Again, technology developments in the advanced region may filter down into the other region, where they could lead to the same syndrome of affluence leading to Malthusian idiocracy. The exact same phenomena, the more advanced members deciding to share the genetic technology or the less advanced members ballooning in population, running into scarcity, and migrating or otherwise putting pressure on the advanced region to respond.

It would seem that inhomogeneity in the alien civilization's population does not lead to another cause for Malthusian idiocracy to cripple society, because there are some self-repairing routes that seem to be likely. The four potential causes of it remain potential threats to the future of the civilization, but at least inhomogeneity does not make them worse that they otherwise are.

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