POLL: Who or what would you save?

I asked the question on Twitter a few days ago, and none of my 860 followers replied. I won’t let off that easily.

So, let’s assume that our galaxy is imminently dying for some reason. From all intelligent species out there, only one has the capability of traveling beyond this galaxy. Before they leave this galaxy for good, they go from intelligently habitable planet to planet to ask the life forms there about what would they send along to save. They have limited cargo space, and they aren’t terribly good in biology (so frozen eggs and human gestation is out of the question). So, if you were some kind of World President, who or what would you sent along to save humanity, and why:


11 Comments »

Bruce Nelson wrote on February 26th, 2011 at 7:28 PM PST:

Our cultural inheritance and history, digitized or not, would probably be meaningless to another species with no referants. On the other hand, 3 healthy men and 3 healthy women could be the continuation of our own species ( or they just might be lunch for the star travelers.)


deb wrote on February 26th, 2011 at 7:46 PM PST:

Save the human specimens. The species who collects them will simply tap into our collective unconscious, thus gaining instant understanding to all that is, was, or will be in human knowledge. Then they will clone the bodies to use as vessels for hybrid consciousnesses. On a new planet in a far galaxy, they will leave two of the immature clones, one male and the other female, in a garden which they will plant an apple tree…


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Eugenia wrote on February 26th, 2011 at 7:57 PM PST:

>meaningless to another species with no referents

Having the history, cultural inheritance and other info about life on Earth, could create that reference.

>simply tap into our collective unconscious

Sorry Deb, no such thing in science. You can’t have it both ways in this poll. πŸ˜‰


Lav wrote on February 26th, 2011 at 10:37 PM PST:

Only If those three men and women were brilliant scientists… otherwise, it would be our culture inheritance and history.


Bill wrote on February 27th, 2011 at 6:18 AM PST:

E — I think the reason for the low number of responses is that you have a bunch of ‘Jim Kirks’ in your audience who don’t believe in Kobayashi Maru no-win scenarios. If I were World President, I would select three pairs of our best and brightest childless young scientists and engineers, preferably military trained & battle hardened. I would physically screen them to ensure they were fertile; genetically screen them to eliminate inherited diseases; and psychologically screen them to ensure that they were well-balanced and absolutely committed to the survival of the species. I would then implant a few stealthy Terabytes of storage (and perhaps a few weapons) in them, no matter what the aliens said. But that’s just me.


Bruce Nelson wrote on February 27th, 2011 at 8:33 AM PST:

>meaningless to another species with no referents

Having the history, cultural inheritance and other info about life on Earth, could create that reference.<

If you described the color blue to a man who has been blind from birth, would he know the color blue? How would you begin to describe the color to a man who has no experience of colors? He has no referents.


zima wrote on February 27th, 2011 at 8:50 AM PST:

Three (young, healthy & female) skilled cryopreservation technicians with a stash of embryos? It’s merely sufficient if the cargo is “good in biology”, after all.

That should leave enough space for at least 1/3rd of culture, history, etc. (maybe a version which is “idealist, references to wars and violence not included”? πŸ˜‰ )

(“three pairs scenario” to restart a species is mostly unworkable without a stash of embryos anyway, not genetically viable – basically what we call “functional extinction” (Bill, your efforts would be a pointless exercise in eugenics (what a coincidence ;> ) – their descendants wouldn’t be healthy, fit))

Bonus points: a real demonstration of intelligence; we would be one of only two species which matter … perhaps even the more intelligent one (if not yet at a comparable level of technology), considering their leader (that would be me ;p – a pretty average specimen, all things considered … even if “cultural DB” obviously says otherwise, establishes one new holiday, etc. ;> ) realized the opportunity / ramifications of the circumstances.


Bill wrote on February 27th, 2011 at 1:19 PM PST:

Agree with you, Zima. 3 pairs would not be enough genetic diversity to reboot the species. A “stash” of embryos in-utero would be far more important than a stash of cultural/scientific/artistic data.


Brent wrote on February 27th, 2011 at 2:50 PM PST:

1 CD, 1 Book, 1 Treat:
Beach Boys: Pet Sounds
Kurt Vonnegut: Cat’s Cradle
Marshmallows

All the best of our civilization may be recreated from these three items.


memsom wrote on February 28th, 2011 at 3:16 AM PST:

I guess you have to assume that society is worth saving?

Option 1: The Adam and Eve scenario – with such a small gene pool, any slight genetic malformation would cause horrific consequences. Without extreme genetic mixing, the gene pool would be small. With greater mixing of genes (multiple partners) the pool would quickly become complex and genetic inbreeding would cause malformations. There is probably an optimum level of male to female to create a viable stock, but I would say that would need to be a larger number of monogamous partners to achieve stability. This is a guess, but I believe the reason that a lot of tribal cultures instigate a wife moving away from the home village to the husband’s village revolves around building separation of gene pools (this will be through anecdotal and comparative study that associative disorders lessened through less dilution of gene pools, not any actual real genetic knowledge.)

Option 2: The Cornish language revival scenario – should it be possible to recreate something from collective knowledge alone? No, no it is not. No matter how complete, the collective knowledge and is fragmentary and largely biased. It is no basis to reconstruct a language, and a species is far more complex. Just as the “Jurassic Park” theory of reconstructive genetics will likely never create an actual Dinosaur or Mammoth (real being subjective, but anything less than 100% original DNA is not “real”, only a close approximation), this will not work.

So, essentially, we’re screwed either way, so my vote is with Jim Kirk!! (LOL… actually, I went for scenario 1, as that is far more interesting as a study in evolution and emotional bonding rather than a cold clinical test tube rebirth.) I think the assumption that any other alien race gives a damn about Humanity is cute though. Unlikely. Endearing all the same πŸ˜‰


deb wrote on March 2nd, 2011 at 5:22 PM PST:

In response to prev. comment response… πŸ˜‰

me: simply tap into our collective unconscious

E: Sorry Deb, no such thing in science. You can’t have it both ways in this poll. πŸ˜‰

me: Can too! Can too! πŸ˜› dat’s why I’M the president of the world! Mwahahaha!

In this case of wanting to re-create humans, my plan works well as cloning has been perfected by this superbly advanced race, thus they can counter any effects of “gene pool” issues. Our technology is useless to them, as is the specifics of our historical data.
History and technology exist only superficially. They are both experiential. Since this species understands travel through subsequent realities, and each instance includes a unique “history”, such data is not pertinent to their re-creation of the Human as a species.

What is important – is what a human “is”, the archetype of what it is to be Human. Thus sending any healthy, physically and psychologically intact specimens provides means to re-create the species.

more info on collective unconscious:
C. G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (London 1996)
…The collective unconscious is an universal datum, that is, every human being is endowed with this psychic archetype-layer since his/her birth. One can not acquire this strata by education or other conscious effort because it is innate.

We may also describe it as a universal library of human knowledge, or the sage in man, the very transcendental wisdom that guides mankind…


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