The Mueller Report on Humanity
By Robert A. Vella
In the classic 1951 science fiction movie The Day The Earth Stood Still, an extraterrestrial representative of an interplanetary organization comes to Earth to learn more about humans and to give them an ultimatum: either work towards peaceful coexistence with each other and with life in the universe, or be destroyed. This profound visitation is triggered by humankind’s development of space travel and nuclear technology. The apocalyptic story is a variation of the “judgment day” theme that has been common in sci-fi pop culture since H. G. Wells’ 1898 masterpiece The War of the Worlds as well as in other genres. Whereas Wells depicted hostile alien invaders intent on conquering Earth, and the Sodom and Gomorrah story in the Book of Genesis described a vengeful god destroying his sinful human creation, the Robert Wise directed film is much more cerebral and thoughtful. The ultimatum delivered by Klaatu, the E.T. representative played by Michael Rennie, conveys neither ill-will towards humanity nor administers any moral verdict upon it. The message is exquisitely cogent and impassive, yet it carries the same imposing authority as the other stories.
In the 2008 remake of the film starring Keanu Reaves, Klaatu’s compassion for humanity is emphasized just as the final destruction is unfolding. The judgment on humankind is rescinded, although the stern warning remains. Man barely dodges a deadly bullet, but the audience is left to ponder whether or not people can change their ways. In my short sci-fi story The Unfortunate Recorder, Renna Mercelli – a “Reticulan” who performs a similar role as Klaatu – cannot avert the destruction of Man but sacrifices himself to save his human family by transporting them to another planet. I leave it to readers to contemplate the future evolution of humans beyond Earth.
After closely watching the now-concluded Mueller report on Russian collusion and related crimes during the 2016 presidential election over the last two years, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s strict focus on objective analysis (at the exclusion of vigorous criminal prosecution) spurred me to speculate about how that approach might be used to document a report on the fitness of humanity as stewards of planet Earth. This basic idea was the premise of the 1984 movie The Terminator (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, directed by James Cameron) in which the artificial neural network “Skynet” (a computerized defense system developed by the U.S. military) becomes self-aware and – according to character Kyle Reese (actor Michael Biehn) – it “decided our fate in a microsecond.” That fate was extermination because Skynet concluded that all humans represented an existential threat, so it used the automation power programmed into it to initiate a global nuclear war and a subsequent campaign of genocide against its biological creator.
For the purpose of this exercise, it is irrelevant whether the sponsor of such a report is an extraterrestrial organization trying to preserve interplanetary peace, a hostile alien race, a vengeful god, a mortal species that realized its human experiment was a mistake, a paranoid supercomputer determined to kill its creator, or just advanced E.T.s looking to delegate their administrative responsibilities. However, whomever might sponsor it is assumed to possess the capacity to exert dominion over us. So, without further ado, here’s an example of what such a report might look like:
Report on the Suitability of Homo sapiens as the Custodians of planet Earth
Objective: Determine if the species Homo sapiens in its current state of evolution can adequately perform the function of administering the biological and physical processes of planet Earth (orbital sequence 3 of the star Sol) as defined by the sanctioning body of this report.
Requirements: The administration of Earth must facilitate biologic diversity and evolutionary freedom to the greatest extent possible while also maintaining ecological balance. Competition between species must not be interfered with unless it destabilizes the overall health of the system or if species designated as “protected” are threatened. The administrator must be capable of responding to known natural and artificial stimuli which pose hazards to the biosphere, and it must be capable of anticipating unknown stimuli. The administrator must not be made aware of the sanctioning body nor of the responsibilities assigned to it by the sanctioning body.
Capacity: Homo sapiens have sufficient cognitive potential, technological advancement, and social organization to minimally satisfy the basic requirements established for Earth’s administrator. However, the author of this report has noted substantive reservations which are detailed in the following points.
Cognition: Preoccupation with routine behaviors (i.e. survival, reproduction, competition and play) are an impediment to intellectual development for the bulk of the population. Using representative statistical models, it is estimated that only 15% of mature individuals are skilled enough in empirical and objective methods to meet the administrative requirements. The remaining 85% predominantly rely upon instinct, intuition, and preconception as cognitive shortcuts which makes this group disqualifiable. However, through proper social organization, the qualified cognitive skills present in the population can be sufficiently maximized.
Learning: As noted in the analysis of cognition, mature individuals are generally predisposed against learning new concepts especially when it involves intense study, appeals to the intellectual mind rather than to the emotional mind, or when it contradicts stubbornly held biases. In sharp contrast, immature individuals of the species are generally open to learning. It is estimated that 90% of this group qualifies under the administrative requirements (the remaining 10% typically suffer from various physical and psychological impairments), and the learning potential is inversely proportional to age. This assessment provides the most optimistic rationale for qualification.
Wisdom: The prevalent emotionality of the species further complicates its cognitive and learning abilities with respect to judgment and decision making. Even when socially constrained by robust cultural norms, there exists great moral and ethical diversity among the population. Sensations of adoration, anger, anxiety, avarice, disgust, envy, excitement, fear, grief, hate, humiliation, irritation, joy, lust, masochism, pride, sadism, and sloth are irrepressible impulses individually but even more so at the societal level. This observation provides the most pessimistic rationale for qualification as Earth’s administrator.
Technology: The species is currently rated at level 7 (i.e. “intermediate nuclear power development with elementary space travel achievement”) on the 0-20 anthropoid evolutionary scale. This rating minimally satisfies the administrative requirements.
Organization: Social organization of the species varies somewhat across geographical regions and in various activities, but there are common distinguishable traits. Virtually all are hierarchical structures except for a few number of isolated, low-population tribes subsisting in remote areas which rely heavily upon mutual cooperation. The governmental hierarchies range from inclusive participatory democracies to exclusive oppressive autocracies. The larger structures proportionally have developed more economic and military capabilities, and a corresponding willingness to utilize them as a means to assert its competitive authority on a global scale. Consequently, there are destabilizing societal inequalities, highly destructive conflicts, and severe ecological crises escalating out of control concurrent with technological progress which has artificially enabled the total population of humans to grow beyond a sustainable level.
As dire as this organizational situation currently is, it is far more adjustable than the biological characteristics of Homo sapiens previously described. Therefore, approval of the species for administrator must be affirmed only with the provision that an effective sociological solution can be found and implemented in time by the sanctioning body.
Recommendation: The author recommends the rejection of Homo sapiens for consideration as Earth’s administrator at the current time, and recommends considering other candidates as quickly as possible. However, if its deficiencies can be mitigated, the author is open to a reexamination of the species sometime in the future.