The Prime Directive


Hyperbolic headlines aside, I’m not 100% sure that any other species has entered into a phase of development that we could recognize as a precursor to the emergence of complex (“human-like”) societies.

But say that we did see this, and did recognize it… Should we have a Prime Directive when interacting with such an emerging non-human society? Should we hide our own existence from them? What happens if they come to suffer because of human-caused environmental degradation? What if they degrade their own local environment, but are unable to migrate because of the isolation we’ve imposed? What are our rights and obligations, both ethically and legally, to such a society? How does this change our conception of the non-human environment, and our rights and obligations to it?

And what if it turns out that there are in fact many such proto-societies, some of which exist in birds, or whales, or octopi, and it is impossible not to interact with them?