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My world primarily takes place in the 2880s. By now, humans are exploring and colonizing space, and have contacted a variety of alien species. Several hundred years earlier, however, they contacted some of species present on their own planet, and uplifted them into a spacefaring society.

While the most obvious choices of who to uplift would be apes and whales, there are some other options too. While the prehensile feet and general mobility of various primate species would be useful in zero gravity, by this time humans have mastered artificial gravity. If there are even any whales and dolphins left in the future, I don't know what role they could serve. While very intelligent, cetaceans lack hands, something human society and technology are pretty much dependent on.

So my primary focus when it comes to uplifted animals are octopuses. I have written that various species of them have been given genetic treatments to extend their lifespan and extend the time they can spend out of water. They are primarily used as mechanics and infiltrators, being able to squeeze into small spaces such as air ducts and maintenance shafts, as well as camouflage themselves.

But what about other animals? Things like elephants, crows, whales, apes, raccoons, what would they do?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by sphennings, Vincent, apaul, L.Dutch, Hohmannfan Jun 8 '17 at 7:08

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ This is highly dependant on the mechanism of uplifting in your world. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Jun 7 '17 at 20:36
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    $\begingroup$ Raccoons! And trees, please! $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jun 7 '17 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ Seems like you already have a good list there... I'd say as a beginning crows, apes, dolphins, and maybe raccoons. I think a big consideration is to choose something we aren't going to want to murder when we're done. Also, there is something to be said of the joy of innocence. You could take a creature and make it intelligent enough to be unhappy with it's lot in life, but not give it the ability to improve itself, which would lead to unhappiness and possibly anger. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Jun 7 '17 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ I'd say it depends on why they're being "uplifted". So... why is a species being selected for uplifting? Are they to be used for tasks we don't want to do? Are they to be used for dangerous tasks, because intelligent crows are cheaper to produce than robots? Perhaps some mad scientist is a furry fetishist who wants to make a human/squirrel hybrid because squirrels are sexy? Without knowing the why, it's almost impossible to speculate on which species would be the most logical choice. $\endgroup$ – HopelessN00b Jun 8 '17 at 3:28
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    $\begingroup$ Depending on how expensive or practical this technology is, it may be worth considering that a real world bureaucracy with the capability to uplift might acquire a shortsighted hammer-nail mentality, and uplift species in reaction to temporary problems and global crises, creating unexpected consequences down the line when the creation rapidly wears out its use but still has to be maintained. The politics of this will get interesting fast, and probably create some unexpected hiccups in the expected course of things. $\endgroup$ – Era Jun 8 '17 at 6:22
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Mammals

Primates - No - Why go to the effort of uplifting primates to human level intelligence when we already have human level primates in the form of humans that we are really good at creating.

Monotremata (echidna and platypus) - No - I would personally love to give this group intelligence just because they're so weird but I can't justify it logically. They have no skills we need.

Marsupiala (Marsupials) - No -They have no unique skills they are best at over all other choices. Only reason we might want them would be as surrogate mothers due to their abilities to carry around children whilst still living normally. I doubt that human babies could live well on kangaroo milk so this probably isn't worth it.

Insectivora (Moles, shrews, hedgehogs) - Probably not - Only reason for these would be because some of them, for example the star boss mole, have exceptional sensing of vibrations so they could be useful for detecting whether machinery has faults by listening to vibrations.

Chiroptera (bats) - Hell yeah - Bats are awesome. Oh, did you want scientific reasons? Well, bats can echolocate really well so why not have them. They also hear higher frequencies than us do could possibly be used for intercepting communications. They can fly, at least in our atmosphere, as well as birds and can fly better at night so are great for stealth missions. They are also immune to many disease so good for transporting medical supplies.

Xenarthra (sloths, anteaters and armadillos) - Maybe - I planned to say no but then I watched a documentary on giant armadillos and it turns out they are some of the best diggers around, they can make stable sand caves in a few hours. This would make them useful for emergent rescue in earthquakes where roads are too blocked for machinery. Also good for gardening and are cute pets.

Lagomorpha (rabbits and hares) - No - All they have is speed, digging and the ability to breed like rabbits. I guess if you needed a ton of tiny creatures fast they would be useful but you can just use normal rabbits for that.

Rodentia - Yes - Humans won't like working with rats and mice but they are useful. They can get into small spaces, survive off any food and can problem solve fairly well. Good be useful for surveying damaged machines, going into collapsed buildings and take up less space on spaceships. The main problem, disease, will be a non-issue as smart rats will probably wash more.

Carnivora (Cats, bears, dogs, raccoons etc) - Yes - Firstly humans will want dogs. Might as well have smarter dogs. Secondly cats are already smarter than humans and evil so we might as well make sure everyone knows they're smart. Thirdly, cats particularly, are fast and agile and have better balance making them useful in slightly different gravity environments where they will adapt quicker.

Pinnipedia (Walrus and seals) - No - If we're going for swimming stuff we might as well use dolphins.

Cetacea (whales and dolphins) - Yes - They are smart, can dive and swim far better than humans, and faster than most fish, and whales could have a good use in communications as they can hear lower pitches than humans.

Perissodactyla (horses and rhinos) - No - They are more useful s beasts of burden than anything else.

Artiodactyla (pigs, deer, cows, giraffes and other stuff) - Maybe - Pigs are already smart and so could be an easy one to go for but I don 't think many of these are that useful. Possibly sheep or goats as searching for survivors during mountain rescue but I'm not sure.

That's most of the mammalian orders covered. I might add fish, birds and reptiles when I am not on a phone.

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  • $\begingroup$ Have to have whales and dolphins just because we need smart fish to watch them swim in zero gravity. Edit: and yes, I do know whales and dolphins are not fish; do I care, no. Actually I care a bit, I wonder if fish tales or mamal tails are better in zero gravity? $\endgroup$ – Necessity Jun 7 '17 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ downlift the cats! $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Jun 7 '17 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ Why not primates? Maybe apes are sexy (I'm not judging), or there's an interstellar infestation of uplifted bananas that needs eradicating, or hell, who wouldn't find a prehensile tail (and feet!) useful from time to time. $\endgroup$ – HopelessN00b Jun 8 '17 at 3:32
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    $\begingroup$ Uplifting rodents to become sentient would lead to major ethical problems: they could quickly breed out of control. If they decided to do so, what would you do? Massacre sentient beings by the millions, or let them completely take over the planet? $\endgroup$ – vsz Jun 8 '17 at 6:11
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    $\begingroup$ I will quickly add that uplifted Cetacea makes an appearance in Alan Dean Foster (Whales - Cachalot) and Anne McCaffery (Dolphins - Many places). Uplifted cats appear in Anne McCaffery (Petaybee). A book with intelligent bats is Kennith Oppel's Silverwing (which I enjoyed as a YA). Suzanne Collins "Underowrld" series may also be worth a look for rats and bats. Anyway, you can read about what these creatures do and why humans may make them intelligent. $\endgroup$ – sdfgeoff Jun 8 '17 at 22:53
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Elephants, dolphins and apes are probably the most suitable species. They have large and complex brains, and long life spans. They also have complex social structure which is necessary for any civilization.

The lack of hands is not a problem. By 2800 nothing will be operated manually. I doubt we'll be an organic life form that long, but if we are, we'll at least have direct brain interfaces.

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Bee and Ants Queens for environments where disposable scouts are useful.

Eagles and Pterodactyls because they can fly really fast and far.

Velociraptors... because... ...err... ...okay, maybe not.

...and I guess that rules out sharks as well. Too bad cause they'd be pretty cool!

How about uplifting humans to an intelligence/wisdom level where we can stop waging wars and poisoning our world?

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  • $\begingroup$ That's just called natural selection. The dumb ones died in the wars they started. $\endgroup$ – Nuclearwalrusnetwork Jun 8 '17 at 2:33
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Totally random.

Uplifted dolphins, sure. Squeak squeak. Monkeys. All the usual suspects.

But aardvarks? There's one you don't think about getting uplifted. Aardwolves too? Wait - are they going in alphabetical order? The cassowary? Ring tailed gecko? What is this about?

This offers the chance to write some very different uplifted species. And also explore the motivations of the organization doing the uplifting, which I think should be a Loki-like weird prank dark sense of humor.

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First and foremost dolphins, they can move far better in the ocean than we ever will. So unlike most other options they can easily return the favor. We can build cybernetic hands for monkeys now, so ones for dolphins would be pretty easy by the time we have uplift tech. They also live in the one of the few places on the planet we don't so we are not really competing for much. Having intelligent creatures available for for a wide range of ocean activities from fishing, to research, to construction will be useful. They would also be a big help in exploring other earthlike planets.

Octopi or squid are as good a choice as dolphins for the same reasons, except for one thing, both die shortly after they breed. Which is a pretty big hurdle, we would need to fix that at the same time. Otherwise it's a complete waste of effort, since they will die before they can really mature mentally. Imagine how few well trained... well anything, we would have if humans died after the first time they had sex. Cephalopods gonna got the short end of the evolutionary stick. Although if you have the tech to uplift, you have the tech to fix this.

For any other animal the real question is why? another terrestrial mammal will just exacerbate overcrowding. There is no real benefit to us, they can't do much we can't just as well, for any really specialized task we could use robots.

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  • $\begingroup$ OP here, I've written that a female octopus doing after laying eggs is a cultural thing. They believe that it allows her to become a spirit who will guide her children. $\endgroup$ – Nuclearwalrusnetwork Jun 8 '17 at 2:32
  • $\begingroup$ The males die as well. $\endgroup$ – John Jun 8 '17 at 9:59
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The Earth animals most like humans are mammals. The nonhuman mammals that already have the greatest intelligence and are most like persons are apes, cetaceans, and proboscideans. Thus there is a certain logic to uplifting apes, cetaceans, and proboscideans.

The larger the body of an animal, the larger the brain it can support. Some animals with large enough bodies to support large brains will evolve large brains for various reasons. Of apes, cetaceans, and proboscideans, only a few species of apes and cetaceans are as small as humans or even smaller. The proboscideans and the rest of the apes and cetaceans have larger bodies than humans and thus should have little trouble supporting brains large enough to be intelligent. Thus it may be more practical to uplift those species to intelligence.

I think that humans will have little need for the assistance of uplifted animals as some have suggested, since they will have all kinds of robots in that future.

Some of the mammal species suggested for uplift to human intelligence have very small bodies compared to humans and thus would have great difficulty supporting a mammalian brain large enough to be intelligent.

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