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Ian,

This is where I have some experience, as an ethnololinguist. You're right, that tribalism does operate along linguistic, resource (guild/corporation) or religious grounds, for sure. However, slavery of African Americans was justified largely on the basis of look, and Jews were demonized on the basis of looks, as well as religion. Nineteenth century Western primordial anthropology fixated on appearance over anything else. Basically, appearance is a force multiplier for tribalism.

I agree that there would still be conflict along linguistic, resource, or religious lines but think that overall, the boundaries of what nation-states emerged on this planet would have been softer in the case of a species with greater similarity in skin colour and appearance than our own. Basically, the planet's philosophers and leaders would have evolved and applied EU-style Kantian cosmopolitanism as a stronger concept globally. Thus, this world would have seen the creation of a stronger world government than our own UN, perhaps after their 'Last Great War', which could have been a gunpowder cannon-based war instead of a nuclear war. Then, they would have been able to institute a universal global peace treaty, fix their climate, manage their population, and turn their attentions to the stars.

So, I'm accounting for them becoming an interstellar species by exercising good management of their own planet. However, I'm also saying that 'they had it easier' than we do because we have stronger nation-states due to more sources of tribalism, especially the 'appearance' multiplier.

This is important for the humanoids own internal philosophical discussions over how and whether Contact takes place. So, in my universe, the Zoo Hypothesis holds. Humans have to fix human problems and evolve either an artificial superintelligence or a warp drive first. However, what if human tribalism is of a severity that it lies in the humanoids 'extreme worse case scenario', i.e., they are watching a planetary disaster unfold on Earth in terms of poverty, annual child mortality, climate change, etc. one where external intervention can almost philosophically be justified?

The problem is complicated because they're not the only interstellar humanoid species 'curating' Earth, but I think you can see that philosophical discussions between these species could be affected by astrobiological factors, making astrobiology an interesting plot device in my universe.

Peace,

John

The sixth of eight questions from an ‘Arrival’ fan: It’s the ethics of a cephalopod-like-descended humanoid question!

Assume a cephalopod-like-descended air-breathing tool-using bipedal humanoid with a skeleton, two arms, and four digits on each hand with a prominent index finger. The humanoid’s ancestors transitioned from a coastal to a land habitat approximately 25 million years ago. Assume they evolved on a similar planet to Earth, but with axial tilt of 12 degrees, around 0.95 standard Earth gravity, and less arboreal cover, and in a similar solar system, on a planet at 1.1 AU. The cephalopod remote ancestor resembled a cuttlefish-squid-octopus omnivorous generalist cross which originally had eight arms. It evolved into a humanoid while emerging onto coastal habitats and adapting to exploit them while evolving to escape predators in the sea. The cephalopod possessed and retained a first mover advantage on land; insects existed, which it hunted, but amphibians, reptiles, and mammals never evolved.

The humanoids are hairless, with white skin that lacks pores and appears almost rubbery. The skin possesses chromatophores (white ones, technically leucophores) like amphibians and cephalopods, rather than melanocytes, like mammals, and thus has a high reflectivity, of around 40% (pearl/semi-gloss in paint terms). The humanoids have round faces (actually slightly oval from right to left, with a slight curved pyramid top to their heads), oval black eyes similar to ours but without lashes, small ears and small slit-like nasal apertures, and a slit-like mouth up to two and a half inches long. While the head is similar in size, the limbs are thinner compared to a human’s. Individual variation appears to be much less than human in terms of variety, given all eyes are black, noses and ears are not prominent, there is no hair, genitalia are internal, and they don’t wear clothes (they are polikothermic); they wear suits for functional purposes.

Because of only slight individual variation by prominent characteristics (e.g., skin color, facial characteristics, height) relative to humans, the primordial concept of different ‘races’ never evolved in this civilization. Nation-states emerged on this planet with softer boundaries because of greater similarity in skin colour and appearance. While there was still conflict along linguistic, resource, or religious lines, overall, the planet's philosophers and leaders evolved and applied Kantian cosmopolitanism as a stronger concept globally. Thus, this world experienced the creation of a stronger world government than the UN, after their own 'Last Great War'. Then, they instituted a universal global peace treaty, managed their population, stabilised their climate, and turned their attentions to the stars.

The humanoid is descended from a species that used to lay clutches of eggs. Would you please speculate on the ethics possessed by such a humanoid species regarding different methods (such as transhumanism) to augmenting its own intelligence to overcome Hawking’s "external transmission" phase, where the ability to enhance our own intelligence becomes more important than evolution? So, basically, in my universe egg-laying descended species are more likely to attempt to gene edit for intelligence-enhanced medically robust offspring, especially on worlds which never had a Hitler, than mammalian-descended species. Is this a reasonable supposition?

I don't think you can say one way or the other. What happens once they can depends on why they would or why they would not. Neither of those will have anything to do with what sort of animal they are (at least in my opinion) but rather how their society developed.

If it helps any, I also have written a fictional book "Ranh" which involves a planet of evolved dinosaurs. Eggs create their own interesting societal opportunities. In my book, an egg was only allowed to develop when it was acknowledged by the father as his. From then on, eggs become vulnerable from egg-eaters. You should be able to see some possibilities

Please stop sending thee emails. The nuclear electric magnetic winds and better ways to address health for this was this inquiry. I see the email and understand the confusion.

Thank you.

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Is there any chance for highschool student to be approved for any Astrobiology programme or conference? 

Yes! You might have recently heard about the high school student who discovered an exoplanet just a couple of days into his internship at NASA Goddard: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/news/1619/discovery-alert-high-school-s...

While there are certainly fewer opportunities for high school students, it is still quite possible. One thing to do could be to find some astrobiologists doing research that interests you and then reach out to them to see if they have need/ability to provide research opportunities or if they know of any potential opportunities. 

Thank you!

The seventh of eight questions from an ‘Arrival’ fan: It’s the greeting of a cephalopod-like-descended humanoid question!  

Assume a cephalopod-like-descended air-breathing tool-using bipedal humanoid with a skeleton, two arms, and four digits on each hand with a prominent index finger. The humanoid’s ancestors transitioned from a coastal to a land habitat approximately 25 million years ago. Assume they evolved on a similar planet to Earth, but with axial tilt of 12 degrees, around 0.95 standard Earth gravity, and less arboreal cover, and in a similar solar system, on a planet at 1.1 AU. The cephalopod remote ancestor resembled a cuttlefish-squid-octopus omnivorous generalist cross which originally had eight arms. It evolved into a humanoid while emerging onto coastal habitats and adapting to exploit them while evolving to escape predators in the sea. The cephalopod possessed and retained a first mover advantage on land; insects existed, which it hunted, but amphibians, reptiles, and mammals never evolved.

The humanoids are hairless, with white skin that lacks pores and appears almost rubbery. The skin possesses chromatophores (white ones, technically leucophores) like amphibians and cephalopods, rather than melanocytes, like mammals, and thus has a high reflectivity, of around 40% (pearl/semi-gloss on the paint scale). The humanoids have round faces (actually slightly oval from right to left, with a slight curved pyramid top to their heads), oval black eyes similar to ours but without lashes, small ears and small slit-like nasal apertures, and a slit-like mouth up to two and a half inches long. While the head is similar in size, the limbs are thinner compared to a human’s. Individual variation appears to be much less than human in terms of variety, given all eyes are black, noses and ears are not prominent, there is no hair, genitalia are internal, and they don’t wear clothes (they are polikothermic); they wear suits for functional purposes.

Because of only slight individual variation by prominent characteristics (e.g., skin color, facial characteristics, height) relative to humans, the primordial concept of different ‘races’ never evolved in this civilization. Nation-states emerged on this planet with softer boundaries because of greater similarity in skin colour and appearance. While there was still conflict along linguistic, resource, or religious lines, overall, the planet's philosophers and leaders evolved and applied Kantian cosmopolitanism as a stronger concept globally. Thus, this world experienced the creation of a stronger world government than the UN, after their own 'Last Great War'. Then, they instituted a universal global peace treaty, managed their population, stabilised their climate, and turned their attentions to the stars.

In their path to the stars, it is perhaps noteworthy that the humanoid species is descended from a species that used to lay clutches of eggs. Never having experienced a ‘Hitler’, the humanoids carefully but determinedly augmented their own intelligence through selective and genetic means (e.g., gene editing) to overcome Hawking’s 'external transmission' phase, where the ability to enhance a species’ intelligence becomes more important than evolution.

The species rubs ears as a form of greeting. Ear rubbing a s a form of greeting is apparently unknown in humans: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=1aRbMV-VvlwC&pg=PA313&l....

I’ve no idea why.

So, any ideas why this humanoid species might rub ears as a greeting?

The eighth of eight questions from an ‘Arrival’ fan: It’s the fun question on the furniture of a cephalopod-like-descended humanoid question!

Assume a cephalopod-like-descended air-breathing tool-using bipedal humanoid with a skeleton, two arms, and four digits on each hand with a prominent index finger. The humanoid’s ancestors transitioned from a coastal to a land habitat approximately 25 million years ago. Assume they evolved on a similar planet to Earth, but with axial tilt of 12 degrees, around 0.95 standard Earth gravity, and less arboreal cover, and in a similar solar system, on a planet at 1.1 AU. The cephalopod remote ancestor resembled a cuttlefish-squid-octopus omnivorous generalist cross which originally had eight arms. It evolved into a humanoid while emerging onto coastal habitats and adapting to exploit them while evolving to escape predators in the sea. The cephalopod possessed and retained a first mover advantage on land; insects existed, which it hunted, but amphibians, reptiles, and mammals never evolved.

The humanoids are hairless, with white skin that lacks pores and appears almost rubbery. The skin possesses chromatophores (white ones, technically leucophores) like amphibians and cephalopods, rather than melanocytes, like mammals, and thus has a high reflectivity, of around 40% (pearl/semi-gloss on the paint scale). The humanoids have round faces (actually slightly oval from right to left, with a slight curved pyramid top to their heads), oval black eyes similar to ours but without lashes, small ears and small slit-like nasal apertures, and a slit-like mouth up to two and a half inches long. While the head is similar in size, the limbs are thinner compared to a human’s. Individual variation appears to be much less than human in terms of variety, given all eyes are black, noses and ears are not prominent, there is no hair, genitalia are internal, and they don’t wear clothes (they are polikothermic); they wear suits for functional purposes.

Because of only slight individual variation by prominent characteristics (e.g., skin color, facial characteristics, height) relative to humans, the primordial concept of different ‘races’ never evolved in this civilization. Nation-states emerged on this planet with softer boundaries because of greater similarity in skin colour and appearance. While there was still conflict along linguistic, resource, or religious lines, overall, the planet's philosophers and leaders evolved and applied Kantian cosmopolitanism as a stronger concept globally. Thus, this world experienced the creation of a stronger world government than the UN, after their own 'Last Great War'. Then, they instituted a universal global peace treaty, managed their population, stabilised their climate, and turned their attentions to the stars.

In their path to the stars, it is perhaps noteworthy that the humanoid species is descended from a species that used to lay clutches of eggs. Never having experienced a ‘Hitler’, the humanoids carefully but determinedly augmented their own intelligence through selective and genetic means (e.g., gene editing) to overcome Hawking’s "external transmission" phase, where the ability to enhance a species’ intelligence becomes more important than evolution.

The species rubs ears as a form of greeting. Ear rubbing a s a form of greeting is apparently unknown in humans: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=1aRbMV-VvlwC&pg=PA313&l..., which is interesting.

In my universe, the cephalopod-descended species are responsible for the tic-tac craft in the USS Nimitz UFO episode. The interiors of the craft, which are very spartan as anything important is recessed, with no blinking lights or anything like that, are decorated white, as is the furniture.

The fun furniture question is this: which kind of chair would the humanoid prefer to sit in while piloting the craft, a bucket chair, a standard straight-backed chair, a sofa chair, or another kind of chair?

The correct answer, of course, is a swivel tub chair! Something very much like this, but with a round white base, and clamped to the floor:

In the event that life is discovered on Mars it is likely to fall into one of three categories; contamination from Earth, non Earth panspermia or new genesis.  Are there contingency plans to accommodate each of these potential outcomes?  What would be the impact on plans for an extended outpost or colony?

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