Beatiful EarthPosted: July 24, 2012
Most first contact books centralize around a large mysterious alien force landing on, and subsequently enforcing whatever laws they choose on planet east. That, or we declare war against them. This assumes 2 things. First: that humanity is not in the forefront of technological or martial technology, and Second: That technology is the only factor that would be considered in measuring a nation’s wealth.
So lets turn the tables, assume instead that we are discovered by an alien civilization who reveres us, instead of wanting to conquer or assimilate us. a complex culture, such as ours, is not necessary for the creation of an advanced building civilization. Which could leave our little sphere of pyramids, dragons, flood myths and epic heroes a rarity among many thousands of galaxies with an unspecified number of civilizations. There is no doubt in my mind that we are not the only life in this universe, or even in this galaxy. The question arises when we consider what form of life other building civilizations will take.
At this point I should define some terms. Civilizations can take different forms, and always contain at least one of the following (this goes above and beyond the necessities for an organism to evolve into a civilization, this list merely defines the types of civilization that could arise):
Civilizations that will focus on creation and building. Imagine the mayans or egyptians. Usually rich in resources, and will supplement the building through another means, be it cultural, martial, or acquisitional
THe huns, for instance. These tend to be very short-lived civilizations, as they only bond together with a central martial figure. Without any martial figure, there will be significant in-fighting.
Though this is a broad and over-arching term, many civilizations will create and uphold an undefined resource known as culture. these civilizations are often very focused on their own sociological system, and the bio-forms that inhabit it.
Civilizations in a resource-rich environment without outside mitigating factors will stagnate. many stne-age tribes are this way, having had no reason to change, or any major change in environment.
THese civilizations depend on the acquisition of other civilizations to spur change. This is often a modifier to another factor. Egypt was a cultural civilization, but was acquisitional. It didn’t resist cultural change by outside means. Martial civilizations, found for instance in the early days of the first Islamic Empire, conquered many different places, but did not too much force a cultural change, it assimilated the result into the empire.
So how does this effect the types of civilization we might see, or how they react to us? At this point, lets look at something called sociological scope. Where does a society stop thinking about things. THose stone age societies never consider the world outside of a 20 mile radius, and anything outside of that is reduced to myth and legend. Our nation, as a society, thinks on a global scale. Recently, we have started to think in terms of our planet, and its satellite, which we proceeded to land on. Then, as a civilization, or sociological scope got larger we sent things to mars, and then to other planets in our solar system. Scope is best represented by the furthest direct source of information discernible by the society. Our scope, as a global society, extends as far as Voyager, but is aware as far as sight extends. However, due to the speed of light, the visual information we see is outdated, and does not count as active informational data.
So what causes a civilization to extend its scope? For building civilizations, this is quite easy. Resources are depleted, and more can be found beyond the boundaries of the planet or solar system. Often exploration is performed for the sake of exploration, which could be indicative of a cultural civilization. Expansion via space travel is also found in any civilization that has outgrown its mother planet, and needs to continue populating a separate area.
Acquisitional and martial civilizations will not expressly take to exploration unless their scope grows to include another civilization worth interacting with.
It is also worth mentioning that no civilization perfectly follows an archetype. Every civilization will change over the years, and has tendencies that relate to each archetype. You also cannot assume any alien civilization is completely homogenous. It is very likely that any sufficiently advanced civilization will evolve so that it is as diverse, if not more than, ours.
There is a certain stigma that comes with discussing the ins and outs of first contact. Belief in some sort of alien life is not only toted by the odd roswellite, intent of the fact that they were probed. Many respected scientists know it is possible, and even likely. There was even an equation made (Look up the drake equation, folks), that attempts to determine the likelihood of intelligent life. But the question has to be, when we do make first contact, how will they look at us. and what will they see.