The Power of Symbiosis

Lyle Burkhead (
Sun, 24 Nov 1996 01:21:52 -0500 (EST)

David Musick writes,

> I've been contemplating the possibility that highly advanced beings
> will eventually regard humans as useless and entropic and destroy the
> humans. Eric Watt Forste has suggested that I consider the idea that
> advanced beings may use humans as processors of certain types of
> information, sort of like we use calculators now.

Or like corporations use their employees; or like armies use soldiers.
It is instructive to substitute "corporation" for "being" in David's post,
and see what the result looks like:

> An advanced corporation who is wanting to design a very complex
> system may subdivide the task into many parts and use human
> engineers to complete various tasks... There are many tasks which
> humans are good at, and I can imagine very powerful corporations
> hiring humans to complete various tasks as long as there wasn't a
> more efficient device to carry out the task.
> It seems to me that the most advanced and powerful corporations
> will be those who are extremely adept at cooperating with as many
> others as possible and assisting as many others as possible to advance
> themselves as well so they are able to assist each other more
> effectively and intelligently. It seems to me that the most advanced
> and powerful corporations will not be those who dominate and
> control others, but those who are able to develop strong, mutually
> beneficial relationships with as many others as possible. I believe
> that the most powerful and advanced corporations will be constantly
> searching for ways to develop symbiotic (mutually beneficial)
> relationships with as many other systems as possible. I believe that
> the most powerful corporations will eventually be those who are of
> the greatest value to the largest number of systems. Because they
> will be of value to the most systems, they will have the greatest
> number of systems working to help them accomplish their goals, and
> because the ability to effectively achieve one's goals is what power
> truly is, these corporations will be the most powerful corporations.

An "advanced being" will necessarily use humans for various tasks.
An advanced being will amount to the same thing as a corporation (or
possibly an army or state or church). It is an illusion to think that
there is such a thing as an "advanced being" which does not incorporate
humans within it.