What will ET look like when we meet him/her/it?

Posts tagged ‘necessary evil’

Necessary Evils

neanderthal skulls

neanderthal skulls (Photo credit: leted)

Data entry days are the death of whatever creativity I can claim.  Most days my job happens in a beautiful, wild place. My boss doesn’t even work in the same county so most problems I encounter are my own to solve. I have changed more tires in the past few months than the whole rest of my life combined. The hot air around me vibrates with the sounds of crickets, birds, flies, animals I can’t even name. I love it.  I feel so strong thinking about all I do at work.

Then one of the data entry days happens. My computer sucks the power from my brain as well as the plugin. My chair seems especially designed to cause back aches. My desk, oh God, my desk is the kitchen table and it is not destined to be a comfortable computer stand. Unfortunately data entry is the great necessary evil (aside from grant writing) in the science world. And so I endure, back aches, carpal tunnel, brain drain and all.

The phrase “necessary evil” gets me thinking. What are the necessary evils that helped us along our path to intelligence? Are ambition, dishonesty, laziness, greed, hate, or selective obliviousness necessary for intelligence to develop in a species? Does evolution favor morality? I can see where each of aforementioned traits could come in handy in our struggle to survive. I don’t think we will easily find the answer though. I don’t know that I want to find out whether eliminating Neanderthal competitors was necessary for our survival. Science fiction is full of “be careful what you wish for” stories. What if it’s true? What if when we meet another intelligent life form, their history is as full of atrocity as our own? Could we ever cooperate with a species as terrible as our own?

Even worse, what if there are no necessary evils paired with intelligence? What if we are the boogeymen of the universe? Would we even want to meet another species, knowing what we’ve done to ourselves?

That’s probably enough maudlin -ness to last for a while. I better sign off before you read too much into my woes! Next post will be back to the origins of intelligence! Something more cheerful anyway!!