Thursday, April 29, 2010

Aliens, psychology by diet

When we expand into outer space, we may contact other sapient species, and it can be guaranteed that they will think differently than us. But we may be able to predict their behavior by their diet. Something that Larry Niven touched on with the carnivorous Kzinti and the herbivorous Puppeteers.

Carnivores: The first thing you should remember is that predators are opportunists, they always take the route that is least expensive. If they get to colonizing other planets I would expect them to have the capability to adapt considering their need for complex ecosystems that would be a hassle to terraform from scratch. Due to their opportunistic natures I doubt that they might go to the trouble of eating other sapient species like us humans, though if there is a massive technological difference they might enslave or domesticate the less advanced species. Relations with humanity would probably be neutral or even allies, we might colonize and terraform dead worlds while they adapt to living ones.

Herbivores: To an herbivore, any other animal is a potential enemy, a predator or a competitor. I expect that their planets would be ecological disasters devoid of any other animal species except in the most extreme regions they never got around to colonizing. Since their supporting ecosystems would be comparatively simple they would probably terraform their colonies, because of that I expect that they would use a lot of weapons of mass destruction in inter-species wars. In addition the fact that extreme paranoia would have been a survival trait in their early history (more than humans anyway) would make diplomacy with them very difficult.

Omnivores: Would probably be closest to humans psychologically, as we are omnivores ourselves. Kind of a wild card, they might terraform, they might adapt, they might exterminate, they might enslave. They might even join forces with us and form the galactic federation. Fortunately trends on earth make it seem like most sapient species will be omnivorous.

Plants: I don't see any reason for plants to become sapient, but maybe a machine civilization would be similar. In short, they wouldn't care about consumers unless we got in their way.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One of my Philosophy Papers

I don't really have much else to write about, so I'm posting a few of the papers I've written for my Philosophy classes.

Second Reaction Paper: The They

Paul Schroeer-Hannemann

Martin Heidegger’s idea of Da-sein and the “They” is quite intriguing, I see resemblances between his ideas and Nietzsche, as well as some similarities to concepts I’ve read about in science-fiction, and things I’ve seen in the real world. The concept that inauthentic Da-sein is entangled in the They and that only those who break away can achieve true Da-sein seems similar to one of the aspects of Nietzsche’s √úbermensch, specifically rising above the herd. It seems like my favorite philosopher of the 19th century had a bigger influence than I realized. The They also reminds me of the idea of the Group Consciousness, which has often been extended into a “Hive Mind” in science-fiction.

It might seem ridiculous to imagine a large group sharing one consciousness, but it can be rather easy to change your mind on that when you witness fads and trends sweeping through the population. It’s like there’s some group mind, but not everyone is connected to it to the same extent, or that there are several collectives and each person is part of several.

It seems contradictory how Heidegger calls entanglement in the They “falling prey” and states that it is not a “fall”. Of course, he meant a “fall” in the religious manner and he originally wrote that in Deutsch. But it still seems like he’s suggesting that entanglement is a bad thing, even calling one who is entangled “inauthentic Da-sein”. Why tell people not to project value judgments while using terminology that encourages them to? It’s like he’s intentionally confusing us, or do all philosophers do that?

What does make sense is flight towards the They and away from self-awareness. People tend to feel more secure in groups and insecure when they don’t know what to do. Being part of the group distracts people from self-contemplation and the potential revelations that might bring, shattering their comfortable worldview. It’s much easier to just have someone tell you what to think, especially if it’s simple enough for a child to understand (this applies to both philosophy and science). The Emo “subculture” seems like a perfect example, teens become angsty about their worldviews being slightly shaken by puberty and what they’re taught in high school and flee from self-awareness by subsuming themselves within the They, all while under the delusion that they are expressing their individuality. Even when they try to make themselves unique they are just following the will of the They to express ones “uniqueness”. In fact it appears that the smaller the group, the more entangled its members are; or perhaps it is just easier for some members of the group to influence the others, actually that is entanglement isn’t it. It doesn’t seem like there is any way to avoid entanglement in at least one They, so I guess it’s a good thing that Heidegger said not to project value judgments on Falling Prey.