I came across this post today where the author talks about happiness and evolution. The author seems to have ambivalent feelings towards happiness. On the one hand, it helps them keep on living. On the other, not having happiness seems to be an evolutionarily good thing to the author.
The author seems to compare two extremes - the human experience, and that of a single-celled organism, and asks the question - “Do single-celled organisms experience happiness?”, and answers, “Maybe.”
What I wonder when reading such posts is, why do we disregard the large and varied group of organisms in between?
What about dolphins, which are known to be extremely intelligent and expressive animals and are known to use pufferfish to gain a high? What about when they foster relationships and become happy when they spend quality time with friends and family?
What about chimpanzees laughing at each other and getting surprised by amateur magicians performing for them? What about elephants displaying empathy and anger?
Forget all these wild ones, what about dogs displaying happiness by wagging their tails when they see their “dog parents” day after day?
Why did the author discount these amazing examples and go directly towards the single-celled organism or the computer program?
Please note - I’m not trying to attack the author, rather ask them this question - “should we disregard every other intelligent species because we feel special in some way since we’re humans?”
And I’ll answer it too - no, we shouldn’t. We should look at the myriad ways evolution allows for happiness and conclude that happiness and generally feeling good has a special place in our evolutionary path and we should accept it.
I also linked one other idea while reading this post. I came across this post yesterday where the author links to a Kurzgesagt video about the future of humans and charges that the video ignores transhumans and genetic engineering, which the author supposes will be very common in the future. In fact, the video acknowledges this too and says that from that point on, it’ll not talk about “humans” but “people”, encompassing all the varied “types” of humans that may exist.
While thinking about this, the thought came to me asking, “what about animals?”
While I accept that we’re on track to killing basically every non-human species of the animal kingdom, efforts are being made to store their DNA and get better at cloning them. Since intelligence seems to spring from both DNA and experience, it can be supposed that a lab-bred dolphin released into the wild may be as intelligent as it’s “natural” counterparts.
This means that there is a possibility that one day humans have the capability to travel far across the stars and also have enough animals on earth to carry some across.
Can you expect a trans-planetary ship to have whales, dolphins, chimpanzees, and other animals on board? Or will they be considered too much of a liability?
Granted, they will completely depend on humans for their survival, specially if the planet on the other end is not properly habitable for them. But maybe there’s some undiscovered value in their intelligence which will prompt humans of the future to mandate having two dolphins on board every exoplanet bound ship?
They would certainly provide entertainment and company during long voyages. They might even be used as food via some specialized cloning system, or heck, just bred as cows and chickens are.
But maybe more than anything they’ll provide us with a sense of mission. Not just to spread humankind across the galaxy, but also other great species of planet earth. It may end up being a dire form of invasive genocide for any animals humans encounter on the host planet. This mistake has been made countless times before and will continue to be made by humans in the future.
But the question is whether we will respect their intelligence enough to want them with us, instead of leaving the animal kingdom on earth to always be stuck to one planet, never to travel the stars.