Conversely, your interest is purely academic. You’ve never swallowed the fairy tale but you’ve remained open to the possibility of a more advanced life form which could acquire godlike powers. You’ve correctly guessed that godhood is the destiny of life. You have shown you can and do cope with the concept. It seemed reasonable to confirm your suspicions and let you do what you will with that information.
I can see you’re already thinking about publishing this conversation on the web where it could sow an important seed. Might take a couple of hundred years to germinate, but, eventually, it will germinate.
Why now? Well partly because both you and the web are ready now. But chiefly because the human race is reaching a critical phase. It goes back to what we were saying about the dangers of knowledge. Essentially your species is becoming aware of that danger. When that happens to any sapient species, the future can take three courses.
Many are tempted to avoid the danger by avoiding the knowledge. Like the adapters, they are doomed to extinction. Often pleasantly enough in the confines of their own planet until either their will to live expires or their primary turns red giant and snuffs them out.
A large number go on blindly acquiring the knowledge and don’t learn to restrain their abuse. Their fate is sealed somewhat more quickly of course, when Pandora’s box blows up in their faces.
The only ones who reach level two are those who learn to accept and to live with their most dangerous knowledge. Each and every individual in such a species must eventually become capable of destroying their entire species at any time. Yet they must learn to control themselves to the degree that they can survive even such deadly insight. And frankly, they’re the only ones we really want to see leaving their solar systems. Species that haven’t achieved that maturity could not be allowed to infect the rest of the universe, but fortunately that has never required my intervention. The knowledge always does the trick’
‘Why can’t there be a fourth option – selective research where we avoid investigating dangerous pathways?’
‘There is almost no knowledge which is completely “safe”. As you can see from your own limited history, the most useful ideas are also, nearly always, the most dangerous. You have yet, for instance, to achieve the appropriate energy surpluses required to complete this phase of your social development. When you’ve mastered the relevant technology, it will eliminate material inequalities and poverty within a generation or two, an absolutely vital step for any maturing species. Your potential paths to this bonanza include the control of nuclear fusion – which you only began to explore in the context of potential mass extinction weapons and nano engineered solar energy harvesting or hydrogen cycling. And already your leading military scientists are looking for ways to develop equally dangerous weapons based on the same technology. And they will find them. You may not survive them.
Similarly, you will shortly be able to conquer biological diseases and even engineer yourselves to be virtually fault free. Your biological life spans will double or treble within the next hundred years and your digital lifespans will become potentially infinite within the same period:If you survive the potential threat that the same technology provides in the form of genetic time bombs, custom built viruses and the other wonders of genetic and digital warfare.