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prometheus59650

Robert Beltran: "The prime directive is fascist crap."

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Okay, a little off track but I'll get back to the point in a minute.

When do species cross the line from intelligent animals to full sapience? Chimps are very intelligent but not really intelligent the way humans are. It's tough to tell from the fossil records when humans truly became sapient but there are clues. The first Homo species, Homo Habilis had tools better than chimps tools but still pretty primitive. And the important part is that they never changed for hundreds of thousands of years. Homo Erectus had a better set of tools but they also changed very, very slowly. That seems more the mark of intelligent but not quite fully sapient. Going forward, early Homo Sapiens had a much more varied tool kit but once again, once it was established, it didn't change much over tens of thousands of years.

But then about 60,000 years ago, something changed. The rate of change in tools started increasing. There were paintings and ornaments and other things that had never been seen before. When you find a site that shows occupation over thousands of years, you see change. Not change like you see today but you see improvements in tools, and fancier tools. You see slow but constant change. 

There are two other things we see around 60,000 years ago. An eruption of the Toba Volcano and indications that humans went through a bottleneck in population around that time. Most of the Human Species died out except for a few thousand people right around 60,000 years ago.

Now there is a theory that something changed in people at that time. Some kind of mutation spread through the whole species because there were so few of us. Maybe it was a different way of thinking, For example, up to around 10 years old people think very concretely. Children are not capable of abstract thought until then. Or maybe there was a leap in the ability to communicate. I can see where up till then, people could talk but only about the here and now, hunting, fishing, gathering. Abstract thought and communication didn't exist. What if, thinking about things that didn't exist was rare. 

Until this point trading was just what you had on hand. Now the ability to plan for the future was greatly enhanced. You bring a big pile of those special stones and I'll bring some rope I made and we'll trade. . The old style thinking could handle thoughts like, wait till the spring when the big animals we like to eat will come back. But ideas like, we will trade our good stuff for tribe B's good stuff and then carry it around and not use it for months so we can trade it with tribe C's for their good stuff.  we can use some of Tribe C's stuff ourselves and save some of it to trade back to tribe B for more of their good stuff. That kind of advanced thinking just wouldn't have happened. 

Now back to the point. When Toba erupted, most of the humans on Earth died. We were on the brink of extinction. But something fundamental changed in us. Something that might have made the difference between a really smart animal and a truly fully sapient species. The near extinction is what made humans fully human, If a federation had stopped the eruption, would we still be primitive hunter/gathers roaming the Earth and looking up at the sky. Would we truly have taken that step from a very smart animal to truly human. By interfering, could a well meaning species prevent something wonderful from happening?

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Another issue I have about the let them die viewpoint:

Species A: A little bit more advanced than we are now. They have regular travel to and from orbit, have a few hundred people living in space and have sent manned expeditions to nearby planets. They have a warp capable ship under construction but its 5 years away from testing. They discover a huge asteroid in an unusual orbit on a path to collide with the Earth. It will hit within 5 years. They try everything including nukes to try to deflect the asteroid but nothing works. The asteroid strikes the Earth and everyone dies a few days before the warp capable ship is ready for launch.

Species B: Exactly the same scenario but the warp capable ship launches two years before the asteroid hits. They make first contact and agrees to join the Federation. Then they politely ask "Could you please move the asteroid so we don't all die." And the Federation says "Sure."  And they're all saved.

Why did Species B deserve to live and Species A deserve to die when there was a difference of 2 years out of their 3.8 billion years of evolution between their situations? 

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Another issue I have about the let them die viewpoint:

Species A: A little bit more advanced than we are now. They have regular travel to and from orbit, have a few hundred people living in space and have sent manned expeditions to nearby planets. They have a warp capable ship under construction but its 5 years away from testing. They discover a huge asteroid in an unusual orbit on a path to collide with the Earth. It will hit within 5 years. They try everything including nukes to try to deflect the asteroid but nothing works. The asteroid strikes the Earth and everyone dies a few days before the warp capable ship is ready for launch.

Species B: Exactly the same scenario but the warp capable ship launches two years before the asteroid hits. They make first contact and agrees to join the Federation. Then they politely ask "Could you please move the asteroid so we don't all die." And the Federation says "Sure."  And they're all saved.

Why did Species B deserve to live and Species A deserve to die when there was a difference of 2 years out of their 3.8 billion years of evolution between their situations? 

I agree with the Prime Directive in principle, but I'm not sure if warp drive should be used as an absolute measuring stick.  Look at the Malcorians in the TNG epsiode of "First Contact" (not the movie); they were on the verge of launching a warp capable ship but were nowhere near ready sociologically for Riker's little visit (as would-be martyr Crolla proved when he tried to fake his death at Riker's hand).

I would say that spacefaring cultures, warp capable or not, should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  I'm sure the Federation has made exceptions to its admission policy.  You could have a race of beings that might master dimension travel (like the lost Iconians) but never got down to building a warp ship.   Likewise you might have a warp capable culture that is xenophobic and overtly hostile (the Klingons).

There should be other factors that weigh in on the decision to make first contact.  Maybe if they had some kind of SETI program, and were of a very inclusive and curious culture; might they might be good candidates?   

As for helping non-warp species from extinction?  TOS has already done that scenario with "Paradise Syndrome" and as they blundered along to help the transplanted Earth tribes on that planet, Kirk was worshiped as a deity, he got a local woman pregnant and caused all kinds of disruption to that society (who knows how Kirk might've altered their religion?).  Luckily, he was 'revealed' as an 'imposter' by the epsidoes' end.  Yes, the Federation ultimately saved the planet, but that was only after awakening the planet's own defense system, given by "The Preservers" (another race of meddlers).    What if the preservers never put them there in the first place?  What if they found another class M planet with no close-by asteroid field to continually threaten the planet?   Bad planning for a race of 'gods.' 

 

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The warp drive is kind of arbitrary but once a civilization has developed warp drive the decision on whether or not to make first contact is out of the federations hands. They will make first contact with you.

My point was. 

2 weeks before first contact: Let them die

After first contact but before they get a chance to join the Federation: let them die

After first contact and after they join the Federation, they get to live. 

Hunter/Gatherers: Let them die

It just seems kind of arbitrary and based on how useful they are to you. 

The kind of interfering I'm talking about is moving an asteroid that will hit the planet decades from now. There is no reason for them to know that you exist. At worst, they will have a mystery about why the asteroid changed directions. In the Paradise Syndrome Kirk was on the planet actively interacting with the natives. An entirely different situation. The Federation should never get involved in local matters on a pre warp planet. 

I agree totally with a Prime Directive when it is read to mean, let them alone until they are able to contact us. At that point, we will have to deal with them but how is a case by case basis. The rare case of an extinction level event should also be handled on a case by case basis. Most of the time the danger is not going to happen right away, its more like if we do nothing there will be a problem a hundred years from now. Then you study the situation from a distance and make plans to fix it without letting the natives know you're there. Or they may decide not to do anything because the asteroid isn't a dinosaur killing event. It will cause a lot of damage and make life hard for a while but the species will survive. 

I really don't like iron clad rules. They tend to lead to unintended consequences. 

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The warp drive is kind of arbitrary but once a civilization has developed warp drive the decision on whether or not to make first contact is out of the federations hands. They will make first contact with you.

My point was. 

2 weeks before first contact: Let them die

After first contact but before they get a chance to join the Federation: let them die

After first contact and after they join the Federation, they get to live. 

Hunter/Gatherers: Let them die

It just seems kind of arbitrary and based on how useful they are to you. 

The kind of interfering I'm talking about is moving an asteroid that will hit the planet decades from now. There is no reason for them to know that you exist. At worst, they will have a mystery about why the asteroid changed directions. In the Paradise Syndrome Kirk was on the planet actively interacting with the natives. An entirely different situation. The Federation should never get involved in local matters on a pre warp planet. 

I agree totally with a Prime Directive when it is read to mean, let them alone until they are able to contact us. At that point, we will have to deal with them but how is a case by case basis. The rare case of an extinction level event should also be handled on a case by case basis. Most of the time the danger is not going to happen right away, its more like if we do nothing there will be a problem a hundred years from now. Then you study the situation from a distance and make plans to fix it without letting the natives know you're there. Or they may decide not to do anything because the asteroid isn't a dinosaur killing event. It will cause a lot of damage and make life hard for a while but the species will survive. 

I really don't like iron clad rules. They tend to lead to unintended consequences. 

Yes, but as ST routinely points out, the prime directive is hardly iron-clad... all of the series' captains have stretched or even blatantly violated it at some point. 

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The warp drive is kind of arbitrary but once a civilization has developed warp drive the decision on whether or not to make first contact is out of the federations hands. They will make first contact with you.

My point was. 

2 weeks before first contact: Let them die

After first contact but before they get a chance to join the Federation: let them die

After first contact and after they join the Federation, they get to live. 

Hunter/Gatherers: Let them die

It just seems kind of arbitrary and based on how useful they are to you. 

The kind of interfering I'm talking about is moving an asteroid that will hit the planet decades from now. There is no reason for them to know that you exist. At worst, they will have a mystery about why the asteroid changed directions. In the Paradise Syndrome Kirk was on the planet actively interacting with the natives. An entirely different situation. The Federation should never get involved in local matters on a pre warp planet. 

I agree totally with a Prime Directive when it is read to mean, let them alone until they are able to contact us. At that point, we will have to deal with them but how is a case by case basis. The rare case of an extinction level event should also be handled on a case by case basis. Most of the time the danger is not going to happen right away, its more like if we do nothing there will be a problem a hundred years from now. Then you study the situation from a distance and make plans to fix it without letting the natives know you're there. Or they may decide not to do anything because the asteroid isn't a dinosaur killing event. It will cause a lot of damage and make life hard for a while but the species will survive. 

I really don't like iron clad rules. They tend to lead to unintended consequences. 

Yes, but as ST routinely points out, the prime directive is hardly iron-clad... all of the series' captains have stretched or even blatantly violated it at some point. 

How iron clad it is is plot specific. Sometimes you let a species go extinct to keep it other times you violate it without really thinking about it. 

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The warp drive is kind of arbitrary but once a civilization has developed warp drive the decision on whether or not to make first contact is out of the federations hands. They will make first contact with you.

My point was. 

2 weeks before first contact: Let them die

After first contact but before they get a chance to join the Federation: let them die

After first contact and after they join the Federation, they get to live. 

Hunter/Gatherers: Let them die

It just seems kind of arbitrary and based on how useful they are to you. 

The kind of interfering I'm talking about is moving an asteroid that will hit the planet decades from now. There is no reason for them to know that you exist. At worst, they will have a mystery about why the asteroid changed directions. In the Paradise Syndrome Kirk was on the planet actively interacting with the natives. An entirely different situation. The Federation should never get involved in local matters on a pre warp planet. 

I agree totally with a Prime Directive when it is read to mean, let them alone until they are able to contact us. At that point, we will have to deal with them but how is a case by case basis. The rare case of an extinction level event should also be handled on a case by case basis. Most of the time the danger is not going to happen right away, its more like if we do nothing there will be a problem a hundred years from now. Then you study the situation from a distance and make plans to fix it without letting the natives know you're there. Or they may decide not to do anything because the asteroid isn't a dinosaur killing event. It will cause a lot of damage and make life hard for a while but the species will survive. 

I really don't like iron clad rules. They tend to lead to unintended consequences. 

Yes, but as ST routinely points out, the prime directive is hardly iron-clad... all of the series' captains have stretched or even blatantly violated it at some point. 

How iron clad it is is plot specific. Sometimes you let a species go extinct to keep it other times you violate it without really thinking about it. 

Yeah, absolute rules tend to invite such...interpretation.

But I think the spirit of the law is to let other people and cultures find their way.

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If one advocates for a non-interference policy 100% because it is natural and the universe should not be meddled with - then ... why bother advancing medicine? You're meddling with nature and don't know what the ramifications are to extend life. We're not "meant" to travel faster than light either. Technology allows us to transcend limitations that nature has placed upon us and others. Why hoard that only for us and not benefit others? Why - because they might turn into space-Nazis? They may also turn into space-Teslas too. I err on the side of life.

Plus, I can't help but notice that the majority of the time it is the people who have the power that argue to leave the so-called less developed races to their own devices.**** I'd hate to be part of a primitive alien race that is dying from a disease that the Federation can easily cure with a pill (ala McCoy in Star Trek IV). In fact, I'd be bitter and angry if a so-called advanced alien culture could have saved mine from extinction because they believed it was the natural order of things for me to die. I'm a living, breathing sentient being that wants to live just as much as the "advanced" culture. Why is my life not worth saving? Because of cosmic circumstances put me on a world where we haven't figured out the complexities of warp drive and now my world will end because we did not make it in time for the UFP to talk to us?

I just cannot fathom why this conversation is always reduced to a non-nuanced zero sum game. Both sides are right in their own way.

If you have the power to stop an asteroid from slamming into a planet - do it. Any prospective species that may have arisen be damned.

On the flip side - those primitive aliens you just save? The ones still struggling with their own bias/prejudice - let them solve their own problems. Do not drop warp technology on their heads to advance them prematurely. You've given them the opportunity to one day move past it.

See how both sides can work? It's not one or the other ....

**** Before anyone says "I'm sure indigenous people would be happy to have had the "advanced" people leave them to their own devices." - that is not the same thing. Because the interference there was destructive and genocidal.

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