Re: Kurzweil reviewed in the Wall Street Journal

From: Brian Atkins (
Date: Mon Oct 03 2005 - 20:10:05 MDT

Pardon the sales update, but the book is up to #6 out of all books on Amazon
now. Interesting.

By the way, did anyone else who has read the book also disagree with Ray's
conclusions on the Fermi Paradox? Page 347 specifically.

Using his set of numbers plugged into the Drake equation, he comes up with a
total number of _current_ radio-broadcasting civilizations of 1.25. He says this
means we are the only ones out there, the "first". But is he misunderstanding
the equation, or am I?

The key number in the equation in this case is labeled fL, which is the fraction
of the universe's life during which an average communicating civilization
communicates using radio waves. He plugs in 10^-6, around 10k years out of the
universe's lifespan so far. So, yes using these numbers you would expect to see
1.25 during this current 10k span of years, but about the _other_ 10k spans
prior to now? They would also have a similar probability using the Drake
equation of around 1.25 broadcasting civilizations, yes?

And by Ray's other expectations in the book, we know he expects any
post-Singularity civilization to expand outwards to create intelligence
throughout the universe. So if there have been roughly 1.25 civs per 10k years
in the past, where are they? Or am I misunderstanding the Drake equation?

Brian Atkins
Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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