Up there in the Milky Way Central Accounting Office there is a diagram showing the survival span of intelligent civilisations in the Galaxy. It is driven by a massive data base going back almost 6 billion years, and includes many millions of cases. You can slice and dice the data in countless different ways: mean planetary temperature, number of limbs, evolutionary period to maturity, ethnic diversity, etc., etc., but the results all fit onto a perfect bell curve, ranging from 4,000 years to 8,000 years, with a peak at 6,000 years. Almost. There are just five cases where civilisations millions of years old are still thriving; the Supra-Societies
We asked the Galactic High Comptroller, Ban Bernencko, why this is.
Making the Difference
Speaking in his native Oinck, through an inter-cultural interpretation device, he looked and sounded just like a human being. “Early evolution is inevitably a competitive process” he told us, “and that instinctive competition is carried into society as an economic driver. In the five Supra-Societies that have survived over the long term in our galaxy, there was sufficient racial homogeneity to forge a truly egalitarian global mentality, and the concept of sharing the benefits of economic growth came naturally. Moreover, these civilisations took their attitudes with them when they ventured into space, and they sought alliances rather than conflicts.”
Heading for Oblivion
He sighed. “But the predominant scenario is one where tribal enmities repeat themselves again and again, intensifying as the population grows and natural resources are depleted. These societies have no natural equilibrium, and ultimately their own exponential technological development destroys them. Your planet Earth appears to be heading in this direction.”
There was a flurry of questions from a disquieted audience. “No-one is going to solve this for you” said Bernencko. “Your best philosophical minds must apply themselves to come up with causes that unite you despite your ethnic diversity and your history. I will tell you only one more thing. The idea that one racial or national group will ultimately subdue all the others and deliver sustainable peace always ends in utter desolation.”
He switched the machine to mute. “But you’ll probably try it anyway – they usually do” he added under his breath.
“Hey Ban!” shouted one frustrated journalist, “how much fun is it being 5,000 years old anyway? How’s your sex life?”
“Pretty good” he replied. “I can draw on the cerebral pleasure centres of millions whenever I want to. We leave it to the sub-centenarians to deal with the reproduction thing, then we have all the fun without the wet patch.”
PrometheusTags: Development of Intelligent Life, Intelligent Extraterrestrial Civilisations, Supra-Societies, Tribal Enmities