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General Discussions => Religion / Philosophy Talk => Topic started by: daniel1948 on December 23, 2016, 07:12:10 PM

Title: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on December 23, 2016, 07:12:10 PM
There has been no shortage of speculations, literary, cinematic, philosophic, and scientific on the topic of an alien visitation of Earth. I'd like to add mine. I am inspired by a recent episode of the Science for the People podcast, discussing the environmental interactions of populations, and how certain "keystone" populations have wide-ranging effects on other populations.

Example:

Sea otters eat sea urchins. Urchins eat kelp. Kelp forests are critical for many species of fish and marine invertebrates. When sea otters are removed from a habitat, urchins proliferate, destroy the kelp, and many other species, dependent on the kelp, suffer. Restore the sea urchins, the kelp recovers, and the other species recover as well.

Another example:

Remove apex predators and grazers proliferate and remove all the grass, with disastrous consequences. Restore the predators, they control the grazers, and the grasslands recover.

So let's say a race of benevolent space aliens visit the Earth and want to restore Earth's habitat to healthy balance. We humans, if we are enlightened, try to restore the balance and health to polluted lakes, or coastal waters, or grasslands. We want to re-introduce wolves to North American forests to restore the predator/grazer balance. But although we may recognize that our own numbers are out of control, we fail to see ourselves as a keystone species whose overpopulation is driving a global imbalance. Or if we do see ourselves in this light, our "solution" is to try to make birth control available. Out scientists develop ways to make agriculture more efficient we we can feed our numbers, and invent medicines to control disease.

Although we sometimes see ourselves as apex predators, eating domestic cows and pigs and chickens, we are really grazers consuming everything that grows upon the earth, both animal and vegetable. Our predators are diseases, and we have effectively eliminated most of them. Our numbers have thrown the entire ecosystem out of balance and our indiscriminate use of fossil fuels is threatening catastrophic climate change.

A benevolent race of space aliens would see us as we see other animals: as a species that must be controlled to protect the existence of our species. Just as we introduce wolves to the forest or lions to the savanna to keep the grazers in check and insure the survival of both, these space aliens would most likely introduce diseases to Earth, not to wipe us out (I am positing benevolent aliens, not aggressive ones) but to bring our numbers back to a sustainable level. We would rail against them as cruel, but they'd be no more cruel than we are when we re-introduce wolves to a region to kill some of the deer.

I'm not advocating killing 9/10 of the people on Earth, because that would be inhumane. But it's probably what's needed for the human race to survive. Space aliens aren't coming. (They're too far away, space is too big, travel is too constrained.) Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on whether you're more concerned for the welfare of the people alive today, or more concerned for the long-term survival of the human race. I guess I'm in the former category by dint of being one of the people alive today, myself.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Tassie Dave on December 23, 2016, 07:38:22 PM
You don't need Aliens. There are several sci-fi books/movies about the same subject. These are all unlikely to happen, but much more conceivable than Aliens doing it. Some of the perpetrators do it for what they believe are good intentions. To ensure the future of mankind and/or the environment.

"12 Monkeys" is about 1 man destroying most of humanity with a virus to save the environment. It's been a while since I've seen it, but I think he didn't give a fuck about the humans.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Noisy Rhysling on December 23, 2016, 07:52:31 PM
Be patient. We're all waiting for Childhood's End.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Pusher Robot on December 23, 2016, 08:31:35 PM
A benevolent race of space aliens would see us as we see other animals: as a species that must be controlled to protect the existence of our species.

This is your key assumption and my main point of disagreement: our sentience makes categorically objectively different than all the other animal species.  Since you're positing a moral quality of benevolence for the space aliens, there's no reason to think they wouldn't have other moral qualities, such as a respect for the importance of sentient species self-determination.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Tassie Dave on December 23, 2016, 08:48:10 PM
Since you're positing a moral quality of benevolence for the space aliens, there's no reason to think they wouldn't have other moral qualities, such as a respect for the importance of sentient species self-determination.

Like most of human civilisation has respected the importance of sentient "same" species self determination  ;)

We have a bad record, even when it has been done with the best of intentions, which is rarely. Doing it "For their own good"
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Pusher Robot on December 23, 2016, 11:41:00 PM
Since you're positing a moral quality of benevolence for the space aliens, there's no reason to think they wouldn't have other moral qualities, such as a respect for the importance of sentient species self-determination.

Like most of human civilisation has respected the importance of sentient "same" species self determination  ;)

We have a bad record, even when it has been done with the best of intentions, which is rarely. Doing it "For their own good"

It's all relative.  We have, by a huge margin, the best record of all other known Earth species.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on December 24, 2016, 08:50:23 AM
Since you're positing a moral quality of benevolence for the space aliens, there's no reason to think they wouldn't have other moral qualities, such as a respect for the importance of sentient species self-determination.

Like most of human civilisation has respected the importance of sentient "same" species self determination  ;)

We have a bad record, even when it has been done with the best of intentions, which is rarely. Doing it "For their own good"

It's all relative.  We have, by a huge margin, the best record of all other known Earth species.

I'd say we have the worst record of all of Earth's species: exterminating other species, killing for pleasure when there is no need, killing our fellow humans in the most grisly manner, wars of genocide, etc.

My hypothetical space aliens are so advanced that they see us as we see monkeys: worth saving in the aggregate, but unimportant as individuals. We think we are unique for being sentient, but they know that there are a gazillion sentient species in the galaxy, and from their perspective, the biggest difference between humans and sheep is that there is an unsustainable humber of humans.

You don't need Aliens. There are several sci-fi books/movies about the same subject. These are all unlikely to happen, but much more conceivable than Aliens doing it. Some of the perpetrators do it for what they believe are good intentions. To ensure the future of mankind and/or the environment.

"12 Monkeys" is about 1 man destroying most of humanity with a virus to save the environment. It's been a while since I've seen it, but I think he didn't give a fuck about the humans.

Fair enough. But my starting point isn't the need for a disease to re-balance the Earth. My starting point is how would advanced aliens see us, and what would they do if they were benevolent towards us? In most fiction, if the space aliens are benevolent, they give us useful technology and teach us not to have wars. I think that if they are benevolent they introduce a "predator" (such as a disease) to kill 90% of us in order to assure the survival of the rest, and of the ecosystem as a whole.

If the space aliens want to eliminate us so they can take over our planet, they give us advanced technology, knowing that we will use it to exterminate ourselves.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Noisy Rhysling on December 24, 2016, 09:19:39 AM


If the space aliens want to eliminate us so they can take over our planet, they give us advanced technology, knowing that we will use it to exterminate ourselves.
Ah, you've heard of the Manhattan Project/Tube Alloys.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Andrew Clunn on December 24, 2016, 10:18:21 AM
I'm not advocating killing 9/10 of the people on Earth, because that would be inhumane.

I was with you up to this point.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Pusher Robot on December 24, 2016, 11:17:02 AM
I'd say we have the worst record of all of Earth's species: exterminating other species, killing for pleasure when there is no need, killing our fellow humans in the most grisly manner, wars of genocide, etc.

We're also the only species to have developed a morality of sentience.  That should count for something!

Quote
My hypothetical space aliens are so advanced that they see us as we see monkeys: worth saving in the aggregate, but unimportant as individuals. We think we are unique for being sentient, but they know that there are a gazillion sentient species in the galaxy, and from their perspective, the biggest difference between humans and sheep is that there is an unsustainable humber of humans.

Everything is quantitative in your view, but morality demands a qualitative approach.  Since it's your hypothetical you can give the aliens whatever properties you want but what you describe isn't "benevolence," it's immorality of the highest degree, little different to that of the true-believing Nazis.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on December 24, 2016, 12:11:34 PM
I'd say we have the worst record of all of Earth's species: exterminating other species, killing for pleasure when there is no need, killing our fellow humans in the most grisly manner, wars of genocide, etc.

We're also the only species to have developed a morality of sentience.  That should count for something!

What good does it do to develop a morality if you don't live by it? And anyway, our "morality of sentience" is that being sentient ourselves, it's permitted for us to kill everything we regard as not sentient. We kill animals to eat them even when it's not needed for our own survival. We kill animals who kill the animals we want to kill. We kill animals for sport. And we kill animals when they just get in the way of our "progress."

Your "morality of sentience" is nothing but an excuse to run roughshod over every other living thing. And then, when other people get in our way, we make exceptions to our "morality of sentience" and kill them too, in wars of conquest and colonialism.

There are few thing more immoral than a "morality" whose purpose is to justify cruelty and disregard for everything but yourself.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Shibboleth on December 27, 2016, 12:24:04 PM
When I look back at history and I see extinctions due to predators, famine, or disease I don't think, "Those bastard animals should have been stopped!" I think, we ll that is part of evolution. I don't see any reason why aliens wouldn't view humans as anything different. Yes we are putting stress on just about every creature in the world but stress is a fundamental aspect of natural selection. The animals that live well with humans will thrive and evolve and those that do not will will not. Just like with dramatic climate changes you see a dip in the number of species and then a rebound you will see the same with humans.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on December 27, 2016, 02:12:04 PM
When I look back at history and I see extinctions due to predators, famine, or disease I don't think, "Those bastard animals should have been stopped!" I think, we ll that is part of evolution. I don't see any reason why aliens wouldn't view humans as anything different. Yes we are putting stress on just about every creature in the world but stress is a fundamental aspect of natural selection. The animals that live well with humans will thrive and evolve and those that do not will will not. Just like with dramatic climate changes you see a dip in the number of species and then a rebound you will see the same with humans.

And yet, people are always trying to correct the imbalances we've created. We wipe out the wolves in a forest, then we see that there are too many deer, so we re-introduce wolves to control the deer.

I postulate that intelligent aliens would see that the natural controls on human population have been nearly eradicated, leading to overpopulation of people, and they would re-introduce those natural controls to bring our numbers under control, just as we re-introduce wolves to the forest to bring the deer population back under control.

Humans feel that humans are the most important creature on the Earth, and that we therefore have the right to do whatever we like with and to all the other creatures. No other species would be likely to regard us the way we regard ourselves, and if they had an interest in restoring the Earth to a natural balance, they would naturally want to control our numbers. Not because they see us as "bastard animals" that "should have been stopped," but merely because they see that our numbers have grown too great for the carrying capacity of the planet.

Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Andrew Clunn on December 27, 2016, 02:18:04 PM
So basically the bad guys in Deus Ex were the good guys for creating the Gray Death...
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Shibboleth on December 27, 2016, 02:31:27 PM
When I look back at history and I see extinctions due to predators, famine, or disease I don't think, "Those bastard animals should have been stopped!" I think, we ll that is part of evolution. I don't see any reason why aliens wouldn't view humans as anything different. Yes we are putting stress on just about every creature in the world but stress is a fundamental aspect of natural selection. The animals that live well with humans will thrive and evolve and those that do not will will not. Just like with dramatic climate changes you see a dip in the number of species and then a rebound you will see the same with humans.

And yet, people are always trying to correct the imbalances we've created. We wipe out the wolves in a forest, then we see that there are too many deer, so we re-introduce wolves to control the deer.

I postulate that intelligent aliens would see that the natural controls on human population have been nearly eradicated, leading to overpopulation of people, and they would re-introduce those natural controls to bring our numbers under control, just as we re-introduce wolves to the forest to bring the deer population back under control.

Humans feel that humans are the most important creature on the Earth, and that we therefore have the right to do whatever we like with and to all the other creatures. No other species would be likely to regard us the way we regard ourselves, and if they had an interest in restoring the Earth to a natural balance, they would naturally want to control our numbers. Not because they see us as "bastard animals" that "should have been stopped," but merely because they see that our numbers have grown too great for the carrying capacity of the planet.


What makes us unnatural and why is our evolution and effect on species less natural? It seems to me that we are just a very dominate apex predator that is putting a huge amount of stress on the environments in which we live which will ultimately result in accelerated evolution of the creatures we affect. If another species "probably a virus of some sort" evolved on earth and started wiping out humans and a bunch of other animals at an alarmingly quick rate I don't think I would call that unnatural.

Losing species is unfortunate but not unnatural.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: 2397 on December 28, 2016, 05:00:12 AM
I would agree that the main reason to care about the state of non-human life and biodiversity is because of how it affects human life. Environmentalism is selfishness, or at least it should be seen that way and maybe it would be a more effective movement. I care about preventing the suffering of other life forms as far as I can perceive that they're suffering (so I care more about mammals than insects), but I'm not bothered by the non-existence of something, beyond how it affects our existence. Other than "that looks cool, wish I could've seen it in real life".

And yet, people are always trying to correct the imbalances we've created. We wipe out the wolves in a forest, then we see that there are too many deer, so we re-introduce wolves to control the deer.

I postulate that intelligent aliens would see that the natural controls on human population have been nearly eradicated, leading to overpopulation of people, and they would re-introduce those natural controls to bring our numbers under control, just as we re-introduce wolves to the forest to bring the deer population back under control.

Humans feel that humans are the most important creature on the Earth, and that we therefore have the right to do whatever we like with and to all the other creatures. No other species would be likely to regard us the way we regard ourselves, and if they had an interest in restoring the Earth to a natural balance, they would naturally want to control our numbers. Not because they see us as "bastard animals" that "should have been stopped," but merely because they see that our numbers have grown too great for the carrying capacity of the planet.

If I didn't care about humans in particular, I might not care about any of the problems for organisms on Earth. If I cared about the natural order of things, as an alien species maybe I should just stay out of it entirely. If humans kill off 99% of species and then themselves, it's still nature that follows. If I could stick around to observe all the changes and watch what new species and stable ecosystems rise out of it, that would be incredibly fascinating.

But if an alien species dropped by and recognized humans as the most worthy their concerns because of human sentience, then let's have controlled fusion and sterility for all, please.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on December 28, 2016, 10:07:22 AM
When I look back at history and I see extinctions due to predators, famine, or disease I don't think, "Those bastard animals should have been stopped!" I think, we ll that is part of evolution. I don't see any reason why aliens wouldn't view humans as anything different. Yes we are putting stress on just about every creature in the world but stress is a fundamental aspect of natural selection. The animals that live well with humans will thrive and evolve and those that do not will will not. Just like with dramatic climate changes you see a dip in the number of species and then a rebound you will see the same with humans.

And yet, people are always trying to correct the imbalances we've created. We wipe out the wolves in a forest, then we see that there are too many deer, so we re-introduce wolves to control the deer.

I postulate that intelligent aliens would see that the natural controls on human population have been nearly eradicated, leading to overpopulation of people, and they would re-introduce those natural controls to bring our numbers under control, just as we re-introduce wolves to the forest to bring the deer population back under control.

Humans feel that humans are the most important creature on the Earth, and that we therefore have the right to do whatever we like with and to all the other creatures. No other species would be likely to regard us the way we regard ourselves, and if they had an interest in restoring the Earth to a natural balance, they would naturally want to control our numbers. Not because they see us as "bastard animals" that "should have been stopped," but merely because they see that our numbers have grown too great for the carrying capacity of the planet.


What makes us unnatural and why is our evolution and effect on species less natural? It seems to me that we are just a very dominate apex predator that is putting a huge amount of stress on the environments in which we live which will ultimately result in accelerated evolution of the creatures we affect. If another species "probably a virus of some sort" evolved on earth and started wiping out humans and a bunch of other animals at an alarmingly quick rate I don't think I would call that unnatural.

Losing species is unfortunate but not unnatural.

There's nothing unnatural about us! We are a species that's managed to eliminate so many of our natural predators that we've over-populated and have become a threat to our own survival. We are changing our environment faster than has ever happened since life appeared on Earth, and we are causing extinctions at a faster rate than has ever happened, even during the great Cambrian extinction.

A benevolent alien visitor would want to save our species, and the rest of the biome, by reducing our numbers to a sustainable level. Not because we are "unnatural" or "evil" or "bad," but just because the predator/prey relationship has gone out of balance, and if not restored will lead to our demise along with many other species.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Billzbub on January 05, 2017, 10:18:31 AM
It would be more humane to create a highly contagious virus that will sterilize people, but where a third of the population is randomly immune to the virus.  The immune people will reproduce immune children, and the virus will become ineffective now that it's job has been done.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Ah.hell on January 05, 2017, 10:33:12 AM
No surprise, but I think the premise in the op is totally wrong.  The Earth can sustain a lot more than just 10 percent of the current human population the number increases as technology has improved, something Daniel downplays. 

Truly benevolent aliens with the capacity to get here would not kill us all they'd either relocate us(as humans often do with large predators that end up in the suburbs)or they would offer us technological help to provide a more sustainable civilization.  They would have no reason to believe that we would kill our selves.  If the provide us a bunch of fusion power plants that would essentially result in a post scarcity society and any objection to getting rid of fossil fuels goes away, we could use the for forms of water purification (UV and De-sal) that are mostly un-common now because the energy costs are so high.  As the aliens have gotten here, they clearly have effectively limitless energy so, why not.  Give us effectively limitless power energy and suddenly a lot of conflict disappears.  Who cares if china owns the S China Sea if they don't need oil.

Also, there's no reason to think that aliens would put particular value on any sort of natural balance.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: seamas on January 05, 2017, 11:59:50 AM
How exactly are the benevolent aliens going to look at the earth and determine that it is "out of balance".
If they observe one species as expanding and dominating/altering its environment, why would they conclude that the one species is not part of the natural order?
I'm trying to see why the alien would make an arbitrary move to take out 9/10 humans in the name of some ideal.

It would be like we humans discovering living 2-3 organisms on Mars and deciding that the more robust or plentiful of the organisms must be culled to create an artificial sense of balance.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 05, 2017, 12:48:56 PM
It would be more humane to create a highly contagious virus that will sterilize people, but where a third of the population is randomly immune to the virus.  The immune people will reproduce immune children, and the virus will become ineffective now that it's job has been done.

Good idea. I had not thought of that one.

No surprise, but I think the premise in the op is totally wrong.  The Earth can sustain a lot more than just 10 percent of the current human population the number increases as technology has improved, something Daniel downplays. 

Truly benevolent aliens with the capacity to get here would not kill us all they'd either relocate us(as humans often do with large predators that end up in the suburbs)or they would offer us technological help to provide a more sustainable civilization.  They would have no reason to believe that we would kill our selves.  If the provide us a bunch of fusion power plants that would essentially result in a post scarcity society and any objection to getting rid of fossil fuels goes away, we could use the for forms of water purification (UV and De-sal) that are mostly un-common now because the energy costs are so high.  As the aliens have gotten here, they clearly have effectively limitless energy so, why not.  Give us effectively limitless power energy and suddenly a lot of conflict disappears.  Who cares if china owns the S China Sea if they don't need oil.

Also, there's no reason to think that aliens would put particular value on any sort of natural balance.

The Earth is out of balance because one species is causing the extinction of other species at the most rapid rate ever in the entire history of the planet. Giving us the unlimited energy to proliferate indefinitely would result in most of the other species being eliminated, and would leave us without enough land to stand on before terribly long.

Exponential growth cannot continue forever, even with an unlimited supply of energy.

And humans relocate large predators only when one or a few are considered a threat to us, or when we re-introduce a small number to an area where they have gone extinct (usually because we killed them all ourselves). Benevolent aliens might seed a small population of humans on another planet, but they'd still want to maintain a sustainable environment here on Earth (the assumption is that they are benevolent). And a sustainable environment will necessitate limiting the number of humans.

Exponential growth cannot continue forever in a finite space. We are already growing food on all the more suitable land, and moving into land that is better suited for other purposes, and depleting the oceans of desirable fish species, and killing off other species at an absolutely unprecedented rate. If we do not take measures to limit our population, nature will do it for us through famine and overcrowding-related diseases, with attendant political turmoil, food riots, and wars. Unlimited free energy would not prevent this. It would, at best, delay it for a few more years.

There are too many humans on the planet, and most of them want to keep having more kids than the replacement rate.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Ah.hell on January 05, 2017, 12:56:31 PM
Exponential growth has already stopped.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: seamas on January 05, 2017, 02:04:42 PM
The Earth is out of balance because one species is causing the extinction of other species at the most rapid rate ever in the entire history of the planet.

Why would an alien see that as being out of balance?

Isn't the balance you speak of, in many ways a subjective ideal?
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: amysrevenge on January 05, 2017, 02:07:22 PM
Listen, if balance is what you want to bring, you need this guy:

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 05, 2017, 05:21:28 PM
Listen, if balance is what you want to bring, you need this guy:

(click to show/hide)

I have no idea who that is.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: lubbarin on January 05, 2017, 06:10:35 PM
Listen, if balance is what you want to bring, you need this guy:

(click to show/hide)

I have no idea who that is.
He was in a new wave 1980s band, famous (if you could call it that) for songs like, "My Love is a Flaming Car", "Sublime Hopelessness Polka", and "@%%@£".


Or he's the dude who played Anakin / Vader in the Star Wars prequels. I forget which
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Tassie Dave on January 05, 2017, 06:41:02 PM
I wish I lived in a world where I didn't know that was. For obvious reasons  8)
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 05, 2017, 08:52:21 PM
... He was in a new wave 1980s band, ...

Most of the music I listen to was written before 1792. And some early jazz, boogie woogie, and ragtime.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on January 06, 2017, 02:49:33 AM
It would be amazing if they knocked us down to 10%, took off and then a few years later a planet killer asteroid finished off the rest of the species.   :laugh:

Also, if they can space travel and are benevolent, why not just use technology to help us out of our messes instead of destroying us? When I run low on dog food I don't kill one of my dogs to sustain the other two, I use my technology to obtain more for everyone.

It would be more humane to create a highly contagious virus that will sterilize people, but where a third of the population is randomly immune to the virus.  The immune people will reproduce immune children, and the virus will become ineffective now that it's job has been done.
You should watch Utopia from BBC.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 06, 2017, 10:25:18 AM
It would be amazing if they knocked us down to 10%, took off and then a few years later a planet killer asteroid finished off the rest of the species.   :laugh:

Also, if they can space travel and are benevolent, why not just use technology to help us out of our messes instead of destroying us? When I run low on dog food I don't kill one of my dogs to sustain the other two, I use my technology to obtain more for everyone.

Poor analogy. We are not running low on food for lack of technology to produce food. We are overpopulating at an unsustainable rate and destroying other species wholesale as we are altering the climate in a way that will impact catastrophically on our ability to produce food.

A better analogy would be if your city was so overrun by dogs that packs of them were killing and eating all the people and all the other wildlife.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Noisy Rhysling on January 06, 2017, 10:43:22 AM

A better analogy would be if your city was so overrun by dogs that packs of them were killing and eating all the people and all the other wildlife.
Like in Moscow.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on January 06, 2017, 01:59:08 PM
It would be amazing if they knocked us down to 10%, took off and then a few years later a planet killer asteroid finished off the rest of the species.   :laugh:

Also, if they can space travel and are benevolent, why not just use technology to help us out of our messes instead of destroying us? When I run low on dog food I don't kill one of my dogs to sustain the other two, I use my technology to obtain more for everyone.

Poor analogy. We are not running low on food for lack of technology to produce food. We are overpopulating at an unsustainable rate and destroying other species wholesale as we are altering the climate in a way that will impact catastrophically on our ability to produce food.

A better analogy would be if your city was so overrun by dogs that packs of them were killing and eating all the people and all the other wildlife.
That's actually a terrible analogy. If we were zombies, yes that would work, but we use technology to minimize the land we use and fatten the animals we raise. Why couldn't those practices be improved? I also seem to recall that once healthcare improves, poverty lessens (scarcity in all forms), and education increases the birth rate approaches zero. In fact it is falling. So you think a highly intelligent species that has an interest in saving ALL forms of life just will arbitrarily want to eliminate one form of life instead of assisting it?
I mean, that fits the worldview you constantly express here about humanity, but I highly doubt aliens would think of floundering, highly (debatable) intelligent apes the same as rabid dogs.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Billzbub on January 06, 2017, 04:50:43 PM
You should watch Utopia from BBC.

You make a persuasive argument.  I will attempt this.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on January 06, 2017, 05:13:50 PM
You should watch Utopia from BBC.

You make a persuasive argument.  I will attempt this.
They've had Italian subtitled episodes on youtube in the past. I had to torrent as there is no other way to see them stateside- unless it has changed. It's a terrifying and wonderfully quirky/complex show.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 06, 2017, 05:22:26 PM
It would be amazing if they knocked us down to 10%, took off and then a few years later a planet killer asteroid finished off the rest of the species.   :laugh:

Also, if they can space travel and are benevolent, why not just use technology to help us out of our messes instead of destroying us? When I run low on dog food I don't kill one of my dogs to sustain the other two, I use my technology to obtain more for everyone.

Poor analogy. We are not running low on food for lack of technology to produce food. We are overpopulating at an unsustainable rate and destroying other species wholesale as we are altering the climate in a way that will impact catastrophically on our ability to produce food.

A better analogy would be if your city was so overrun by dogs that packs of them were killing and eating all the people and all the other wildlife.
That's actually a terrible analogy. If we were zombies, yes that would work, but we use technology to minimize the land we use and fatten the animals we raise. Why couldn't those practices be improved? I also seem to recall that once healthcare improves, poverty lessens (scarcity in all forms), and education increases the birth rate approaches zero. In fact it is falling. So you think a highly intelligent species that has an interest in saving ALL forms of life just will arbitrarily want to eliminate one form of life instead of assisting it?
I mean, that fits the worldview you constantly express here about humanity, but I highly doubt aliens would think of floundering, highly (debatable) intelligent apes the same as rabid dogs.

Why do people keep insisting that I'm advocating eliminating the human race?????????????????????????????

I'm not saying the benevolent aliens would eliminate humanity. I'm saying they would cull our numbers to save the race, just as we do with, e.g., deer, when their numbers increase beyond the carrying capacity of the land they're on.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on January 06, 2017, 05:33:48 PM
It would be amazing if they knocked us down to 10%, took off and then a few years later a planet killer asteroid finished off the rest of the species.   :laugh:

Also, if they can space travel and are benevolent, why not just use technology to help us out of our messes instead of destroying us? When I run low on dog food I don't kill one of my dogs to sustain the other two, I use my technology to obtain more for everyone.

Poor analogy. We are not running low on food for lack of technology to produce food. We are overpopulating at an unsustainable rate and destroying other species wholesale as we are altering the climate in a way that will impact catastrophically on our ability to produce food.

A better analogy would be if your city was so overrun by dogs that packs of them were killing and eating all the people and all the other wildlife.
That's actually a terrible analogy. If we were zombies, yes that would work, but we use technology to minimize the land we use and fatten the animals we raise. Why couldn't those practices be improved? I also seem to recall that once healthcare improves, poverty lessens (scarcity in all forms), and education increases the birth rate approaches zero. In fact it is falling. So you think a highly intelligent species that has an interest in saving ALL forms of life just will arbitrarily want to eliminate one form of life instead of assisting it?
I mean, that fits the worldview you constantly express here about humanity, but I highly doubt aliens would think of floundering, highly (debatable) intelligent apes the same as rabid dogs.

Why do people keep insisting that I'm advocating eliminating the human race?????????????????????????????

I'm not saying the benevolent aliens would eliminate humanity. I'm saying they would cull our numbers to save the race, just as we do with, e.g., deer, when their numbers increase beyond the carrying capacity of the land they're on.
Sorry, I overstated your position, but I don't think it logically follows any better. Take cats and dogs as an example. We do cull the excess populations, but we also sterilize them to control numbers. They could conceivably sterilize some of the population, but the other option cats and dogs don't have is the ability to self regulate. If it follows all biology expands to fill its niche and keeps pushing, let's assume aliens would have met the same challenges and overcome them. We seem to have the capacity to make even further technological leaps in the future, whereas cats and dogs not so much. How is it more logical they slaughter us than assist us? You would also have to assume that they haven't ever witnessed what happens when you alter a biosphere from the outside. If they arbitrarily cut us down to a few hundred million and split, and then a virus pops up, we suddenly have far less biodiversity in our species and are more susceptible to disease. Not to mention the technological setback we will face due to less industry and general brainpower, and then the entire cycle starts all over again and they come back in what? Another 200 years to cut back the population again, only this time we'll be ready...  :laugh:
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 07, 2017, 09:48:08 AM
I'm assuming the aliens would view humans as just another species, not special in any way. They'd have no concern about individual humans. They'd just want to preserve the species. We control deer populations by issuing hunting licenses. We want to preserve the species, but most people have no concern for the individual deer that get slaughtered to control the numbers for the "good" of the population. I expect that space aliens would (at best) view us as we view deer.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on January 07, 2017, 02:14:18 PM
I'm assuming the aliens would view humans as just another species, not special in any way. They'd have no concern about individual humans. They'd just want to preserve the species. We control deer populations by issuing hunting licenses. We want to preserve the species, but most people have no concern for the individual deer that get slaughtered to control the numbers for the "good" of the population. I expect that space aliens would (at best) view us as we view deer.
Huh, well I guess we're all making assumptions so yours isn't any less or more valid, but if we are anywhere near a singularity and biological enhancement with computing power we are about to evolve into a space faring species in the next century. I would assume most space faring aliens have gone through a similar transformation with technology and would recognize the difference between humans and deer.

Now if they're not benevolent we may be seen as competition and dangerous and that might be the end of us...
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 07, 2017, 05:31:13 PM
I'm assuming the aliens would view humans as just another species, not special in any way. They'd have no concern about individual humans. They'd just want to preserve the species. We control deer populations by issuing hunting licenses. We want to preserve the species, but most people have no concern for the individual deer that get slaughtered to control the numbers for the "good" of the population. I expect that space aliens would (at best) view us as we view deer.
Huh, well I guess we're all making assumptions so yours isn't any less or more valid, but if we are anywhere near a singularity and biological enhancement with computing power we are about to evolve into a space faring species in the next century. I would assume most space faring aliens have gone through a similar transformation with technology and would recognize the difference between humans and deer.

Now if they're not benevolent we may be seen as competition and dangerous and that might be the end of us...

Of course it's all speculation, because we only know of one planet with life so far, and only one species that has developed technological civilizations. It's no secret that I hold the opinion that humans will never get beyond our solar system (distances and costs are too great) and that space aliens will never come here (same reasons).

I've also made no secret of the fact that I regard the human race as analogous to a cancer within the "organism" of the biosphere, and that our survival will depend, in part, on limiting our numbers. I suspect that even our present numbers may be beyond the long-term carrying capacity of the planet, but this is a suspicion, not a firm opinion.

I would also love to meet a space alien, in much the same way that I'd love to see a mountain lion while hiking: It seems like it would be really cool, but would probably be very dangerous and possibly fatal.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Billzbub on January 09, 2017, 12:08:41 PM
You should watch Utopia from BBC.

You make a persuasive argument.  I will attempt this.
They've had Italian subtitled episodes on youtube in the past. I had to torrent as there is no other way to see them stateside- unless it has changed. It's a terrifying and wonderfully quirky/complex show.

Youtube has the original episodes now without subtitles.  Episodes 1 and 2 were amazing.  Thanks for this.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Shibboleth on January 09, 2017, 12:51:16 PM
If they were really benevolent you would think they would help humanity out through technology by helping us learn how to terraform other planets, create ships to transport us to other worlds, etc. to cut down on numbers. I really hope that they wouldn't go around to planets that they find and start killing off dominate species. I hope that if humans gain the ability to travel to other planets that we don't start behaving and deciding such things for planets.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 09, 2017, 02:11:46 PM
If they were really benevolent you would think they would help humanity out through technology by helping us learn how to terraform other planets, create ships to transport us to other worlds, etc. to cut down on numbers. I really hope that they wouldn't go around to planets that they find and start killing off dominate species. I hope that if humans gain the ability to travel to other planets that we don't start behaving and deciding such things for planets.

Benevolent doesn't necessarily mean that they share our opinion of our own importance. Nor does it mean that they would enable us to do to other planets what Europeans have done to other continents. I think of it as meaning that they would not want to destroy our ecosystem in order to replace it with their own. That they would intervene in ways likely to prevent one species from destroying all the rest. At present, humans are doing our best to destroy all the rest. Benevolent space aliens are likely to be benevolent toward the whole ecosystem, not just toward the one species that is using its advantages to exterminate all the others.

I guess I'm in the minority in believing that our superior intellect does not give us the right to run roughshod over all the species we regard as having inferior intellect.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: amysrevenge on January 09, 2017, 02:16:15 PM
Nah bud, my main problem is that I don't think your conclusion follows from your premises.  I don't agree with your premises, but even given that I did, I don't come to the same conclusion about what your benevolent aliens would do.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on January 09, 2017, 02:26:38 PM
If they were really benevolent you would think they would help humanity out through technology by helping us learn how to terraform other planets, create ships to transport us to other worlds, etc. to cut down on numbers. I really hope that they wouldn't go around to planets that they find and start killing off dominate species. I hope that if humans gain the ability to travel to other planets that we don't start behaving and deciding such things for planets.

Benevolent doesn't necessarily mean that they share our opinion of our own importance. Nor does it mean that they would enable us to do to other planets what Europeans have done to other continents. I think of it as meaning that they would not want to destroy our ecosystem in order to replace it with their own. That they would intervene in ways likely to prevent one species from destroying all the rest. At present, humans are doing our best to destroy all the rest. Benevolent space aliens are likely to be benevolent toward the whole ecosystem, not just toward the one species that is using its advantages to exterminate all the others.

I guess I'm in the minority in believing that our superior intellect does not give us the right to run roughshod over all the species we regard as having inferior intellect.
Probably not in the minority on this forum, though out in the world of "God made everything for us monkies" you probably would be in the minority. You seem to be predisposed to the idea that the only way benevolent species would want to help is by genocide. Remind me not to vote you in as representative to another planet filled with life.  :P
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Shibboleth on January 09, 2017, 03:57:09 PM

Benevolent doesn't necessarily mean that they share our opinion of our own importance. Nor does it mean that they would enable us to do to other planets what Europeans have done to other continents. I think of it as meaning that they would not want to destroy our ecosystem in order to replace it with their own. That they would intervene in ways likely to prevent one species from destroying all the rest. At present, humans are doing our best to destroy all the rest. Benevolent space aliens are likely to be benevolent toward the whole ecosystem, not just toward the one species that is using its advantages to exterminate all the others.

I guess I'm in the minority in believing that our superior intellect does not give us the right to run roughshod over all the species we regard as having inferior intellect.

I imply no importance if I did I would think that they would treat humans different than any other species. If we as humans went to another plant and we noticed one plant that was overgrowing the world and killing off all other plants I wouldn't want us to cull that plant. I would want us to allow the natural order of things to take effect. It would be fascinating to watch. Would a small portion of species survive and then evolve under the pressure to thrive? Could it be a case of Saturn's children? I don't know.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 09, 2017, 04:54:59 PM
Nah bud, my main problem is that I don't think your conclusion follows from your premises.  I don't agree with your premises, but even given that I did, I don't come to the same conclusion about what your benevolent aliens would do.

Fair enough.

... Remind me not to vote you in as representative to another planet filled with life.

Thank you. I can think of few things worse than being sent to another planet. I hope to remain on this one for as long as I possibly can.


Benevolent doesn't necessarily mean that they share our opinion of our own importance. Nor does it mean that they would enable us to do to other planets what Europeans have done to other continents. I think of it as meaning that they would not want to destroy our ecosystem in order to replace it with their own. That they would intervene in ways likely to prevent one species from destroying all the rest. At present, humans are doing our best to destroy all the rest. Benevolent space aliens are likely to be benevolent toward the whole ecosystem, not just toward the one species that is using its advantages to exterminate all the others.

I guess I'm in the minority in believing that our superior intellect does not give us the right to run roughshod over all the species we regard as having inferior intellect.

I imply no importance if I did I would think that they would treat humans different than any other species. If we as humans went to another plant and we noticed one plant that was overgrowing the world and killing off all other plants I wouldn't want us to cull that plant. I would want us to allow the natural order of things to take effect. It would be fascinating to watch. Would a small portion of species survive and then evolve under the pressure to thrive? Could it be a case of Saturn's children? I don't know.


And yet, ever since there've been humans, we've done our best to exterminate anything that annoys us, including rival humans, and breed everything that pleases us. And in so doing, we've created conditions likely to end with the collapse of our civilization and the descent into barbarism of the few survivors.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on January 09, 2017, 06:05:47 PM
well ,to that point, hopefully we won't be sending the Duck Dynasty/Trump supporters there and will be sending thoughtful astronauts and scientists.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 10, 2017, 09:52:37 AM
well ,to that point, hopefully we won't be sending the Duck Dynasty/Trump supporters there and will be sending thoughtful astronauts and scientists.

First we'll send astronauts. Then we'll send the military under the command of the President. That's how we've always done. Explorers go first, and the conquistadors follow. Then the missionaries who provide the moral justification for pillaging the "heathens" because we are "civilizing" them and giving them the "true" religion.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: seamas on January 10, 2017, 11:19:58 AM

Benevolent doesn't necessarily mean that they share our opinion of our own importance.

Right.

And the benevolent alien wouldn't regard all the species of Earth as equally important.

They would observed some species temporarily gaining advantage of many of the others--why they would regard that as unnatural or of needing correction is the premise you aren't addressing.
I just don't see how they would conclude they need to take action.

Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Shibboleth on January 10, 2017, 11:24:10 AM

And yet, ever since there've been humans, we've done our best to exterminate anything that annoys us, including rival humans, and breed everything that pleases us. And in so doing, we've created conditions likely to end with the collapse of our civilization and the descent into barbarism of the few survivors.

I said that "I wouldn't want" not that that would necessarily happen. It really depends on if we are looking for resources or if we are just doing scientific exploration. There are tribes and places in the world that we do intentionally avoid and isolate. Hopefully we are able to do that on a grander scale if we can ever travel to other worlds.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Ah.hell on January 10, 2017, 11:30:48 AM

And yet, ever since there've been humans, we've done our best to exterminate anything that annoys us, including rival humans, and breed everything that pleases us. And in so doing, we've created conditions likely to end with the collapse of our civilization and the descent into barbarism of the few survivors.

I said that "I wouldn't want" not that that would necessarily happen. It really depends on if we are looking for resources or if we are just doing scientific exploration. There are tribes and places in the world that we do intentionally avoid and isolate. Hopefully we are able to do that on a grander scale if we can ever travel to other worlds.
That decision isn't without controversy, it does treat those tribes somewhat paternalistically.   Who are we to decide for some stone age tribe that they can't enjoy the benefits of modernity. 

well ,to that point, hopefully we won't be sending the Duck Dynasty/Trump supporters there and will be sending thoughtful astronauts and scientists.

First we'll send astronauts. Then we'll send the military under the command of the President. That's how we've always done. Explorers go first, and the conquistadors follow. Then the missionaries who provide the moral justification for pillaging the "heathens" because we are "civilizing" them and giving them the "true" religion.
Somewhat ahistorical account really, as the expansion of humans and tribes has all occurred piecemeal and in different fashion in different locations and times.   Some places and times the first to show up were merchants, refugees, missionaries, even diplomats on occasion. 

For reasons Daniel generally is the first to cite, military conquest of alien worlds is absurd. 

Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Shibboleth on January 10, 2017, 11:36:25 AM
That decision isn't without controversy, it does treat those tribes somewhat paternalistically.   Who are we to decide for some stone age tribe that they can't enjoy the benefits of modernity. 

I agree but I believe in most cases the people have actively rejected contact.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 10, 2017, 12:08:44 PM

Benevolent doesn't necessarily mean that they share our opinion of our own importance.

Right.

And the benevolent alien wouldn't regard all the species of Earth as equally important.

They would observed some species temporarily gaining advantage of many of the others--why they would regard that as unnatural or of needing correction is the premise you aren't addressing.
I just don't see how they would conclude they need to take action.



"Temporarily gaining advantage" over other species is a far cry from causing the wholesale extinction of other species. And if they are far more intelligent than we are, they would not be likely to regard our meager intelligence as making us more important than other species. We generally rate other species by how cute we find them, rather than by how intelligent they are. Supposedly pigs are more intelligent than dogs. But in the U.S. most people eat pigs and have no concern that they are being slaughtered by the billions for this purpose, but let somebody kill and eat the family dog and there will be a national outcry. The aliens might decide that porcupines are more important than humans because they find them visually pleasing, or they might decide that skunks are more important because they like the smell.

I see no reason to imagine that benevolent space aliens would see humans as anything other than a species that has overpopulated to the point of endangering the rest of the biosphere.

Environmental groups like Audubon or the Sierra Club generally want to protect the individuals of endangered or threatened species, while expressing no opposition to the hunting of abundant species, and even supporting the hunting of species that have gotten out of control due to the absence of natural predators. As deer are to the environmentalist, so we would be to the space aliens. They might even issue hunting licenses to cull us for the good of our own species.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Shibboleth on January 10, 2017, 12:27:42 PM
Daniel, I am curious. If humans traveled to another world and saw that one plant was significant to the point that it was going to kill off most of the other plants over time should we as a species intervene and kill back a portion of that plant to allow the others to thrive if at least for a time? This isn't a question about what humans do today or what they have done but if you think they should on another planet.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: seamas on January 10, 2017, 01:14:39 PM



I see no reason to imagine that benevolent space aliens would see humans as anything other than a species that has overpopulated to the point of endangering the rest of the biosphere.

Why would they regard that as anything but the natural order of the Planet?

They would not be benevolent if they decide arbitrarily that we are "over populated"



Environmental groups like Audubon or the Sierra Club generally want to protect the individuals of endangered or threatened species, while expressing no opposition to the hunting of abundant species, and even supporting the hunting of species that have gotten out of control due to the absence of natural predators. As deer are to the environmentalist, so we would be to the space aliens. They might even issue hunting licenses to cull us for the good of our own species.
Now you are talking about HUMAN responses to Human endeavors. Why would a benevolent alien be doing the same as humans?
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 10, 2017, 03:01:28 PM
Daniel, I am curious. If humans traveled to another world and saw that one plant was significant to the point that it was going to kill off most of the other plants over time should we as a species intervene and kill back a portion of that plant to allow the others to thrive if at least for a time? This isn't a question about what humans do today or what they have done but if you think they should on another planet.

If we went to another world without sentient life, and saw that one plant was about to eliminate all others, then in the interest of diversity, I believe that, yes, we should attempt to reduce the numbers of that plant and restore balance. In my garden (back in North Dakota) there were times when I had to plow down all or part of a crop because it was spreading too far and taking too much space. Once every 2 or 3 years I had to rototill a good 2/3 or more of the width of my raspberry patch. After planting jerusalem artichokes one year I had to plow down the volunteer shoots for the next several years because they came back too vigorously. And when I planted zucchini I had to chop off the vines mercilessly to prevent them from invading the neighboring veggies.

FWIW, I don't believe that we're ever going to reach another planet outside our solar system, and I think any life we find on bodies other than Earth within our solar system will be microscopic.

I see no reason to imagine that benevolent space aliens would see humans as anything other than a species that has overpopulated to the point of endangering the rest of the biosphere.

Why would they regard that as anything but the natural order of the Planet?

They would not be benevolent if they decide arbitrarily that we are "over populated"

Environmental groups like Audubon or the Sierra Club generally want to protect the individuals of endangered or threatened species, while expressing no opposition to the hunting of abundant species, and even supporting the hunting of species that have gotten out of control due to the absence of natural predators. As deer are to the environmentalist, so we would be to the space aliens. They might even issue hunting licenses to cull us for the good of our own species.
Now you are talking about HUMAN responses to Human endeavors. Why would a benevolent alien be doing the same as humans?

My use of "benevolent" was intended to mean that they want to preserve the indigenous biome of Earth. To do this it would be necessary to intervene to prevent any one species from destroying all the rest. You are free, of course, to posit space aliens with other interests and motives. I don't think space aliens are ever going to come here, so it's all just a thought game.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: SnarlPatrick on January 11, 2017, 08:57:58 AM
It's interesting, but you are placing so many of your own biases in the minds of these aliens. Who's to say that they value biodiversity so highly, or that they have any interest in maintaining an ecological balance here? It depends entirely on their intentions. They may want to strip the planet of resources. They may want to colonise, in which case there might be advantages to biodiversity but they would likely bring their own species as well. They may "come in peace" hasten our scientific progress, but care little for other species. Or they may turn out to be green party aliens that want to keep the earth in some state of ecological harmony involving culling or sterilising most of us... Without any data, we can imagine radically different scenarios.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 11, 2017, 11:17:52 AM
It's interesting, but you are placing so many of your own biases in the minds of these aliens. Who's to say that they value biodiversity so highly, or that they have any interest in maintaining an ecological balance here? It depends entirely on their intentions. They may want to strip the planet of resources. They may want to colonise, in which case there might be advantages to biodiversity but they would likely bring their own species as well. They may "come in peace" hasten our scientific progress, but care little for other species. Or they may turn out to be green party aliens that want to keep the earth in some state of ecological harmony involving culling or sterilising most of us... Without any data, we can imagine radically different scenarios.

That's why I put "benevolent" in the title. My scenario is specifically IF advanced BENEVOLENT space aliens visited Earth. Obviously, the likelihood of any aliens visiting us is as near zero as makes no difference, and in the vanishingly unlikely event that they did, they would almost certainly not be benevolent towards Earth. But my thought game was about benevolent aliens, which I define as wanting to preserve the biome of Earth.

More likely, aliens would either eat us, grind us up for fertilizer, or burn us off the Earth so they could use the planet for their own reasons. Probably not very original, but I once wrote a short story where an alien came to Earth to collect ocean water, because salt water was valuable where he came from. Maybe aliens would just steal all the water from Earth and leave it dry.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: SnarlPatrick on January 11, 2017, 11:29:09 AM
But don't you see that you are including a high valuation of biodiversity into your definition of benevolent? And benevolent towards who?

Our interests and the interests of various other species are often at odds... and we would generally prefer the aliens to take our side, and if they did, perceive that as benevolence, rather than preference. Whereas if they showed a preference for say, insects, or viruses, such that they destroyed our civilisations, we might infer malice that may or may not be there.

What if the aliens came, identified strongly with humans, and gifted us with all sorts of advanced technologies... a new industrial revolution that met all our needs easily, but required significant changes to the biosphere, such that, for example, species diversity was cut in half.

If an alien species intervened to destroy Kudzu and other aggressive invasive species apart from humans from the face of the earth, would that be benevolent? Not from the point of view of Kudzu.... we would lose a species, but gain in net biodiversity.

On a side note, did you read any of the sequel's to Ender's Game. In it, there is a planet that has a completely homogenous and biosphere, with only one species of grass, of tree, of piglike animal, and one other thing, I can't remember. They live in "balance" but with no diversity. They are all host to the "Descolada" virus which keeps everything in harmony. Surely it is a human aesthetic preference to have diversity for its own sake... perhaps aliens would value fewer, well designed and harmonious moving pieces in their ideal biosphere.

Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Shibboleth on January 12, 2017, 10:55:51 AM
Artificially removing an environmental pressure an an ecosystem in which you live I believe is the actual definition of unbalanced. Biodiversity ebbs and flows and there are going to be low points and high points and I think that if we are not the cause or directly part of an environment we should not intervene.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 12, 2017, 11:21:27 AM
But don't you see that you are including a high valuation of biodiversity into your definition of benevolent?

Yes. And I think it's reasonable to do so.

And benevolent towards who?

Towards the biome of the planet, in its entirety.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 12, 2017, 11:28:01 AM
Artificially removing an environmental pressure an an ecosystem in which you live I believe is the actual definition of unbalanced.


I disagree.

Biodiversity ebbs and flows and there are going to be low points and high points and I think that if we are not the cause or directly part of an environment we should not intervene.

But we humans are the cause, today, of the greatest environmental disruption ever to occur on our planet. And we are headed toward a catastrophe for ourselves and much of the rest of the biome.

Certainly you could argue that such catastrophes are natural and the planet will recover as new species evolve to fill the empty places. I have no good argument against the proposition that we should nuke the world and let the world start over in a few hundred million years after the radiation subsides. But I do oppose it.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on January 12, 2017, 01:31:32 PM
This smacks of the Naturalistic Fallacy.
Certainly we're not a larger disruption than a 37-50km asteroid?
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 12, 2017, 03:34:11 PM
I think the "naturalistic" position would be to let everything take its course. Intervention is the opposite: Nature is not always best.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on January 12, 2017, 03:50:49 PM
I think equating anything to what is natural versus not natural falls into that. People say chemicals are bad because it's not natural, you're saying our influence is bad because it's not natural. I don't think this is an excuse for us to trash the planet, but it isn't inconceivable that something non-human could also trash the planet. Thus my example of an asteroid which just got ignored.  :laugh:
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Shibboleth on January 12, 2017, 05:00:18 PM
If they were really benevolent space aliens they would give giraffe's super powers to battle the humans. Give a giraffe a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish....
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 12, 2017, 07:25:07 PM
I think equating anything to what is natural versus not natural falls into that. People say chemicals are bad because it's not natural, you're saying our influence is bad because it's not natural. I don't think this is an excuse for us to trash the planet, but it isn't inconceivable that something non-human could also trash the planet. Thus my example of an asteroid which just got ignored.  :laugh:

You misunderstand my viewpoint. I am not saying that our influence is bad "because it's not natural." I'm saying that our influence is bad even though it is natural and that it would be a naturalistic fallacy to argue that we should be allowed to follow our natural course to the extermination of a large portion of the biome and ourselves along with the rest.

I would argue for doing what we can to prevent any natural disasters. If we can stop an asteroid from (naturally) hitting the Earth, we should do so, and a benevolent space alien would as well, if it had the ability. The human race is like a (natural) slow asteroid, killing the biome, and if we can stop ourselves from doing that we should, and a benevolent space alien would as well, if it could.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Jeremy's Sea on January 12, 2017, 07:36:17 PM
So, why not nudge the asteroid off course instead of blowing it into small bits?

humans = asteroids
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: Pusher Robot on January 12, 2017, 09:13:48 PM
I think equating anything to what is natural versus not natural falls into that. People say chemicals are bad because it's not natural, you're saying our influence is bad because it's not natural. I don't think this is an excuse for us to trash the planet, but it isn't inconceivable that something non-human could also trash the planet. Thus my example of an asteroid which just got ignored.  :laugh:

You misunderstand my viewpoint. I am not saying that our influence is bad "because it's not natural." I'm saying that our influence is bad even though it is natural and that it would be a naturalistic fallacy to argue that we should be allowed to follow our natural course to the extermination of a large portion of the biome and ourselves along with the rest.

I would argue for doing what we can to prevent any natural disasters. If we can stop an asteroid from (naturally) hitting the Earth, we should do so, and a benevolent space alien would as well, if it had the ability. The human race is like a (natural) slow asteroid, killing the biome, and if we can stop ourselves from doing that we should, and a benevolent space alien would as well, if it could.

The problem is that there is no intrinsic value to a biome.  It is only valuable to the extent that somebody values it for some reason.  Humans have an obvious reason to value Earth's biome: we depend on it to live and be comfortable, and it also has some amusement value.  But why would Earth's biome have any value to space aliens?  They would neither need nor want it any more than we value the biome of Venus.

Your entire scenario is based on the assumption that "benevolence" means that aliens would value all life more or less equally, but you haven't given any reasons why this is a logical assumption.
Title: Re: If advanced, benevolent space aliens visited Earth...
Post by: daniel1948 on January 13, 2017, 08:22:37 AM
...
Your entire scenario is based on the assumption that "benevolence" means that aliens would value all life more or less equally, but you haven't given any reasons why this is a logical assumption.

That's merely my definition of "benevolent."