Alien Civilisations and their Libraries

I want to present a simple claim here – that any sufficiently developed alien civilisation will have created a long-term library to hold their knowledge. They will use this library to make this knowledge accessible to their members, and to also educate their members in the usage and benefits of this knowledge.

The assumptions in my claim needs to be explained further. What is “sufficiently developed” and what is “civilisation”?

The term “civilisation” means any group of living entities that have developed the ability to work together and organise themselves for the benefit of the group as a whole, not only for the survival of the individual members. However, this would include ants and bees, which we would not normal consider as civilisations. Such a civlisation would also need to have developed communication capabilities, and a knowledge system which is recorded, and to have used tools outside of themselves to better carry out their goals.

The term “sufficiently developed” would mean that they have a common and shared initiative and vision to preserve their civilisation forever.

It is my argument that such a civilisation will require a means to store their knowledge, and for this the mechanism will be a “library” in any form and stored anywhere that is accessible. This should be accessible as they move from place to place, using any means of transportation, as a common reference to all shared knowledge. Without such access to knowledge no civilisation will be able to advance, since each generation will have to relearn the lessons of the previous generation, and will have no basis on which to pass this knowledge on.

This is a “gedunkan experiment” at this stage (look it up!), and cannot be proved or disproved. But such experiments are useful as a means to see an imaginary future.

My interest, and my most important argument, is that we ourselves, as humanity, should be building these libraries ourselves for a 500 year to 50,000 year to eternal lifetime. If we expect that any sufficiently developed alien civilisation will have one of these, then at some future time we will become that sufficiently developed alien civilisation when we encounter other intelligences. And we had better be ready.