Advanced Sapience refers to the fate of sapient races that --while not becoming extinct --move beyond the confines of Main Sequence Sapience and the substrates, politics, and intellectual concerns of Main Sequence Sapience.
A race that has survived its mega-years in Main Sequence Galactic civilization, eventually enters its twilight age. Species at this point in their life-cycle have typically left behind at least one or two client races, and contributed to Galactic civilization as was their wont. Elder Species usually have difficulty rousing themselves over any but the most dramatic Galactic political events. Members tend to spend very little time attending to their own immediate environment, and mechanical or biological servants see to all but their most basic needs. Indeed, most Elder species do not even reproduce at a rate sufficient for replacement. This is even more starling when one recalls that the shortest lived Elders have spans of several centuries. Indeed, a good many --perhaps most --Elder races become extinct from a lack of joie de vie --or at least libido --before they finish stepping off. Another hallmark of an Elder Species is an economy that produces goods of the highest technology accessible to Main Sequence understanding. Many individual Elders live their lives to think, and they have a good deal of time for thought. Indeed, members of junior races frequently find ordinary statements made by Elders koan-like, or at least rather paradoxical. Most Elder cultures have the pervading atmosphere of a species-wide monastery or university. It is this marked preference for contemplation that causes races with predilections toward constant activity, achievement, and a strong work-ethic --such as the Soro and many Humans --to often consider the Elder stage a time of decadence and senile decline.
Nevertheless, one of the strongest and most deeply held values of Galactic Civilization is honor and respect for the Elders. This ethical imperative is reinforced with numerous Traditions, and more importantly, the vast majority of Galactic sentiment --not to mention the "maximally" advanced technology available to any Elder species. This strong Tradition of Elders' Immunity, in part accounts for a curious developmental pattern followed by a minority of Elder races (perhaps 11 per_128). These races remain --or occasionally become --very active throughout their Elder stage of Main Sequence sapience. They are the "grannies-in-sneakers" of the Galaxies. They invariably retain an interest in the young --almost always in species in the process of uplift, and frequently in the youth among their own species. They are also disproportionately active in all the Galactic institutes. Members of such races tend to travel widely, and often, throughout the Galaxies. Most clans welcome such travelers enthusiastically and almost all the rest are exceedingly polite with their honorable . . . guests. Like a house cat near a cat-hater, many members of the most notoriously meddlesome Elder species seem to make a point of visiting those who least want them, and then putting their reluctant hosts in the most uncomfortable situations possible.(1)
Eventually, an Elder race that has not gone extinct begins to "step off." That is, the species begins the period of transition from being an Elder Main Sequence species to being an new species of Advanced Sapient. Species that start stepping off often begin to actively avoid the company of their former peers. Members of a few select species just beginning uplift and very senior Elder species are occasional exceptions to this rule(2). A species in the process of stepping off may still make provisions for occasional contacts with their clan juniors. Also, as a species begins stepping off, the Galactic Uplift Institute ceases to take an interest in the race upon sending notice to the Library that around such-and-such a date the race in question began the process of stepping off. In turn, a species that is stepping off begins to disregard taboos about mixing Organic and Built elements in one organism, about cyborging, or about radically altering species' biology to live in exotic environments. These races also begin to experiment with what Main Sequence intelligence can only understand as reality-warping or meta-physical technologies. Races stepping off always stop participating in Galactic politics and institutions --at least as Main Sequence members --soon after it becomes evident that they have begun the transition. This actually seems to be a Galactic Tradition, because some Retired species opt to live in Main Sequence civilization, and not only participate in --but actually supervise --the Galactic Institutes. Over just a few mega-years the race evolves to the point where they no longer use a Main Sequence substrate, and are no longer dependent on valuable Main Sequence habitats. The race retires from its home-world so that it can once again give birth to Promise(3). Whereupon the G.U.I. notifies the Library that the race is now Retired from Main Sequence Civilization, and the Galactic Institute for Migration performs a "Final Assessment of Custodianship" before returning the world to the status of Fallow Reserve. All members of their Clan still participating in Main Sequence Civilization also remove the name of the now Retired race from their patronymic.
Retired races have very little intercourse with Main Sequence Civilization. Indeed, they form their own civilization, though traces of their developmental histories survive. For example, while descendants of H-2 and O-2 civilizations may well use similar substrates in Retirement, and can communicate more easily than before, but we are told by O-2 Retirees that modes of thought remain remarkably different and communication problematic. Retired species do not live lives or use technologies unimaginable to Main Sequence intellects. Some very promising pre-sentients can imagine a boat that would propel itself, we can build one. We can imagine personalities that would last until the proton death of the universe, Retired species have personalities that can live that long. We imagine reliable teleportation machines, Retired species have teleportation technology. Sometimes --in extreme circumstances --they give (or rather loan) a group of Main Sequence beings one or two such tools. Often, when the equipment breaks the Retirees refuse to fix it. They say it could be fixed, and explain how to do so if asked. Sometimes the instructions seem straightforward. But almost invariably, the attempt ruins the machine, and the Retirees reply that we (Main Sequencers) are "not yet ready to understand." In short, the Retired have advanced to a level of thought and understanding that lies beyond what any mode of Main Sequence life can support.
It should be noted that not all Retired species do, in fact, withdraw "completely" from Main Sequence Civilization. Some stay on to monitor and/ or provide guidance for the species in the Main Sequence brood house. These active Retirees are called Bodhisattva species. Though accessible to Main Sequence Civilization, Bodhisattvas are still quite aloof. However, they do send representatives to major functions, such as uplift ceremonies, and they are active in the institutes --especially at the higher levels. Also, their clanmates return the name of a Bodhisattva race to their patronymics. Though few Bodhisattva species meddle much in Main Sequence politics(4), it is evident that there are strong disagreements between Bodhisattva species on policy for interacting with Main Sequence Civilization and the deep structures of that Civilization. Very few Retirees opt to become Bodhisattvas, and it is evident that other Retired species tend to hold them in some contempt. This, however, only increases the Bodhisattvas prestige among most Main Sequence species whose members are already inclined to see Bodhisattvas as protectors, guides, and --above all --altruistic. In light of this, it is interesting that opting to become a Bodhisattva species is something of a tradition for the Thennanin's ancestors. Both Tothtoon ul-Rosh and Rosh ab-Tothtoon ul-Kosh ul-others are Bodhisattvas.(5)
The most advanced sapient forms known to Main Sequence Civilization are called
Transcendent species. Just because Retired races live in a handful of
diffusion disks, and
fractal systems and can expect to exist indefinitely as
personalities does not mean that the process of uplift has come to an end. Uplift is not an end but a
process. In a sense, it is life itself --stagnation leads to uncompetitiveness, and from there to
extinction. After 102410 mega-years or more, a fortunate race becomes
an Elder race among the Retired,(6) and steps off into
Transcendence, leaving its allotment of resources for other Retirees. Unlike Retired species, the goals
and technologies of Transcendent species are basically beyond even rudimentary Main Sequence
comprehension. Few Transcendent species even seem to live in what we understand as the physical
universe, and those that do seem to consist primarily of spatial distortions and energy. Many
transcendent beings do not even seem to use physical machines. As far as we Main Sequence sapients are
concerned, they will things to happen, and they happen. Transcendent beings almost never manifest
themselves in Main Sequence affairs. Library records
indicate that they certainly can, but almost never do. For Main Sequence sapients, Transcendence is
something to aspire to, but Transcendent Civilization is largely irrelevant to us in practical terms.
3. On the rare occasions when a Retired species does not retire from their (now unneeded) home-world of their own accord, a Senior Administrator from the Galactic Institute for Migration will visit and persuade them that it is time to cut the tie and go.
4. Those few Bodhisattva species who have flagrantly meddled in Main Sequence affairs have usually abruptly and mysteriously disappeared from Main Sequence Civilization down to the last "individual." Galactic experts strongly suspect that meddlesome behavior must violate some important Tradition of the Retired.
6. The longer mean duration of races' existence in Retired Civilization to a degree compensates for the fact that only a minority of Main Sequence races will ever reach Retirement. The astute reader will note that sapient advancement is a process of attrition. Only some species get uplifted, only some finish uplift, only some become Elder species, only some Elder species finish the process of stepping off, and only some Retired species manage to step off again to become Transcendent.
Return to Index for Stages of Sophonce
Return to Main Index