I have some aliens. They look a bit like giant land-squid, and they have two very interesting characteristics.

First off, their central nervous system never stops growing, so intelligence and age are well correlated, although in extreme old age when the brain has grown beyond the body's ability to support it dementia and death are inevitable.

Second is their reproductive cycle. Beneath their mantles they have three "bud sites". If left vacant a new bud containing the individual's haploid genetic material will form. A bud kept in a bud site will stay viable for years, but without a host they only survive a few hours. They swap buds with each other, and when they're ready they close up their mantles and the three buds, as well as the gestational parent's own contribution, merge together and a baby thing is formed. So there are no distinct sexes, and everyone has four parents.

As I imagine it, this makes reproduction like a gigantic trading card game. Individuals are constantly swapping buds (not necessarily even their own) to get desirable combinations of characteristics for their offspring. Offspring are raised by their gestational parent and may not even know who the other parents are.

As an extension of all this I've imagined that their culture is based primarily around games and strategy, and historically their societies tend to be gerontocracies (although the age-intelligence correlation makes the distinction between gerontocracy and meritocracy rather fuzzy).

My question is what happens to their society when their technology advances to provide for life-extension, intelligence augmentation, and the ability to store and preserve viable buds outside the body?

More specifically, I'm thinking that their biology has given them a fairly natural social setup, but what sort of society might they end up with once those biological factors are mitigated by technological progress. If they're anything like us different groups will seize the opportunity to push for greater rights and equality, but on the other hand even though any natural reasons have gone certain things will be deeply embedded in identity and culture. I have some ideas, for example that success in games will become a more important factor than age in power structures, but I'm going all over the place and struggling to get much that's coherent so I wanted some fresh perspectives.


closed as too broad by James, Hohmannfan, cobaltduck, Frostfyre, Samuel Feb 18 '16 at 19:22

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ I feel like this is very subjective, even for this site. Maybe you should consider narrowing down what you're looking for. How a technology affect society in generation, 100 generations, or general trends? $\endgroup$ – PipperChip Dec 11 '15 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ @PipperChip - You're probably right, I need to be more specific with question and possibly more generous with the details about my aliens too. General trends was really what I was thinking of, the idea being that their biology has given them a fairly natural choice of social structure in the past but once technology invalidates those reasons what structure might they end up with. I have some ideas obviously but making something coherent out of them is tricky, so I was after a fresh perspective. $\endgroup$ – Tom Dec 11 '15 at 18:05

If the society is based on games and strategy, they would favor traits and tools that make them better at winning the games and at selecting desired traits. Some consequences could be:

  • Highly prizing the buds of past champions and refusing to share them easily outside of a given population, which could lead to competing sub-species that reflect the current metagame.
  • Eugenism as a strategy game: exploring the extremes of the gene space to gain advantage over others. This would mean that groups would have to be formed to support over-specialized members.
  • Superstition / Religion / memetics: buds compete for control of the gene pool. Because people can choose which buds are preserved in the next generation, their beliefs can influence them. Buds that affect beliefs become more common .
  • If buds can be cloned, the religious aspect can turn the society into an autocracy in which people have to include a given bud (or several) in their offspring. This can be tied to the sub-species idea above.

You may want to have a look at the last third of "Seveneves" if you're interested in strategic eugenism and what kind of society it can spawn.

  • $\begingroup$ I just looked up the synopsis for Seveneves. That looks awesome! +loads just for the reading tip :) $\endgroup$ – Tom Dec 11 '15 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ You're welcome :) If you're interested in this topic, Octavia Butler's novels are great too. $\endgroup$ – Stephane Dec 11 '15 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site Stephane, nice first answer. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 11 '15 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks James. I've just found out about this StackExchange and it feels like I've found a new home :) $\endgroup$ – Stephane Dec 11 '15 at 21:22

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