Are they already here ? Watching us, learning about us, even, governing us ? Is it plausible a scenario where an alien civilization would interact with us in such a way.
The answer starts with us. If we would find a civilization at the level of, say, the neanderthals, what would we do ? History says we would try to trick them, take their resources and brutally intimidate them if the trickery doesn’t work.
I like to believe that in the future resources won’t be so scarce and that, after enough solitude, we will better appreciate a new form of intelligence and help it advance at a rapid pace.
As always, things will be somewhere in the middle. Resources will always be limited, but after some other experiences with alien intelligent life forms, we can organize in order to preserve and help such a “natural reserve”. And we would do our best not to get noticed.
Even if I don’t believe ours is the case, the scenario is plausible.
Complex specialization is the mark of an advanced society. The first form of specialization comes with the advent of the sexes. It developes with the species in which not only does the mother bare children and defends them, but, also, the father provides food.
Complex specialization starts with the developement of tools. Some are better at fabricating the tools, some are better at using them. As tools and trades become more numerous, specialization gets more complex.
The more advanced the society, the more complex the specialization. The harder to understand the society also. It’s what happened with Europeans when they came into contact with the Chinese and the Japanese.
Specialization will apply to more advanced societies then ours, human or otherwise…
Some science fiction stories describe hive type civilization. Hive species have certain advantages but they cannot become a technological civilization, thus reducing drastically their chances to become dominant species, not to say spacefarers.
A hive has the advantage of an absolute ruler. Thus, it’s actions as a group are coherent and disputes never get in the way of a task. Individualism tends to get in the way of accomplishing group tasks. But exactly the centralized decision making model is the main limitation of such a civilization. There is no competition, thus progress is slow, adaptability is reduced.
A hive civilization could dominate a continent or even a planet without the help of very advanced tools. This very domination will inhibit progress. It’s easier to inhibit population growth when you can control every individual of the specie. Population growth is the main drive of expansion.
At the other extreme, purely individualistical civilization cannot form. The lack of cooperation takes care of this part. A civilization requires cooperation and specialization in order to progress.
A recurring idea in many Science Fiction works is that, during space conquest, planets will form a kind of feudalistic system, each governed by a sort of monarch or noble. I believe that won’t be the case despite some interesting premises that say otherwise.
Large distances will mean independence from the home planet and also a different path of evolution. Also, new planets, won’t have a large population from the beginning. This means a lot of fragmentation and isolation and feudalism thrives in such conditions. Also, terraforming or simply building infrastructure at a planetary level requires large resources and a lot of political will, presumably easy to achieve if both are in the same place.
But I believe such systems will not form. I don’t think people will give up democraty so easily, politics and elections will continue. We see that local politics get more attention (more people vote at the local level then at the state level). Resources will come from economics, a more efficient way to gatter them. Political will, at the local level, will be more focused and variation will ensure that no excesses appear.
Food has seen major changes in the past century. A fast moving society lead to the belief that we will, one day, eat only concentrated pills. I don’t think eating will ever be reduced to this, but the tendency to eat fast will continue in one form or another.
Frozen, refrigerated, starch enhanced, genetically modified, quick fried fast food, we came a long way. We have less and less time do cook and to eat. This is both cause and effect of our new way of life. More and more women work in a faster and faster world. This leads to a lot of diseases: ulcer, diabetes and , the plague of the modern society, obesity. I enjoy cooking, but at work I don’t have much time to eat and I usually do it in front on the computer. But, with each occasion, I enjoy preparing a barbecue for my friends.
We must combine two tendencies: “Fast! Fast! Faster!” and “God! this tastes so good”. Probably, we will tend to eat fast food in the working days and slowly cooked food on weekends, when going out with friends, on lunch meetings etc. Slowly cooked food will never won’t disappear because it is more than just eating, is a social event.
Slow cooking will become more of a passion, a hobby and a profession and less of a physical need. Fast food will change in order to solve, at least, the obesity problem. But the problem of taste, texture and looks will be impossible to overcome.
I’ve recently read this post from this Paleo-Future blog. Basically, robots could become sexual partners for humans. They might, even, become better sexual partners for humans and humans might even abandon their human sexual partners and become isolated individuals. I don’t believe this will happen at a larger scale than it does today with prostitution and sexual objects.
I remember a particular experiment with a mouse and 2 buttons. One button gave him food and the other one gave him an sexual excitation. The mouse pushed the sex button to exhaustion, being more interested in sex than eating. We are also driven by powerful sexual impulses, but not to this extent.
Firstly, we are social animals, society defines us. We can’t exist without a society, we must interact with other humans. Finding a lifetime partner is a must for the majority of us. Love is probably the thing we search mostly in a relationship. Also, we must work in order to achieve our goals. Sex isn’t everything.
Yes, robots will become more than tin cans, more than sex toys. They will have intelligence and will be able to work with humans (not just in physical jobs), to have sex with humans and ultimately love and be loved by humans. By then, they will stop being robots and we will stop being just humans.
Will we all speak the same language ?
Languages disappear when more powerful civilizations get in contact with them, and, usually, conquers the populations that speak those languages . Conquest can be military, economical or ideological. All of them need an intense contact between the most powerful civilization and the language that disappears. On the other hand, a new language appears if a population gets isolated.
In short, if all humankind will be able to maintain an intense contact for all the populations, in time, an universal language will evolve, if not, each isolated population will evolve a new language.
Key to these equation are communication and travel. If new ways of communication and travel will evolve enough to cover wast distances of space, an universal language will evolve. I doubt they will appear before the space conquest. We will first experience languages specific for planets or solar systems.
In future, games will evolve faster and faster, computer offering them the only resource they need – players.
Games exist, probably, from the beginning of mankind. They were firstly athletic, but, as civilizations evolved, a new type appeared, the so called society games (card games and chess were probably the first society games). In modern history both types evolved, firstly as regulations, organization and, during the last decades, as diversity. But the most amazing event in the modern history of games, was the revolution of the computer games.
Apart the added complexity computer games can reach, they are versatile enough to simulate athletic and society games. But the biggest potential is given by multi player games. They will enable games to diversify even further. You won’t need you colleagues and opponents to be close to you. Therefor more complex games will develop.
As a bonus, computer games tend to enhance and educate the natural capabilities of each individual. Furthermore, employers begin to see the benefits of allowing employees to engage in games with their colleagues in the process of team building.
Not only the most popular brands or products survive longer, the rule applies to people too. It’s not the best technical product or the most physically fit person, but the one that can best entertain us.
If, in nature only the fittest survive, human kind has reached a level where not only physical fitness counts. The simplest example is the way we dress. Fashion is one very important part in our life. It influences our success with the opposite gender, the friendships we develop and the success of our working carrier.
I believe the first time it happened was when the Chromagnon Man survived better than the Neaderthal Man. The second was the prime candidate: he had more hair, a smaller body (better fit in order to retain heat during the hard winter) and a larger brain. Instead the Chromagnon man survived because, I believe, he looked younger and had more chances to mate.
It won’t be just about appearance, but how we make the others feel better. It’s the natural consequence of the fact that work has become less and less physical. Another cause is that women and men had become less and less dependent on each other in order to find food.