AN HONEST INVASION: A STUDY OF COOPERATION (conclusions)
by Inge Solheim Storkaas (graduate thesis, 2015)
In this study, we asked if aliens would feel any emotional commitment to honesty (as humans often do). What we have seen is that, while cooperation is integral to human society, cooperation appears to have become prevalent in part due to an evolutionary patch, the emotional commitment to honesty.
This was necessary, as the underlying neural coding scheme likely favours discounting future benefits, making long-term cooperation difficult. Other factors, like reputation and punishment, likewise incentivise cooperation, but strong temporal discounting keeps the balance in check. Since our tendency to cooperate is partly based on a quick fix, generalisation becomes difficult.
However, budding civilisations would likely need some form of cooperation to achieve progress, so it is reasonable to assume that cooperation exists. It might be based on rationality rather than emotion, but the effect would likely be similar. There are also a handful of cooperation-inducing mechanisms that are likely to be in effect, including punishment and group enhancement
We also asked whether they would feel this commitment towards us, which is another matter entirely. There are many reasons for why cooperation should fall through, including communication barriers, asymmetric relationship between species, and lack of empathy. History also provides abundant examples of human non-cooperation with other species or cultures. In the end, it likely comes down to the cost-benefit ratio of partnership versus conquest.
Storkaas, I. S. (2015). An honest invasion: a study of cooperative behaviour (Master’s thesis, NTNU). Retrieved from https://ntnuopen.ntnu.no/ntnu-xmlui/bitstream/handle/11250/299072/Storkaas,%20Inge%20Solheim.pdf?sequence=1