In "Heirs of Empire" (3rd book of Weber's Dahak trilogy), Cohanna produced intelligent dog race (Galahad and co) from Tinker Bell's puppies.

What was the origin of the techniques that she used to do that?

Were the techniques Terran? Imperiums? Empires? Achuultani? Something newly developed by her?

1 Answer 1


There's no evidence directly in the text.

However, we can make some reasonable guesses:

1) Uplifting an animal species is significantly harder, technically speaking, than putting a person on the moon. In particular, by the time you understand enough about intelligence to do that, it's likely possible to significantly improve human cognition as well. Yet it's clear in Colin's initial meeting with Dahak that artificial enhancement of human minds is a new idea for him. So it can't have been an existing Terran technology.

2) It could have been within reach of Terran technology; this kind of enhancement is a plausible extrapolation of current research.

3) The Achuultani definitely did not have any such technology. Bear in mind that the entire purpose of their culture is to eliminate all other thinking life, and an amoral computer is controlling them for that purpose. Any Achuultani attempting to research a way to promote thinking species would be executed at once.

4) The Fourth Imperium did not routinely enhance the intelligence of animals. How do we know? Dahak's crew was all human. In view of the high ethical standards and military culture demonstrated by Imperial history, it seems unlikely that there was an intelligent uplifted animal population, but that none were in the Fleet.

5) The Imperium definitely possessed the ability to create or artificially improve minds; they had reliable education implants giving adults complete 'book' knowledge of scientific and historical subjects, not to mention perfect language capabilities. They were, therefore, certainly able to uplift animals. They created Dahak, so were capable of creating posthuman AI superintelligences.

(The Fourth Empire clearly chose not to do so out of fear of becoming like the Achuultani; there is evidence that the Empire had superior computing technology but had deliberately limited its AI to be less intelligent than Dahak. It may be that they had a similar conscious restriction against uplifting.)

6) The Fourth Empire possessed advanced biotechnology beyond that of the Imperium; they were certainly able to uplift animals. We cannot know whether they did, as any such intelligent animals would have died with the rest of the Empire. We can guess that they didn't, as there were no intelligent non-humans on Pardal - so at the least, intelligent animals were not a routine part of their population.

Also, a Fourth Empire uplifted animal would probably have had human-level intelligence. Cohanna's creations appear to be average just below that. (Note that the translation computers leave their meaning intact, but fill in the sentence structure - English is within their reach, but good English is not.)

So, a reasonable guess would be: Uplifting animals was not a Terran tech, but Terran biotechnology was moving in that direction enough that Cohanna had considered the concept. Given access to Imperial technology, and particularly their advanced neurological science, she used Imperial research to "fill in the gaps".

  • Aside from a minor quibble that having poor English doesn't mean much as far as mental abilities - recall that Guinevere won chess matches against Empress Jilanith - it's a good answer! +1 Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 13:34
  • @DVK: I had that in mind, but Guinevere is specifically called out in the text as being unusual for playing chess; the others find it too cerebral.
    – Tynam
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 18:24

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