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Hypmotoad
2015-Mar-24, 05:32 AM
I've recently been reading over different theories which basically state that we, as as species, can't know everything. We can know almost but not everything.

My questions are as follows:

1) What would a top end civilization, at the limit of it's knowing, even look like? I can imagine that such a civilization might not even exist as our universe is young and there might possibly be more to know.

Notice I am skipping over the whole 'probed everything' scenario as I know it will come up, just making some points.

2) Could two or more such civilizations' exist, given fourteen billion years, separated by billions of light years?

3) If these civilizations gained knowledge of each other, would an age of peace love and brutha-hood begin? Could two species with almost perfect knowledge even be at odds with each other?

Species 1) there is a creator and it has a star on it's belly!

Species 2) there IS a creator but it has NO star on it's belly!

WAR!!

What would a war look like? A few snarky remarks sent over billions of years? If know almost everything, couldn't the cosmic snark-war be averted?

Maybe the loser with the lamest retort leaves this universe in order to be snark king in another....


I tried to make the scenario humorous but the questions are straightforward:

What might they look like, and...

Could two or more exist peacefully?

Jens
2015-Mar-24, 07:00 AM
I've recently been reading over different theories which basically state that we, as as species, can't know everything. We can know almost but not everything.


I would argue that strictly speaking, we cannot even know almost everything. As a simple demonstration, we know pi up to say a billion digits. But there are still an infinite more digits, so we haven't even come close to scratching the surface of what "everything" might possibly mean. Even taking a single field, mathematics, we obviously have an infinite amount of knowledge, so clearly it is impossible to know it or even a large part of it.

DonM435
2015-Mar-24, 12:23 PM
Yes, but even if those beyond-billion digits of pi extend to infinity, they become less and less important (if indeed they ever were) in any calculation, so it kinda balances out.

malaidas
2015-Mar-24, 04:53 PM
this is philosophy but, we simply cannot know anything for certain. We can simply know things beyond reasonable doubt, to the best of our knowledge, we never claim certainty because such is an impossible dream.

Noclevername
2015-Mar-24, 05:42 PM
How could we be certain we know almost everything? People have claimed many times that we already know almost everything, that we have nearly reached our limits; often just before whole new fields of science are opened up.

PetersCreek
2015-Mar-24, 06:12 PM
Folks,

Before this turns into another philosophy thread, I'll remind you that this is the LiS forum and ask that you stay on topic. Regardless of whether knowing everything is possible or not, the OP stated that the level of knowledge in question is "at the [civilization's] limit of it's [sic] knowing". One could assume for the purpose of this discussion that "knowing everything" means knowing what can be known to the extent that it may be known and tackle the questions from there. In depth discussion of the validity/details/definition of that assumption is grist for another mill.

DonM435
2015-Mar-24, 07:39 PM
Said the wise old man to someone his junior: "I'm not young enough to know everything."

Colin Robinson
2015-Mar-24, 09:05 PM
I've recently been reading over different theories which basically state that we, as as species, can't know everything. We can know almost but not everything.

My questions are as follows:

1) What would a top end civilization, at the limit of it's knowing, even look like? I can imagine that such a civilization might not even exist as our universe is young and there might possibly be more to know.

Notice I am skipping over the whole 'probed everything' scenario as I know it will come up, just making some points.

2) Could two or more such civilizations' exist, given fourteen billion years, separated by billions of light years?

3) If these civilizations gained knowledge of each other, would an age of peace love and brutha-hood begin? Could two species with almost perfect knowledge even be at odds with each other?

If a civilization thought it had reached the end of what it could know, then got to know about another similarly advanced civilisation, that would mean they'd been wrong to think they'd reached the end of what they could know.

That new knowledge might come as a serious shock to them, or it might be welcomed.




Species 1) there is a creator and it has a star on it's belly!

Species 2) there IS a creator but it has NO star on it's belly!

WAR!!

May they would "agree to disagree"?

Spacedude
2015-Mar-24, 09:56 PM
It's been said that every answer produces more questions.
If we ever reach the point where one answer produces only one question then perhaps we will have reached the half way mark to full knowledge :)

Noclevername
2015-Mar-24, 10:00 PM
I assume that two advanced complacent societies would fight over whose "knowledge of everything" was actually right. The players would probably get very worked up after lifetimes of thinking that they've reached the top by the only possible path, only to find that someone else got to a different top by going "sideways" from their viewpoint. In the Scopes Monkey Trial, both sides agreed that human beings existed, they just fought virulently over how we came to exist.

malaidas
2015-Mar-25, 12:29 AM
Folks,

Before this turns into another philosophy thread, I'll remind you that this is the LiS forum and ask that you stay on topic. Regardless of whether knowing everything is possible or not, the OP stated that the level of knowledge in question is "at the [civilization's] limit of it's [sic] knowing". One could assume for the purpose of this discussion that "knowing everything" means knowing what can be known to the extent that it may be known and tackle the questions from there. In depth discussion of the validity/details/definition of that assumption is grist for another mill.

My apologies Peter, just my instinctive reaction. I'll stay OT now.

malaidas
2015-Mar-25, 12:38 AM
The problem as has been pointed out to me on another thread is that we simply cannot assume that advanced means peaceful, so the speculation is difficult. I would hope that by the time we reach level 3 we would have evolved beyond war, but there is no certainty. It is pretty certain however that 2 level 3 civilisations would be able to create such weapons as to keep the war cold through fear of reprisal. We have seen this at work with nuclear weapons, and I personally think that this would be the case with any sufficiently sentient race.

It is certainly possible for 2 such civilisations to arise at the same time, space is a big place after all and we simply don't know enough about the formation of life etc to possibly rule this out. Whether or not we could come into contact is a severe unknown and I feel it is doubtful, there is a far greater chance of such being separated by an insurmountable distance than not.

Hypmotoad
2015-Mar-25, 12:55 AM
I am sorry, I should have been more clear. I was interested in thoughts of what a top end civilization like I have described, one which has 'peaked intellectually, might look like. Maybe they evolved on a planet orbiting one of the first stars which could support such.

As far as whether or not two or more such civilizations could co-exist, I'd have to speculate that there is no reason why they couldn't. The universe, being as huge as it is, could easily accommodate many, and if peace was desired, a curious exploring species could simply pick a new direction and avoid any contact. And that is assuming that such a species even needed to leave home space to explore.

malaidas
2015-Mar-25, 01:12 AM
The problem is that we just cannot assume that anything true of ourselves must hold for another sentient species. We do know of ourselves that despite all else we still are as warlike given the right circumstance as we were hundreds of years ago, this for me suggests that we can only override our basic instincts so far and thus no matter how much technology we have, war will be an option.

Evolution suggests that we are the way we are because being this way was advantageous so we can speculate that there is a likelihood a parallel species will possess similar characteristics which in turn makes war not only an option but something which is quite possible. On the other hand as you say there is plenty of room out there, but historically war is over resources and more pertinently specific resources. We are therefore likely to clash over things. There will be all kinds of mistrust, inside outside group mentality etc at work. It's tricky.

malaidas
2015-Mar-25, 01:19 AM
Regarding what such a civilization might look like we are entering the world of pure science fiction. There is no objective answer than can be given, because we have no idea what will be found to be possible in the future.

Hypmotoad
2015-Mar-25, 04:59 AM
I agree with you, Malaidas, and I realize I am calling for speculation.

The book by Greg Bear, Anvil of Stars is the only sci-fi book I've read which attempts to give a glimpse of what such a civilization might look like. The entire system was heavily engineered and the home world of the decedents of the 'planet killers' was actually an engineered star where they lived as energy beings surrounding the stars core, but an engineered crust with vast lakes and structures was also present.

Biology was by choice and optional. Some of the planets in the system were entirely fake and were in fact defensive in nature.

Was a great read. These beings were at the top of their game, but they were hunted by others of the same if not superior technology.

This is all speculation, but the author painted a picture that was both fantastic and realistic and makes me wonder what WE might be like if survive to be so advanced.

Maybe we become so used to Virtual Reality that it is common in everyday life and we eventually upload to solid state circuitry and live a million virtual years within a second of real time, all the while directing our robotic factories to churn out one hundred non-replicating probes for every one self-replicating one.

Again I fall back to assuming that we would even need probes to explore.

We all agree that quantum computing is on the way, don't we? And if such a computer were sufficiently advanced to model our universe perfectly, how long would it be before there was really very little we didn't know about most everything? I know I made a leap there but better and better models lead to....see?

Eclogite
2015-Mar-25, 07:14 AM
It might be easier, Hypmotoad, to answer your question if you stated what you think makes a civilisation a civilisation. I suspect that a civilisation, close to knowing all it could ever know, would not necessarily be like anything we would recognise as a civilisation.

Hypmotoad
2015-Mar-25, 07:53 AM
I have to agree again, Eclogite, I doubt we could recognize a technology from a force of nature at that level.

Still, I remember, as a kid, talking about a new school which will give calculators to each student. Then, a few years later, I watched Johnny Carson demonstrate a wristwatch that had a built in calculator, also was made of a diamond or two. But, before that, I was in transit on a C-131 from Pakistan when it was announced "The Eagle has landed"

Within twenty-five years, we went from brick to the ear wireless communication to flip phone to smartphone and the future seems to hold that we might carry our own kinnect field around with us that monitors eye-movement and all else. Skype is available on a wristwatch now, thanks Dick Tracy, and privacy isn't a guarantee, you have to be proactive to expect it.

Twenty-five years. The Cloud.

Justin Bieber ...

We may already be in the EndTimes

:p

Jens
2015-Mar-25, 09:51 AM
We all agree that quantum computing is on the way, don't we? And if such a computer were sufficiently advanced to model our universe perfectly, how long would it be before there was really very little we didn't know about most everything? I know I made a leap there but better and better models lead to....see?

A very long time. First of all, no matter how powerful you make the computer, it is still part of the universe, so it can never have the power to perfectly model something that it is a subset of. The universe itself is a kind of quantum computer, so you can't model it with a subset. Secondly, the universe is not locally predictable, so even if you know the current state you don't know the future. And thirdly, because the speed of light is finite, there are things we don't know because the information hasn't reached us.

KABOOM
2015-Mar-25, 04:13 PM
I agree with you, Malaidas, and I realize I am calling for speculation.

The book by Greg Bear, Anvil of Stars is the only sci-fi book I've read which attempts to give a glimpse of what such a civilization might look like. The entire system was heavily engineered and the home world of the decedents of the 'planet killers' was actually an engineered star where they lived as energy beings surrounding the stars core, but an engineered crust with vast lakes and structures was also present.

Biology was by choice and optional. Some of the planets in the system were entirely fake and were in fact defensive in nature.

Was a great read. These beings were at the top of their game, but they were hunted by others of the same if not superior technology.

This is all speculation, but the author painted a picture that was both fantastic and realistic and makes me wonder what WE might be like if survive to be so advanced.

Maybe we become so used to Virtual Reality that it is common in everyday life and we eventually upload to solid state circuitry and live a million virtual years within a second of real time, all the while directing our robotic factories to churn out one hundred non-replicating probes for every one self-replicating one.

Again I fall back to assuming that we would even need probes to explore.

We all agree that quantum computing is on the way, don't we? And if such a computer were sufficiently advanced to model our universe perfectly, how long would it be before there was really very little we didn't know about most everything? I know I made a leap there but better and better models lead to....see?

Your comment on "quantum computing" suggests that are present limits as to understanding the totality of the universe (implies both observed and unobserved, and whether such is finite or infinite) are limited due to our lack of computational power. I had thought that many our limitations were due to lack of more detailed observations as to the vast distances and the lack of testable parameters. If things aren't testable and we can't observe beyond our present day limits than what good will more computing horsepower provide?

Swift
2015-Mar-25, 05:10 PM
The book by Greg Bear, Anvil of Stars is the only sci-fi book I've read which attempts to give a glimpse of what such a civilization might look like. The entire system was heavily engineered and the home world of the decedents of the 'planet killers' was actually an engineered star where they lived as energy beings surrounding the stars core, but an engineered crust with vast lakes and structures was also present.

Good book, though a long time since I read it.

My suggestion, since as Malaidas said we are getting into science fiction - read more science fiction. There are lots of science fiction novels and series that cover very advanced civilizations.

Just off the top of my head
- Iain M. Banks' Culture series
- Greg Bear's novels Eon and Eternity

I'm sure there are lots of others. Might be a topic for a SMAL thread.

Eclogite
2015-Mar-26, 12:40 AM
I have to agree again, Eclogite, I doubt we could recognize a technology from a force of nature at that level.

Within twenty-five years, we went from brick to the ear wireless communication to flip phone to smartphone and the future seems to hold that we might carry our own kinnect field around with us that monitors eye-movement and all else. Skype is available on a wristwatch now, thanks Dick Tracy, and privacy isn't a guarantee, you have to be proactive to expect it.
However, everything you have described is technological advance. I suggest the more interesting developments over the last fifty years are the "victory" of the Big Bang over Steady State theory, the paradigm shift to plate tectonics, the discovery of exoplanets and the explosion of understanding in genetics, whether genome sequencing, hox genes, epigenetics and the like.

But more that that I suspect the interesting aspects of civilisations lie in the character and ethics of its citizens. I'm not sure we've changed all that much in 30,000 years. I cannot imagine humanity in 3,000,000.

Hypmotoad
2015-Mar-27, 09:49 AM
I agree with all except that, from all I'm reading these days, the jury still out on Big Bang.

I'm not trying to start an argument here, but there IS a lot of materiel out there suggesting that BBT might not be correct.

Me? I honestly don't know enough to even weigh in on such an argument.

Hornblower
2015-Mar-27, 01:49 PM
I agree with all except that, from all I'm reading these days, the jury still out on Big Bang.

I'm not trying to start an argument here, but there IS a lot of materiel out there suggesting that BBT might not be correct.

Me? I honestly don't know enough to even weigh in on such an argument.
There is also a lot of material out there suggesting that extraterrestrial UFOs are real. Caveat lector.

Hlafordlaes
2015-Mar-27, 06:40 PM
@OP: Just sticking with a fairly conventional projection from what we do know, I'd wager, especially in a LiS thread, that a truly advanced civilization will have solved the issue of creating artificial intelligence. This could be in machine-only form, or heavily bio-engineered, or a mix. Another expectation would be that virtual environments would provide the everyday environment in which such life carried out its existence, since virtual reality can be constantly updated with knowledge of the physical world, yet exhibit far fewer restraints. FTL is certainly possible, and assuming one has the data on a wide range of systems, a pleasure to undertake for an instant holiday or research jaunt in another star system.

Indeed, perhaps the answer to Fermi's paradox is that once one has the machinery in place to do replacement and maintenance of physical systems which continue to monitor the environment, retirement to a server farm is the way to go. That way when you do meet homo sapiens and he tosses a rock, you can watch it go through you. No-risk tourism, from nano to cosmic scale.