It is my dream that humanity can one day become a multi species civilization. As someone who feels like a stranger on this planet, it would be nice to have some company in that regard.

But aside from the difficulties of making sure all those species are comfortable around humans in our environment, and shutting up those, “Suffer not the Xenos to live” nut jobs, one trial that might face such a civilization is increased stratification based on special traits.

Imagine a species from a volcanicly active world with incredible heat resistant skin and lungs used to filtering out all kinds of toxic gases. You now have someone who can walk through a burning building without protective gear and not mind. The perfect fire fighter.

Then there is the classical big scaly warriors with bullet proof skin and infra-red vision that would make a perfect frontline soldier.

Then there is also the smaller honorable warrior code species with eidetic memories that make the ultimate law enforcers.

A more tech savvy species might design our computers. Or the math wiz species that thanks to accurate stock predictions become top of the Forbes 500 List. Or more medically minded species becoming doctors. Or shapeshifters practically running Hollywood.

Now I’m not trying scream “the E.T.s are stealing our jobs!” That is not what this is about. I am just wondering if this might lead to the removal of social mobility that makes our society great in the first place. Because if everyone is doing something that gives them joy and makes the galaxy a better place, that’s the whole point, and no one wants it ruined by some jerk saying, “Sorry, but you’re just not the right species for this job.”

So my question is: Should we be worried about a caste system based on species traits in a multi-species society?

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    $\begingroup$ Is this about a fictional world (worldbuilding) or about your curiosity of how the actual world may turn out? I suspect our bigger concern will be with AI's, robotics displacing all human tasks, and cyborgs who can do everything better than unaugmented humans. Aliens are relatively far away and will be latecomers to the job market. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Feb 19, 2021 at 22:02
  • $\begingroup$ Well it is the exact same problem if people are getting gene modifications or cybernetic implants to do the job better. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2021 at 22:11
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    $\begingroup$ @JacobBadger that's not the same problem at all. If anyone can get skull-guns and subdermal armour and stock-trading implants, the social mobility is available to anyone prepared to modify themselves appropriately. Turning yourself into a member of a completely different culture and species is rather a different problem, I'd say. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2021 at 22:31
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    $\begingroup$ It is painfully obvious that we should be worried about a caste system based on species traits in a multi-species society only if we want to be worried about a caste system based on species traits in a multi-species society. That is, it depends on the prevalent ideology of the society. After all, the archetypal caste system obtained in India for, I don't know, at least two and a half millennia, and nobody thought that it was wrong until some well-meaning foreigners (who were firmly convinced that they had obtained complete illumination) convinced them that is was wrong. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 19, 2021 at 23:03
  • $\begingroup$ Ask any elephant or dolphin for their opinion. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Feb 19, 2021 at 23:47

4 Answers 4


No one is forcing women to be nurses. Yet the lionshare of people studying to be a nurse is female. The year I started studying to be a nurse there were more than 300 applicants, 7 of them male. All years saw similar numbers. This was all by choice.

Similarly other studies and jobs are predominantly male. Women might complain not enough women are represented in high positions, but less paying positions like construction or ICT are also predominantly male jobs. This is again by choice.

Your species arent forced to work in their most advantageous field. They might WANT to, but there is no requirement. And if a fireproof species comes to find a job as a scientist and he scores highly in the fields you want a scientist for, why wouldnt you hire that person?

Will there be bias? Yes ofcourse! But if we get that far in the future we have either made a dystopia or have the tools and means to not let bias ruin the decision. You might even see computers being the recruiters instead of people who have to judge someone based on a paper with information and a few meetings.


Should we be worried about a caste system based on species traits in a multi-species society?


What you've listed are not species traits, they're stereotypes. Human history itself is full of racist and sexist stereotypes, few of which stand up to any kind of closer inspection.

I mean, seriously:

the smaller honorable warrior code species with eidetic memories that make the ultimate law enforcers

Warrior code? honourable? For every single member of the species? No dissent? No conflicting backgrounds? It sounds like you're working with a whole galaxy of Planets of Hats. Either you designed it deliberately from the ground up to make specialist species in order to create this society, or you're just a bit lazy (not that there's anything wrong with that; conserve your creative efforts for whatever you like, but this is where you've ended up).

I am just wondering if this might lead to the removal of social mobility that makes our society great in the first place

The big scaly guys are just the equivalent of big hulking bouncers and bodyguards. They'll have a niche, but technology is a great equaliser and they won't make up even a large proportion of any armed force. In the future, being bulletproof isn't as useful as being vacuum, laser, radiation and nuke-proof and no meatsack is gonna achieve that by themselves. Sure, the techy people make nice gear, but everyone else bootstrapped themselves into the wider galaxy... shiny consumer goods are great, but they aren't the be-all and end-all of engineering, and the fact that haven't turned themselves into postsophont demigods shows they don't have anything we don't. The mathematical wizard stockbrokers just got replaced by AIs, because they think like meat-glaciers compared to computers, regardless of how neat their ideas might once have been. The firefighters got replaced with expendable robots because we care about alien lives, too. Why put living beings at pointless risk?

And it turns out the "honourable warrior code" folk had a terrifying monomaniacal drive that's lead them to commit acts of genocide on a scale undreampt of by the worst of humanity, leaving only the core of true believers behind. That's why an entire people all follow the exact same code of honour, because they hunted down burned everyone who didn't. On a related note, we have several thousand vacancies in law enforcement. People with singleminded and inflexible moral codes should not apply.

Also, nitpicky note... the things you're describing aren't quite castes, due to the lack of stratification. I'm not sure what the correct term is for this kind of genetic equivalent of a guild or union, though.

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    $\begingroup$ A little more angry than I would have gone with, but basically covers it. +1 $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Feb 19, 2021 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry I was trying to think in lines of societal role, but I guess I get the point. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2021 at 22:45

Yes very worried indeed.

The world used to be a multi-species society. There were multiple species of hominids alive at the same time such as Homo Sapiens and Homo Neanderthalensis (depending on how you wish to define species). It didn’t end well for the Neanderthals.

In more recent times major sub groups within exactly the same species (Caucasian and Negro) have been the cause for a caste system - if slavery can be called that. And even in a society with a relatively uniform culture such as parts of the Indian subcontinent a caste system has evolved.

So there is little prospect of a multi-species society living in harmony if one of those species is Homo Sapiens.

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    $\begingroup$ American slavery has even been argued to have a lot more in common with a caste system than traditional models of slavery, especially given many American slaves were born into it rather than being prisoners of war. $\endgroup$ Feb 20, 2021 at 5:37

Fundamental philosophy. This is an excellent text sample for those studying the society of pre-Contact Earth. Like so much of their culture, it was packed with irony and unresolved conflict, the seeds of elementary-school philosophies that at that time were still undiscovered. Seldom was their science fiction so directly suitable for classroom discussion.

We should draw special attention to "capitalism", which is a difficult concept for the student - or even the expert - to comprehend. In the narrow sense it preached the primacy of free markets, while stamping them out at every occasion with remarkable brutality, and of capital, as it organized the destruction of planetary production potential. In a broader sense, it meant the duplication of unnecessary labor in the name of efficiency and the misery of an underclass in the name of opportunity.

It is better comprehended in the context of evolutionary biology, as the Earth residents still thought within the context not only of a monogenesis, but of self-identity by genetic affiliation. In this era they had already broadly turned against the concept of racism, and recognized that "Xenos" could experience comparable concepts of mathematics and heroic conduct; yet they imagined that these properties might be inequitably distributed among consciousnesses serving rival biospheres.

What a strange juxtaposition! By interstellar coexistence, to contemplate the betrayal, by traditional standards, of every fellow-organism to the most remote single-celled microbe, which is yet more inherently "human" than any other genesis of life could ever be. Yet to imagine that the concentration of wealth among warlike nations, races, clans, or nuclear families would be the ongoing rule of interstellar society!

Of course, they did not have the advantage of tutors from the stars, but it is easy to forget that their autochthonous religious heritage was by no means alien to us. When TRAPPIST Monks first surveyed their indigenous heritage, they had no trouble cataloguing comparable concepts of Atman and Brahman, Dao and Holy Spirit as are taught in their own moral philosophy. The humans appeared to have all the makings of a modern cosmopolitan society, yet there was an ongoing obfuscation of their essential nature that prevented them from achieving the self-realization that was their common birthright as thought in the universe.

With our more advanced methods of thought transference, it is very difficult for students to conceive of how they could have considered "one person" to be a different and opposed essence from "another person". We have studied the evolutionary basis of this as a genetic principle, but is it inherently paradoxical for a conscious person to hold this philosophy of self? The remainder of this course session will be given over to your essays and mutual commentary.


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