‘It seems to be necessary.’
‘Without exception, intelligent species who gain dominance over their planet do so by becoming the most efficient predators. There are many intelligent species who do not evolve to dominate their planet. Like your dolphins and most of the intelligent flyers we were just talking about, they adapt perfectly to the environment rather than take your course, which is to manipulate the environment. Unfortunately for the dolphin, theirs is a dead end. They may outlive the human race but will never escape the bounds of planet earth, let alone your solar system – not without your help at any rate. Only those who can manipulate the world they live in can one day hope to leave it and spread their seed throughout the universe.
Unlike the adapters, who learn the point of cooperation fairly early on, manipulators battle on. And, once all lesser species have been overcome, they are so competitive and predatory that they are compelled to turn in on themselves. This nearly always evolves into tribal competition in one form or another and becomes more and more destructive – exactly like your own history. However this competition is vital to promote the leap from biological to technological evolution.
You need an arms race in order to make progress.
Your desire to dominate fuels a search for knowledge which the adapters never acquire. And although your initial desire for knowledge is selfish and destructive, it begins the development of an intellectual self awareness, a form of higher consciousness, which never emerges in any other species. Not even while they are experiencing it, for example, can the intelligent adapters – your dolphins – express the concepts of Love or Time.
Militarization and the development of weapons of mass destruction are your first serious test at level one. You’re still not through that phase, though the signs are promising. There is no point whatsoever in my intervening to prevent your self-destruction. Your ability to survive these urges is a crucial test of your fitness to survive later stages. So I would not, never have and never will intervene to prevent a species from destroying itself. Most, in fact, do just that.’
‘And what of pity for those have to live through this torment?’
‘I can’t say this in any way that doesn’t sound callous, but how much time do you spend worrying about the ants you run over in your car? I know it sounds horrendous to you, but you have to see the bigger picture. At this stage in human development, you’re becoming interesting but not yet important.’
‘ah but I can’t have an intelligent conversation with an ant’
‘hmm… as you know, most humans won’t like even to attempt to grasp that perspective. How can you make it more palatable?’
‘Why should I? You don’t appear to have any trouble grasping it. You’re by no means unique. And in any case, once they begin to understand what’s in it for them, they’ll be somewhat less inclined to moan. Eternal life compensates for most things.’
‘So what are we supposed to do in order to qualify for membership of the universal intelligentsia?’