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

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post

    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    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?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    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.
    As above, so below

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    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.

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    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.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    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?
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2014-Jul-10 at 04:45 PM.
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  9. #39
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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    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?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
    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.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    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.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    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)?
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    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...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    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.

  19. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    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.

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    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

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    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    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?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    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.
    Last edited by SkepticJ; 2014-Jul-12 at 08:22 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    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?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    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.
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    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.
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2014-Jul-13 at 10:47 AM. Reason: million, not thousand
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