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Old 01-16-2020, 07:45 AM
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Science Fiction Debate: Uplifting Species to Sapience


Again, I'm pulling from David Brin - his Uplift stories are brilliant, by the way - and this is one of my favorites.

To wit:

We've searched the heavens in our quest to find other intelligent life...to find other intelligences to talk to and learn from.

There's no one home. If there are, there's no one near enough in space and time to make it practical - or even that we'd know exist. We are, forever, alone.

But do we have to be? There's plenty of other species RIGHT here and we're getting decent at genetic manipulation. You, yourself, have come up with a means of altering a species genetics so they begin achieving an intelligence similar to humanities. It can be a different kind of intelligence - how, I leave to you - but they have the ability to learn, formulate questions and develop their own independent culture. All here on Earth.

Do you do it? Do you take a chimpanzee and turn him into someone capable of kicking around things over coffee? Is it a good idea? Or is it somehow wrong and shouldn't be done? Species being raised also - along with intelligence - get the ability to manipulate their world - hands or equivalents - and the ability to speak/communicate.

If so, what rights do they have? In Brin's universe, the uplift process takes millennia and the uplifted species owes 100,000 years of servitude to its benefactors to repay the gift of being raised. Is that reasonable? Or is it more reasonable that once they're raised, they're free to pursue their own goals?

AND, as a subsidiary idea. What species would you raise? Chimpanzees/bonobos? Porpoises? Do we owe it to our long-term partners dogs to get them there?
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Old 01-16-2020, 09:13 AM
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Bees and ants. I'd work towards a collective hive consciousness that has a means of storing information that can be retrieved later. They're physically pretty versatile and would be able to manipulate things and could create and use tools to extend their grasp.
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Old 01-16-2020, 09:18 AM
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Bees and ants. I'd work towards a collective hive consciousness that has a means of storing information that can be retrieved later. They're physically pretty versatile and would be able to manipulate things and could create and use tools to extend their grasp.
I for one welcome our new insect overlords. I'd like to remind them that I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.
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Old 01-16-2020, 09:57 AM
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I'm not sure what that would accomplish other than increase resource competition here on Earth. In the books, it served a narrative purpose in that Earth/humans were a Patron race, which meant that they couldn't be made a client of some other Patron race. And it gave Brin the chance to explore how chimp and dolphin societies might differ from ours.

But there wasn't any real reason given for WHY the galactic species engaged in uplift- they just did as far as I can remember.
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Old 01-16-2020, 10:16 AM
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If so, what rights do they have? In Brin's universe, the uplift process takes millennia and the uplifted species owes 100,000 years of servitude to its benefactors to repay the gift of being raised. Is that reasonable? Or is it more reasonable that once they're raised, they're free to pursue their own goals?
They have whatever rights they are granted by the more powerful or that they are able to claim and defend, pretty much like us.

By my standards 100,000 years of servitude ... Yeah, no more reasonable than any form of slavery. Even if it wasn't beyond the pale the individuals didn't choose any such contract, neither, really, did the species.

And "uplifting" is one area where I fall squarely in the "no playing God" camp. What if we make chimps significantly smarter, but as a group they turn out inherently violent. Do we just go "yeah, they're still not people, so we're going to keep manipulating their offspring and not letting them move about freely"? What purpose is worth that risk?
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Old 01-16-2020, 10:17 AM
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But there wasn't any real reason given for WHY the galactic species engaged in uplift- they just did as far as I can remember.
The description in the OP makes it sound like you do a little genetic engineering according to your requirements, including enough intelligence to accomplish prescribed tasks (but not too much), and- presto!- you get 100000 years' worth of free slaves, all legal-like. Maybe in this book universe robots are expensive but lives are cheap.
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Old 01-16-2020, 10:29 AM
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Horses, Dogs, Elephants, Cetaceans, Chimps, Bonobos, Gorillas, Grey Parrots & Ravens/Crows all seem like good choices.

Dogs might be the best choice though harder than some others. They want to please humans. We've already bred without advance science Border Collies, significantly more intelligent on average than the average dog. They love to work, take a lot to tire and usually want to please their humans. The dog genome on the surface appears to be very plastic, so this might not prove too difficult.

Dolphins seem pretty easy, a little more intelligence and improved speech centers?
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:49 AM
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Definitely not other primates, I think we've all seen what that brings. How about hamsters?
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:54 AM
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I've seen way too many documentaries detailing the possible risks associated with this sort of genetic manipulation. One of them included an iconic shot of the Statute of Liberty....
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Old 01-16-2020, 12:03 PM
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Again, I'm pulling from David Brin - his Uplift stories are brilliant, by the way - and this is one of my favorites.

... In Brin's universe, the uplift process takes millennia and the uplifted species owes 100,000 years of servitude to its benefactors to repay the gift of being raised. Is that reasonable?
You don't have to answer these questions if they're discussed in Brin's stories, you can just say "read and find out", but I'm intrigued...

So these are species native to Earth, "uplifted" by humans to near-human or human equivalent sapience? Not that our own sapience is discovered to be owed to some alien species that uplifted us at some point, and is now calling the debt?

What about species with far different lifespans than humans? If dogs became sapient but still had lifespans of about 10-15 years, "100,000 years of species servitude" must seem unfair. Shouldn't it be counted in generations?

What would "servitude" mean at a species level, anyway? Are all dogs now sapient, or is it like in Narnia where there is a distinction between Talking Animals and Dumb Animals? Are sapient dogs registered in the service of specific people, or just generally "gotta do what any human says, if/when they tell me to do it", but otherwise going about their lives?

What about the obvious response, "Forget you, man, I didn't ASK to be uplifted!"

What about the free will of sapient creatures? If we have the technology to create sapient creatures from animals already domesticated, can we also create their attitudes? Like in The Restaurant At The End of the Universe, where the ethical "carnivore's dilemma" was resolved by breeding a cow "that actually wanted to be eaten, and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly?"
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Old 01-16-2020, 12:46 PM
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What about the free will of sapient creatures? If we have the technology to create sapient creatures from animals already domesticated, can we also create their attitudes? Like in The Restaurant At The End of the Universe, where the ethical "carnivore's dilemma" was resolved by breeding a cow "that actually wanted to be eaten, and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly?"
I forget whether it was Chiapas or Guatemala where we saw carnicerias adorned with big, bright cartoons of obviously sentient chickens, pigs, and bovines happily offering themselves to be sliced up. I suspect any "uplift" program applied by greedy capitalists will set such a goal. Or maybe, instead of that, edible critters are imbued with terrible existential angst that drives them to suicide by throwing themselves into AI-driven butcher-bots. "Life is useless. Chop me. Eat me." mutters the world-weary lamb.

I've a cynical view of enslavement. Instead of "uplifting" animals to be willing servants with limited capabilities (unless dogs grow hands with fingers) it's easier to medicate or otherwise process humans into servility, say with "zombie drugs" or implanted canine RNA. Don't uplift animals to near-humanity - downgrade people into beasts of burden. Cats have already domesticated humans for that purpose.
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:03 PM
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You don't have to answer these questions if they're discussed in Brin's stories, you can just say "read and find out", but I'm intrigued...

So these are species native to Earth, "uplifted" by humans to near-human or human equivalent sapience? Not that our own sapience is discovered to be owed to some alien species that uplifted us at some point, and is now calling the debt?
It's been a while since I read the series, so take this with a grain of salt, but as I recall it the uplifting of apes and dolphins happened on Earth through centuries of human directed breeding and humans where then discovered by a galaxy-travelling, multi-species culture. In that culture discovering a new planet with life meant you uplifted species there and they had to serve you for centuries.

The species didn't have to be non-intelligent to start with, so if humans hadn't already uplifted some of our local species, we'd have been forced into servitude for the privilege of joining that civilization. (And we wouldn't get a choice whether we wanted that privilege.)

There's more to it than that of course, but you'll just have to read and find out ...
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:18 PM
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Or maybe, instead of that, edible critters are imbued with terrible existential angst that drives them to suicide by throwing themselves into AI-driven butcher-bots. "Life is useless. Chop me. Eat me." mutters the world-weary lamb.
Douglas Adams was waaay ahead of you there.

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"Something off the shoulder perhaps?" suggested the animal, "braised in a white wine sauce?"

"Er, your shoulder?" said Arthur in a horrified whisper.

"But naturally my shoulder, sir," mooed the animal contentedly, "nobody else's is mine to offer."
...
"That's absolutely horrible," exclaimed Arthur, "the most revolting thing I've ever heard."

"What's the problem Earthman?" said Zaphod, now transferring his attention to the animal's enormous rump.

"I just don't want to eat an animal that's standing there inviting me to," said Arthur, "It's heartless."

"Better than eating an animal that doesn't want to be eaten," said Zaphod.
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:19 PM
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... Maybe in this book universe robots are expensive but lives are cheap.
In the Uplift book universe, sentient robots are a different order of life that exists separately from and in parallel with the biological species. However, the biological species also make extensive use of robotics, some of which seems to be quite high on the AI scale. It's not really explored in the books, but presumably the distinction is that the robots-as-tools aren't fully sentient (/sapient), whereas the robots-as-people are.

So, if you start uplifting dogs, at what point do you have to treat neo-dogs as "people"? Past that point it's rather icky to continue doing things to them without their consent, isn't it? And what if they don't like the way you've done things, or want to uplift themselves in a different direction? We don't allow humans to go tinkering in our genetics willy-nilly; why should neo-dogs be allowed the same? But does that mean that you have to stop when they're barely intelligent enough to bark "want fud"? Or keep going until they're swollen-brain supergenius dogs who'll enslave humanity with their mental powers forcing endless frizbee throwing?

And now that you have neo-dogs as independent people... are they an eternal underprivileged minority? Do you give them their own nation? Wealth? Bring them to parity with other nations, maybe give them atomic weaponry?

We can't even answer these questions with humans that have been forced into being an underclass. Making neo-dogs is just asking for the same tragedy to be repeated again, at greater cost and hubris. For that matter, if the justification is "someone else to talk to", maybe figure out how to get along with all the people currently sharing the planet without spending effort on this frivolity.

In his Uplift books, Brin makes a point that the neo-chimps and neo-dolphins recognize how awful humanity had been to them (and the planet) in the past. It's just that in the Uplift setting, every other alternative to humans is so unbelievably worse that the neo-chimps and neo-dolphins are forced to cooperate with the genocidal people who almost wiped their ancestors out. It's Stockholm syndrome, romanticized. Kind of like Song of the South for sci-fi fans. I do like the books, but it's a godawful basis for an ethos.
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:35 PM
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"No one is home" is an arrogant and short-sighted assumption. We are using what must be for any advanced civilization a primitive form of communication. Any race advanced enough to reach the stars is not going to use a form of communication that takes years to travel the necessary distance. It would be useless and make no sense.

Basically, we are on a mountain top in the Rockies sending up smoke signals and assuming no one is out there just because we are not getting an answer when, in reality, the environment is teaming with communication that we simply can't detect.
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Old 01-16-2020, 02:45 PM
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A hundred thousand years of slavery is absurd and evil. It would be absurd and evil even if the species being "uplifted" had been given a choice.

I don't remember the details of the Brin books clearly, but I don't think he was arguing otherwise -- IIRC, I thought the reason he had humans barely escaping the same fate was to make it more likely that readers would understand that it was wrong.

Seems to me that as soon as there's somebody you can have the conversation with, it's necessary to get permission. I also suspect that some individuals will give permission, and others withhold it -- though of course there's the further complication that they'd be giving permission for their not-yet-conceived children, who might or might not wish that they'd withheld it (or vice versa). But, to some extent, that's a problem with deliberately having children in the first place.

I also don't think we'd be entitled to finish off any existing species by "uplifting" all members.

And I don't think there'd be any sense in it if by "uplifting" we meant 'try as much as possible to turn into copies of ourselves'; and it would be wrong if what we meant by it was 'try as much as possible to turn into better servants for us'. If we actually knew enough about what we were doing to for instance give dolphins hands, or dogs speech and better language capacities, while still having them be dolphins and dogs -- that's a different sort of matter, maybe. I think that we and the dogs have been working together on improving interspecies communication for quite a long time now; I don't think that's wrong.
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:29 PM
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Any species that creates its own competition deserves every horrible thing that is going to happen to it.

Uplifting if we have easy FTL and an infinite universe to play in is fine, a no-brainer - then we're just creating companions for the fun, not competitors. I'd Uplift lots of different species then. But to do it when we don't have FTL and limited resources (implicit in the OP's condition that reaching other intelligences is not possible) is dumb and will bite us back harder than a part-Orca NeoFin.
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Old 01-16-2020, 04:59 PM
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I think an exotic (to us) species would be the way to go. The biggest benefit I see in such an undertaking would be having the perspective of an alien intelligence to share with. Sapient social insects like ants or bees, as mentioned above, sounds like a good way to go. Sapient non-human primates seems like the wrong way to go.
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Old 01-16-2020, 05:09 PM
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Old 01-16-2020, 05:36 PM
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It can be a different kind of intelligence - how, I leave to you - but they have the ability to learn, formulate questions and develop their own independent culture. All here on Earth.
Intelligence, maybe we can give them. Independent culture is going to be much more difficult. Let's say that we do our DNA magic on a chimp ovum and sperm, combine them in a test tube, and implant it in a chimp host mother. A few months later, we have a chimp baby who will grow up to be sapient. But who raises it? Humans, presumably. Who will then impose their own culture on the chimp-child. Likewise for all of the other sape apes we create. Where do they get their own culture?
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:21 PM
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"No one is home" is an arrogant and short-sighted assumption. We are using what must be for any advanced civilization a primitive form of communication. Any race advanced enough to reach the stars is not going to use a form of communication that takes years to travel the necessary distance..
Unless we are mistaken regarding the laws of physics, they are going to be using a communication system that takes years to travel. Light speed is a hard limit, and outside of fiction,even the most technologically advanced civilization isn't going to be able to break it any more than the most advanced mathematician could find the last digit of pi.
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:14 PM
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Science Fiction Debate: Uplifting Species to Sapience


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Haven't they suffered enough? Ignorance is bliss.

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Old 01-17-2020, 11:51 AM
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A hundred thousand years of slavery is absurd and evil. It would be absurd and evil even if the species being "uplifted" had been given a choice.

I don't remember the details of the Brin books clearly, but I don't think he was arguing otherwise -- IIRC, I thought the reason he had humans barely escaping the same fate was to make it more likely that readers would understand that it was wrong.
As I recall it, it wasn't "slavery" in the sense of the chattel slavery of the 19th century, but rather more like a species-level indenture. So it's not like individual members of a patron species would have individual slaves of the client species or anything like that. I viewed it as being more along the lines of owing feudal-style obligations- to go to war at the behest of your patron species, provide a certain number of your people to do certain tasks you're skilled at, etc... And your species doesn't sit at the grownup table in galactic society. That's probably the biggest one- your species is basically spoken for by your patron race.

Earth's status in the books was that we were a "wolfling" race, meaning that we had self-uplifted (which was all but unheard of), and had uplifted chimps and dolphins on our own, which gave us a place at the grownup table without a patron race of our own.
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Old 01-17-2020, 12:20 PM
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... That's probably the biggest one- your species is basically spoken for by your patron race.
The biggest one is that the patron race can continue to keep modding the client race in any way they'd like to, until the period of indenture is over. The books have multiple examples of extremely cruel changes to client species. Startide Rising itself had an example of a species that was so grossly changed that every moment of their existence was agony. It's given as an example where other races actually forced the indenture to be ended early, but there are many examples of purpose-modded client species in later books that don't get any reprieve.

So, it's 100,000 years of someone else forcing your children and all their descendants into neverending body horror.
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Old 01-17-2020, 12:41 PM
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A hundred thousand years of slavery is absurd and evil. It would be absurd and evil even if the species being "uplifted" had been given a choice.

I don't remember the details of the Brin books clearly, but I don't think he was arguing otherwise -- IIRC, I thought the reason he had humans barely escaping the same fate was to make it more likely that readers would understand that it was wrong.
As I recall it, it wasn't "slavery" in the sense of the chattel slavery of the 19th century, but rather more like a species-level indenture. So it's not like individual members of a patron species would have individual slaves of the client species or anything like that. I viewed it as being more along the lines of owing feudal-style obligations- to go to war at the behest of your patron species, provide a certain number of your people to do certain tasks you're skilled at, etc... And your species doesn't sit at the grownup table in galactic society. That's probably the biggest one- your species is basically spoken for by your patron race.

Earth's status in the books was that we were a "wolfling" race, meaning that we had self-uplifted (which was all but unheard of), and had uplifted chimps and dolphins on our own, which gave us a place at the grownup table without a patron race of our own.
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Old 01-17-2020, 12:56 PM
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Unless we are mistaken regarding the laws of physics.......
Why would you assume that we actually understand them completely in the first place? Well over half of all the matter in universe is believed to be "Dark Matter", and we have absolutely no idea what it is or how it works or how it affects our visible universe. We also do not have a Quantum theory of gravity that connects to Einstein's theory, so that also is a big gap.

Also, the "nothing moves faster than light" statement is not true. If you warp space, the end result is that you are traversing a given distance faster than light.
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Old 01-17-2020, 01:02 PM
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Well over half of all the matter in universe is believed to be "Dark Matter", and we have absolutely no idea what it is or how it works or how it affects our visible universe.
I'm going to leave the rest of the "technology-optimism of the gaps" alone, but "how it affects our visible universe" is how we know Dark Matter exists, so saying we have absolutely no idea is very wrong.
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Old 01-17-2020, 01:03 PM
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Horses, Dogs, Elephants, Cetaceans, Chimps, Bonobos, Gorillas, Grey Parrots & Ravens/Crows all seem like good choices.
Why on earth are horses at the top of your list? They seem dumber than rocks.

Substitute octopus for horse, and that's a pretty good list. I think the octopus and the birds would be the most interesting, because they are the most different from us.

Cats are definite no. That's just too frightening. There no chance whatsoever that they would use their new-found powers for good.

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Old 01-17-2020, 01:09 PM
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Why on earth are horses at the top of your list? They seem dumber than rocks.

Substitute octopus for horse, and that's a pretty good list. I think the octopus and the birds would be the most interesting, because they are the most different from us.

Cats are definite no. That's just too frightening. There no chance whatsoever that they would use their new-found powers for good.
Horses are smarter than you think, but I didn't order my list. Just wrote them out. In fact it looks like I started with less intelligent candidates.

I would no sooner uplift Octopuses than Cuttlefish. Both are too alien and probably even more dangerous than uplifting cats.
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Old 01-17-2020, 01:45 PM
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There are also two excellent sci-fi books about uplift by Adrian Tchaikovsky - Children of Time, and Children of Ruin. I won't give away the species involved in each book, but they are unusual. The scientific mechanism is hand-wavy (nanovirus mumble mumble), but what's superb - especially in the first book - is how imaginatively the story is told from the perspective of the society of animals that are uplifted. It happens accidentally subsequent to a human plan to uplift monkeys as part of a terraforming project, and the process occurs over many generations in the absence of humans.
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Old 01-17-2020, 02:39 PM
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Old 01-17-2020, 02:44 PM
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The biggest one is that the patron race can continue to keep modding the client race in any way they'd like to, until the period of indenture is over. The books have multiple examples of extremely cruel changes to client species. Startide Rising itself had an example of a species that was so grossly changed that every moment of their existence was agony. It's given as an example where other races actually forced the indenture to be ended early, but there are many examples of purpose-modded client species in later books that don't get any reprieve.

So, it's 100,000 years of someone else forcing your children and all their descendants into neverending body horror.
There were better and worse patrons for sure; the Tymbrimi and the Thennanin were pretty good, as was EarthClan, but the Tandu were horrific.
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Old 01-17-2020, 03:10 PM
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Old 01-17-2020, 04:18 PM
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There are also two excellent sci-fi books about uplift by Adrian Tchaikovsky - Children of Time, and Children of Ruin.
I read "Children of Time" recently, one of the best books I've read in a long time.
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Old 01-18-2020, 01:18 PM
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I would no sooner uplift Octopuses than Cuttlefish. Both are too alien
If our purpose is to get somebody interesting to talk to, I think more alien is an advantage.

We'd need to be prepared to give up dominance of the oceans, though. Which, considering what we've been doing to them, would probably be a good idea.
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Old 01-18-2020, 03:16 PM
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Strictly ethically; wouldn't the OP:s proposal be the exact equivalent of implanting the brain of a human fetus or newborn child into the body of a non-human animal?

I don't endorse it.
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Old 01-18-2020, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
If our purpose is to get somebody interesting to talk to, I think more alien is an advantage.
Seems to me that chances are the discussion won't be all that interesting. Yeah, yeah, we all agree that 1+1=2. So what about shape-shifting and color change -- how do you octopus do it? Pretty much the same way you humans sneeze!
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Old 01-20-2020, 10:02 PM
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I'm not sure what that would accomplish other than increase resource competition here on Earth...
I'm not sure an intelligent species would necessarily need the same resources we do; and since I don't see anything restricting which "species" can be uplifted, I'm going to pick Ficus elastica. There are already living bridges; I imagine humans in a symbiotic relationship with living, sentient homes.
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Old 01-20-2020, 10:31 PM
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Eh, I don't give a fig about them.
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Old 01-21-2020, 03:11 AM
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Time to step up and be contrarian

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Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance View Post
We've searched the heavens in our quest to find other intelligent life...to find other intelligences to talk to and learn from.

There's no one home. If there are, there's no one near enough in space and time to make it practical - or even that we'd know exist. We are, forever, alone.
Is this just the premise of this OP, or something that you're asserting? Because if it's the latter you're asserting something we cannot know at this time.

Quote:
But do we have to be? There's plenty of other species RIGHT here and we're getting decent at genetic manipulation. You, yourself, have come up with a means of altering a species genetics so they begin achieving an intelligence similar to humanities.
IMO, no, I don't see much to gain by making another species humanlike.
A different kind of intelligence / superior intelligence? That would be more appealing and is the more likely situation in reality (it's implausible to think of scenarios where we can engineer exactly human level intelligence, no more no less, and no amount of investigation or research ever changes this).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasmine
Basically, we are on a mountain top in the Rockies sending up smoke signals and assuming no one is out there just because we are not getting an answer when, in reality, the environment is teaming with communication that we simply can't detect.
The issue is a bit bigger than that though. Because humans, probably within a millenia or so, will possess the technology required to litter the galaxy with bric-a-brac, even assuming a light speed barrier.
If there are lots of technological species out there, it's strange that the galaxy still looks like a blank slate.
We can speculate reasons why that is the case, but we don't know, and that's fundamentally the fermi paradox.
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
Is this just the premise of this OP, or something that you're asserting?
Not to speak for the OP, but I certainly read it as the starting premise, since it's not the case in the Uplift books that are cited as an inspiration.
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Old 01-21-2020, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ignotus View Post
Strictly ethically; wouldn't the OP:s proposal be the exact equivalent of implanting the brain of a human fetus or newborn child into the body of a non-human animal?
Only if the attempt was to give them exactly a human brain.

I don't see why increasing a species' capacity for speech, and/or for manipulating their environment, or even their general intelligence level if we could even figure out what such a thing is, would automatically make them exactly like humans in all other regards; or even in all other mental regards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ignotus View Post
Seems to me that chances are the discussion won't be all that interesting. Yeah, yeah, we all agree that 1+1=2. So what about shape-shifting and color change -- how do you octopus do it? Pretty much the same way you humans sneeze!
Even among humans, while everybody agrees that 1+1=2, not every society agrees that the difference, say, between 13 and 14.1 is a difference that matters; or the difference between 1:00 PM and 2:14 PM. Some human societies notice differences that others don't.

I don't think we have any idea how, or whether, communicating through color change, or through scent (for a couple of examples) would affect one's perception of the universe; or whether a species that communicates that way might notice interesting and/or useful things that humans don't notice. Just declaring in advance that there's nothing interesting to be discovered about it strikes me as an unreasonably limited perspective.

None of which means I think we should be jumping immediately into attempting to engineer other species into being able to join our conversation. For one thing I don't think we know anywhere near enough about the subject to be trying to do such things yet; and for another I'm dubious about trusting anything of the sort to a species that deliberately breeds dogs who can't breathe properly just because some humans like the look of the faces. But I don't think either 'we couldn't possibly learn anything interesting' or 'anybody who could talk to us would have to be exactly like us' are valid reasons against it.
  #43  
Old 01-21-2020, 02:05 PM
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Humanity has too often proven its cruelty and incompetence towards other species (and itself), so I wouldn't vote to uplift any other critters until we're a lot more mature ourselves.

That said, Diane Duane's Star Trek novel Dark Mirror has an interesting genetically-uplifted dolphin character serving as a Starfleet navigator.

Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka's Nature's End has some interesting stuff on uplifting other species. One of the major characters is a very smart orangutan, as I recall. There's also passing reference to uplifting cats, a project quickly abandoned because "they held grudges and developed an almost supernatural ability to hide" (a great phrase).

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 01-21-2020 at 02:05 PM.
  #44  
Old 01-21-2020, 04:05 PM
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Developed an almost supernatural ability to hide?

Cats already have that.


-- I doubt they'd think we were "uplifting" them. I suspect cats think that they're perfect as they are. (Our redesigning door openers and can openers so that cats could use them, now -- )
  #45  
Old 01-21-2020, 04:16 PM
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Actually, I can think of an uncomfortably good reason for us to do such a thing as soon as possible:

So that there would be somebody around capable of keeping us under control.

However, I doubt that we either could, or would, create such a creature on purpose. And if we create one or more such by accident, it probably won't be through the route of hands and intelligence; it'll probably be some highly infectious microorganism.
  #46  
Old 01-21-2020, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Developed an almost supernatural ability to hide?

Cats already have that....
Fair point, but it's implied to be significantly better - and more dangerous - in the book.
  #47  
Old 01-22-2020, 01:30 AM
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Hell, even creating a genetically pure Neanderthal is messed up. It’s a break it you buy it scenario. You give a creature the ability to realize the depths of suffering then you’re contributing to misery itself.

And what would be the gain here? We give Lemurs the ability of sentience, then what? How are we expanding our own consciousness? How is the world a better place?
  #48  
Old 01-22-2020, 10:36 AM
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I think Planet of the Apes covered this pretty well. I don't think it would end well, either for the humans, or the Apes (probably for the Apes).

I honestly don't see any need for it. What do we need another sapient species for other than to exploit? We have plenty of humans for anything else (and for exploitation).
  #49  
Old 01-22-2020, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashtura View Post
...What do we need another sapient species for other than to exploit? We have plenty of humans for anything else (and for exploitation).
On that note, see Joe Haldeman's very good and very chilling short story "Giza" (in his 2006 collection A Separate War and Other Stories), which is about genetically-engineering small, wiry semi-humans to build zero-G orbital colonies for us. Things... don't go well.
  #50  
Old 01-26-2020, 05:45 PM
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Come to think of it, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a tale of aliens uplifting humans. Twice.
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