Biological uplift

Biological uplift

In science fiction, biological uplift is a term for the act of an advanced civilization helping the development of another species. This may be done by bringing a non-sapient species into sapience, or by giving a sapient species spacefaring capabilities.Fact|date=June 2008 The term is used prominently in David Brin's Uplift series.

Uplifting also refers to the theoretical prospect of endowing non-human animals with greater capacities, including especially increased intelligence. It has been postulated that biological uplifting would be accomplished through the application of genetic and transgenic technologies, and possibly even artificial intelligence.Fact|date=June 2008 This includes, but is not limited to, various forms of artificial selection and genetic engineering.

History of the concept in fiction and reality

The concept can be traced to H. G. Wells' novel "The Island of Doctor Moreau" (1896), [ [ FROM THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU TO LIVES OF THE MONSTER DOGS: UPLIFTED ANIMALS, WISH FULFILLMENT, AND ORIGINAL SIN ] at] in which the eponymous scientist transforms animals into horrifying parodies of men through surgery and psychological torment. The resulting animal-people obsessively recite the Law, a series of prohibitions against reversion to animal behaviors, with the haunting refrain of "Are we not men?" Wells' novel reflects Victorian concerns about vivisection and of the power of unrestrained scientific experimentation to do terrible harm. These ideas were explored in more detail by Olaf Stapledon in his novel "Sirius" (1944).Fact|date=June 2008

Another well-known early literary example can be found in the underpeople of Cordwainer Smith's "Instrumentality of Mankind" series. In Smith's universe, the underpeople were created from animals through unexplained technological means explicitly to be servants of humanity, and are often treated as less than slaves by the society that uses them. However, Smith's characterizations of individual underpeople are frequently quite sympathetic, and one of his most memorable characters is C'Mell, the cat-woman who appears in "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell" (1962) and "Norstrilia" (1975).

Alan Dean Foster touched upon the biological uplift of animals by humans in his early stories "With Friends Like These" (1971) and "Dream Gone Green" (1974). Arthur C. Clarke mentioned uplifted chimpanzees, called simps, in some of his works, including "A Meeting with Medusa" (1971) and "Rendezvous with Rama" (1972). Robert Silverberg wrote a story about a group of uplifted chimpanzees developing religious ideas in his story "The Pope of the Chimps" (1982).

Examples of alien races descended from uplifted animals include the Fithp in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's 1985 novel "Footfall", and the Erks in Frederik Pohl's 1985 novel "Black Star Rising".

"" implies at least cultural uplift if not outright biological uplift of humanity by the monoliths. The novel's sequels imply that, later, life forms indigenous to Europa are uplifted by the same alien technological artifacts. [ [ Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society ] at] [ [ Sentient Developments: SETI and the human craving for uplift ] at] .

Several UFO cults including Raelianism believe that humanity was biologically uplifted in the past or will be uplifted in the future. The Urantia Book claims Adam and Eve were beings whose job it was to biologically uplift humanity.

Rights of the uplifted

David Brin has stated that his Uplift universe was written at least in part in response to the common assumption in earlier science fiction such as Smith's work and Planet of the Apes that uplifted animals would, or even should, be treated as possessions rather than people. [ [ Interview: David Brin ] at] As a result, a significant part of the conflict in the series revolves around the differing policies of Galactics and humans toward their client races. Galactic races traditionally hold their uplifted "clients" in a hundred-millennia-long indenture, during which the "patrons" have extensive rights and claims over clients' lives and labor power. In contrast, humans have given their uplifted dolphins and chimpanzees near-equal civil rights, with a few legal and economic disabilities related to their unfinished state.

These issues are not limited to fiction - there has been considerable controversy about animal rights in our world, especially in regard to Animal husbandry.

Other examples of lesser respect for the biological uplifted

The Moreau series by S. Andrew Swann has humanity creating uplifted animals—named "moreaus" after the Wells character—for the purpose of fighting in a series of wars. After the wars end, the leftover moreaus have difficulty assimilating into a human civilization where they are feared, suffer limited civil rights and are objects of racist oppression.
Carla Speed McNeil's Finder comic book series has included in several issues genetic "constructs" with animal features. Those beings with three fingers (and a thumb) on each hand may have fewer rights. A striking contrast is set by the third volume, King of Cats, in which a species of uplifted lion-women seek restoration of their tribal artifacts.

Other terms for the same or related ideas

Chimera is the ancient Greek term now used to refer to fusions of human and animals, particularly in the field of genetic engineering.

"Orion's Arm" uses the term "provolution" ("pro"active or "pro"gressive e"volution") to describe the act of accelerating evolution: a species which has had its evolution accelerated is called a "provolve".

Cultural uplift is distinguished from biological uplift in that it does not physically alter the organism. A real cultural uplift experiment started with bonobos in 2005 in Great Ape Trust in Iowa, USA. Iain M. Banks' novels of The Culture explore this theme extensively.

In her "Canopus in Argos" series, Doris Lessing uses the term forced evolution to encompass the conscious influencing of both biology and culture.

Boris and Arkady Strugatsky coined the term Progressor for those who carry out this sort of work. Sergey Lukyanenko used it also in two of his novels.

ee also

*Bootstrapping (science fiction)


External links

* [ All Together Now: Developmental and Ethical Considerations for biologically uplifting nonhuman animals] by George Dvorsky
* [ Great Ape Trust]
* [ Fiction with "Uplifted" Animals: An Annotated Bibliography]

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