Sunday, October 16, 2016

Leadership in Alien Civilizations

Leadership is not the same as intelligence. It is again a mental attribute, based both on genetics and memetics, and it is also hard to define. Another way of saying that is that leadership can take many forms, as intelligence can, and determining some simple quantitative measures of it doesn’t come easily. But the somewhat vague understanding of what it is can be easily described. In means that, in some situation where a problem faces a group of alien citizens, someone has to both unify their actions in resolving it, and take the mantle for making that decision. These tasks are not necessarily identical and may be very different facets of leadership, and therefore it may well be that in some group, one alien possesses the first, and another possess the second.

The first skill can be called facilitating a consensus. This is not the same as the intelligence-related task of seeing solutions where no one else can. It involves situations where many individuals have full or partial solutions to the problem, but they are at least superficially different and it is not clear to the individuals how to resolve these differences and come up with an agreed-up final solution. This skill is not persuasion, where an individual with a particular opinion continues to dominate the discussion, forcing others to concede that his/her/its solution will be the one chosen. Dominance is almost the exact opposite of facilitation.

Facilitation involves obtaining a deeper understanding of the potential solutions, which involves seeing both which features of each are relevant and which may be superficial or erroneous, and how terminology or phrasing might be obscuring the identity of two or more of the different solution concepts. It involves a second part of explaining to each member what the overall solution is in such a way that they are ready to accept the overall solution and actually be willing to take the actions necessary to bring the solution into effect. Thus, it involves both an ability to decompose solutions and problems into their various pieces, and an ability to communicate with other aliens in such a way as to be convincing.

The second type of leadership requires decisiveness and the ability to inspire. Decisiveness is the ability to accept a decision made by a group, and then present it to whoever is responsible for the problem, or to begin to manage the work needed for the solution to happen, or to take whatever other steps are necessary to being the consensual solution into fruition. It involves taking charge and taking responsibility for organizing whatever has to be done to solve the problem, and this in turn involves both impressing the group that they have the ability to perform the solution’s requirements or otherwise cause them to be performed, and then to organize their time and effort to do that. It involves organization, but considerably more than that. It requires a level of self-confidence, and this, along with the organizational abilities, is what inspires other citizens to allow this individual to represent the group and give direction to them as much as necessary.

This has two general interactions with the development of an alien civilization. One is that if there is no leadership at any of the early stages, in the grand transitions and even for smaller changes in the civilization, if there is no one to perform these two leadership tasks, the civilization will not be able to move forward. Leadership is needed in many aspects and professions in the civilization, including the ones which dominate the development process: the technological professions. All through the history of the alien civilization, as they follow the developmental process that is forced upon them by the natural history of technological development and the societal changes dictated by technological determinism, they must have leadership to make those societal changes happen. Leadership must be able to find the right solutions at these forks in the pathway, and then convince the population to follow them.

This means that a lack of leadership qualities throughout the population could cause them to plateau and stop their rise to higher levels of civilization. It is true that a lack of intelligence through the population could do the same, and at the state of knowledge available on Earth at the current time, we cannot say much about what might cause it to not blossom as much as is required. Neither do we understand much about leadership, another important mental skill set, and again there is little to say about what might cause a deficit in it. The possibility of a deficit in leadership abilities in the population is a distinct possibility, as we can see from our own past how rare such abilities have been through the few millennia of recorded history that we have here.

The ignorance of the causes, genetic and memetic and whatever else, of leadership developing in an alien civilization will come to an end with what might be called the neurological branch of the genetic grand transition. Neurology is not really a branch of genetics, simply one of many biological packages that have a relation to it, but the timing is such that the unveiling of neurological insights should happen about the same time as the unveiling of genetic insights. They both have the same technological predecessors, such as large computational rate processing systems. Understanding individual neurons and the neuronal population of the brain would be assisted to a degree by genetic understandings of neurons, but this cannot be too many genes out of the few tens of thousands that makes up the human genome, and likely the alien genome. The ontology might be the most difficult part of understanding neurology, and as more sensitive instruments are developed, that will gradually give way.

The other side of the leadership dilemma is what happens on the other side of the neurological revolution. Why would leadership skills be denied to any aliens in generations following the realization of how to provide them, as well as high intelligence, to all newborns? One problem with the post-asymptotic technology period is figuring out what the society would be like with so many very intelligent members. How would they interact? A similar problem exists with leadership. How does a society go forward where everyone has the ability to be a leader, and perhaps the desire as well?

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