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View Full Version : Fermi paradox. Maybe once you get technologically advanced enough there's no point.



MVAgusta1078RR
2014-Jun-30, 01:47 PM
Maybe the reason we haven't been visited or seen any signs of intelligent life is because once you get advanced enough for interstellar travel there's no point in visiting every planet and you go beyond exploring planets, maybe intelligent life went outside the visible universe or to a parallel universe or created their own universe etc.

A few hundred years ago or even just a hundred years ago it was extremely difficult to explore the sahara, islands, the antarctic. Now it's easy, people can rent or buy helicopters or dune buggies etc. What explorers over a hundred years ago only dreamed of, but very few people ever do. People are more concerned with getting a 50 inch 3D LED TV than renting a helicopter ride over the amazon.

Samething maybe with intelligent life, maybe once you get so advanced, you visit a couple hundred solar systems, or even have the technology to see the surface of most planets in the universe and you go beyond that to things we haven't even discovered yet like what's beyond the 13.7 billion year light barrier.

profloater
2014-Jun-30, 02:18 PM
Actually we may have been visited by intelligent whatsits who were kind enough to leave us alone, and reopen their time warp to get back in time for tea. Or maybe they left a few miscellaneous bugs sprinkled liberally in a long running experiment that ultimately disappointed. I expect we could find some von Daniken type people who are convinced we are actually alien. Even at light speed interstellar travel seems rather boring and perhaps advanced intelligences have improved on Canasta and even on X box. Although how could that be? (I have no idea about this but when I picked up a toy and asked my three year old granddaughter if it was a new playstation, she said, patronisingly, "No Grandad that's an X Box".)
Maybe we are watched as an amusing diversion by countless civilisations on the spacetime loop service. Sometimes I can hear them laughing, it's not all thunder you know.

MVAgusta1078RR
2014-Jun-30, 07:56 PM
Well as far as improving on Canasta and Xbox, we already have Oculus Rift, virtual reality headsets. How long before that would become like Inception or the Matrix...a hundred years? A couple hundred? Let alone thousands or millions.

I don't know about any intelligent life thousands or millions of years ahead of us, that would watch us, anymore than say a US Navy destroyer or a NASA satellitte watching an island full of monkeys that no one has ever set foot on in the Indian Ocean. Like I said their discoveries and technology wouldn't stay still, after being able to explore planets they would move beyond that.

Also, once you're able to travel around the galaxy, you know where you're going to go after looking at a few planets and maybe finding life on some of them? The supermassive black hole at the center. Why would you waste time after visiting hunks of rock and maybe finding life on some of them. Unless the life they findon planets are able to warp space and time and have as much energy efficiency as a black hole it would be redundant and pointless after a while.

If we want to find if there's any life that discovered interstellar travel, they'd probably be around a supermassive black hole using it for energy. There's nothing on Earth that they couldn't find a billion times else where.

profloater
2014-Jun-30, 10:24 PM
well I heard that quite a few of us watch facsimile lives of ordinary people doing ordinary things using high technology information dissemination and display devices which are otherwise used for advertising trivial repetitive junk and the majority of the most advanced network is occupied by vulgar and useless moving images totally unrelated to productive activity. Therefore the more advanced the alien neighbours are, presumably the lower their standards of literacy and good taste. Pointless yes but then what was ever the point? Travel broadens the behind, but it is better to travel in hope than arrive in more or less where you started from. Loose quotation from the primatives that lived before prime movers.

Noclevername
2014-Jun-30, 10:36 PM
Some of the ETs may buy into the virtual world to the point that they lose interest in the real world. But why would all of them do so?

There are plenty of biologists and primate anthropologists who would love the opportunity to study an undiscovered island of monkeys.

iquestor
2014-Jul-01, 01:29 AM
One of my favorite answers to Fermi is that all civilizations that make it through the filter end up becoming machine intelligences, and then lose interest in finding other biological intelligences.

the reasoning is that the end result of all technology is the extension of the biological bodies to the point it's perfected, basically making the beings immortal. In doing so, they become a new species which quickly loses any attachment to the old biological ancestry, and anything biological.

WayneFrancis
2014-Jul-01, 02:08 AM
Maybe the reason we haven't been visited or seen any signs of intelligent life is because once you get advanced enough for interstellar travel there's no point in visiting every planet and you go beyond exploring planets, maybe intelligent life went outside the visible universe or to a parallel universe or created their own universe etc.

A few hundred years ago or even just a hundred years ago it was extremely difficult to explore the sahara, islands, the antarctic. Now it's easy, people can rent or buy helicopters or dune buggies etc. What explorers over a hundred years ago only dreamed of, but very few people ever do. People are more concerned with getting a 50 inch 3D LED TV than renting a helicopter ride over the amazon.

Samething maybe with intelligent life, maybe once you get so advanced, you visit a couple hundred solar systems, or even have the technology to see the surface of most planets in the universe and you go beyond that to things we haven't even discovered yet like what's beyond the 13.7 billion year light barrier.

Ok few things. There is no "13.7 billion year light barrier". If you traveled in any direction for 13.7 billion years, even at .99999999c, all you would see is pretty much more of the same but galaxies around you that are now about 27 billion years old. The CMBR would be even colder. You can never get to the CMBR because while it is like a shell around your current location it isn't a shell right now. What is at that location in space now is like what we have here galaxies ~13.8 billion years old.

It is hard to say what an alien species might do because the odds are that they probably have a very different evolutionary progression then we do. After finding lots of life many of them might just start regarding life around the galaxy like we regard bacteria. But maybe they have members like we do that are like scientists that are still interested in discovering new life. If we anthropomorphise aliens then I'd hope, for our case, that their would still be those among them that are interested in discovering new things. Yes most people on Earth could care less about a new species of ant or bacteria or even a new mammal but we do have those that are. If our whole species became that self centred it would be a sad day in deed.

I'm not sure what going outside the universe even means. IE out side of sci-fi novels it seems, by the physics of our universe, it is not an achievable goal. Personally I think it is a much more mundane reason why there hasn't been contact yet. For one we are relatively early in the game of the universe. Two I wouldn't doubt there are things that, no matter how advanced a species gets, may always be unknowable and not achievable. Things like traveling through a black hole. It is fine to dream but all evidence points to the conclusion that dropping into a black hole is not a good idea in any way.

Barabino
2014-Jul-01, 05:56 AM
It makes sense: I like the panorama but I never go there in the bush... wild boars almost never get to see/smell me... unless they come near my house (maybe once in 10 years, once in a lifetime for them)
.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-01, 06:15 AM
One of my favorite answers to Fermi is that all civilizations that make it through the filter end up becoming machine intelligences, and then lose interest in finding other biological intelligences.

the reasoning is that the end result of all technology is the extension of the biological bodies to the point it's perfected, basically making the beings immortal. In doing so, they become a new species which quickly loses any attachment to the old biological ancestry, and anything biological.

But again, why would everyone in the entire civilization go the exact same route? A high-tech civ would be marked by tremendous variety as they learn to alter themselves; with some choosing to remain as they are, some becoming advanced biologicals of various strains including immortals, some uplifting whole new young sapient species, and some uploading minds into machines.

I also question the assumption that becoming post-biological would necessarily lead to losing curiosity about the biological world.

Barabino
2014-Jul-01, 03:12 PM
I also question the assumption that becoming post-biological would necessarily lead to losing curiosity about the biological world.

Instead I agree... our curiosity for animals is someway a sexual interest...

kzb
2014-Jul-02, 12:05 PM
Noclevername wrote:
I also question the assumption that becoming post-biological would necessarily lead to losing curiosity about the biological world.

I don't think you can just discount it though. Consider: there could be four life-bearing worlds in our solar system alone. Any world with a sub-surface ocean is fair game for life to be present. That adds up to possibly trillions of life-bearing worlds in the galaxy.

Most of this life is primitive, no more advanced than chemotrophic life on Earth. But a race of machine or biologically enhanced beings millions of years in advance of us might well lump all natural life together. We are seen just as yet another type of slime amongst trillions of types of slime. So not very interesting.

Whether its a satisfying answer to the FP, well I don't know. If we are considering living in virtual realities, you may as well say we are simply subroutines in one of ET's virtual realities.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-02, 12:41 PM
Noclevername wrote:
I also question the assumption that becoming post-biological would necessarily lead to losing curiosity about the biological world.

I don't think you can just discount it though.

I'm not discounting it, but unless it applies uniformly to all post-bio life AND all life inevitably leads to being post-biological, then it's not a viable answer to the paradox. It only takes one group of planet-peepers to start sending Von Neumann probes.


But a race of machine or biologically enhanced beings millions of years in advance of us might well lump all natural life together. We are seen just as yet another type of slime amongst trillions of types of slime. So not very interesting.

Again, unless there's some reason this attitude is shared by all advanced beings, there will be exceptions that still possess curiosity about biolife. We have plenty of scientists who study and distinguish what you and I might consider "slime", and they consider their work very interesting.

Spacedude
2014-Jul-02, 05:50 PM
Still I have to wonder why "contact" would be important to "them"? It seems more important to us for them to do so (it's really all about us ya know), but they'd be giving up the huge advantage of remaining secretive via stealthy observation by not stirring the pot via contact.
Don't forget, it was the Vulcans who invented the "prime directive" policy, not us :)

Noclevername
2014-Jul-02, 05:57 PM
Still I have to wonder why "contact" would be important to "them"? It seems more important to us for them to do so (it's really all about us ya know), but they'd be giving up the huge advantage of remaining secretive via stealthy observation by not stirring the pot via contact.
Don't forget, it was the Vulcans who invented the "prime directive" policy, not us :)

What advantage would that be? It's not like we could pose any threat to a civilization that can explore the galaxy.

Spacedude
2014-Jul-02, 10:06 PM
et
What advantage would that be? It's not like we could pose any threat to a civilization that can explore the galaxy.


Yes, no threat at all. ET wouldn't worry about that angle. But suppose for a moment that we were advanced enough to explore the galaxy (say, 1000 years from now), wouldn't our own history tell us that contacting a civilization 1,000 years our junior would result in a bad way? At the very least we'd study them in secret for some time to learn how they might react to direct contact, and if they're anything at all like us we'd keep ourselves in the shadows for a long time. The advantage would be to absorb knowledge about them without having to do anything at all in return. The biggest negative of direct contact would be them wanting to know everything about us and what we know about the universe, our technology would seem like magic and they would want some. They would soon ask questions that we would not want to answer and once we stopped answering their questions they would instantly stop trusting us (assuming they ever did). There would be absolutely no point in ET contacting us as we'd just be disgruntled in the end and they'd go along their merry way regretting ever getting directly involved (probably a lesson learned from experience). So, with all that hypothesis being said I still wonder why, for what reason at all (just gimme one) would a highly advanced ET ever want to directly contact us?

Colin Robinson
2014-Jul-03, 10:51 AM
et

Yes, no threat at all. ET wouldn't worry about that angle. But suppose for a moment that we were advanced enough to explore the galaxy (say, 1000 years from now), wouldn't our own history tell us that contacting a civilization 1,000 years our junior would result in a bad way? At the very least we'd study them in secret for some time to learn how they might react to direct contact, and if they're anything at all like us we'd keep ourselves in the shadows for a long time. The advantage would be to absorb knowledge about them without having to do anything at all in return. The biggest negative of direct contact would be them wanting to know everything about us and what we know about the universe, our technology would seem like magic and they would want some. They would soon ask questions that we would not want to answer and once we stopped answering their questions they would instantly stop trusting us (assuming they ever did). There would be absolutely no point in ET contacting us as we'd just be disgruntled in the end and they'd go along their merry way regretting ever getting directly involved (probably a lesson learned from experience). So, with all that hypothesis being said I still wonder why, for what reason at all (just gimme one) would a highly advanced ET ever want to directly contact us?

Yes... If they gave us all the information we asked for, the consequences for us might be disastrous... like giving a loaded gun to an intellectually handicapped child.

On the other hand, if they didn't answer our questions, perhaps we would send well-resourced expeditions to the fringes of their civilisation, eagerly looking for scraps of information about their science and technology... like polar bears fossicking through garbage bins...

Jens
2014-Jul-03, 11:24 PM
One thing about the last series of posts, containing some interesting speculation, is that there seems to be an assumption that more advanced civilization will have incredibly advanced technologies that will seem like magic to us. That may be true but is not necessarily true. For example, nature creates energy from mass in processes that are at least understood at a basic level, and we are still learning to replicate them but we don't have any good reason to believe there are processes going on that we have not yet discovered (as in their existence). Mastering nuclear fusion will be an advance, but beyond that I don't there are really mysterious processes that nature uses to create energy that we don't understand and might manipulate some day.

WayneFrancis
2014-Jul-04, 04:13 AM
Yes... If they gave us all the information we asked for, the consequences for us might be disastrous... like giving a loaded gun to an intellectually handicapped child.

On the other hand, if they didn't answer our questions, perhaps we would send well-resourced expeditions to the fringes of their civilisation, eagerly looking for scraps of information about their science and technology... like polar bears fossicking through garbage bins...

Let me fix that for you
"the consequences for us might be disastrous... like giving a loaded gun to a child. "

Barabino
2014-Jul-04, 05:09 AM
maybe a child is compliant to orders to put it down, or his weak hands can't shoot for real...

Spacedude
2014-Jul-04, 01:35 PM
One thing about the last series of posts, containing some interesting speculation, is that there seems to be an assumption that more advanced civilization will have incredibly advanced technologies that will seem like magic to us. That may be true but is not necessarily true. For example, nature creates energy from mass in processes that are at least understood at a basic level, and we are still learning to replicate them but we don't have any good reason to believe there are processes going on that we have not yet discovered (as in their existence). Mastering nuclear fusion will be an advance, but beyond that I don't there are really mysterious processes that nature uses to create energy that we don't understand and might manipulate some day.

Hi Jens, to me "magic" is in the eye of the beholder and just 100 years can make the difference in perception. Folks who relied upon candles for light for centuries would think that a simple light bulb is magical. I'll go out on a limb and predict that a 1,000 years from now electricity may be obsolete and technologies of that time will appear magical to us. We seem to believe that something as strange as dark energy exists but we lack any understanding of it, perhaps one day we will have found a way to harness it but for now it remains a mystery despite our belief that it exists. I do understand you point ie, basic mass/energy physics, but I'm of the opinion that mankind's book of scientific knowledge consists of chapter I of a very thick book yet to be written.

Jens
2014-Jul-05, 03:58 AM
While it's true that things like dark mass or dark energy or even matter-antimatter asymmetry could lead to new technologies, it seems less likely to me than light bulbs. The physical phenomena used in bulbs, like incandescence, fluorescence, electroluminescence, are clear in nature, and it was just a question of harnessing them. Dark matter only seems to exert gravity, which isn't all that useful, and dark energy seems too weak to have any real use. We don't see nature using it for anything. So I'm pretty skeptical.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-05, 04:55 AM
But suppose for a moment that we were advanced enough to explore the galaxy (say, 1000 years from now), wouldn't our own history tell us that contacting a civilization 1,000 years our junior would result in a bad way?

We know nothing about what their societies or psychology is like, how can we guess at their motives or actions?

They will have a different history. It may even be possible that they are experienced enough to have learned to do it better than us, or think they can. Or they (or one faction of them) may want to proselytize their culture, beliefs or politics.

Or they may know the consequences and not care as long as it's not their society being affected.

SkepticJ
2014-Jul-05, 08:39 PM
One thing about the last series of posts, containing some interesting speculation, is that there seems to be an assumption that more advanced civilization will have incredibly advanced technologies that will seem like magic to us. That may be true but is not necessarily true. For example, nature creates energy from mass in processes that are at least understood at a basic level, and we are still learning to replicate them but we don't have any good reason to believe there are processes going on that we have not yet discovered (as in their existence). Mastering nuclear fusion will be an advance, but beyond that I don't there are really mysterious processes that nature uses to create energy that we don't understand and might manipulate some day.

There are a few possibilities that are consistent with current theories, but so far have not been observed: q-balls, GUT-monopoles, and micro black holes.

All could be used to turn matter into energy far more efficiently than fusion.

Spacedude
2014-Jul-05, 09:33 PM
We know nothing about what their societies or psychology is like, how can we guess at their motives or actions?

They will have a different history. It may even be possible that they are experienced enough to have learned to do it better than us, or think they can. Or they (or one faction of them) may want to proselytize their culture, beliefs or politics.

Or they may know the consequences and not care as long as it's not their society being affected.

Thanks NCN, that is so true and guessing is just that, guessing. As far as motives go I doubt that our own motives will remain unchanged over the next 1,000 years so taking a stab at ET's motives is a stab in the dark for sure. If ET wants to proselytize their culture, beliefs or politics on the human race I wish them luck ;). We find it extremely difficult if not impossible to do that to ourselves. Perhaps they would take notice of that early on during their observations, say in just 1 day.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jul-05, 10:06 PM
One thing about the last series of posts, containing some interesting speculation, is that there seems to be an assumption that more advanced civilization will have incredibly advanced technologies that will seem like magic to us. That may be true but is not necessarily true. For example, nature creates energy from mass in processes that are at least understood at a basic level, and we are still learning to replicate them but we don't have any good reason to believe there are processes going on that we have not yet discovered (as in their existence). Mastering nuclear fusion will be an advance, but beyond that I don't there are really mysterious processes that nature uses to create energy that we don't understand and might manipulate some day.

I've been wondering along the same lines since I saw a Carroll lecture in which he said we have a handle on quantum field theory, and we've found all the forces and particles we are likely to ever find if the Standard Model is any indication.

On the other hand, I think there are still a number of exotic phenomena yet to be discovered. The movement of current and phonons along the surface of special materials, cloaking, and possible room temp superconductivity are indications that designer molecules in general will offer some astounding new capabilities. Not that any of that does away with, say, no FTL, but if designed materials ever become capable of stabilizing exotic atoms, we may get some engineering surprises yet.

As a layman, I also wonder (a) if supersymmetry is ever confirmed and there are larger particle cousins, what that may add to the QFT mix and (b) if the extremely short range fields or weak interactions Wilson said we can never ever detect might yet be detected. Since they are known to be too insignificant in terms of forces that affect us, say we find that they are what adds properties to quarks, eg, and we go on to figure how to harness that in a way that leads to effects on fields and particles we do care about.

...
As for ET, anyone see that recent Cosmos that discussed panspermia as possible among star systems due to galactic rotation? Seems we should focus SETI ahead and behind in our galactic orbit.

iquestor
2014-Jul-09, 01:39 PM
But again, why would everyone in the entire civilization go the exact same route? A high-tech civ would be marked by tremendous variety as they learn to alter themselves; with some choosing to remain as they are, some becoming advanced biologicals of various strains including immortals, some uplifting whole new young sapient species, and some uploading minds into machines.

I also question the assumption that becoming post-biological would necessarily lead to losing curiosity about the biological world.

Its a good question...

From a human perspective, lets assume we create technology that would allow humans to become immortal and free from biological needs: eating, sleeping, sex. , companionship
1. If this technology were widely available, then I believe a very large % of humans would accept it and become post biological.
2. if this technology were not widely available, then I would argue that those who could not afford it or didn't have access to it would almost certainly also not have the technology to create VN Probes or space travel.
- therefore, in the cosmic scheme of things, these humans would not be the ones making contact.

3. post biological beings that were once human, who no longer need to eat, drink or have sex or companionship would no longer be human, or have human drives. Eating, sleeping, sex give us pleasure, which is natures way of making sure we do it. So a post biological being would be able to have the same pleasure sensation without the need for real food, real sleep or real sex.

Also we have no idea what would drive them to continue to exist, if anything at all.

Anyway, that's the reasoning. We can't be sure everyone who didn't evolve to post biological didn't continue searching and to make contact. but if they are anything like us Humans, it seems reasonable that the evolution would affect most of us, and the ones who didn't would very likely be impotent to make contact.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-09, 04:33 PM
2. if this technology were not widely available, then I would argue that those who could not afford it or didn't have access to it would almost certainly also not have the technology to create VN Probes or space travel.

...but if they are anything like us Humans, it seems reasonable that the evolution would affect most of us, and the ones who didn't would very likely be impotent to make contact.

And those who had access to PB existence but just chose not to take it? Would they all automatically become Luddites who reject advanced technology in all its forms forever?

Or if they are not like humans? Or if some PBs still have curiosity about the physical world?

ADDED: I seems to me that indulging in curiosity would be one of the few true pleasures left to beings beyond physical needs. That would likely be their main driving force. So if anything, PBs might be more likely to explore the universe and try to contact alien life.

Spacedude
2014-Jul-09, 09:23 PM
ADDED: I seems to me that indulging in curiosity would be one of the few true pleasures left to beings beyond physical needs. That would likely be their main driving force. So if anything, PBs might be more likely to explore the universe and try to contact alien life.

I still agree with just about everything you've stated except for the "try to contact" part. Try to contact when conditions are right....perhaps?

Noclevername
2014-Jul-10, 12:47 AM
I still agree with just about everything you've stated except for the "try to contact" part. Try to contact when conditions are right....perhaps?

What are the right conditions?

SkepticJ
2014-Jul-10, 02:09 AM
What are the right conditions?

Maybe when contact wouldn't unleash utter chaos among the contacted?

I'd like to think that humanity would retain the control of its mental bowels, but judging by what I see, I have no confidence of that, simply a hope.

The 20th Century was an abattoir. People died by the millions fighting over who had the better way to order societies.

Tens of millions were killed in genocides in Europe and Africa.

People still kill one another over who has the better invisible friend, and/or the True Understanding of that friend.

1/4 of the population of the United States (one of the better educated countries) believe that the sun goes around the Earth. 46% of them believe that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old, and by extension, biological evolution has not happened.

If I was in their position, I would not contact us in our present condition.

Jens
2014-Jul-10, 03:31 AM
I'd like to think that humanity would retain the control of its mental bowels, but judging by what I see, I have no confidence of that, simply a hope.


I honestly don't why the fact that humanity has fought wars in the past century and in millennia before that as well is any indication that we would descend into chaos if a UFO landed at UN headquarters.

SkepticJ
2014-Jul-10, 04:04 AM
I honestly don't why the fact that humanity has fought wars in the past century and in millennia before that as well is any indication that we would descend into chaos if a UFO landed at UN headquarters.

My point wasn't the wars, but what they were over. Don't forget the other things I typed.

Taken as a whole, we're deranged.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-10, 06:15 AM
Maybe when contact wouldn't unleash utter chaos among the contacted?


How would the ETI know what human psychology is like well enough to gauge our reactions, without contact?

Jens
2014-Jul-10, 07:16 AM
My point wasn't the wars, but what they were over. Don't forget the other things I typed.
Taken as a whole, we're deranged.

I disagree. Phrasing it in a very hopefully scientific and not political way, I disagree with your categorization. I think that at least in one sense the wars of the 20th century were based not on ideological differences but on issues of hegemony that have been going on for time immemorial in human society. I don't really think that World War II was a war about how to organize societies. People don't really fight over things like that, but do use it in propaganda. In fact a lot of the war in the Pacific, for example, was about control of the Pacific Ocean and raw materials from southeast Asia. In Europe it was I think the continuation of a hegemonic struggle between France and Germany mostly that had been going on for perhaps a thousand years in various forms. The Napoleonic wars had taken place a hundred years earlier, and they were part of that same process, I believe.

Hlafordlaes
2014-Jul-10, 11:55 AM
Skipping the politics, I sincerely doubt any panic of the sort that might threaten ETs/PBs would ensue from open contact. That is, I do not see a government declaring war on ET if their (entirely hypothetical) existence were revealed. That some people might run outside and panic a while, or go breathless declaring whatever nonsense, I have no doubt. In general, though, I think that once the dust settled, humanity would have a few of its lingering debates also nicely settled, and we could move on free of some unscientific mental baggage.

Spacedude
2014-Jul-10, 01:35 PM
What are the right conditions?

I have to concur with SkepticJ's summary. As had been stated earlier we have little reason to think that we know what an ET's motives might be but "if" they have any concerns concerning direct contact with the Human race those concerns could be rooted in carefully assessing the resulting Human reaction (hopefully highly advanced intelligent beings give a hoot).

I would like to think that if an ET did want direct contact that they would first approach the worlds most reasonable peace loving leader rather than just swooping down landing and making a public pronouncement of themselves. The next question would be how would that world leader react and what advice would he give to ET? That old expression "rocking the boat" comes to mind, though as an understatement. ET may decide that we are still to fragile to confront us with their much bigger picture of reality.

iquestor
2014-Jul-10, 04:14 PM
And those who had access to PB existence but just chose not to take it? Would they all automatically become Luddites who reject advanced technology in all its forms forever?

Or if they are not like humans? Or if some PBs still have curiosity about the physical world?

ADDED: I seems to me that indulging in curiosity would be one of the few true pleasures left to beings beyond physical needs. That would likely be their main driving force. So if anything, PBs might be more likely to explore the universe and try to contact alien life.

I don't know. PBs might have more curiosity, or may have none, which in my opinion, might be lethal to the new species.
or they might be very curios, just not about biological beings. or, biological might be the most fascinating thing in the universe to them.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-10, 04:41 PM
I have to concur with SkepticJ's summary. As had been stated earlier we have little reason to think that we know what an ET's motives might be but "if" they have any concerns concerning direct contact with the Human race those concerns could be rooted in carefully assessing the resulting Human reaction (hopefully highly advanced intelligent beings give a hoot).

I would like to think that if an ET did want direct contact that they would first approach the worlds most reasonable peace loving leader rather than just swooping down landing and making a public pronouncement of themselves. The next question would be how would that world leader react and what advice would he give to ET? That old expression "rocking the boat" comes to mind, though as an understatement. ET may decide that we are still to fragile to confront us with their much bigger picture of reality.

So I'll ask again, what are the right conditions?

And, how would the ETI know what human psychology is like well enough to gauge our reactions, without contact?

Spacedude
2014-Jul-10, 06:29 PM
So I'll ask again, what are the right conditions?

And, how would the ETI know what human psychology is like well enough to gauge our reactions, without contact?


The right conditions would be determined by ET based upon their past experiences with other civilizations (we being their first contact would seem rather remote as it would be the more advanced galaxy accomplished ones who would have the means to discover us early on, even very early on, perhaps even pre-mankind?). But assuming they discover the Earth more recently, after first arriving here they would observe and learn about us in secret, gathering details to better judge our psychological status without having to go directly one-on-one with humans. Intercepting our transmissions would be easy pickings (Lord help us there). But as mentioned previously, if direct contact looked promising to them they may decide to approach an individual (such as a world leader) as a first step for a face-to-face reaction and for a more direct answer as to whether or not it's the right thing for them to do at the present time.
Highly spectulative of course, but would we not take similar precautions if the shoe were on the other foot?...and yes I realize that we are not them.

SkepticJ
2014-Jul-10, 08:21 PM
How would the ETI know what human psychology is like well enough to gauge our reactions, without contact?

Observation.

"Landing at the UN" would require Something coming here. That something would have to be very high tech, way beyond what we can do now, or for the next few centuries at minimum, to be able to get here from wherever it came from. What does that imply? For one, that the Something could deploy little von Neumann drones that look like our local fauna. Imagine a robotic housefly that can easily record and store in its volume multiple exabytes worth of audiovisual surveillance. Now imagine millions of those drones operating for years on Earth; how could the Something fail to know us?

SkepticJ
2014-Jul-10, 08:43 PM
Skipping the politics, I sincerely doubt any panic of the sort that might threaten ETs/PBs would ensue from open contact. That is, I do not see a government declaring war on ET if their (entirely hypothetical) existence were revealed. That some people might run outside and panic a while, or go breathless declaring whatever nonsense, I have no doubt. In general, though, I think that once the dust settled, humanity would have a few of its lingering debates also nicely settled, and we could move on free of some unscientific mental baggage.

I don't think we would declare war on Them either, or if we did, we'd have less chance of winning than ancient Sumer against the modern United States--including its nuclear arsenal.

What I imagine is us fighting with ourselves because of the knowledge; we've done dumber things.

SkepticJ
2014-Jul-10, 08:55 PM
I disagree. Phrasing it in a very hopefully scientific and not political way, I disagree with your categorization. I think that at least in one sense the wars of the 20th century were based not on ideological differences but on issues of hegemony that have been going on for time immemorial in human society. I don't really think that World War II was a war about how to organize societies. People don't really fight over things like that, but do use it in propaganda. In fact a lot of the war in the Pacific, for example, was about control of the Pacific Ocean and raw materials from southeast Asia. In Europe it was I think the continuation of a hegemonic struggle between France and Germany mostly that had been going on for perhaps a thousand years in various forms. The Napoleonic wars had taken place a hundred years earlier, and they were part of that same process, I believe.

There was the Cold War though; it was very much fueled by ideology, not hegemonic aspirations, and it almost killed us all in 1962.

Jens
2014-Jul-10, 10:45 PM
There was the Cold War though; it was very much fueled by ideology, not hegemonic aspirations, and it almost killed us all in 1962.

I think that "not" is wrong. I do think it was a combination of hegemonic aspirations and ideological differences, yes, but I think that both played a role. I mean, the two powers in question are still having trouble getting along 25 years after the ideological differences were supposedly resolved. I think it would be naive to think that the Cold War had nothing to do with securing natural resources for hegemonic powers.

And presumably ET would know this because they would also likely be products of a universe where living things compete to get the resources that allow them to survive.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-10, 11:53 PM
Observation.

"Landing at the UN" would require Something coming here. That something would have to be very high tech, way beyond what we can do now, or for the next few centuries at minimum, to be able to get here from wherever it came from. What does that imply? For one, that the Something could deploy little von Neumann drones that look like our local fauna. Imagine a robotic housefly that can easily record and store in its volume multiple exabytes worth of audiovisual surveillance. Now imagine millions of those drones operating for years on Earth; how could the Something fail to know us?

Contact does not imply "landing at the UN". A radio signal will do.

But the kind of close-in observation you're talking about would not be undetectable; small probes would require an external craft to carry them in order to survive the trip, which would still need to decelerate, so all the physics and thermodynamics that apply to any starship's detectability would still be in play. The amount of energy and fuel needed is still massive. Some technology just doesn't scale down well.

SkepticJ
2014-Jul-11, 12:24 AM
Contact does not imply "landing at the UN". A radio signal will do.

Yes, in much the same way that a time capsule allows one to communicate with others.

I think Bracewell probes make far more sense.


But the kind of close-in observation you're talking about would not be undetectable; small probes would require an external craft to carry them in order to survive the trip, which would still need to decelerate, so all the physics and thermodynamics that apply to any starship's detectability would still be in play. The amount of energy and fuel needed is still massive. Some technology just doesn't scale down well.

Yes, but nothing says that it would have to decelerate where we could see it. If it's on the other side of the Sun from us when it pops off its Orion-esque deceleration, we're not likely to detect it.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-11, 12:31 AM
I think Bracewell probes make far more sense.
True. But a Bracewell would still need to interact with us to determine our psychology.




Yes, but nothing says that it would have to decelerate where we could see it. If it's on the other side of the Sun from us when it pops off its Orion-esque deceleration, we're not likely to detect it.

An Orion would still need several years to decelerate from a reasonable interstellar speed. Could someone crunch the numbers and figure out how long it would take for a decent-sized probe to slow to match Solar speed once it detected our coherent radio transmissions (1-2 light years, IIRC)?

Noclevername
2014-Jul-11, 01:01 AM
Let me throw a blanket over all these "but what about...?" scenarios; any one of them may be possible (or not), but no one has yet shown how they can apply to all potential advanced civilizations. Which is what the OP is about; providing a plausible reason why no civilization would bother to explore the galaxy and encounter us.


Maybe the reason we haven't been visited or seen any signs of intelligent life is because once you get advanced enough for interstellar travel there's no point in visiting every planet and you go beyond exploring planets...

IsaacKuo
2014-Jul-11, 02:30 PM
An Orion would still need several years to decelerate from a reasonable interstellar speed. Could someone crunch the numbers and figure out how long it would take for a decent-sized probe to slow to match Solar speed once it detected our coherent radio transmissions (1-2 light years, IIRC)?
It wouldn't take several years just to decelerate. First off, even with implausibly efficient fusion pulse units, it can't really get further than maybe 20% of c. Second, an Orion type drive uses nuclear bombs of phenomenal power, so rather high gee accelerations are possible (assuming something like mag-Orion).

With an acceleration capability of, say, 10 gees, it only takes 7 days to decelerate from .2c.

But in any case, it's going to be an amazingly visible event. If it took place somewhat near the far side of the Sun...but not too near...we might miss it. But I find it implausible for aliens to know that for sure. In particular, STEREO covers the region directly opposite the Sun from us. And there are numerous solar telescopes observing a small conical region around the Sun. But there's a larger conical region around the Sun which telescopes generally avoid due to the interference of the daytime sky or the angle of a space telescope's sunshade.

Anyway, I think this scenario is a bit energy intense anyway. Any sort of fractional c propulsion is going to involve lots of energy, but much cheaper probes could cruise the galaxy at a mere 100km/s or so. These probes don't need fancy expensive propulsion, they can mostly rely upon free gravity assists from the stars they encounter. The only downside is that such probes would take a lot longer to reach us. If, say, aliens in Alpha Centauri detected some interesting radio transmission from us and decided to send a probe at 100km/s, it would arrive in the year 14800.

But...so what? Who's to say these aliens aren't patient enough to wait a mere 130 centuries?

Or maybe they don't have to wait that long. Maybe they have billions of probes already cruising around the galaxy, visiting star after star to take periodic observations of each interesting star system. These probes might have been visiting our star system throughout the entire history of Earth...maybe passing through every thousand years or so. Our ancestors wouldn't have noticed. It's only within the last few centuries that such a probe could even be seen...and even today such a thing would only be seen by extreme luck. (I looked at whether or not existing sun grazing comet searches could see a small probe during a Sun flyby...they can't.)

So basically, a fractional c probe decelerating into the solar system could probably be seen, but a more economical "slow" probe couldn't. There could be one out there right now, and we'd only know by extreme luck.

SkepticJ
2014-Jul-11, 07:57 PM
Let me throw a blanket over all these "but what about...?" scenarios; any one of them may be possible (or not), but no one has yet shown how they can apply to all potential advanced civilizations. Which is what the OP is about; providing a plausible reason why no civilization would bother to explore the galaxy and encounter us.

Perhaps for a reason similar to why no one (well, no one sane) travels to the other side of the world to talk to an ant.

It's conceivable that a single machine intelligence could be as far beyond our mental space as we are beyond ants. Communicate with us, to what end?

They might have explored the galaxy--much like an entomologist would travel to the other side of the world to look for new species of ants--but have no interest in chatting with micro-brains.

marsbug
2014-Jul-11, 08:47 PM
My personal opinion seems to coincide well with Skeptic J's; We find many other terrestrial species fascinating. We study them, travel to do so, but we communicate only with a tiny handful under controlled circumstances that suit us. Or, put another way, why would NATO open an embassy in the village of a fractious, violent, tribe of thirty people on a tiny pacific island? Anything they wanted to know they could find out by a combination of satellite imagery, drone flyby's, or even just a telescope mounted on a ship. Or more likely they would not bother at all - perhaps a few anthropologists might examine them from a safe distance with the telescope.

Any alien race will probably be able to learn all they want by remote study, and if we spotted their means we would likely not recognize it for what it was

Jens
2014-Jul-12, 12:57 AM
It's worth noting also that the one example we have of an advanced civilization, so our single data point, is doing precisely that. We have no concrete plans to send probes to other star systems, but we are using out technology to do remote sensing of other star systems to look for habitable planets and signals. But even if we found something, would we really want to go to the trouble of visiting? I would think that signal exchanges would be much more practical.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-12, 08:37 AM
Perhaps for a reason similar to why no one (well, no one sane) travels to the other side of the world to talk to an ant.

It's conceivable that a single machine intelligence could be as far beyond our mental space as we are beyond ants. Communicate with us, to what end?

They might have explored the galaxy--much like an entomologist would travel to the other side of the world to look for new species of ants--but have no interest in chatting with micro-brains.

But again, how do they know what kind of intelligence we have without contacting us?

Noclevername
2014-Jul-12, 08:40 AM
It's worth noting also that the one example we have of an advanced civilization, so our single data point, is doing precisely that. We have no concrete plans to send probes to other star systems, but we are using out technology to do remote sensing of other star systems to look for habitable planets and signals. But even if we found something, would we really want to go to the trouble of visiting? I would think that signal exchanges would be much more practical.

I consider signal exchanges a form of contact. And as pointed out above, sending an advanced probe to contact us is also a form of contact.

And the reason we aren't sending interstellar probes is that we don't have the ability to, yet. When and if we do, we will.

SkepticJ
2014-Jul-12, 08:20 PM
But again, how do they know what kind of intelligence we have without contacting us?

Observation of us (if we're not doing something that would require level X of intelligence, then we probably don't have level X of intelligence), and basic scientific knowledge that they would have had for a long time.

A post-biological intelligence would have, by definition, come from a biological origin, so they would have empirical knowledge of the computational limits of organic substrates.

Jens
2014-Jul-13, 01:01 AM
Observation of us (if we're not doing something that would require level X of intelligence, then we probably don't have level X of intelligence), and basic scientific knowledge that they would have had for a long time.


Somehow I don't really see that 300 years ago we were living in predominantly premanufacturing agricultural societies, ANC yet our intelligence is not really any different.

SkepticJ
2014-Jul-13, 01:18 AM
Somehow I don't really see that 300 years ago we were living in predominantly premanufacturing agricultural societies, ANC yet our intelligence is not really any different.


That's true, but what a narrow slice of time that is.

What were our ancestors doing 3,000,000 years ago? What will our descendants be doing that far (which is just a blink, in the grand scheme of things) in the future?

Jens
2014-Jul-13, 08:54 AM
What were our ancestors doing 3,000,000 years ago? What will our descendants be doing that far (which is just a blink, in the grand scheme of things) in the future?

Well, in actuality what our ancestors were doing 3 million years ago was perhaps not so different from what we do today. They slept, gathered nutrition, ate, procreated, probably entertained themselves through communication at whatever level they communicated, and died earlier than we did (probably through accidents and infections frequently) but could perhaps occasionally live to close the age that people usually die at today. I think it would have been rare for a human in those times to live to a very old age, but primarily because they would be unable to avoid danger. We have much better tools now, and bigger brains as well, but the part about the brain is because we evolved a bigger brain as part of natural selection. Today there is no natural selection favoring bigger brains, so I don't know if we will really evolve in that direction.

And 3 million years from now? Who knows. Maybe there won't be any. Maybe they'll be living at relatively the same standards we live now. Maybe they will be somewhat better. Maybe they'll be a lot better. But that really depends on the assumptions you make.

Noclevername
2014-Jul-13, 10:43 AM
But ETI would have no way of detecting whether a system emitting no signals was devoid of sapient life, or just devoid of radio-using civilization. The Earth in 1700 AD looked the same from a light-year away as Earth in 17,000,000 BC.