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Besides the supremely unlikely "because they're just cool like that". Any pretenses towards the selfless or altruistic sharing of their vast cosmic wisdom just for the sake of welcoming us into the galactic neighborhood or whatever should be dropped at the door. What are some practical reasons aliens might want to uplift us to near their level of science and technology?

The ones I'm most stuck on are that they're doing it for either scientific or military purposes, and while the former is valid, "because we felt like it" doesn't usually make for a compelling story. So that leaves military purposes, like the Salarians uplifting the Krogans in Mass Effect. But why? Surely robots would be more efficient soldiers? Or is there some benefit to having human soldiers over swarms of mass-produced drones?

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    $\begingroup$ Scientific is more plausible, in exchange of letting them know our culture/history they give us some access to technological advantages. $\endgroup$ – Chinu Sep 1 '16 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ They want to prevent this: youtube.com/watch?v=OcPqk-O-fD4 $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Sep 1 '16 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ In David Brin's Uplift series there are multiple sentient alien species who uplift less evolved aliens, making them into "client races". Plus humans have uplifted dolphins and chimps. It's a cool idea, and perhaps does a better job than other explanations of the common trope of the galaxy brimming with aliens all existing at roughly the same technological level (eg, Star Trek or Star Wars). But it was never made clear why technologically advanced aliens would need client races, aside from vague altruistic reasons. $\endgroup$ – RobertF Sep 1 '16 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ Grumble, grumble. The term "uplift" has typically referred to enhancing or improving the intelligence of species. To apply it to what is simply technology transfer only muddies the waters. Write out 100 times on a blackboard. "This is technology transfer and not uplift." $\endgroup$ – a4android Sep 2 '16 at 10:08
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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't write off general benevolence, tbh, unless that's just not the story you want to tell. We don't have a clue what kind of social standards and ethical systems aliens would have, but this doesn't necessarily mean that they wouldn't have at least a few things in common with ours. $\endgroup$ – Devsman Sep 2 '16 at 12:49

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Bureaucrats needed.

Ruling and administrating the galaxy is such a chore! Why can't somebody else do it?

Hm, over there is a planet full of beings that actually like ruling! Odd things, but useful. Let's educate them so they can take over the job.

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Fattening us for the slaughter.

Say this alien race requires, say, hosts, or slaves, or food, or whatever - but in vast quantities, in the trillions. Humans are a perfect candidate to supply this - maybe they're hardy laborers, or well-suited to parasitic takeover, or just tasty. But there's only a few billion of us. How do they make more? They could capture us and try to massively breed us in captivity, at great expense, for generations - with no guarantee we'd cooperate. Or they could take the easy way - give us the technology to easily expand beyond the petty confines of Earth, give us the medical technology to make sure we all stay alive and fertile for decades, give us the agricultural tech to eliminate hunger. Let us do what we've always done best: multiply. In next to no time, we've covered several solar systems and populated every planet to bursting. Then, the aliens swoop in with the slight technical edge they've retained under the guise of you humans wouldn't understand how to use it yet and take the entire race prisoner.

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Given the timing of this question I'm surprised nobody has said...

Politics

Why do politicians love getting the support of the uneducated masses? Because all those numbers make them look good.

Perhaps there's an intergalactic election happening in the next decade or so and the Milky Way is a swing galaxy. Providing us with some fancy tech (and the promise of more tech in the future) will be a sure way to get the human vote.

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It's quite simple. Thanks to their powerful technology and short tempers, the aliens fear that their species is headed for extinction and they don't know how to avoid it. As their population dwindles, the aliens think their best chance is to find a species that knows how to handle dangerous technology without self-destructing, and copy their methods. So they have been sharing their technology with one species after another, but after hundreds of negative outcomes, they are starting to lose hope.

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I find this quote from Arthur Clarke's 2010 a good motivation:

“And because, in all the Galaxy, they had found nothing more precious than Mind, they encouraged its dawning everywhere. They became farmers in the fields of stars; they sowed, and sometimes they reaped. And sometimes, dispassionately, they had to weed.”

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The aliens would sort of like our planet. Stupid rules prevent them from killing us directly. Share technologies that if developed are easily misused. So with a few simple components, if one of the earth people happens to hate their neighbor they can cook up a virus that will kill the neighbor and his entire family. They aren't very good with the technology, and a few mistakes are made. So sad, no more people. Well it would be a shame to waste a planet, and with no objections ....

A gentler and kinder cold war. Instead of having the nastiest weapon to insure your protection, you give your foes the nasty weapon and wait to see if they destroy themselves. If the plan fails we can always leave and see if they will kindly vacate their planet in some other way. With cameras, you can document their fate. It plays well on Galaxy TV reality shows. Seems like a win-win scenario for the aliens.

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