The Interview

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— Hello, Dr. Enki!
— Greetings!

— Let’s begin with the most interesting part – can we consider the experiment to have been completed?
— My colleagues and I don’t think so. We still have three planets left. What is more, on one of them a civilization has not been launched.

— What do you mean ‘has not been launched’?
— After we left, they quickly lost all the knowledge and remained in an animalistic state. The process of knowledge transfer from one generation to the next has not been launched.

— You said that there are three planets left, but what about the rest of them?
— You know about one of them, which is why I was invited here, the other six self-destructed.

— So how many of them were there? Those that made the flight – that’s one. Plus, the six that self-destructed. Plus, the three that are still taking part in the experiment, one of which has not had a civilization launch there. Is that right?
— Yes.

— I am a bit confused. How many is that?
— Ten.

— Oh, let’s take one thing at a time, because I seem to be jumping from one theme to another. How did it all start? And how did you get the idea for the experiment?
— Every schoolboy knows the origin story of our civilization – because of the proximity of our systems, we quickly got in touch with one another and what happened was the kind of impressive knowledge exchange that led to explosive technological development. Practically every micro-civilization made its contribution, and ever since then we’ve been living in a globalized world.
But the scientists, who study various planets, ran into some difficulty when establishing the development trajectory of the earliest stages of our civilization. So we decided to run this experiment. We found ten planets on the outskirts of the universe where sensible life more-or-less already began, and we launched the mechanisms of civilization there.
Following the launch, the primary condition of the experiment was ‘non-intervention’…

— ‘Non-intervention’? What an interesting word! What does it mean?
— For the purity of the experiment, we selected the planets which were far enough away from each other to be able to develop independently, without any intervention.

— Are there no tourists there?
— Yes, actually, there is not much to see or feel here. There are basically no useful planets or asteroids there. So, those quarters don’t interest anyone, apart from scientists. No tourists, no businessmen.

— You said that you ‘launched the mechanisms of civilization there’. What did that look like?
— Well, that’s very simple. Out of the local sensible living creatures, we selected the smartest ones and hybridize them, slightly altering their DNA. Their children were taught a lot of our own knowledge, and when they grew up we imperceptibly persuaded them to start a few global construction projects – cities, gigantic sculptures; useless, but the kind of constructions that can stand the test of time…

— Hm! And why were they ‘useless’?
— Well, I call them so, from the point of view of being useful to us. Really, they fulfill a very useful function: many generations of local residents observed these constructions and tried to copy them, or at least understand what they were for and how they were built. That greatly stimulated the development of the civilization.

— I’d be interested to learn how these constructions looked like?
— Why ‘looked like’? They still exist. We used the most stable geometric shapes: half-spheres, pyramids, cones… Different planets had different ones…

— And how did the construction launch the process of civilization?
— I would first like to point out that all the necessary equipment for the construction out of the local materials was imported to these planets. The natives, taught by us, would catch entire tribes, select the most suitable, teach them, well, and that launched the whole construction process. Imagine, this is not how we do it, this was built by hand – stones were procured from mountains, delivered to valleys, transported to incredible heights. All this required unbelievable labor planning and organization.
But when the construction was finished, we took all the equipment and disappeared. And here, the most interesting part starts. The newly-built cities, the knowledge remained there, hierarchies of building organizations remained, but the technologies and production – did not. However, there was plenty of living materials – forests, mountains, and valleys littered with wild human beings…
As I’ve already said, our builders were unsuccessful at ‘launching’ a civilization on just one planet. The rest dragged the primitive tribes along with them, kicking and screaming. In the end, some – were slower, some were faster, but they built pretty advanced civilizations. Many even managed to exit their own planets, but only one of them managed to get in touch and meet with us.

— What happened to the ones who self-destructed?
— That, by the way, was also one of the goals of the experiment. As you know, there are millions of planets suitable for the development of life where we even find traces of past civilizations, but there are no sensible beings there. And there are also asteroid belts, which are clearly the remains of planets, located in habitable zones. For a long time, we couldn’t understand how these planets and civilizations ceased to exist. It turns out, it’s simple – their technologies developed faster than social regulations which could forbid them destroying one another, and as soon as they developed the military equipment which allowed for the indiscriminate destruction of enemies, they used them. Consequently, their enemies, they themselves, and frequently their planets too, ceased to exist.

— Out of the six unsuccessful experiments, how many destroyed their planet?
— I would not call them unsuccessful – we learned a lot about the mechanics of a civilization’s self-destruction… Two out of six blew up their planets.

— How did the rest of them manage to survive?
— They managed to survive for different reasons. Those that have already made the flight, they were genetically predisposed to co-operation. In their societies, the hierarchies are very clear, everyone is in their designated spot… Now they will need to change and adapt to our global civilization of individuals.
And some were genetically predisposed to believe in all manner of nonsense. If they like an event – they believe they were lucky, and of not – unlucky. They come up with various rituals, which are not connected to reality, and believe that this will help them bring about positive developments.
If they are unable to explain something, they come up with supernatural explanations. Because of our technologies, they have imbued us with supernatural powers, as though we were magicians and witches. They describe our years there with the help of various fairytales and myths, and they grew to believe in these so much that another phenomenon of its own kind emerged: religion…

— ‘Religion’?
— How shall I explain?..
It is a kind of system of scarcely believable texts, silly rituals and rather quirky architecture, which together, have a great impact on the natives’ lives…
So this ‘religion’ established itself so firmly within the civilization, that it basically fully arrested their technological progress and scientific development. That was precisely what saved their civilization – they had not managed to develop the sort of powerful weapons which could have destroyed them. Even though we had bet against them: that they would be the first ones to self-destruct. Because they would have these fights, it was horrific to even observe all of that. They still fight, but, of course, not as viciously as before.

— And why are they like that?
— Biochemistry of the body. In their bodies certain incredible cocktails of chemicals are mixed up so that they can’t help it. That’s where the wars, religions, volatile developments stem from…

— And they cannot rearrange themselves?
— Oh, come now! What sort of ‘rearrange’ is there to speak of? Their bioengineering is at such a primitive stage that they still die of diseases and consider it a miracle if someone lives for longer than 100 planetary cycles.

— And how long is that? 5 Sars or 10 Sars?
— No. It is just one fortieth of a Sar.

— One fortieth? But how are they able to create and develop a civilization? We have to study for a Sar, and they manage to create something, transfer knowledge to others and disappear in the one fortieth of Sar?
— Actually, the state of things is even grimmer. Just 1% of them create something and transfer knowledge. Others appear and disappear, without leaving anything behind. Because of this, the experiment has dragged on so. We estimated that the experiment would take 10 to 20 Sars, but it has lasted for 96 Sars already.

— Alright, let’s return to the ones who have made the flight. How did they do it? They learned how to space-travel, like us?
— We taught them!
In order to establish clear time boundaries for the experiment, first we launched the civilization, and to finish we left a hidden message for them on how to develop a communication device to reach out to us and make their way to us. However, to de-code our message, they had to fulfill three requirements: first – leave the boundaries of their planet (the message was hidden in the star system, but not far from their planet); second – understand the make-up of the surrounding universe; third – create a machine for universe observation, at its most basic level.
As soon as they create such a machine, they are almost immediately able to find our message, understand it and follow our instructions.

— That’s so fascinating! But I have one question left for you. Obviously, on one of the planets nothing is going to happen at this point. And when do you expect for the experiment to end on the remaining two?
— I cannot even estimate. Both civilizations left the boundaries of their planets, one of them even sent their crafts beyond their star systems. But they have a long way to go to understand the make-up of the universe, let alone to create the machine. They exert so much time, labor and resources, so much of their lives, on pretty much anything but the development of their civilization.

— Thank you so much, Dr. Enki, for your time and for the fascinating information.
— Thank you.

© 2015 Anatoly Savin
Pictures: Luis Antonio (www.artofluis.com) and Alex Ruiz (www.conceptmonster.net)

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