Are you familiar with the Fermi paradox? It asks why the Earth hasn't already been (convincingly) visited by aliens - there are so many suns and planets older than the Earth, that aliens should be ridiculously more common than what we observe. One explanation for this is that there is at least one (and quite possibly more than one) significant hurdle along the path of the development of intelligent life capable of colonizing more than just their own solar system.
If the hurdles are behind us, then we're good to go. For example, if it is extremely rare for life to develop at all, or for multicellular life to develop at all, then it might only be smooth sailing between humanity and galactic colonization. But what if it's fairly common for life to reach the stage that we're at now? That means there is likely some apocalypse coming that is almost impossible for intelligent life to avoid.
So here's the plan - I'm going to start a secret society specifically for preventing humanity from being stopped by oncoming hurdles. But how do I do it?
Requirements for the secret society:
- Self-perpetuating: it won't help humanity if my society dies out a couple of decades before humanity reaches a hurdle, so the society needs to be able to keep going for as long as possible.
- Avoid corruption: the overall goal of the society should change as little over time as possible (and I'm not talking about changing tactics). It's not worth it if, in a couple decades, my society is likely to decide to take over the world instead of pursuing its original goal.
- Intelligence: the society must be capable of identifying and determining solutions for avoiding hurdles.
- Power/Influence: the society must be able to actually pull off its plans
- Secrecy: one part of Isaac Asimov's fictional psychohistory was that people knowing about it could disrupt its predictive power. Similarly, the secret society must be kept secret - it's possible that the secrecy of the society will be a key ingredient in the recipe to overcome a hurdle. This also makes it less vulnerable to any other current/future secret societies. I think it would also help in avoiding corruption because there wouldn't be a ton of power-hungry applicants to sift through.
So now the big question is how I go about recruiting members. I don't want to leave obscure hints out in the public--for example, the eye of providence on US dollar bills that some people say is proof of the illuminati--because that's likely to only attract conspiracy theorists who tend to be a little... unhinged. I need the members of my society to be clever, but they also need to be pretty mentally stable. Also, I'm not sure how I can make sure people will be committed to the society before it's been shown to them (if we are able to develop MIB-style memory erasers this will become much easier, but I'm not willing to make my plans depend on that).
So how do I recruit competent members for my secret society in a way that will preserve the secrecy of my society and further its goals?
- I have reasonably substantial resources at my disposal.
- A plan can explain how it would make use of near-future tech, but it shouldn't fall apart if the near-future tech turns out to be impossible or impractical.
- I'm not very interested in plans that rely on AGIs or ASIs. I already know how to use those if they turn out to be possible.