Jun 27, 2012


Can you prove to this computer that you are human?
The computer age seems to be blossoming with an endless array of increasingly annoying software "features" that are inflicted upon us by folks with titles such as "software engineer". I love terms such as "software engineer". Clearly, if we are going to compete in global markets, then we need a steady supply of nifty job titles that will massage the tender egos of cubicle-penned herds of information age workers. I suspect that in Asimov's fictional universe it was possible to make intelligent robots because U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc. had top staff with titles such as "Head Psychologist" rather than "Software Engineer". In our non-fictional universe it would be dangerous to have psychologists in top positions at computer companies...they'd get fired after mentioning that crappy software infuriates users.

I've been spending a significant amount of time lately thinking about artificial life and machine intelligence. Alan Turing imagined what has come to be known as a "Turing Test", a kind of game that would provide an operational definition of human intelligence. Turing's guess was that by the year 2000 there would be computers that we would all feel comfortable calling "intelligent".

That didn't happen.

Instead, the year 2000 brought us the reverse Turing test and the need for we humans to prove to computers that we are human. Now that's progress. In the "captcha" example shown above, you are expected to prove that you are human by typing in two words, one that you see in the image and the other that is in the text, a jumble of overlapping letters. So, human, what two words do you see?

Human Evolution
I'm three chapters into a new story set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe and I'm deep into imagining the social dynamics of a culture that includes both humans and humanoid robots. The robots are at least as intelligent as the humans and the bots have to make an effort to not offend the sensibilities of the humans who think of themselves as masters of the robots. In fact, the robots run the show and the main functional role for the humans is to serve as breeding stock.

We like to think of the human species as being at the top, having ascended during the past 7 million years through several intermediate steps from a common ancestor to chimps and humans.

Alien with a big brain.
One of the joys of science fiction is imagining biological species that might evolve far "beyond" the stage reached by we humans. It has long been popular for SciFi stories to include alien species with brains that are even larger than ours.

I put "beyond" in quotes, because it is not clear what might come next. Bigger brains might not be better. There is some evidence that human brains have actually gotten smaller during the most recent phase of human evolution.

In an Exodemic story, if I introduce the idea of a type of space alien that has existed as a sapient species for tens of millions of years then I'm usually able to leave all the details of the physiology and appearance of those aliens to the reader's imagination. For argument's sake, let's call those aliens the Huaoshy. But here is an analogy:
Imagine that the Huaoshy came to Earth about 7 million years ago and started "domesticating" the common ancestor to chimps and humans. In other words, the course of human evolution has been controlled by the Huaoshy. In particular, they have in mind a goal; they know the type of creature that they want to transform the human species into. Further, imagine that the Huaoshy have set up several "cultures" of humans, experimental laboratories of human evolution located on several different worlds where the trials and errors and designs and genetic engineering of humans can be played out across many thousands of years.

Imagine that we humans here on Earth have gone along an evolutionary trajectory as illustrated above (You Are Here). At the same time, on another world the Huaosy have been more aggressive and they managed to engineer a human variant that is much closer to their desired goal. Now, if brought before your maker (the Huaoshy) how would you argue the case for we Earthlings? What if the Huaoshy have their own concept of what constitutes a sapient creature and in their terms, we here on Earth are still sub-human creatures, not much better than chimps?

Die, Earthlings!
And maybe it is worse than that. Maybe the Huaoshy are disgusted with how we Earthlings are turning out. Maybe the Huaoshy are starting to think that it might be wise to sterilize this culture dish, just drop an asteroid on Earth and start over with field mice as their evolutionary starting point. After all, the Huaoshy already have human variants on other worlds that are nicely evolving towards the goal.

So here is the contest: prove to the Huaoshy that you are human. Warning: the Huaoshy are going to use their own highly subjective standard for what constitutes "human".

Jun 16, 2012

Promethean Rorschach Test

an "engineer"drinks a dose of "black goo"
As discussed in a previous blog post, the film Prometheus seems to have been designed by folks who were anticipating a chance to make a sequel. In order to stimulate speculation and motivate fans to anticipate a sequel, Prometheus never provides viewers with a coherent backstory for the "engineers".

A Promethean Rorschach Test
Everyone is able to view Prometheus through the lens of their own life experience .... we each "connect the dots" of the ambiguous plot in our own way ... then we can go online to argue about conflicting interpretations. This blog post has my answers to the Promethean Rorschach Test.

Here are three things we seem to know about the "engineers" (and hopefully, we can agree about these). The film Prometheus seems to tell us:
  1. Visitors from outer space came to Earth long ago ("ancient astronauts"). Over the course of thousands of years those visitors interacted with several widely-distributed civilizations on Earth. The "visitors" seemingly impressed the primitive Earthlings who sometimes left behind records that can be interpreted as a kind of "star map" identifying the location of a distant planet that was known to the "visitors". In Prometheus that "star map" was used to guide star ship Prometheus to planet (actually, a moon) LV-223, a world inhabited by humanoid "engineers". However, the civilization of the "engineers" on LV-223 seems to have suffered a catastrophic setback many hundreds of years ago.
  2. On LV-223 there is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of mysterious "black goo", a dark liquid that is apparently related to the stuff that is shown being consumed by a sacrificial "engineer" at the start of Prometheus. In a ritual that is apparently related to some kind of biological "seeding" of a raw and desolate planetary landscape, this poor "engineer" is sacrificed and degraded down to its microscopic constituent building blocks.
  3. The "engineers" and we Earth humans look similar, which is no coincidence, since we were told in the movie that we both have the same DNA pattern.
The archeological evidence of "ancient astronauts"
Um, was Jesus an "engineer"?
Ridley Scott said in an interview that during creation of the movie they played around with the idea that Jesus was a visitor to Earth, but they dropped the idea. Some folks (example) have suggested that the "engineers" hate Earthlings because we killed Jesus. Prometheus provides an estimate of when the "engineers" on LV-223 were decimated: about 2,000 years ago. Some have suggested a causal link between the death of Jesus and the death of "engineers" on LV-223.
Mayan artifact

However, when I zoom in on the Mayan artifact it looks like it is labeled 620 CE, a time right in the Mayan classical period. I conclude that there have been "ancient astronaut" visitors on Earth even after Constantine became a Christian. I reject the hypothesis that the death of Jesus is in some way causally related to the death of "engineers" on LV-223. Besides, I suspect that had Jesus been an "engineer" someone would have noticed his freakish skin tone and other unusual features.

While I reject the "Jesus hypothesis", I can't deny that there are elements of ritual and temple-like architecture in the flick. Why does Prometheus begin with the ritual disintegration of an "engineer"?

The Sacrificial Engineer
a sacrificial "engineer" starts to fall apart
"he would live for one year as a prince, and at the end of that year, he would be taken and donated to the gods in hopes of improving what might happen next year"
I don't conceive of the "engineers" as being much different from Earthlings. In the Exodemic Fictional Universe there are humans who have been taken off of Earth by aliens and those displaced humans form what I call Genesaunt Civilization. That is a human civilization that has been given certain technologies (particularly nanotechnology) by the aliens, but most Genesaunts never actually get to meet and interact with any aliens. This rather "hands-off" strategy of alien/human interaction is similar to that depicted in in Clarke's fiction such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Sagan's Contact. I assume that Prometheus involves a similar backstory, however, we have not yet seen the space aliens who were responsible for taking the ancestors of the "engineers" off of Earth long ago.

In my exodemic stories I sometimes (here is one example) explore the religions of Genesaunts. LV-223 has a large number of "temples" and in the first scene of the movie there is a ritual sacrifice of an "engineer". Why?

Druid ritual
The theme of human "engineer" sacrifice in Prometheus reminds me of the Jack Vance novel The Palace of Love. Vance describes a Druid ritual in which a young boy and girl are buried alive in the ground under a tree. In Vance's story, Space Age Druids have to visit every planet that is colonized by humans and perform this ritual, consecrating a World Tree on each planet. The substance of the sacrificed humans will live on in the tree (forever). Trees provide sacred spaces in the myths of many cultures from the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden to the site of origin for Newton's conceptual linkage of Earth to Heaven.

In one version of ancient Egyptian mythology, Osiris dies and becomes entombed in a tree. Eventually his wife finds him, magically preserved inside the tree and she revives him. In Vance's story Star King, the evil antagonist dies, but a strange tree sprouts on the spot, incorporating the substance of the Star King. The hero, Kirth Gersen, uproots the corrupted seedling, snaps its stem and casts it aside, terminating this bid for immortality. In Prometheus, Peter Weyland is technologically preserved in his medical stasis sarcophagus, waiting for David to find the alien technology that will extend his life.

The Earthly Origins of the Engineers
I imagine that the "engineers" originated as primitive humans who were taken away from Earth and used by aliens to terraform planets and prepare worlds for human occupation. The aliens found it convenient to guide the behavior of the "engineers" by means of religious traditions. Why?

I imagine that the aliens (the real aliens, who have never been shown in Prometheus or in Alien) took some humans off of Earth about 100,000 years ago. This is also similar to a story told to Pallis Atwrode by Kirth Gersen in Star King. In Gersen's story, Star Kings are humanoids who evolved during the past 100,000 years on a distant planet after aliens moved some early humans off of Earth. The Star Kings are almost identical to we Earthlings, but when humans developed space travel and started spreading between the stars it was a surprise to find the humanoid Star Kings living on a distant planet.

Imagine a small group of humans taken off of Earth 100,000 years ago. They are taken to a distant world such as LV-223 and provided with some alien technology such as medical nanites that greatly extend their life span. They are taught how to use alien terraforming nanites and they are given some space ships. These transplanted humans become the "engineers", basically human but they genetically and phenotypically diverge somewhat from we Earthlings.

Eventually humans on Earth develop a technological civilization and visit LV-223. Socially, the "engineers" are different from us because they were given advanced technology by aliens and they never developed a scientific tradition: the "engineers" just use the technology that the aliens provided. The "engineers" use their technology (nanites and spaceships) according to the dictates of a religious tradition that was imposed upon them by the aliens. The aliens don't want the "engineers" to develop science and start doing creative things with advanced technology. The plan is for Earthlings to eventually, in their own time, develop a technological civilization and move into the galaxy...destined to colonize the worlds prepared for them by the drone-like "engineers".

So, this is the starting point for my effort to convert Prometheus into an interesting science fiction story: the "engineers" did not "create humans", even if the cross-wearing Dr. Shaw is in search of her creator. What follows, below, is my fantasy about an untold Prometheus backstory that can transform the movie from a summer horror flick into an intellectually-stimulating science fiction adventure.

The horror, the horror!

In 1816 the "Modern" way to "play God" and create life was to jolt dead animals with electricity. Mary Shelley and her friends were familiar with the idea that "animal electricity" might somehow animate people. The film Prometheus seems to briefly go out of its way to give homage to Dr. Frankenstein in a scene exploring the idea that you can use electricity to re-animate the head of an "engineer" after it had been laying around on LV-223 for many years.

What is the Space Age horror story plot device that might give trillionaire Peter Weyland a way to extend his life? In my imagination, the "black goo" that stars in Prometheus is some kind of advanced nanotechnology. As discussed below, Weyland might have reason to suspect that advanced space aliens have medical nanotechnology that could be used to repair damaged tissue and extend human life.
Cavern with plant life created by the "Genesis Device"
So, if we assume that the "black goo" is nanotech, then why was it made, why does it get spilled all over the set of Prometheus and why does it end up producing "aliens" that are similar to those in the 1979 film Alien? Some commentators have imagined that the "black goo" is a weapon. I imagine that it was created by aliens and was intended to function in a way that is similar to the Star Trek terraforming device named Genesis. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the Genesis Device can be placed in contact with a lifeless planet and -poof!- in a short time there is breathable air, water and plant life. Therefor, I assume that some "engineers" went to LV-223 and used a bunch of nanites to start converting the surface of the lifeless world into an engineered ecosystem that would eventually support human life.

why there is an engineer shortage
So what went wrong with the terraforming efforts of the "engineers" on LV-223? I imagine that the early scene in Prometheus during which an "engineer" drinks some "black goo" actually took place long ago, but the nanite-induced disintegration of that "engineer" is analogous to what is depicted in the rest of the movie when the bumbling Earthlings arrive and bump into the "black goo". Peter Weyland, in his ignorance, and wielding David as his tool, was willing to expose people to the "black goo", with horrific consequences. I imagine that the "engineer" who drank "black goo" was doing something just as fraught with horrific consequences. What?

Klingon snack time
The bacteria were now as big as a cat!

In The Search for Spock, we see what happened to a few stray bacteria that were exposed to the "Genesis effect": they were "evolutionarily accelerated" and appear as monstrous bug-like creatures. Here is what Ridley Scott said about the "seeding of the planet" shown at the start of Prometheus: "All he’s doing is acting as a gardener in space. And the plant life, in fact, is the disintegration of himself." In Star Trek, plant life was created on a lifeless planet by the "Genesis Device". I assume that Scott was imagining a similar kind of terraforming that could be achieved by the "engineers" and their nanites. (Also, the "Genesis Effect" brought Spock back to Isis bringing Osiris back to life. 

bacteria transformed into worms?
Peter Weyland imagines that there is nanorobotic technology on LV-223 that can extend his life.

The bacteria were "evolutionarily accelerated" in TSFS, and I imagine that something similar can happen to animal and bacterial cells in Prometheus. When exposed to terraforming nanites, some form of microscopic life turns into tiny worms that next transforms into snake-like nasties that are ready for the horror movie casting call.

As an experiment, David infects Holloway with a drop of the nanites. Exposure to the nanites converts one of Holloway's sperm cells into an octopus-like monster inside of Elizabeth. Soon, their "little bundle of joy" is big enough to take on both Elizabeth and an "engineer" in a multi-tentacular wrestling match. (Details can be found in the new Fox film Fifty Shades of Grey Aliens.)
Mommy, dearest! Daddy, dearest!

Human DNA

1979 alien
Yes, the "engineers" and we humans have the same DNA. Within stories set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe some humans are taken off of Earth early in human prehistory and those transplanted humans are "cultured" on other worlds. Similarly, I imagine that the "engineers" in Prometheus are the descendants of Earthlings. Further, I  think the "neoxenomorphs" in Prometheus might be little different than the "giant descendants of bacteria" that we saw in The Search For Spock.

What if LV-223 was not completely free of life during all of the period of time when the "engineers" were using nanites to convert the inorganic components of the moon into the stuff of life and starting the process of populating LV-223 with plant life?  I imagine that the "sacrificed engineer" does not completely dissolve after drinking the "black goo", and some of his stray surviving intestinal bacteria cells were transformed into the horror story plot device creatures depicted in Prometheus as having killed many of the "engineers" on LV-223. In keeping with the horror theme of Prometheus, I assume that the engineer's animal cells and symbiotic bacterial cells turned into larval beasts which eventually turned into "chest bursting" snake-like monsters and who-knows-what-else...with seriously deleterious effects on the "engineer" population of LV-223.

High res view of human sperm
I imagine that the "engineers" are the descendants of humans who were taken off of Earth thousands of years ago by true "space aliens", extraterrestrials who evolved on a world in a distant star system. And we have never seen those extraterrestrials. Even after a series of Alien/Aliens movies and Prometheus we have never even been introduced to those true aliens. The presumed "aliens" who decimated the "engineer" population were actually  1) what was produced by the terraforming nanites acting on some stray cells from the dissolved "engineer" on LV-223 to transform those cells into snake-like monsters. 2) A nanite-infected sperm cell from Holloway that turns into the squid-like thing that poor Beth cuts out of herself.

Many viewers of Prometheus have complained about the seemingly mass-conservation-defying way that creatures (like Beth's squid baby) seem to grow on LV-223. However, if the "black goo" is nanotechnology, it might be possible for the nanites to convert almost any available mass into more nanites. Maybe the "engineers" use nanites to form their exoskeleton-like suits. Maybe some of the creatures that appear to grow quickly (the squid-like thing that rapidly grows up inside Beth and then just keeps growing right into the heavy weight division) are really collections of nanites adopting biological forms, not actual biological organisms that need to eat and grow cells in a conventional way.

The interwebs made us stewpid

I am woman, hear me roar!
Since Prometheus is a horror movie, it seems natural to have the crew of a trillion dollar space ship be a bunch of dimwits so that the audience "enjoys" watching them die. However, might there be a reason for the stupidity of the crew of Prometheus?

Asimov wrote a short story called "The Feeling of Power". Asimov imagined a future time when everyone had forgotten how to do math. Think about the future that Peter Weyland helps to create, a world where not only do kids grow up playing fantasy video games, but a world where humanoid robots do all of the difficult work such as learning how to speak to the "engineers".

So, by 2080 everyone on Earth is either stupid and doomed to be a cast member in a Hollywood horror movie or else they are linked into the internet and arguing about the meaning of the latest horror movie. This video shows a training session for the Prometheus crew.

Heads you win
The "engineer" within the helmet
Why bother to make a horror movie without a decapitation or two? And, even better, talking decapitated heads. And, for awesome extra added  "production value", an exploding decapitated head.

Apparently the "engineers" like to put on spooky exoskeleton suits for Halloween or even a bit part in a Hollywood movie. Exoskeletons might be the hot trend for the next Comicon, soon replacing and surpassing the passé tattoo craze.
exploding head

splat! Are exploding heads the source of "green goo" that decorates the inside of the "engineer" space ship?
Who is the space age Prometheus in the film Prometheus? Who tries to "play god" with the nanites that are found on LV-223? Well, you could argue that Peter Weyland is the one who tried to "play god" by searching for the Fountain of Youth and using David as his tool. Weyland crafted David out of clay. However, in the film Prometheus the sequence of events leading to a neoxenomorph (Deacon) seems to ultimately begin with Ridley Scott's fascination with human-like robots.

Ridley's alchemy effort to make Hollywood gold from black goo led to the robotic David (immune to the biotransformative power of the nanites) who poisoned Holloway with nanites which created squid baby that in turn grew up and did something unspeakable to the "engineer" that caused an adult Deacon to come into existence. I imagine that some similar series of events was going wrong in the first scene of Prometheus. Word to the wise: in case it is not clear yet, exposing animal cells to a Genesis Device or swarms of terraformer nanites is not a good idea.....unless you are in Hollywood making a horror movie.

David the Language Learner
David's vision of an engineer
Since 1945, hundreds of SciFi stories including Star Trek have used a magical "universal translator". Prometheus has David. I assume that Peter Weyland programmed David to learn everything possible about different languages so that the plot of could be rapidly advanced Weyland could ask the "engineers" for the Fountain of Youth. I've seen some commentators suggest that David experiences "visions" about the engineers. Also, David seems to be able to "watch human dreams". I wonder if David has a kind of "robotelepathic" communications link with the "engineers" or their machines.

Black goo on the move
Nanites rapidly disintegrate the sacrificial engineer
For some (reason?) the jars/urns that have sat on LV-223 for may years waiting for Earthlings to arrive begin to bubble with slime when David shows up (some observers report that the jars do not leak, that the "black goo" is a protective coating on the outside of the jars). David might be sending out electronic robotelepathic activation commands to every available component of "engineer" technology, possibly triggering a "black goo" defense system for the sacred jars. In any case, a Hollywood movie is only 2 hours long Weyland is 98% dead already and he does not have time to diddle around slowly finding the Fountain of Youth. So damn the goo and full speed ahead! David is not deterred by the black goo and he manages to bring an urn back to Prometheus for careful examination. Some of the expendable crewmen are not so lucky.


Palmer and Ellie
In the film Contact, Dr. Arroway has built a career around SETI and she has a deep faith that it is important to keep searching for extraterrestrials. In Prometheus, Dr. Shaw spends years digging to obtain evidence of "ancient astronauts" and when all that effort leads to a "star map" she is ready to fly to LV-223 and film a horror movie and make contact with the "aliens" who long ago visited Earth.

In Contact Ellie has faith in E.T. and Palmer has faith in Ellie. In Prometheus Elizabeth has faith in E.T. and David has some kind of stalker-like interest in her. In Contact, Palmer prevents Ellie from winning the competition for "the Machine seat", which at first pisses off Ellie, but which actually saves her life and allows her to eventually be THE ONE to make First Contact.

The minor horror-like element in Contact is how David Drumlin dies in a terrorist attack, but his death makes possible Ellie's success. In Prometheus David kills Elizabeth's boy friend (Holloway) and does so in such a way that it feeds the major horror theme of the flick, fulfilling Ridley Scott's need to "explain" the origin of the xenomorph creatures in Alien. In Contact, Ellie Arroway is an arrow that cannot be deflected from her dream to make First Contact. In Prometheus Holloway is a hollow disposable dick of a sperm donor who the audience enjoys seeing die at the horror flick death party.
Making "Holloway Toast"; from the Charlize Theron cookbook

In Contact, S. R. Hadden is the rich capitalist who makes First Contact possible for Arroway. In Prometheus, Peter Weyland is the rich capitalist who makes First Contact possible for Shaw.

Some commentators have proposed that Sumarian myths were woven into the "engineer" backstory (example). Esarhaddon came later than Atrahasis but there were apparently frequent visits by the "engineers" to Earth during the past 50,000 years or so.

What might have happened if, during a engineer's visit to Earth, some medical nanites migrated from an "engineer" into an Earthling?

The Fountain of Youth. In the Star Trek episode Requiem For Methuselah there is a 6,000-year-old Earthling who mysteriously could be stabbed in the heart but not die. The long-lived Flint eventually builds a robotic woman to be his mate. What if Peter Weyland has evidence for the existence of a few long-lived humans and suspects that "ancient astronauts" have occasionally conferred long lives upon some Earthlings? Peter Weyland might have set off on board Prometheus bound for LV-223 with confidence that he would find "aliens" who could extend his life.

Green goo
Green goo?
If the "black goo" is some type of nanotechnology that originally functioned for terraforming planets then are there other types of "goo" for other jobs? I've seen many online commentators who assume that there is one kind of "alien goo" that does different things depending on the context. I've seen a few online commentators (example) who make a distinction between "black goo" and "green goo". I'm going to assume that the "engineers" have nanites that can be programmed for different purposes. David goes out to explore LV-223 and picks out one jar to haul back to Prometheus, a jar that I assume was selected because it contains a sample of medical nanites....just the ticket for extending Weyland's life.

Do you hear the grasshopper?
The engineers probably have a way to program the medical nanites for different tasks (just as the movie shows Dr. Shaw having to instruct the medical robot how to perform an Evil Alien embryo extraction) and I'm sure David does his best to program/control the medical nanites, but he needs to use a guinea pig Holloway for a trial run. That does not work out real well, so in desperation Peter Weyland has to volunteer to join the horror die-off party go out and personally help David beg an "engineer" for the secret of how to use the medical nanites to extend his trillion dollar life.
Sleeping beauty
David says (to the engineer): "We came 35 light years in a trillion dollar effort to extend the life of this old dude. If you tell me the secret of how to control your medical nanites then old dude will put you in his will rather than his daughter."

Engineer: "Die! This is a horror movie!"

So much for First Contact.

Pandora's jar


Now, just subtract the horror

So, what kind of SciFi flick could be created if we magically subtracted all the horror story elements from Prometheus?

Once upon a time, long ago some aliens came to Earth and carried away a few humans into outer space. The humans were taken to a distant location and "domesticated" by the aliens, turning them into the pasty-skin "engineers". The "engineers" were given space ships and nanites and sent out into the galaxy on a mission to terraform dead planets...converting barren worlds into replicas of paradise with Earth-like atmospheres and plant life. The nanite-facilitated terraforming took thousands of years and it was a dull and boring job for the "engineers", but someone had to do it.

Down through the millennia, every once in a while a few "engineers" visited Earth and told the primitive Earthlings about what was awaiting them up in the sky.
Prometheus and an alien-built space ship used by "engineers"
In an imagined version of Prometheus with no horror, we would learn something interesting about the motivations of the aliens and we would get to experience the thrilling adventure of the first Earthlings to travel to the stars and learn the "secret history of humanity". And sure, there could still be humanoid robots who go along for the ride. That is a movie that I'd pay to watch. Is there anyone in Hollywood who can make such a movie?


"Paradise" was supposedly Ridley Scott's planned name for the movie, possibly as a pointer to Paradise Lost. In what sort of SciFi flick might the "engineers" be "angels"?

I like the idea that "engineers" spent 100,000 years terraforming planets, but some of the "engineers" grew to resent their role. Imagine the hard working "engineer" who knows that there are humans on Earth. The Earthlings are living in Paradise, on a planet that does not need to be terraformed, a planet full of animals like cute cats.

Maybe things are rather dismal for the poor "engineers". I imagine that with the aid of alien medical nanites, the monk-like "engineers" live about 10,000 years and never have sex. Maybe new "engineers" are manufactured using alien nanotechnology. Just inject an old engineer with medical nanites that will grab a cell and craft it into a new "engineer".

The hard-working "engineers" spend thousands and thousands of years working to convert lifeless planets into worlds with Earth-like ecosystems. Then about 2,500 years ago the humans on Earth begin to develop science and they seek to understand and control the natural world with technology.

Some "engineers" visiting Earth have taken note of Earthlings like Aristotle who seek to escape from religious tradition and understand the natural world. Some disgruntled "engineers" decide that they too can escape from their alien-imposed religious rituals and develop a new culture that is based on  science and creation of new technologies. These "engineers" who are not satisfied to remain devoted to the ancient rituals, reverse engineer the technology that they have been given by the aliens. They make their own spaceships and begin to learn how to re-program nanites.
Satan's space ship
For convenience, let's imagine that the leader of the rebel "engineers" is called "Satan". Satan and his rebels become involved in a civil war and fight against the loyal "engineers" who continue to live and work according to the plan of the aliens. In their wisdom, the aliens have decreed that "engineers" either stay away from Earth entirely, or, if they do drop in for a chat, not interfere with the natural cultural development of the Earthlings. Satan and his "dark angel" faction ignore that rule, frequently going to Earth and interfering with humanity's natural progress towards science and technology. Why is Satan such a dick?

Satan and his sacrificial bio-weapon
Satan has learned that the aliens have always planed for a future time when the Earthlings will develop a technological civilization and move out into the galaxy, colonizing all the worlds that have been terraformed by the "engineers". Satan wants to claim the galaxy for himself.

Satan repeatedly visits Earth, including once about 323 B.C. and Satan tries to prevent Earthlings from developing a scientific culture. Just when humans on Earth are starting to develop a scientific approach to exploring nature, Satan steps in and manages to throw Earth back into a Dark Age.

However, by dicking around on Earth, Satan sows the seeds of his own ultimate defeat. Some of his re-programmed nanites migrate into the bodies of Earthlings, giving them extended life spans. In particular,  Wēlandaz, a typical northern European, while out hunting in the forest, one day stumbles upon a large metalic space ship and, after seeing a god-like engineer enter the ship and fly away, discovers that he is seemingly immortal: his wounds now heal very quickly. He sets about trying to craft a metal like that of the space ship. A couple thousand years pass and he is known as "Peter Weyland" and Weyland Corp has space ships that are starting to explore the galaxy. However, while Weyland's research on stem cells and nanotechnology revealed the secret of his long life, his attempt to take control of the alien medical nanites in his body backfired, and now he is rapidly aging and will soon die....unless.....

Satan's forces fight a long civil war on planets like LV-223. Using re-programmed nanites, they unleash a biological warfare attack against the loyalist engineers. Satan learns to use nanites to transmute human cells into neoxenomorphs (Deacons) that function as Satan's foot soldiers. The loyal "engineers" are forced to become armored soldiers wearing exoskeletal protective suits. The war is long and messy and the "engineer" civilization is essentially destroyed.

Satan's Tricks
 I've seen a significant number of enraged commentators complaining that the "engineers" can't possibly have the same DNA as we Earth humans. But remember, after seven million years of evolutionary divergence, human and chimp DNA is about 98% identical. Also, science fiction authors such as Larry Niven have long played around with the idea that humans can undergo metamorphosis.

Niven imagined that upon reaching old age, humans can metamorphose into "protectors", a tough-as-nails form of post-reproductive human that functions to defend the younger humans (the children and the breeder-stage humans). In the Prometheus fictional universe, Satan has discovered how to transmute human cells into the Deacons.

If the morphological differences between humans and chimps have come about during the past seven million years, the differences between we Earthlings and the "engineers" could have arisen naturally, by chance, during the past 100,000 years, particularly since the "engineers" have been interacting with aliens and traveling through outer space for the past 100,000 years. The seemingly alien hammerpede and trilobite are artificial bioforms created by Satan playing around with nanites. Once unleashed by Satan, the nanites that generate these bio-weapons are hard to control, leaving worlds like LV-223 hopelessly contaminated.

When the dust settles after the epic Battle of the Angels, there is no further interference from Satan's forces....humans on Earth emerge from their Dark Age and Earthlings enter into a Scientific Age, eventually sending Prometheus to LV-223.

This (above) was the last of a series of blog posts about my summer 2012 Search for Interesting Hollywood Aliens. The other SIHA blog posts were:
SciFi Summer 2012
Disney and Entertainment and Science Fiction, Oh My!
Horror, Comedy and SciFi in the Woods?
Aliens in Drag
Ancient Aliens
The exciting conclusion to the 2012 Search for Interesting Hollywood Aliens (SIHA Awards)
Promethean Rorschach Test 

50 Shades of Grey Aliens
The Bottom Line 
 (as of October 20, 2012)
The Avengers -             $1,512 million
Men in Black 3 -             $624 million
Prometheus -                   $402 million
John Carter -                   $283 million
The Cabin in the Woods - $66 million


November 2013 update.
Image (to the right) from the new film, "50 Shades of Grey Aliens".....
2013 SIHA Awards
2014 SIHA Awards
2015 SIHA Awards

January 2016
Alien: Covenant - here we go again

Gallery of Posters  *  Gallery of Book and Magazine Covers