6. Human beings


The Andromedans arrive.


An Andromedan listening station orbiting the star known to us a as Capella and 44 light years distant from Earth had started picking up strong radio signals coming from a previously uninhabited small yellow star towards the edge of the galactic rim. A routine patrol was diverted and profiting from a sudden twist in the 10 -dimensional hyperspace was able to materialize in orbit around the sun, which was seen to possess 9 planets. It was immediately obvious that the source of all the electro-magnetic radiation was the third planet orbiting at about 1.5 x1011m. Measurement of the sun's power output at 4 x 1026 watts showed that the temperature range of this planet would be suitable for a carbon-based life-form.

The Andromedans would then orbit this planet and to their surprise would find themselves the target of several powerful radars. They would hastily switch on their screen and change to another orbit. After some preliminary measurements they would send down a sample capsule to trap an unwary specimen of the life form.

A cursory examination of the unconscious specimen would reveal that, as expected, the input sensors were mounted close to the brain and the brain built into a hard steerable case mounted at one end of the body. The support system for the brain occupied the rest of the body. Nourishment entered the top of the body close to the sensors, where it could be closely monitored, passed through the body where energy was extracted and the waste products ejected at the end furthest from the sensors. Four appendages were fitted, two for locomotion and two for manipulation. The specimen was symmetrical about its longer axis.

On the specimen recovering consciousness they would start to run some tests. The results were surprising and alarming. They would find that the human (for that is what they had captured) seemed to have two basic personality traits and would switch from one to the other at unpredictable intervals. One personality seemed to be very primitive and was seen in the spasmodic movements and emission of high decibel sounds (especially at the moment of capture) and alternated with a second personality which consisted of long periods of silence and careful observation. But to quote:


The Andromedan Report on human 4P6 (extract)

"The first or primitive animal-type reaction was easily guarded against, the only precautions necessary being to restrain the human from hurting itself (it seems insensible to pain during these periods.) Considerably greater precautions have to be taken against the second personality. At the end of one silence period the human suddenly rose, picked up a piece of plastic from the floor of the cage and thrust it into the main power generator (which we had thought was safely out of reach.) This caused a complete power outage and before the emergency power switched in, the door to the cage and main airlock were released. With a not-yet-seen agility the human leapt out of the cage and would have escaped completely were it not for the fortunate coincidence that a crew member was returning from an exploratory mission and was able to stun the escaping captive. On recovering consciousness the captive was seen to revert to the primitive type activity, so much so that it had to be restrained.
Precautions were redoubled but this did not prevent the captive two days later from distracting a crew member and seizing the stun weapon. This was done by means of an ingenious system of fibres pulled from the captive's clothes and fitted to the cage bars in the only place our camera did not cover. Revealing an unexpected familiarity with the weapon, the guard was immediately stunned and the captive only prevented again from escaping by flooding the entire space-craft with narcotic gas. Repeat of primitive activity on recovering consciousness.
After this, extreme precautions were taken and the human seemed to reconcile itself to captivity, even allowing itself to be instrumented and a number of tests to be run".


Some super-race in the distant future will no doubt note that one of the few common characteristics of all evolved life-forms is the love of filling out forms and making reports. The Andromedans are no exception. To continue:


"Once the captive had been convinced that the fitting of the test transducers was harmless, the tests started. The first tests were concerned with the human's sensors, and were the usual tests for bandwidth, sensitivity, linearity. A full report is given in Appendix 56. To be noted is that the sensors are appropriate for an oxygen-breathing organism inhabiting a planet of mass 6 x 1024 kg, rotation period 23.93h and 1.5 x 1011 m from a type G2 star. The only slightly unusual factor is that most of the sensors are differential (are only sensitive to change) and are logarithmic in response.

In order to measure intelligence we devised a simple test which would measure data-handling capacity (intelligence = data handling capacity.)


Test set 1

This consisted in shooting small air-filled plastic balls towards the human from a number of directions, and the human was required to deflect these balls into a bucket on the floor, using a small hand-held bat. To start with the captive performed surprisingly well (it was found later that this test resembles a native game called "ping-pong"). Noise and flashing lights were added and were initially disturbing but soon ignored. As the frequency of ball presentation was increased the success rate fell, only to rise again as the ball presentation pattern was learnt. Changing the ball presentation pattern again caused a drop in the success rate and the recovery time was proportional to the complexity of this pattern (length of the frame of a pseudo-noise generator). Food capsules were used as an incentive but the captive was not particularly interested in them as such. They were collected and frequently counted and apparently regarded as a score.

The ship's computer was put to work analysing these data but while waiting results we decided to examine in more detail the pattern recognition capability displayed in the "ping-pong" test.


Test set 2

The human captive was shown a number of two dimensional representations of scenes on its planet - country views, human faces, machinery etc, and then shown these images digitally simplified and with random noise added. The captive had a very impressive performance and was able to recognise these images well down into the noise.

However, we occasionally presented an image which was completely random and the captive only once said it could not be matched. Equivalent tests were done using sounds and then written messages. Similar results to the first visual tests were obtained.

During the above tests the newly developed Pleasure Detector (PD) was used and gave measurements consistently above the Content level. The human liked taking the tests. As soon as the tests were terminated the PD reading dropped sharply and the human became nervous and irritable. Due to pressure of other commitments we were unable to pay much attention to the captive for about a month, other than monitoring the transducer readings. The captive gradually calmed down and began to be concerned about its own appearance, keeping the cage clean and developing an interest in painting, using some of the materials from our tests. The PD reading gradually rose to Content.

At this point we wanted to do some simple temperature adaption tests and so we raised and lowered the cage temperature. As expected, the PD reading rose a little as the temperature rose, but quickly dropped back to Content. When the temperature dropped however, the PD reading also dropped but a lot more than it initially rose, and also took longer to rise to Content again. Thinking this was the response of the human's temperature control servo, we devised some other tests which would determine the PD change with different stimuli.


Test set 3

These tests confirmed and expanded the results of the cage temperature test. See Fig. 7 of appendix 84. below



Here PD is shown against time. Starting at an initial Content level, a pleasurable stimulus was given at T1. Happiness rises rapidly but then decreases exponentially, even though the pleasure stimulus continued. At T2 the Happiness level is only slightly above the initial state. At T3 the pleasure stimulus was removed. Notice how the PD coefficient drops immediately and far further than the initial rise at T1, Notice also that the eventual rise to the Content level at T4, again exponential, has a time constant far greater than that of the initial rise. Typically the area under the Content level curve is about 5 times that above it.

Stimuli used were the presence then absence of music, increase/decrease in the tastiness of food, switching on then off a film, raising/lowering temperature, raising/lowering illumination.

On Fig. 7 is shown, for comparison, the standard Andromedan response.


Preliminary conclusions of tests 1-3 on human 4P6 (extracts)


A. The human 4P6 exhibited two basic personality traits which we have named P1 and P2. P1 is that of a simple animal (servo-mechanism of complexity 17); P2 is that of a high-level intelligence (estimated level 4 on the Galactic Scale). The normal personality is a mixture of P1 and P2. P1 seems to provide the motivation; P2 the means of execution. P1 is dominant in times of stress; P2 in periods of calm.


B. Test 3 gives two an extremely interesting results:

1. The human's normal condition is very close to Content. It can be made temporarily happier by a positive or pleasure producing stimulus and temporarily unhappier by a negative or displeasure producing stimulus, but it ultimately returns to the Content status, even though the stimulus continues.

2. The amplitude of response to a pleasure stimulus is much smaller and the return to the Content base-line is much quicker than the response to a displeasure stimulus.


This non-linear relationship between Happiness and Unhappiness and the time its effect lasts is something we have not yet found in other sentient beings. Following these strange results we re-examined the PD readings taken during the "ping-pong" tests and have found this odd non-linearity was also present. A run of successes produces a small transient rise in Happiness whereas a run of misses causes a disproportionate decrease in the PD reading (at one point the human was apparently talking to itself).

We cannot understand why this relationship should have evolved on this planet. This race has evolved rapidly: are we looking at a brake Nature is putting on evolution? Because of the novelty of this data, it has been transmitted back to base by ultra-wave.


C. The termination of the testing procedures illustrates the effect of a negative step in the input data rate. The human was quite unhappy for a while. The human brain apparently needs a minimum of activity and if this is not supplied by incoming data it has the choice of increasing sensor gain, physically manipulating the environment or switching over to working on data stored in memory (or a combination of all three). These changes can occur quite rapidly (of the order of 1 minute or less). A tolerance to low input data rates can be built up but this takes a lot longer (about 2 weeks with human 4P6)."


A human interprets the Andromedan Report


Well, there is a lot of meat in this report. So if all you Type 17 servos out there are ready, we'll go through it in human terms.


P1 and P2

No disagreement here. Yes, we have two personalities. All life needs a minimum of computing ability in order to survive. About 6 million years ago humans (if you could call them that then) had the computing ability of a tree ape. Under pressure of changing environment, we decided (unconsciously but wisely) not to add more biological weaponry in the form of claws, teeth etc. but to go in the direction of better controlling the hardware we already had. Amongst which was a stereoscopic, forward looking, high-resolution vision, a large brain and a thumb closing in the opposite direction to the rest of our fingers which enabled us to grasp things. Once we started picking up sticks and stones our destiny was decided. Think of that hair-raising moment in the film "2001" where the ape triumphantly throws the bone up

into the air and it changes into a space-station! Fantastic! Tools enabled us to control our environment and this sudden increase in possibilities called forth more computing ability to match. In off-load periods the computer starts handling its own internal data from memory, putting together unusual combinations (we have an "associative" memory) and Computing changed to Thinking.

Now all this improvement to what we have in our heads has not been done to what was originally there - the lower or feeling brain which gives rise to the P1 behaviour. It's still there, unaltered. There has not been a general raising-up of the whole thinking ability but rather an adding-on of a lot of high-quality "thinking" hardware.

The lower brain provides most of the drive in our lives and gives us the greatest (gut-feeling) satisfaction when these drives are satisfied. The upper brain can be used to amplify or damp down the activity of the lower brain. Only in the highest forms of human activity does the upper brain work almost alone.

This upper brain, if undisturbed by the lower brain, gives rise to the P2 behaviour. But it is also used to amplify/adorn/complicate the basic impulses from the lower brain. Hence man the angel, man the devil. The family was expanded to the Tribe and then the Nation State. Defence of territory has been amplified to defence with nuclear weapons. Eating has become haute cuisine and reproduction eroticism.

For a bit of comic relief, let's consider the interaction between the lower and upper brain of a player at a tennis match.


Commentator: "B returns the ball rather short. A runs forward and sweeps the ball directly at B. B was on the wrong foot there and returns into the net. 40-30." (scattered applause).


Now let us tune into the dialogue between the lower brain (LB) and the upper brain (UB) of player A.


UB: "Attention. Ball approaching on trajectory 34322/33198 and is going to fall short. Recommended tactic at this juncture

is to advance thereby opening the return angle. Experience has shown that ..."

LB: "Yeah, OK, just gimme the leg and racket info." (A series of sinister clicks as bayonets are fixed)

UB: (coldly). "Advance to coordinates 4512,3387 using Leg Program 719. Draw racket back in preparation for a back-hand

return. You will notice I am using 15% top-spin in this return in view of ..."

LB: "Here it comes! Stupid bugger has dropped it short! Right,

I'm going to kill him! Full boost all engines. Attack! Attack!" (sounds of screaming Stukas, pale sun glitters on rows of bayonets. Through the roar of artillery can be heard the skirl of bagpipes.)

UB: "Maximum bandwidth eye data.


All other sensors on stand-by.


Backhand program loaded.


Patch back hand program to eye correlator.



LB: "Steady, men. Right, Number 1, get ready on main turret. Not yet, not yet. Now! Shoot!! Shoot!! (crash of main armament)

Hit!! Hit!!".

UB: "Ah, yes. A nice parabola. The topspin was particularly effective, shooting forward on the rebound and reducing his available reaction time by at least 30%. Save backhand program."

LB: (Roar of applause) "Fantastic! Did you see that?! Stupid prick was completely on the wrong foot. I slaughtered him!

Ha! Ha! Drop 'em short on me and I'll smash you every time!"

(Crowd chanting "Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!")


Yes, well, a little over-written, but you get the idea. And who did you identify with? Very interesting!

Of course, B's LB will be filled with rage, humiliation and frustration causing B, unless his UB has an iron control, to bang his racket on the court and make obscene gestures at the clapping spectators.


Andromedan Test set 1

The Andromedans choice of a combined physical and mental agility test for intelligence was interesting as was also their calm assumption that "Intelligence = Data handling capacity". The definition of "Intelligence" has vexed us a lot, on Earth. But maybe they have something. A good football player has to solve a lot of complex space/velocity/time equations in his head very quickly. It should also be possible for him to use it to solve the more "intellectual" problems.


Andromedan Test set 2

The Andromedans seem to have zeroed in quickly onto our ability to recognize patterns, and even to notice that sometimes we recognize a non-existent pattern.

But this subject is too important to be discussed here. It requires an essay of its own. See "The Brain - Thinking",


Andromedan test set 3

Now here I must agree with the Andromedans that something very interesting has been discovered. A quick test will demonstrate that there is something in it. Go into a quiet room with a friend and a CD player. Wait until you have settled down and then have your friend put on one of your favourite "quiet mood" CDs. You will of course feel a rising of the spirits but after a while you will get used to it - it slips into the background and you are dreaming about the girl who gave it you when - suddenly - the friend switches the player off. You return sharply to earth, you feel annoyed and look at him in irritation. "Why the Hell ...!" you start, and then remember, you had asked him to do it.

In my case the irritation was certainly greater than the initial pleasure. But to further confirm the Effect, I have tried out the following scenarios on friends:


Scenario 1

Imagine you are walking along a busy street, not thinking especially about anything, when suddenly you see a $50 bill lying on the pavement. Naturally you immediately put your foot on it and bend down to tie your shoe-lace which has unaccountably come undone. The transfer to your pocket is done swiftly and you then look round inconspicuously but apart from some guy on the other side of the road excitedly waving for a taxi, the coast is clear.

How do you feel? "Well, a bit of luck is always nice. But it doesn't make me rich; I have other similar notes in the bank. But yes, good, OK." In a short time you will have forgotten about it.

Now imagine that two or three days later you open your wallet on a windy street corner to buy a paper and the same $50 bill flies out, propelled by the wind. You tear after it, almost knocking down an elderly lady. It blows across the road and you rush to cross through the busy traffic and are only deterred by the screaming brakes, horns and tapped heads of the irate drivers. You curse with impotent rage as through the passing traffic you see a young man bend down and pick up your $50 bill. With mounting blood pressure you scream "It's mine! It's mine!," but he doesn't hear. Attracted by your waving arms a taxi pulls up but you swear at it. The young man pockets your bill and disappears down a subway entrance.

How do you feel? Do I need to ask? And how long will you remember it? A day? A week? A year? ("Christ, even now I remember the way he just calmly picked up my $50 bill like he saw them on the pavement every day - he didn't even look round to see if anyone had dropped it. And don't tell me he didn't hear me! I was screaming fit to bust a gut!"

Well, calm down and let's take:


Scenario 2

You are a salesman and one day you receive a request to quote from RF Electronics. It's for a nice system, just the sort of thing your company is good at. You visit the customer to make a demonstration of your new Gee Whiz Mk. VI which works well with the customer's existing equipment. You finally make a written proposal, pointing out ease of expansion, ease of servicing, a few clever tricks you had thought of yourself and a good price as the development costs for the Mk. VI had been written off on the BG contract. The competition was Dudonics, represented by old Fred Bloggs, and could never meet your price in a month of Sundays. In fact you felt rather sorry for old Fred, who was something of a loser.

When the boss walks into your office with the order from RF Electronics in his hand, you are all manly modesty. "Nervous?" you chuckle tolerantly, "Good Heavens, no. We engineers are very realistic, you know. And when you have the best equipment and the best price, you can't really fail." "And the best sales engineer," adds the boss admiringly.

Well, after a while all the congratulations subside and you are back to Content - or perhaps a little above, because after all, the RF job represents 15% of your projected sales for that year.

Imagine however what happens if after repeated calls to RF Electronics (your contact engineer is always out or in a meeting), you hear from a junior technician that the job went to Dudonics. With ashen face the phone drops from your nerveless fingers. "Yes" the little swine goes on condescendingly "Your proposal was quite good, but in the end we decided to stay with our old supplier." "But the price!" you croak. "Oh, a little more expensive" he prattles on "But you must always be prepared to pay more for reliability." He then launches into a hymn of praise to Dudonics but you are less than interested. You are covering yourself with sackcloth and throwing ashes on your head. Your career in Sales is finished. "If we lost this one, it had to be me, it's my lousy personality," you groan. "It's me the customers can't stand. And God, I thought I did everything right. What a smart-alec over-confident fool I've been!"


Cheer up, it was only a story. But if you are going to react so emotionally, you had better not read the next scenario, because it's a toughie.


Scenario 3

You met her at a party. Dark and petite. She is sitting out alone on the balcony, looking at an old classical music concert program. You make a casual remark about the program and she looks up as you questingly. She has surprisingly big dark, almost black eyes. Something twists in you and you know this is it. Before she answers she blushes and you know she knows it too. You both talk about music, the concert she went to, the concerts you have played at. She looks at your hands when you tell her you play the violin. You talk together nervously, but you never remember later about what. She has the most fascinatingly original views on music. Her name is Pauline. People come out on the balcony occasionally but then laugh and go in back to the party. After the party you take her home but don't try to kiss her. You walk home in a daze thinking of a small elfin face with big luminous eyes. When you return home you cannot sleep, you work for an hour on your new quartet.

Yes, it's love. You get complimentary tickets for her when you are playing nearby and she waits for you at the stage door under the envious eyes of your colleagues. The affaire develops until one night at her apartment ... After this it is as though a dam had burst, you are always together, you have never met a more understanding girl. She loves to curl up in an armchair and watch you play for her and when she kisses your hands and looks up at you with those luminous eyes you know ...

You look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what have you done to deserve such luck. The mirror replies that it's not really surprising, after all you are quite a good-looker yourself, especially when your hair falls forward as you play your violin. And of course, you're not stupid - there were ten other students who wanted that music scholarship. It's not really to be wondered that two good-looking intelligent people come together.

And so the feverish ecstasy of the first weeks fade, to be replaced by a deep Contentment. Even the thought of wedding bells fails to produce its usual reaction. She is part of your life now. Of course there are ups and downs. In spite of your explanations of the simple chord structure of pop music, she still likes to listen to it but after all, your heart melts, she is very young. More serious are the scenes when you have to go on tour and are away for two or three weeks at a time.

It is after one of these absences that you are waiting for a taxi outside the railway station. Some motor cyclists and their girl friends are making a lot of noise but you are rather irritated with Pauline as she had only written once, and that briefly, in reply to your four long letters, written in lonely hotel rooms and when you see ... you look up and under the street-lamp you see her, Pauline! She is talking to one of the leather-jacketed riders. He is sitting confidently back on the saddle of his motor-bike, a can of beer in one hand, the other familiarly around Pauline's slender waist. Impulsively she stands on her toes and throws her arms around his neck. She laughs and they kiss deeply.

You stand stunned. It can't be true. It's happening to someone else. Oh, God! Oh, God! You bend over vomiting in the gutter and stumble away. You walk home in the dark, you cannot bear the empty flat and walk for hours in the rain, through the empty park where ...Why oh, why? You keep hearing her last laugh, seeing her upturned face, so sweet, so friendly, so...nice .., so false.

I think we'd better draw a sympathetic veil over this now. The symptoms have been described in the specialized literature by better pens than mine. You are actually quite sick and in some possible physical danger. It is going to be a considerable time before you can be considered "normal", as seen from the outside. But inside, something will have changed. You will never "give yourself" completely again. In any future love affaire there is going to be a small part of you that will be fiercely defended and never yielded. It's called "growing up".


As I said, I have tried out these three scenarios on several friends and the results are:

- Most would agree with scenario 1, (but the value of the note found/lost may have to be raised).

- I only know three salesmen, but they all bitterly agreed with Scenario 2.

- But relating Scenario 3 over a meal would cause a long silence with everyone looking into the distance. Yes, girls too, if that makes you feel any better.


Let us turn again to the famous Fig. 7 from the Andromedan Report, Appendix 84. The top curve shows the pleasurable stimulus starting at T1 and finishing at T3. The bottom curve shows what you feel - neutral or Content until T1 then a spurt of pleasure, dropping down to Content again at T2. Stay at Content for a while until the pleasant stimulus is switched off at T3. Unhappiness results, but note that the curve sinks down in the Unhappy direction much more than it rose initially in the Happy direction. Notice also that the time to climb back to Content, at T4, is much longer than the time it took to sink back to Content after the jump in the Happy direction.

Figs. 8 and 9 are also very interesting. Fig. 8 gives the relation between stimulus and instantaneous Pleasure Detector (PD) reading for an Andromedan, shown for comparison. With zero stimulus the Andromedan is Content or neutral. A positive (pleasurable) stimulus produces a happier and happier Andromedan until the curve tips over, or saturates (we would say "cloys"). In the negative direction an increasingly unpleasant stimulus produces a more and more unhappy Andromedan until the organism responds no more (becomes insensitive). Note that the curve for the Andromedan is symmetrical. Fig. 9, the curve for the human is the same shape but notice that it is displaced downwards. The Andromedans being a civilized race, did not apply the negative stimulus (pain) that produces insensibility to their captive, so the bottom part of Fig. 9 is shown dotted.

Now any engineer amongst my readers will look askance at these graphs, immediately asking "What units are Pleasure and Stimulus measured in?". Well, the Andomedans have units on their graphs of course, but as they are incomprehensible to us, they have been removed. So all we have is an Effect.

Let us concentrate our attention on Fig. 9, because it shows how humans react to pleasure and pain. Note that we react more to "bad" things than to "nice" things. An act of cruelty affects us much more than an act of kindness. Losing something affects us much more than finding something of the same value. The Devil seems much more immediate and powerful than God. There are people who have found a way to religion not because of the goodness of God but through conviction that there is a Devil and therefore there must be a counterweight.

But doesn't Fig. 9 show that the human 4P6 is accustomed to living in a "pleasurable" environment? After all if it receives a little more pleasure it "cloys". But no, 4P6 is (like all of us) normally only "Content".

To check this, let us look back (with horror) at the life of our forbears in the Middle Ages with its lack of medicine (especially anaesthetics), disease, arbitrary justice, barbarous punishments and superstitions. But this must have been "normal" to most people living then so they were "Content". Give them more pleasure and they would quickly cloy too. They were brutalized and they had adapted.

Even today there are a wide variety of life styles available which would certainly make me unhappy. Take the case of Dai, who goes down a mine far under the earth's surface, to dig out coal. It's hot, dirty, dangerous and unhealthy. But what happens if the economic conditions change and Society no longer wants Dai to go down the mine? To lure him out of the mine Society offers to pay him a lot of money (in a lump sum), and to retrain him (for free) for another cleaner, more "human" job. Dai refuses all these offers and is so determined to remain a miner that he provokes the biggest and most bitter strike England has seen within living memory.

Look at Bill who is in the Army. For him the "cushy" life in barracks is boring. He prefers service in Northern Ireland where he can be a real soldier. "Real soldier" in this case meaning holding two mutually emotionally antagonistic populations apart and getting shot at, cursed at and bombed for his pains.

Look at Joe. Joe has been in prison four times now, the last for a 5 year sentence. As soon as he finishes a sentence and is released he commits some stupid crime and is back in prison again. He is only really Content in prison.

My own slight experience of discomfort came with Military Service. The first week at the reception was quite a jar. What with the terrible food and the condition of the toilets, I had a bad case of constipation. Then the meeting with the rougher elements of the British population, sleeping 30 in unheated huts, being chased out onto windblown ice-covered parade grounds to do endless foot-drill, arms-drill or just wait. The sheer dehumanisation of being one in five thousand. But I have photos of myself taken then and I always seem to be smiling. I have no really bad memories.

But instead of looking back 500 years to the Middle Ages, let us try to look even 100 years forward. What will our descendants think of our present life style?

They will be filled with pity and horror. "How could they ever have been happy? The dreadful knowledge that they would only live for 70 years or so. That during this pitifully short life-span they would gradually lose their physical and mental facilities - not only to know it but to see their loved ones gradually deteriorating before their eyes and to know they were soon destined for the same fate! The brutalizing and repetitive work, the incredible and wasteful preoccupation with sex and sex-related activities, the horrifying interest in violence, pain and torture!". (Extract from "The Middle Classes in the Western World during the 21st Century".)

Yes, it's a tough life living in the Middle Classes in the Western World. But we are brutalized and have adapted.


The Effect and evolution

Now the Andromedans have suggested that the Effect is a deliberate brake on evolution. It is true that evolution has been very rapid on Earth. The first "human" type footprint has been discovered in sandstone in East Africa which is 15 million years old. The usual analogy is to let these 15 million years be considered as a day. The footprint was then made at the beginning of a day. On this scale Christ was born 11.5 seconds ago. Modern history is about 2 seconds out of a day of human evolution!

As the Andromedans conclude:

"It seems that only a small and not long-lasting reward is perceived for success whereas a disproportionate and long-lasting penalty is perceived for failure".

Even with this Effect we behave stupidly enough. Young men take all sorts of risks motor racing, mountaineering, sailing around the world. The rewards are small and they are forgotten in a year. The penalty may be a wheel chair. In wartime young men volunteer by the hundred thousand. The rewards are mostly boredom, a chance of power, perhaps a medal. The penalty a wound or death. After the war, heroes are a glut on the market.

How much rasher would our behaviour be, were it not for this Effect? Would it otherwise push the rate of evolution to a rate which could not be socially assimilated and so destroy us?

It almost seems as though success (either planned or by luck) is discounted as being "normal", "that's how life should be", whereas failure and bad-luck are equated and are due to stupidity or bad planning. Hence a person who fails, often due to no fault of his own, is called a "loser" and feels really bad. We chide him, saying "The Lord helps him who helps himself".

To counteract this painful failure feeling we (and engineers in particular), try very hard to prevent failure. We always assume that we will have no luck, that everything will go as wrong as it can and yet the device/system must still work. It's called "worst case design".

In a speculative venture we often assume something will go wrong - if it does we are not too disappointed ("I thought that might happen,") but if it succeeds we are pleasantly surprised. It's a sort of insurance we take out against the extra strong negative feeling of failure.

It could be interpreted as Nature using the "inadequate reward/disproportionate punishment" Effect to try to slow down

human evolution, and humanity using the above tricks to get

around it.


Andromedan Test set 2 and their conclusions C

Here the human, after a period of mental and physical activity was suddenly ignored. During the test the human had to quickly adapt upwards to handle the "ping-pong" game. To succeed, the whole brain had to be working flat out estimating angles, ball speeds, guessing quickly where the next ball was coming from. In engineering terms the human brain had jumped to maximum bandwidth, switching off all unneeded sensor inputs so as to give minimum response time. Suddenly the test finished and all the excitement was over. The human was left alone and became bored and unhappy. The pleasant stimulus had ended, it had got used to a high data rate input and suddenly the data input rate had dropped.

The situation is analogous to a busy executive leaving the stress of meetings, of having to react quickly to unexpected events, and taking a long-awaited holiday:


He leaves the office hoping he has correctly delegated, covered all possible eventualities, just catches the plane and finally arrives in the south of France. Train out to the coast, search for a taxi, maps, address, pidgin French and finally arrives at St. Ferianne, a little fishing village. The taxi leaves. He is in a little quiet sunny square and the world suddenly stops moving.

He picks up his titanium and carbon fiber suitcases and pushes open the door to the Pension. The sun makes an unmoving yellow square on the faded carpet and in the corner a grand-father clock is slowly ticking. Reminding himself that he is not in the Hilton, he coughs and after a while a small girl appears through a rattling bead-curtain behind the counter and dipping a pen into an ink pot books him in with careful calligraphy. With an incomprehensible accent she then shows him up the creaking stairs to his room. He sits on the bed in the sunlight.

Fantastic! He had forgotten there were places in the world where it is so calm. God! It's good to be away. He looks at his digital watch, 15:29. He left the office at 10:30 - air travel is wonderful. He breathes deeply and the bed-springs squeak. It's going to be great to slow down, to unwind. He gets up, hangs up his clothes, cleans his teeth, washes and changes into a snappy Italian silk shirt and white shorts. Casually he looks down at his watch. 15:37. Damn! It must have stopped. But no, its still flipping over.

He goes out of the hotel and walks around the silent, empty, sun-soaked square. There is only a dog visible, sleeping under some sort of wooden cart. He flexes his muscles. "Gosh, it's good to get away from all the panic. They really know how to live out here." Watch says 15:42. He walks briskly around the square noting the Prix Unique supermarket (closed), the church, the bistro, the road to the beach. The beach! He walks down the hot dusty road to the beach. A small brown-varnished man is sitting by an old sun-bleached boat, looking out to sea. The sun hangs immobile in the sky but a small puff of wind blows a piece of newspaper towards him. There is the round spoilt face of a French politician on the front page and some excitable prose about the CFTD. There is also a small ad for Suze. "Ah, yes! An aperitif before dinner? Er, no, not yet, it's only 16:12". He walks across the beach to look at the rocks and then back to the boat. The small brown-varnished man is not looking out to sea. He is asleep. 16:29 - he has only been here an hour! He scrambles up the headlands at each side of the bay to find similar empty bays on either side. He walks inland to find there is nothing but spiky scrub. Apart from the constant whirring of insects, silence. The heat is intense. He bends over to look at a line of ants and thinks of life back at the plant - that one in the front, now, is he going to go over or around the stone? "I guess they have to make decisions too. I hope Joe remembered BASF promised us a 7% discount on the next shipment."

You will notice our executive has begun to suffer from data deprivation and his first reaction is to try to increase his data input rate by moving around and exploring his environment. He is going out looking for data instead of having it thrust at him. He has started to accept as data that which he would normally reject, the landscape, insect noises, the activities of ants. But he is not Content. Like Sherlock Holmes said "I feel like a dynamo, racing itself to destruction for lack of a load to drive." Our executive, driven by boredom, may leave the village for a town, or even return prematurely to the office.

But if he does stay he will study the rock formations, flora and fauna, listen to his portable radio, read, try to talk to the natives. He can also turn inside himself and examine unsorted data in his data bank. He can reflect on the structure of his office and how it can be improved. Gradually his band-width will decrease and he will start to think deeper. He may look up at the clear stars at night and reflect on his future, is this what he really wants to do? He may not return to the office. But he will gradually return to Content.

Then when his holiday comes to an end, and the taxi is waiting outside his hotel with engine running, he will stand by it a moment and slowly look around the square of the little fishing village with some regret.

Back at the office everything will appear to be moving very fast and he will need a day or two to allow his bandwidth to stretch to cope again with the cheerful cut-and-thrust of business life.