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t3knomanser's Fustian Deposits

Welcome to Earth: Social Creatures and Colonies

How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy

run the fuck away

Mad science gone horribly, horribly wrong(or right).

Welcome to Earth: Social Creatures and Colonies

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A great deal of life on Earth has adopted the "strength in numbers" approach to survival. At the unicellular level, the is the Volvox colony; groups of plant-like cells that bundle together for support and easier reproduction. Many insects operate in groups characterized by division of labor: workers, soldiers, fertile reproducers, and so on. When one looks at warm-blooded mammals, one finds herds and pack hunters, burrowing communities, and similar arrangements.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Humans have adopted the same sort of survival strategy. In fact, they have taken it to amazing extremes. The division of labor across social groups is so varied and distinct that a small population of workers supports most of the population.

In any living organism, there are two primary drives: gathering energy (and other resources for life) and reproduction. In an ant colony, an army of workers is responsible for the former, while a small number of breeders actually do the reproduction. Humans have almost entirely reversed this- nearly everyone reproduces at some point, but only a few are responsible for gathering the food the rest use as energy.

It is this extreme case of division-of-labor that makes Humans so very interesting. In the more tool-oriented breeds of humans, a small worker caste gathers food, usually cultivated in farms, and distributes it to other Humans. This forms the backbone of their species survival. There's an entirely different caste responsible for actually carrying the food from place to place. Yet another caste makes the tools that the producers and transporters need.

As you can imagine, this is a woefully inefficient way to create and distribute food. Very few humans live anywhere near where food is produced, and absurdly, they often transport this food halfway around the world! The time and energy expense is amazing. The sheer unthinking absurdity of it brings to mind salmon- an aquatic species that lives in the ocean but travels thousands of miles to breed in fresh water.

Humans may not be intelligent enough to plan a sensible infrastructure, but they are tenacious and aggressive. This wastefulness has not had much impact on their ability to reproduce and spread across broad regions of the land. And they've found clever ways to offset these costs.

A large portion of the human species lives in dense colonies. These colonies are almost always near water, or connected to other colonies by human-made geology. This provides a cheap transportation infrastructure and a centralized destination for food (and reproduction; these tightly packed colonies ensure that there is a broad gene pool, and plentiful resources for rearing young). This centralization makes it far more practical to have a small worker caste providing for a much larger population.

In these colonies, humans do very little useful work, from a survival standpoint. Their worker castes have become so efficient at what they do that a vast majority of the species has no real work they need to do. Instead they participate in elaborate social rituals built around exchanging tokens for consumable goods. Humans will go to great lengths to get these tokens from others, and almost never do so directly. The token economy is itself a topic worthy of exploring in depth, but suffice to say, it is the main tool that the useless colony dwellers use to keep the worker castes employed in giving them food.

I really wish to stress how amazing this is. In most human populations, the majority of the species is not employed in any useful work. And yet, because of their instinctive social behavior, they are able to not only make this work, but spread out across the entire land area of the planet! No other species on Earth does so little to survive, and wastes so much of their effort on useless activity.
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